Category Archives: All Great Easy Ways To Save Tax And Good Deductions

Hubble Contact Lenses: Data Driven Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

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Hubble Contact Lenses: Data Driven Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

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Publication Date:
August 01, 2018

Industry:
Healthcare

Industry:
Retail & Consumer Goods

Industry:
Media

Source:
Harvard Business School

As its Series A extension round approaches, the founders of Hubble, a subscription-based, social media fueled, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand of contact lenses, are reflecting on the marketing strategies that have taken them to a valuation of $200 million and debating changes to them that will allow them to grow their Business. Ensuring that their marketing dollars were being spent efficiently was critical to the data-driven management team and proving to be complicated as the company moved spending from digital marketing to offline media, which made attribution modeling more difficult. Decisions pertaining to product extensions, channel expansion beyond DTC e-commerce, and geographic expansion were also on the table to prove that Hubble’s customer value proposition and operations could profitably scale.

Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

Hubble Contact Lenses: Data Driven Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

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Coach Knight: The Will to Win

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Coach Knight: The Will to Win

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Publication Date:
August 10, 2005

Industry:
Arts & Culture

Source:
Harvard Business School

Successful college basketball coach Bob Knight was fired from his long-time role as basketball coach at Indiana University and hired in the same role at Texas Tech. Considers these events in the context of his long career and provides a context for discussing various styles of power, influence, and persuasion in his leadership role as coach and educator.

Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

Coach Knight: The Will to Win

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HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management (including featured article “Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter)

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HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management (including featured article “Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter)

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Publication Date:
March 07, 2011

70% of all change initiatives fail. But the odds turn in your company’s favor once you understand that change is a multi-stage process–not an event–and that persuasion is key to establishing a sense of urgency, winning support, and silencing naysayers. We’ve combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on change management and selected the most important ones to help you lead your organization through transformation.

This collection of best-selling articles includes: featured article “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” by John P. Kotter, “Change Through Persuasion,” “Leading Change When Business Is Good: An Interview with Samuel J. Palmisano,” “Radical Change, the Quiet Way,” “Tipping Point Leadership,” “A Survival Guide for Leaders,” “The Real Reason People Won’t Change,” “Cracking the Code of Change,” “The Hard Side of Change Management,” and “Why Change Programs Don’t Produce Change.”

Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management (including featured article “Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter)

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Avoid Making This Strategic Mistake in a Recession

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Avoid Making This Strategic Mistake in a Recession

The authors looked at data from the period right before the 2008 recession addressing how 5,278 publicly-traded firms fared based on their generic strategy of being either pure differentiators or pure cost leaders, according to Michael Porter’s theories. In their analysis, differentiators were significantly more likely to suffer reduced revenues than cost leaders in the Great Recession and were significantly more likely to go out of business. Is it wise then to change strategies by moving toward cost leadership during a recession? After all, moving from differentiation toward cost leadership makes a certain sense; everyone tightens their belts in a recession, particularly a severe one. But the authors didn’t find evidence to support this. Instead they found that changing strategy did not increase firm chances of surviving the recession, nor did it improve the firm’s revenues or its finances.

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We are currently in the midst of the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate has hit a record high, and the International Monetary Fund is predicting a drop in our GDP of nearly 6 percent this year. If this is purely a supply shock, then our economy should recover quickly once restrictions on economic activity are lifted. On the other hand, according to a report from the Becker Friedman Institute of the University of Chicago, 42 percent of the jobs lost so far in this crisis could be permanent losses. If that is the case, then this supply shock will turn into a demand crisis much like the Great Recession of 2008, and recovery will be much slower. With so much uncertainty, what should a strategist do?

We looked at data from the period right before the 2008 recession addressing how 5,278 publicly-traded firms fared based on their generic strategy of being either pure differentiators or pure cost leaders, according to Michael Porter’s theories. Differentiators compete based on a variety of factors, such as quality or service, rather than prioritizing low prices. Cost leaders, on the other hand, focus their strategy on reducing costs thus enabling them to offer the product for the lowest possible price. Porter says either strategy will be successful, as long as the strategic orientation is pure. But in our analysis, differentiators were significantly more likely to suffer reduced revenues than cost leaders in the Great Recession and were significantly more likely to go out of business.

