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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    happy woman computer smile

    The 2015 holiday season is upon us and the year is drawing to a close. Soon our thoughts will drift to our hopes and goals for 2016.

    For those who are dreaming of a new job at an up-and-coming young company, we've compiled this list to help.

    All of these companies specialize in making tech for work and business use, a $3.5 trillion worldwide market.

    All of them had spectacular years in 2015, by launching great new technology or getting a boatload of funding or landing big partnerships and generally setting themselves up for a successful 2016 and beyond.

    SEE ALSO: Some tech workers over 50 are literally working themselves to death — and other things we discovered about their careers

    Docker: inventing a whole new industry

    Company name: Docker
    Headquarters: San Francisco
    Funding to date:$180 million in 5 rounds

    Docker is a company that came on like wildfire in 2014 and continued to burn hot through 2015.

    It created a whole new industry called "containers." 

    With Docker, programmers put their code into its containers and the code runs well on all sorts of clouds and all sorts of devices. All the big cloud providers support Docker and in the past year, a whole bunch of competing containers from big guys (like Google) to startups have entered the market.

    But Docker is still the big Kahuna.

    Cloudera: big-data software that enterprises love

    Company name: Cloudera
    Headquarters: Palo Alto, California
    Funding to date:$1.04 billion in 8 rounds

    Cloudera is one of the largest companies in a particular big-data field called Hadoop, a popular, open-source, and low-cost way of storing loads of data. 

    Its most recent funding came two years ago from Intel, which invested $740 million at nearly a $5 billion valuation.

    But 2015 was still a growth year for Cloudera. While other unicorns valuations (and fates) seem to be wavering, Fidelity Investments recently increased its valuation on its investment in Cloudera.

    Nutanix: upending the way people buy data-center hardware

    Company name: Nutanix
    Headquarters: San Jose, California
    Funding to date: $312.2 million in 5 rounds

    Nutanix, valued at $2 billion as of last year, helped create a new hardware market it calls "hyperconverged infrastructure."

    It sells one giant hunk of data-center hardware that combines compute, storage, and the what's known as "virtualization software" (which helps servers run more efficiently), all in one easy-to-use package.

    At first, Nutanix was best pals with virtualization software titan VMware. But lately, Nutanix has been giving VMware a serious case of heartburn by increasingly going into direct competition. 

    That's bad news for VMware, but good news for anyone looking to bet their career on Nutanix.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Broad City people laughing

    LinkedIn Influencer Dr. Travis Bradberry published this post originally on LinkedIn.

    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.

    conversationThe 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.

    More from Travis Bradberry

    SEE ALSO: 9 phrases the smartest people never use in conversation

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how to form better habits faster

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    If you listen closely after someone asks, "So what do you do?" you can almost hear the other person's eyes roll as they recite their 30-second elevator pitch.

    But talking to new people doesn't have to be such a drag.

    There are ways to get the conversation going without resorting to irritating clichés.

    Check out these 17 icebreakers that will help ease you into an engaging conversation with people you've never met before.

    SEE ALSO: How to talk to anyone at a networking event

    "What kind of volunteer work do you do?"

    Asking people about their volunteer work will open up "a world of wonderful conversation," writes strategy consultant Alice Korngold on Fast Company

    Korngold says she especially enjoys meeting people who work on nonprofit boards because she gets to learn about how an organization was founded, how the person got involved with it, and about the "fascinating group dynamics of boards." 

    "Are you originally from [wherever the event is], or did your business bring you here?"

    This question will help you jumpstart an engaging conversation with ease because "it doesn't feel like you are asking for a stiff elevator speech," Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, tells U.S. News & World Report

    The conversation will allow both parties to talk about themselves, which is the ultimate goal of career-savvy people attending a networking event, Gottsman says.  

    "Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?"

    Find someone on the outskirts of the ongoing conversations and introduce yourself, says Ariella Coombs, content manager for 

    Since they are alone and possibly looking miserable, they are probably uncomfortable with the social situation, Coombs says. By initiating the interaction, you can help to put them at ease and get them in the flow of a conversation. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    young people working computers

    The best things in life may be free, but that doesn't mean they won't take time, sweat, and perseverance to acquire.

    That's especially the case when it comes to learning important life skills.

    In an effort to ascertain which talents are worth the investment, one Quora reader posed the question: What are the hardest and most useful skills to learn?

    We've highlighted our favorite takeaways.

    1. Time management

    Effective time management is one of the most highly valued skills by employers. While there is no one right way, it's important to find a system that works for you and stick to it, Alina Grzegorzewska explains. 

    "The hardest thing to learn for me was how to plan," she writes. "Not to execute what I have planned, but to make so epic a to-do list and to schedule it so thoroughly that I'm really capable of completing all the tasks on the scheduled date."

    2. Empathy

    "You can be the most disciplined, brilliant, and even wealthy individual in the world, but if you don't care for or empathize with other people, then you are basically nothing but a sociopath," writes Kamia Taylor.

    Empathy, as business owner Jane Wurdwand explains, is a fundamental human ability that has too readily been forsworn by modern business.

    "Empathy — the ability to feel what others feel — is what makes good sales and service people truly great. Empathy as in team spirit — esprit d'corps — motivates people to try harder. Empathy drives employees to push beyond their own apathy, to go bigger, because they feel something bigger than just a paycheck," she writes.

    3. Mastering your sleep

    There are so many prescribed sleep hacks out there it's often hard to keep track. But regardless of what you choose, establishing a ritual can help ensure you have restful nights.

    Numerous studies show that being consistent with your sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up, and it helps promote better sleep in general.

    sleeping woman couch

    4. Positive self-talk

    "Ultimately it doesn't matter what others think of you," writes Shobhit Singhal, "but what you think of yourself certainly does, and it takes time to build that level of confidence and ability to believe in yourself when nobody else does."

