Lets Leave the Woo-Woo Out of our Creative Biz

My bullshit meter has been sitting in the red all day, and I need to bring it back to normal or I’m going to blow up, or something.

I went on a little rant on Twitter this morning, but the character limit didn’t allow me to fully get at my pet peeve.

My pet peeve is this: woo-woo rhetoric in the context of business advice for women.

It seems like everywhere I look, someone is selling an ebook, course or seminar on some or another topic that involves the words goddess, soulfulness, or spirituality. Or some variation or combination of words like that.

(Men, do you encounter this? I know the products I’m talking about here are aimed specifically at women because of the design they’re couched in and the gendered language, like goddess. I don’t think I’ve seen anything remotely flaky like this aimed at solo male creatives, but please school me if I’m wrong.)

Now, I’m unconcerned with anyone’s individual experience. It’s specifically the proliferation of teaching and advice materials that connect this woo-woo bullshit with running a successful business that gets me.

Why? Because business is not church, people. And in case you have this but forming, business is not yoga either.

Know what I’d like to see? Reality. A whole lot more reality. An embracing of reality. That we are a varied and diverse group of people that is motivated by any number of factors to blaze our own trails in making a living. That it can be hard and it can be beautiful, sometimes at the same time. But let’s not assume that because we’re women, we need to get all touchy feely and woo-woo about everything.

I want to see rhetoric that sells materials and services to creative businesspeople without elevating business to the divine. Because business is not divine. Business is business. Life is life. Reality is reality.

As human beings, we will seek and find greater meaning in an infinite variety of ways, and we’ll do that in our businesses regardless of what other people tell us, because our businesses are a huge part of our lives. So enough telling us. Enough subtly hinting that we need to get in touch with some inner whatever in order to thrive and shine and float above… what? real life?

Because seriously. Reality is just great, folks. It’s a good place to be. We all live here. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it’s amazing and all the time it’s what we have, and it’s alright.

I want to feel capable and successful, don’t you? Do we need to be sold the snake oil of achieving goddess status to feel we’re worthy of all our basic desires?

I want to pursue work I find fulfilling and fun and that allows me to connect to other human beings. Why does someone have to imply that that’s somehow related to my soul?

I want to see words like satisfaction and profitable and meaningful.

In short, I’d like not to feel like I’m surrounded by flaky bullshit all the time.

There, I said it.

My usual place in the crafty/creative business landscape is on the fringes. I’m comfortable with that. I get that the sort of thing I’m complaining about here proliferates because it sells. People want it. And that’s fine.

But some of us don’t want it, and there’s very little else out there for us. And I’d like to know why.

So tell me, if you know. Please tell me. I need to let this go and get back to my everyday normal stuff. Which everyday normal, mortal, un-divine stuff forms the substance of my challenging, engaging, and utterly satisfying business life.

49 responses to “When it comes to creative business, let’s leave the woo-woo out of it.”

  1. Kate Osborn Avatar
    Kate Osborn


  2. Sandra Avatar

    I am SO with you on this! It ignores all the tedious hard work of starting and running a business that goes with the fun. That somehow it’ll be magically be all unicorns and sparkle dust with no customers stiffing you or suppliers missing deadlines.

    I wonder if some of this comes from people’s mixed feelings about money and success – that wanting to be financially successful has some shame attached to it.

    I think it relates partly to the idea that somewhere out there is the “right” career for you. And that “right” career is defined as one where you love it every single moment and are fulfilled all the time.

    So if you are ever overloaded or discouraged or tired or bored, then heavens, you must not be in the right goddess/divine/foofy career. You must not be “enlightened” enough to have found that perfect career. Or what if your paid work is being a cleaner or a manual laborer? Does that mean you’ll live an unfulfilled life?

    Just some off the top of my head thoughts….

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Oh, YES, the “right” factor. I’m all for feeling “right” – but the rhetoric about it in this context is exactly as loosy goosy as you say. As if “right” = rainbows and sparkles all the time. Right is hard, man.

  3. Lahondaknitter Avatar

    Oh I’m right there with you. If I’m seeking information on how to improve my business, I want “if you do this, and work at doing this, you should get this kind of result.” I don’t need the airy fairy in business, I get plenty of that in my spirtual practice, where it belongs.

