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Friday, March 27, 2015

Better late than never!


By Bill Murphy Jr

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How old is too old to do something new? If you want to launch a business, become a great leader, change careers, or just do something different with your life, at what point is it just too late to be successful? Short answer: Never.

In case you need a little inspiration to show you that it can be done no matter what age you've reached, here are 14 amazing people who never saw real success until well after age 40.


1. Martha Stewart

Stewart had worked on Wall Street and owned a Connecticut catering firm, but her real success came after age 41 with the publication of her first book, Entertaining, and the launch of Martha Stewart Living seven years later. (Of course, she weathered some pitfalls later, before rebounding once more.)



2. Joy Behar

Known today as a former co-host on The View, Behar was a high school English teacher who didn’t launch her show business career until after age 40.



3. Vera Wang

Wang was first known as an accomplished figure skater and a fashion editor before deciding before her 1989 wedding, at age 40, that she wanted to be a designer. She commissioned her own wedding dress for $10,000 and opened her first bridal boutique the following year.



4. Tim and Nina Zagat

This husband and wife team had each turned 42 before they gave up their legal careers to write their first restaurant guides. Their eponymous company is part of Google now.



5. Robin Chase

The founder and former CEO of Zipcar had left her 40th birthday in the rearview mirror and was taking time off from work to be with her children when she and a friend, Antje Danielson, came up with the idea for the car-sharing company in 2000.



6. Harland Sanders

Sanders was “a failure who got fired from a dozen jobs before starting his restaurant, and then failed at that when he went out of business and found himself broke at the age of 65,” according to one account. But then things worked out when he sold the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952.



7. Rodney Dangerfield

The late, great comedic actor was best known for his roles in 1980s movies like Caddyshack and Back to School, but he was 46 before he got his first big break—on the Ed Sullivan Show.



8. Duncan Hines

At age 55, he wrote his first food and hotel guides (including one that mentioned Sanders Court and Caf, the original restaurant owned by Harlan Sanders, above). At age 73, he licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes; unfortunately he died six years later.



9. Charles Darwin

He was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species in 1859, the book that espoused the theory for which he best known today. (The Darwin Awards came much later.)



10. Samuel Jackson

Jackson was 46 years old (and in recovery from addiction to cocaine and heroin) before he starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.



11. Donald Fisher

At age 41, after a series of entrepreneurial ventures, Fisher and his wife Doris Fisher founded The Gap. It’s now a $16 billion a year company with more than 3,200 locations worldwide.



12. Ray Kroc

Kroc had passed his 50th birthday before he bought the first McDonald’s in 1961, which he ultimately expanded into a worldwide conglomerate.



13. Sam Walton

Although he’d owned a small chain of discount stores, Walton opened the first true Wal-Mart in 1962, when he was 44.



14. Julia Child

Her first cookbook was published when she was 39; she made her television debut in The French Chef at age 51.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

5 Signs of a Bad Manager


Image result for bad managerBy Larry Alton

Think you have a bad manager hovering over your shoulder? Or—worse—do you suspect that you might not be the best manager you could be? The reality is that no manager is perfect, and it’s a skill that will take a lifetime of practice in order to get better. In some cases, a bad or good manager is subjective, but in other cases it’s pretty clear when a leader isn’t up to par.

Here are some of the biggest signs that you or your boss might need some major improvement. It’s never too late to get better at management—unless of course those poor skills have already tanked the company. Take the action action that needs to happen, whether it’s you who needs an overhaul or you need to start looking for another job with a better leader at the helm:


1. Micromanaging is the go-to approach
Nothing kills a business and employees’ spirit like micromanaging, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. Many people think they’re genuinely “helping” or that nobody else can do the job quite as well as them. If you spot this in yourself, it’s kind of like being an addict—you probably won’t get better on your own.

2. They embrace “do as I say, not as I do”
A great manager leads by example, so if they’re always late, don’t follow the dress code, aren’t sure where the team is on a project or otherwise drops the ball on the regular, watch out. There will of course be times when even great managers slip up, but if this is the MO of a manager, then their heart isn’t in it. And if theirs isn’t, why should anyone else’s be?


3. They’re not qualified
Whether it was nepotism that put them in this role or the hiring manager had a crush on them during interviews, not all managers deserve their position—yet. If you think that’s you, then it’s time to buckle down and earn that spot no matter how you got it. Of course, this is assuming that you think it’s a feasible goal. If it seems too challenging or you’re in over your head, it might be better for everyone if you sought a transfer to another position lower down the totem pole while you hone your skills.

4. They’re a meeting addict
There are many ways to foster a successful company, but being addicted to meetings just for the sake of it isn't one of them. Meetings are often big time wasters, they can be expensive and time consuming to pull off, and some people always tend to hog these precious minutes (or even hours). It’s a sign of poor time management and a symptom of a manager who’s using fluff to make it seem like something important is happening.

