7 Lessons I Learned from My Job-hunting Experiences

Job Interview Image

Job Interview Image
Among the many ironies of the so-called ‘real world’ is not getting the job when I knew I gave my best interview. For instance, there was this firm I really wanted to work for and I was thrilled to be invited to interview on two separate occasions, only to be rejected both times. I was devastated for the next 24 hours, but I got over it. As of today, I’ve been part of the labor force for six years and I’ve had four regular jobs and a variety of freelance projects on the side. It doesn’t make me an expert, but I sure have learned lessons from every job application that somehow proved to be valuable when applied in my subsequent interviews (Hint: I’m a few days away from celebrating my second year at my present job).

Today, I’m sharing with you the lessons I’ve learned in my personal job-hunting experiences and how they can help you avert unnecessary stress when you’re attending that interview.

1. Read the directions when taking exams.

Following this single piece of advice can help you, not just in getting the job, but also in saving yourself from embarrassment. You wouldn’t want to look back to a job that you almost had but didn’t get because you encircled the letters of your answers only to find out that the directions specified to use boxes. There are companies who segregate candidates’ exams according to those who followed the instructions and those who didn’t, and consider the latter rejected. This helps hiring personnel judge how applicants respond to instructions and if they are detail oriented.

Then again, following exam instructions shouldn’t mean that you can’t be creative with your answers. Before I got hired for my first real job, I took a barrage of tests that looked like a college entrance exam. But the part that left an indelible mark in my mind was the test where I had to complement a subject with a predicate. I didn’t want to be remembered as a boring writer applicant so I gave answers that I thought were witty. I’m not sure whether my brand of humor appealed to the supervisor, but I got the job. So unless you’re dead sure you can inspire a revolution in how the company views defiance of exam rules, deliberate disobedience or mere recklessness can take a backseat in your job hunting.

2. Don’t just rehearse answering the basic questions; anticipate the trivial ones.

If you’ve been in the job-seeking arena for quite some time, you’ve probably mastered the skill of answering the omnipresent interview questions (read: ‘How you see yourself in five years?’ ‘Why should you be hired?’ and ‘What you can contribute to the company’s growth?’). More often than not, it is tradition that dictates the inclusion of these questions on the list of a company’s interview protocol. However, a lot of hiring managers have outgrown this custom and began injecting fresh ideas into their interview guidelines. I remember a former boss asking me in a final interview what my worst trait was, while some inquire as far as the book you’re currently reading (that is, if you read at all) just to get a better idea of your personality.

While it’s all right to prepare for the orthodox questions, you also have to consider the possibility that you’ll encounter something unconventional, or at least something you haven’t heard of. You don’t have to know what exactly the hiring manager will ask you, but it could help if you brush up on unique interview questions online. The point is that you don’t flinch upon hearing a question you didn’t rehearse for. Plus, anticipating trivial inquiries can help you become more self-aware and confident.

3. Sell yourself but do not lie.

One of the challenges I faced in my neophyte stages of job-hunting was describing myself. If it were up to me, I’d rather have the interviewer ask something—anything—about me and I’d give an honest answer. The thing is, the hiring staff needed to prove the part of my résumé where I said I had excellent written and verbal communication skills, and they gave me a chance to demonstrate both. Over time, these same experiences, as well as the skills I gained in my previous jobs, made me realize that selling myself to an interviewer wasn’t as complicated as I saw it.

You might think that there will always be applicants who are better than you, and you’re probably right. But if you really want to get the job, you have to make your case stronger by talking about your skills and your accomplishments. There are times, however, when people go as far as exaggerating their stories or lie blatantly just to get the job. It may be tempting to sugarcoat your achievements but remember that when you get hired and your boss discovers your lie, your reputation and your job will be on the line.

4. Dress up for the job but do not sacrifice comfort.

The kind of outfit you should wear to interviews depends on the company you’re applying to. Firms that have long been established often stick to wearing formal ensembles, while startup companies tend to be more lenient with their dress code and allow for smart casual outfits. Most job postings these days include the details of the company’s attire policies, but in case it isn’t provided, you can ask the hiring staff when you confirm your interview schedule. However, just because the HR tells you to wear something ‘smart casual’ doesn’t mean you can get away with jeans and black-rimmed spectacles.

