Jimmy Buffett (RIP) Performs His New Song “Margaritaville,” Live in 1978: The Birth of a Song That Later Became a Business Empire

Jimmy Buffett wrote “Margaritaville” in 1977.  It ended up being his only song to reach the pop Top 10. But the song carried him for the next 45 years. When you think Margaritaville, you think of an easy-breezy way of life. And that simple idea infused the brand of Buffett’s Margaritaville business empire. Between the song’s birth and the singer’s death this weekend, Buffett created a Margaritaville business empire that included bars, restaurants, casinos, beach resorts, retirement communities, cruises, packaged foods, apparel, footwear, and beyond. This spring, Buffett improbably made Forbes‘ list of billionaires. Above, you can watch a young Jimmy Buffet perform “Margaritaville” in 1978, right at the beginning of the song’s long journey from hit, to brand, to commercial empire.

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How Streaming Led to the TV Writers Strike: Four TV Writers Explain the Logic of the Strike

Though it’s too early to know what will turn out to be the defining cultural experience of the twenty-twenties, I’d put my money on first hearing of an acclaimed television show from one of its devoted fans only after it’s already been on the air for months or even years, if not after its lamented cancellation. Part of this has to do with a change in quantity, laid out by television writer Warren Leight in the Vox video above: “There used to be 80 shows in a year. Now you’re up to 500, 550 shows in a year,” many of them created not for traditional broadcast networks but for newer, content-hungrier online streaming platforms. “For writers, it was good because it gave people entry.”

Writing for streaming, Leight explains, “you didn’t have to worry about commercial breaks” and their dramatic disruptions. Instead, “you get to write a different structure. Maybe it’s just an organic three-act structure to an hour.” And in shorter streaming seasons, “you could arc a story across eight episodes. You can go a little darker, you can go a little deeper.”

But “as the episode orders have shrunk,” says Leight’s colleague Julia Yorks, “what used to be 40 weeks of the year that you were working is now 20 weeks,” with an at-least-concomitant reduction in paychecks. Whatever its artistic shortcomings, the old “network model” guaranteed a certain degree of stability for those who wrote its shows — a stability disrupted by the age of streaming.

Hence the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, and the centrality to the WGA’s demands of improved residuals (that is, payments made for a production after its initial run) from streaming media. But the professionals interviewed for this video also express concerns about what happens to the shows themselves when their writing gets separated from their production, which has become increasingly common in recent years. On the likes of Law and Order or Friends, says Yorks, “your show was being filmed concurrently when you were in the writers’ room,” creating natural opportunities for continuous cross-disciplinary interaction and collaboration. We may live in a “golden age of television,” but left unchecked, the strain of this fragmentation, as well as the financial difficulties imposed on writers, could very well take the shine off of it.

Related content:

Harlan Ellison’s Wonderful Rant on Why Writers Should Always Get Paid

Raymond Chandler: There’s No Art of the Screenplay in Hollywood

How Breaking Bad Crafted the Perfect TV Pilot: A Video Essay

10 Tips From Billy Wilder on How to Write a Good Screenplay

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Google & Coursera Launch New Career Certificates That Prepare Students for Jobs in 2-6 Months: Business Intelligence & Advanced Data Analytics

Back in 2021, Google launched a series of online courses designed to help students earn a professional certificate in six months and also land an entry-level job. In its original offering, Google developed certificate programs in five professional areas: User Experience (UX) Design, Data Analytics, Project Management, IT Support and IT Automation. Now, the tech company has added two new programs to its lineup, each offered through Coursera’s online education platform.

First, the Google Advanced Data Analytics Professional Certificate builds on the original Data Analytics Certificate and “delves into machine learning, predictive modeling, and experimental design to collect and analyze large amounts of data.” Featuring seven courses in total, the program takes roughly six months to complete and aims to teach students how to 1) build regression and machine learning models to analyze and interpret data, 2) create data visualizations and apply statistical methods to investigate data, and 3) communicate insights from data analysis to stakeholders. Essentially, it teaches many tools of the trade needed to become a senior data analyst or junior data scientist.

