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Closing the Money Gap, with Jean Chatzky

Closing the Money Gap, with Jean Chatzky

Episode 1: Closing the Money Gap, with Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky is not just a personal finance expert, she’s an experienced journalist, best-selling author, entrepreneur, and much more. In this episode, she shares how she got to be the person she is now, and shares some useful personal finance tips.

Episode Transcript

00:00 Voice Over: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations With Women Changing the Face of Business. And now, your hosts, Sallie Krawcheck and Kristy Wallace.

00:12 Sallie Krawcheck: Hi all. It's Sallie Krawcheck with the Ellevate Network, here with Kristy Wallace, the President of the Ellevate Network. We're at our world headquarters this afternoon, podcasting to you. By world headquarters, I mean we're in this room, [chuckle] in which we have the ladies who run Ellevate Network. And this is the first in our series of podcasts. We are really so excited to be with you and to be joining you. We're gonna be interviewing some of the terrific, amazing, unbelievable, accomplished members of Ellevate Network. Our first interview today is with Jean Chatzky. Before I talk about her, Kristy, let me throw it over to you. Tell everybody about the Ellevate Network.

00:54 Kristy Wallace: So if you don't know Ellevate... And it's E-L-L-E-V-A-T-E.

01:00 SK: It's sort of a French thing for 'she,' that we have going here.

01:01 KW: Yes. Absolutely.

01:05 KW: And please check us out online and on social media. But we are working hard here to close the gender achievement gap. One of the main things we do is we get women together, all about community and networking, as a way for women to lean on and learn from each other. We're really excited for these podcasts, and highlighting the fantastic women in our network, and sharing their expertise and insights with you.

01:27 SK: One thing that I think is really important for you to take away, for us, as women in business... And this is what compelled me to become involved with the Ellevate Network... And it's that networking is the number one unwritten rule of success in business, and that we hear again and again from men, that this is how they move ahead in business. And we hear again and again from women, that they're interested in it, they wanna do it, they're not sure, etcetera. And so, we'd say, "Just do it." Our network provides a means for women to network and it doesn't necessarily, doesn't particularly involve schmoozing and golf courses and beer, but it can very much include making those connections, which can give you all kinds of information that's valuable to you and your career, so that you can move ahead.

02:16 KW: Absolutely, well put.

02:18 SK: Thank you, thank you! [chuckle] Our guest today is Jean Chatzky, who, in addition to being an accomplished personal finance guru, is also a really terrific person. She's the financial editor for NBC's "Today Show." She's also the AARP's Personal Finance Ambassador. And she is the best-selling author of eight books. She talked about... We talked about something that is, I think, very important, and the Ellevate Network, we're very focused on closing the gender pay gap. What Jean talked about, also, is closing the money gap that men and women have. I call it the gender investing gap. And this can cost women hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over the course of their lives, so being in financial control is very important. So Kristy, every week, we poll the Ellevate Network members and we've talked to them about how they talk to their spouse or partner about their money. So share with us: How often are these conversations taking place? [chuckle]

03:24 KW: Well, it's really interesting to note, is over 60% of the members speak to their spouse or significant other all the time, about all financial matters, whereas, 13% tend to focus just on the big stuff.

03:37 SK: Wow. We should poll the women again and ask 'em how many of those conversations involve alcohol.

03:45 KW: [chuckle] I'm sure that that keeps it interesting.

03:47 SK: Yeah... Or yeah, just let you talk about it. And so talk about how they manage 'em, 'cause I think we found there's no one answer, right?

03:56 KW: No, it's pretty evenly divided. Roughly 20% manage finances equally with their spouse or significant other. 20% are managing money based on how much they're contributing to it.

04:07 SK: Meaning so, that if she earns more, she puts in more; if he earns less, he puts in less?

04:12 KW: Exactly.

04:13 SK: Okay, got it.

04:13 KW: And then, another 20% are the financial manager for their family.

04:18 SK: The whole she-bang.

04:18 KW: Exactly. Yes.

04:19 SK: So treasurer and chief financial officer of the home?

04:21 KW: That is correct.

04:22 SK: Got it. Okay, one other that we spoke, that came up in this, which is dads. We also polled the Ellevate Network membership and asked them who the most influential man in their life is. What did they say?

