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A Day In The Life Of A New York City Super-Connector

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Jared Kleinert

Ever wondered what it is like to meet your favorite social media superstars or interview your favorite startup founders? What if you could meet almost anyone you wanted and spend hours learning about their ideas, business-building strategies, and life stories? We caught up with entrepreneur, TED speaker, and award-winning author Jared Kleinert last year as he was interviewing contributors for his new book 3 Billion Under 30 and asked him to document “a day in the life” in order to learn firsthand how he’s been able to become USA Today’s “Most Connected Millennial” and “The Most Connected ‘Kid’ You Don’t Know (But Probably Should)” according to Inc. We see our favorite personalities on YouTube or Instagram, or obsess over new startups and try to meet them for coffee, but to no avail. Sure, it would be cool to get a selfie with these people or include them in your snap story, but what if you could make friends and do business with them? Jared has, and by following him, we can learn to do the same ourselves.

 

[Enter Jared Kleinert]

 

At 10 a.m., I walk up to the Hyatt on 45th street and meet Jason Liebman, of the producers of my new web series, Stories From The 3 Billion Under 30 (whose co-producer is Roberto Blake, a well-known creative entrepreneur and social media influencer). We are here to interview Furious Pete, a YouTuber who has over 5 million subscribers as well as an entrepreneur, sponsored bodybuilder, competitive eater, world record holder in multiple categories, author, TV show host, and cancer survivor. We go up to the 20th floor and enter Pete’s hotel room, chatting with his fiance Melissa who is about to (bravely) take on Times Square in search of coffee while we record two interviews – one to include Pete in my next book and one to include him in the web show.

The day hasn’t even started yet and I’m already humbled. After this, we have interviews with a VC-backed startup founder, co-founder of a non-profit impacting over 50,000 high school students across seven cities, one of the most connected individuals in the business world who runs an event series that is harder to get into than Harvard, the head of a media company with millions of social media followers and tens of millions of monthly unique views on their website each year, and dinner with a good friend and well-known Instagram influencer making over $50,000 monthly from her “side hustle”.

Back to Furious Pete, we spend the next ninety minutes reflecting on his story – from overcoming anorexia when he was younger to his work, lifestyle, and even the German TV show he hosts despite only speaking English and coming from Polish descent. We laugh over my eggs-and-pancakes-themed socks and exchange a furious fist bump in between interviews. All it took to get access to this social media influencer was an introduction from a mutual friend and a ten minute phone call beforehand. Now, we were becoming friends in the moment and finding new ways to help one another. He even pulled out his camera as we walked out and caught footage for his vlogs, which as a stand-alone YouTube channel has over 500,000+ subscribers. I’m just happy I shaved this morning.

In the subway back to my office in the Financial District, I send a 30 second video message to happiness researcher and Snapchat influencer Virginia Salas Kastilio, who I’ve already interviewed for the web series and chronicled for 3 Billion Under 30. We met at SXSW while wearing banana costumes and leading the world-record-breaking attempt for most dancing fruit in one place (or something like that). It’s her birthday today, and I make it a point to call people or send a personal message of admiration as much as possible in a world where everyone else resorts to impersonal posts on Facebook. I record and send the video right as we enter the Q train heading downtown and before I lose wi-fi for the next twenty minutes.

Waiting on the 17th floor of Wework as we walk in is Layla Tabatabaie, lawyer-turned-startup founder who is working on three completely different projects right now. She has her investor-backed startup BarterSugar which helps companies trade professional services with one another, TaleMonster, which is still in beta and aims to assist content creators in sharing works of fiction with readers who can “choose their own adventure” and change what they read in real time based on different jump-off points in the story, and Drinking Press which is a podcast covering history and culture through different drinks of choice (so far, they’ve recorded episodes while drinking whiskey, picklebacks, and Soju, a Korean spirit which is currently one of the most popular drinks in the world).

kleinert jared

photo by Liebs Media

We need to be finished with our interview at 1 p.m. in order to travel back uptown to interview Kanya Balakrishna, the co-founder of The Future Project who was introduced to me by a professor and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. He, like global bestselling author Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson, Cleveland Cavs owner and billionaire Dan Gilbert, Alicia Keys, Deepak Chopra, and others support this nonprofit, which works with over 50,000 students in schools nationwide to help them identify projects they can work on to help them see a brighter future, and so I’m really excited to interview her both for the book and for the web series we’ve been shooting all day (we record episodes in batches, typically each Thursday).

