10 Things To Remember If You Love A Sociopath

Cumberbatch Sherlock Playing Violin

We see plenty of depictions of sociopaths in fiction, but they tend to be fairly two-dimensional characters and often play the villains. To make matters worse, they are often just lumped together with psychopaths, and made out to be soulless characters who feel nothing and only speak the language of violence. The problem with this is that, although sociopaths are unable to feel empathy, some respectable members of society in positions of power, including lawyers and politicians, exhibit sociopathic traits.

These people can hide in plain sight, under a mask of normal emotions, and can even be productive members of society – just a part of them are actually violent or have criminal tendencies. It can be difficult to discover a sociopath’s true face, but some of the signs of a sociopath include reckless behavior, a disdain for rules and social norms, and self-centeredness. Here are some things you need to know if you are in love with someone who is a hidden sociopath.

1. They are intelligent and logical (a little bit too logical)

Dating a sociopath is a little bit like dating Mr. Spock – sure, he’s got all the answers when it comes to science and can be a valuable asset in a crisis, but he won’t quite understand all these human emotions that keep brewing inside you. While having a partner who can keep their cool in heated situations and always look for a rational solution may seem like a good deal at first, there will be situations where you’ll just want your partner to let go and share in your excitement or sadness.

2. They don’t really get anxious or afraid

Now, don’t get me wrong, sociopaths have a strong survival instinct and they can experience fear just like the rest of the world – it’s just that they don’t stress about things that they can’t control. They do, however, try to take as much control of a situation as they can. If tragedy strikes or there is a financial crisis, don’t expect them to break down in tears.

3. They are charming, well-spoken, and interesting

It’s tough to spot a sociopath as they do a great job of hiding in plain sight. They have a great deal of charm and can be quite eloquent, with plenty of interesting stories and a number of interests that just make them seem like an average extrovert. Sociopaths tend to be incredibly socially active.

4. They will often take risks

Since sociopaths don’t really care about the repercussions, nor do they have a pronounced fear of failure like a lot of other people do, you’ll often see them making questionable decisions. However, they are not rash and impulsive – each decision they make is carefully calculated – it’s just that they prefer high-risk, high-reward options to the slower and safer low-reward ones.

5. They don’t enjoy the same activities that everyone else does

Gazing out into the distance at the sunset or lying on the grass and watching the star-studded sky are things that most lovers will enjoy doing together. These are the traditional romantic activities that you simply can’t go wrong with. However, for the empathetically challenged, these things can be incredibly boring.

Sociopaths enjoy activities that provide them with an adrenaline rush, something that feels a bit dangerous and engages both the body and the mind. Instead of planning a picnic, you may have to organize a hunting trip or take them paragliding. The thrill of the hunt, the wind rushing pass them – these are the things that stimulate them. In fact, it’s their love of excitement that makes sociopaths so appealing.

6. They feel comfortable lying to you about important issues

You may think that a relationship has to be built on trust, and rightfully so. There are tons of little things that you share with your partner on a daily basis, and big issues need to be laid out and discussed openly. However, a sociopath’s natural instinct is to try and tell a version of the story that pleases others, inspires respect and trust from those around them, and ultimately helps them to get what they want.

They don’t try to put themselves in another person’s shoes, tell it like it is, or do the right thing – sociopaths look past morality and see an intricate web of events, bound by cause and effect, which can be manipulated to serve a higher purpose.

7. They don’t feel bad about the emotional pain their actions cause

Apart from a few select people close to them, sociopaths don’t really care about hurting or manipulating others to achieve their own goals. While a romantic partner may be exempt from this cold-hearted and calculated behavior, acquaintances, friends of friends, and co-workers will often be left emotionally scarred, used as stepping stones by an ambitious sociopath trying to improve their own social status. It can be difficult for a person who loves a sociopath to come to terms with such seemingly ruthless behavior.

8. They are very good at reading and faking emotions

Most people find it hard to read sociopaths, as they train their whole lives to become good actors. As far as they are concerned, they could go through life with a straight face, making sarcastic comments or just not caring, but they know that it’s not socially acceptable. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to blend in with the crowd. So, sociopaths do their research and try to take on a personality that people around them find agreeable and trustworthy.

This is why people who love sociopaths have a hard time accepting them for who they really are, and are confused when they see their partner’s true face. However, when sociopaths reveal their true colors to someone, it is the ultimate gesture of trust and respect – if they take a huge risk by letting you past their shield, it means that they feel that the price of your companionship is well worth it.

9. They can actually love someone, but not the way most people do

People will tell you this and that about sociopaths, and they are usually painted in a negative light. However, you’ll find that emotions have a sliding scale – just because someone doesn’t exhibit the same amount of emotion in the same way, doesn’t mean that they don’t care about anyone. I always like to use the example of the infamous mafia hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, who was reportedly a paranoid sociopath and an extremely violent man with a few other interesting psychological issues thrown into the mix, but the way the man talks about his wife and children is truly endearing.