Related Article: Are Technical Skills More Important than Leadership Qualities?
5. They don’t treat everyone fairly or equally
Whether it’s rampant racism or sexism, or simply the fact that the manager seems to have a “pet,” this is one of the toughest management issues to deal with. If it’s clear to you that a manager doesn't see everyone as equals, it’s probably obvious to everyone else. This destroys company morale, makes the manager look unprofessional and will slowly poison the company. If you spot this tendency in yourself, it’s time to consider how to handle it.

There are many ways to become a better manager, but fixing what you're not doing well can go a long way.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

20 Common Phrases Even The Smartest People Misuse


Image result for WRONGBy Christina Desmarais
When you hear someone using grammar incorrectly, do you make an assumption about his or her intelligence or education? There’s no doubt that words are powerful things that can leave a lasting impression on those with whom you interact.
In fact, using an idiom incorrectly or screwing up your grammar is akin to walking into a meeting with messy hair. That’s according to Byron Reese, CEO of the venture-backed internet start up Knowingly. The company recently launched Correctica, a tool that scans websites looking for errors that spell checkers miss. And the business world is no exception. “When I look for these errors on LinkedIn profiles, they’re all over the place—tens of thousands,” he says.
Correctica recently scanned a handful of prominent websites, and you might be surprised at how many errors it found. Here is Reese’s list of the some of the most commonly misused phrases on the web.

1. Prostrate Cancer
It’s an easy misspelling to make—just add an extra r and “prostate cancer” becomes “prostrate cancer,” which suggests “a cancer of lying face-down on the ground.” Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic websites include this misspelling.

2. First-Come, First-Serve
This suggests that the first person to arrive has to serve all who follow. The actual phrase is “first-come, first-served,” to indicate that the participants will be served in the order in which they arrive. Both Harvard and Yale got this one wrong.

3. Sneak Peak
A “peak” is a mountain top. A “peek” is a quick look. The correct expression is “sneak peek,” meaning a secret or early look at something. This error appeared on Oxford University’s site as well as that of the National Park Service.

4. Deep-Seeded
This should be “deep-seated,” to indicate that something is firmly established. Though “deep-seeded” might seem to make sense, indicating that something is planted deep in the ground, this is not the correct expression. Correctica found this error on the Washington Post and the White House websites.

5. Extract Revenge
To “extract” something is to remove it, like a tooth. The correct expression is “exact revenge,” meaning to achieve revenge. Both The New York Times and the BBC have made this error.

6. I Could Care Less
“I couldn't care less” is what you would say to express maximum apathy toward a situation. Basically you’re saying, “It’s impossible for me to care less about this because I have no more care to give. I've run out of care.” Using the incorrect “I could care less” indicates that “I still have care left to give—would you like some?”

7. Shoe-In
“Shoo-in” is a common idiom that means a sure winner. To “shoo” something is to urge it in a direction. As you would shoo a fly out of your house, you could also shoo someone toward victory. The expression started in the early 20th century, relating to horse racing and broadened to politics soon after. It’s easy to see why the “shoe-in” version is so common, as it suggests the door-to-door sales practice of moving a foot into the doorway to make it more difficult for a prospective client to close the door. But “foot in the door” is an entirely different idiom.

8. Emigrated To
With this one there is no debate. The verb “emigrate” is always used with the preposition “from,” whereas immigrate is always used with the preposition “to.” To emigrate is to come from somewhere, and to immigrate is to go to somewhere. “Jimmy emigrated from Ireland to the United States” means the same thing as “Jimmy immigrated to the United States from Ireland.” It’s just a matter of what you’re emphasizing—the coming or the going.

9. Slight of Hand
“Sleight of hand” is a common phrase in the world of magic and illusion, because “sleight” means dexterity or cunning, usually to deceive. On the other hand, as a noun, a “slight” is an insult.

10. Honed In
First, it’s important to note that this particular expression is hotly debated. Many references now consider “hone in” a proper alternate version of “home in.” That said, it is still generally accepted that “home in” is the more correct phrase. To home in on something means to move toward a goal, such as “The missile homed in on its target.” To “hone” means to sharpen. You would say, “I honed my résumé writing skills.” But you would likely not say, “The missile honed in on its target.” When followed by the preposition “in,” the word “hone” just doesn’t make sense.

11. Baited Breath
The term “bated” is an adjective meaning suspense. It originated from the verb “abate,” meaning to stop or lessen. Therefore, “to wait with bated breath” essentially means to hold your breath with anticipation. The verb “bait,” on the other hand, means to taunt, often to taunt a predator with its prey. A fisherman baits his line in hopes of a big catch. Considering the meaning of the two words, it’s clear which is correct, but the word “bated” is mostly obsolete today, leading to ever-increasing mistakes in this expression.

12. Piece of Mind
This should be “peace” of mind, meaning calmness and tranquility. The expression “piece of mind” actually would suggest doling out sections of brain.

13. Wet Your Appetite
This expression is more often used incorrectly than correctly—56% of the time it appears online, it’s wrong. The correct idiom is “whet your appetite.” “Whet” means to sharpen or stimulate, so to “whet your appetite” means to awaken your desire for something.