We wrap up, share big hugs with Layla, and grab protein bars from the market downstairs. Considering my newest marketing consulting client is Ample, a 500 Startups company that raised $70,000 on Indiegogo in its first two day and went on to raise over $367,000 in one month for its “meal-in-a-bottle” solution to help people gain optimal nutrition in a rush, I’m already feeling guilty, but alas, the show must go on and we are otherwise going to be late for yet another subway ride.  

About a half hour later, we walk into The Future Project offices. Apparently, yesterday was Kanya’s birthday, and so there are signs and pictures of her all over the office with words of admiration from her team and program alum. We’re a few minutes late, and squeezed in a 3:30 p.m. meeting after this, so we only have about forty-five minutes to do two interviews and learn how The Future Project has corralled so much support in such little time.

As we head down the elevator, I check my email to see that New York Times bestselling author Dave Kerpen has just published an article about me saying that I’m “The Most Connected Kid You Don’t Know Yet (But Probably Should)” and sharing my “5 Strategies For Quickly Building An Influential Network”, which are the reasons to why I’ve been running around the city meeting all these incredible people today.

I quickly post the article to Facebook, shout out all the mentors and friends I mentioned in the interview, and retweet some of the comments readers have already shared online. Apparently, my next interviewee Jayson Gaignard has already seen the post and commented on my Facebook status, so the pressure is on!

kleinert jared

photo by Liebs Media

We enter another hotel near where we had our first interview this morning (why is everyone staying near Times Square?) and see Jayson in the fourth floor lobby. Jayson Gaignard is the founder of Mastermind Talks, one of the most exclusive events each year that hosts thought leaders like Tim Ferriss, Dave Asprey, Gary Vaynerchuk, Lewis Howes, Marie Forleo, and is harder to get into than Harvard with a less than 1% acceptance rate for the thousands of entrepreneurs attempting to get into Jayson’s events.

Much to my surprise, I learn that Jayson is still only 30 (turning 31 next week) and so I offer to include him in my next book, prompting us to dive into two interviews and spend the next hour-plus chatting about how to build super-powered networks. I’m geeking out and am again humbled – Jayson is where I want to be in a decade, running a seven-figure business with a network that influences millions in industries ranging from tech to internet marketing and publishing. This article may as well be a day in his life, but I digress.

We are running over our hour time allotment because we are having fun and sharing so much practical advice with our eventual audiences, and he has a meeting with none other than investor and author James Altucher right after we wrap up.

Ten minutes later, I’m meeting James for the first time (I’ve been a big fan of his work for over a year, and even gave his book Choose Yourself to my mom) and giving my goodbyes to Jayson, a new friend, book contributor, and web show interviewee all wrapped into one.

kleinert jared

photo by Liebs Media

5:30 pm is when I finally stumble into my office again. The crowd has cleared on this Thursday night and I’m left relatively alone to choose a conference room in which to set up for my next interview, which isn’t until 8:00 pm and is over Skype.

In the meantime I reach out to potential contributors for 3 Billion Under 30, the follow-up to my first book 2 Billion Under 20 which was voted the #1 Entrepreneurship Book of 2015. So far, everyone from entrepreneurs running 7, 8, and 9 figure businesses to pro athletes, Guinness World Record holders, venture capitalists, industry-leading designers, corporate intrapreneurs, and others have sent me their stories so I can share them with the world and encourage our generation to act on their passions in life and unite in solving the world’s most pressing problems. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh called my last book, “a challenge to young people across the globe,” and I’m increasingly getting more excited about 3 Billion Under 30 because it is shaping up to be the blueprint to accepting such a challenge.