With the Google Business Intelligence Professional Certificate, students can participate in a shorter program that focuses on transforming data into actionable insights for organizations. Consisting of three courses (and lasting about two months), the program helps students learn skills like data modeling, data visualization, and dashboarding–skills that have wide applicability in our data-driven age.

Students can actually take individual courses in these professional certificate programs for free. However, if you would like to receive the certificates, Coursera charges $49 per month (after an initial 7-day free trial period). That means that the Advanced Data Analytics Professional Certificate, if completed in 6 months, will cost less than $300. And the Business Intelligence Professional Certificate would run about $100. Once students complete a certificate, they can add the credential to their LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV. Likewise, they can connect with 150+ U.S. hiring organizations in Google’s Employer Consortium. If you would like to learn more about Google Career Certificates, you can read this handy page on University of Texas’ website.

Update: Google has also added a new certificate program focused on Cybersecurity. Find out more about the program here.

You can sign up for the programs by clicking on the links in bold above. Each program has a 7-day free trial.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

Dying from Overwork: Disturbing Looks Inside Japan’s Karoshi and China’s “996” Work System

By most measures, Japan boasts the highest life expectancy in the world. But that ranking, of course, doesn’t mean that every Japanese person sees old age. Though the country’s rate of violent crime is low enough to be the envy of most of the world, its suicide rate isn’t, and it says even more that the Japanese language has a word that refers specifically to death by overwork. I first encountered it nearly thirty years ago in Dilbert comic strip. “In Japan, employees occasionally work themselves to death. It’s called karōshi,” says Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss. “I don’t want that to happen to anybody in my department. The trick is to take a break as soon as you see a bright light and hear dead relatives beckon.”

You can see the phenomenon of karōshi examined more seriously in the short Nowness video at the top of the post. In it, a series of Japanese salarymen (a Japanese English term now well-known around the world) speak to the exhausting and unceasing rigors of their everyday work schedules — and, in some cases, to the emptiness of the homes that await them each night.

The CNBC segment just above investigates what can be done about such labor conditions, which even in white-collar workplaces contribute to the heart attacks, strokes, and other immediate causes of deaths ultimately ascribed to karōshi. In a grim irony, Japan has the lowest productivity among the G7 nations: its people work hard, yet their companies are hardly working.

Initiatives to put a stop to the ill effects of overwork, up to and including karōshi, include mandatory vacation days and office lights that switch off automatically at 10:00 p.m. Among the latest is “Premium Friday,” a program explained in the Vice video above. Developed by Keidanren, Japan’s oldest business lobby, it was initially received as “a direct response to karōshi,” but it has its origins in marketing. “We wanted to create a national event that bolstered consumption,” says the director of Keidanren’s industrial policy bureau. By that logic, it made good sense to let workers out early on Fridays — let them out to shop. But Premium Friday has yet to catch on in most Japanese enterprises, aware as they are that Japan’s economic might no longer intimidates the world.

The aforementioned low productivity, along with a rapidly aging and even contracting population, contributed to Japan’s loss of its position as the world’s second-largest economy. It was overtaken in 2011 by China, a country with overwork problems of its own. The Vice report above covers the “996” system, which stands for working from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m, six days a week. Prevalent in Chinese tech companies, it has been blamed for stress, illness, and death among employees. Laws limiting working hours have thus far proven ineffective, or at least circumventable. Certain pundits never stop insisting that the future is Chinese; if they’re right, all this ought to give pause to the workers of the world, Eastern and Western alike.

Related content:

“Inemuri,” the Japanese Art of Taking Power Naps at Work, on the Subway, and Other Public Places

Why 1999 Was the Year of Dystopian Office Movies: What The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, Office Space & Being John Malkovich Shared in Common

“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

The Employment: A Prize-Winning Animation About Why We’re So Disenchanted with Work Today

What is the Secret to Living a Long, Happy & Creatively Fulfilling Life?: Discover the Japanese Concept of Ikigai

Charles Bukowski Rails Against 9-to-5 Jobs in a Brutally Honest Letter (1986)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Google Unveils a Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Certificate: 7 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

During the pandemic, Google launched a series of Career Certificates that will “prepare learners for an entry-level role in under six months.” Their first certificates focused on Project Management, Data Analytics, User Experience (UX) Design, IT Support and IT Automation. Now comes their latest–a certificate dedicated to Digital Marketing & E-commerce.

