Links Roundup #22

saddle and ropeApps for Academics

Crystal pointed me to the site Smallwow Best Apps for Academics.  Created by Nicole Hennig, it is a companion for the 2014 book Best Apps for Academics by Hennig and Pam Nicholas.  Smallwow gets a big wow – excellently organized LibGuide with pages for apps for productivity, reading, library research, taking notes, writing, collaborating, presenting, and a page for resources.  It is pretty iOS-centric, one of the few downsides from my Android point of view, but iPads are very popular.

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog has an article that points to a Chrome  and Firefox extension that opens up a LOT of functionality for handling your tabs, such as grouping tabs and making a web page of tabs that can be shared with others.

TabTimes has an article on Parallels, an app for iOS and Android that allows one to control a PC or Mac from a smartphone or tablet.  It requires a subscription, but the annual cost has come down to $ 20.

The American Association for School Librarians (AASL) puts out an annual list of the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning which features websites (often apps or software).  Their description:  “The 2013 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.”  The categories are Media Sharing, Digital Storytelling, Manage and Organize, Social Networking and Communications,  Content Resources, and Curriculum Collaboration.   Looks like a useful set of tools.

Citation/Research Management

Colwiz is a research management tool that includes reference management, calendars, to-do lists/project management, PDF managment, collaboration options, and more.  They have just upgraded their reference and PDF options through a Chrome extension that allows you to, while on a journal website, identify references, make it and the PDF available for import, allow annotating PDFs while still on the web, then add the annotated PDFs into your Colwiz library which can be viewed on the web, in the desktop software, or with mobile apps.  The information on the updates was in an email, so I can’t offer a URL other than the top level site.

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher has added two posts on how to integrate Zotero with Scrivener, a writing software popular with academic researchers.  The first one is How to Use Zotero with Scrivener – Pt. 1, and the next one is (wait for it…) How to Use Zotero with Scrivener – Pt. 2.

Another useful post from Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher is Adding Citations to Google Docs using Zotero and Paperpile. I had not heard of Paperpile before, and sounds to me like once having imported a Zotero library one can then use Paperpile to manage references.  Paperpile is a Chrome app, does have a small monthly subscription, and is in the process of adding features, of which it already has an impressive number.

Cloud Storage

Jason Heppler’s recent Profhacker post Use Copy for Cloud Storage Backup and File Sharing discusses Copy, a product similar to Dropbox but with a better pricing structure (including 15 GB free).

The storage wars continue, as the CNET article Microsoft OneDrive Jumps to 15 MB Free details.  This makes it equal to Google Drive.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Software

Jamie Todd Rubin, Evernote’s Going Paperless Ambassador, generally writes clear well-organized columns about using Evernote.  In a recent post he describes how his use of Evernote has evolved over his years of using it, and it is interesting to see how a workflow of a busy professional has evolved.

Microsoft OneNote has added a feature in which you can email your OneNote account and put a URL in the subject or message body and it will send a screenshot of that web page into your default notebook.  It is nice, but doesn’t quite have the functionality of Evernote’s Web Clipper.

Catherine Pope continues to have really terrific posts on technologies of use to academic researchers in her blog The Digital Researcher.  Try out this post How to Annotate Images in Evernote.

Melanie Pinola on Lifehacker Australia has a post Send Your Kindle Book Notes and Highlighted Passages to Evernote.  Since Evernote searches the contents of all your notes, this could be a really useful.

A Microsoft OneNote developer has created an add-on called Onetastic that adds some cool options, such as various ways of sorting, adding a calendar or table of contents to a note, and more. The video included in the article is short but informative.  The site for the add-on is here.

IFTTT

Alex Campbell on PCWorld has a useful article on using Feed Rinse to set up RSS feeds and add filters to them to get only the the information you want, and then use IFTTT to send the feeds as SMS texts.  You could, of course, change that to your email or however else you want to see them.

 Mind Mapping

Jacob O’Gara has a nice roundup of the 15 best mind mapping tools on the Digital Trends website.  It has a nice mix of paid, free, and freemium; various operating systems, web based, and apps; lists some features of each and includes screenshots.

Operating Systems

Eric Ligman, a manager at Microsoft, has a post offering 300 or so free ebooks on Microsoft products, including various version of Windows, Office 365, Sharepoint, Moodle-Office 365 Plugin, the various Office products, lots of keyboard shortcuts for various products, various guides for developers and system administrators, and more.

Lifehacker does an annual roundup of their favorite essential applications for different platforms.  For example, Lifehacker Pack for Windows: Our List of the Essential Windows Apps, has apps in many categories, including Productivity, Internet and Communication, Utilities, and more.  The one for Macs is also available, as is the one for Android, Android tablets, Chrome, Firefox, as well as the one for iPhone, the iPad, and the Linux one.

Presentations

Found Slides through the Scout Report.  It looks like a great option for creating presentation slides.  It is in the cloud, syncs to a variety of devices, has a lot of customization options, and its free version allows 250 Mb of storage for publicly available slide decks.  Let us know in the comments if you have used it and your experiences with it.