Soon 8:00 p.m. rolls around and Joel Brown from Addicted2Success.com hops on the line. In a few short years, Joel has grown his media company to social media accounts that collectively have millions of followers and an annual unique visitor count of over 50 million. I used to write for his outlet, and now get to hear his most recent story to be shared in my book about struggling with TSA to re-enter the country after temporarily leaving the U.S. to head to Mexico for a friend’s bachelor party (he’s here on a six month visa from Australia). I’m glued to the screen as he shares the experience and how we was kept in a deportation chamber for twelve hours because the officers didn’t understand how he makes money online.

40 minutes we wrap up, wave goodbye via video chat, and I walk out to the shared area in our office to see Alex Wolf, a good friend, Instagram influencer, and entrepreneur who is here to grab dinner with me on Stone Street, the famous restaurant strip near Wall Street that fortunately happens to be right behind the building. Alex has grown various Instagram accounts totalling over 260,000 followers and has a business generating over $30,000 monthly that she doesn’t even run anymore (she has since hired a CEO to run the brand BossBabe she became famous for in order to grow a stronger personal brand). Earlier this week she was named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People” in business, and so just as I have been all day, I’m just happy to be here. We wrap up at around 10:30 pm and I head back to my office to send out my free daily “Millennial To Watch” newsletter (where I cover impressive peers of mine from all different backgrounds and industries) before heading back to Brooklyn and calling it a night.

Not every day of mine ends up like this, but I’ve set up projects like 2 Billion Under 20 and 3 Billion Under 30 that force me to meet interesting, exceptional talents given that all my work revolves around identifying, befriending, and connecting top-performing Millennials so I can help educate companies about how to best engage our generations and educate the public about why young people hold more power today than ever before.

I share this not to impress you, but to impress upon you that you too can create these connections and build a network that wants you to be successful and values your unique input. If I can build a 100% self-made network like this in less than five years, imagine what you can do if you take the time to develop a career around providing others with as much exposure, support, and rewards for their work as possible.

Help others by bringing awareness to their work and the stories they have to share, and they will certainly help you in return.

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Billionaires Be Warned: Organized Labor on the Rise

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Last week, Apple retail workers in Towson, Maryland, voted 65-33 to seek entry into the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers trade union. It’s a story that’s consistent with a promising trend.

In the last several months, a number of victories have been tallied for worker’s rights around the country.

In December, a Starbucks in Buffalo became the first of its company-owned U.S. locations to form a union. Since then, at least 150 of the 9,000 company-run U.S. stores have voted to unionize, with 10 stores rejecting the union. 

In January, engineers and other Google workers announced that they had formed a union—the Alphabet Workers Union— named after Google’s parent company, Alphabet. It represents about 800 Google employees.

April saw Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York vote to unionize, marking a first for the retail giant.

In May, video game workers at a division of game publisher Activision Blizzard voted to unionize, making them the first to create a labor union at a large U.S. videogame company.

Per a 2021 Gallup Poll: at least 68% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest since Gallup found a 71% approval in 1965.

A resurgence of unions after years of decline.

President Biden has been vocal about his support for the decision. 

“I am proud of them,” 

Biden said in a statement to reporters. 

Workers have a right to determine under what condition they are going to work or not work.”

This is a far cry from the days of President Reagan publicly firing striking air traffic controllers, a move that signaled to the weakening labor movement that times were changing. Of course, labor rights weren’t always such a contentious topic. 

In the mid-1950s, approximately one out of every three non-farm workers were unionized. This was, of course, the peak of labor’s power in the US. 

In subsequent decades, the ranks of unionized workers would shrink. By the 80s and 90s, due to a combination of economic and political developments, the decline in unions accelerated.

The opening of overseas markets and the emergence of outsourcing put organized labor at a severe disadvantage. 

Around this same period, U.S. employers developed a set of legal— and illegal—practices that could effectively rid establishments of existing unions and prevent new unions from organizing. 

These practices included: threatening union sympathizers with firings and holding a mandatory meeting wherein workers would be subject to anti-union propaganda. Additionally, many employers hired permanent replacements for striking workers.