04:37 KW: More than half said their dad!

04:38 SK: Their dad! Yup, [chuckle] and the second one, about a quarter said, "My significant other," right?

04:45 KW: Yes.

04:46 SK: Yeah, the dads are so fascinating. I've seen research that says that the most important relationship in a professional woman's life is her dad. If he is confident in her as she's growing up, she can go out to the world with that confidence.

05:03 KW: That makes a lot of sense to me. My dad was very confident in me and I think that's had a lasting impact.

05:06 SK: Aww. Is your dad still around?

05:10 KW: Yes, he is, fortunately.

05:11 SK: Aww. Is he proud of you?

05:12 KW: He's very proud of me.

05:12 SK: So proud of you. So proud of you. [chuckle]

05:14 KW: [chuckle] So proud!

05:15 SK: And Jean's dad should be of her too. So let's toss it over. And I also wanna let you know, that Jean has a new podcast, Her Money, that's recently out. Check it out. Like everything else that Jean does, it's absolutely amazing.

05:45 SK: Alright. Jean, thank you so much for joining me here today. It's such a pleasure to have you here.

05:48 Jean Chatzky: It's nice to see you always.

05:50 SK: Yeah. So how'd you become Jean Chatzky?

05:53 JC: That is two different stories.


05:57 JC: The funny story is that I became Jean Chatzky, because I was Jean Sherman Chatzky for a long time, when I was a print reporter. And as a print reporter, nobody really had a problem with that. But when I started doing The Today Show, at one point, Bryant Gumbel said to me, "You know, that's a mouthful."


06:17 JC: And I said, "Just pick whichever one you like." I wanted the job and that was about 20 years ago, so I dropped the 'Sherman' on air, because it was hard to say and I have been Jean Chatzky ever since. But as far as a career...

06:36 SK: Yeah, that's why I'm doing the little quotation marks in the air, "Jean Chatzky."

06:39 JC: I know! [chuckle] I came into this world through print journalism at a very, very fortuitous time. I liked business writing and business reporting, because I always liked the numbers and I liked learning that numbers could tell the story. So when I got out of college, I went to Working Woman, tried to go to a business magazine from there, and had a difficult time, so I spent a couple of years doing equity research on Wall Street.

07:12 SK: Ah! There we go. [chuckle]

07:12 JC: And yes, at Dean Witter.

07:15 SK: There we go!

07:16 JC: Back to Forbes after that, and then, I was at SmartMoney for the launch. And SmartMoney did two really terrific things for me. It introduced me to television. They introduced everybody to television. Quite frankly, we had two rich corporate parents: The Hearst Corporation and Dow Jones. And they threw us all on television, and I stuck. But also, brought me into the world of personal finance, at a time, when my former Forbes colleagues told me I was throwing my career down the toilet. Personal finance in Forbes magazine, at that point, was a backwater. It was this back six pages, when they could get six pages and it was a world of 12b-1 fees. And it wasn't exciting, and it wasn't fun. And I left Forbes to go to SmartMoney, because I was told I could be a writer and not a fact checker, which was very appealing. But I was nervous about it, because I didn't wanna write about 12b-1 fees. And my boss, Steve Swartz, who's now the CEO of The Hearst Corporation, said, "You never have to write about 12b-1 fees. You can write about people. Just keep bringing me interesting stories about people and their money." And I thought it was fascinating, and I still think it's fascinating. So I ended up in the world of personal finance, right at the time when Americans were being asked to take more responsibility for their own finances. It was the point at which the whole field exploded, because people suddenly had to pay more attention to their money.

09:03 SK: So right time, right place, but also, a lot of preparation. And so I remember you and I talking one time, and you were telling me about how you prepared to go on TV.

09:15 JC: Yup.

09:16 SK: Can you tell that story? I love that.

09:20 JC: I knew I had to, essentially, condense an eight-page magazine story, sometimes, a six-page magazine story, into three to four minutes. And I wanted to be able to make all of my points. So I would go through this very lengthy process, where I would first write down all of the questions that I thought that the interviewer might ask me.


09:51 JC: And then, write down long-hand my answers, and then, shorten them, and write them down in fewer sentences, and start talking them through in my own head, and out loud. And these were the days before everybody had a phone in their car. And I used to drive myself back and forth to the city from my house in Westchester County and talk to myself. And people in the cars next to mine would think I was crazy.