    On the other side of positive self-talk is negative self-talk, which Betsy Myers, founding director of The Center for Women and Business at Bentley University, believes can slowly chip away at your confidence.

    5. Consistency

    Whether you're trying a new exercise routine, studying for the LSATs, or working on an important project, Khaleel Syed writes that consistency is vital to maintaining any kind of success.

    People often stop working hard when they reach the top, he explains, but to maintain that top position, they have to work harder and be more consistent in their work.

    6. Asking for help

    "I once was told in a job interview, 'You can't have this job if you can't ask for help when you need it,'" Louise Christy writes. "Naturally, I said I could. Later, I found out that the previous person with that job had screwed up big-time because he was in over his head but couldn't admit it and didn't ask for help."

    She explains that knowing when you need help and then asking for it is surprisingly difficult to learn and do because no one wants to be perceived as weak or incompetent.

    But a recent study from the Harvard Business School suggests doing so makes you look more, not less, capable. According to the study authors, when you ask people for advice, you validate their intelligence or expertise, which makes you more likely to win them over.

    7. Knowing when to shut up — and actually doing it

    "You can't go around whining about every other thing that seems not-so-right to you in this world," writes Roshna Nazir. "Sometimes you just need to shut up."

    There are many instances when keeping to yourself is the best course. "When we are angry, upset, agitated, or vexed," writes Anwesha Jana, "we blurt out anything and everything that comes to our mind." And later, you tend to regret it.

    Keeping your mouth shut when you're agitated is one of the most valuable skills to learn, and of course, one of the most difficult.

    man laptop listening woman speaking explaining

    8. Listening

    Along with shutting up comes listening, says Richard Careaga.

    "Most of us in the workplace are so overwhelmed with things to do — instant messaging, phones ringing. I mean, our brain can only tolerate so much information before it snaps," Nicole Lipkin, author of "What Keeps Leaders Up At Night," previously told Business Insider.

    One tip for active listening is repeating back what you heard to the other person. "It makes things so much easier when everyone is on the same page," she said.

    9. Minding your business

    "It takes ages to learn and master this," writes Aarushi Ruddra.

    Sticking your nose into other people's work isn't helpful and wastes time and resources, she says. "You have no right to put forth your two or four cents, even if you are the last righteous person standing."

    10. Mastering your thoughts

    To do what you want to do and accomplish what you want to accomplish, you need to consciously direct your thinking, writes Mark Givert.

    "The challenge is that we are the product of our past experience and all of our thinking is the result of this," he says. "However, the past does not equal the future."

    SEE ALSO: Here's the single best way to get a powerful person to like you

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 5 ways to change your body language to make people like you

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    skeleton key

    Wall Street recruiting season is in full swing.

    Students should have begun perfecting their résumés for investment bank recruiters in September. In October, they will have kicked off informal interviews and info sessions.

    Now, it's interview— and offer — time.

    If you're lucky, you might get more than one offer. But how do you land the one you really want — your dream internship offer?

    And if you do get multiple offers, how do you choose which one to take? 

    Business Insider spoke to a few recent Wall Street interns about their strategies.

    It starts with leverage

    One recent summer analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, described how she managed to turn a consulting offer into an internship with a competitive team at a bulge bracket bank.

    In her sophomore year summer, the analyst scored a Deloitte internship for the following summer. But she knew she really wanted to get into banking, so she used that offer, which had a November deadline, to get an accelerated offer with a small investment bank in Baltimore, where she was from.

    Having scored that internship, she decided to push a little further.

    "I was like, 'Wait, I was raised in Baltimore and I've been here forever. I kind of want to try going to New York.'"

    So she started networking with all the alumni she knew at bulge bracket banks, using her current offer as a talking point.

    goldman sachsOne offered her a "super day"— an important step in the application process that usually follows a first-round interview. During a "super day" students are invited to a bank's headquarters for a full day of back-to-back interviews with different vice presidents and managing directors.

    The summer analyst got an offer following that super day with only two weeks to respond — one of which was a holiday.

    She used the offer to score interviews and super days at a handful of other firms in that time. But in the end, she wound up taking the original bulge bracket bank offer.

    It's all about that first offer

    That summer analyst's story is not uncommon.

    For many Wall Street interns, getting an offer fast from a top firm is key, regardless of which bank it is with.

    Here's how one Deutsche Bank intern put it:

    "There's the upper echelon ... the bulge bracket banks, but outside of those, they're all very similar," he said.  "Deutsche was just kind of one of the ones I got into early."

    He said the bank "hooked" him in with an early interview and offer and only gave him one week to decide.

    The first intern described the whole process of using one offer as leverage for another like "a snowball effect" that allows you to land one interview after another. But ultimately, she said, there's only one end goal for young Wall Street hopefuls:

    "They want that offer as soon as possible."

    Find more on junior bankers, interns, and young Wall Street here.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 biggest mistakes you can make in a Wall Street job interview

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience

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    Sallie Krawcheck

    Compared to running a startup, being Chief Financial Officer of Citigroup or president of the Bank of America's wealth management division is a "breeze."

    That's according to Sallie Krawcheck, one of the most recognizable women on Wall Street, who held both of those positions.

    Krawcheck who now runs Ellevate, a network for professional women spoke with Bloomberg's Betty Liu during a podcast.

    Krawcheck was one of the highest paid women on Wall Street when she was still an executive at Citigroup. In 2006, she reaped in $10.6 million, becoming 2007's 12th most highly paid woman in Fortune's rankings. In 2010, Krawcheck pulled in $6.2 million at the Bank of America. She acquired Ellevate in 2013. 

    Running Ellevate was a huge shock for the Wall Street veteran, in part because small firms are so dependent on each individual employee. 

    "If everybody doesn't show up for work, fully show up for work every day, the business doesn't get done," she Krawcheck. For example if the website crashes:

    "When you're running Merrill Lynch, there are people who are all over this. When you've got a small company there's a guy. And, by the way, telling the guy to work faster doesn't particularly work very well," she said.

