• January 2014

How to Do Business Like a Rock Star

We know 2014 is going to be a rockin’ good year! What better way for Be Inkandescent to launch it than with an interview with rock star Michael Franti, who in addition to being an international celebrity is an inspirational leader who advocates the importance of peace and social justice.

With his band Spearhead, their performances ignite audiences and shine a light on what it means to live well and spread the love.

Franti’s Do It For The Love Foundation is a wish-granting organization that brings people to live concerts, including those in advanced stages of life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges, and wounded veterans. Don’t miss our Q&A in the Nonprofits column with the woman Franti calls his better-half, Foundation co-founder Sara Agah.

Are you ready to “do it for the love”? Consider the lyrics from Franti’s hit:

Here’s what my mama said: Do it for the love, not for the money, not for the guns and not for the honeys. Do it ‘cause it makes you feel alive, like the way we rockin’ on Saturday night. Do it for the love of it, do it for the smell of it. Do it for the joy and the taste and the hell of it. Do it ‘cause you love it and it makes no sense. Not yens or euros or dollars or cents.

When I was a little, little boy I knew I’d grow up, to be somebody that my mama said would always show up. To work, to school and all that’s cool. But, following rules was never my strong suit, you know. I bought a guitar, a microphone, too. Set out to do what I was born to do. And mama said something as I was walking out the door … Do it for the love, not for the money. Do it for the love of it. Just for the love of it.

Scroll down for our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

Also in this issue:

  • “Just One Thing” author Rick Hanson is our January 2014 Book of the Month. He invites us all to take little steps toward making a big difference.
  • Gina Schaefer, owner of nine ACE Hardware stores in DC and Baltimore, joins our Inkandescent Speakers Bureau. Schaefer’s speeches including making it in man’s world, why you should shop locally, and how to build a business by following your gut.

We celebrate four years of publishing Be Inkandescent magazine this month, and leave you with this parting thought from Rick Hanson’s inspirational book, “Just One Thing:” A small thing repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results. A small thing that is in your power to do—in a world in which so many things are not. Just one thing that could change your life. It’s the law of little things.

Here’s to making a big difference in 2014! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine

Michael Franti Spreads His Vision to All People



By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent magazine

In his bestselling album, “All People,” American poet, musician, and composer Michael Franti and his band Spearhead spread their message of love, peace, and social justice.

The band blends hip hop with a variety of other styles—including funk, reggae, jazz, folk, and rock—and it serves as a forum for Franti’s outspoken support for a spectrum of peace and social justice issues.

In August 2013, Franti also founded a nonprofit organization, Do It For The Love Foundation, a wish-granting organization that brings people to live concerts who are in advanced stages of life threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges, and wounded veterans.

Those are some of the topics we talked about when we interviewed the rock star at the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in Asheville, NC, on Dec. 14. Scroll down for our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

First, a little rock history.

Born in Oakland, Calif., Franti’s mother’s heritage was Irish, German, and French, and his father was of African-American and Native American descent. Because she was afraid her family would not accept him, his mother decided to place him for adoption.

He was adopted by Carole Wisti and Charles Franti, a Finnish-American couple in Oakland, who had three biological children and two adopted African-American sons.

When he was in high school, Franti met a priest who taught him how to tell a story on paper, and soon he was writing poetry. He purchased a bass at a pawn shop and started creating music inspired by the hip hop, punk, and reggae he heard on the campus radio station.

In 1986, Franti became part of the industrial punk/spoken word band The Beatings. Their records received some critical acclaim, but little fame beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. His next project, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, included politically charged lyrics that railed against the injustices of the world. Their first album, “Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury,” won plaudits for its social commentary. Soon after, the band was chosen by U2 to open for its Zoo TV Tour, which boosted Franti’s career.

In 1994, he founded his current band, Spearhead, with a few studio musicians. Their first release, “Home,” in September 1994, was a departure from the politically charged rap, drawing more from funk and soul music. Some critics loved it, others missed the political charge. After releasing the two albums, the band split with Capitol Records and created its own label, Boo Boo Wax.

