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Articles on this Page
- 07/18/15--10:00: _6 body language sec...
- 07/18/15--12:00: _The productivity tr...
- 07/18/15--12:05: _10 bad habits that ...
- 07/19/15--05:00: _Meet the woman who ...
- 07/19/15--07:00: _Simple things you c...
- 07/19/15--10:00: _10 words that will ...
- 07/20/15--07:00: _3 new industries yo...
- 07/20/15--07:36: _10 traits Harvard l...
- 07/20/15--10:00: _12 psychological tr...
- 07/20/15--12:30: _Warren Buffett's 20...
- 07/21/15--06:40: _These are some of t...
- 07/21/15--07:14: _28 common phrases t...
- 07/21/15--07:45: _20 interview questi...
- 07/21/15--08:48: _'Shark Tank' invest...
- 07/21/15--10:30: _How failing a fresh...
- 07/21/15--11:35: _Meet the man who do...
- 07/21/15--13:31: _5 office politics m...
- 07/21/15--13:56: _Hillary Clinton say...
- 07/22/15--07:41: _23 introverts who b...
- 07/22/15--08:15: _8 cliches successfu...
- 07/18/15--10:00: 6 body language secrets of powerful people
- 07/18/15--12:00: The productivity trick one author used to write over 40 books
- Small measures of progress help to maintain momentum over the long-run, which means you’re more likely to finish large tasks.
- The faster you complete a productive task, the more quickly your day develops an attitude of productivity and effectiveness.
- 07/18/15--12:05: 10 bad habits that make you look unprofessional
- "Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion"
- "The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich"
- "Choose Yourself!"
- It's never too late to start designing your life. This works if you're in your late teens, your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. In fact, I know many people who retire and have to go through this process to discover what they will do with all the free time they have.
- If your life is not moving in the right direction, fix it.
- 07/20/15--07:00: 3 new industries you should consider if you want to change careers
- 07/20/15--07:36: 10 traits Harvard looks for in ideal MBA candidates
- "It provides insights into your deeper interests and the causes that you care about."
- "The admissions officers want to see evidence that you are the type of person who devotes energy to making a community stronger" because they may be inviting you into their community.
- 07/20/15--10:00: 12 psychological tricks to winning people over
- How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done
- A Life-Changing, True Story Reveals the Secret to Success
- 12 Habits of Exceptional Leaders
- 07/21/15--07:14: 28 common phrases that make you sound unprofessional
- 07/21/15--07:45: 20 interview questions Harvard asks MBA candidates
- Why did you choose to work for your current company?
- Many people go straight from investment banking to a private equity firm. Why do you feel you need the MBA in between?
- Describe a situation where you successfully responded to change.
- Describe a time when you helped someone at work.
- Describe a mistake you've made within the past three years.
- Describe your greatest accomplishment.
- How would you describe your style for teaching peers?
- Tell me about a time you failed.
- What is your leadership style?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What inspires you?
- What book are you currently reading?
- Name a leader that you admire.
- What do you expect to gain from an MBA at Harvard?
- Where will you be five to seven years post-MBA?
- What excites you most about your career plans?
- How will you continue learning in your next position?
- What are the difficulties you face in achieving your goals?
- What will you do if you do not get into business school this year?
- What do you think of the HBS admissions process?
- 07/21/15--13:31: 5 office politics mistakes that could be holding you back at work
- 07/22/15--07:41: 23 introverts who became extremely successful
- 07/22/15--08:15: 8 cliches successful people never use
The most powerful people in a group are not always the smartest or most knowledgeable. So, why are they the leaders?
Often times, it is because of subtle body language that draws people to them.
In this episode, I'll share six secrets that you can use today to exude confidence and feel powerful:
1. Eye Contact Conveys Confidence
You know the feeling. When a person makes eye contact with you, especially when you are talking, you feel important to that person, and your confidence in that person grows. People who meet your gaze seem sincere and trustworthy, while those who don’t seem either dishonest or lacking in confidence.
However, too much eye contact can be uncomfortable. It can feel like an intrusion or an act of aggression. Powerful leaders instinctively know how long to look at you and how long to look away, and do it naturally. Studies suggest the proper amount of eye contact in the U.S. and many other countries should be between 50% and 60 % of the conversation, mostly when listening.
2. Smile: It’s Good for You!
Many studies have been done on the benefits of smiling, but common sense also tells us that when we smile, we feel better inside, and others smile back. But why is that? It has to do with the chemicals that are released in the brain when we smile or see other people smile.
Smiling triggers the “feel good” hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These powerful chemicals relax your body, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, and help you fight off stress. This makes you feel healthier and appear more confident. What’s more, your smile triggers other people’s brains to respond in kind—in other words, a smile is contagious. Powerful leaders smile enough to convey confidence and good will, while creating bonds of respect.
3. The Firm Handshake
The perfect handshake is brief, firm but not tight, and uses the whole hand, not just the fingertips. It conveys that the person is confident, extroverted, and positive.
This can’t be emphasized enough. A handshake creates an immediate impression, and you only get one chance to create that first impression.
Powerful leaders shake hands in a way that says, “I am strong and in control.” And in my experience, most people that have a poor handshake have no idea.
I recommend you ask a trusted friend or colleague for honest feedback (or come to one of my live keynotes or seminars, and I'll personally let you know!)
4. Take a Powerful Pose
Strong leaders convey their self-confidence and strength subtly but clearly through their posture. An outstretched, open posture projects an image of power and confidence. Legs slightly apart, hands on hips (think wonder woman), or making a wide gestures make you look like you are in charge.
But it not only makes others think that, it makes you think that, too! By practicing power poses before presentations or meetings, you boost your confidence and subconsciously tell the audience you’re in control, confident about the future, and able to set goals and act.
5. Voice Tone
We all know that animals can hear undertones outside of human range, but the fact is that we unconsciously hear them, too — and make decisions based on them. You know how a high, nasal, or thin voice can be irritating (think Fran Drescher), but a broad, resonant voice (think Don LaFontaine) is soothing and attractive.
That’s because of the undertones. Incredibly, studies have shown that hearing those low tones actually makes people more efficient, while removing the low tones makes people less efficient. Leaders have the best undertones, and people around them subconsciously match their tones to those of the leader.
Have you ever heard the saying, “We’re on the same wavelength”? Whoever made up that saying was right. That’s exactly what happens.
6. Appropriate Gestures
Random or nervous gestures are distracting, but “speech-associated gestures” complement the words spoken and enhance their meaning. I’m not talking about a thumbs-up or sign language. These symbols convey meaning without words.
The best gestures, used by great speakers and leaders, natrually support the words and make them easier to remember and understand. Leaders use gesture to get their point across effectively.
Are These Leadership Secrets Innate or Learned?
Though many leaders do not study to develop these traits, anyone can learn to use them and harness them. If you'd like to exude more power and confidence develop these subtle secrets of body language.
NOW WATCH: Here's how to know when to act on an idea
Beginning with his first novel in 1847, Anthony Trollope wrote at an incredible pace.
Over the next 38 years, he published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters.
Trollope achieved his incredible productivity by writing in 15-minute intervals for three hours per day.
“It had at this time become my custom — and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself — to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour …
This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year …”
Let’s break down why this strategy allowed the author to be so productive and how we can use it in our own lives.
The Problem With Big Projects
When it comes to getting things done, I have experienced the best results when I rank my priorities based on their true importance and do the most important thing first. Whenever possible, I believe this is the best strategy because it forces you to direct your energy to the tasks of highest value.
That said, there is one common problem with this approach:
After ranking your priorities for the day, if the number one task is a really big project then it can leave you feeling frustrated because it takes a long time to finish.
For example, last week I was working on a project that took two days to complete. On Tuesday morning, when I began the task, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it that day. Even through I knew I would work all day without completing the task, I still found myself feeling frustrated by mid-afternoon.
It was 4 p.m. and I had spent all day working on the most important task, yet the only thing I had to show for my work was an unfinished project. My to-do list was just as long as it was in the morning, even though I was spending my time in the correct way.
I was doing the right thing, but it can still be disheartening to be stuck on Task #1 when you’ve been working all day. These feelings of frustration are a possible downside of the prioritized to-do list.
Trollope, however, developed a solution to this common problem.
Tiny Milestones, More Momentum
Trollope was in the business of writing books and writing a book is a big project. It is not the type of task that you can complete in a day. In some cases, merely writing a chapter is too big a task for a single day.
However, instead of measuring his progress based on the completion of chapters or books, Trollope measured his progress in 15-minute increments. This approach allowed him to enjoy feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment very quickly while continuing to work on the large task of writing a book.
This is a big deal for two reasons:
I have found this second point, the speed with which you complete your first task of the day, to be of particular importance for maintaining day-to-day productivity.
Speed to Completion
Trollope didn’t have to wait three months to feel a sense of accomplishment from completing his book nor did he have to wait three days until he finished a chapter. Every fifteen minutes he could check his progress. If he wrote 250 words, he could mentally check that time block off his list and feel a sense of immediate accomplishment.