Dress like it’s your first day on your new job. Gentlemen, get yourselves a decent pair of trousers, a crisp button down shirt, and dress shoes. Ladies, wear your best skirt or slacks, a nice blouse or a chic dress, and a pair of heels that you can actually walk on. If heels aren’t your thing, wear flats that scream business. Also, don’t be afraid to put on a dash of color using light makeup. Avoid anything that you still have to break into, such as new shoes, unless you fancy risking blisters on your feet on the day of your interview. Skip anything that doesn’t fit comfortably but don’t go overboard in dressing up. A wrong choice of outfit can affect your disposition and might even sabotage your chances of impressing potential employers.

5. Make friends with other applicants.

Making friends with your fellow applicants has its merits. For one thing, talking to someone while waiting can help you relax your nerves, and for another, it helps you expand your professional network. Your job application can only have two outcomes—either you get it or you don’t. Either way, good friends in the field can point you to other opportunities and vice versa.

However, engaging fellow candidates shouldn’t be invasive either. Keep the conversation to a professional level; your biographies can wait until you’ve added each other on Facebook. Also, bear in mind that some people might simply want to keep to themselves, so take a hint from their body language if they mind small talk.

6. Bring a book that you enjoy reading.

I mentioned earlier that some interviewers ask applicants about the books they’ve read, but why would they want to know? An applicant who likes to read communicates openness to new ideas and the will to learn new things. Case in point: if you want to up your chances of getting your dream job and make a good impression, become more interesting by reading different kinds of material.

My love for reading is a habit that easily manifested as I entered the world of employment. It didn’t matter what book I was reading, I’d bring it to the interview and read while waiting for my turn. Apart from saving me from boredom, it also served as an easy icebreaker when other applicants jumped into conversation. Furthermore, describing myself in the interview became easier because I could talk about reading, among other things.

7. Remember that at the end of the day, the person who will interview you is human.

Job interviews can be nerve-racking the first few times you do it and even more so when (a) it’s a big ticket job you’re trying to get; (b) if the person who’s interviewing you is a company executive; or (c) both. And while there are some hiring managers who take pleasure in intimidating candidates, many of them are simply doing their job. To be fair, what they do isn’t as easy as it looks. Nevertheless, it’s convenient to blame hiring personnel when we don’t get the job, but it is the higher ups who ultimately decide your fate as far as their company is concerned.

Still, the recommendation of the hiring manager can affect your overall evaluation, and this is where making a good first impression comes in. Show up for the interview on time, make eye contact, shake people’s hands firmly, dress sharp, and do your homework. What the interviewer will say about you may not be within your control but you can definitely do something to earn brownie points.

Relax, it’s just an interview. And while getting the job would be fantastic, a rejection shouldn’t define your entire career.

Featured photo credit: job interview image via ixdaily.com

The post 7 Lessons I Learned from My Job-hunting Experiences appeared first on Lifehack.

15 Best Places to Live Abroad for Expats

expat

expat

Many of us dream of living abroad but can often be scared to make such a big change to our routine lifestyles and leave our home countries behind. Daunting as it may be, living abroad can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor and can give you the quality of life you have been looking for.

From a warmer climate to a more easy going way of life, there are many foreign countries favored by expats who stay for a long time – and sometimes forever. Taking into consideration livings standards, opportunities and social aspects, here are our top 15 best places to live as an expat and why.

1. China

China

China offers expats great employment opportunities with little competition. Those who embrace the culture and decide they want to live in China long term can see a host of employment opportunities as its economy is growing rapidly every year. Economists predict it will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2018. China also offer expats low living costs and high disposable incomes, which is why many look to live here for a higher quality of life.

Shanghai and Beijing are the most popular destinations for expats who live in China.

2. Thailand

Thailand

A hot spot for expats, the ‘land of smiles’ as it’s commonly known offers expats a tropical climate, a huge array of sandy beaches and islands to explore, and a rich culture. The cost of living in Thailand is extremely low, and when combined with the friendly tax system means that disposable income can be very high.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, offers expats great employment opportunities.

3. Switzerland

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Another popular destination for expats, Switzerland offers exciting employment packages and a high standard of living. It’s great for those who love the outdoors, as there are many beautiful lakes, mountains to hike in and skiing in the winter. The school standards for expats are also excellent, making it appealing for those with children. English is also widely spoken so day-to-day living can be stress free.

Unemployment in Switzerland is low and expats moving here don’t need to worry too much about finding a job before they arrive.

