Thursday, September 18, 2008

    The greatest perl of wisdom for success

    This must be the philosophical cornerstone for any successful person:
    "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you're right. "
    Henry Ford
    This witty statement can cause confusion at the first read. How can you be right both ways? Of course, Ford tries to emphasize the importance of your beliefs about yourself with respect to your possibilities. He wants to show that above everything else, willpower and attitude is number one thing above everything else. He who believes in himself will act more confidently and with more determination.

    If you believe you can pass your exams, you can, because you will not be put down by small mishaps. If you believe you can lose weight, you will not be prone so giving up your diet because you think it will not work or because you don't have the willpower.

    Furthermore, he who believes in himself will have a powerful frame that can absorb everyone else into it, making them also believers in your success.

    If you believe you can do the job, you can get it because your interviewer will be convinced by your determination. If you think you can start the business you can, because you will make the bank a believer when you comment them your plan. If you think you can get the girl/guy you like, you can, because you will come over as a confident, attractive person.

    Believing in what you can do is the first, second and last step you take to achieve anything. Henry Ford knew it, and he changed the world. Do really think you can not achieve something? You should realize you might be completely and utterly wrong. You may be constraining yourself with your beliefs, and thus constraining your achievable reality. Consider this other thought from one of the most successful business men ever and caused a revolution in the auto industry:
    "One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do. "
    Henry Ford
    There are many techniques that try to help you believing in your possibilities, like strong visualization, repetition, self-hypnosis...etc. There are also many techniques about making others believe that you have the confidence in yourself, based on body language, oratory techniques, persuasion, etc. But I find there is often to much focus on the technique itself and forgetting about the goal, which is to make yourself strongly believe in it. This is the seed from which everything else must grow and bloom. Without deep confidence in yourself, everything else is bad make up.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Ban emails out of your life!

    Now don't get me wrong, I love emails. But e-mails are just too comfortable. How can something be too comfortable? They are fast to write, to modify, to send, to read, to organize and free. This causes two problems:

    1- They are so comfortable that more and more communications are done over e-mail. This means that people communicate in situations that they previously wouldn't.

    2- They fact that they are so simple and easy makes them lose value. Something that can so easily be created and replicated does not have much value.

    Communications can get seriously affected by this. How many times have you sent an e-mail asking for some important information or to resolve an important issue, and you never got response?It happens mostly when you need something from someone, lets say a business, a public office, or your university. So what do we do when we don't receive an answer the next day? Well, it was just one day, so we wait another day. After two days? We still wait because maybe the other didn't have time. Then the weekend comes and we expect the person to answer on Monday. Wrong again. So we send another email, feeling a little bad about insisting about what we need and start the waiting process again. We might think about it twice or trice before sending a third message, that would be pushing it! Wouldn't it?

    Weeks may pass before we finally get an answer, and when we get it, they only address half of the questions we asked!! What a frustrating experience! Since the email has not much value, people tend to ignore them, half-read them and quart-answer them. Since they can be answered at any time, they will often never be answered. The result is that we complain about the person that should have answered us, and blame him/her for the troubles we have because we didn't get some information or some issue wasn't solved. Well, that is dumb, because we are the root of the problem and we are are the ones to blame.

    For the ones of us that are prone to procrastinate, we tend to take a small step in the right direction to eliminate that bad feeling we have precisely because we know we are procrastinating our duties. That small step is often to send a stupid email just to feel that we did something. Subconsciously we reason that if after sending an email we don't receive answer, we can blame it on the other. Which is basically just deluding ourselves to temporarily feel better.

    What we can do to solve this may profoundly shock you: use the phone! We tend to use it only to chat to friends, but we should precisely use it to get the important tasks done. The phone is not only faster than emailing, but you have live feedback from the other person, so you can get precisely what you want and unless they are tremendously rude, they cant ignore you. In fact, since everybody emails, the phones are not so saturated as they used to be. Things that can take weeks through email take minutes with the phone. Why worry weeks if it can take minutes, why regularly check the email if you can get it done NOW?

    Just today I organized some issues with my university and a language school. They had me calling from here to there, but in a quarter of an hour I solved the thing. How much longer would it have taken if I surrendered to my initial resistance to call and to just do it the easy email way?

    If it is important, and you can do it by the phone, do so.

    At the end of the day it is a life attitude issue. When you try to get something done you can ask yourself if this step is the most effective way of doing it or if you are just trying 10% to feel good with yourself.

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Tips for great public speaking

    I really enjoyed these series on public speaking. It is not presented by some overconfident guy talking about how great he is at public speaking. These people are often too busy showing how good they are that they don't emphasize the main points. This woman really goes to the point, and makes it clear.