Trollope’s 15-minute writing block was a well-designed progress meter that allowed Trollope to “get to finished” faster while still working on a big task. He received the long-term value of working on the most important things and the immediate payoff of finishing each little time block quickly.
You can employ a similar strategy for tasks besides writing, of course. For example, rather than measuring his progress on a bigger task like monthly revenue, Trent Dyrsmid tracked each sales call he made with a paper clip.
The basic idea is to design a way to get rapid feedback while working on bigger projects. The faster we get feedback that we are moving in the right direction, the more likely we are to continue moving that way.
Work for the long-term. Measure your progress for the short-term.
P.S. Get More Productivity Strategies
Looking for more productivity tips? Check out the 2015 Procrastination Seminar to get tons of science-backed ideas for how to overcome procrastination, master your priorities, and shave wasted hours off your workweek.
Picture this. I was at a networking event last winter. It was cold outside, but quite warm in the room. Most of us balanced winter coats and heavy bags. I made small talk with a few other people, when a new guy approached the group.
"Damn, you guys are carrying a ton of sh*t," he said. "You know, you can check your sh*t for free at the coat check."
Boom! Instant credibility suck. I get that he was trying to help us, but none of us paid him any mind after that introduction.
It's not really just that the guy swore; most of us are pretty immune to that these days. It's that three of his first 22 words were curses (assuming you count "damn" as a curse). That's just lazy, as if he couldn't be bothered to come up with better descriptions of all the things we were carrying. Instead, he went with the barnyard default, and that made him seem unserious and unprofessional.
(Just off the top of my head, since I'm sure some of you are about to ask what he could have called the things we carried instead: coats, bags, laptops, stuff, purses, briefcases, jackets, coats, gear, kit, pouch, totes, baggage, portage, luggage, junk, tunics-heck, call my a bag a man-purse, if you want to at least score a C-minus joke).
The truth is, nobody's perfect. We're all prone to semi-conscious verbal foul-ups that make us look totally unprofessional. That's why we all need a reminder now and then. Here are 10 examples of similar things to avoid.
1. Lazy profanity
OK, this one really is at the top of the list. Again, it's not the profanity itself (although that often doesn't help). It's the laziness. If someone constantly uses the F-word as an all-purpose adjective, it makes you wonder whether they're equally uncreative and slothful in everything they do.
I must admit this is a tendency I've had to work hard to combat in my own life. The phrase "Murphy Standard Time" would not be met with blank stares by some of my friends and family. Yet I've learned that being on time is a matter of respect. Show up when you say you will, and you send a message that you're professional enough to care.
We're all human. We're mammals. We notice alluring members of whatever gender we're biologically predisposed to be attracted to. Yet, that same humanity also means we should have the self-control to keep the "up-and-down look" under control, so to speak. Eyes up here, my friend, or you'll look like a creepy amateur.
I've always been a bit bothered by the fact that the word "Pollyannaish" suggests the concept of having too much unrealistic optimism. Check out the 1913 book if you don't understand why. Still, when, after a disaster, a colleague or a vendor insists that things are absolutely fine-while simple common-sense tells you they're not-it undermines their professionalism.
To be flighty is to be fickle and irresponsible. Tell someone you'll be at a certain place, or that you'll accomplish a certain thing-and then never do it? Sorry, you're flighty.
(Anyone who gets more than 1,000 emails a day probably falls into this category.) As most of us who run businesses understand, clients and customers expect you to reply quickly. They want you to be able to talk about their situations (seemingly) off-the-cuff. If you aren't in control of your own situation, they'll wonder how you can possibly be in control of theirs.
This one is like, so like, obvious — and yet a lot of people like, they don't really, like, get it. And that just, like, totally makes them seem like — well, not really professional, because they, like, can't even get to the point of what they want to say and like, make it clear and stuff.
'Nuff said. I'd actually throw bad grammar into this category as well-although with the caveat that we've all known some very smart, professional people whose language simply betrayed their lack of formal education, or whose first tongue wasn't ours. (Seriously, if this column were written in French or Spanish, we'd all have a good laugh at my grammar.)
Sure, we all have private lives, but most of the time our businesses don't truly involve them. If you're hiding important information from employees or clients, you're not doing much for your reputation as a leader, and you're probably making them wonder whether they can trust you.
A really brilliant salesperson once told me her art of selling was about "making the maximum promise you can, consistent with your ability to deliver." Entrepreneurs often push the envelope on this, but the key is to make sure you're confident you will eventually be able to make good on your promises.
10. Cheating and lying
These two are obvious. As President George W. Bush once tried to say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
There's a reason the burgers you see in commercials look different from the ones you get at the drive-thru window, and the reason is not that the food is fake.
The reason is people like Mary Valentin— professional food stylists, who take real food and make it look transcendent.
Valentin has been in the business for more than twenty years. She's worked with everyone from the Food Network to Kraft to Panera Bread to Godiva. When we talk, she has recently finished a big shoot for Jell-O, styling "teeny teeny tiny bite-sized tarts," topped with — exactly — 1/4 teaspoon of Cool Whip.
The crux of her job: to communicate the full visceral experience of what it's going to be like to eat something, using only images. "How do you convey temperature of food visually? How do you convey what mouthfeel is going to be? How soft or chewy or crunchy something is going to be?" she asks.
It is arguably the most glamorous possible job involving Jell-O. "It's such a cool-looking job from the outside, I think a lot of people — especially now that everyone takes pictures of their food for Instagram — everyone sort of feels like, 'Oh, I could do this.'"
But a strong Instagram game isn't enough to break in. "It's extremely difficult," Valentin says.
She speaks from experience.
An artist since she was old enough to "put crayon to paper," Valentin paid her way through art school — a BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago — working in restaurant kitchens.
After college, she was getting by painting backgrounds for photo shoots when she stumbled on food styling by accident: while dropping off some canvases, a friend who worked at the photo studio offered her an emergency gig. The food stylist’s assistant was out, and could she fill in the next day?
"I didn’t know what a food stylist was at that point, but they offered to pay me, so I showed up, and it was really just this perfect marriage of my unrelated skills," she says.
Interest piqued, she found work doing "food propping," which, she explains, is actually a different job. "That's where you're making food for things where the food isn't the hero." Think of a Sur La Table catalog: The food looks beautiful, but the pots and pans are the focus. If you perused the toaster ovens on offer from the Sears catalog in the late '80s, it's possible you saw her craftsmanship.
Food propping eventually led to gigs assisting real food stylists. Valentin notes she’s somewhat of an exception to the rule here: in general, aspiring stylists start with culinary school. "You need to be able to look at a recipe before the photoshoot and say, there's way too much baking soda in here, it's not gonna work," Valentin explains. "You have to have serious culinary skills."
But while formal training is invaluable — and well into her career, she opted to go back to school, ultimately finishing the pastry program at Chicago's Kendall College — the assistantships are where the bulk of the professional training happens. "It's like an old-school apprenticeship system,” Valentin says.
Some people like the role so much they decide to stay assistants — it's lower pressure, and if you're good, there's no shortage of work — but Valentin ventured off on her own.
There's a reason to go for it: the top food stylists, she estimates, make somewhere between $100,000 to $130,000. A more typical range for senior-but-not-absolute-top stylist is $70,000 to $80,000. Assistants usually make between one third and one half of that.
A typical day
After more than 20 years in the business, Valentin has settled into a steady routine. She lugs the day's groceries into the studio — "There's a lot of schlepping involved with this job"— to meet her assistant and any other food stylists working on that particular project. (Like Valentin, most food stylists are freelancers, though some big companies like General Mills have in-house people, as do some lifestyle and cooking magazines.)
Once everyone's settled in, the meetings begin: with photographers, with clients, with the creative team. They'll go over the recipes and the order of the recipes; they'll plot out what the backgrounds will be for each shot, though a prop stylist — different than a food stylist or a food propper — is responsible for that part.
But is it real?
As we talk, I keep hoping we'll get to the part where Valentin reveals all the food secrets I'd heard about on '90s news segments (milk is glue!), but she doesn't. "You know, that's very old school," she says, when I ask about substituting ice cream for mashed potatoes. "That's really not done so much anymore."
While the "ethics of food styling are murky at best,"writes Jaya Saxena at Serious Eats, "most stylists are aware of truth in advertising." According to Valentin, most brands are, too. "Most clients are extremely careful about portion and serving size and what you're actually getting for their own legal reasons," she tells me.
But if part of the reason is ethical, the other part is technological: Faking it just isn't as necessary as it used to be, thanks to the advent of digital photography.
Back in the film age, food had to be able to sit on set for a really long time. "You had to spray it with shellac, you had to do all this crazy stuff to make it look perfect for an hour," she explains. But none of that is necessary anymore, and "it takes half the day to prepare something artificially."
These days, it's about taking the real food and showing it off to its best possible — but real — advantage. If the burger in the McDonald's commercial looks better than the one you get, that's because they're making it "super fresh right at the moment," she says. Everything is nudged forward on the bun, and the bun itself is the most perfect possible bun, one that hasn't been squished by paper. "But it is a bun from their assembly line," she promises.