Productivity Techniques

Alan Henry‘s post on Lifehacker Productivity 101: A Primer to the Pomodoro Technique is an excellent introduction to Francesco Cirillo‘s popular tomato-based productivity tool.  It discusses what Pomodoro is, the steps for getting started, apps that help you work with Pomodoro, who it works best for, integrating it with other productivity techniques, and additional reading.

To-do Lists

Alan Henry‘s Lifehacker post Make a 1-3-5 List for a Faster, Instantly-Prioritized To-Do List advocates having a daily to-do list of one big thing to get done that day, three medium-priority tasks you’d like to do, and five items it would be nice to do.

Writing

John Mello’s recent post in ComputerWorld  Review: 3 Note-Taking Gadgets Keep You Scribbling discusses that some studies show handwriting notes improve recall over typing them.  It then reviews Boogie Board, Adonit Jotscript Evernote Edition stylus, and the Livescribe 3 pen.

 

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Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians

How to Smack Down Your Inner Critic Once and For All

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have an inner critic that taunts you every time you trip up?

You know, that taunting voice that erupts the second you make a mistake?

You don’t know when it started, but for as long as you can remember it’s been with you, waiting for the slightest opportunity to launch its next attack.

And while you suspect its intentions are positive — to protect you from failures — in practice all it does is make things worse.

Favorite taunts of the ruthless inner critic

I’ve been absent-minded for as long as I can remember. I have difficulty focusing on one thing for long, which often leads to silly mistakes. Like losing things.

And this is where that inner critic jumps in.

“How could you be so careless?”

“Will you ever learn?”

“How could you be so irresponsible?”

This incessant voice was truly bringing me down. It was eroding my self-esteem. Every time I forgot something, it would nag me to the point of paralysis, unable to remedy the situation.

Things came to a head and I decided that I had to find a solution. I had to silence this inner critic once and for all.

At first I tried addressing the tendency to be absent-minded by creating lists using the Getting Things Done approach. This helped me get more organized but didn’t silence the harsh critic when I did forget things albeit less frequently.

I tried meditation and that helped to calm my mind but I struggled to keep up a daily practice that lasted for much more than a few minutes each day. I’m still working on expanding the length of the daily sessions.

After a bit of research, I discovered that cultivating a mindfulness practice was very powerful. I think of it as meditation in action. This turned out to be the answer I was looking for.

Mindfulness — an antidote to the chattering monkey mind?

Mindfulness is a psychological concept. It can be defined as being consistently attentive and aware of one’s mental patterns in a non-judgmental manner.

By using the breath as an anchor the practitioner is able to step back and ‘watch’ her thoughts without identifying with them.

Every time she becomes aware that her mind has run away with her thoughts, she consistently and gently brings her focus back to her breath and resumes watching the thoughts without identifying with them.

One of the benefits of a mindfulness practice is the capacity it creates in the mind of the practitioner to objectively observe, and then change deeply ingrained mental patterns.

I spent the next few months cultivating a mindfulness practice. I would watch my thoughts using my breath as an anchor. Inevitably I’d get lost in my thoughts and I’d use my breath as an anchor to go back to ‘watching’ my thoughts.

My first big test of my mindfulness practice

A few months after starting my mindfulness practice, I found myself on a familiar mental roller coaster. My mind had been particularly unruly that morning.

At about 11am, I discovered that the remote control key to my garage at home was missing.

I felt panic! Fear!

The monkey mind is a cruel mind

The usual tirade of thoughts filled with self-blame and shame ensued. The panic-driven questions seemed so reminiscent of my (well intentioned) caregivers from during my growing years:

  • “How could you have been so careless?”
  • “Can’t you even look after one little remote?”
  • “You should be ashamed of yourself. Seriously.”

… On and on it went.

As the barrage continued my morale dropped.

The shame, anger and hopelessness became overwhelming. I felt that familiar pit in my stomach. My shoulders dropped into a slouch.

At this point something interesting happened.

My mindfulness practice came to the rescue

Instead of slumping into my usual state of paralysis, I went into ‘automatic mode’ and I found myself taking a deep breath.

My attention came back to my breath. The destructive thinking continued to play itself out as I watched.

I chose not to react. Instead I objectively watched my thoughts play out the painful cycle of self-blame.

This act of objectively watching showed me that I had a choice not to react. Not to believe the thoughts like I had in the past. Instead I could choose to just let them pass across my mind like clouds moving across the sky.

I could choose to stop beating myself up. Right now!

Choosing not to identify with destructive thoughts. (Detachment)

I made the obvious choice. I didn’t buy into the destructive thoughts.

Instead, I watched them as my mindfulness training had taught me. I didn’t try to push them away but I didn’t indulge them either.

The destructive thoughts slowed down. They petered out into a mumble. They no longer had any power over me.

Then silence!

A spacious mind inspires constructive action

The silence created a certain ‘spaciousness’ in the mind.

Now my mind started to think constructively.

Rationally.

Now that I had moved past the destructive thinking I was free to take constructive action — i.e. to actually look for the remote.

I decided to retrace my steps to the café that I’d been to earlier that morning. I asked the owners if they had seen the remote. They said they hadn’t. My heart sank.