In light of this, a thoughtful strategist might think it wise to change strategies by moving toward cost leadership. After all, moving from differentiation toward cost leadership makes a certain sense; everyone tightens their belts in a recession, particularly a severe one. Consumers reduce their spending and look for cheaper suppliers. Businesses seek to reduce their expenses to weather the storm. Especially in an environment as unpredictable as we had in 2008 (or as we have now), cutting costs becomes a central focus of most businesses’ efforts. However, our data do not support changing strategies to become a cost leader during a recession. We found that when differentiators moved toward a cost leadership strategy such efforts did not help them. In fact, we found that changing strategy did not increase firm chances of surviving the recession, nor did it improve the firm’s revenues or its finances.

This is the lesson of the Great Recession for strategists: cost leaders have a head start. As both kinds of firms seek to reduce costs to survive and reduce prices to attract more cost-conscious customers, cost leaders have the advantage because they are structured for such an approach. This is exactly the problem to which Porter pointed. In a competition to become more of a cost leader, the cost leader always wins. So, what should a differentiator do? Our research does point to some concrete lessons for strategists at differentiator firms during recessions.

First, do not try to change strategies. A differentiator will never out-cost leader a cost leader. As a result, differentiators are better off focusing, and trying to build, on their strengths. Next, reduce costs quickly, to a point. When faced with uncertain demand, firms need to lower costs as quickly as possible in an effort to marshal resources for a long fight back. Waiting to reduce costs in the hope that the recovery comes quickly will put a firm in a difficult position if that gamble turns out to be wrong. At the same time, the firm must be careful that these cuts do not jeopardize its ability to deliver a differentiated product or service. Finally, know that there is no easy solution. Simply reducing prices will not solve the problem. Unless you are the industry’s low-cost leader, there will always be someone who can provide your goods or services at a lower price. Therefore, you need to mine the entrepreneurial fire that helped build your firm in the first place. Focus on your strengths. The advantages that made your product or service worth more than what the cost leaders offer still apply. You just need to make that case to your customers.

The good news is that most firms did survive the 2008 Great Recession. You might lead one of those firms. If that is the case, you know exactly what kind of hard work is required to survive a crisis of this magnitude. Imagining the grass to be greener for those following a strategy very different from yours, however, is not a viable solution.

If our free content helps you to contend with these challenges, please consider subscribing to HBR. A subscription purchase is the best way to support the creation of these resources.

Michael Greiner, PhD, J.D. is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland University in Michigan. He formerly worked in business, government, and as a practicing attorney.

Scott Julian, PhD is an Associate Professor of Management at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University in Michigan. His research focuses on executive decision-making, managerial cognition, and CSR.

Avoid Making This Strategic Mistake in a Recession

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One Time This Pony Drank a Lot of Diet Coke. Here’s Why

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One Time This Pony Drank a Lot of Diet Coke. Here’s Why

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Racehorses, unlike race cars, do not usually find themselves plastered with sponsorships from large corporations. No purebred horse ever had, say, a huge GoDaddy.com banner flung over its shanks while it galloped through the Kentucky Derby. But if that’s the way racing is heading, a humble suggestion to all the horses out there: Talk to the Coca-Cola Company.

Not just because there’s big money there. (Although there is: Ask any Olympic partner.) But because as with any good sports sponsorship, the athlete should use the product, and swear that they couldn’t live without it. And it turns out that for some horses, Diet Coke can be a literal lifesaver.

Now many of us would agree: Without a 4 o’clock Diet Coke fix, we’re done for. But the carbonated can isn’t just an equine pick-me-up; it’s actually a treatment for a serious problem. Horses (and humans) can get life-threatening impactions from eating certain foods. The impactions can cause ulcerations or tearing in the intestines or stomach, leading to a lot of pain for the horse and death. Persimmons are one cause of these bezoars (or masses) that block digestion, due to the fiber and seeds that don’t pass well through the horse’s body.