"You have to let the food do what it naturally does. It's a live animal. You can't make it into something that it's not. If there's a kind of bread that makes a lot of crumbs when you cut it, you need to show the crumbs," she says. "I guess that's my thing — I want the food to be comfortable with itself."
Not that she doesn't have a few tricks up her sleeve. "I use glycerin to represent condensation, because you have more control over it than water," she says. She'll use a garment steamer to re-melt congealed cheese on a tired-looking cheeseburger ("it melts again, and it looks perfect").
Once, when her team couldn't get d'Anjou pears for a shoot, they substituted another kind of pear, faking the d'Anjou's coloring with lipstick. "I think mine was L'Oréal British Red — it’s the perfect lipstick for the d’Anjou pear."
Mostly, though, it's the real thing, and if you spent several hours at the grocery store picking out the platonic ideal of lettuce and painstakingly arranging each leaf, your salad could look like that, too.
The art of the grocery store
For most of us, grocery shopping is a chore. For Valentin, it's an art.
"Some people just hand [the shopping] to their assistants, but I love it." Her store of choice is Mariano's — Whole Foods opens too late — though she also has a network of specialty wholesalers, whom she can turn to when she needs something impossible. ("Somebody always wants to shoot a pomegranate in July, and it's just not out there.")
At the store, she's meticulous. "You have to go through all the tomatoes that have beautiful green tops, and hopefully a little stem, and you have to treat them like little newborn babies," she tells me. Shopping for hamburger buns means taking them all off the shelf, looking through them all, and putting the rest back. "You get the poor stock kid watching you do this, like, 'Oh man, what is this crazy woman up to.'"
"I try to be as gracious as possible," she says. Sometimes, cashiers roll their eyes as she polices their bagging (raspberries don't go at the bottom), which she understands. Just as often, they're excited to learn how the food will be used.
If there's a downside to the job, Valentin says it's the physical price you pay for hunching over perfectly arranged arugula salads all day. "You're really carrying a lot of heavy stuff around, you're on your feet for 10, sometimes 12 hours a day, and you're leaning over the set at an awkward angle — it's kind of everything that's bad for your back," she says, noting that, along with culinary skills, regular ab exercises are an essential part of food styling.
While not everyone may be cut out for professional food styling, the field is a reminder that even the drabbest of foods have the potential to be elevated to art. "You want to create a little romance when you're shooting your food," she says.
This answer by Dirk Hooper originally appeared on Quora in answer to the question: "What should one do in their 20s to avoid regrets in their 30s and 40s?"
I've given this question a lot of thought, so I'm grateful to have the opportunity to answer it ... and have the chance to compose my ideas on the subject.
I think there are things that I could have done in my 20s that would have put me light years ahead in my 30s and 40s.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself I would have some suggestions and I'll share those with you.
I spent most of my 20s having an extended childhood.
I dropped out of college because I was taking courses to impress my parents.
I was the manager of a comic book store, because I loved comics and all my friends hung out there. Then I figured out there was no money in comic book stores so I got a "real" job and found out there wasn't really much money there either.
My nights were filled with visits to clubs, hanging out with friends, playing video games and just enjoying life.
I had a lot of fun in my 20s but near the end of the decade I realized that I wasn't doing what I was meant to do. Somewhere along the road I took a detour and I needed to correct my course.
Turning the Corner
Approaching 30, I finally started asking some questions about who I was and what I wanted to contribute to the world, and that's when things started to fall into place.
I did a mental exercise where I imagined what my perfect life would be like in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. I didn't just figure out my ideal job, I thought about where I would live, what my day would be like, the friends I would have, how I would look and anything else that would make my goals as real as possible in my mind.
Then I started working backwards to figure out what I had to do to get to that ideal self.
It's not enough to imagine all of those things; you have to write them down.
The act of writing your goals and dreams do a couple of things for you. It forces you to nail down what's really in your mind, and it gives you a tangible record that you can refer to over time.
Writing in a journal will pay off in ways that you couldn't possibly imagine.
Your ideas will buy your future.
Habitual writing will ignite your mind. If you're not capturing your thoughts you will work twice as hard and achieve half as much.
Writing is also an exceptional skill to have in your quiver. It's a dying art, and one that separate you from the crowd.
By the way, writing quality answers here on Quora is excellent writing practice.
I eventually went back to college, and the second time around I found myself a regular member of the Dean's List. It's amazing what you can achieve when you're taking the right courses.
When I got out of college I realized that there was still so much I didn't know. While they taught me about film, video and photography, they really dropped the ball on business, life and success.
So, I became a voracious reader.
I engaged in a campaign to educate myself on any subject that inspired me. One book led to another. Over the years I've learned ten times more than I've ever learned in highschool or college.
I'm still learning, and it's given me an advantage over other people who think they have it all figured out.
Ready to get started? Here's three excellent books about crafting your life:
What Makes You Unique?
Whether you're in a 9-to-5 job or you work for yourself, you will benefit from discovering what sets you apart, and broadcasting it to the world.
In my 20s, I made the mistake of trying to be many things to many people. I wasn't very good at anything in particular.
After all the introspection I did, the writing and reading, I had an excellent idea of who I was, what I valued most and where I wanted to be. I set myself apart by finding a niche that backed up what I discovered.
Clearing away all the distractions and focusing on your specialty will accelerate your learning. It's also going to help you build a reputation in the field.
The next step is to practice good personal branding. Write down what makes you unique and be consistent about putting that out there. Put it on your resume, your social networking sites, your own website, your business cards, and any other place that you interact with the world.
Once I nailed down my personal brand, magical things began to happen. Connections and opportunities came to my door with increasing regularity. I became the go-to guy for my niche, something that continues today.
Putting It All Together
What I regret most about my 20s is not figuring out what I should be doing earlier.
While I had a lot of fun — and I think your 20s should be fun — if I had worked on crafting my life at the beginning of the decade, I would have found happiness earlier.
I've got two final thoughts on this subject:
Finally, don't get trapped by thinking you have to stick with your plan if it's not working. If your new life and your brand is not what you imagined, then go back to step one and figure out where you got off course.
You deserve to live the life of your dreams.
It took me a little under ten years to become the guy in this photo. The life I created was close to what I imagined a decade earlier.
I'm still working to create my perfect life, but I feel like I'm on the right path and that I have the tools to get me there.
Subtitle: Without sounding like a jerk.
There is a special art to choosing the perfect word for a situation, particularly in the workplace.
You want your vocabulary to be impressive but not so impressive it garners scoffs, professional but not stiff. It has to sound natural in context, like you’ve used it before.
You want people to understand what it means, but maybe Google it “just to make sure.”
Most importantly, it has to make sense, connotation very much included. If you’re looking to stretch your workplace vocabulary without sounding like a pretentious asshole, here are some suggestions.
1. Caustic (kôstik)
Adjective: sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way.
Synonyms: derisive, acerbic, abrasive
Example: I didn’t appreciate the caustic tone of that email.
Note: Yes, it also means “able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action” or “formed by the intersection of reflected or refracted parallel rays from a curved surface,” but this is less likely to be applicable in the workplace. Unless of course you are a chemist or physicist, in which case a liberal arts major who works in book publishing is unlikely to be of much assistance anyway.
2. Idiosyncrasy (idēəˈsiNGkrəsē)
Noun: a distinctive or peculiar feature or characteristic of an individual, place, or thing.
Synonyms: peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity
Example: Ah, just another charming idiosyncrasy of our printers I see. [sarcasm]
3. Paradoxical (par-uh-DOK-si-kuhl)
Adjective: having the nature of a paradox; self-contradictory.
Synonyms: contradictory, incongruous, anomalous
Example: I know that this idea sounds paradoxical, but I believe it’s our most effective solution.
4. Beleaguer (biˈlēɡər)
Verb: to cause constant or repeated trouble for a person, business, etc.
Synonyms: harass, pester, badger, vex
Example: The beleaguered school system can’t take much more of this.
5. Exacerbate (iɡˈzasərˌbāt)
Verb: make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.
Synonyms: inflame, aggravate
Example: I understand that you’re trying to help, but what you’re doing is only exacerbating the situation.
6. Didactic (dīˈdaktik)
Adjective: in the manner of a teacher, particularly so as to treat someone in a patronizing way.
Synonyms: patronizing, pedantic
Example: He would be a good choice for the conferences if his speeches weren’t so didactic.
7. Innocuous (iˈnäkyo͞oəs)
Adjective: not harmful or offensive.
Synonyms: harmless, innocent
Example: There’s no need to be defensive, it was an innocuous question.
8. Parsimonious (pärsəˈmōnēəs)
Adjective: unwilling to spend money or use resources.
Synonyms: stingy, frugal, cheap
Example: In this campaign, there is no room to be parsimonious.
9. Bloviate (blōvēˌāt)
Verb: talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way.
Example: It’s tough to watch them bloviate about sweeping change when our internal processes are still such a mess.
10. Aplomb (əˈpləm)
Noun: self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.