Offered on the Coursera platform, the Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate consists of seven courses, all collectively designed to help students “develop digital marketing and e-commerce strategies; attract and engage customers through digital marketing channels like search and email; measure marketing analytics and share insights; build e-commerce stores, analyze e-commerce performance, and build customer loyalty.” The courses include:

In total, this program “includes over 190 hours of instruction and practice-based assessments, which simulate real-world digital marketing and e-commerce scenarios that are critical for success in the workplace.” Along the way, students will learn how to use tools and platforms like Canva, Constant Contact, Google Ads, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Shopify, and Twitter. You can start a 7-day free trial and explore the courses. If you continue beyond that, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That translates to about $235 after 6 months.

If you don’t want to pay, you can audit each course for free, without ultimately receiving the certificate.

Explore the Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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How Eating Kentucky Fried Chicken Became a Christmas Tradition in Japan

This time of year, the internet thrills to the fact that the Japanese eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas. Those Japanese customers who want a premium KFC dinner with all the trimmings ready by Christmas Eve should reserve it well in advance, much as they do with the elaborately decorated kurisumasu keeki that follows it as dessert. Less well-understood are the origins of this curious modern custom. The Japanese themselves, even those who religiously tuck into a Colonel Sanders-branded Christmas dinner each year, are subject to certain misconceptions. At least in my experience, every Japanese person has expressed surprise when told that KFC at Christmastime is not an American tradition.

KFC’s marketing in Japan has long exploited an association with American heritage, implicitly or indeed explicitly.” Colonel Sanders is discovered as a boy of seven baking rye bread in the roomy kitchen of his ‘old Kentucky home,'” writes Japanologist John Nathan in his memoir Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere, describing a KFC television commercial of the 1980s.

“‘A lifetime later,’ the narrator intoned, ‘this same tradition of excellence was transferred by the Colonel to his fried chicken.’ The preposterous selling point was KFC as traditional, aristocratic food from the American South. I couldn’t imagine a more amusing example of an American advertiser playing to Japan’s national obsession with American values and manners.”

This commercial appears in The Colonel Comes to Japan, a 1981 half-hour documentary Nathan filmed for the WGBH business series Enterprise. So does Loy Weston, the American executive in charge of KFC’s Japanese operations, who insists that the aristocracy angle offers no “consumer benefit.” But when informed by a Japanese executive that the spot tested better than any they’d produced before, he responds simply: “I give up. This is Japan.” Four decades later, Westerners who want to succeed doing business in the Land of the Rising Sun must still share that attitude — especially when presented with strategies they lack the cultural grounding to comprehend.

KFC’s presence in Japan goes back to 1970, when its first store opened for the Osaka World Expo. Its manager Takeshi Okawara was the one to think of promoting the chain’s “party barrels” of chicken as a festive substitute for an American-style turkey dinner. The inspiration, according to the Cheddar Examines video at the top of the post, was being asked by a local school to deliver chicken to its Christmas party dressed as Santa Claus. (His willingness to do so no doubt played a part in his later becoming Japanese KFC’s chief executive.) Within a few years “Kentucky Christmas” had become a household phrase, and one still used in the more recent TV commercials compiled just above.

In Japan, a country where Christians constitute just one or two percent of the population, eating KFC has become one of Christmas’ primary cultural associations. The Christmas song “Sutekina Holiday” by Mariya Takeuchi — now world-famous as the singer of the revived-by-Youtube 1980s dance tune “Plastic Love” — is commonly known as “the Kentucky Christmas song.” With Christmastime business accounting for a startling ten percent of Japanese KFC’s sales in any given year, measures have been taken to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t put too much of a dent into it: the introduction of some social distancing, for example, into its notoriously long holiday lines. Kentucky Christmas has proven a success year after year in Japan, but thus far it hasn’t been adopted in other Asian countries. It certainly hasn’t in Korea, where I live — but then again, we’ve got much better fried chicken out here.