    And then there's the sleep schedule. Krawcheck said she used to sleep through the night when she worked at the big banks.

    "When you're an entrepreneur and you start off, you have five people working for you.... I didn't sleep in the first couple of years as an entrepreneur, I would wake up at 3:30 in the morning and just iterate through this problem, this challenge, this issue," she told Bloomberg's Liu.

    Aside from the lack of sleep, the early days of her venture were also a roller coaster. Some days, Krawcheck had trouble balancing the books. Other days, she'd feel terrific.

     "You have to tell people, entrepreneurialism isn't for everybody," she said. "You have to have the mental and physical fortitude for this stuff, and everyone doesn't have it.

    Thinking back on her life on Wall Street, she thought, "What a breeze, I ran these big important businesses."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What you need to know before going into business with family

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    richard branson

    A lot of people use the word "manager" as a part of their job title or description, but "leaders" don't get that label simply by being appointed to a post.

    Leadership is earned, and is hard-won, by the folks who prioritize and understand the traits and qualities that come with the unofficial title.

    Did you ever wonder what separates the leaders from the managers?

    You aren't alone. Here are some thoughts on the matter, from people who've worked to understand and define the key differences.

    1. Managers rely on control and leaders inspire trust.

    Many of the distinctions between the two come down to this central idea. Managers act like bosses by controlling people that work under them and by administering tasks. On the other hand, leaders guide, innovate, and inspire.

    They rely upon the trust they've built between themselves and their team members to be a force that motivates and keeps productivity high. It really comes down to leading through control, or managing through fear. In any given workplace example, it's pretty clear to see whether the mindset of the one-in-charge was based in one or the other.

    2. Managers keep an organization functioning and leaders work to build a shared vision.

    Management and leadership might not be mutually exclusive. Any organization needs a little management so that quarterly numbers are met, goals are set, projects are completed ... it's just that leaders also go a step beyond that, focusing attention on motivating and inspiring employees, working with teams to build a shared vision of the purpose, and future, of the company.

    Managers work through items on a to-do list and keep the system running, while leaders go a little deeper. They have their eye on the big picture as well as the finer details. Leaders are also more focused on change, and the future, than managers.

    "If the world is not changing and you are on top, then management is essential but more leadership really is not," says John Kotter, Konuske Matsushita Professor of leadership at Harvard University. "Leadership is always about change."

    3. Managers manage work and leaders lead people.

    It's all in the way you look at it. Is a senior position about overseeing work that needs to get done, or is it about leading the people who do that work? What comes first, the tasks themselves or the people who work to complete them?

    Professionals want, and deserve, a job that doesn't treat them like a machine. They want to collaborate and they want to innovate, not feel like a cog in the wheel. The most appealing employers, according to millennials (which is now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force) are the companies that hit these marks.

    Companies like Google and Microsoft are known to be innovative and they provide opportunities for professional development and growth. The focus is on the people and their ideas, not the to-do list.

    SEE ALSO: 7 TED Talks that will make you a better leader

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why we have to give our business partners the power to destroy us

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    A customer prepares to fill the tank of her car at a fuel station in Sint Pieters Leeuw December 5, 2014.   REUTERS/Yves Herman

    It’s easy to let the job search process drag on after a while, especially if you’re already busy to begin with, or just hate the monotony of filling out job app after job app without any results.

    Want to change that? It’s time to get productive: Use one of these nine ideas to supercharge your job search in the next hour. The offers will start rolling in.

    1. Stop scrolling through thousands of job listings and get the lowdown on how to get through job boards efficiently. (The Guardian)

    2. Write personalized LinkedIn connection requests so that you can start conversations with people who can help you. (HubSpot)

    3. Read over your resume and use one of the 100 more interesting words to make your accomplishments really pop. (Careerealism)

    4. Clean up your social media profiles so that you can use them as both networking and job search discovery tools. (Hootsuite)

    5. Look for these seven things when checking out prospective employers to cut your search time in half, because researching shouldn’t take forever. (Glassdoor)

    6. Spend a moment getting back in touch with old professional contacts. You never know how someone from your past can help your future. (HBR)

    7. Use these nine editing tips to help you put forth your best work, because poor communication skills can sink any promising job applicant. (Lifehack)

    8. Make sure your cover letter isn’t boring or generic.

    9. Solve any identify crisis with one of these 11 awesome career quizzes. (The Daily Muse) 

    SEE ALSO: 29 things you should never include on your résumé

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience

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    coworkersWhat you say during your first day on the job doesn't just impact what your colleagues think about you — it could also cause you to lose your job.

    "If you say something that's off, it sets the tone, and that could be the reason for you to be let go in your first three months," says J.T. O'Donnell, a career and workplace expert, founder of career advice site,, and author of "Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career."

    "It's natural to want to be liked — to impress and fit in quickly," explains workplace confidence expert Michelle Kerrigan. "However, many try too hard, and talk too much when they should be listening."

    Here are 17 things you should avoid saying, especially during your first day on the job:

    SEE ALSO: The book that inspired Aziz Ansari's 'Master of None' shows how having too many options is screwing us up

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    'In my last job...'

    No one likes a know-it-all.

    Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, etiquette and civility expert and author of "Don't Burp in the Boardroom,suggests walking into the new job with energy, but she also recommends a splash of humility. "Not the timid, reserved definition, but with an attitude of learning — not knowing-it-all."

    'OMG, I LOVE that!'

    You're already hired — there's no need to try too hard to get people to like you.

    While it's nice to know that people think you're personable or that you really "get" the company, Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," says this is a waste of energy — you'll impress naturally by just being yourself.

    'When do I get a raise?'

    "How about getting through the ninety-day probationary period first," Randall suggests.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Warren Buffett

    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. 