Is it love in the sense that most people understand? Probably not, but a sociopath can have a strong connection with another person – it’s just difficult to tell when there’s truly something in the depths of their logical little hearts when they are so comfortable with lying and faking emotion all the time.

10. They can be very self-centered and incapable of admitting mistakes

It’s not so much that sociopaths won’t admit mistakes, it’s more about them not even realizing why something should be considered wrong or bad. It is perfectly natural for a sociopath to engage in Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead. They won’t exactly push anyone under a car, but they might give someone bad advice, use misinformation, blackmail, and manipulate people to get what they want. If you point out that these things aren’t moral, or even confront them about being disrespectful and hurtful towards others, don’t expect them to show remorse.

I hope that you can see that sociopaths are not all violent criminals, nor are they closer to a race of emotionless aliens than to other humans – they are just people who happen to be different. The way they feel, think, and live is a bit unusual to a lot of people, but that doesn’t make them monsters. It’s important to remember all the points mentioned above if you truly have strong feelings for someone who is a sociopath, as it can be incredibly difficult to get close to someone if you aren’t ready to see their true self.

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5 Mind Tricks To Help Keep More Money In Your Pockets

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Money, it’s a gas. Or, at least, it runs out as fast as gas does. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be incredibly hard to start up the nest egg you’ve been planning for years. But it’s not impossible. With a few tweaks to your daily spending habits, you’ll find you have more than just spare change in your pockets by Friday evening. If you want to save money, read on.

1. Think of hourly worth

When I was a young adult working at a summer camp, I was always amazed when most of my coworkers would come in with a fresh deli-made bagel, bottle of orange juice, and cup of coffee every morning. We only made around $ 10 an hour, so those that made this a daily habit had already spent the money they would make in their first hour of every workday before they even got to work.

If you want to save money, quit the impulse purchases. Every time you want to buy something, think to yourself “How much time would I need to work to pay for this?” If the amount of time absolutely appalls you, put the item back on the shelf and move on.

2. Savor things and experiences

If you add up your daily $ 3 Starbucks coffee habit over the course of a year, you might be shocked to realize you’re spending anywhere from $ 700 to $ 1000 yearly on a drink that lasts you twenty minutes. Your first impulse would be to stop buying the coffee altogether. But what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy yourself every once in a while? Instead of making it a habit, cut down to once or twice a week. Save your “coffee day” for the rough mornings, rather than getting it all the time because it’s what you normally do. You’ll end up enjoying every sip you take just that much more, knowing you won’t be allowing yourself to have another one until the following week.

3. Think of time off as lost money

If your boss offers overtime, take it. Chances are you just wanted to go home and relax on the couch for the evening anyway. If you make $ 15 an hour and get double-time for working longer hours, and your boss offers you two extra hours of work, is it really worth losing $ 60 to catch the Seinfeld reruns you’ve seen a hundred times? You might not have technically lost any money, but you lost potential money. It’s one thing to have missed opportunities in the past, but to disregard future opportunities that you still have the chance to take advantage of is a complete waste.

4. Spend where it matters

Money is essentially meaningless until you give it meaning. If you have a million dollars in the bank but refuse to touch it, it’s just a number on the computer. But if you have $ 100 in your pocket and spend it on a romantic dinner with your wife, you’ve spent $ 100 not just on dinner, but on making a memory that will last long after you finish dessert. A dollar might not go as far as it used to, but since you are free to do with your money as you please, make the most of every penny you earn.

5. Think of money saved as money earned

Going back to the idea of not spending habitually and splurging on unnecessary items, change the way you think of money saved. It’s one thing to say you “saved” $ 500 this year by not buying a donut every morning, but you could also look at it as you “earned” $ 500 this year by not buying a donut every morning. It might not seem like it, but didn’t it take effort to give up that sweet pick-me-up? You were working to give up the habit you had formed, and for your troubles, you earned some extra money in your pocket. Think of how much money smokers could earn if they gave up the disgusting habit! Once you earn this money by giving up something fairly inconsequential, you’ll be free to spend it on the things in your life that actually matter.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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What to Do When You Feel Left Out, Unlucky, or Just Plain Ignored

Last week, I shared some surprising secrets about creative success and why it’s sometimes unfair. My intent was to show you how the “system” worked so you could use it to your benefit. What I didn’t realize is how discouraging that could be.

What to Do When You Feel Left Out, Unlucky, or Just Plain Ignored

Photo Credit: _Pixelmaniac_ via Compfight cc

One reader wrote, telling me that my story frustrated him. He didn’t live in Nashville and lacked the access to people that I had. So what hope did he have? Some female friends pointed out that my being a white male may have acted as an invisible advantage — even if I didn’t realize it.

The more I thought about these objections, the more I thought — and the more aware I became. So I decided to write a public reply and share it with anyone who’s feeling discouraged about where they are in their creative work and what to do when playing by the rules doesn’t work.