In the decade since, the band has gained a worldwide audience through touring and appearances in alternative media like Mother Jones magazine and Democracy Now!. Franti continues to tour in addition to producing the annual Power to the Peaceful festival each year since 1998. He also played three events to commemorate President Barack Obama’s inauguration: The Green Ball, The Peace Ball, and the Rock the Vote Party.

Franti is also an advocate for peace in the Middle East. His film, I Know I’m Not Alone, features footage of Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and Israel and aims to provide a better understanding of the people who live in war-torn countries. “This film came out of my frustration with watching the nightly news and hearing generals, politicians, and pundits explaining the political and economic cost of the war in the Middle East, without ever mentioning the human cost,” he explains. “I wanted to hear about the war by the people more personally affected by it: doctors, nurses, poets, artists, soldiers, and musicians.”

Click here to read a review of the film

The film struck a chord, and in 2001, Franti received the Domestic Human Rights Award from Global Exchange, for his work to end war. In 2006, he was invited by Jenny Macklin, then an Australian Member of Parliament, to show the film at Australia’s Parliament House. Franti and band bring their environmentalism to their concerts. They avoid the use of water bottles on national tours and run their tour bus on biodiesel. And, since 2000, Franti has been shoe-free. Why? Click here to read our Q&A.

Rocker Michael Franti Helps Us Make a Difference

American poet, musician, and composer Michael Franti and his band Spearhead have been rocking their message of peace, love, and social justice since 1994.

Blending funk reggae, jazz, folk, and rock, their new album is “All People.” Their high-energy shows, which they perform around the country, get the audience jumping, singing, and dancing.

Often the band is part of ensemble shows, including their performance on Dec. 14 at the 25th annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in Ashville, NC. We were privileged to meet Franti, our January 2014 Entrepreneur of the Month, and interview him at his hotel just before the concert.

Check out our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network. And scroll down for our Q&A.

Be Inkandescent: Let’s start off talking about your Do It For The Love Foundation. What inspired you and co-founder Sara Agah to create this nonprofit organization?

Michael Franti: My better half, Sara, is an emergency room nurse, and for the last couple of years we have been trying to figure out a way to combine what she does in healthcare with my music. Our Do It For The Love Foundation brings people to live concerts who are in an advanced stage of a life-threatening illness, as well as kids with severe challenges and veterans.

It’s the perfect fit because I’ve been making music and touring for 27 years, and over the years, I have had a lot of people tell me they know someone who is dying and would love to meet me. I’ve been in Iraq to play music on the streets for both Iraqi civilians as well as soldiers. I have played in Walter Reed Hospital and I have met a lot of veterans along the way, and a lot of families who have kids with special needs. We started the Foundation in August 2013 and it has really taken off. We started out assuming just the two of us could do it all ourselves, and now it has grown so large we have one full-time worker and are about to hire a second one.

The best part of my work with the Foundation is meeting people. Just last night I met a young woman who has lymphoma and has had a difficult life. Although she is an honors student, her disease has worsened to the point where she has had to stop going to school. A friend of hers got in touch with us and they all flew down to our show as a surprise to her. When I sat and talked with her, she told me she has lived with pain her whole life, and it is just getting worse and worse. She says she doesn’t have much time to live, but that she is worried about the world, and that if she could take away everyone’s pain even just for 15 minutes, she would take it on herself.

I was so moved by hearing this 20-year-old woman say that, and by meeting her younger brother and his friend who were both 17 and who had pulled off this whole plan to get her here through our Foundation.

Be Inkandescent: That’s a big theme for you, too, the idea of taking on the world’s problems as your own and trying to come up with solutions. What inspired you to have that as your mission?

Michael Franti: When I was a born, my birth mother carried me for nine months and then she held me for one hour and gave me up for adoption. I was adopted by the Franti family. They are Finnish-Americans, second generation in this country. They had three kids of their own, and they adopted me and another African-American son, and I grew up in this very mixed household.

My mother was a public school teacher in California for 30 years, and she was very much a leader in our house. She insisted that even though we were all very different—different heights, different colors, different views on the world—she would treat all of us the same, and we would all have the same opportunities to succeed. I really learned that ethic from her, and I believe it’s the same for the whole world. We all should share the same rights and should be given the same opportunities to succeed. We see places where this is not happening, and it takes the efforts of the rest of us to try and give a boost to people who need it. You see it whether it’s war, poverty, or because of climate changes affecting people around the world.