But Biden has been relatively labor-friendly. In February, a Biden administration task force issued a set of recommendations aimed at making it easier for federal workers and contractors to unionize.

The report argues that the trend of declining union membership has coincided with a rising share of income going to the top 10% of earners.

Youth movement gives labor unions a new hope.

After decades of decline, U.S. unions are finding hope in a growing movement among the youth. Union approval is high— and growing—with the youngest workers. This is reflected by membership levels, which are trending upwards for workers between the ages of 25 and 34. Even as they decline among other age groups.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of union members among workers aged 25-34 rose from 8.8% to 9.4% 

The aforementioned Alphabet Workers Union, for example, is run by five people under the age of 35.

This is consistent with a greater political trend among young people: the youth is less susceptible to the anti-socialist boogeyman rhetoric that successfully fleeced previous generations of working people’s rights.

It’s important to remember that many of the things we take for granted today are the products of union involvement. The eight-hour work day? Labor unions. Job safety laws? Labor unions. Overtime pay? Labor Unions. Weekends? Labor unions. Worker’s Comp? Labor unions. Employer-based health coverage? Labor unions.

And the list goes on.

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Who Does Tori Dunlap Think She Is?

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If you haven’t heard of Tori Dunlap, you’re probably not seeking financial advice. If you are seeking financial advice, you can do a lot better than Tori Dunlap. 

Tori Dunlap is an entrepreneur who claims to have saved $100,000 by the age of 25. After achieving such astonishing success so early in life, she simply had to quit her corporate job so she could devote her energy to helping women learn their financial independence and unassumed dominance in our white cis male-run society. 

Her mission? To create the brand HerFirst100K and…

Idk man… seems kinda gimmicky. 

Disclaimer: I am a cis white male with no financial expertise to speak of criticizing a cis white female financial pundit. I have zero doubts that Dunlap could balance a checkbook better than I ever could. I am not here to offer any financial advice. Rather, I am criticizing Dunlap’s approach to fiscal responsibility and her overall authenticity. 

In short: We’re not buying it and neither should you. 

How Did She *Really* Get $100K by 25? 

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At 25, I was working as a barback in a local gay bar and on the cusp of starting my first professional writing job. I had maybe $600 to my name and very poor financial instincts – you could call me a ‘spendthrift.

My peers around the same age were all fairly financially inept or carefree. Sure, we would meet our responsibilities but we sure as hell weren’t saving – and not for lack of trying. We all worked incredibly hard, dirty, thankless jobs for very little money and could be fired on a whim. None of us would have been able to save up to $100K by 25. 

By 25, I had been working steady jobs for 10 years. Even if I didn’t spend a single cent over those 10 years I don’t think the number would have ever reached $100K. Pardon my doubts, but how is a 25-year-old, any 25-year-old, able to save up to $100,000 all by themselves? After some digging, it turns out she did it with a lot of discipline and a lot of luck. 

She graduated college with zero debt, landed a job in digital marketing with a salary of $55K/year, and put a disciplined percentage of her take-home into saving and an investment fund. These are all great, very privileged ways to save $100,000 in three years. 

I’m curious to know how a 22-year-old snagged an investment fund and knew which investments would pay off and how much they earned but… I digress. 

I don’t sneeze at this kind of discipline. Many people would benefit from a financial discipline such as that. I do sneeze a little by using this as a marketing tactic. While she qualifies this by admitting her privilege, she makes her achievement the main marketing point of Her First $100K. 

I did this and so can you!” the sentiment screams. Except most people can’t. And I think Ms. Dunlap knows that. 

Tori Dunlap Is Not Qualified To Give Anyone Financial Advice

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The only thing I trust Tori Dunlap to do is market and brand herself effectively. She’s cool, she’s hip, she can play along with the broader trends, she TikToks with the best of ‘em, and it all feels so desperately empty and deeply phony. 