But first, an apology…

The last thing I ever want to do with my work is to come across self-congratulatory or unhelpful. So if at any time I’ve done that with my blog, I’m sorry. I believe there are opportunities available to everyone, wherever you are, but sometimes those opportunities aren’t equal.

Yes, luck is often involved in the success of a creative individual. But what do you do when it just feels like the deck is stacked against you? What do you do when you don’t stand a chance against the lucky? That’s what I want to explore.

Keep practicing

Don’t give up. That’s my first piece of advice. In fact, it’s often my only advice for writers. Don’t quit. Keep going. It’s more important than you realize..

I spent seven years as a failed blogger before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. But without that perseverance, I never would have learned.

Sometimes, when things aren’t working, the answer is to keeping going. Sometimes.

Maybe, though, you’re doing everything right and it’s just taking a little bit longer than you expected. That’s a possibility, too. We often want things to happen more quickly than they do, but that doesn’t mean they won’t at some point come to be.

So hang in there, keep practicing, and keep reaching out to people — not for the sake of getting them to notice you, but for the sake of helping them. As my dad always told me, “What goes around comes around.” And most of the time, I think he’s right.

Notice hidden opportunity

For many of us, opportunity is staring us in the face. We just fail to notice it.

How many stories are based on this truth — that the thing you love, the thing you’re most wired to do, is the thing you are ignoring? Every romantic comedy, every heroic tale, almost every great invention reinforces this:

You don’t create opportunity. You recognize it.

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But if there aren’t opportunities available, what do you do then? Go where the opportunity is. You don’t have to move to a new city, necessarily. You can connect with someone while they’re traveling through the area or save money to attend a conference where they’ll be. You can even Skype or email them.

There are always options for those willing to look.

Find your own table

Don’t try to get a seat at someone else’s table. Create your own.

On the surface, this may sound dismissive, like the scene in Forrest Gump where all the kids on the bus say, “Seat’s taken.” But that’s not what I’m saying at all.

I think that this is the only way new markets are discovered and brilliant ideas come about — not by getting invited to the same party everyone else is attending, but by sometimes throwing your own.

Personally I’m interested in exploring how we can create more opportunity for those feeling left out, dismissed, or overlooked. There are real inequities in our world, but working to overcome them is both honorable and possible.

You can’t escape the system

Here’s the truth, though. Every industry has its own set of rules and norms we have to play by for our work to be taken seriously. But what if that system rejects or just plain ignores you? Well, that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

There are a few options:

  1. Get better. This isn’t always the answer, but it often can be an answer. Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” I think there is some truth to that. It may not be fair, but you can work so hard your work has to stand out. It’s not right and definitely not fair, but it’s an option.
  2. Find another table. If the people in the system don’t like what you’re doing, create a new system. A new network. This is what the French Impressionists did when the gatekeepers of art at the time rejected them. They made their own art gallery, and invited people to it. Guess what? A century later, people remember them. The world eventually caught up with that band of misfits. Rejection by the mainstream led to the creation of a whole new art form.
  3. Change the system. This one is hard to do if you’re “outside” the system but not as impossible as it sounds. Jim Henson used advertising dollars to fund puppets who made fun of the very ads sponsoring the show. Oprah Winfrey climbed the ranks of an all-white media world to educate people on the importance of race (among other things). Use the system to subvert the system.

I think we all long for that beautiful moment in life when an unexpected voice says, “You can sit here if you want.” I would not be here if it weren’t for my life being filled with those voices. And my sense is most of us have had those people in our lives at some point. Maybe it didn’t come from a source you expected, but it came nonetheless.

My hope is that we can all be those voices for each other, that we can increase the size of the table and invite more people to the party. Call me naive, but I think there’s room for more.

Applying this

Last week, while speaking at a conference, someone asked me who inspires me. I think I said something like Walt Disney or Jim Henson. When I asked this person, an African American gentleman who started a homeless ministry, who inspires him, he said: “People who don’t have a voice.”

He then proceeded to tell me story after inspiring story of individuals without a platform whose lives are making a difference. Wow. That really challenged me to use my voice to help more people get their messages and stories heard.

This one reason why I’m looking forward to Tribe Conference this week. It’s my small way of trying to make the table a little bit bigger — by creating a new network, a place for people who have something to say but might not otherwise get heard.

I think the opportunities to do this kind of work, to create your own network and include those who may feel left out or discouraged by the system, are abundant. We just have to be willing to recognize and do something with them.

For more on using your disadvantages into advantages, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath (which was where I first heard that story of the French Impressionists).

What do you think increasing the size of the table looks like? Practically, how can we (you and I) create more opportunity for others? Share your ideas in the comments.


Goins, Writer

8 Things Super-Achievers Routinely Do To Be Insanely Productive

super achiever

The super-achievers amaze the normal people in every way possible. They have the same 24 hours per day that an average Joe has, but they manage to use those hours much more effectively.