But a 2002 study showed that in humans (five to be exact), Coca-Cola could blast the impaction if given through a nasogastric tube. (And we’re talking a lot of Coke: 3 liters over 12 hours.) Researchers posited that the carbonic and phosphoric acid in the cola causes carbon dioxide bubbles to form in the stomach, which help to disintegrate the bezoars. There’s even a systematic review charting the results of this peculiar treatment, which was successful 91.3 percent of the time in humans, either on its own or combined with another therapy.

And while prudence doesn’t allow us to recommend injecting other animals with beverages normally, the results were intriguing enough to interest equine researchers. In 2007, a paper detailed the first successful treatment of a persimmon bezoar in a horse using Diet Coke, by siphoning the soda through a nasogastric tube. Not a bad endorsement.

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Swarm Intelligence Correctly Predicts Top Four Kentucky Derby Finishers

Could investing in a racehorse make you rich?

Can you steal a few hairs from a racehorse and clone your own?

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Could investing in a racehorse make you rich?

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One Time This Pony Drank a Lot of Diet Coke. Here’s Why

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How Dash Headphones Work

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How Dash Headphones Work

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Music is many things to many people: art, inspiration, expression. For athletes and exercisers, good tunes can also be an important motivation tool. Whether it’s the skull-rattling, heavy Metallica stuff that gets you going or the dulcet, yacht-rock offerings of bands like Hall & Oates, a good soundtrack can extend and enhance a workout. For a minute or two there, you might even forget that you’re pounding the treadmill like a hamster in a wheel or participating in some strange lifting and grunting routine that certainly should be considered a form of torture under international law.

Of course, every exerciser marches to the beat of his or her own drum. Perhaps the mix of top 40 and Euro lounge music that many gym operators seem to enjoy just doesn’t get the job done for you. As personal music devices seem to become increasingly smaller, it’s never been easier to be your own DJ during a session on the stair-climber or a run in the park. There’s just one pesky thing that seems to be getting in the way: wires. Headphone wires seem to have a knack for being too long, too short or simply unable to remain untangled.

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The good news is that the wires may be on their way out. Dash headphones are wireless earbuds expected to hit the market in late 2015 that not only let users listen to music without any messy wires or heavy equipment, but also keep track of workouts while doing it. The minicomputer devices are primarily intended to enhance workouts, by giving users the ability to operate the headphones with predetermined physical cues. Eventually, they also may become a sort of personal assistant that handles a variety of day-to-day tasks. All for just under $300.

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How DASH Will Work

5 Bluetooth Devices Everybody Wants

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Jupiter’s Moon Europa Erupts Water Vapor (Maybe)

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Jupiter’s Moon Europa Erupts Water Vapor (Maybe)

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A NASA teleconference today shared some exciting news about Jupiter’s moon Europa. And no, it doesn’t involve aliens. Instead, this announcement was all about some interesting activity that may be happening on Europa’s surface, which good old Hubble recorded.

The pictures show what appears to be water vapor erupting from the surface of Europa. NASA has shared numerous images, including composites made from data collected by the Hubble telescope and the Galileo and Voyager missions.

NASA’s scientists were careful to phrase their findings as possibilities. That is, the images we have suggest water vapor plumes, but it could be that what we’re seeing are artifacts in the images themselves. But if the interpretation is correct, the pictures tell us that the water vapor eruptions are intermittent.

We know this because Europa is tidally locked with Jupiter, meaning the same side of Europa always faces the planet. That also means we’re always looking at the other side of Europa. But not all the photos of Europa have evidence of water vapor plumes. That means the moon isn’t constantly ejecting water; rather it’s something that happens occasionally.

Assuming water vapor is erupting from Europa, that’s great news for future missions. It means that we’ll have an easier time analyzing the contents of the water for traces of organic material without having to actually drill down through the icy surface to get to the ocean beneath. There’s no guarantee we’ll discover evidence of life in the water vapor, but it’s a promising possibility.