10:19 JC: I would get these looks like, "Okay, there's a woman and she's clearly not singing, 'cause she's gesturing with her hands and she's talking to herself."

10:26 SK: [laughter] "And not talking in a phone, because those are at home with the wires on them."

10:29 JC: Right, exactly, or they were the size of bricks.

10:32 SK: The huge phones, yes.

10:33 JC: I would just practice until I knew what three or four or five points I really wanted to make. And then, I would make those points, whether or not I was asked those questions, which I think is a trick that people learn along the way. But you, of course, want to be responsive to your interviewer and to listen to your interviewer, but if you've only got a few minutes to get the meat and potatoes of the information out, you wanna make sure that you figure out a way to do that.

11:08 SK: Which I think is, these are such key and important points. The next question I wanna ask you, though, is about the little failures. If you're on TV a lot, every show is not going to be perfect.

11:23 JC: No.

11:23 SK: And I think we, as women, can find it hard to accept failure, even the little ones, and failure in public, right?

11:32 JC: Really, really difficult, and I still catch myself. I will come off the air and I will look for reassurance, that that was an okay take.

11:41 SK: Really? Today, still?

11:44 JC: Still. I still wanna know how it played and I feel like part of that, is missing my father, actually. My dad died about 10 years ago. I've been on The Today Show for 20 years. But from the first 10 years that I did it, every time I did a segment, I would talk to my dad. And he ran television stations when I was growing up, so he knew what he was talking about, and he knew what he was doing, and so, he would be honest, and...

12:18 SK: He would be honest.

12:18 JC: Oh, yeah.

12:18 SK: I was gonna ask, was it unconditional support or he would give you feedback?

12:20 JC: No. He would give me feedback about, not just what I was saying, but how I was sitting, and whether I was leaning in enough. Real quality, quality feedback.

12:33 SK: Interesting.

12:37 JC: And it was the kind of thing that I had watched him do for years with the anchors on his... He ran local market television stations. I would see new anchors come in, and he would coach them through how to dress, and how to... These were stations that didn't have big wardrobe departments and anybody to do your hair, so it was great. I was fortunate.

13:03 SK: It's interesting. You're bringing up a couple of points for me, one of which is, we hear again and again the importance of a... For some cases, a father figure, a male figure in so many professional women's lives. And if she has a great relationship with her dad, it can give her the confidence to achieve. The second thing you're bringing up to me is... I've been thinking about this... About feedback, and we women are told to ask for feedback so often, but how do you figure out what feedback to take seriously? And I've been thinking about the difference between the cynics and the critics. And you're on social media. I'm sure you hear plenty from cynical people.

13:42 JC: I hear plenty from cynical people. I think sometimes, you hear too, from people who want the job that you have, and you have to be careful of that. I try to weigh what I know to be true against what just hurts because it's a personal dig of some sort. And for me, the criticism that bothers me the most is when I've been unclear about a fact. I think my job is expressing complicated information so that people can actually understand it. And if I get questions after I've been on the air, and it's clear that I said something in a way where people are misinterpreting it, I find that incredibly upsetting. Fortunately it doesn't happen often, but that really bothers me because I feel... In that case, I'd made a mistake or I did it wrong, or I could have done it better. The comments about my hair.

15:01 SK: Hair, I knew you were gonna say hair. I knew you were gonna say hair! [laughter]

15:02 JC: I'm over, I'm over... I am over it. I went through... So you can't see me, because we're on a podcast, but I have bangs, which I got back again about a year-and-a-half ago after not having had them for a good 15 years because I was told that people wanted to see my eyes. And I just decided, "The hell with it, I want them back. I'm gonna get 'em." And I'm very happy.


15:33 SK: Well, as the other states, " [15:34] ____. Sally speaks, saying, 'Don't feed the trolls.'" That if it is feedback that just doesn't resonate, that's just mean-spirited, just to ignore it, which I think can be hard for us.

15:46 JC: It can be. And I don't know about you, but I don't read... I have several different emails, and I let other people handle some of the things that are really personal and pointed, and I never see them, and I'm happier that way.