Oftentimes, they not only thrive in one particular area but develop incredibly well in most of the fields. Be it mental and physical health, relationships and social life or business and career, these individuals manage them all in an exceptionally good way.

Now, to avoid creating a picture of a perfect human in your mind, these people tend to fail as well. In reality, they fail a lot. However, what separates them from the crowd is embracing the learning process and taking notes from every breakdown.

So it is no surprise that these confident people have eight things they regularly do, which all have a tremendous impact on their productivity.

1. They work out daily (yes, daily).

Don’t get me wrong, they don’t complete a hardcore training session every single day. It can just as well be stretching, low-impact cardio or yoga. The key message here is not the way of exercising, but the fact that top performers realize the importance of treating their bodies like a temple.

Whereas typical people tend take care of their physical health intermittently, high-achievers set it as one of their highest priorities.

Let’s take Barack Obama as an example. Although there are countless people in his team that contribute a lot to his daily effectiveness, there’s still no doubt that he’s among the elite of super-achievers.

And do you know how his day starts?

It begins with a workout session, of course. If the president of United States is able to find an hour a day for working out, there’s no reasonable excuse you could use for not doing it yourself (unless you don’t care about increasing your productivity).

2. They schedule their days wisely and strategically.

I’m sure you already know that to-do lists are unbelievably helpful. Nonetheless, just throwing a few things you wish to accomplish at a sheet of paper or in your calendar app won’t get you too far.

If this strategy would work well, the majority of people would achieve their new year’s resolutions. In reality, however, almost 40% never make them.

In his book, “The One Thing”, Gary Keller shares one of the most crucial lessons to productivity. To find out your one thing, you need to ask yourself a very important question; namely, what’s the one thing I can do, that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Once you determine that very thing, you’ll already be ahead of the majority of wannabe productivity freaks.

What you need to do is realize and then apply the difference between being effective and being efficient. Whereas plenty of people want to be more efficient, which means doing things the right way, the super-achievers focus on being effective, also known as doing the right thing.

3. They plan a daily session for learning.

The process of becoming a super achiever is a long journey. Some people claim it’s given, but in reality, it’s earned through constant attempts of getting better after each failure. You can’t just sit down and expect to experience a sudden stroke of genius.

What you can do, however, is learn something new every single day. While wealth is not necessarily the number one factor when it comes to determining success, it definitely is a sign of productivity, effectiveness and achievement.

When asked about their reading habits, almost 90% of wealthy people said they read on a daily basis. Reading is one of the most simple ways to improve. Whatever your current toughie is, there’s at least one decent book discussing the issue and offering the answers you look for.

I can’t stress out how many times I’ve experienced a moment of enlightenment during reading, listening to a podcast or watching an educational video.

4. They separate themselves from the negative energy.

If you surround yourself with negative people who waste their time and complain a lot, there’s no way you’ll ever become successful. Super-achievers understand that they are the average of the five people they spend the most time with.

When your goal is to become more productive, the best source of inspiration and motivation to keep going is finding like-minded individuals who also embraced the journey of self-improvement.

It’s not an accident that super successful people know each other and join hands. They inspire and learn from each other, while at the same time removing the toxic environment from their lives.

5. They leave their comfort zone day after day.

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that top performers aren’t afraid of being uncomfortable in order to achieve long-term success. Instead of choosing instant pleasure, they are able to hold off on the gratification and experience a vein of discomfort.

The reason behind it are the amazing things which will happen once you step out of your comfort zone.

Great things never come from laying on the couch and eating your favorite ice cream. They happen once you decide to take action and challenge yourself on a daily basis.

If you are a newbie, there’s no need to start big. Choose one activity which causes discomfort and question your ability to do it. My favorite one is taking a freezing cold shower, preferably at the times I least want them.

6. They have a morning routine.

A morning routine is what helps you to run your day the way you want. Your morning actually determines the rest of your day. That’s why the highly successful people pay a lot of attention to their morning rituals.

Once you wake up, there’s no need to rush but you can’t linger either. Including a morning routine to my daily schedule made a huge difference. Personally, once I wake up, I make my bed immediately, then I head to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. Next is in the bathroom and the day then begins with a cold shower.

There’s an interesting correlation I noticed, though. Whenever I neglect to stick to my routines, my productivity legitimately suffers and I can’t get anything done.

7. They use proper systems.

Instead of relying purely on their motivation levels, high-achievers depend on the right systems, which help to automate their daily routines.

The vast majority of people can’t use the technology in their favor. Social media, mobile games or pointless news apps distract them day after day. On the opposite side, though, are top performers who use technology to make their lives easier.

Applications and software help them to manage their time, cut off distractions, get more done and have a better overview of their progress.

This list will help you to get started (remember, the key isn’t to get them all, but to adopt the ones that work for you).

8. They say no consistently.

Being able to say no at the right moment is a skill which can guarantee you wealth, health and happiness. It’s not easy to learn but it’s absolutely possible. Saying no to one thing is actually saying yes to the other.