For a moment the anger and self-blame started to kick in again. The thoughts started to return

“You’re never going to find the remote, it’s lost”

“You’ll have to get another one. That’s a hundred bucks! ”

I went back to my breath. I “watched” the thoughts.

Soon they dissipated.

Spaciousness.

Again.

A-Ha!

At this point it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a good look under the table where I’d been sitting.

I looked under the table …  and there it was!

The little remote was wedged beneath one of the legs of the table. Nicely tucked away out of sight — only visible to someone who was actually looking for it.

How mindfulness broke my cycle of self-blame

If I hadn’t been mindful I would never have retraced my steps or gone to the café. Even if I’d gone to the café I wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to look under the table.

After having been told by the owners that they hadn’t seen the key, I would have interpreted their message as being confirmation of my underlying belief.

That I was incapable, irresponsible and that I didn’t really deserve to find my garage keys since I’d lost them.

Mindfulness brought these destructive underlying beliefs out in the open and I got to watch them play through my mind as they tried to sabotage my day. I then had the opportunity to choose not to believe them anymore.

Are You Ready to Silence Your Inner Critic?

If you choose to cultivate a consistent mindfulness practice you will be amazed with the results.

The following are some specific ways in which mindfulness will vanquish your inner critic – once and for all.

1. A strong mindfulness practice can bring destructive thought patterns out into the open. Cultivating the capacity to ‘watch’ these destructive thought patterns means you can choose not to be victimized by them. Instead, you can take constructive action.

2. If you watch your mind consistently, using your breath as an anchor, you will start to see your mind’s workings with greater clarity over time. You won’t be a victim of destructive thinking and will make better choices that lead to constructive action.

3.You don’t need to either push the thoughts away or indulge them. You just watch them as they work through their ‘life cycle’.  The act of watching is extremely powerful.

Do you have an inner critic? Does it berate you and undermine you, often without you realizing it?

If you do, then just stop.

And listen to your thoughts.

I mean truly listen.

Breathe. Listen.

Breathe. Listen.

It all starts with one deep breath.

Why don’t you give it a try? Right now.

How has your inner critic undermined you today?

Photo by Anthony Cain

The post How to Smack Down Your Inner Critic Once and For All appeared first on Change Your Life | The Change Blog.

Change Your Life | The Change Blog

Academic PKM Interview Fun!

Bonnie Stachowiak

Bonni Stachowiak

Crystal and I were interviewed last week by Bonni Stachowiak for her Teaching in Higher Ed blog and podcast.  We all had a lot of fun together, and we hope that you might get some ideas about PKM and how it applies to higher education by listening to it.  It is about thirty minutes long.  And please do spend time looking at Bonni’s blog – she does excellent work!

 

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Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians

Get Exactly What You Asked For On Google Using These Tips

picjumbo.com_IMG_4892

How-to-be-a-google-power-user

We’ve all been there. You type in an exact, specific, and seemingly perfect search term into Google hoping to get answers to your query only for the search engine to return nothing. Or rather, with everything. How are we supposed to find exactly what we want if there are millions of results for every little word or phrase we search? Well, we have our ways.

Using this infographic from Who Is Hosting This? you can get exactly what you asked for. Find out who said that quote you keep hearing, search specific sites or locations, translate, calculate and more!

How To Be A Google Power User | Who Is Hosting This?

Featured photo credit: MacBook Pro from the top via picjumbo.com

The post Get Exactly What You Asked For On Google Using These Tips appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

15 Secretly Hidden Features of Mac You Probably Won’t Know If You Miss This

MacOSX

Mac OS X has several amazing features that are hidden from the user. If you have been using Mac for a couple of years then, we are sure you would have stumbled across a few Mac hidden features. Many users are unaware of these secret Mac functions even after several years of using the Mac OS X. In this article, we have gathered 15 useful, lesser known Mac features that are sure to surprise you.

Merge Folders

You can easily merge the contents of two identically named folders but dragging one folder onto another prompts a Replace dialog message. So, the trick to merge two folders is to use Option – Dragging the folder which prompts an additional choice to merge folders. One folder containing contents of both source and destination folders will be created.

Merge

Create a Signature in Preview

It is easy to add a signature to your document in Mac. Open the document in preview and open the Annotations toolbar. Click on the Signature button and choose the Create Signature from Built-in iSight option. Follow the on-screen instructions to add a signature to your document. You can save your signature for future use as well.

Signature

Quick Dictionary Access

You can quickly access the dictionary in Mac systems with these shortcut options. In older version of Mac OS, use ⌘⌃D to bring up the definition of the world while hovering over the word. You can find the definition of a word by double tapping with three fingers in Lion version. Quick access to dictionary helps users find meanings to obscure words immediately.