    Thanks Kim for saying out loud what a lot of us have been thinking.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      I wasn’t sure a lot of people have been thinking it. I’m relieved to know I’m not alone!

  4. Erin Robinson Avatar
    Erin Robinson

    As a new business just starting out, THANK YOU! I am grateful for the vast amounts of knowledge that others who have had success have left for me to read, study, follow, and apply to my own world. However, the fluff is overwhelming pretty much at every turn. This is the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done and while I am working hard at my business everyday, I have yet to see a rainbow or unicorn other than the ones I’ve made with my hands. It’s great to see you, as someone who I do follow, put it out there in reality – this isn’t all sunshine and daisies and if I don’t reach the devine with my creations, it’s okay – That is not a measurement of my success.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Oh, Erin, I hadn’t even thought about equating divinity with success! I’m so glad you’re not inclined to do that! What you’re doing is scary, and it’s good that you know that! Don’t pretend it isn’t scary. And don’t let the fear hold you back. That’s the hard part, and the key to it. But it’s also where connecting with other people becomes so important. Because we’re all scared, and we all need to know – and not just know, but believe – that that’s normal. And it’s okay. And it’s not a reason not to try our very hardest. And sometimes we’ll fail *miserably*. Which is also normal. And it means we’re trying something new and maybe next time we’ll get it right. Or maybe next time will be in three years and not tomorrow because we have to work at Starbucks for a while so we can eat, but this is normal. And normal is just fine. Best of luck to you! Keep on keeping on!

  5. Vanessa Avatar

    Yes!! And I find that whole “inner goddess” crap to be really weird and so not me. In my own private practice, I do ask God if I’m doing the right thing. Is this path what I should be doing? But I don’t ask God how to better market my products. If I make a sale, that’s because I’m reaching my right customer, not because of divine will.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      This is a point I can’t effectively make as a total non-believer, and I’m really glad you’ve made it! I can talk all I want about trusting my gut and intuition, but it’s a different thing to also trust in something outside oneself. Different, but *not* woo-woo. I think you put your finger on it – praying, or any other spiritual practice, can be an important part of decision-making, path checking, and general life living. But it’s not something a business ebook gets to the heart of, and no business is successful because of divine intervention.

      1. Marcofia Avatar

        Being someone who sees things more like Vanessa, I think it’s great that you can support someone’s practice even though it’s not yours, Kim. I completely agree with you on your above comments, though, even though I don’t have my own business.

        1. Kim Werker Avatar

          If we all had the same beliefs and practices, the world would be so very dull. :)

  6. lisaB Avatar

    Hilariously, I am at a yoga retreat having similar thoughts…… cant I just do yoga because it is good for my body and effective at quieting my hamster-wheel brain? Everytime an instructor says something like ‘focus on your 3rd charkra’ or maddenigly refers to the right side of the body as the masculine side I get pulled out of my happy place and froth with annoyance. But I accept that this is part of the yoga experience for many, I cant imagine facing it in the context of business where it has no place – would drive me crazy.

    1. Vanessa Avatar

      I feel the same way about yoga. I think it’s what really keeps me from picking it up. I figured I’ll stick to my own meditation practice and martial arts. I’m afraid my eyes will roll out of my head if I hear about how my “wood chi” is out of whack.

    2. Lisa C. Avatar
      Lisa C.

      I am so glad you said that. I thought I was the only one. I actually like the yogic way of looking at the world but in my physical practice I just want to be lightly guided through the motions.

  7. Betsy Avatar

    Another YES here! OMG so sick of it.

    I just want to CONNECT with like-minded people, I don’t give a flip if we’re goddesses or rockstars or gurus! I just want AUTHENTICITY, that’s what I want, what I really really want. (To quote “real” rockstars, the Spice Girls…) ;)

  8. Kim Werker Avatar

    Written with thumbs. Pesky thumbs that love typos.