Related Content:

Hōshi: A Short Film on the 1300-Year-Old Hotel Run by the Same Japanese Family for 46 Generations

In Japanese Schools, Lunch Is As Much About Learning As It’s About Eating

The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant Where All the Servers Are People Living with Dementia

Watch Andy Warhol Eat an Entire Burger King Whopper–While Wishing the Burger Came from McDonald’s (1981)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

John Cleese Presents His 5-Step Plan for Shorter, More Productive Meetings (1976)

Let’s face it, meetings are boring at best and at worst, chaotic, volatile, and potentially violent. And let’s also face it: to get through life as functioning adults, we’re going to have to sit through one or two of them — or even one or two of them a week.

Maybe we’re the one who calls the meetings, and maybe they all feel like a waste of time. One solution is to have more informal meetings. This can be especially tempting in the age of work-from-home, when it’s impossible to know how many meeting attendees are wearing pants. Fewer rules can raise the spontaneity quotient, but allowing for the unexpected can invite disaster as well as epiphany.

On the other end of the scale, we have the formality of parliamentary rules of order, such as those introduced by U.S. Army officer Henry Martyn Robert in 1876. Robert, whose father was the first president of Morehouse College, gained a wealth of experience with unproductive meetings as he traveled around the country with the Army. One particular meeting became a defining experience, as one account has it:

While in San Francisco, the local leader of his community didn’t show up for a church meeting. Henry Robert was asked to preside over the town hall (without any prior notice). Let’s just say that on this particular evening in 1876, he did a bad job. An hour into the meeting, people were screaming and the church actually erupted into open conflict.

Sadly, this sort of thing has become almost routine at town halls and school board meetings. But it needn’t be so at the office. Nor, says John Cleese in the brief video above, do meetings need to follow the formality of parliamentary procedure.

Cleese’s rules are simpler even than the simplified Roberts or Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, an even more simplified version of Robert’s Rules. Furthermore, Cleese avoids using words like “Rules” which can be a turn-off in our egalitarian times. Instead, he presents us with a “5-Step Plan” for holding better and shorter meetings.

1. Plan — Clear your mind about the precise objectives of the meeting. Be clear why you need it and list the subjects.
2. Inform — Make sure everyone knows exactly what is being discussed, why, and what you want from the discussion. Anticipate what information and people may be needed and make sure they’re there.
3. Prepare — Prepare the logical sequence items. Prepare the time allocation to each item on the basis of its importance not its urgency.
4. Structure and Control — Take the evidence stage before the interpretation stage and that before the action stage and stop people jumping ahead or going back over ground.
5. Summarize all decision and record them straight away with the name of the person responsible for any action

Easy, right? Well, maybe not so easy in practice, but these steps can, at the very least, illuminate what’s wrong with your meetings, which may currently resemble one of Cleese’s many parodies of business culture. Nobody videophoned it in at the time, but trying to figure out who’s supposed to be doing what can still take up an afternoon. Let Cleese’s five steps bring order to the chaos.

Related Content: 

John Cleese on How “Stupid People Have No Idea How Stupid They Are” (a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect)

John Cleese Revisits His 20 Years as an Ivy League Professor in His New Book, Professor at Large: The Cornell Years

Monty Python’s John Cleese Creates Ads for the American Philosophical Association

John Cleese’s Very Favorite Comedy Sketches

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Become a Project Manager Without a College Degree with Google’s Project Management Certificate

As we first mentioned last year, Google has launched a series of Career Certificate programs that allow students to gain expertise in a field, ideally enough to start working without a 4-year college degree. This initiative now includes a Certificate in Project Management, which consists of six courses.

  • Foundations of Project Management
  • Project Initiation: Starting a Successful Project
  • Project Planning: Putting It All Together
  • Project Execution: Running the Project
  • Agile Project Management
  • Capstone: Applying Project Management in the Real World

Above, a Program Manager talks about “her path from dropping out of high school and earning a GED, joining the military, and working as a coder, to learning about program management and switching into that career track.” An introduction to the Project Management certificate appears below.

The Project Management program takes about six months to complete, and should cost about $250 in total. Students get charged $39 per month until they complete the program.

You can explore the Project Management certificate here. And find other Google career certificates in other fields–e.g. UX Design and Data Analytics–over on this page. All Google career courses are hosted on the Coursera platform.

Find more online certificate programs from an array of providers here.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.