For example, I was in Southeast Asia visiting with a family in East Timore who was raising ducks instead of chickens. I asked why they had switched to ducks, and they said, “We used to have this long rainy season where the rain came slowly, but now the season is shorter and drier, and when the rain comes, everything floods. Ducks swim.” So these are the things I write about and try to work on as much as I can.

Be Inkandescent: Tell us more about the work you do traveling around the world to promote your message of love and social justice.

Michael Franti: I’ve had the opportunity to play for people in so many different countries and under so many circumstances. We have played in prisons, schools, on the street … we play all over the world. But I’ve found that it doesn’t matter where you play, it doesn’t matter what economic sphere people are in or what education, culture, language, or religion … people are the same when the music starts. You look in their eyes and see smiles, people start to dance, they start to move, eventually people laugh, they cry, they hug their friends. Music really is a universal language. One of my favorite things to do is to travel and play with people of other cultures and other musical experiences that I didn’t know about.

Before I was traveling as a musician, I worked as a doorman in a nightclub, and I was a bike messenger for three years. When I was a bike messenger, I would deliver checks to people for hundreds of thousands of dollars and deliver architectural plans for buildings that were worth millions of dollars … and no one ever clapped! They barely said thank you, it was usually just “sign here,” and that was it. Now I really get to make people happy. It’s fun.

Be Inkandescent: How did you hook up with Warren Haynes to play at his 25th Annual Christmas Jam in 2013?

Michael Franti: I met Warren 10 or 12 years ago at a festival we were both playing at. Warren is one of the nicest people I know; he’s really a kindhearted person. One of the beneficiaries of this Christmas Jam is Conscience Alliance, which is a food bank; they collect food all over the country and distribute it to people in need. He’s also a giver with music.

For this festival, Warren brings in individuals from nearly 70 different bands, and then he creates collaborations based on his intuition. The first one we did was about four years ago. Warren came backstage and said, “Michael, you got a minute? There’s this guy who wants to sit in with you.” I said, “Who?” He goes, “John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. Do you mind doing a song with him?”

My mouth hit the floor. Through nearly tears I responded, “Of course I’ll do a song with him!” He walks into the room and takes out his mandolin and starts playing this song with us. We were so blown away and happy. We played a whole bunch of songs, and finally we had done a whole set of probably 12 songs backstage. Right before we were walking on-stage, I said, “John, is there a song you wanted to play on?” and he said, “Well, Michael, I thought I’d play mandolin on the first four, then I’d play bass on the next five, then drums on the last three,” and I just said, “All right, Dude, let’s do it!” and he ended up playing the whole set with us!

That’s the kind of magic that happens here.

Be Inkandescent: Greg Allman, Government Mule, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals … it’s really cool! We are all so excited to be here and watch all of you play. So, tell us a little bit more about your career. You started Spearhead in ’94, and that was your third band?

Michael Franti: Yes. My first band was a little punk rock band called the Beatings in 1986 through 1988. Then in 1989 and ’90 I had a band called Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. We had a video and a song called “Television, The Drug of the Nation,” which became somewhat of a minor-league hit internationally. It didn’t really do much here, but U2 heard the song and loved the video, so they used the video to open up their Zoo TV tour in 1992, and then they invited us to become the opening act.

I remember after the show we played at Yankee Stadium, at the time the Pope, Nelson Mandela, and Billy Joel were the only people who had done a performance there apart from U2. After the show I joked with Bono. I said, “You know, the Pope played here, and Nelson Mandela and Billy Joel, and then we played here, and then you guys played. We played here before you.”

Be Inkandescent: Did you ever think when you were a little kid that you would be doing this?

Michael Franti: It really was not an ambition of mine. Throughout my childhood, all I wanted to do was be a basketball player, and I eventually played basketball at the University of San Francisco. My dorm room was right above the campus radio station, so I’d hear these bass lines coming up through the floor all of the time and at first, it was kind of annoying. And then I started getting the thrill of music, hearing all of these different styles of music coming out of the campus radio station. For two hours it would be hip-hop; for two hours it would be punk rock; for two hours it would be jazz; whatever it was, and then at 6 a.m. they would switch to a Chinese news program and they would only play Chinese music for a little while.

