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How To Monetize Your Food Obsession

Career

According to Bon Appetit, tastemakers hold power in the form of social media accounts. You no longer have to be a well-established food critic to be treated like one; all you need is a camera of some sort and a social media following. Different tastemakers have different policies, as the realm of social media tastemakers is still very new.


Some people take advantage of this, while others don’t. Be the one who takes advantage, but don’t overdo it. In fact, a higher following doesn’t necessarily grant you better treatment or even access to the goods. Restaurant PR firms have become weary of the arrogant self-proclaimed Insta-famous divas, and they will opt for those with a more modest following (between 10k and 40k).

Code #1 in The Career Code, entitled Find Something You Love to Do, and Then Figure Out a Way to Get Paid for It” is arguably one of the more disputable codes in the book. What if what you love to do is illegal? What if it’s self-destructive? What if the amount you get paid for it isn’t enough? Hillary Kerr, herself, added a caveat to this code. She loves food, and her friends urge her to turn her love into something she could monetize – because she easily could – but she won’t. “I love food, but I don’t ever want to look at it from a work perspective.”

However, for those of you who who wouldn’t mind turning your lifestyle into a steady cash flow, keep reading. You, too, can join the ranks of New Fork City and The Infatuation. The best part is that people (like your mom) can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

Your objective is to become a tastemaker or what 2016 refers to as an “influencer.” Put simply, “a tastemaker is anyone who can influence the way you eat.” According to David Sax, the tastemakersaved the deli.

The best part is that people can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

That being said, the ones who act like divas do it because they know they can get away with it. Not only can tastemakers – particularly those on Instagram – save a business, but they can also help a business flourish. And restaurants know this – going so far as to hire architecture firms to design their spaces to achieve peak “Instagrammability.” Even I have an entire board on Pinterest filled with pictures of menu items from restaurants I want to try in New York City. All of them are pictures I pulled from tastemakers on Instagram. I had no intention of ever going to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer or Emmy Squared until I saw pictures of the food on Instagram. That’s no coincidence.

But why stop at restaurants? “Each of these Instagrammers has amassed a group of loyal followers, often parlaying that success into cookbooks, TV shows and brand partnerships.” One ‘grammer turned her “Instagram pics into an e-commerce business that prints the photos onto phone cases, tote bags and stationary.”

You need to take an epic photograph. Go beyond epic, for good measure. You need to geotag. You need to hashtag. You need to tag(your sponsors).

Most importantly, do not to lose your footing as a tastemaker. You must be on top of the food trends. According to David Sax, “the most successful food trends reflect what’s going on in society at a given time.” If you see that juicing is in again, strike a sponsorship deal with Organic Avenue (before they die again). If there’s yet another national tragedy, make yourself available to the well-known comfort food brands and restaurants before anyone else does. Pay attention, and stay with the times.

Right now, it’s a culture, but it won’t be long before it’s a full-fledged industry. Strike while the iron is hot. Then, when it cools down, monetize another obsession.

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Lifestyle

Unconventional Parenting: Why We Let Our Children Curse

"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."


In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.

And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.

Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.

But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…

Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.

Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.

And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.

And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.

We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.

Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.

And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.

The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.

And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.

I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.

As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.

Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.

We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.