16:05 SK: [chuckle] I think that's very good advice. Talk to me about social media, because you have expanded your message from print, to TV, to social media, and how we, as professional women, should think about using social media, if we wanna become thought leaders, if we wanna share information with others.

16:25 JC: I think it's important and I think my clients these days, whether they're the magazines that I'm writing for or the companies that I work with, they want to know that I've got a social feed that I'm taking care of. It's a way to amplify their message. And so it's like a plant that you have to really take care of these days. And for me, that's meant hiring young, because I'm not a social media native. I didn't grow up with this and I need people on my team who are more comfortable, with not just whatever media we have today, but the ones that we're likely to have tomorrow. I was in a meeting this morning and I got asked about Periscope. So I'm not...

17:16 SK: I'm liking Periscope.

17:17 JC: I like it too!

17:18 SK: I like it. I like it.

17:19 JC: I like it too, but I'm not a very active user of it. But I can get with that program. I just need a little bit of help.

17:26 SK: What social media platforms do you find useful for sharing your message? What works for you?

17:30 JC: I tweet a lot and I get good response on my Twitter feed. I have grown it organically, and so, I think I've got a nice audience there. LinkedIn is very useful. I'm an influencer, as you are, and so, that's good for expanding the message. My newsletter is... My website is I've been doing a weekly newsletter, that is essentially...

18:03 SK: That everybody should sign up for, by the way.

18:05 JC: Thank you. It's like a skim for your money. It's basically just, "Here's what you need to know, that happened in the past week about your money," in quick little hits. I get a very good response from that.

18:17 SK: I was gonna do one of those when I was at Merrill, couldn't get it through compliance! [chuckle]

18:22 JC: Hello! [chuckle]

18:23 SK: I wanted to do this...

18:24 JC: Welcome to corporate America.

18:25 SK: I know, I know. Couldn't get permission to do a Twitter feed either. Well, we were going to, but there was a six-month approval process that was needed. But this idea of what it is and why you should care, I think, is really important.

18:37 JC: Yeah, yeah, and people don't have a lot of time.

18:39 SK: No, no.

18:40 JC: So something that they can read and get a little bit of information from is interesting.

18:45 SK: Right, so speaking of not having a lot of time, if you are a professional woman and you've gotta take care of your personal finances, let's assume we've paid down the credit card debt, but give some... What are the few things we should all be doing?

19:00 JC: Automate as much as you can. There are so many opportunities now to make good decisions one time and just know that they're taken care of. I don't know how you run your personal finances, but from my perspective, if I'm saving enough to meet the goals that I've set for myself, which assumes that you've set some goals, which is another important part of the process, and then, I know either every time I get paid, or on a monthly or bi-weekly basis, money is just going into all of those places. Whatever's left, it doesn't matter as much what you do with it, because you know your future is set, and college is set, and the insurance payments have been made, and so, you've essentially done the responsible thing. And then, as long as you don't overdraw, you're pretty much okay.

20:01 SK: Right, and rules of thumb for what percent of the salary I should be saving? What goals I should have? What would you tell folks?

20:09 JC: I would tell folks, if you're a 20-year-old, and you are getting started, and you can do 10%, and you can continue to do that forever, that may be enough, but you have to start really young. And if you haven't started that young, you've gotta get yourself up to 15, or even 20, really quickly.

20:26 SK: 20, 20.

20:30 JC: But I would also say it's... I like these rules, but they're not an excuse to not go through the exercise of figuring out how much you really need. And those exercises are not that hard. You can run a couple of calculators to figure out, "This is how much I'm gonna need for college. This is how much I'm likely to need if I retire at this age and live to be 95 or 100." And by the way, anything less than 95 or 100, if you're using one of those calculators, not acceptable anymore.

21:03 SK: Particularly, for us women who... My new theme is, "The retirement savings crisis is a woman's crisis."

21:10 JC: It is a crisis.

21:10 SK: 'Cause the guys are dead. They died! We love them!

21:15 JC: But they died!

21:15 SK: Weird, I mean, walk around any nursing home in this country...

21:19 JC: I know.

21:19 SK: It's all us women who are there.

21:22 JC: It is.

21:24 SK: Yeah, that, right?

21:25 JC: That. And I have a girlfriend named Paige, and she's the one who told me this story, that I tell when I go out and I give a speech. But she essentially said, "We have to take care of our girlfriends, because the guys are eventually all gonna die."