Dictionary

Restoring Scroll Bars

Scroll bars by default are hidden in Lion version and are visible only when a user begins to scroll the page. This could be confusing at times and hence many users prefer to have the scroll bars on. You can have the scroll bars visible always by changing the default setting. Go to System Preferences, under General Category; select Always under Show Scroll Bars option.

scroll

Built-in emoji Support

It is extremely easy to insert emoticons in Mac OS X. It comes with a built-in emoji which allows users to insert special characters. Press ctrl ++ space to open the window. This window contains an exhaustive list of special characters. You can choose the special characters and emoticons that you need from this window.

macemoji

Speech-to-Text Conversion

Dictation-typing in Mac OS works amazing well. You can convert your speech-to-text by pressing the function (fn) key twice and begin speaking. Your voice gets converted to text when you press function (fn) key one more time. The OS X types out as you speak.

voice-typing

 Easy Volume and Brightness Control

With this shortcut, volume and brightness control can be achieved quite easily. Hold ⇧ + ⌥ together to change the brightness in small increments. You can change your volume control without affecting the brightness control by just holding the ⇧ key.

change-sound-and-bringtness-in-quarters

Auto Complete of Words

Do you have trouble with spellings? This hidden feature will help you spell difficult words correctly as you type in iChat or TextEdit. Press F5 or Option + Escape to bring up an auto complete menu that provides a list of possible spellings to the word that you have started typing. This feature is extremely useful when you are typing official documents.

AutoComplete

Quick Duplicate Open File

Many of the apps on Mac lack the option of “Save As” to duplicate an open file. There is a way to achieve duplication of an open file without opening the File menu. Click on the filename at the top. This drops down a menu of options. Click on the option Duplicate which allows you to replicate the file.

DuplicateFiles

Hot Corners

This feature allows you to trigger certain events by touching the corner of your screen. You can enable hot corner setting by navigating to System Preferences -> Desktop & Screen Savers ->Screen Saver Tab -> Hot Corners. It is a very useful feature which allows you to disable screensaver, launch notification center and open applications.

hotcorners

Close Running Apps

Running apps take up a lot of RAM space and slow down your system. Here is a quick solution to close your running apps on Mac. Simply hold + tab and continue holding and tab through all open apps. When you reach the app that you want to quit, press Q. If you want to hide the app, press H.

CloseApps

Turn Off Notifications

Open your Notification Center and scroll down the side-loading bar until you find Do Not Disturb toggle feature. Turn it on and you will not receive any notifications for a day. It is a convenient way to focus on your work without being disturbed by notifications that pop-up quite often. You can also schedule Do Not Disturb feature to be turned on for a specific period of time or for a particular event. For example, you can have it turned off when display is mirrored to a projector output.

DND

Delete Apps in Launchpad

Deleting apps using Launchpad is an easy way to cleanup old apps. Open Launchpad interface and hold down Option to launch the iOS –style wiggle mode. This will activate the close icons on apps installed through Mac App Store. You can click on the cross icon to delete unused old apps from the system.

Delete Apps

Preview Files

Previewing files is really simple with this trick. Hold down the space bar when you select a file to preview the file. You can even preview image and video files with this option. You can switch between files while in preview by pressing the arrow keys.

preview-with-spacepreview-with-spacepreview-with-space

Create a New Desktop

Mission Control is a cool new feature in Lion. In Mission Control, you can create a new desktop easily. A ‘+’ tab appears at the top right while you hover your mouse in Mission Control. If you want to move a window to a new desktop, you can drop them into the ‘+’ tab. You can have a dedicated desktop by simply dragging and dropping windows into this tab.

New Desktop

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Lifehack

15 Signs You Are Living Up To Your Potential (Though You Don’t Know You Are)

shutterstock_139052213

Potential is the possibility of something amazing. To live up to one’s potential is to be open to one’s greatness. Do you believe you have greatness in you? Not sure? Then use these 15 signs to clue you in if you are living up to your potential awesomeness. (Get ready to feel good because I know you got some of this badass-beast-juice in you!)

1. You have a positive outlook.

Most days you walk around with a smile. People like to hang around you because you’re generally an upbeat person. When things upset you, you find a way to see the silver-lining.

2. You focus on solutions.

You don’t dwell on ‘spilled milk.’ You want to fix the problem as soon as possible so you can move on. You know that most situations can be solved with a different perspective and an optimistic attitude.

3. You pursue your goals.

Your goals help you stay focused and motivated. From small milestones to big ones, every success means something to you. You don’t mind baby steps because you know it all adds up.

4. You don’t mind hard work.

You come in early when you can and leave late when you must. You’re willing to do extra work if need be to get the job done. You take pride in your work and you’re known to be reliable.

5. You keep your promises.

Your word is important to you. When you solemnly swear to someone to do something, you feel strongly motivated to come through.

6. You are constantly learning.

You immerse yourself in your industry. You take courses to become better. You surround yourself with knowledgeable people so you can learn from them and you’re not afraid to ask for help.

7. You are open to change.

You try to practice acceptance and feel that if it doesn’t go your way — it wasn’t meant to be and you’re OK with that. You believe that things happen for a reason and good things are coming for you.

8. You deal with stress well.

Staying balanced is important to you so you may have a mindful practice like meditating, prayer, or journaling. Whatever you do, having peace of mind is essential to your way of life. You’re not a stranger to self-help or motivational books.

9. You eat healthy.

You’re all about eating right because it supports your healthy lifestyle. You’re on the go a lot so you try and stay naturally energized by eat quality foods.

10. You stay in shape.

You work out because it helps with stress relief and the balance you crave. After a session at the gym, you think more clearly. You may hike or do outdoor activities because getting outside the office is part of your healthy outlook.