    Recently, Munger was delivering a talk to the USC Business School entitled, "A Lesson on Elementary Worldly Wisdom." 

    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.

    SEE ALSO: Warren Buffett revealed this 'great philosophy of life' in a letter to a hedge fund manager

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why we have to give our business partners the power to destroy us

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    Bill Nye

    Did you start your mornings with "Bill Nye the Science Guy" as a kid? Did you ace you chemistry and physics classes in high school? Do you dream of wearing a lab coat to work?

    If so, you might have a thing for science.

    To find the top 12 jobs for science lovers, we used data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a US Department of Labor database full of detailed information on almost 1,000 occupations.

    One of the many things O*NET analyzes is how important science is to each of the 974 jobs in its database. 

    Using BLS data, we also looked at the average annual pay for jobs where science had an "importance" rating of 81 or higher.

    As it turns out, most of these science-heavy gigs pay fairly well — but this doesn't come as a surprise, given that almost every occupation on the list requires an advanced degree (and all 12 require at least a bachelor's). 

    So, if you love science and you're willing to go the extra mile in your education, you may want to consider the following professions:

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best computer-science and engineering schools in America

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    No. 8 (tie): Astronomer

    "Importance" rating: 81

    Average annual salary:$107,140

    Projected job openings (2012-2022): 900

    Astronomers observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

    Common tasks include: preparing scientific or technical reports or presentations, providing technical information or assistance to public, directing scientific activities, collaborating on research activities with scientists or technical specialists, and developing theories or models of physical phenomena.

    No. 8 (tie): Chemist

    "Importance" rating: 81

    Average annual salary:$79,140

    Projected job openings (2012-2022): 27,800

    Chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

    Common tasks include: preparing scientific or technical reports or presentations, analyzing chemical compounds or substances, monitoring operational procedures in technical environments to ensure conformance to standards, collaborating on research activities with scientists or technical specialists, and maintaining laboratory or technical equipment.

    No. 8 (tie): Animal scientist

    "Importance" rating: 81

    Average annual salary:$72,590

    Projected job openings (2012-2022): 1,200

    Animal scientists conduct research in the genetics, nutrition, reproduction, growth, and development of domestic farm animals.

    Common tasks include: preparing scientific or technical reports or presentations, researching genetic characteristics or expression, researching livestock management methods, and developing agricultural methods.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    thinker thinking thoughtful sculpture worried outside

    It's a well-known adage: What happens to us plays far less a role in our happiness and success than our responses.

    To develop and maintain the kind of mental toughness that success requires, it's crucial that you keep your thoughts and self-talk positive and avoid the habits that lead to negativity and unhealthy behaviors.

    The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we never see them fight.

    Help keep yourself prepared for whatever comes your way tomorrow by practicing good habits of mind and attitude:

    1. Emotional stability. Leadership often requires that you make good decisions under pressure. It's important that you maintain your capacity to stay objective and deliver the same level of performance regardless of what you're feeling.

    2. Perspective. Mental strength lets you carry on when the world seems to have turned against you. Learn to keep your troubles in proper perspective without losing sight of what you need to accomplish.

    3. Readiness for change. If change is truly the only constant, then flexibility and adaptability are among the most important traits you can develop.

    4. Detachment. You can get through setbacks and come out even stronger if you can remember that it's not about you. Don't take things personally or waste time wondering, Why me? Instead, focus on what you can control.

    5. Strength under stress. Maintain resilience in the face of negative pressures by developing your capacity to deal with stressful situations.

    body building muscles6. Preparation for challenges. Life and business are filled with everyday demands, the occasional crisis, and unexpected twists. Make sure you have the resources to withstand the professional and personal crises that you'll sooner or later be facing.

    7. Focus. Keep your attention on the long-term outcomes to stay steady in the face of real or potential obstacles.

    8. The right attitude toward setbacks. Complications, unintended side effects, and complete failures are all part of landscape. Mitigate the damage, learn the lessons that will help you in the future, and move on.

    9. Self-validation. Don't worry about pleasing others: That's a hit-or-miss proposition for anyone but the worst sort of waffler. Instead, make a concentrated effort to do what is right and to know what you stand for.

    10. Patience. Don't expect results immediately or rush things to fruition before their time. Anything worthwhile takes hard work and endurance; view everything as a work in progress.

    11. Control. Avoid giving away your power to others. You are in control of your actions and emotions; your strength is in your ability to manage the way you respond to what is happening to them.

    12. Acceptance. Don't complain about the things you have no control over. Recognize that the one thing you can always control is your own response and attitude, and use those attributes effectively.

    13. Endurance in the face of failure. View failure as an opportunity to grow and improve, not a reason to give up. Be willing to keep trying until you get it right.

    boston marathon winner 2015

    14. Unwavering positivity. Stay positive even — especially — when you encounter negative people. Elevate them; never bring yourself down. Don't allow naysayers to ruin the spirit of what you're accomplishing.

    15. Contentment. Don't waste time being envious of anyone else's car, house, spouse, job, or family. Instead be grateful for what you have. Focus on what you've achieved and what you're going to achieve instead of looking over your shoulder and being envious of what someone else has.

    16. Tenacity. It comes down to just three words: Never give up.

    17. A strong inner compass. When your sense of direction is deeply internalized, you never have to worry about becoming lost. Stay true to your course.

    18. Uncompromising standards. Tough times or business difficulties aren't good reasons to lower the bar. Keep your standards high.

    Becoming a mentally strong person takes practice and mindfulness. It requires tuning in to your bad habits and making a point of learning new habits to replace them. And sometimes it simply means learning to get out of your own way and let things happen.

    SEE ALSO: 15 hard lessons everyone should learn in their 20s

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Mental strength is just like any other skill: It takes time to develop.

    In her book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," psychotherapist Amy Morin writes that your genetics, personality, and life experiences all play a role in your mental strength.

    Since we know what mentally strong people don't do, we asked Morin about the key habits they do follow.

