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Dear Bloggers, Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for Your Mode Media Money

Culture

Just a few months ago it seems like a good chunk of the American-based internet imploded when Mode Media shocked the blogging community by collapsing on itself, leaving a mountain of debt and unkept promises.

It was the kind of shut down that gave people Enron-like jitters — no severance or Cobra health plans, no time to collect your belongings and build resumes — just get out and leave your laptops in the office, because those would eventually be sold for pennies on the dollar to help make up for what some industry insiders have said is likely close to $50 million. Millions of that is owed to the thousands of bloggers, contributors, and social media talent Mode peddled to get rich —rich enough to buy a company house in the Hamptons and write it off as a company expense— and those bloggers are small, independent female business owners more often than not. The company's CEO, Samir Arora, was said to have okayed company dinners costing upward of $40,000 (champagne doesn't come cheap, does it?), jet expenditures, and over the top luxuries that would eventually help tip the company beyond a financial breaking point. Mode didn't screw over corporate America, they screwed over every girl next door just trying to turn a buck on her earned work.

Giant numbers that seem nearly impossible to pay off with some secondhand laptops and office furniture, but if you've ever wondered what happens to Silicon Valley monsters who go under in a flash, the answer is simply that technology doesn't vanish. Email lists don't disappear. Contacts, agreements, and concepts don't just run off into the sunset.

“I was with Mode for about three years," shared blogger Misti Schindele of mistimichelle.com. “I used them as my exclusive advertising network, used them to get sponsored posts, and was a contributor for MODE.com. They owed me $1,200 when they shut down — so not nearly as much as other bloggers but when you count on that money every month, its a blow."

While $1,200 may seem like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to other bloggers who had entire networks of writers under their belt who are claiming losses as great as $200,000 when factoring in unpaid invoices for email lists, social media promotion, and other content distribution.

“They stiffed me for five months of advertising revenue including banners, pushdowns, full takeover ads, and a sponsored post with Target I was never paid for," said blogger Amber Murray of BeautyJunkiesUnite.com. “After I found out of the closure, I had to do investigative work and contact Sherwood Partners myself to ask about the status of my money. I was given the run around for months, and honestly just gave up after filling out their physical forms and online forms, stating exactly how much money I was out. I was told I would be paid after March when the assets were allocated to their creditors, etc. I honestly don't believe I will ever see a penny. To this day, Sherwood Partners has made no attempt to contact me or explain what is going on."

Samir Arora by Amy Sussman/Invision for Mode Media/AP Images

There's a reason for that — almost every blogger and content producer who was ever associated with Mode signed a TOS agreement that outlined them as a contractor, service provider — never as an employee or secured debt holder.

That means that in the hierarchy of debt satisfaction, the bloggers who made Mode a giant money machine will never see even a few coins from their losses unless there's an absolute miracle of unicorn proportions.

Selling Assets

Mode has actually already generated some income — they've been selling off their assets in piecemeal versus the entire company to further escape the possibility of satisfying this debt. Selling individual assets (technology, email lists, etc) helps the company escape their overall liability, which no new company will ever want to take on. Any funds generated from these sales will go to satisfying secured and unsecured debts first (so literally, the company credit cards come way before the bloggers ever would). They've already sold millions in assets to companies based in Japan and depending on who you ask, those assets fetched anywhere from $20-50 million USD — more than enough to at least pay the “missing" salaries of disgruntled, debt-ridden former employees. But that's unlikely, because Mode is busy selling off as many American assets as possible now, and is more focused on repaying mortgages and other liens.

Mode Media as it once was

Industry insiders have reported Mode selling off their banner generation technology to another American media distribution group for $6 million USD (the deal is not yet closed), with additional assets seeing price tags of $100,000 and up. Theoretically, that's a lot of small mom and pop entrepreneurs who could have enough cash to keep their lights on, but the banks and more formal creditors will come first.

If you're wondering what this means to the paycheck you're missing from last fall, it means chasing it is probably a wasted lot of energy, but you'll take this as a lesson to never sign another agreement that outlines you as a mere “vendor."

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.