11. You dress for success.

You’ve taken to heart the saying, ‘Dress for the job you want.’ You want to be ready just in case a big opportunity knocks on your door. You dress in a way that showcases your professionalism and personal style.

12. You keep healthy relationships.

Your relationships are important to you. You make an effort to stay close with friends and family because it keeps you grounded. It’s not all about the grind for you because you believe – if you don’t have love, you don’t have much.

13. You have fun.

Life is full for you. Along with work and spending time with your family, you do fun stuff that makes you feel good. You instinctively subscribe to that saying, ‘All work and no play makes you dull and depressed.’ (Or something like that…)

14. You are grateful and humble.

You find many things to be blessings. You practice gratitude and show your appreciation wholeheartedly. You may not know how good you really are, but you know you got something to offer!

15. You have a life motto.

You have a driving force that makes you want to succeed in life. It can be as simple as the words of Nike – Just Do It. It may be moving like Jack Kerouac’s quote ‘Be in love with your life, every detail of it.’ Whether your motto is profound or prosaic, it gets your fire burning and has you living out your undeniable potential. (You got this!)

Featured photo credit: thetaxhaven via flickr.com

The post 15 Signs You Are Living Up To Your Potential (Though You Don’t Know You Are) appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

Why You Should Solve Your Own Problems: The Story of Designing My Own Blog Theme

The most important life lesson I’ve learned from the Internet is this: solve your own problems and share the solution.

Solve your own problem

Photo Credit: kmakice via Compfight cc

Why I Designed My Own Blog Theme (or Why You Should Solve Your Own Problems and Then Share the Solution)

 

Click to listen

 

If you want to get the kind of attention your work deserves and build an audience around your words, the best strategy is to share your struggles and talk about what you did to overcome them.

I first learned this lesson with my blog when I began writing about my own writing process and what I was routinely teaching other writers as a marketing director at a nonprofit.

For seven years, I helped creatives get unstuck and clarify their messages, all the while feeling confused about my own message. But the secret was hiding in my past, which I think is often the case.

The thing that you’re supposed to do with your life, your calling, isn’t some brand new thing waiting “out there” for you to discover it. It’s something you’ve already done, something old and neglected that you’re probably taking for granted.

Simply put, our greatest assets are the things we tend to overlook and ignore. So in the mundane, lies the extraordinary.

It starts with the problem

Recently, I faced a problem.

I wanted to redesign my website but couldn’t find any blog themes that I liked. There were some great resources out there that contained components of what I needed, but none had it all.

Regardless of whatever solution I chose, I was going to have to hire someone to customize it. Why not, I wondered, just hire someone to build me something completely customized?

And that’s just what I did.

You will need help

I wanted to solve this problem but knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I know virtually nothing about web development and can’t code my way out of a cardboard box.

My friend Martyn Chamberlin, however, is one of the most creative web developers I know. He’s smart both on the technical side, in terms of making the code work, as well as artistically savvy. He can make beautiful things that are functional, which is a rare skill.

Together, we worked on a custom WordPress theme that is just that: beautiful and functional. Leveraging Martyn’s experience as a fine artist and my experience in marketing, we focused on a  minimalistic design that drove conversions.

Perhaps most importantly, we created the kind of product we wanted to use ourselves. And then we took it one step further…

Share it with the world

It wasn’t enough for us to simply create something cool. We wanted others to experience what we made.

I believe firmly in this principle of sharing what you know and what you’ve learned with others. If you’ve solved your own problem, you have a responsibility to share the solution.

The idea is this: for those who struggled to find a web design that worked for them, as I did, maybe this is the answer. It’s not for everyone, of course, and that’s the point.

We built something that worked for us, which is what I’ve tried to do with everything I do online: offer solutions to my own problems and struggles, trusting there must be others out there like me.

Now, it’s your turn

The point in sharing all of this is to encourage you to go do likewise. If you know something that seems obvious to you, don’t assume it’s obvious to others. As Derek Sivers says in his book Anything You Want, maybe what’s obvious to you is amazing to others.

  • If you’ve been through a tragedy, be the comfort you wished someone would have given you.
  • If you failed in business before making it big, share the secrets that would’ve kept you from struggling.
  • If all you see around you is ugliness, create the art you wish someone else would make.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Pay it forward. Give so others may receive. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s a great way to make a living. I know, because this is what I’ve done.

And in the process, I’ve learned something: if you help enough people get what they want, you will never have to worry about what you want. You won’t need much because you’ve made it your mission to solve other people’s needs. The world has a way of rewarding such generosity.

Here’s how it works

The process looks something like this:

  1. Begin with a problem. Take a look at your normal, everyday struggles for clues of problems others may be facing. How could you turn that into something generous?
  2. Get help. See who resonates with your vision, who has the ability to help you realize the solution, and ask them to join your cause.
  3. Share it. Once you have your solution — whether it’s a book or a business or a piece of technology — then let people have it. You may need to charge for it or not; the model depends on what it is. The point is to not hoard your solution, to share it.