So what is the mechanism that forces water from the subterranean ocean to erupt from the surface? We’re not sure, but we have a few ideas. It’s possible that water from the underground ocean itself could be forced through Europa’s ice shell to erupt on the surface. Tidal forces would push the water through cracks. An alternative hypothesis suggests that the water vapor might originate within the ice itself, not directly from the ocean underneath.

NASA plans to send a mission to Europa to get an up-close look at the moon in the future. We also may employ future telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope, to study Europa and other bodies within our solar system. Perhaps then we’ll be able to answer a few more questions we have regarding the mysterious moon and its underground oceans.

On a related note, as I listened to NASA’s press conference this afternoon, I couldn’t help but reimagine Rutger Hauer’s famous speech at the end of “Blade Runner”: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe — attack ships on fire off the shoulders of Orion, water vapor erupting off the surface of Europa.”

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If You Think Jupiter Orbits the Sun, You’re Mistaken

10 Space Landmarks We’d Like to Visit

How the James Webb Space Telescope Will Work

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If You Think Jupiter Orbits the Sun, You’re Mistaken

10 Space Landmarks We’d Like to Visit

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This Galaxy Doesn’t Have Dark Matter, and That’s Weird

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This Galaxy Doesn’t Have Dark Matter, and That’s Weird

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Dark matter is the bedrock that all galaxies are anchored to. You can’t get one without the other. Or so we thought until astronomers found a ghostly galaxy that doesn’t appear to contain any dark matter. It’s as if the universe is playing a trick on us by flipping the laws of physics on their head — dark matter should be there, but it isn’t.

It’s a “game changer” galaxy, astronomers are saying, and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

We may not be able to spot dark matter, but astronomers can measure its gravitational effects acting on normal matter. For example, they can look at how fast stars cruise around a galaxy. When dark matter is present, that galaxy’s gravity will be bulked up, causing its stars to move faster than if just normal matter were present.

But in the case of NGC1052-DF2, an ultra-diffuse galaxy located 65 million light-years away, astronomers have found that its stars are moving in exactly the way that would be predicted if only the total mass of all the visible stuff is considered. In other words, dark matter doesn’t seem to be exerting its gravity on normal matter in that galaxy. And that’s weird.

“Finding a galaxy without dark matter is unexpected because this invisible, mysterious substance is the most dominant aspect of any galaxy,” Pieter van Dokkum, of Yale University, said in a statement. “For decades, we thought that galaxies start their lives as blobs of dark matter. After that everything else happens: gas falls into the dark matter halos, the gas turns into stars, they slowly build up, then you end up with galaxies like the Milky Way. NGC1052-DF2 challenges the standard ideas of how we think galaxies form.”

Ultra-diffuse galaxies are oddities in their own right, having only been discovered in 2015 as they are very difficult to detect. However, it appears that this class of galaxy is common, but none are like NGC1052-DF2.

The galaxy was discovered using the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, a telescope in New Mexico that’s custom-made to seek out these elusive targets. Then, using the twin 10-meter optical and infrared telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the astronomers singled out 10 bright globular clusters (large compact groups of stars orbiting the galaxy’s core) and used spectral data to measure their motions. These clusters were found to be plodding along more slowly than expected, meaning there’s far less mass in that galaxy than would be predicted. In fact, there’s so little mass that the researchers have come to the astonishing conclusion that there’s little, if any, dark matter there.

Follow-up observations were made by the Gemini North telescope, also on Mauna Kea, so the galaxy’s structure could be studied. With Gemini’s help, the researchers ruled out interactions with other galaxies as being the cause of its weird dark matter deficit.

“If there is any dark matter at all, it’s very little,” said van Dokkum in the press release. “The stars in the galaxy can account for all of the mass, and there doesn’t seem to be any room for dark matter.”

This finding seems to suggest that dark matter has “its own separate existence apart from other components of galaxies,” he added. And this makes the very existence of NGC1052-DF2 a mystery. If it has no dark matter, how did it even evolve into a galaxy?