  9. Kari Avatar

    I feel a bit conflicted about this and would love to have a conversation about it next week. I personally think there is a lot of room for woo-woo in business, but I think you and I have different versions of what woo-woo is. I think there are loads of resources for straight up business advice for the general public and women that doesn’t include this kind of language. So much so that people have created these types of alternatives.
    I’m not for the HELL YES! concept (never having had a HELL YES! moment myself, even when I’ve had my biggest and best ideas…) – or the “perfect” anything. Work is work, no matter who your boss is. However, I think there is lots of room to include feeling in ones work and my spirituality practices are what helps get me through my projects and days, and I apply them to my business and daily work. While they are not a part of my business plan, they are a part of my business practices.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Yes to that conversation!

      I think there’s a difference between one’s decisions about their business practice and advocacy for business best practices. Like Vanessa said above, if you’re a believer, there’s certainly room for prayer in business, as long as there’s also an understanding about where that influence must end and straight-up business must begin.
      Business education and advice that has to do with finding one’s true business passion is one thing. But more and more, it seems like people are peddling the discovery of that passion as the end of the line. Then comes the arm-waving and the exclamation marks and the promises of not only soulful satisfaction but also mortgage payments. Which is why I consider it to be snake oil.
      We all do what we do because we find it tremendously satisfying. And we have all had help, in one form or another, fleshing out the heart of our drive and passion. But I hope we’ve all also discovered that that’s just the beginning, and then comes the rest of the work.
      By invoking vocabulary otherwise associated with religious practice and applying it to business, I think we’re not doing ourselves or anyone else justice.
      Working on our own in businesses we created for ourselves, it can be easy to feel like we are our business, our business is us, and therefore everything in our lives is just this one thing. But it’s not. We’re more than one thing. And we have room in our lives for business, recreation, family, friends, religion (or, you know, anti-religion, whatever floats your boat), etc.
      Courses and advice that lump spiritual satisfaction in with business success blur lines in ways I find not only troublesome, but in some cases straight up irresponsible.
      Which, again, has nothing to do with any one person’s business or spiritual practice.
      If that makes any sense at all. Oh yes, this will be a meaty conversation over coffee or a cocktail next week. :)

  10. my opinion Avatar
    my opinion

    While I agree on some of your rant, I also want to point to the fact that this type of “biz” you are referring to also includes christian/God based proselytizing in online business. So this is not just a “goddess/spirituality” woo woo issue only. Just wanted to make things even here. The whole “god and christian” and biz gets to my nerve in the same plane as to you the ‘goddess’ thing gets to you.

  11. Lorna's Laces Avatar
    Lorna’s Laces

    I desperately need to learn this lesson. I constantly find myself phrasing things differently or downplaying my success because I don’t want people to feel badly if they don’t do as well as I do. I hesitate to mention buying things or traveling. I don’t want to brag or belittle anyone else, but it’s OK for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

    1. Donna Druchunas Avatar
      Donna Druchunas

      I’m the opposite. I hesitate to mention when I’m not doing as well as I’d like to be in my business because I’m afraid to scare off customers who won’t think I’m popular enough! Isn’t that so high-school lame-ass?

  12. Lorna's Laces Avatar
    Lorna’s Laces

    I also have trouble with the “we’re all girls here” attitude in my corner of the creative world. So often that attitude often seems to go along with things like “so you’ll understand if I don’t pay my invoice on time” or “you can do xyz for me for free”. I’m all for being supportive and lending a hand, but if we want to be treated as serious businesses, we have to behave like serious businesses and treat our colleagues like serious businesses.

  13. dianaburrell Avatar

    Thank you for this post. You put your finger on all the things that have bothered me about these classes/coaching targeted to women. The irony here is that the women business owners who buy these classes probably have plenty of “goddess” and “soul” in their businesses already. In fact, they should be dialing the feminine down and developing skills many women are loath to tackle like negotiating contracts, setting expectations, marketing, and financial management. It’s the path of least resistance to nurture all the good stuff already inside of you than address the practical deficiencies you lack; these divine goddess coaches latch onto that.

  14. Lisa C. Avatar
    Lisa C.

    Yes! I really do find the woo-woo crap off-putting. When I come across it, I head in the other direction. The thing is that I love all that woo-woo stuff in other aspects of my life but business is business and the implication that a man’s success is a sign of power but a woman’s is “cute” drives me up the crazy tree.