Synonyms: poise, composure
Example: It was a tense meeting, but you carried the presentation with aplomb.
When it comes to career success, timing is everything.
Joining a burgeoning industry that’s about to hit its stride can mean the difference between a routine tech job and an upwardly mobile career.
The following industries all feature the ideal conditions for transitioning from hot niche to mainstream: growing demand, unlimited markets, profitable companies, and an influx of investment funding.
The educational-technology industry’s vast array of offerings includes everything from distance-learning programs for adults to online games and apps that teach reading, math and even coding skills to toddlers and grade school students. Other solutions automate classroom content, manage student data and address the administration and communication needs of teachers.
Hundreds of companies are already generating revenue in this area, said Karen Billings, vice president and managing director for the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of the Software & Information Industry Association. The industry is projected to grow another 3 to 5 percent this year, she added.
Why It’s Hot: Education has lagged behind the technology curve, so there’s a lot of catch-up going on. According to CB Insights, EdTech companies raked in a record $1.87 billion in funding through 350 deals in 2014, with funding expected to reach $2 billion this year. Analysts say the technology portion of educational budgets will only grow in coming years.
Career Opportunities: “EdTech firms need diverse software and mobile app developers to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population,” Billings said. “They’re also looking for designers, writers and tech support professionals who are passionate about making a difference in students’ lives.”
If you’d rather build an educational game or app in your spare time, the Office of Educational Technology provides a guide for third-party developers. They also have a program that fosters collaboration among entrepreneurs, developers, educators, funders, and students.
mHealth (a.k.a. Mobile Health)
mHealth providers offer chronic condition management, acute care services and diagnostic services primarily through mobile apps and wearable devices. The mHealth global market was valued at $1.95 billion in 2012 and is projected to reach $49.12 billion by 2020, based on a forecast by Grand View Research.
Why It’s Hot: Global health systems are looking for ways to manage the costs of care; wearables, smartphone apps, and video consultations offer a viable, cost-effective solution. The industry segment is particularly important in rural and developing regions where people may not have in-person access to healthcare providers.
Career Opportunities: Mobile app developers, mobile data security experts, front-end and full stack engineers, data analysts, RoR Web app developers, and UX designers all have opportunities in the field.
Although U.S. consumers spend some $600 billion per year on food and beverages, less than 1 percent of that spending takes place online. That’s about to change: Between 2013 and 2018, online grocery sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.1 percent, reaching nearly $18 billion by the end of the forecast period, according to a report by Business Insider.
Why It’s Hot: The industry has ventured beyond basic residential grocery delivery (although that’s expanding, too) by offering time-strapped consumers farm-to-table specialty products and subscription services for healthy, prepared meals, among other things. Plus, institutional suppliers to hotels, restaurants and hospitals are making it easier for customers to purchase online or via mobile devices. As of November 2014, companies in the food delivery space had raised a total of $1.56 billion through 107 deals over the previous year, according to CB Insights.
Harvard Business School is ranked the No. 1 business school in the world.
For the class of 2014, 93% of graduates seeking employment received an offer, and those who accepted offers received a median base salary of $125,000, according to Harvard.
It's clear that receiving an HBS education pays off, but the school doesn't accept your everyday applicant.
What separates those admitted from the rest of the pack?
Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, helps clients earn admission to top MBA programs. She has an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Based on a decade of helping clients get into Harvard, her team has assembled a list of 10 qualities that will help you stand out to the admissions committee:
1. High-impact leadership
"Your past leadership achievements are the best gauge of your potential for realizing your future ambitions," Blackman writes in her Harvard Interview Guide.
You need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. It's not all about the scale of your achievements, Blackman writes, but rather "the fact that you left indelible footprints."
As with leadership, the committee is concerned with the connection between your achievements and how they reflect who you are. There are two reasons community service is important, Blackman writes:
"The central question in every HBS case is not 'what do you think?' but rather 'what would you do?'" Blackman writes.
It's all about results. Your thought processes and ability to analyze the situation at hand are important, but you have to take it further than that. The committee wants "evidence that you have applied your analysis, formulated an action plan, and most importantly, executed the plan."
Passion is a useful tool for staying motivated and productive, whether it's in school or business. But it goes much deeper than simply being passionate about what you are doing. You need to express your passion in a way that will inspire and project energy onto those you are working with, Blackman writes.
"It's not just your footprints that interest HBS admissions," she says. "They also want to see the footprints of those who are following you as you blaze a new trail in an area of passion."
5. Case method compatibility
Case studies provide students with the chance to analyze and make decisions in a real-world simulation, and HBS is almost completely dedicated to using them, Blackman writes.
The qualities the admissions committee is looking for in candidates include intellectual curiosity, exceptional communication skills, a respect for the opinions of others, and the ability to teach as well as learn from peers, Blackman writes.
While it's important to demonstrate your achievements and abilities to the admissions committee, it's equally as important to reflect what you've learned from each experience.
"Self-awareness isn't a quality that you demonstrate by telling a story," Blackman writes. "Rather, it has to do with how you tell the story and your ability to communicate what you learned."
With a mission to "educate leaders to make a difference in the world," HBS isn't looking for candidates who simply want a résumé boost, Blackman writes. If you're applying to Harvard, you have to "think big."
Integrity is more than being respectful. It's more than any single attribute. Integrity is a combination of attributes, Blackman writes. She cites the following traits from Dr. Henry Cloud's book "Integrity" that make up this value: creates trust, unafraid of reality, results-oriented, solves negative realities, causes growth, and finds meaning in life.
You'll want to demonstrate how you responded in a difficult ethical situation to "provide evidence of honesty, forthrightness, and expertise in navigating ethical conundrums," Blackman says.
Harvard doesn't want people who fit in; it wants people who stand out.
You need to demonstrate the desire and ability to spark up a new conversation or idea. Any situation in which you took charge voluntarily, rather than being assigned something, is worth discussing with the admissions committee, Blackman writes.
"Maturity isn't a matter of growing older," Blackman writes. "It's a matter of growing wiser."
Rather than focusing on how long you've been doing something, demonstrate how you've grown — from your values to your view of the world.
When you’re working hard and doing all you can to achieve your goals, anything that can give you an edge is powerful and will streamline your path to success.
Mind tricks won’t make you a Jedi, but using the brain’s natural quirks to your advantage can have a positive impact on everyone you encounter.
None of these tricks are deceitful or disingenuous, except for number six, and I trust that you’ll only use that one with good reason.
As soon as you become aware of these 12 tricks, they start popping up wherever you look. With minimal effort on your part, their unconscious influence on behavior can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
1. When a group of people laughs, each member of the group can’t help but make eye contact with the person they feel closest to.
This trick can make you an astute observer of relationships of all types. It can tell you which members of your team are bonding and learning to trust one another, just as easily as it can tell you if you might have a shot at landing a date with a certain someone. Of course, you’ll learn a lot about how you feel about other people just by paying attention to whom you make eye contact with.
2. When someone does a favor for you, it actually makes them like you more.
When you convince someone to do you a favor, they unconsciously justify why they are willing to do so. Typical justifications include things such as “he’s my friend,” “I like him,” and “he seems like the kind of person who would return the favor.” These justifications serve you perfectly. Not only did you just get help with something, but the other party also likes you more than they did before.
3. Silence gets answers.
When you ask someone a question and they’re slow to respond, don’t feel pressure to move the conversation forward. Remaining silent plays to your advantage. Moments of silence make people feel as though they should speak, especially when the ball is in their court. This is a great tool to use in negotiations and other difficult conversations. Just make certain you resist the urge to move the conversation forward until you get your answer.
4. Open hands and palms create trust.
There’s an employee policy at LEGOLAND that says whenever someone asks where something is, the employee “presents” (open-palm gesture) their directions instead of “pointing” them. This is because the open-palmed gesture conveys trust, making people more likely to agree with what you’re saying and to find you friendly and likeable. Pointing, on the flip side, is generally seen as aggressive and rude.
5. Nodding your head during a conversation or when asking a question makes the other person more likely to agree with what you’re saying.
The next time you need to win someone over to your way of thinking, try nodding your head as you speak.
People unconsciously mirror the body language of those around them in order to better understand what other people are feeling.
When you nod your head as you speak, you convey that what you’re saying is true and desirable, and people are more inclined to agree with you.
6. If you have to tell a lie, add embarrassing details to make it more believable.
The more detailed a lie is, the more likely people are to believe it. When you add detail, people begin to put a picture to your story. When you include embarrassing details, the picture becomes all the more vivid and believable. After all, if you were going to make up a story, you would be much more inclined to make yourself look good.
7. People remember unfinished things better.
The natural tendency to remember unfinished things is called the Zeigarnik effect. Ever notice how some television commercials get cut off early? The company paying for the commercial cuts it off so that it sticks in your head longer than other commercials. The best way to forget unfinished things (commercials or songs) is to finish them in your head. If a song gets stuck in your head, try singing the last lines to yourself. You’ll be amazed how quickly it goes away.