In their study published in the March 29 issue of Nature, van Dokkum’s team speculates that some cataclysmic event in the galaxy may have cleared out all the dark matter and blasted away all the star-forming gases. Alternatively, the nearby massive elliptical galaxy NGC 1052 may have played a role in NGC1052-DF2’s lack of dark matter billions of years ago when it was undergoing the early and violent stages of evolution.

Now, the researchers are poring over Hubble Space Telescope observations of similar galaxies to perhaps find more that lack dark matter. If they find more, then ultra-diffuse and faint galaxies might be the norm if dark matter isn’t present. And that’s a fascinating development in our understanding of how galaxies evolve.

“Every galaxy we knew about before has dark matter, and they all fall in familiar categories like spiral or elliptical galaxies,” concluded van Dokkum. “But what would you get if there were no dark matter at all? Maybe this is what you would get.”

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Could Dark Matter Spawn ‘Shadow Life’?

10 Scientific Laws and Theories You Really Should Know

What are dark matter and dark energy?

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Could Dark Matter Spawn ‘Shadow Life’?

10 Scientific Laws and Theories You Really Should Know

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Would You Undergo Surgery Just to Be Taller?

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Would You Undergo Surgery Just to Be Taller?

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Alfonso Flores is a 28-year-old freelance writer and pre-med student in Dallas. At 5 foot, 11 inches (1.8 meters) he already enjoyed a height that many people would envy. Still, he longed to top 6 feet and then some, so he underwent limb-lengthening surgery in May 2020. As of June, he’s already gained more than an inch (2.5 centimeters), and still has a couple to go before he maxes out at the expected 3-inch (7.6-centimeter) improvement.

“This is something that I’ve really wanted to do — as far as I can remember — since I was 12. All of my heroes were super-tall. I’m talking about great, accomplished, people like Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and of course my father,” he explains. “These people were remarkable team leaders, hard workers, absolutely selfless, and they embodied everything that I wanted for my future self.”

For many of us, the concept of limb-lengthening is brand new information, despite the fact that it has been done for more than 80 years in a non-cosmetic fashion to even out limbs or even reconstruct them.

Las Vegas-based, Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Debiparshad, who performed Flores’s surgery, has done his fair share of both types of limb-lengthening surgeries. Although volume is low for the cosmetic variety compared to deformity cases, he has noted a marked increase in patient interest since 2018 when he opened LimbplastX, the cosmetic branch of his practice.

“In 2019, I completed 22 cosmetic limb-lengthening cases, and with over 250+ patient inquiries to date, I’m on track to easily double that amount this year,” he says, noting that patient testimonials and public awareness about the procedure are helping it become more socially acceptable.

Currently, 85 percent of people who’ve consulted and/or had the surgery with Debiparshad have been males averaging 5 feet, 6 inches (1.6 meters) in height. “The desire to appear taller, particularly for men, has always been a hot topic in modern day society and social norms,” he explains. “While that is a driver in the popularity to increase their height, reasons for cosmetic limb-lengthening vary, ranging from a boost in self-confidence to improved physical capabilities — all of which change lives.” Indeed, studies have shown that taller-than-average people (particularly taller-than-average men) are more educated, earn more income and are generally more satisfied with life than shorter people.

The technology used by Debiparshad involves placement of a full weight-bearing, FDA-approved implant, available only since 2018. The minimally invasive surgery is designed to lengthen either the thigh bones (femur) or the lower leg bones (tibia), by essentially breaking and healing them. During the X-ray-based surgery, Debiparshad makes between four and six small incisions in the legs, allowing access to the hollow part of the bone. He then inserts the implants, and screws are placed at the top and the bottom of the devices to lock into position.

The implant device is managed (and the extra inches thus added) by way of an external remote control. “Post-surgery, the external remote control is used by the patient to simply increase their height by 1 mm per day at the touch of a button, slowly stretching the legs to increase their height,” he says. “Patients can expect to gain up to 6 inches [15 centimeters] in height across two lengthening surgeries.”