14. For All Intensive Purposes
The correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes.” It originates from English law dating back to the 1500s, which used the phrase “to all intents, constructions, and purposes” to mean “officially” or “effectively.”

15. One in the Same
“One in the same” would literally mean that the “one” is inside the same thing as itself, which makes no sense at all. The proper phrase is “one and the same,” meaning the same thing or the same person. For example, “When Melissa was home schooled, her teacher and her mother were one and the same.”

16. Make Due
When something is due, it is owed. To “make due” would mean to “make owed,” but the phrase to “make do” is short for “to make something do well” or “to make something sufficient.” When life gives you lemons, you make do and make lemonade.

17. By in Large
The phrase “by and large” was first used in 1706 to mean “in general.” It was a nautical phrase derived from the sailing terms “by” and “large.” While it doesn’t have a literal meaning that makes sense, “by and large” is the correct version of this phrase.

18. Do Diligence
While it may be easy to surmise that “do diligence” translates to doing something diligently, it does not. “Due diligence” is a business and legal term that means you will investigate a person or business before signing a contract with them or before formally engaging in a business deal together. You should do your due diligence and investigate business deals fully before committing to them.

19. Peaked My Interest
To “pique” means to arouse, so the correct phrase here is “piqued my interest,” meaning that my interest was awakened. To say that something “peaked my interest” might suggest that my interest was taken to the highest possible level, but this is not what the idiom is meant to convey.

20. Case and Point
The correct phrase in this case is “case in point,” which derives its meaning from a dialect of Old French. While it may not make any logical sense today, it is a fixed idiom.


Worried that poorly functioning spell checkers will make you look bad? Run things like your resume, blog posts and the content of important emails through Correctica’s “Proof it Free" tool.


Friday, March 6, 2015

12 Ways Successful People Stay Focused, Productive, and in Control

Image result for success full peopleTalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-control—a skill that unleashes massive productivity by keeping you focused and on track.
Unfortunately, self-control is a difficult skill to rely on. Self-control is so fleeting for most people that when Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed two million people and asked them to rank order their strengths in 24 different skills, self-control ended up in the very bottom slot.
And when your self-control leaves something to be desired, so does your productivity.
When it comes to self-control, it is so easy to focus on your failures that your successes tend to pale in comparison. And why shouldn’t they? Self-control is an effort that’s intended to help achieve a goal. Failing to control yourself is just that—a failure. If you’re trying to avoid digging into that bag of chips after dinner because you want to lose a few pounds and you succeed Monday and Tuesday nights only to succumb to temptation on Wednesday by eating four servings’ worth of the empty calories, your failure outweighs your success. You’ve taken two steps forward and four steps back.
Since self-control is something we could all use a little help with, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people do to keep themselves productive and in control. They consciously apply these 12 behaviors because they know they work. Some are obvious, others counter-intuitive, but all will help you minimize those pesky failures to boost your productivity.

1. They Forgive Themselves
A vicious cycle of failing to control oneself followed by feeling intense self-hatred and disgust is common in attempts at self-control. These emotions typically lead to over-indulging in the offending behavior. When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.
Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

2. They Don’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of overcommitment.

3. They Don’t Seek Perfection
Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

4. They Focus on Solutions
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions that hinder self-control. When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

5. They Avoid Asking “What If?”
“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to self-control. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive (staying productive also happens to calm you down and keep you focused). Productive people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective strategic planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking.

6. They Stay Positive
Positive thoughts help you exercise self-control by focusing your brain’s attention onto the rewards you will receive for your effort. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, self-control is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, self-control is a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, or will happen, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the past and look to the future. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative, so that you don’t lose focus.

7. They Eat
File this one in the counter-intuitive category, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your eating. Your brain burns heavily into your stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses. Sugary foods spike your sugar levels quickly and leave you drained and vulnerable to impulsive behavior shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn for your body, such as whole grain rice or meat, will give you a longer window of self-control. So, if you’re having trouble keeping yourself out of the company candy bin when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something else if you want to have a fighting chance.

8. They Sleep
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and maintaining your focus and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer. Being busy often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you’re better off sleeping.
When you’re tired, your brain’s ability to absorb glucose is greatly diminished. This makes it difficult to control the impulses that derail your focus. What’s more, without enough sleep you are more likely to crave sugary snacks to compensate for low glucose levels. So, if you’re trying to exert self-control over your eating, getting a good night’s sleep—every night—is one of the best moves you can make.

9. They Exercise
Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to walk over to the office next door to let somebody have it, just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.

10. They Meditate
Meditation actually trains your brain to become a self-control machine. Even simple techniques like mindfulness, which involves taking as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason. Give it a try.

11. They Ride the Wave
Desire and distraction have the tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. When you feel as if you must give in, the rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.

12. They Squash Negative Self-Talk
A big final step in exercising self-control involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.
You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” and the like. If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

Putting These Strategies to Work
The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at these strategies and giving them a go before you give in.

By Travis Bradberry


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