It was a great musical education. So I bought a bass and I would just copy the bass lines that I heard coming up through the floor, and that was sort of my initiation into music. But mainly I was writing lyrics. I would write poems, and then I started performing these poems with other artists and it was not until many years later when I actually started to play guitar. The mixture of the melody and the chords and the portability of just being able to go out onto the street or beach, wherever, and just sit there and play; that’s what I love about it.

Be Inkandescent: What’s your favorite song that you have written?

Michael Franti: There are many. On this new record I really like the song “Life Is Better With You” that I wrote for Sara. There is a song called “11:59” that will be our next single. The first single, “I Am Alive,” I really love, too. Many people ask me whether or not I have a favorite song, and the answer is usually the song I am playing right then or whatever song I have just written.

Be Inkandescent: Do have a new record coming out?

Michael Franti: We should have one probably by the end of next year. We never really stop writing. When we are on tour, we always carry a tiny little portable recording rig, and any time we have ideas we just put the ideas down on little recordings and then we go back later and pull out the best artifacts that we can find and try to put them in more concise songs from just random ideas.

Sometimes I come up with a title in the beginning and it then influences what I write about. The last record we put out before “All People” was called, “Sound of Sunshine.” My appendix had ruptured on tour four years ago and I came really close to dying. Every day I was in the hospital, I was so grateful to be alive that I would lean on the window and just feel the sun on my face, and think, “Wow. If I never felt this way again, I would feel such loss.” And then to see my two sons there, and all my friends. … I was just so grateful to be alive.

I then started writing this song about the sun—what the sun feels like, what it sounds like, what it tastes like. So I came up with the title, “The Sound of Sunshine.” Then all the titles on the record followed that theme.

Be Inkandescent: Who are some of your musical influences?

Michael Franti: Musically, I love artists who write songs about their concern for the planet and write songs about how much they love their girlfriend. For example: Bob Marley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Johnny Cash. John Lennon wrote “Imagine,” this Utopian view of what the world could be. And then he would write a song like “Beautiful Boy” or “Woman,” and that always made me feel like he doesn’t just care about the world because it is in his head; he’s concerned because it is in his heart. He wants to see his child grow up in a better place. That always moves me.

Be Inkandescent: Switching gears a little bit, tell us why you don’t wear shoes.

Michael Franti: I stopped wearing shoes on my birthday in April of 2000. I had been traveling to a lot of countries where people couldn’t afford to wear shoes, so I would take off my shoes and go play soccer with the kids and I couldn’t even take three steps. There would be these gravely fields and I just couldn’t do it. So I went home and I wondered what it would be like to never be able to afford shoes. So I took off my shoes, and decided I would go barefoot for three days.

I went three days, and my feet didn’t get any tougher. So I went for a week, then a month, then a year, and finally after 10 years of being barefoot, I partnered with an organization called Soles4Souls. They bring shoes to people all around the world who can’t afford them. They started after Hurricane Katrina, and moved onto Haiti, and now they are in about 60 different countries. (See the May 2013 Be Inkandescent feature on Soles4Souls) We work with them at our concerts collecting shoes from our fans as well as just getting the word out about the work that they do.

Be Inkandescent: Can you give our readers tips on three topics: one on business in general; one on getting into the music business; and a last tip on making a difference?

Michael Franti: Definitely.

  • In terms of business: To be a musician for 27 years requires an incredible team. The first thing I would say is learn how to collaborate and to delegate responsibilities to people who are better at it than you. At the same time, it also helps you to know every job. It is good to have some diversity so that if one thing goes awry, the other could work out. I also have a yoga hotel in Bali called Soulshine Bali. We do yoga retreats there. I think the best advice that I have ever had is from a book called The Go Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It’s about giving and making sure that the quality of experience for other people you come into contact with is best. In business, it is all about relationships and connecting with people. Not doing things because you’re trying to get something, but because it is the right thing to do. That leads to the longevity of what you are able to do. You then have people who will recommend you and call you for service when they need something because they remember you in a good light and trust you. It helps you to create community around your business.