When you take your problems and turn them into something that gives back, something other people need, you create value. Which is attractive. It’s interesting and remarkable, the kind of thing that people talk about. When you do this, you just might be surprised by what happens next.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This all starts with identifying a problem, something that’s obvious to you that might be amazing to others. So start there, iterating as you go, until you find something that connects with people’s deep needs and your own passion.

That is the intersection we’re looking for — the place, as Frederick Buechner writes, “where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” It’s where you find your vocation, your unique contribution to the world.

Good luck finding it, and don’t forget to share what you learned.

Resources you should check out

Here are some books and resources worth checking out:

  • Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (a great book on starting things)
  • Now and Then by Frederick Buechner (a great book on finding your calling)
  • The Complete Guide to Launching a Blog in 8 Minutes or Less (a video tutorial on how get started with WordPress)
And if you’re shopping for a new blog theme, check out Tribe. It’s currently available to limited number of early bird users at an all-time low price. Be sure you walk through that video tutorial above first, though. Find out more here.

What’s a problem you’ve solved that others would benefit from hearing about? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

016: Lewis Schiff’s Road to Success: Monetization, Innovation, & Failure [Podcast]

Think back to when you were a kid. Did your mom tell you to chase your dreams and the money would follow? Maybe your dad encouraged you to choose a safe, secure career?

They were wrong.

Photo credit: Mark Sebastian via cc

Photo credit: Mark Sebastian via cc

When I read a great book, I’m often challenged to think differently about certain long-held beliefs I’ve carried around with me. The process can be scary, but I grow every time I face the discomfort and embrace change.

Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff (affiliate link) was, perhaps, the book that challenged me more than anything else I’ve read recently. It made me think deeply about the details and data in the study the author conducted, but there were just as many moments when I felt a shift in my own perspective.

In this episode of The Portfolio Life, we explore the secrets of success in any career and why these are the very things we most often resist.

Click to listen

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

What does success really look like?

Lewis Shiff wanted to understand success better, so he started asking important questions. When he surveyed both middle-class workers and self-made millionaires, he was surprised by what he found.

In fact, when I saw the results of the survey, it blew my mind, too. And just might do the same for you. As my guest put it:

Success doesn’t always look like what we think it looks like.
–Lewis Schiff (tweet that)

For those wanting to do something extraordinary with your work, Schiff says we have to be willing to break the mold most of us were raised in. We have to be willing to question our own assumptions about what it takes to succeed.

If you’ve ever thought of “going pro” as a writer, artist, or entrepreneur, then this next part is for you.

Don’t be afraid to monetize

Cirque du Soleil got its start when a group of artists banded together to found a non-profit, but they had a money problem.

They performed for the love of their art, but one of the founders, a clown by the name of Guy Laliberté, wanted to think bigger. They needed to move beyond being mere starving artists and get serious about turning their passion into profit.

The story of Cirque can seem a little too traditional. They chased a dream and found success, because that, we think, is what always happens when you pursue a passion. But that’s just not true.

Sometimes, we have to get practical. We can’t always hope the market will value what we do. Sometimes, we have to pursue the market. And that’s just what Laliberté and his band of clowns did.

This one shift in focus helped take a regional circus event and turn it into an international, billion-dollar enterprise, influencing the lives of millions of people.

Monetization isn’t just about chasing money; sometimes, it’s about thinking bigger.

Innovation isn’t what you think

When you think of some of the most innovative companies in the world, one company that probably doesn’t come to mind immediately is Kinko’s. But innovation, like success, can sometimes surprise us.

Schiff explains that great innovation is rarely the result of new ideas. It’s not about creativity, necessarily, as much as it’s about better execution.

In the case of Kinko’s, they took the traditional copy shop model and tweaked it into a 24-hour workspace that allowed customers to be productive on their own schedules. It was a small but significant adjustment that took the business to a whole new level.

The idea wasn’t unique, but the way they executed it was.

Sometimes, you come up with a great ideas only to feel deflated when you learn someone else has already done it. Of course, you don’t want to copy someone else’s work. You don’t want to be another Bill Gates.

Or do you?

The truth is everything is derivative. Microsoft Windows was built on Apple’s ideas, and Apple built their ideas by stealing from Xerox. Some of the greatest innovations the world has seen were imitations of someone else’s work.

The secret to innovation, then, isn’t coming up with new ideas. It’s executing on the ones you already have.

Nothing succeeds like failure

After Steve Jobs left Apple in the 1990s, he helped start a software company that quickly started to fail.

His solution? Instead of scrambling to promote the software, he became his own customer. The result was a little company you might have heard of.

It was called Pixar.

Look closely at the successful people in your field, paying special attention to their failures. Everyone has them. The key to that success often lies in how they turned those failures into a foundation instead of treating them as roadblocks.

You can do the same. Every obstacle is an opportunity, if you see it that way.

Don’t miss the rest

By choosing to embrace the idea of a portfolio life, I’ve taken the first step in breaking my own conventional thinking about how to build a career. Now, it’s your turn.

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast for more surprises about finding success for your passion. If you find this show helpful, I’d love an honest review on iTunes. I know it sounds silly, but your feedback helps us reach more people and learn what we’re doing right (as well as what we can improve).