8. Chew gum to relax and focus.
Chewing gum actually lowers your cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. But chewing gum doesn’t just reduce stress, it also makes you more alert and improves your performance in memory-oriented tasks. It does so by increasing the blood flow to your brain and alerting your senses. When you experience a stressful situation while chewing gum, your body is less likely to go into the primal fight-or-flight mode (which results in poor decisions and inability to focus).
9. People’s feet reveal their interest.
When talking to someone, pay attention to their feet. If their feet are aimed at you, they’re interested and listening to what you’re saying, but if their feet point away from you, they’re most likely disinterested and mentally checked out.
10. When you meet someone new, work their name into the conversation in order to remember it.
The goal here is to repeat their name three times in the first five minutes. It works extremely well, but the trick is to do it naturally. When you rattle off their name unnecessarily, it sounds foolish and awkward. Try to use phrases like “Hello ____,” “Nice to meet you _____,” and “Where are you from _____.”
11. Showing excitement makes other people like you.
This one goes back to the idea that we mirror the behavior of those around us. If you show excitement when you see someone, they naturally mirror that excitement back at you. It’s an easy way to make a strong first impression and to get people to like you.
12. Maintain eye contact for 60% of a conversation.
The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100% of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed. Maintaining eye contact for roughly 60% of a conversation comes across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.
Bringing It All Together
Give these tricks a try, and you’re bound to notice a difference in how people respond to you.
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Charlie Munger settled into his seat in front of the crowd at the University of Southern California.
It was 1994 and Munger had spent the last 20 years working alongside Warren Buffett as the two men grew Berkshire Hathaway into a billion-dollar corporation.
About halfway through his presentation, hidden among many fantastic lessons, Munger discussed a strategy that Warren Buffett had used with great success throughout his career.
Here it is:
When Warren lectures at business schools, he says, "I could improve your ultimate financial welfare by giving you a ticket with only 20 slots in it so that you had 20 punches — representing all the investments that you got to make in a lifetime. And once you’d punched through the card, you couldn’t make any more investments at all."
He says, "Under those rules, you’d really think carefully about what you did and you’d be forced to load up on what you’d really thought about. So you’d do so much better."
Again, this is a concept that seems perfectly obvious to me. And to Warren it seems perfectly obvious. But this is one of the very few business classes in the U.S. where anybody will be saying so. It just isn’t the conventional wisdom.
To me, it’s obvious that the winner has to bet very selectively. It’s been obvious to me since very early in life. I don’t know why it’s not obvious to very many other people.
The Underrated Importance of Selective Focus
Warren Buffett’s "20-Slot" Rule isn’t just useful for financial investments, it’s a sound approach for time investments as well. In particular, what struck me about Buffett’s strategy was his idea of "forcing yourself to load up" and go all in on an investment.
The key point is this:
Your odds of success improve when you are forced to direct all of your energy and attention to fewer tasks.
If you want to master a skill — truly master it — you have to be selective with your time. You have to ruthlessly trim away good ideas to make room for great ones. You have to focus on a few essential tasks and ignore the distractions. You have to commit to working through 10 years of silence.
Going All In
If you take a look around, you’ll notice very few people actually go "all in" on a single skill or goal for an extended period of time.
Rather than researching carefully and pouring themselves into a goal for a year or two, most people "dip their toes in the water" and chase a new diet, a new college major, a new exercise routine, a new side business idea, or a new career path for a few weeks or months before jumping onto the next new thing.
In my experience, so few people display the persistence to practice one thing for an extended period of time that you can actually become very good in many areas — maybe even world-class — with just one year of focused work. If you view your life as a 20-slot punchcard and each slot is a period of focused work for a year or two, then you can see how you can enjoy significant returns on your invested time simply by going all in on a few things.
My point here is that everyone is holding a "life punchcard" and, if we are considering how many things we can master in a lifetime, there aren’t many slots on that card. You only get so many punches during your time on this little planet. Unlike financial investments, your 20 "life slots" are going to get punched whether you like it or not. The time will pass either way.
Don’t waste your next slot. Think carefully, make a decision, and go all in. Don’t just kind of go for it. Go all in. Your final results are merely a reflection of your prior commitment.
It's been six years since the Great Recession technically ended.
Since then, job numbers have come back up, and unemployment has gone back down. In April 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the number of US private sector jobs had finally returned to their pre-crash peak.
But not all cities have recovered equally.
"We know every city was hit hard," says Glassdoor's chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, who's been looking at which areas are still struggling six years later, and which places are now booming.
The short answer: Go West, young man. Of the top 10 cities on Glassdoor's "Recovery Index," seven are in the Western states, and five of the top 15 are in Texas alone.
Chamberlain looked at three criteria to get his ranking: how much the unemployment rate has dropped in the years since 2009, how much job growth each city has seen since 2009, and how much wages have increased since 2009.
That doesn't tell us everything. "It doesn't tell us anything about the inequalities in cities, for example," he notes. "It doesn't tell us about side-lined workers who have left the labor force." And it doesn't look at where cities were before the recession; what we're looking at here is the growth (or lack thereof) that's happened since then.
The three indicators still paint a pretty good picture of recovery, Chamberlain tells Business Insider. Based on those metrics, here are the top 15 cities that have rebounded the most since the recession:
1. Midland, Texas(-2.7% unemployment since 2009, 30% job growth, 27% wage growth)
2. Odessa, Texas (-4.6% unemployment, 26% job growth, 20% wage growth)
3. San Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara, California (-6.3% unemployment, 25% job growth, 14% wage growth)
4. Greeley, Colorado (-3.9% unemployment, 28% job growth, 7% wage growth)
5. Provo-Orem, Utah (-3.8% unemployment, 24% job growth, 10% wage growth)
6. Laredo, Texas (-4.0% unemployment, 24% job growth, 9% wage growth)
7. Houston - The Woodlands - Sugar Land, Texas (-3.3% unemployment, 19% job growth, 13% wage increase)
8. Ames, Iowa (-2.3% unemployment, 21% job growth, 12% wage growth)
9. Charlotte - Concord - Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina (-6.5% unemployment, 19% job growth, 10% wage growth)
10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (-2.4% unemployment, 19% job growth, 14% wage growth)
11. Naples - Immokalee - Marco Island, Florida (-6.2% unemployment, 23% job growth, 5% wage growth)
12. Austin - Round Rock, Texas (-3.6% unemployment, 23% job growth, 7% wage growth)
13. Columbia, Missouri (-2.3% unemployment, 16% job growth, 13% wage growth)
14. Raleigh, North Carolina (-4.1% unemployment, 18% job growth, 9% wage growth)
15. Burlington, North Carolina (-6.7% unemployment, 17% job growth, 8% wage growth)
What to make of it? "This is an oil and gas story," Chamberlain says, bluntly. Midland, Odessa, and Greeley all top the list thanks to the boom in hydraulic fracking, according to Chamberlain.
San Jose, Provo, Charlotte, and Raleigh, meanwhile, are all "places where there have been technology booms," he continues. San Jose is obvious because it's the center of tech, but Provo has a powerful start up culture, too, as do Charlotte and Raleigh.
"All the cities in which the tech industries is growing fast have universities nearby that feed skilled workers into those companies," he says. But while tech depends on a constant flow of new graduates, the oil and gas industries are "quite a different story," demographically speaking.
In Midland and Odessa, for example, there's a tremendous need for oil field service workers coming from blue-collar trade backgrounds.
It's not necessarily surprising the oil, gas, and tech industries are fueling growth in these 15 cities, but the data here does provide an important lesson, according to Chamberlain: "All labor markets are local." Midland, Texas, can have a robust economy even while the economy in Ocean City, New Jersey, flails. (Ocean City comes in last on the list, coming in at number 327).
That's information you can act on: You can't control economic trends, but you can — to some degree, at least — control where you live. "The rapid migration away from cities like Detroit and toward cities like Phoenix in recent years largely reflects this type of migration: workers moving away from poorly performing cities toward areas with rapidly growing job markets," he says.
I am continuously fascinated by what comes out of people's mouths in the workplace. Many don't realize that the smallest of sentences can be a real tell about what is going on inside their brains.
Some things people say give away a poor attitude, insecurity, or even incompetency. In this day of constant over-sharing, many people forget to think before they speak.
Surely some of these sayings below are okay at times — depending upon the company culture and specific situation — but you are less likely to lose respect from colleagues, partners, and clients if you eliminate all of them from your repertoire entirely.
1. Anything with a curse word.
I live in New York City where the F-word is considered a term of endearment. Yet, I still am careful to curb it when in a professional environment. If you are unclear about what constitutes cussing today, just stay away from anything you can't say on the Disney channel.
2. I am the Real Deal.
I once heard a speaker get on stage and try and convince us he was important with this phrase. If you have to insist you have credibility, you probably don't have any.
3. I am so exhausted.
The people who are successful are working hard and they know that work is, well, work. Expressing how exhausted you are tells people that you struggle managing your life. Figure out what's keeping you up at night and fix it, or keep it to yourself.