Say yes to exercise and diet and you will say no to being out of shape. This rules applies to every area of your life. Saying yes to being insanely productive involves saying no to a lot of things, such as distractions and needless commitments.

In addition to that, super achievers refuse to seek others’ approval. By doing so, they ensure that with each no they say, they won’t experience any doubts about their decisions.

Featured photo credit: Phil Roeder via flickr.com

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3 Ways Coffee Boosts Creativity and Makes You A Better Writer

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kyle Van Pelt. He is currently working on the ultimate guide to coffee shops and undiscovered roasters in the USA.

Coffee has incredible powers. It has the ability to jumpstart our day and spark amazing conversations with people. In fact, coffee and bacon are the only two items you need to change the world. But there is more superpower in a coffee mug than meets the eye.

3 Ways Coffee Boosts Creativity and Makes You A Better Writer

Coffee also has the ability to make you more creative and thus make you a better writer.

Don’t believe me? I will prove it!

First, a few quick notes about creativity.

Have you ever stopped to think about where creativity comes from? Me neither. That is why I had to Google it.

Creativity is a state of mind hindered by three barriers:

  • Initiative
  • Commitment
  • Self-doubt

Breaking down these barriers unlocks endless creativity. That is, until you get fatigued. Sort of like finding a star on Super Mario Brothers. You’re invincible until the sparkle wears off.

Let’s talk about how coffee dismantles these barriers and makes you more creative.

1. Coffee gives you initiative

I am pretty sure all of us have experienced the energy boost coffee provides. It’s the reason why most of us need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning.

Not only does coffee help get you moving, it helps jumpstart your brain so you overcome the first hurdle to unlocking your creative juices.

Ideas are vital to creativity. I’ve found  ideas breed more ideas which eventually lead to creative breakthroughs. It is hard to generate this flow of ideas without any initiative.

On the days when I just do not feel like writing (who has been there?) a cup of coffee is like magic. The caffeine triggers something in my brain,  and I snap out of it and get to work.

2. Coffee creates commitment

Coffee is a stimulant. There is some science to it, but the important thing to note is the caffeine in your coffee blocks the part of your brain that says “I am tired.”

Fatigue is the number one killer of focus in the world. Followed closely by Facebook.

Coffee can’t help your social media addiction, but the caffeine steaming in your mug postpones fatigue so can commit to the task at hand. For creatives, this means pushing through the stage of coming up with bad ideas.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to sit and come up with bad ideas.

The cool thing is, enough bad ideas eventually lead to a good one.

3. Coffee inspires confidence

The biggest barrier to boundless creativity is self-doubt.

When you think your ideas are silly or stupid you stop coming up with ideas or worse, do not even start at all.

Since coffee creates initiative and commitment, confidence naturally follows.

I am not saying  coffee will make you Iron Man or Wonder Woman (which would be awesome!), but you absolutely will get out of your own head enough to create some awesome ideas.

Be more creative, be a better writer

Writing has always been scary to me because it is my art. I have never been a great musician like Jeff. I cannot paint or draw like my wife. I certainly cannot create beautiful software. But I can write and I believe in what Seth Godin says:

If you create art, then you have to share it.

Although it is not the only factor, coffee has helped me be more creative and become a better writer. Ideas seem to flow easier, words chain together faster, and creative juices show up when I need them.

A lot of you probably already drink coffee when you write and that is great. Some of you do not and that is cool, this post is not prescriptive.

The goal is to make you self-aware of the creative benefits you experience when consuming coffee.

There is tremendous power in the ability to recognize what is going on in our heads and then act on it.

Do you drink coffee? What helps boost your creativity? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Links Roundup #30

saddle and ropeTwitter for Teaching, Anyone? My friend at Teaching in Higher Ed, Bonni Stachowiak, did a recent podcast on the topic Teaching with Twitter, interviewing Jesse Stommel.  Some great insights there worth checking out.

And while we are on the topic of Twitter, Kris Shaffer offers a great introduction to both Twitter and TweetDeck on his blog post, Twitter Basics.  I had never tried TweetDeck before, and I find I really love it.  I just wish there was an android version!

As we go into the busy, hectic schedules of fall, I found this helpful post from the folks at mindful.org: Audio Resources for Mindfulness Meditation.  Have to love free resources! Especially when they refresh, relax and re-center us!

A few recent posts on the familiar battle between Microsoft OneNote and Evernote for most popular notetaking software yields us these two posts:  6 things Evernote does that Microsoft OneNote can’t  and 7 things Microsoft OneNote does that Evernote can’t.  This ongoing battle is the best thing possible for users as both products continue to get better and better!

Finally, it’s that time again.  Voting is in full swing for the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015.  You have until September 18th to submit your top 10 picks to Jane Hart.  This is a great resource and service that Jane provides to all of us who love our online tools.  Participate today!