  • In terms of the music industry: It is a fickle field. One week, one artist is huge; the next week it is a new artist, though some artists have been able to maintain it for many years. I think the main thing you need is passion for what you do, and to recognize that not everybody is on stage singing and holding a guitar. Hundreds of people have worked behind the scenes to make a show happen, as a producer, stage manager, caterer, music producer, videographer, publicist, whatever it is. If you have a passion for music, follow it, but follow it where your nose is really taking you. Don’t try to force yourself to play one specific role. If it’s not working out for you, there are other ways to do it. Whenever there are other people joining our production team, I always say the same thing: The moment you step out of your hotel room, you are on stage. So, when you walk into the hotel, if you do not treat the guy picking up your bags with kindness, he will remember that. You want everyone to remember you in a kind way so they want you back. That way, when you go through ups and downs, people are willing to go through them with you. Otherwise, when you go through the downs, people will think you deserve it.

  • When it comes to making a difference: That’s the joy of doing what you do. You can sell records and own a beautiful house and car and have everything look perfect on the outside, but when you go back to your house, you should ask yourself, “What did I do today? What did I make happen for someone else?” Really, making a difference is about doing what you can. A woman came up to me in Denver and said that she was a hairdresser and she saw my film and was so moved by it, but didn’t know what she could possibly do to make a difference in the world. Then one day, a woman walked into her salon who was undergoing chemotherapy; her hair was falling out in clumps, and she sat her down in a chair and knew there was nothing she could do with her hair but cut it all off. So she sat there and talked with this woman who cried as she shaved off all of her hair, and they made her up to look as beautiful as she was from the inside out. And from that experience, the two of them decided they should do this one night a week. So now, once a week, they close down the salon and invite people going through chemo in to let her take care of their beauty needs. There is always something we can do to serve our community. It doesn’t have to be the big-letter-“P” politics, because the small-letter-“p” politics can make the bigger difference.

Be Inkandescent: This joy is conveyed in your two children’s books, too. What inspired you to write them?

Michael Franti: For the first one, I had written a song called What I Be, about being oneself. It was on one of my records, and a friend of mine had an idea to turn it into a children’s book. The whole book is about embodying the best characteristics of nature—so if I was the sun, I would radiate and make others warm, etc.

The other book, called Where In The World Is Away, is about recycling. In the book two kids try to find a place to throw away their empty juice bottle. They sit near a pond going through the reasons why not to throw it in there or in the forest, and then a bird comes along and takes them on a journey to a recycling center where they, and the reader, get to see the whole process of recycling.

At the end, they realize there is no place in the world that is “away,” there is just “some place else.” The two kids learn about reducing and reusing and recycling, and they decide to reuse the bottle by each putting a flower in it.

Be Inkandescent: Here’s to that! Thank you so much for being here with us, Michael Franti. We look forward to keeping up with you and sharing your amazing message with with our readers, listeners, and viewers.

For more information, visit www.michaelfranti.com.

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

– Helen Keller

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

‎Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

– Booker T. Washington

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

– William Shakespeare

Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry. Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”

– J. Kristnhamurti, The First and Last Freedom

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

– Andrew Carnegie

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”

– E.B. White

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”

– Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton

If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”

– Anna Quindlen

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

– John Lennon

If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more.
 If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”

– Oprah Winfrey

My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am.”

– Maureen Cook

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”

– John Quincy Adams

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

– Lao Tzu

If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”

– Robert Fritz

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”

– Eve Ensler

Part of your destiny is to live in the zone of maximum satisfaction.”

– Martha Beck

By your stumbling the world is perfected.”

– Sri Aurobindo

Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading.”

– Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

– Thomas Carlyle

To find what you seek in the road of life, leave no stone unturned.”

– Edward Bulwer Lytton

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

– Bob Dylan

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

– Norwegian proverb

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

– Corita Kent

Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

– Madam C.J. Walker

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

– Jimi Hendrix

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

– Thomas Edison

Entrepreneurs willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.”

– Victor Kiam

Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what nurtures creative thinking.”

– Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

– Albert Einstein

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

– J.G. Holland, novelist

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”

– Albert Schweitzer

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

– Chinese proverb

Traveling is one way of lengthening life, at least in appearance.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

– Brian Tracy

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