    Here are nine things mentally strong people do every day.

    This is an update of an article originally written by Steven Benna.

    SEE ALSO: 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    1. They monitor their emotions.

    People often assume mentally strong people suppress their emotions, Morin says, but they are actually acutely aware of them.

    "They monitor their emotions throughout the day and recognize how their feelings influence their thoughts and behaviors," she says. "They know sometimes reaching their greatest potential requires them to behave contrary to how they feel."

    2. They practice realistic optimism.

    Having a positive outlook all the time is impossible, and too much negativity is counterproductive.

    Mentally strong people "understand that their thoughts aren't always true, and they strive to reframe their negativity," Morin says. "They replace exaggeratedly negative thoughts with a more realistic inner monologue." 


    3. They solve problems.

    To put it simply, "mentally strong people refuse to engage in unproductive activities," Morin says. Instead of sitting there complaining about your bad day at work and wishing bad things wouldn't happen, evaluate why something went wrong and fix it. Learn how to calculate risk and move forward from there, she says.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    ping pong

    J.’s first job out of college was at a media company “that made it very clear they had little money.”

    She quickly picked up from colleagues that “the only way to get a raise was to come with a competing offer.”

    So after a year of feeling underpaid, she began applying for jobs at other companies—intending either to change jobs, or to get an offer she could use as a negotiating tool.

    If J.—who didn’t want to be identified due to confidentiality agreements she signed with her employer—were to consult management and HR experts, they’d tell her that’s a mistake.

    As “Ask a Manager” columnist Alison Green writes, “Using another job offer as a bargaining chip may be tempting, but too often, it ends badly.”

    The conventional wisdom goes like this: If you threaten to leave, your boss will never trust you again. If you turn down the outside offer in favor of a counteroffer, you’ll burn bridges with the company that made you the offer. And even if you get the counteroffer you’re looking for, you’ll still be unhappy about other, non-compensation-related parts of your job.

    Alanna Miller, a senior associate at recruiting agency Chaloner, agrees. “The short answer from everything that I have seen is that it’s really never a good idea,” she told me in an interview. So does Kevin Fanning, the vice president of culture and talent at a Boston-area startup accelerator, who has worked in HR and recruiting for more than a decade. “I’m very wary of people trying to have you over a barrel like that with another offer,” he said. “It’s not a long-term solution for your career satisfaction.”

    On the other hand, when Fanning tried leveraging a job offer himself, the results were hardly disastrous. He was unhappy at a company where his higher-ups did a terrible job of letting him know what they expected from him.

    “I wasn’t even really looking for another job, but I got another job offer that was significantly higher than my current one,” he recalls. “So I was like, ‘Hey, I have this other job offer and I’m going to respond tomorrow. Does anybody want to talk about this?’ And it forced them to have the conversation with me that I really wanted to have.”

    Fanning’s concerns about communication were addressed—and he got a raise.

    I suspected that Fanning wasn’t the only person who’d leveraged a job offer without terrible repercussions. So I asked friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and random people if they’d ever tried to leverage a job offer for better pay or a better title.

    Most of them didn’t want to talk on the record, thanks to the stubborn taboo around talking about salary, but many opened up anonymously. Their feelings about the tactic varied widely—depending largely on their field.

    dream job

    In some industries, including media, leveraging job offers for more money is not only common but expected. “The only way I’ve ever known people to get significant raises at [my company] is through an outside job offer,” said a journalist who has used two job offers to secure pay increases.

    That isn’t to say your employer will necessarily match those offers—the journalist accepted a counteroffer several thousand dollars below the offer he’d gotten, because he preferred to stay in his current job. Similarly, a former advertising copywriter told me she once got a $30,000 raise after threatening to leave her agency.

    “It has long been standard practice in advertising to use offers to get raises—often to get counteroffers and then second counters from the new agency,” she said. “It’s a game.”

    Fanning and Miller both noted that leveraging a job offer into a raise is more likely to be successful if your job requires specialized skills— if you’re a computer programmer or a financial analyst, say. In those cases, employers “need someone who is the best at doing this specific thing,” says Miller. “If you already have that person in-house and you don’t want to lose them and you’re able to throw money at them, maybe you will.”

    Miller pointed to the case of an accountant who’d leveraged outside offers for more money at his firm on three separate occasions, without any hard feelings resulting. As for tech, Fanning says, “Within the tech startup world, there’s an arms race around salaries and money,” which makes companies willing to throw money at good employees to keep them.

    This is the law of supply and demand in action: The harder you are to replace, the more likely you are to get a generous counteroffer. If there’s a low barrier to entry in your field, and hundreds of people who would love to do your job, it’s a riskier gambit.

    I spoke to a person working in the fashion industry who has repeatedly tried leveraging job offers for more money but usually ended up taking the offer and switching firms, because her employers saw her as replaceable. She didn’t mind. “I’m a big believer in moving onward and upward,” she said—a good trait to have when you work in a Darwinian industry.

    But even if you’re not in a hypercompetitive field like fashion, there are times when trying to leverage an outside offer for a raise might backfire.

    In jobs associated with a sense of mission, threatening to leave if you don’t get more money is sometimes seen as poor form. Ruth, the director of a nonprofit, told me she advises against using job offers as leverage.

    When one of her employees threatened to leave if she didn’t get a raise, she says, “I definitely saw this as a sign that this was not someone I wanted on our team long-term.” She went on: “In the nonprofit sector we all assume that each of us could be earning more elsewhere anyway and that we’re each here because of our commitment to the organization’s mission … Bringing something up like this during salary negotiations could be interpreted as a lack of commitment to the mission.” (Ruth recommends that people who work in the nonprofit sector focus on their achievements and their enthusiasm and commitment when negotiating for a raise.)