School Days, School Days…. or so the children’s song goes.  Our University opened for the Fall Semester this week, students are everywhere, and the energy, sounds of voices and hurrying bodies from place to place begins again.  Wishing all our readers a great start to the new year!

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Researchers Find 3 Reasons Sarcastic People Are More Intelligent

sarcastic

Sarcasm was once referred to as the “highest form of intelligence” by Oscar Wilde. On the other hand, it has also commonly been called the “lowest form of wit.” And while some folks may shy away from sarcasm, regarding it as caustic and unfriendly, the latest research has shown that sarcasm between friends does not create a vibe of contempt, as one might expect. In fact, it can even reinforce sincerity in the relationship, as both parties interact honestly with each other. So how can we explain the link between sarcasm and intelligence? What about sarcasm and creativity?

The important thing to remember is that sarcasm does not always manifest as a simple, rude comment – for example, having someone ask if you are excited for a family vacation, and you sarcastically reply, “Yea, sure.” Sarcasm can instead serve many beneficial purposes – like lightening the mood in a tense room, or revealing an honest sentiment that others were afraid to say out loud. The comedy of Louis C.K is a perfect example of how sarcasm can actually draw people together. He has made a career from simple discussions that make use of referencing everyday experiences that we all go through and relate to. Sarcasm gives us the opportunity to vent and express life frustrations in a healthy way that often evokes humor – much more healthy than forcing ourselves to always project fake sincerity, right?

With that said, here are 3 reasons Harvard and Columbia University researchers say sarcasm brings us closer to finding our internal creativity and intelligence.

1. They have to think harder

Sarcasm requires more thought. When you respond to a remark someone makes, a non-sarcastic response is fairly simple to achieve. The brain does not have to perform acrobatics to arrive at a straightforward response to a straightforward question. But a sarcastic response requires an extra layer of thinking within the same amount of time. As minor as this may seem, it still counts as a brain exercise. You are considering the expected response versus how you really feel, and you’re fusing those to quickly create a response that can be both humorous and cryptic. This is why others do not always realize we are being sarcastic right away. They must think a bit deeper into the subject in order to realize our true intent.

2. They recognize more possibilities

Sarcasm allows the mind to expand. Among the bundle of characteristics researchers have linked to creativity, sarcasm is one of the most fascinating correlations we’ve seen yet. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia found that those on the giving and receiving end of sarcastic comments were able to perform up to 3 times better on creativity tests. Simply being exposed to sarcasm showed a surprising benefit – 75% of those exposed to sarcastic content figured out a tricky creative task, compared to just 25% of those exposed to sincere content. Thus sarcasm seems to have the power to open our minds to greater possibility and “outside-the-box” idea generation. This is a mindset we don’t typically find ourselves in.

3. They can think abstractly

Sarcasm promotes conceptualization. If you are wondering whether sarcasm really has any practical benefit, findings point to yes. What truly links sarcasm to intelligence is that it opens the doors for abstract thinking – which has long been linked to higher intelligence. After all, it is only abstract thinking that significantly separates humans from animals.

Harvard researchers point out that sarcasm can even benefit those in the workplace, where abstract thinking is often highly valuable to productivity. However, they do propose one warning: make sure your coworkers understand your sarcasm. The study found that not everyone is receptive to sarcastic humor, and that it can even make people feel tense. So dish out the sarcasm to your pals who appreciate it – and maybe save the sincerity for your boss.

Featured photo credit: gabriel saldana via flickr.com

The post Researchers Find 3 Reasons Sarcastic People Are More Intelligent appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

The 5 Platform Personalities: What Type of Blog Is Right for You?

In today’s noisy world, there’s no other way to be heard without a platform. You have to fight for attention — that’s just the way it is. But if you think that means there’s only one way to communicate your message… you’re wrong.

personality picture

Image courtesy of unsplash.com.

A professional speaker doesn’t connect with an audience the same way an author does, nor should someone who writes fiction follow the same game plan as a nonfiction writer — at least, not exactly.

So how do you decide which path is right for you?

I’ve found that there are five main types of what I call “platform personalities.” Before you start building your audience and sharing your work with the world, it would be wise to figure out what personality best fits you.

The Journalist

The Journalist builds his platform on asking questions. The only requirement for this type of platform is curiosity.

When I set out to start this blog, I was nervous. I was no expert on writing, so what right did I have to tell other people how to do it? I didn’t even have a published book (yet). Then I found out about Darren Rowse. Darren, as you may know, started one of the largest blogging communities in the world.

How did Darren build his platform? Did he wait until he was an expert? No. He began his journey by asking questions and sharing the answers publicly. And his curiosity attracted an audience of hundreds of thousands of people who daily join him in his journey. Now, he is considered a leading expert on blogging, and it all began with asking questions.

If you are a naturally inquisitive person, this may be an excellent approach for you to consider.