4. I know, right?
Feeding into someone else's complaints just creates bigger problems in the workplace. If someone is complaining, try encouraging them to solve the problem in a productive way. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
5. I'm just going to ignore it.
Closing your eyes and letting problems happen may make for mediocre politics, but most issues surface eventually. When they do surface and it comes to light that you knew what was happening, you're going to look callous and selfish.
6. You need to trust me.
Why do you feel the need to convince someone you are trustworthy? What are you doing that would cause people to think otherwise?
7. Don't tell the boss.
Conspiracy usually comes to light somewhere. As the instigator of secrecy, you put everyone at risk and create an unsafe environment. Foster transparency and openness if you want the respect of those around you.
8. Can you believe him/her?
Got a problem with someone? Try confronting the person directly and showing people your diplomatic skills instead of acting like a coward.
9. Just go along, okay?
People realize quickly that when you enlist them in your deceptions, you are probably just as likely to deceive them some day.
10. I feel really stressed.
Bosses and teammates alike want to work with people who are happy and strong. Stress is a personal issue that needs to be managed by the individual. It's part of the job so make it your own priority.
11. I know what I'm talking about.
Really? Then why do you think telling me will automatically convince me. If you can demonstrate your knowledge with solid research and command of the topic, then there would be no need to question your pontificating.
12. He/she makes me so mad.
The only person who can make you mad is you. Take a step back from the hot emotion and solve the interpersonal problem one way or another.
13. I am so hungover.
It's great to have a good time, but the Mad Men days of two martini lunches are long gone. Alcohol is considered an acceptable drug provided it doesn't interrupt your performance. Oh, and pot may be socially acceptable to some, but you never know who still thinks it's a vice. So leave your Seth Rogen-esque stories for the social crowd.
14. They'll never know.
Just by telling someone else about your deception you have pretty much insured that others will know of your willingness to hide the truth.
15. Wow, she's/he's hot!
We're all human and appreciate beauty, but showing discretion is required for others to feel comfortable in the workplace.
16. Oh my god! Did you hear what happened?
Society today feeds on gossip and most are culpable of the guilty pleasure of listening to salacious facts. Still, few respect the person who spreads the information.
17. Just back off, will ya?
Respected people know how to keep tumultuous situations from getting out of hand. Show that you have tolerance and the emotional intelligence to work with all types.
18. Good, I think I got away with it.
Why would you need to get away with anything? Try showing integrity even when you make mistakes so people respect your ability to be forthright and responsible.
19. Let's just get it over with.
There is little in business that is worthy of being dismissed. Issues should be addressed with a positive attitude and appropriate attention.
20. We were out of control!
Or another way to put it, we were reckless and uncaring about the stakes for everyone involved.
21. Anything with a stereotype.
If you have yet to learn from Donald Trump, here is your chance.
22. Hey, let's bet on it.
Leave the workplace gambling to the folks who work on Wall Street. Office place gambling shows a lack of decorum and prioritization. Look for activities that make everyone a winner.
23. I need a smoke.
Cigarette smoking is finally taboo in most of white-collar society. It demonstrates weakness and disregard for oneself. Perhaps people will be kind, but they will judge.
24. I'm bored.
As a close friend points out, only boring people are bored. You always have the freedom to either make your work exciting or find a career where you are energized. Do everyone a favor today and do either or both.
25. I'm not really sure what to do here.
Well, figure it out. Someone will have to. It might as well be you, so attack the problem with confidence and a solid work ethic.
26. That meeting really sucked.
Perhaps it was bad because you were in attendance. You own a part of any activity or conversation in which you take part. What are you doing to make things meaningful and productive?
27. Anything sexual.
Even if you are foolish enough to think that any blue comments are acceptable, it's better to keep the compliance violations and harassment lawsuits to a minimum.
28. I can't go home; I have too much to do.
Thank you for explaining to everyone that you are incapable of doing the job. Either figure out how to effectively manage the workload and have a life or find a career that suits your capabilities.
Being among the small percentage of applicants admitted to the No. 1 business school in the world immediately puts you in some seriously good company.
Of the nearly 10,000 applicants to Harvard Business School's class of 2017, only 11% were admitted.
What made them stand out? As with any interview or exam, preparation is key. And when applying to Harvard, it's vital.
Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, helps clients earn admission to top MBA programs. She has an undergraduate degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Over the past decade, Blackman has studied successful Harvard interview transcripts. She put together an interview guide featuring sample questions, which are broken into three categories: past experiences, present attributes, and future goals.
We've selected interview questions in each category from Blackman's Harvard interview guide.
Your past experiences can tell a lot about how you've dealt with success and failure. When interviewing with Harvard, "expect to be asked a number of questions that will help interviewers gauge how life has tested you and how you responded to that test," Blackman writes. Sample questions include:
The interviewer wants to know the rationale behind all of your decisions and how you developed your areas of interest, she says. Successful responses will provide reasoning and details that were sparked by the actions you took.
"These questions present opportunities for you to demonstrate self-awareness and reveal your values and passions," writes Blackman. It's important to build off your past experiences and demonstrate your current personality and views of yourself and the world. Sample questions include:
Candidates should be prepared to elaborate and answer the question "why?" to each of the above interview questions. Successful answers will clearly demonstrate your personality, perspective, and values, Blackman says. You want to show you have the drive to learn and grow on a continual basis.
Harvard's mission is to "educate leaders to make a difference in the world," and interviewers want to know about your ambitions. Sample questions include:
Clearly describing your future goals should bring the interviewers full-circle. "When answering these questions, it is important to include tangible examples from your past and present, in order to convey that your future goals are not only logical and well-thought out but also achievable," Blackman writes.
It's been a while since Daymond John lost his shirt on a business deal, even though he started his first company by giving shirts away.
Back when the Fubu founder was just getting his fashion line off the ground, John built brand awareness by having rappers wear Fubu clothing in music videos.
Now, as a big-fish investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," John uses everything he's learned from more than two decades of business building to size up other companies as potential investment opportunities.
The fashion mogul from Queens explains how he spotted three of his favorite deals.
—As told to Graham Winfrey
On "Shark Tank," we don't invest in companies. We invest in people. And there are two types: those who have digital literacy and those who don't. And the ones who have it are the people we tend to invest in. If a person doesn't have that area of literacy, they have to have a superb product.
I spot winners by looking for somebody who went out and tried a business by him- or herself and maybe failed several times, but still has that determination, that love and that passion for the company.
It's very important to me that somebody has failed. When I started Fubu, I kept running out of money because I was bootstrapping it myself. I didn't have an idea of where I wanted to go with it. So I look for people who are driven to succeed but are open to several paths.
I also look for people who are problem solvers, so they're not going to call me nine times with a problem. I invest in people when I believe we have the same common goal; that no matter what, if the company doesn't work out, we're going to create something bigger and better in another space. It's a combination of all those things. You just understand that the person is going to do it with or without you.
A lot of times on "Shark Tank" when I invest in people, I'm probably learning more from them than they're learning from me. They're digital natives and I'm a digital immigrant.
I think of myself as an entrepreneur, but I love investing. People allow me to invest in their dreams, and I don't have to come up with everything myself. They're doing business in a whole new way and I'm fortunate enough to be partnering with them. None of these three entrepreneurs are going be stopped. So I want to come along for the ride.
I knew Al "Bubba" Baker was a winner right away. He came on the show with his daughter, and he's this big, lovable former football player, and one of the first things he says is that football was his career, but barbecue is his passion. That resonated with me, because I always look for passion.
Al came up with this process to debone barbecue ribs so you can eat them like you would a steak. I'd never seen anything like it before. He had a patent on the product and the process, and he has a little barbecue restaurant in Avon, Ohio — a family business — where he serves his ribs. It was kind of like the best-kept secret in Ohio.
Now, keep in mind, I have turned down many, many investments in food and perishables because I just don't know the business. But I saw that this was a guy who had played in the NFL, so he had some level of discipline, and I also saw that he was a family man.
I go all in on my investment: $300,000 for 30 percent. I attach an attorney who knows mergers and acquisitions to oversee the company, and I bring in a guy to run the online business. Then I get a sales force to recommend different co-packers [to process the product in bulk]. Over the course of eight months, Al goes to approximately 20 co-packers, and almost all of them come back with inferior products.
All of a sudden, Al and I have a debacle. We're not supplying to all the people online, because we can't make the product fast enough. All the opportunity is just passing us by. Then Al and I get into a lot of clashes. He doesn't want to listen to me, and I don't know the business well enough, so I start to doubt why he is or isn't successful.
Finally, I decide to stop focusing on the online orders we can't fulfill, and I just let Al hit the road to find a co-packer worth our time. He hands over the restaurant business to his family members, and he goes out and finds an amazing co-packer in New Jersey called Rastelli Foods Group. Now we're about to roll everything out; the company's investing in the proper machinery, and it has found the perfect cut of pig in Ireland.
It shows that when you have a Shark, we can only do so much. We're there to put funds in and help you, but ultimately it comes down to the entrepreneur to be very determined, not take no for an answer, and be resourceful. And that's exactly what Al did. Now he's starting to hit major networks. We're starting to take orders and discuss licensing deals with huge companies.