    There’s also the question of workplace culture—and your boss’s temperament. Adam Epstein, the president and COO of the search-engine marketing firm AdMarketplace, says he almost never makes a counteroffer when employees threaten to leave, because “an employee only takes the time and effort required to complete an interview process with another company if they are unhappy with their current position. My rule of thumb is that it’s best to let unhappy employees find their happiness somewhere else.”

    Joe Golden, the co-founder and co-CEO of custom-printing site—who also happens to have a Ph.D. in labor economics—made a similar point. Golden says he tries to pay workers more than market value, to reduce turnover and improve productivity. Being pushed to make a counteroffer on top of that “would give me longer-term concerns about if they’re going to stay or if they’re likely to do this again or just leave soon anyways.”

    But another software company executive has a different approach. He wrote in an email: “If I had a person who I felt was undercompensated (and who I wanted to keep) and that person brought me a competing offer, I’d do my best to match it, and if it were a substantial raise, I’d cover (for both of us) by adding in a change in title and call it a ‘promotion.’ ” In the tech industry, he wrote, “this is not an uncommon practice.”

    So should you—or J.—try to leverage a job offer for more money? It depends. Do your homework before you start looking for other offers: Talk to trusted colleagues or friends in your field about whether they’ve ever used this tactic, or if they know people who have.

    Your contacts (especially people who know your workplace or your boss) will be able to let you know whether your gambit is likely to be successful. And consider your boss’s disposition. Is she pragmatic about money, or is she likely to take a threat to leave personally? If you suspect your boss will punish you for asking, you might want to skip the negotiations and just find a new job.

    Getting a job offer is much easier said than done, but you know the drill: network, send out your résumé, get as many interviews as you can. Once you have an offer in hand, Miller recommends figuring out what you want before you go to your boss in search of a counteroffer.

    “So, you get an offer [for] 10 percent more than you’re making now, [but] you know that you would stay at your current company if they offered you 15 percent more?” she says. “OK, then that’s something that you want to keep in mind.”

    The paradox of using a job offer as leverage is that you have to be at least somewhat sincere every step of the way. If you’re only applying for jobs to boost your negotiating power with your current employer, hiring managers will sense your ambivalence. Similarly, if you threaten to leave for a job you don’t actually want, your boss may very well call your bluff.

    J. ended up playing her cards just right. After she’d been job-hunting for a while, “I did indeed get an offer, but decided I didn’t want the job. So I told [my boss] I did not want to leave but was being offered way more money to go to another company.”

    Given what she knew about her company, she was confident that she would get a counteroffer, and her bet paid off: Her boss almost matched the outside offer. If her boss had said no, she says, she would have taken the other job “or at least ramped up my job search.”

    If you, like J., get the counteroffer you want and decide to stay at your current company, don’t worry about alienating the other firm. “There are people who have turned my company down for reasons related to money, and we would still love to hire them,” says Fanning.

    As with all things related to job negotiations, there are exceptions, and maybe you will end up inadvertently burning bridges. But if it’s a company that would punish you for advocating for your own interests, you probably wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    CBRE 2

    Recruiting top talent is a priority for every business regardless of location or industry. According to a report released by commercial real estate services company CBRE, 67 percent of multinational companies prioritize talent acquisition and retention over cost savings.

    There's a good reason for that: Without skilled workers, companies would be lost.

    And at the heart of the talent conversation lies real estate. In fact 46 percent of corporations' global real estate decisions last year were driven by talent availability.

    But even if you establish your business in a place where there's a lot of good talent, securing it can be an outright war. So, how can employers make sure highly qualified workers choose them over the competition? Here are some ways to maximize real estate as a tool in the talent war.

    Turn your headquarters into a community

    If your company isn't located in a major city, then offices can sometimes be pretty generic looking, often lacking any personality. Not so for ESPN. The company's headquarters in Bristol, CT, aren't a run-of-the-mill office park, but a full-fledged compound. After employees eat in the onsite cafe—which includes a brick pizza oven, vintage popcorn machine, and sports references like "Field of Greens"— they can get together to shoot some hoops out back. When they need a break from technology they can chat by a pond-side gazebo or visit the expansive gym, open seven days a week.

    Obviously ESPN's state-of-the-art, 123-acre campus makes it a desirable employer, but you don't need a similar setup to attract and keep the best talent. Instead, you can infiltrate a community that already exists — whether it's a desirable neighborhood in a certain city or an office park (an attractive one) in a suburb. Local restaurants, entertainment options, and other amenities play a big part in determining whether workers will choose you or sign on with a rival.

    Focus on wellness

    CBRE_gymHow healthy is your business? Increasingly, companies are thinking of this question not in relation to revenue, but actual employee health. CBRE calls this the "wellness" agenda, where "the physical comfort and performance of the workforce come to play a growing role in building production and management." In other words, services that were once viewed as a luxury—like on-site gyms and spas—are becoming commonplace, and failing to build them can leave companies in the dust.

    CBRE reports that close to 50 percent of workers rank amenities like gyms as an important workplace feature, while more than half consider the indoor environment. These factors affect the modern workforce's decision about which company to choose, and how long to stick around.

    General Mills, the Minneapolis, MN, consumer packaged goods manufacturer, offers its workers access to an on-site health clinic. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Twitter provides staff with a rooftop garden for when they need some down time. 

    Dial up employee collaboration

    A business' ability to foster corporate connectedness is very much a product of its workspace. 

    That's because certain workspaces encourage employee collaboration, which can create a more appealing company culture—something that's sure to draw workers. When Steve Jobs was CEO of Pixar, he hired famed architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design a campus that included a central atrium and multiple gathering areas that "promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations." Teamwork and a positive atmosphere matter, especially when you consider many professionals spend more than 1,500 hours in an office each year.

    Winning the talent war is about understanding what your target employees value in a workplace — from infrastructure to lifestyle perks — and delivering. When you can strike that balance between community and culture, workers will be lining up to sign on.