I think Tori Dunlap has a keen eye for self-promotion that masquerades as “woke financial advice.” This would be fine if it wasn’t potentially f*cking with people’s money. There are people out there with some serious financial issues and concerns. If they trust Tori Dunlap, they could be misled because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

I don’t mean she doesn’t know how to assert her value and practice financial discipline. I mean she doesn’t have the financial authority to be profiting off the advice she gives. It’s like getting medical advice from a sickly friend – they’ve got experience but no expertise. 

TikTok Advice Isn’t Real Advice

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If you take a look at Dunlap’s TikTok, it looks pretty much like every other TikToker out there. On her page, the financial advice is few and far between. It appears that TikTok is the space where she promotes her brand, podcast, and book – with a whole lot of cookie-cutter trends you will find on any account. 

When you finally do get to her financial advice, it’s no different than if you were to ask your fiscally savvy friend. For example, “know your worth and advocate for it” is a great bit of advice, it’s one I tell my peers at work – but it’s not expertise. It’s a good ol’ fashioned, “you can do it!” Which is nice, but it’s not practically helpful. What you’re getting from Dunlap are educated tips from someone who is being nice to you. 

When you present yourself as an authority figure you have a responsibility that comes with it. Telling people you are the savior from the patriarchy if you pay for her course doesn’t exactly scream “hero.” 

There’s nothing wrong with providing a service and charging for it. There is, however, something really gross about masquerading as a feminist hero when you’re actually an unqualified financial nobody with no serious credentials to speak of. 

Tori Dunlap is not qualified to be giving financial advice to anyone. She says so on her site: 

LEGAL STUFF: I am not a licensed financial advisor. I offer education, not prescriptive advice. The information that is found here are my opinions and the opinions of other readers/contributors and should be taken as such.” 

Legal stuff.” Cute, so relatable. 

All of Dunlap’s success stories are social media posts, texts, and emails. Hardly a case study. 

Dunlap claims to be “leading a movement of financial feminists,” but a quick Google search on female financial advisors yields no results for Ms. Dunlap. What exactly is she leading? You cannot be a leader when you don’t show up on the first 12 pages of Google. 

Here’s What An Actual Financial Expert Says

We spoke to Danetha Doe, an economist with over 10 years of experience in the financial industry. She has worked as an accountant and a CFO. She also created Money & Mimosas, a financial education resource for ambitious folks. 

In short, Ms. Doe knows her sh*t.

We asked Ms. Doe about how the average person could save up to $100K by the age of 25. 

I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe the average person can save $100K by 25. 

“In order to do that, they would either need to be born into wealth, have zero student loans, work for a startup that goes public or gets acquired, or start a business that is financially successful. 

“All of those scenarios do not apply to the average person.

“The median salary for an individual is under $40,000. Therefore, the average person earns about $40,000. In order to reach $100K in savings on an average salary could take decades in the United States.

Ms. Doe has a lot of excellent financial advice without being patronizing or weaponizing oppression for profit. She has a professional and personal background that makes her an effective authority when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

My two grandmothers [are the financial experts I admire most]. 

“They came to the United States as immigrants and became real estate investors during a time when Black women were systematically shut out of wealth-building opportunities in this country. 

“Their lasting legacy guides my financial decisions.

If you want to learn finance tips from someone who can relate to or understand your experience fully, Danetha Doe is the way to go

Besides, who doesn’t love a mimosa? 

What In The Hell Is ‘Feminist Financial Advice?’

What is it about financial advice that needs to be tailored specifically for women? Let’s take a super casual and lazy glance at successful women, shall we? 

Suze Orman is a trusted financial authority and has been around for a minute

Madonna has built herself an entertainment empire by being unapologetically female

Rihanna became a billionaire through her music and some super-savvy business moves. 

Laverne Cox bulldozed expectations and helped establish a foundation for trans artists. 

Sheryl Sandburg is the most powerful woman in Big Tech – did you see what happened when she resigned from Meta?

There is no shortage of female financial advisors. What kind of niche does Dunlap think she’s tapping into? Dunlap says on her site

I watched female friends get paid less than they were worth. I read stories about women being denied career opportunities because they were seen as ‘less.’ 