  15. Teresa Sullivan Avatar
    Teresa Sullivan

    Right on, Kim. A lot of the woo-woo stuff sells because people don’t even have a bullshit detector, much less use one. It’s more difficult to sell a how-to book that tells the truth (that you actually have to do the work, not just think positive thoughts). If many professional advice-givers had to rely on their own advice, instead of relying on income from selling advice, they’d either be out of business (if their advice is crap) or (if their advice is worth a dang) they wouldn’t even need to try to sell you an advice book/DVD/counseling session. Caveat vendor…

  16. Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic Avatar
    Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

    Hey Kim! I just found you again after working with you yeaaaaars ago on crochet me when I was in college. :)
    Anyway, I TOTALLY agree with you about the woo woo floofy “business coach” pulling “value” out of her ass and selling snake oil.
    There ARE valid business courses out there, but I don’t think they’re usually targeted to women. They’re targeted to entrepreneurs, you know? Male or female, whatever. I’m taking one now and it’s fantastic… absolutely loving it and learning so much. Also listening to tons of business podcasts which are really helpful and informative, too… nothing floofywoowoo.

    I think if you’re looking for actual substance, getting away from the “craft business courses” or “women-run business courses” will help. Just straight-up business, and apply it to what you’re doing. (But, you know, it looks like you’re doing pretty well so i’m not “concerned” for you. haha)

    Anyway, just followed you on twitter (@JoyfulAbode) and instagram (@SoDamnDomestic) … excited to reconnect!

    1. Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic Avatar
      Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

      PS You probably don’t remember me but in case, i’m throwing it out there. haha. I was Hook Me Up! Crochet.

      1. Kim Werker Avatar

        Of COURSE I remember you, Emily! Hi! Can you believe Crochet Me was a decade ago? You have a family now! So do I! I feel like we all grew up together online, you know?

        Before I go read your blog, etc., I wanted to ask if you’d mind mentioning the course you’re taking and/or the podcasts you’ve found helpful? I’d love to know, and I have a hunch the readers and commenters here would love to know, too.

        1. Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic Avatar
          Emily Chapelle @SoDamnDomestic

          Sorry I didn’t reply right away. I listen to TONS of podcasts.

          Seanwes (and he’s an artist)
          Internet Business Mastery is one of my favorites
          The Smart Passive Income Podcast
          The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast
          Connect, Engage, Inspire
          The Eventual Millionaire

          And I’m sure I’m missing some other ones

  17. olivegreen Avatar


    1. Hestra Avatar

      But he doesn’t want to be in the church in the first place. Lol

  18. meg Avatar

    How do you feel about mommy bloggers? I personally detest them. I’m not a mom. Never want to be. I’m a businesswoman. Just wondered about your thoughts.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      I have nothing against mommy blogs, per se, though as a parent I’m not terribly inclined to fetishize parenting. As with any kind of blog, I only read ones that are well-written and about things or people I find interesting.

  19. Evie B Avatar
    Evie B

    I’m not one to comment on blog posts, but I came across this one and felt the need to share. There is definitely a fine line and a delicate balance of when to use what skill. As someone who blends Spirit and business- I too cringe and rant about the magical thinking that is being bandied about as “spiritual thought”. It’s getting to be ridiculous.

    In terms of Spirit and business- I find it necessary in how I approach my work and how I am able to empower women leaders & entrepreneurs to create success and alignment in their business. I am an intuitive and empath but also (amongst other things) a business counselor and coach (trained) that works in a business center dedicated to women entrepreneurs- w/startups (many creative) to multi-million government contractors. I also come from the government/nonprofit space. Talk about the oddball combination, but my integrated approach works.

    People need to learn the basics of operationalizing their business. In my experience, the things that prevent people from doing the actual hard
    work of running a business- in addition to the lack of know how is a “spiritual/energy/mental” block. Leaning on my intuition, I am able to hone in what the block is- help the person become aware and transmute it and then help them create a plan or find the resource to work on that aspect of their business operations. What I find 10 out of 10 times is that I don’t work with them to address the block (a fear, a limiting belief, a false story etc) first, they will be in the same stuck place when they see me again at their next session.