The Prophet

The Prophet builds her platform on telling the truth. The requirement for this type of platform is a passion for authenticity. I can think of few people who have done this better than my friend Jamie Wright.

Jamie authors a popular blog called The Very Worst Missionary, on which she riffs and rants about faith, life, and other stuff that bugs her. She complains and cusses and confesses. In short, she says all the things missionaries wish they could say, and people love her for it.

Ask any of her readers why and they’d probably tell you, “Because she’s real.” She tells the truth — the dirty, ugly, nasty, wonderful truth. That’s what a prophet does.

Of course, prophets are not always so popular. They are unpredictable and often offending someone. But that’s not their goal. The goal is to simply tell the truth, whether people want to hear it or not. Another example is Seth Godin, who is an iconoclast in the business world.

Seth calls out the brokenness of the status quo — whether it be in marketing, education, or charity work — and challenges us to something better. And sometimes he catches a lot of flack for it. That is also part of the job description of a prophet, so be prepared for some criticism if you take this approach.

And remember to not be cynical for the sake of being cynical. Good prophets do not only condemn the dark; they also call us into the light.

The Artist

The Artist builds his platform by creating art — whether it be music, painting, or entrepreneurship. The requirement is an eye for beauty.

One of my favorite artists is Jon Foreman, the lead singer of the rock band Switchfoot. Jon communicates the truth of his message through the words he sings and the notes he plays. He challenges his listeners through powerful art that causes you to ask questions long after the song is over.

Artists speak to our hearts, not our minds. They show us through their art that another world is possible. Having sold millions of records, toured the world many times, and appeared on The Tonight Show, it’s hard to say this hasn’t worked for Jon and his band.

Another artist who has recently risen in popularity is a blogger and author by the name of Ann Voskamp whose blog encourages readers to notice the everyday moments in life we might otherwise miss. The gift of an artist is they give us eyes to see.

The Professor

The Professor builds her platform on facts and information. She does extensive research until she has achieved mastery. Of course, there is always more to learn, but this type of person knows more than most. The only requirement is a longing to learn.

A great example of someone who has built a platform this way is Jim Collins. Jim is respected speaker and author. He has written Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall — all bestselling business books based on extensive research and case studies he and his team have done.

These books are not light reading. They are full of charts and information and case studies. The Professor loves data. And if you are going to build your expertise this way, you too better love reading, studying, and analyzing (or find a team that does).

The Star

Perhaps, the oddest type of platform to build (and the most visible) is that of The Star. I used to call this The Celebrity, but people got the wrong idea. These people aren’t just famous for being famous. They are known for being charismatic, for being naturally likable.

A product of a media-saturated culture, stars are a new breed of influencers. They woo and endear us, even sometimes scandalize their audiences, and for the most part, we love them for it. They are doing what we ask of them — sharing their lives.

But of course, not everyone can be a star. This kind of personality earns his audience through charisma. Often, the person is attractive or talented, but not always. These people earn their attention because people want to be around them, and this is often because they want to be around people. They’re a party looking for a place to happen.

An example of this type is Ashton Kutcher. A talented entrepreneur and well-known actor, Ashton has something that makes him especially interesting to fans and customers. He is charismatic, full of energy, ideas, and excitement. As a result, people love listening to him. Another would be blogger and best-selling author Tim Ferriss, whose mantra is basically, “If I can do it, so can you.” This is the message of a star: I’m just like you.

Networkers fall into this group, as well. They have influence, because they’re good with people. They may not be the up-front-and-center person, but they are charismatic, nonetheless. People like stars because stars tend to like people (or at least pretend they do). You can’t be a star if you’re a misanthrope. It just won’t work. More than an other personality, this one is contingent on community.

What type of platform will you build?

These are the five main types of platforms that I’ve observed. I’m sure there are others, but these seem to cover a lot of opportunities and possibilities for you. If you have a message that you want to get out to the world, you need to identify what type of voice you have and, therefore, what type of platform you will build.

If you’d like to learn more about this, check out a recent webinar I did on this topic. We cover more of this in Tribe Writers, an online course I teach that opens just a few times per year.

If there’s a question I didn’t answer in the video or in the blog post above, feel free to ask it here.

What type of platform is right for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Goins, Writer

067: The Unlikely Partnership of Profit and Philanthropy: Interview with Willie Morris

People think the rise of digital products spells doom for physical goods. In reality, the popularity of e-commerce reduces the tangible junk and makes room for artisans to surprise us.

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With the pervasive use of mobile devices and growing digital platforms, people forget the romance of holding a work of art that isn’t measured in pixels. This presents a unique opportunity for luxury items and special editions to meet a new standard.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Willie Morris and I talk about building a business to do good in the world and the competitive advantage of capitalism over charity. Listen in as we discuss launching a faith-based subscription box service in partnership with a social media mogul and venture capitalist.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

Profitable philathropy

The foundational challenge nonprofits face is fundraising. Despite a noble cause, depending on donations for daily operations is risky. A great deal of time and energy is focused on finding donors who may not be around for long. Especially when the next trendy cause hits social media.