Bombas was in the last industry that I wanted to invest in: socks. I've sold millions of pairs of them, you can't tell if they're on people's feet because they're wearing shoes, and you can find them for $2 in a bucket.
Bombas's co-founders, David Heath and Randy Goldberg, came up with a sock that's seamless in the toe. I thought, "OK, that's a new angle." The socks are colorful and have a great design. Then Heath and Goldberg explain that for every pair of socks they sell, they give away a pair to help the homeless, because one of the major issues in homeless shelters is the condition of people's feet. I thought, "Wow, there's a social mission here."
Then they tell me the sales numbers: $450,000 in nine months. And Bombas is not in traditional retail. It's totally online, and Heath and Goldberg have worked out algorithms and ways to go after their customer. They buy a certain number of Facebook ads, and I realize that they're operating the way the rest of the world is going in business, where you're one step away from your customer.
Heath and Goldberg know exactly who their customer is. They know their customer's age and gender. They have found a way to unlock that big mystery. These guys are also making full margin on their product because they don't have to deal with a middleman.
They're creating a great following and also giving back. And that is what people care about. Sometimes people care more about the mission than about the company itself. I find all of those things to be super valuable. Now I think Bombas will do $4 million this year.
Patrick Whaley came on the show with this weighted compression gear called Titin. He makes a vest and shorts with these medical gels inside that can freeze or heat up so you can use them for recovery or for warming up. The gels are placed where your muscles are, so they move with the muscle. All the Sharks just basically called Whaley a snake-oil salesman.
He tells this story about how he had other investors who weren't on the same page as he was and he bought them out, which cost somewhere in the millions. And I'm sitting there thinking, "How is this kid who has no connections and no money buying his company back from venture capitalists?" I'm realizing this kid is magnificent. It wasn't like somebody just gave him $1 million or $2 million. He just went and sold his ass off and found a way to buy his company back.
Then he explains how the Netherlands' 2014 Olympic speed skating team used the shorts, and they won more gold medals than they ever had before. Everybody else in the room is concentrating on the claims that he's making about his product. They're saying, "Don't make all these claims. You're full of crap."
I invest in the kid, and I find out that every single thing Whaley said that sounded too good to be true is true. The Netherlands team sent him a video of all the gold medals they won and attributed it to the shorts. Every CrossFit athlete I know who wears them loves the products. The Auburn University basketball team works out in Titin, and many professional teams do too.
It goes back to an amazing person who will not take no for an answer. Now we're doing an average of $400,000 a month in sales and Titin is in Dick's Sporting Goods.
As graduate students in engineering at Stanford, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen recognized each other as kindred spirits. They were both engineers. They were both coming fresh out of two of the country's most intense undergrad programs — Brooks from MIT, and Chen from Caltech — and they were both women.
Even coming from engineering schools, they didn't expect that to be as rare as it was. "We thought Stanford was a more balanced place," Chen tells Business Insider. It wasn't, but they hope it soon will be — thanks in part to Roominate, the toy company the cofounded. The idea: wired building kits, designed to get girls into tech.
"For both of us, we found that it was really toys we played with when we were younger that really got us building and tinkering and making things with our hands — things that really drew us toward engineering in college," Chen explains.
But if toys got them into college, it's college — indirectly — that got them back into toys.
"One of the things we both became accustomed to while studying at MIT, Caltech, and Stanford was high pressure situations," Chen says. "Caltech was really tough for me, and I failed my fair share of tests."
She recalls a nightmare three hours spent staring blankly at a freshman physics quiz. "It was a rough experience, just sitting there, having zero idea how to approach some of these problems." And she didn't — she failed the quiz.
That was the first business lesson she learned: Just because something doesn't work out doesn't mean it's not worth trying."I learned I couldn't expect to succeed at everything I tried my hand at," Chen says.
Across the country, Brooks was going through the same evolution at MIT. "I thought I had to figure everything out myself," she explains. Quickly, though, she learned that wasn't going to work. "In asking for help, my primary goal became understanding the material, not getting a perfect score," she says.
Learning to focus on progress, not perfection, turned out to be essential for building Roominate, and by the time the two met at Stanford, they were ready to take risks. "Very early on, we had plenty of failed prototypes that we tried out with kids," Chen says. "But we kept at it, not afraid to fail, and each time tried our best to come up with the next great idea."
For them, engineering school was business school — or at least, a version of it. "Being in a rigorous learning environment taught us that not everything is going to happen exactly as you plan it, which is certainly the case with starting a new business," Brooks says.
Just imagine you looked down and spotted a rattlesnake. What would you do?
Most people would run. Some might stare for a moment and slowly walk in the other direction. And a few — the really bold ones — might actually touch it or pick it up.
That latter is just one part of Jim Harrison's everyday life at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo.
On a daily basis, Harrison, 56, holds some of the world's most venomous snakes by they head and squeezes venom out of their fangs.
Harrison is the director and owner of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a non-profit organization in Slade, Kentucky. He opened the zoo when he was 26 years old, following a five-year stint as a police officer. (Those days were cut short, however, when he was hit by a stolen car.)
Harrison caught his first snake when he was six years old. He was hooked. His father bought him a book, and he was reading herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles, at a college level by the time he was 12.
From that point on, his interest in snakes and other reptiles only grew stronger. Following his high school graduation in the mid-1970s, Harrison started extracting venom. (Nowadays, that job requires a Master's degree or a PhD in biology, chemistry, or zoology.)
And while "snake milker" is the more enticing term, Harrison is officially a herpetologist.
Harrison handles hundreds of dangerous snakes on a daily basis, simply because it's what he loves to do. But it's taken a toll on his body, to say the least.
While he couldn't recall how many total times he's been bitten, he says he has been envenomed by snakes nine times.
Four of those bites have put him on life support, most recently in January 2015, when he was bitten by a South American Rattlesnake.
But he isn't fazed by the bites.
"It happens," he says. "There's human error in any field."
While it's easy to think of these reptiles as dangerous, slithery creatures, what truly sets Harrison apart from most other people is how he views snakes. "Most people think of snake venom and associate it with death," Harrison says. "I think of it with life because it truly can help save people."
At the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, Harrison performs between 600 and 1,000 extractions per week. The venom extracted is often used to create antivenom. It can also be used to treat pain and clotting disorders and for cancer and Alzheimer's research, Harrison says.
Here's a video of Harrison extracting venom from an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake:
Harrison is involved with an organization called Animal Venom Research International (AVRI). They are working to develop an antivenom for Sri Lanka, which has the world's highest rate of snake bite deaths per person, with a large number of the victims being children, Harrison says.
Author Richard St. John writes in his book "8 Traits Successful People Have in Common," that you should ask yourself one question to determine if you've found your passion: Would you do it for free?
Well, for Harrison, that's an easy answer because he is doing it for free. He lives off of his pension from his time as a police officer and does not take a salary.
And after doing the same thing, day after day, for decades, most people might be ready for retirement. Harrison, however, says he isn't even close.
In a way, he plans to follow in his father's footsteps.
"My dad worked until the day he died," Harrison says. "He was a baseball coach and died on the field from a stroke. People always say 'that's so sad,' and yeah, I wish he was still here, but he died doing what he loved."
He continues: "I plan to do [what I am doing] until they pour dirt over me."
Let’s face it: Office dynamics can be tricky.
You may think you’re doing all the right things — when it turns out you’re actually frustrating colleagues, alienating work allies and maybe even disrespecting your boss.
The possible culprit?
You’re engaging in work-related misbehaviors — and don’t even know it.
To help pinpoint some of these faux pas, we asked career experts Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in combating work stress, and workplace trends thought leader Ira S. Wolfe to weigh in on the most prevalent bad office behaviors that could be tarnishing your career.
1. You’re no social butterfly — and it shows.
If you rush by colleagues rather than take a moment out of your hectic day to catch up, or habitually pass on offers to go out for group lunches, you’re exhibiting the classic signs of this not-so-good habit.
In your zeal to get everything checked off your to-do list, you may be unknowingly leaving others with the impression that you’re unfriendly — and maybe even rude.
Why It Happens … “People often end up going from meeting to meeting or task to task with very little time to come up for air,” explains Costa, author of “Reset: Make the Most of Your Stress.”
So while you aren’t deliberately trying to isolate yourself, the truth is that you are creating a very real (and palpable) emotional distance between you and your colleagues when you don’t build in even a little time for socializing.
And as Costa explains, maintaining friendly working relationships isn’t just key to positive office productivity—it also dictates an organization’s success.
What to Do If This Sounds Like You … Make it a point to connect with a different colleague each week by doing something as simple as scheduling time on your calendar to take a 15-minute coffee break, suggests Wolfe, and then eventually work your way to a group lunch during a less harried workweek.
The result? Over time, you’ll be seen as more approachable — and may even make a new friend for socializing outside the confines of the office.
2. You react poorly to sudden change.
Stay the course! If you abide by this mantra to a fault — say, when you get angry if your boss asks you to do a last-minute project, or you get frustrated by having to do something someone else’s way — you could be branded as rigid and difficult.