Still, those extra inches come with some risk, not to mention a hefty price tag that most people can’t afford. Cost is about $75,000 to $79,000 according to the institute’s website. Financing is available since health insurance likely won’t cover the procedure. “The initial surgery is painful, but pain can be well controlled with medications to allow same-day walking,” Debiparshad says.

“When I woke up, I wasn’t in as much pain as I thought I would be after just having my legs broken,” Flores recalls, noting that his pain level only rose at any point to about a three or four out of 10. “The most difficult part was sleeping on my back for two days at the hospital.”

Debiparshad says that the bone-lengthening process using the remote control is typically painless (though some patients report pain after surgery). Physical therapy, which begins the day after surgery, can be very uncomfortable. However, patients are expected to return to normal activities only a couple of weeks post-surgery. It takes a few months for the limb-lengthening process to be completed, during which time the patient continues with physical therapy and medical visits.

“Limb lengthening definitely requires a village,” says Delaware-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. L. Reid Boyce Nichols in an email interview. “Physical therapy and frequent doctor’s appointments are needed to avoid complications. There will be time off from school and or work.”

Nichols says that while limb-lengthening done by an experienced surgeon is safe enough, there are considerations to be made. “Because the lengthening involves lengthening bones, muscles, nerves and vessels have to also lengthen. Any surgery, though, has risks, such as infection, difficulty healing and unexpected deformity.”

Aside from that, anyone considering such a cosmetic procedure should think long and hard before proceeding — take it from Flores. “I highly encourage people to really look into themselves before they commit to having the surgery, and really think about why they are doing this to ensure that it’s for the right reasons.”

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Is Height a Factor in Our Health and Happiness?

Do short people live longer?

What’s a Tall Fashionista to Do?

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Is Height a Factor in Our Health and Happiness?

Do short people live longer?

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Why Do We Say, ‘Close, But No Cigar’?

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Why Do We Say, ‘Close, But No Cigar’?

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Cigars don’t just emit acrid smoke that seem to latch onto your clothes — they’ve also spawned some similarly sticky idioms in the English language. For example, there’s, “What we need is a good five-cent cigar,” as in a reference to a sensibly affordable item, as opposed to something overpriced.

But cigar sayings can be much weirder. For example, “Close, but no cigar.”

You didn’t ask for a cigar. Maybe you don’t even like them. So why is someone abruptly denying you one?

This phrase is most often used when someone is nearly — but not quite — successful at something. A football player drops an easy catch. A desperate commuter runs but misses her bus pulling away from the bus stop. A math student doesn’t catch a critical detail and screws up his whole equation.

They’re all situations worthy of “close, but no cigar.”

The gist is obvious to anyone who grew up hearing it spoken among their friends and family. Yet even if you understand what “close, but no cigar” means, you might wonder exactly where this idiom originated.

After all, what do cigars have to do with success?

Turns out, cigars were once used as prizes for carnival games in the United States in the early 20th century. These games of skill or chance were often exasperatingly difficult, and most people failed to win a prize — as an example, think of the smaller-than-regulation basketball hoops at many county fairs that seem to spit out every ball thrown their way.

After each participant failed, the carnival barker would shout, “Close, but no cigar!”

(Cigar Aficionado goes as far as to say the carnival game was “Highball” or “Hi-Striker,” one of those games where the player has to try and make a bell ring by hitting a weight hard enough to drive it up a column to the bell.)

There are references to this phenomenon as early as 1902, in Robert Machray’s book titled, “The Night Side of London,” in which the following passage appears:

Cigars are no longer offered as prizes to carnival goers around the country. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a giant stuffed bear.

The phrase “close, but no cigar” appeared in script for the 1935 film “Annie Oakley.” But there were other earlier recorded uses, in both sports reporting and in National Geographic magazine. No matter who printed it first, it seems certain the phrase traveled quickly through the American vernacular because of the way carnivals moved from place to place.

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