    Unfortunately I can not embed the videos

    Body language
    Eye contact

    Voice volume
    Breathing, smiling, and focusing
    Rate of speech
    Visualize success

    P.S: If you know where these videos come from, please let me know. I don't belive they are originally made for expert village.

    Type rest of the post here

    Saturday, September 6, 2008

    The amazing greeting. It takes more than a smile.

    During my job in Germany, there was a man that I liked from the first moment. I knew him because every day he would come to my department, greet me, and go further. I found him to be sincere and charismatic, and my impression was that he actually really liked me. After some time I started questioning why I felt this way towards him, because I realized we would never say more than a sentence to each other. Why did I like him over other people that even try to start a small conversation with me every time? I started analyzing his behavior and his interactions. Then I figured out the thing that enchanted me (and other people) each time: he was just great at greeting people!

    Here is what a normal worker does when he comes into a department that is not his:

    1-Put a fixed smile on his face. Normally tight lipped.
    2-Look around, thinking about his stuff while he walks to each desk, gives a hand to the colleague and shortly stares into his eyes.
    3-Say "HI" or "Good Morning" while his eyes are already distracted or seeking for the next colleague to greet.

    Here is what the great greeter does:

    1-He comes in, but he doesn't smile. He has no special expression on his face.
    2- With conviction he walks to each desk, looking into the colleague's eyes, but still no facial expression. Then he will stretch his hand, and start a firm and intense handshake.
    3- He will say "Good morning", and during this period his facial expression completely changes to overwhelm you with the warmest smile while he looks into your eyes and continues shaking your hand.
    4 - He holds the stare and the smile for about 2 seconds before his smile disappears and he goes to the next colleague.

    There is such a HUGE difference in the impression that both approaches cause. When he greets, he will present you with four intense and perfectly delivered stimulus: Direct look in the eyes, a spoken greet, a good handshake and warm smile. It makes you feel just what a young innocent girl must experience when a eloquent, well mannered guy tries to seduce her with for the first time.

    I believe an important part of his approach is how he smiles. His smile is not fixed on his face, but it comes out for each person individually. This makes it feel personal, like it is just for you. And it comes out at the right moment, as a cherry, crowning the greeting.

    When you greet the people around you, try to imitate my ex-colleague. Use your smile as a present! Don't show show it before time. Let people wait for it so they know it is sincere and only for them. Distinguish yourself from the rest, a greeting takes about 5 seconds; during that period dedicate yourself completely to the other person. You will enjoy the much more positive response you will get from other people and the great first impressions you will make!


    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    When to trust your intuition

    "Trust your intuition" is what we are often told. We just like intuition. We would like to hear that our intuitive feelings know the right answer for everything. It has something mysterious that makes it attractive. The truth is, sometimes your intuition is right, other times it's are wrong. But why? There is a lot of confusion about these feelings, as many people try to attribute to our intuition some kind of magic hocus pokus. Intuition is a product of your subconscious brain. Your subconsciousness registers much more inputs and in a different way than your consciousness. It will relate what you see, with what you hear, feel, smell and taste with what you do and what happened before and after. And all these impressions will again be related to previous experiences in life. So much happens in your brain! It will process the information, find patterns, learn from feedback and try to optimize the responses. For instance, nobody knows how they learned to walk, play tennis or ride a bike, you just learn it without knowing exactly how. When your conscious brain tries to make a decision, your subconsciousness will give his meaning through intuitive feelings or guts.

    The subconscious brain is incredibly powerful, but the problem is that it will give a judgment about situations no matter if he made it based on relevant facts or not. That is why the next principle is useful:

    Principle one:
    The subconscious brain, powerful as it is, is just another mechanism in our body. It follows the laws of nature.

    Although many people don't want to believe this, accepting this reality will help us to distinguish between the things that it can know and the things it can't. Some conclusions we may draw from this first principle are:

    -Your intuition is not some kind of magical device that tells you what to do nor a secret communication channel through which your ancestors or divine power advise you. If they wanted to, wouldn't it be easier just to directly talk to you?
    -Your intuition can only be worthily if your subconscious brain could have had access to enough information to know the right answer. For instance, no matter how much your intuition tells you that the number 340398 is going to win the lottery, it just can not know.

    If first principle delimits the situations in which our intuition can be useful, the second principle allows us to tell in what kind of situations intuition may be particularly useful.