Why It Happens … “Being [perceived as] too rigid is often due to being a ‘black-and-white’ thinker,” explains Costa. Translation: You have a hard time accepting the reality that sometimes things won’t go your way.
Wolfe offers up another common reasoning: Often, people who react badly to a new, unexpected ask — or even the mere suggestion to do something differently — are really just scared that they won’t be able to do it well.
What to Do If This Sounds Like You … If your natural response to change is to dig in your heels, try to force yourself to shift gears anyway — because, as Wolfe notes, being viewed as resistant to change could potentially cost you your job.
And if you believe your mental hurdle is rooted in uncertainty about tackling the task at hand, that’s O.K. A bit of insecurity is normal — but you can’t let it paralyze you.
So think about what would happen if you did the task wrong. If it’s something that could be easily fixed, try to push ahead. “Taking risks is part of what builds resilience, and it can teach us an incredible amount,” Costa says.
But if you’re truly scared the task is more than you can handle, “the best thing you can do is find a mentor — someone you can trust to help you learn what you need to learn,” Wolfe says.
3. You’re the office gossip.
While it can be beneficial to keep your ear to the ground about office happenings, you don’t want to be known as the person who always has the latest dirt.
With this office misbehavior, not only do you risk being perceived as untrustworthy — but, inevitably, something you said will get back to the person you said it about.
Why It Happens … Water cooler chitchat often starts off innocently as a way to bond with colleagues — but it has the potential to quickly spiral into repeat bad behavior if you habitually gossip with the wrong crowd.
What to Do If This Sounds Like You … Dial back on the dishing — stat — by shifting the discussion to a more positive place the next time someone wants to chat about the latest departmental drama.
“You want to have plenty of verbal exit strategies in your arsenal,” Costa says. “Some of my favorites: ‘Yes, that person can come off as bossy, but I also think she has a lot of leadership potential’ and ‘I understand you’re really frustrated right now, and I am happy to talk with you later, once you’ve had some time to decompress a bit.’”
You should also examine why you’re gossiping in the first place.
If you’re miffed by a colleague’s behavior or have a problem with the quality of their work, gossiping isn’t going to solve the problem.
Instead, speak to them directly about your concerns, or come up with another solution to help keep the peace — and the work on track.
4. You’re not shy about voicing your opinions.
Does the idea of getting into a good debate at work excite you? Are you always the first to chime in during meetings — and often talk over others in the room?
Well, guess what? What you believe is showing passion for your job is probably being construed as being confrontational.
“If you’re branded as being too argumentative, it will cause people to take you less seriously — even when you have a rational, legitimate gripe,” Costa says. “It leads to low trust, and as a result, people will often avoid you.”
Why This Happens … While you may believe that you’re simply making a strong point or standing up for what you believe in, other people may feel you’re challenging them — in a big way.
Bottom line: People in this camp tend not to pay enough attention to how others communicate and interact — they need to be better about picking up on social cues by doing more looking and listening and less talking.
What to Do If This Sounds Like You … A good first step is to focus on more inclusive phrasing when you’re interacting with colleagues.
For example, if you find yourself saying “you” a lot — “you haven’t scheduled enough time to do this project” — your language is likely to come off as sounding accusatory.
So try to focus on “I” or “we” phrasing instead, such as “I think that, in the time available, we could achieve the first part of this project, and then we can figure out a way to bake in more time to finish it.”
By using more “we are all in this together” phrasing, says Costa, you set the scene for a more collaborative experience.
And if you’re the kind of person who struggles to wait your turn to talk in meetings, Costa recommends writing down your thoughts first — and only jumping in with an opinion or insight when the time is right.
5. You’re the office complainer.
It’s easy to gripe about problems at work with co-workers. But what can feel like a moment of solidarity with cube-mates can quickly turn into a pattern of seeing (and sharing) only the worst things about work.
Why This Happens … According to Costa, insecurity is often the underlying reason behind chronic negativity — it’s easier to complain than to take real action to deal with a problem or obstacle at work.
“We get something out of commiserating with others,” she says. “However, this behavior can be toxic and eventually damage your reputation. It can also make you lose focus on the great people and good aspects of your work.”
What to Do If This Sounds Like You … If you’re someone who’s gotten into the habit of complaining, you should try “reframe” your mind-set, says Costa.
“Look at the positives of every project and the things that are working well, instead of what isn’t,” she explains, adding that sometimes this simple exercise can really turn things around.
And if you feel that your negativity stems from deep-seated insecurity at work, Costa suggests working on developing an excellent support system — in the form of trusted peers and mentors who can provide insight on how to tackle tough projects on the job.
Of course, this isn’t to say you can’t occasionally vent or push back on something you care about. The key is to not let your frustration or passion sabotage your success.
While researching the youthful summer jobs of people who went on to become super successful, we stumbled upon this gem about a law school-era Hillary Clinton, from a 1992 article in The New York Times.
The summer between finishing at Wellesley and starting at Yale, the former New York Senator and current presidential hopeful "went to Alaska and got a job in a fish-processing plant," the Times reported.
"She was supposed to scoop out the entrails, but she began to get worried about the state of the fish."
Fish processing — and specifically sliming salmon — is not a glamorous business under the best circumstances. According to the book "Ten Difficult Women: Their Impact and Legacy," which also covers the young Clinton's brief stint in the fish business, "sliming required workers to wear knee-high boots and stand in bloody water while removing salmon guts with a spoon."
Though she was new to fish gutting, Clinton felt the salmon didn't look so good. "They were purple and black and yucky looking," she recalled in the Times. She had a lot of questions about the condition of the fish — too many, in the eyes of the the plant's owner, who warned her to stop asking questions. She didn't, and was fired within a week. (The cannery was soon shut down.)
Despite the brevity of her cannery career, she seems to have fond memories of the gig. On Letterman in 2007, Clinton called it her "favorite summer job of all time," noting its role in her future success. "Best preparation for being in Washington that you can imagine," she said.
For more about what successful people learned from their summer jobs, read our roundup here.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding introverts.
Some people look at those they consider introverted and toss out all kinds of hyperbole, such as, "they are so shy they would not being able to deliver a speech in a public," or "she is so shy and introverted she does not like people all."
However, these almost prejudicial overstatements are rarely the case.
After all, introverts have been responsible for some of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind, as well as being some of the most successful business and political leaders in the world.
Here are 23 of the most successful introverts in history:
As one of the world's most recognized and revered physicists of all-time, Einstein has often been quoted as saying, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 and is best remembered as the founding father of the theory of relativity … and so much more.
Parks became one of the most important Civil Rights-era figures in 1955 after refusing to give her bus seat up to a white man. In the introduction of her book Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain states:
I had always imagined Rosa Parks as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of 92, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was ‘timid and shy’ but had ‘the courage of a lion.’ They were full of phrases like ‘radical humility’ and ‘quiet fortitude.’
The founder of Microsoft, philanthropist, and world's richest person, was once asked how to succeed in a predominantly extroverted world.
“Well, I think introverts can do quite well. If you're clever you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area. Then, if you come up with something, if you want to hire people, get them excited, build a company around that idea, you better learn what extroverts do, you better hire some extroverts, like Steve Ballmer I would claim as an extrovert, and tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both as in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas.”
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
To achieve success, you must constantly turn failures into learning experiences.
Unfortunately, many of the truisms that people use when they fail simply set them up to fail the next time.
Successful people seldom if ever say:
1. "Money can't buy happiness."
Average people say this because 1) they've never had enough money to test the theory and 2) they're using the "sour grapes" approach.
Successful people know that money can definitely buy happiness, including more time doing what you enjoy and especially the ability to help others who are less fortunate.
2. "Some things never change."
Average people say this to console themselves when they feel helpless to make a positive change in the world.
Successful people know that in the real world only the laws of nature and mathematics are immutable. Changing anything else is simply a matter of effort.
3. "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
Average people say this because it gives them an excuse to get poorer rather than make changes in their lives and beliefs that would allow them to acquire wealth.
Successful people see the world as full of opportunity. They don't minimize the difficulty of starting out poor but they know it's not destiny to remain there.
4. "It's the journey not the destination that matters."
Average people say this to give themselves permission to meander all over the place rather than set and achieve goals.
Successful people know that without vivid and compelling goals, people don't take action. The destination matters because without one you never get there.
5. "Everything happens for a reason."
Average people say this because it makes them feel better to pretend a some supernatural force is directing events in their lives.
Successful people realize that events are often random; it's what you do that matters and that's what makes events meaningful.
6. "Thank God it's Friday."
Average people say this because they hate their jobs and want the shared experience of being miserable together. (Misery loves company.)
Successful people look forward to rest and relaxation but they don't waste time and energy grousing about the length of the workweek.
7. "All things come to he who waits."
Average people say this so that they don't have to take action and therefore needn't risk failure.
Successful people know that success only happens when you take actions that entail the risk of failure.
8. "Patience is a virtue."
Average people say this because they don't want to take action. However, there's nothing particularly virtuous about being patient.
Successful people know that if you want to accomplish something, impatience spurs you forward, onward and upward.