“Male colleagues said sexist, negative comments to me at work. I learned that women hold the majority of debt in America and that they invest less of their money than men, yet live for seven years longer. 

“So I knew that I had to fight back.

Sure, Jan. 

Fighting Sexism By Leaning Into Sexism

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I don’t think anybody disagrees (save for a few members of the Republican Party) that women have a tougher go of it than men. To be honest, it’s a bit of a stretch to connect general sexism with financial education. I learned how to budget from my mother, a woman who has had to fight her own battles with sexism and misogyny as the only female partner at her law firm. 

Frankly, I think the assumption that women need help from an unlicensed non-expert in order to learn fiscal responsibility is teetering on sexism. At the very least, it’s grossly condescending and certainly inauthentic. 

If you’re in a position where you need financial advice, you want it from someone who is a serious advisor, not a trending influencer with no qualifications. With inflation at a 40-year high and an underpaid workforce fighting for its value, we cannot afford to take financial advice from someone clearly more interested in self-promotion and branding. 

Dunlap appears to be less focused on offering genuine financial advice and far more focused on hitting woke buzzwords in an effort to patronize marginalized communities for profit. If you want to find a female-focused financial authority, try Ellevest instead. 

Tori Dunlap’s Communications Lead declined to comment.

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Vince McMahon Stepped Down From WWE. Or Did He?

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The news rang out around the world on Friday. 

Vince McMahon, father and face of the modern WWE, is voluntarily stepping down from his CEO position. The news came amid allegations of misconduct, affairs, and hush money.

And then, the strangest thing happened. Moments later, WWE announced that McMahon would make an appearance during Smackdown. Many speculated that McMahon would take the opportunity to admit remorse, address the new path, or prepare a last goodbye for fans.

Instead, he did this.

“It is a privilege, as always, to stand before you here tonight, the WWE Universe. Especially a privilege to stand here in this ring in Minnesota.

I’m here simply to remind you of the four words we just saw in what we call the WWE signature. Those four words are then, now, forever, and the most important word is together.

Welcome to SmackDown!”

“Bizarre spectacle” is a phrase that could appear under the dictionary definition for World Wrestling Entertainment.. But even fans were left scratching their heads by this appearance, with one caught on camera appearing to ask “That’s it?”

What really happened to Vince McMahon

Image credit: CNN

If you didn’t read past headlines about stepping down amid misconduct allegations, you might be stunned that McMahon would appear on TV at all. The truth, as is often the case, is a bit more complicated.

Per The Wall Street Journal, an inquiry began in April concerning a secret payout of $3 million that a WWE paralegal received in January. McMahon allegedly had an affair with the employee. The investigation opened up other, older NDAs relating to sexual misconduct by McMahon and talent relations chair John Laurinaitis.

The misconception at hand comes from WWE’s announcement. While it’s true that McMahon is stepping down from his chief position while the investigation continues, that’s not the whole picture.

McMahon is maintaining creative control of the WWE. For an entertainment company, the creative aspect is a pretty massive slice of the pie. As evidenced by Friday’s appearance—and another appearance on Monday—he’s not stepping down from the public eye either.

Image credit: WWE

McMahon’s WWE character, “Mr. McMahon,” it seems, is not under the same scrutiny as his actor. There are no signs that his exaggerated persona will cease making appearances on SmackDown and at other WWE events.

In a way, it’s a delicate PR chess move. The headline, “Vince McMahon Steps Down Amidst Investigation,” reads like a victory. The sticky truth, that he’s not really exiting at all, will have little impact on the general public.

Wrestling fans, on the other hand, are seeing both sides play out, and it’s leaving some confused. It’s an interesting twist on “kayfabe,” the suspension of disbelief at the root of the WWE community. In reality, Vince has stepped down, but in kayfabe, Mr. McMahon hasn’t gone anywhere.

This bizarre in-and-out response might reflect the inherent flaws in wrestling’s mesh of fantasy and reality. In pursuit of kayfabe, what happens if McMahon is fully ousted? Will an attachment to his fictional persona keep justice from being served? At this point, it’s hard to say.

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