21:43 JC: And it is true: Nurture your girlfriends.

21:47 SK: Well, the thing that I think is tough is, as you and I are no longer 22 or 23 years old...

21:52 JC: We're not?

21:53 SK: We're not, no, and people can't see us, so they're probably like, "What? They're not twins?"

21:56 JC: "What? Are you kidding? They look good." [laughter]

21:58 SK: No, no, no. Maybe I should have some bangs to hide the wrinkles in my forehead. But I have, sadly, friends of mine, peers of mine, whose husbands have passed away at this age and it is so sad to see how unprepared some of these highly accomplished women are for this.

22:18 JC: Well, and that's the other thing. You're a highly accomplished woman in your career. It doesn't give you license to take all your hands off the finances. I understand, in a relationship, things get delegated, and that's okay. And it's okay if you're not the person who is paying the bills week-to-week. But what you can't do is never pay attention. At least, a few times a year, you've gotta sit down, and if you're not taking over the task, at least, you gotta do it together, so that you know where everything is, and how everything works, and who the important people are. My stepfather... After my father passed away, my mom remarried about four years ago, and he had this thing called a "Letter of Instruction and Suggestion." Suggestion, 'cause he'd like people to do things a certain way. We don't have to, but... And I've written one. My husband's written one. It's a guide, so that if I get hit by a bus...

23:30 SK: So smart!

23:30 JC: Tomorrow, there's a piece of paper, three or four sheets, where my husband, my kids, my mother, whoever, could sit down, and just know where everything is, and what they have to do to access it.

23:45 SK: That is so smart. I really struggle with my husband with this. He just doesn't want to talk about it. I think he understands he's going to die one day, but it is, for two people who work in numbers, what a difficult conversation this is for us to have, really hard.

24:03 JC: I don't like to talk about it either. My husband and I do talk about it, but we schedule it. We actually...

24:12 SK: You schedule it.

24:13 JC: We schedule it.

24:13 SK: Okay.

24:15 JC: We know we're gonna have a conversation and, "Okay, we're gonna do this today and we'll do it after lunch," or we plan to do it, because otherwise, it doesn't happen.

24:28 SK: It doesn't happen. Do you schedule weekly dates too?

24:30 JC: No, no.


24:32 JC: But both my kids are in college, so it's like every night's a date, except for during...

24:35 SK: Oh! That is so cute! That's so sweet!

24:36 JC: Yeah! Except for during baseball season, and then, I'm a widow.


24:41 JC: But no, it's...

24:43 SK: Oh, that is... It is a big difference, by the way, when you're an empty nester. We're recent empty nesters, and all of a sudden, I've got oceans of time!

24:50 JC: I know, I know.

24:52 SK: It's a whole different ball game.

24:53 JC: And now, I'm wondering, my son's graduating from college this year, and I'm wondering, when he comes home, my guess is he'll live at home for a little while. No? We'll see.


25:05 SK: Well, let's talk about what you're doing now, 'cause I think you're working on some really interesting projects. I am fascinated about Life Reimagined and the shift in how we're thinking about "retirement." Again, I'm doing those air quotes now. Talk to me about what you are doing there?

25:21 JC: I'm the Financial Ambassador for AARP and for AARP's Life Reimagined. And Life Reimagined is, essentially, for people 50 plus who are looking at their life and saying, "Okay, what's next?" They did some research... And I don't remember the exact numbers... But a good chunk of us are not really happy in our day jobs, and want to do the next thing, and want that next thing to be fun and exciting. And that means, maybe going back to school. It might mean taking a course to get a certification. It could mean starting your own thing, but needing to support yourself with a little bit of participation in the gig economy, doing a little Airbnb, or Uber, or something to just keep some money rolling in. And I've done some interesting webinars and content with them. We've got a webinar coming up about the gig economy, so that should be a lot of fun.

26:26 SK: Fascinating. Fascinating. Well, I will tell you, I'm gonna get the numbers wrong, but not by a lot, we asked the women of the network how they plan to retire. We do these weekly polls with them.

26:37 JC: Sure.