I understand this predicament first hand as I had to raise money for my salary while working at a nonprofit. Now, as an entrepreneur, I’m financially able to do more good than ever before.

Some people think profits and philanthropy are at odds when the opposite is true. John D. Rockefeller and his colleagues believed it was their responsibility to give away the majority of their wealth. To be great at business and use it to accomplish the most good.

One of the things I find most interesting is how brands like TOMS and Faithbox are embracing this mindset and providing the opportunity for their customers to participate in a philanthropic mission.

Show highlights

In this episode, Willie and I discuss:

  • Willie’s journey from doctoral studies to corporate jobs and entrepreneurship
  • How a miscommunication over breakfast led to a meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Exploring the subscription box model
  • The unique origin of Faithbox
  • Facing the challenges of launching a faith-based physical product in an increasingly digital marketplace
  • When to accept venture capital from an investor
  • How corporate experience prepares entrepreneurs for success
  • Avoiding irrelevance and dependency on donations
  • The endurance of tangible goods as works of art
  • What the future of physical products looks like

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Build a company that values more than just profit.” —Willie Morris
  • Successful companies grow a loyal community around their brand.
  • You need to feel 100% comfortable with whoever invests in you.” —Willie Morris
  • There is no substitute for empathy.
  • Making a profit empowers you to do the most good.

Resources

  • Faithbox
  • Tribe Writers
  • Transcript (coming soon)

Giveaway

You could win a free annual subscription to Faithbox! Leave a comment by August 14, 2015 for your chance to win.

Do you subscribe to a monthly box? If you launched a subscription box, what would be in it? Share in the comments


Goins, Writer

What You Write About Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

Most writers focus on the wrong thing. They have a simple but dangerous belief that holds them back from creating something of real value. Maybe you do, too. What is it?

Writing tools

Photo credit: mugfaker (Creative Commons)

You believe what you write about is more important than how you write. You worry about this, even fixate on it. Fretting and obsessing, you waste time and energy on something that doesn’t matter.

When we writers do this, we miss the boat. We are concerned with what to write about (because of public opinion or what the market demands) that we neglect the craft itself. But here’s the truth…

Writing isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice. [Tweet]

What matters, what readers really resonate with, isn’t so much what you say, but how.

“What’s it about?”

The other day, I spoke with a group of authors, and one of them asked me, “What should I be blogging about?”

I replied with a question: “If we were to get together for coffee, what would we talk about?”

She proceeded to tell me her life’s story: a harrowing journey through fear and shame to self-actualization. It was beautiful.

As we considered her experiences, we concluded that what made her story interesting wasn’t any particular incident. Rather, it was the universality of emotions: worry, shame, guilt, fear, passion.

She wasn’t describing the challenges of becoming an author. She was describing what it was like to be human.

This is what good writing does

Writing — good writing, that is — transcends its setting and subject. It speaks to universal truths and core values, how we see the world and what we really believe. Where something happens (or even what happens) is not as significant as how.

For example:

  • Les Miserables isn’t about 19th-century France; it’s about grace in the face of injustice.
  • Gone with the Wind isn’t about the Civil War or living in the South. It’s about the internal conflict of love and self-centeredness.
  • Jurassic Park isn’t about dinosaurs living in Costa Rica. It’s about the dignity of life and limitations of science.

Do you see?

The subject of a story (a child with an alcoholic father) is far less interesting than the theme (forgiveness). My friend Marion taught me that.

If you can find a theme — not a subject or a context — in your writing that connects with a core human emotion, you will never run out of good things to say.

You can jump genres, even change styles, and readers won’t care, because they’re following you for your voice, not your topic.

That’s why you might read The Catcher in the Rye every summer or pull out a Jane Austen novel during Christmas. It’s why we love Hemingway or even gravitate toward Dickinson.

We read these authors not for their subjects, but for their voices, their worldview.

Finding a worldview

Everyone has one. A paradigm. A perspective. A code of ethics. It’s how we live our lives, whether we recognize it or not.

This is what sets a person’s voice apart from the rest of the noise vying for our attention: not what they say, but how they say it.

I hate to be the realist here, but look…

There is no subject you could write about, no niche you could target, no genre you could invent, that hasn’t been done before. So for crying out loud, STOP trying to be so darned clever and original. It’s not working.

Instead, focus on the how, the worldview of what you write. What about the way you see the world is different? What would resonate with some and cause others to disagree? Write that.

Write something worth fighting over, because that’s how you change things. That’s how you create art.

Note: If this resonates, check out my online course, Tribe Writers, where we dive deeply into writing with a worldview. Registration opens only a few times a year. Find out more by clicking here.

Do you worry more about what to write about than how you’re writing it? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.

Apprenticeships are also another route you can go down and with Gordan Franks Birmingham apprenticeships it is easier than ever before.