    I find this most in marketing, technical negotiations and money. There are a lot of stories that we women tell ourselves about our inability to be “great” at these things. This is where being a trained coach is helpful. I’m able to meet people where they are at to get the job done.

    IMO, the “woo woo rhetoric” that what we are seeing is:
    (1) the commoditization and commercialization of Spirit…the gimmicky shortcuts that say “if you think positive- then this will happen” or “sit back and do nothing and “enter your deity of choice here” will do the work”. This is all garbage and screams of living in a fantasy world. Actively doing the work (inner and outer) is always necessary. Learning the skills, investing the time in building processes, systems, great customer service, leveraging technology and managing your bottom lines is as critical to creating success as making sure that you personally are aligned with what it is that you say that you want to do in the first place.

    (2) The lack of masterful application of said Spiritual Rhetoric. There is a masterful way to blend Spirit and Business that grounded and is not rhetoric, fairy tales, unicorns, or the desire to appeal to people’s inpatient urges about becoming an overnight business success. Spirit is very clear about the Faith+Work equation. It cannot be circumvented if you want success and that is what many do not say in an event to make their intended customers feel good.

    You have a lot of folks out here who are using spiritual rhetoric because it lends to great marketing. Challenge is that while many mean well, they lack the depth of experience and knowledge in doing anything other than what they personally do. We are seeing online marketing tactics dressed up as “solid business advice” and that causes a huge disconnect in the practical realities of being an entrepreneur.

    I could go on and on but hopefully you get my point. Woo- This post has inspired me to write more about this topic. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Yes! Thank you for writing so thoughtfully and explicitly about this, Evie! You’ve put your finger on a major point – which is that we we each do personally does not automatically translate into advice to be applied universally. The most important driver of my own business decisions is my gut, but though I might be able to wave my arms around a lot and get paid to tell other people to follow their gut, that’s not actually useful advice. Because it’s the skills and experience I have that allow me to take action when my gut nudges me in one direction or another.

      I nodded so hard my head nearly fell off when I read your #1 point, too.

      Thanks again for this.

  20. Crysti Avatar

    Thank you for saying this!!

  21. Jane Avatar

    I don’t really know from what you are saying, what it is exactly you don’t like? The piece you have written seems to be uncentred and unclear. A bit woo woo in fact. It buzzes all around the exteriors of saying something but then flies off before it does. A bit flaky in fact. Puzzling.
    Also not everyone in business wants to fit into the stereo-type. We don’t all want to be seen around with around brief cases, straight skirts and intelligent glasses and short hair in order to be taken seriously. It will be padded shoulders again next. Is that any less of a construct and an image than the whole woo woo thing? Is it any more useful and tangible? People shouldn’t have to conform, it shouldn’t be about image at all, but rather about the quality of your work. It could actually be like that too.

  22. Laura Avatar

    I’m reading this article a few months late, but have to agree with you. I feel goddessy, but want my business to be kick ass. Thanks for saying what I often feel…

  23. Lucy Parsons Avatar
    Lucy Parsons

    I’m totally with you. I’m no goddess. I work VERY hard on a daily basis, combined with bringing up a young family. It’s not spiritual, soulful or glamourous. I don’t have my own studio filled with bright white light. I’m common sense, pragmatic, analytical. I’m not your typical artsy type. If there us such a thing. Give me hard, proven business advice and I’ll follow it!

  24. Anna pontikis Avatar
    Anna pontikis

    I have to say I find your post highly judgemental. A lot of highly successful entrenpreneurs male and female have “divine” practices like meditating daily, journaling, yoga, running etc which are all spiritual and divine. I don’t actually think you can separate the two. If you have these practices daily they will filter into your business just by the way you conduct yourself and how authentic you are. Also being spriritual in business is different for everyone. Women are more open to doing business in a more spiritual way that doesn’t make it flaky. Totally disagree with this post. As an example of a couple of highly successful women who both teach business skills to women very differently and one is more spiritual than the other but both are effective in their own way with kick arse business advice. Marie Forleo and Leonie Dawson.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      I welcome your disagreement, Anna, but find this statement to be part of the reason I wrote the post: “Women are more open to doing business in a more spiritual way that doesn’t make it flaky.” The assumption that women need different advice than men, that women won’t find practical business advice useful unless it’s couched in spirituality or aesthetics, that there’s somehow something inherently different about business as conducted by one gender versus the other… I don’t buy it.