    Find out more about how the right real estate can help recruit and retain great employees. 

    This post is sponsored by CBRE. 

    Find out more about Sponsored Content.  

    SEE ALSO: Here are the top US cities for tech talent

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    boot camp

    Mental strength takes a long time to develop. 

    It is the daily practice of pushing yourself to grow stronger, maintaining realistic optimism, and setting healthy boundaries. Mentally strong people don't do things like waste time feeling sorry for themselves or give away their power.

    How do you know where you fall on the spectrum? We asked psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do."

    Morin provided the following 21 signs you're mentally stronger than average, which we've shared here in her words.

    This is an update of an article originally published by Steven Benna.

    SEE ALSO: 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    DON'T MISS: 13 science-backed signs you're smarter than average

    1. You balance emotions with logic.

    "Mentally strong people understand how their emotions can influence their thinking. In an effort to make the best decisions possible, they balance their emotions with logic." 

    2. You choose productive behavior.

    "While it may be tempting to make excuses, complain about other people, and avoid difficult circumstances, mentally strong people refuse to waste time on unproductive activities." 

    3. You feel confident in your ability to adapt to change.

    "Mentally strong people know that although change is uncomfortable, it's tolerable. They focus their energy on adapting to change, rather than resisting it."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    "Living the dream" can mean a lot of different things. To some, it's a life spent kicking back on a beach with an endless supply of Mai Tais. To others, it could be traveling all over the world, meeting new people, and experiencing a hundred different cultures. And to others, it is a dream job in which you get paid to do the things you love. 

    Whatever your concept of "living the dream," we've come up with a list of people who are without a doubt living their dreams (and maybe yours, too). 

    The 14 people on this list have often taken extraordinary risks and worked hard to build lives that let them do what they always dreamed of, whether that's shooting into space, playing video games all day, or living full-time in the wilderness.

    Corey Adwar contributed reporting to a previous version of this story.

    Matthew Berry has made a career out of his fantasy sports obsession.

    Matthew Berry was a Hollywood screenwriter for 10 years, writing for sitcoms like "Married With Children" and movies like "Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles." For some, that's a dream come true. For him, it was awful.

    "I was 35 years old and miserable and the only thing that made me happy was this dumb little fantasy sports website that I had started on the side," Berry told Lifehacker in 2013.

    In 2005, Berry went after his passion: fantasy sports. Appearances on radio and TV for ESPN and the NBA landed him in a meeting with ESPN vice president John Kosner. Berry persuaded Kosner to let him turn his hobby into a full-time job.

    Now, Berry is ESPN's senior fantasy sports analyst and the author of "Fantasy Life," spending his days playing in every type of league imaginable. The dream job has led Berry to tell Sports Business Daily, "I like my salary. But I'd do it for free."

    Scott Leonard ran his financial firm Navigoe from a boat in the Caribbean.

    Scott Leonard, founder and CEO of the boutique financial advisory firm Navigoe, spent the past several years traveling the Caribbean and South Pacific in his 50-foot-long catamaran sailboat with his wife, Mandi, and three sons — all while continuing to manage his successful business. 

    During the time he was away enjoying quality time and scenic views with his family, his business grew its customer base and revenue. That was thanks to Leonard's careful preparation and occasional flights back home from ports for face-to-face meetings.

    But mostly, Leonard embraced his long-held passion for sailing, while exploring new island locales with his family and working just 20 hours a week with a flexible schedule.

    Nigel Franklyn travels the world, helping spas improve their services.

    Nigel Franklyn was working as a journalist and model when he attended a conference on spas that launched him on a new path as a spa consultant. Today, he stays at spas around the world for weeks at a time to advise spa managers on how to improve their services for guests, Yahoo reported in 2014.

    Traveling 10 months out of the year, Franklyn covers all aspects of spa design. He has worked for the past eight years without a set plan, instead relying on instinct and attentiveness to meet the needs of his clients.

    "I am living my dream, not because of the places I see, but because this is my absolute, genuine passion," Franklyn told Business Insider. "The spa industry and well-being and healing are things that fill my soul — the level of luxury and beauty I am blessed to spend my life in is a byproduct of something that is much, much more grounded and rooted at my core."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    There are certain traits that extremely successful people share. Here are five traits that high achievers tend to demonstrate in daily life. 
    Produced by Eames Yates. Original Reporting by Jeff Haden. 
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    walking in central park

    While stress causes some people to crumble, mentally strong people continue to thrive in the midst of added tension. 

    In fact, they view adversity as an opportunity for self-growth.

    Whether they're dealing with financial setbacks, health problems, or workplace difficulties, mentally strong people don't let stress drag them down.

    Here are seven ways mentally strong people handle stress effectively:

    1. They accept that stress is part of life.

    While some people waste time and energy thinking things like, "I shouldn't have to deal with this," mentally strong people know that setbacks, problems, and hardships are inevitable.

    When stressful situations arise, they devote their efforts into doing what they can to move forward. Even when they can't change the circumstances, they know they can always take steps to improve their lives.

    2. They keep problems in proper perspective.

    Rather than think a flat tire has the power to ruin their whole day, mentally strong people keep inconveniences in proper perspective. When they're tempted to catastrophize a minor event — such as thinking one mistake could ruin their whole career — they respond by reframing the message they give themselves. They refuse to allow a pessimistic inner monologue to take hold.

    3. They take care of their physical health.

    Mentally strong people recognize the importance of keeping their bodies in smooth operating condition. They recognize they won't be able to combat stress if they're worn out and running on empty. They exercise, get plenty of sleep, and maintain a diet that keeps them keep them healthy.

    4. They choose healthy coping skills.

    While some people turn to alcohol, junk food, or other unhealthy vices to help them escape stress, mentally strong people choose to cope with discomfort in a productive manner. They allow themselves to feel uncomfortable emotions, like anxiety, fear, and sadness, head-on. They use healthy activities, like going for a walk or participating in a hobby, to cope with emotional pain.