26:39 SK: And the answer we got was sort of, "Huh? What are you talking about?" I think it was, Jean, 2% said they planned to retire as we traditionally think about retirement. What we saw instead, was, "I'd love to go do this other thing I've always wanted to do and now can do," or, "I wanna do this non-profit thing I want to do and now can do." And I think it's just a fascinating shift.

27:04 JC: It is. That's exactly what it is. It's a shift, but it's a shift that you need financial resources to undertake. And so my role with them has been about figuring out how to harness those resources.

27:16 SK: Right. And I think the other thing that's going on is we women are working many more years. We almost get this second wind. You and I are in New York, so we see some of these women who are the generation ahead of us, who all look fabulous! They look unbelievable! [chuckle]

27:29 JC: They look great!

27:33 SK: And they are extending their careers beyond what I would have imagined.

27:37 JC: And I love that.

27:38 SK: I do too.

27:39 JC: Because, I think, I don't see 'not working.' I see 'working differently.' I see maybe a different balance in my days, but I don't see 'not working.' I would be bored to tears.

27:54 SK: Right. The other thing you're working on is a kid's magazine. Now, we're going to the other end. Tell me this... [chuckle]

27:58 JC: I love this. I know. I love this project.

28:02 SK: Here, we've got a little barbell here, right?

28:03 JC: Yeah! Yeah, so I've teamed up with PwC's Foundation, and Time For Kids. And we do a monthly magazine for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders that goes out with Time For Kids into the schools. We're hitting two million kids every single month with an issue and it's just been great.

28:28 SK: Fabulous.

28:29 JC: Because, you know... And the schools don't have the resources, and the teachers don't have the tools, to feel like they can do a good job teaching personal finance. And so this is our little contribution.

28:42 SK: Amazing. Amazing, I love it.

28:46 JC: And it's been really, really great. We're entering our second year of publication.

28:50 SK: Oh, good. Okay, last topic for you, one that I'm fascinated by and our women are fascinated by, which is entrepreneurialism. So you were an entrepreneur, I think, before we called them entrepreneurs. I'm not sure that may have been how you conceptualized what you were doing, but you've put together a fascinating business.

29:12 JC: I am a participant in the gig economy, yes I am! And I was a very reluctant entrepreneur. For many years, while I was pulling together different jobs, if somebody had offered me a full-time gig somewhere, I would have said, "Yes, sign me up."

29:31 SK: "Please," right?

29:32 JC: Because I didn't wanna be responsible for the 401k, and the health plan, and for knowing that you have to replace one income stream with another. But at this point, I now believe that having multiple income streams is a more secure job than having just one.

29:56 SK: That is fascinating, because I think you're a couple steps ahead of everybody else on that.

30:01 JC: I think it took... I've been doing this for 10 years, so it has taken me that long to become comfortable with it. But at this point, I'm pretty comfortable.

30:13 SK: So what advice do you have for our entrepreneurs or "hope to be entrepreneurs" out there?

30:22 JC: I would say... Boy, it's hard for me to do advice, because I backed into it. But I think, network like crazy. Don't just talk to the people who you think might have work for you, but really understand what your set of skills are and all the different places where you might apply that. At my heart, I'm a content creator, but what I've learned, is that although I grew up creating content for media, for magazines, lots of different people need content these days. Corporations need content, and foundations need content, and so, you are very likely, no matter what your skills are, gonna be more successful, if you understand all the different places where there might be a market for those skills.

31:23 SK: Well, of course, at Ellevate Network... We do not feed you that line, by the way... But the research has shown it can be the difference between success and failure, a big difference between success and failure, for an entrepreneur.

31:36 JC: Yeah, and I think of how my jobs have come along in the last five years, and they've come along, because I sat down and had coffee.

31:45 SK: Yes! Yes! It's so interesting you say that, because I've had a different career path than you've had and I've had a number of full-time jobs, boards, entrepreneurial opportunities. And each of them came through my network, not one of them came through executive search. Really interesting.

32:07 JC: Wow, that is interesting.

32:09 SK: Isn't it interesting? Well, good! Well, okay, everybody, go and sign up for Jean's newsletter, which you're going to love. And follow you... I assume it's @jeanchatzky on Twitter?

32:21 JC: On Twitter.

32:22 SK: As well as on LinkedIn. And with lots of good information there for all of us.

32:26 JC: Thank you.

32:27 SK: Thank you. And you were great to stop by.


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