You can also learn more about Lewis Schiff at his website, get his book here, or follow him on Twitter. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of his book. It’s one of the best I’ve read in the past year.

What traditional idea can you challenge today? Share in the comments.

Some of you have heard about a custom WordPress theme I’ve been developing for the past six months (with a friend who is way smarter than me). For the next week, the Tribe Theme will be available at a special low price. To ensure great support, we’re only offering 150 licenses. Based on past response, they’ll likely sell out soon, so check it out here. 


Goins, Writer

4 Methods To Find A Superstar Mentor – How To Talk to Nobelprize Winners, Presidents and CEOs

success

How do you talk to a Nobelprize winners like Daniel Kahneman, write emails with presidents, share a pizza with Martin Seligman or interview Paul Ekman and discuss coaching techniques with Europe’s best-paid coach? In this article I show you my favorite techniques to get in touch, hangout and learn from the superstars in your field.

Early on in life I learned that if you want to become really good at something, you have to learn from the best. But “the best” are often hard to reach, super expensive and super busy. So you need to develop some methods to get in touch with them and eventually learn from them. Here are my four favorite and extensively field-tested approaches:

1. The Quick-and-Dirty

At least twice a week I reach out to ueber-successful entrepreneurs, famous psychologists and other possible superstar mentors. Nowadays you can find almost everybody’s email address somewhere in the web. So sending your role-model a short email is an easy way to start an interaction.

Most of the time I use exactly the same email structure for all approaches and simply adapt it to the specific person. The mail should be as short as possible, concise and straight-to-the point.

This my typical 4 sentences email:

Dear Prof. Kaslow,

My name is Till and I’m a 22-year old psychology student (entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, author, blogger – whatever fits the occasion). I got asked to give a talk at the European Congress of Psychology, where I will give a talk on the topic of self-education (the reason why I am writing).

Since you are one of the most accomplished psychologists in the world right now, president of the APA, editor of journals, board member and have numerous other responsibilities (I show that I know who she is and what she is doing; and I flatter her), I have one quick question for you.

How important is it to have a good mentor? (a small, easy to answer question)

Respectfully yours,
Till

75% of the people actually answer. Though their answer is often a one-liner like “A mentor is important, but not essential”. The magic lies in keeping the conversation going and creating a stimulating interaction, which is not an easy task.

Using this structure I reached out and got answers from Nobel-Prize Winners, successful CEOs, MIT-professors, star psychologists and presidents of organizations. It is easy, quick and you have a huge success rate, but the hard part is to build a relationship from there.

2. Creativity & Courage

The best thing you can do is to make a possible mentor actually interested in you. Obviously this is not an easy task but it can be a lot of fun and the benefits are definitely worth the struggle. Also, the only limits you have are your own creativity and courage.

Simply being creative and courageous is sometimes enough to catch the attention of a possible mentor. Your creative act can be completely unrelated to your mentor’s profession or your field of interest. A great example is Jerome Jarre. I met the vine guy at a TEDx event two years ago. One of his strategies to connect with business leaders, was to walk up to, for example, the CFO of Facebook and ask him to play rock, paper, scissors with him. If he wins he gets a meeting with him. This is completely unrelated to their profession but it is definitely creative.

Another method is to display your skill in a creative way. I did this when I tried to contact Roman Braun, the best-paid coach in Europe. I knew he worked with clinical hypnosis. So after a couple of failed attempts to get his attention I wrote him a letter that was actually a hypnotic trance induction. The letter read like this:

“…and while your eyes glide over the lines, you can notice how your breath goes in and out completely unconsciously and pleasantly relaxing and becoming aware of what will only put you in the nice and sound state of enjoyable comfort….”

This continued over the next 6-pages. After ignoring my prior mails he actually answered to this letter and I got a 3,500 € scholarship for his next seminar.

So summon all your creative spirits and just go out there and try it.

 

3. For the Long Haul aka Hustle

Let’s face it, some of the people I contacted charge up to 1,500$  per hour and are continuously surrounded by some of the smartest and most creative minds of our planet. So I could be as creative as I want and it still took me nowhere and I failed to make an impression on the person. But there is one-method that is almost fool-proof. When I started reaching out to people I focused extensively on this method and it worked almost every time. I recently found out that Charlie Hoehn actually mastered this technique to incredible high degree.

What I would do is, I would approach famous therapists or coaches and tell them I wanted to attend their workshops but I don’t have the money, still I am incredibly motivated and willing to work off the costs. So basically I offered them free work (as Charlie Hoehn would call it).

Almost every single time the person agreed and they let me work for them. So I did stuff like selling their books, doing marketing, promoting their workshops, working in their office and other small tasks. In return I would get a spot in their workshops.

But here is the important thing: Not just do the job but actually dazzle them with your effort. One time a well-known German therapist was kind of skeptical and told me I should prove how motivated I am. To prove it I should sell some of his books over the next month. Within the next 24 hours I sold almost all of them. He was so intrigued by my effort that he invited me over, let me attend his seminar and even gave me a real job. Half-a-year later he took it a step further and I was travelling through whole Germany giving talks in his name in front of hundreds of people at the age of 19.