    5. They balance social activity with solitude.

    Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid facing problems, people fill their schedules with social activities. Others deal with stress by withdrawing from their friends and family. Mentally strong people, however, strike a good balance. They maintain a healthy social life even when they're stressed, but they also reserve time to be alone with their thoughts.

    6. They acknowledge their choices.

    Stress can cause people to feel like a victim of bad circumstances. But mentally strong people acknowledge that everything they do, from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, is a choice. They're willing to say no to things they don't want to do and they accept responsibility for their behavior.

    7. They look for the silver lining.

    Mentally strong people don't necessarily see the world through rose-colored glasses — their outlook is a realistic outlook — but they do look for the silver lining in tough circumstances. They recognize that good things can stem from stressful circumstances. Rather than allowing hardship to turn them into bitter people or helpless victims, they choose to use stressful circumstances to become stronger and better.

    SEE ALSO: Arianna Huffington just adopted a brilliant strategy to help employees take stress-free vacations

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    For a long time, it was believed that people are born with a given level of intelligence, and the best we could do in life was to live up to our potential.

    Scientists have now proven that we can actually increase our potential and enjoy ourselves in the process.

    We now know that by learning new skills the brain creates new neural pathways that make it work faster and better.

    Here is a list of seven hobbies that make you smarter and why.

    1. Play a musical instrument

    Playing music helps with creativity, analytical skills, language, math, fine motor skills, and more. While these are all great advantages, some people argue that playing team sports might do as many things. What playing musical instruments does that other activities don’t is strengthen the corpus callosum that links the hemispheres of the brain by creating new connections.

    An improved corpus callosum helps with executive skills, memory, problem solving, and overall brain function, regardless of how old you are.

    2. Read anything

    The benefits of reading are the same whether you are enjoying "Game of Thrones,""Harry Potter," or the latest issue of The Wall Street Journal. Reading reduces stress, which makes you feel better about yourself, and increases all three types of intelligence — crystallized, fluid, and emotional.

    That helps with problem solving, putting different pieces of knowledge together to better navigate everyday life, detecting patterns, understanding processes, and accurately interpreting and responding to other people’s feelings.

    At work, this translates into better understanding how to make things happen and better managerial skills.

    3. Exercise regularly

    Occasional exercise alone doesn’t do the trick. Regular exercise is much more effective than hard workouts every now and then. When exercising regularly, the cells are flooded with BDNF, a protein that helps with memory, learning, focus, concentration, and understanding. This is also often referred to as mental acuity.

    yoga class

    Some scientists speculate that sitting down for prolonged periods of time has the opposite affect and actually hinders our brain from working as well as it could.

    Related: Don't Let Too Much Sitting at Your Desk Harm Your Health

    4. Learn a new language

    Forget solving puzzles to improve your memory and learn a foreign language instead. Research has shown that people who are bilingual are better at solving puzzles than people who speak only one language. Successfully learning new languages enables your brain to better perform any mentally demanding tasks. This includes the typical executive skills such as planning and problem-solving.

    Additionally, speaking at least two languages positively affects your ability to monitor your environment and to better direct your attention to processes.

    Many people are told that because executives speak languages, they should learn Spanish or French if they want to move up the ranks. Based on how the brain reacts to learning languages, it might be the other way around. Learning another language might be the last, missing link people need to get their brain ready to take on C-level jobs.

    5. Test your cumulative learning

    Many intelligent students in high school and college "cram'' for finals and seem to have mastered the topic the day of the big test. The trouble with that is we tend to forget these things quickly because we are rarely, if ever, required to repeat that knowledge in that same way.

    One reason studying a new language makes us smarter is because it requires cumulative learning. Because we need them over and over again, the grammar and vocabulary we learn is repeated countless times as we improve our foreign-language skills.

    Apply the concept of cumulative learning to everyday life and your workplace by keeping track of noteworthy bits of knowledge you acquire. Go through takeaways from recent books, observations during an important negotiation, or keep a small journal with anything that strikes your attention. Start integrating cumulative learning into your self-improvement program.

    Related: You Have the Power to Rewire Your Brain for More Joy

    6. Work out your brain

    Sudoku, puzzles, riddles, board games, video games, card games, and similar activities increase neuroplasticity. This encompasses a wide variety of changes in neural pathways and synapses that is basically the ability of the brain to reorganize itself.

    When nerve cells respond in new ways, that increases neuroplasticity, which allows us more ability to see things from different points of view and understand the causes and effects of behaviors and emotions. We become aware of new patterns and our cognitive abilities are improved.

    Considering that neuroplasticity is involved in impairments such as tinnitus, an increased amount of it can help prevent certain conditions. For instance, people with high neurplasticity are less prone to anxiety and depression while learning faster and memorizing more.


    7. Meditate

    In 1992 the Dalai Lama invited scientist Richard Davidson to study his brain waves during meditation to find out whether he could generate specific brain waves on command. Turns out that when the Dalai Lama and other monks were told to meditate and focus on compassion, their brain waves showed that they were in a deeply compassionate state of mind.

    The full research results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and then in The Wall Street Journal, where they received an enormous amount of attention.

    Meditation became interesting to ambitious people because the study implied that we could control our own brain waves and feel whatever we want to feel whenever we want to. This means we can feel more powerful right before a negotiation, more confident when asking for a raise and more convincing during a sales call.

    The general idea is that the brain can develop further, and you can do it on purpose. Different activities stimulate different areas of your brain, so you can work on becoming unbeatable at your strengths as well as improving your weaknesses.

    Focusing self-improvement on the brain is a good idea for anyone who feels they are at their professional peak (or maybe just have stopped getting better), ambitious professionals, and, of course, entrepreneurs who are looking to maximize their potential.

    SEE ALSO: Researchers discovered a linguistic trick that will help you negotiate anything

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