      1. Donna Druchunas Avatar
        Donna Druchunas

        I love this post Kim and I agree with you completely. BUT I think there is a different way to do business than is the commonly accepted norm in a male-dominated society (aka patriarchy). Focusing on making the most money possible, not attending to self care, not valuing people more than profit, having to constantly grow your business, etc. etc.

        I don’t think this has anything to do with “spirituality” or “woo woo,” as you call it, but I definitely think it’s something to consider. I have been reading two books about artisans in the 1970s period, one is a man and the other is a woman, and both were successful. But comparing their approaches to their art and to business is very enlightening to me. I hope to blog about it once I have the thoughts digested a bit more.

        I think there is a movement among women entrepreneurs to have a business where “I can make a living and a life that I love” (my saying) going on now and it’s very important. It may be partly leading back to the days where small mom-and-pop businesses flourished and where not every business was started with the idea of having an IPO and selling it off to the highest bidder. Many of us want to have a business that can sustain us both financially and “spiritually” (I put that in quotes because I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I do think there’s something to the idea of spirituality being part of what makes us human, perhaps it’s just our mental and emotional processes, but whatever…. that’s one of the essays/themes of Stories In Stitches 4, by the way.)

        1. Kim Werker Avatar

          YES. Exactly this, Donna! Doing business differently than the corporate-IPO-money-is-everything stereotype is wonderful and important for everyone. Not for women, not for men, for *everyone*. I agree with you that valuing fulfillment through work is neither woo-woo nor irresponsible. I’m an atheist, too, but my spirit/soul/heart/mind drives much of the decision-making I do in business. It’s not supernatural, it’s just also not easy to capture in a spreadsheet. But it’s *personal*, and not the kind of thing I’d expect anyone else to experience like I do. It is not the stuff of teaching other people how to do good business. The things I experience in business that other people should also be expected to experience in business are things related to those spreadsheets (which I use as a metaphor, because I actually rarely use spreadsheets for anything) – to income and expenses, marketing, promotion, creation, collaboration, contract management, etc. That’s where business education comes in. We each bring our own way of doing things to the tasks that must be done.

  25. Alex Avatar

    I think “woo-woo” is a brand, and one that sells exceptionally well, particularly to women (see, for example: astrology- countless scientific studies say its bunk yet it’s still extremely popular, and women are almost twice as likely to believe in it.) I guess I can’t really blame people for selling what sells, but personally it’s a brand strategy I find distasteful- particularly when people are charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for ecourses that are mostly about feelings and affirmations and fluff. Personally I need concrete, when it comes to business.

    But maybe I’m just jealous because I’m no good at producing it ;-P It’s entirely possible that the folks who shell out for woo-woo business advice go on to have very successful woo-woo businesses themselves… or learn to pair the woo-woo with enough concrete advice that it works out just fine.

    1. Alex Avatar

      (In before someone angrily claiming that astrology is real!)

  26. Lisa Press Avatar
    Lisa Press

    Thank you for this. I have noticed the same thing and have wondered about the peddling of this divine connection. I prefer the blogs that offer nuts and bolts tips.

  27. Ani Avatar

    Just found this blog and I’m really glad somebody out there is putting in writing the things I’m thinking about. Even in my spirituality I really want a lot less woo-woo!

  28. Andy Avatar

    The thing about creativity and reality is, if you are creative, you are helping create reality. Why not embrace the “magical” side of that? Maybe connecting with your inner Goddess will prove “profitable” for you. But please be careful, you might enjoy it! As a man, who celebrates creativity in general, if someone wants to create themselves as a “Goddess,” I celebrate that, whether or not their course a fit for me.

  29. Hestra Avatar

    Well, it’s always a balance, isn’t it? “Meaningful”-ness is also woo woo. Lol.

    I guess that’s a part of this world that if you don’t like it, then ignore it. Some can find some parts of themselves in those aspects, and some gotta need to balance it too knowing that profit is woo woo too and they don’t have to run away from it

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