    Principle two:
    The subconscious brain and the intuitive feelings we have are a product of our evolution.
    Conclusions that can be drawn from it:

    -Our intuition is adapted to the type of situations our ancestors we were presented with in the past. Since our brain hasn't changed much since in the last 50.000 year but our environment has, the analysis of the subconscious brain may be wrong for these new situations.
    -There are some cases for which know our ancestors where clearly adapted. Much before language existed, basic forms of communication existed though body language and facial expressions. The way to interpret these messages is hardwired in our brain.
    -Path finding was another task at which we where good at, it is estimated that some of the hominids could remember the location of every water resource in more than 50000 km2.
    -We are also good at pattern recognition. Studies have shown that when presented with sequences , people can guess the next element of the sequence without consciously knowing what the pattern is. This means our subconsciousness detects patterns faster than our consciousness.

    We can establish a list of some example situations in which our intuition may be useful and when it is useless:


    -Trying to find the way somewhere you have been before.
    -Detecting lies (information from nonverbal communication).
    -When you feel you forgot something.
    -When you have a the feeling something is wrong with our car.

    Useless: (If you think your feelings were often right, are you sure it wasn't confirmation bias?)

    - Trying to guess who is calling you.
    - Having a feeling about who will be the next president of the United States (no, really).
    - Guessing the next number that will show up on a dice.
    - When you feel that something bad happened to someone you care about.
    - When you simply know that a certain football team is going to win tomorrow's match.
    - The cases you feel something happened because it was destiny.
    - When get at some place and have the feeling something bad happened there.
    - When you have a feeling about the direction the stock market will take.

    There are also many cases in which it is not clear:

    - Guessing the where a gas station may be in a city you have never been. (You may not know anything about that city, but gas stations can be located at similar places in different cities).
    - When you think to know someone's personality from their looks. (Cultural influences and prejudices mix with nonverbal communication).
    - When you think to know what someone is going to say next.
    - When you think to know what your partner is going to cook.

    There is no ultimate way of knowing when to trust your intuition and when not to, but I really believe the principles can help to avoid basing your decisions on, lets be clear, useless bullshit.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Presenting excuses. Mistakes.

    I plan on writing about all the small stupid social mistakes I commit, to keep track of them and to learn from it.

    At this moment there is a birthday party going on to which I am not assisting. I was invited but I didn't know if I could go (most likely not) because it is in a different town and I would have to find somewhere to sleep and I still had to much work to do for my university.

    So I said: "No, most likely I'm not going because I have nowhere to sleep and I still have much work to do."

    Some days later i received a message: "At the end I found a place for you to sleep, are you coming?"

    Since I didn't finish my work I had to say no again. I feel a little uncomfortable about it because I made her look for a place to sleep and write me again to ask if I am coming. I also might give the impression that I don't want to go, which is not the case. The problem comes from giving a bad excuse in the first place. It would have been more convenient to say: "I don't think I can come. If I finish the homework I have from the university I will let you know so we can try to find a place to sleep for me".

    Conclusion: Only give one excuse, the one that you have the control over(i "decide" if I did enough work for the university). If you give more than one reason for rejecting an offer, condition the others to the primary one("If I finish...(then)we can try to find a place to sleep for me").

    Although this is a quite irrelevant case, similar situations might occur where the outcome is not so unimportant. Lets say isn't a party but a that a company calls you for potential job Australia, which would start in a couple of days. Imagine the reasons for which you can't confirm that you take it were that you are waiting for the results from some health tests and that you don't have time to get a visa. Well, it should make clear that the main reason for not giving an answer yet are the tests, and not the visa.

    Bad: "I would go but I don't have a visa yet, and I'm waiting for the results of some health tests."
    Better:"If the results from my health test are good i could go, then we would still need a visa. Do you think that would still be possible?"

    In the first case the reasons are enumerated, while in the second the main concern is put first and as a condition for the second to even matter. Otherwise the company might make to effort to get you a visa, and I would have to reject it because the primary problem was not cleared. This would give a bad impression, and probably they wouldn't call you next time. Had you made clear which was the primary objection then you wouldn't have gotten into the trouble.

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Screw losers. Be a someone.

    We always hear we should act naturally. "Just be yourself" is what you probably have heard from your mother many times. If you are a guy and ask for advice on how to get the girl you want to one of your (girl) friends, they will say the same thing: "Oh, just show yourself the way you are". I call bullshit. This is the biggest mistake you can make.

    The fact is, you didn't decide who you are. During the part of your life that had the biggest influence on your character and your habits you were barely conscious (your childhood, not the times you were drunk). Why should you accept how the environment molded you into who you are? What is so worthwhile about all the imperfections in your character? What kind of self defeating loser attitude is that? If want feel proud about anything in life, shouldn't you start by yourself?

    Transform into who you want to be. Behave as you want to behave. Listen to all, but subordinate to nobody as they tell you how you should be.

    Push your limits. Push your comfort zone. Burn your fears. Behave as the individual you want to be, and you will eventually become that individual. That is the only worthy attitude.

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.