Everybody loves good work and if it is for free they love it even more. Offer them a clear idea of what you can do for them and then exceed their expectations. Free work is your foot in the door and then you can easily work your way up.

 

4. Leveraging existing structures

All of the prior methods rely on your ability to contact stars of a field and enchant them one way or the other. It also means that you need to work your way up all by yourself. This can take time and a lot of effort, but it creates a stronger bond and a solid mentor-mentee relationship. By using existing structures you can meet the luminary of your field with less effort. However, when you do this it is very important to create a situation where you are not just a fan but rather a colleague or somebody else with a certain status or position.

My two favorite ways to easily meet and talk to an important person at almost equal footing is by volunteering at conferences or interviewing them.

When you volunteer at a conference always try to be responsible for the speakers. This way you get a lot of opportunities to interact with your hero on a more personal basis.

The other method is to ask a big magazine if they are interested in an interview with a certain person. Nowadays everybody is looking for quality content so they are very likely to say yes. Then just reach out to the person and interview him. This is a great way to have a chat and even build some sort of connection. (Tim Ferriss actually gave me this idea to approach stars like this)

Two recent examples of how I did it:

Two weeks ago I was in Berlin at the International Positive Psychology Congress where I worked as a translator for the German speakers. How did I get this chance? I just wrote the organizer an email and hustled for a spot in the team. I never did translation work before. Being part of the team I got the chance to go to lunch with guys like Martin Seligman and Robert Biswas-Diener or chat casually with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who are the stars at the positive psychology sky

The chance to talk to Paul Ekman came up by interviewing him for lifehack. So I used the prestige and structure of the lifehack magazine to talk to one of the greatest psychologists of our time and ask him a bunch of questions.

I continuously hone my skills in finding mentors and getting in touch with important persons, because I noticed how it contributed to my own development. I think there is hardly anything more valuable than directly learning from the greatest minds of our time. So go out and reach for the stars. Literally.

Featured photo credit: seeveeaar via flickr.com

The post 4 Methods To Find A Superstar Mentor – How To Talk to Nobelprize Winners, Presidents and CEOs appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

015: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities: Counterintuitive Advice from Author Ryan Holiday [Podcast]

You know the feeling. You’ve just created something special, and you’re afraid to launch it. What if no one cares? What if no one reads my blog post? What if no one buys my book? What if I fail?

Photo credit: John Lodder via cc

Photo credit: John Lodder via cc

Ryan Holiday has been there. He always wanted to be a writer but early on realized it wasn’t enough to just write well about a great idea. He needed to understand how to present that message first to a publisher and then to an audience.

In this episode of the podcast, Ryan shares how he used what he didn’t know as an opportunity to grow.

Click to listen

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

The lost art of apprenticeship

Most of us think that to be a writer or an artist or anything, we need to just study our craft. We imagine (or dread) going back to school to get another degree or having to spend years practicing before we can start doing it for real. But Ryan Holiday chose another path.

He realized he could learn a lot more about writing and marketing books by studying at the feet of people doing exactly what he wanted to learn. Instead of learning theories, he decided to get more practical experience.

So Ryan packed up his pride and started reaching out. He met an author who was working on a book and saw an opportunity. Ryan loved to research, so he offered his help for free, agreeing to do whatever the author needed in return for the opportunity to learn.

He created an apprenticeship for himself.

Lessons learned

As Ryan worked with more and more successful people, including Tim Ferriss and Robert Greene, he started studying their approach to obstacles. Rarely did they get tripped up by impediments in their path. Instead, they invariably turned those barriers into opportunities.

We can do this, too.

Every day, each of us faces the difference between how we want things to be and how they really are. What makes us succeed or fail is how we respond to those differences (you can tweet that, if you want).

After years of learning, here’s Ryan’s advice on what to do with obstacles:

  • Worried no one will care about what you’re writing? Know your audience. Write the book they want to read, and trust people will buy it.
  • Afraid your work isn’t worth what you’re charging? Be generous. Bundle content and offer great bonuses and see how people want to return the favor.
  • Scared your message will get lost in a crowded market? Experiment with new things. Do what no one else is doing yet. Pioneer something. Being first to a new market is a great way to establish yourself as a leader

Are you struggling?

If you’re one of those who struggles to reach your goals, if you feel like no one will read your blog or buy your book or fund your startup, then you might find some ideas to try in Ryan’s book, The Obstacle Is the Way.

The suggestions might be counterintuitive and might take some effort, but I encourage you to pick it up and try something different. You can get it here from Amazon, or get it free when you sign up for Audible, the audiobook resource I use (note: those are affiliate links).

As for me, I’m still finding ways to grow and learn, too. Ryan suggests that we go where there’s the least competition and be a pioneer. That’s what I’m trying to do with this podcast. If you’re enjoying it, I’d love for you to leave an honest review, tweet about it, or share it with your friends on Facebook.

You can also subscribe by copying and pasting this URL into the podcast player of your choice: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePortfolioLifeJeffGoins

What is standing in the way of your success? How could you turn that into an opportunity? Share in the comments below.


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.

Benefits of Acquiring Independent CPD Provider Accreditation;

  • 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.