4. Australia

Australia

Many foreigners who visit Australia don’t want to leave as it offers a great quality of life, beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Making friends in Australia is easy too, due to the lack of language barrier and the large number of expats who already live here. Australia is a great place to move to if you have children because of its wide range of schooling possibilities and recreational outdoor activities.

Low population levels and high quality of life are two of the main reasons expats choose Australia as a place to live.

5. Singapore

singapore

Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. Although education is expensive here, it is rated one of the top places for raising children abroad due to the quality of the education system and the array of schools.

Public transport such as buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are cheap and very reliable in Singapore.

6. South Korea

Jeonju, South Korea

South Korea offers expats a unique range of opportunities and a very different way of living. Jobs for expats are easy to find and usually very well paid, with apartments provided by the employer on the most part making living costs even lower. There are also many tight-knit expat communities in South Korea, making it easy to socialize and meet new friends. The excellent education system is also a pro for families wanting to move to this culture-rich country.

South Korea has a cheap public healthcare system and offers great medical care, with most doctors speaking English.

7. New Zealand

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New Zealand is constantly on the lookout for skilled workers to expedite to the country – especially those under the age of 30 – and skilled migrants can be granted a stay for up to five years. It offers a good climate and although income levels can be lower than other countries, quality of life is high, with its awe-inspiring scenery, low crime rate and state sponsored healthcare.

New Zealand is great for those looking for a laid back and active outdoors lifestyle.

8. Canada

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Its national healthcare system, friendly locals and very high quality of life are just a few of the reason expats choose Canada as a place to live. It’s very welcoming to expats and skills shortages encourage foreigners to move here in order for the country to grow economically. It’s easy for expats to feel comfortable quickly in Canada due to its multicultural environment.

Canada was largely unaffected by the economic crisis, making it a very popular country for expats.

9. Qatar

qatar

Qatar is becoming increasingly popular among expats with an estimated 500 new arrivals every day. The salaries are generous and are tax free too, making disposable income very high. Car and housing allowances are part of many remuneration packages, and education for your children and airfares are often included.

The cost of living is lower in Qatar than in other UAE countries but salaries can still be just as generous.

10. Hong Kong

hong kong

Where east truly meets the west, this bustling island has a population of over seven million people. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment and an active nightlife, Hong Kong is definitely the place to be. Benefits for expats include its advanced healthcare system and elevated standards of schooling for children, along with great employment opportunities. The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high, so trying to negotiate a housing allowance with your employer can be beneficial.

Hong Kong is great for those looking for high incomes and career advancement.

11. Japan

japan

As an expat destination, Japan offers a rich culture and a chance to experience a very different day-to-day life. Currently around two million expats live in Japan, and in the larger cities such as Tokyo a large portion of the population speaks English. English speakers are also in demand and there are a large number of opportunities for language teachers, especially in the capital.

Japan offers a high standard of living for expats and a good education system for those with children.

12. Spain

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Spain is a very popular destination for expats due to the high temperatures and year-round sunshine. EU residents don’t require a visa to work here, meaning the move can be a lot easier. Skilled foreign workers also continue to be in demand with jobs such as engineering, customer service, skilled trades and language teachers widely available.

A huge 14% of Spain’s population are expats from a variety of foreign countries.

13. Dubai

Dubai

Two of the main attractions of moving to Dubai are the tax-free salaries and the warm climate. Some of the most popular jobs for expats are in construction, banking, oil and tourism. You can also enjoy a busy social life in Dubai as the expat community is thriving. Although it can be an expensive country, the tax-free salary means you experience a higher quality of life than in other countries.

You will need a work permit, residence visa and an Emirates ID card to live in Dubai as an expat.

14. Germany

Germany

Germany is one of Europe’s most populous countries, with around 82.4 million people. It’s a lively and inexpensive country to live in as an expat, and if you have children the education system is great and healthcare is to a high standard. An estimated 250,000 expats live in Germany currently, with the numbers rising every year.

If you are already an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany.

15. The Netherlands

holland

The Netherlands is a great place for expats who love the outdoors. Cycling is one of the main modes of transport and looking after the environment is widely recognized. There are a lot of English speakers in the Netherlands too, but learning the language can work to your advantage and make day-to-day life that little bit easier. Skilled expats can also benefit from a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% if they meet the correct criteria.

It is often more important to be able to speak fluent English than to speak Dutch when looking for employment in the Netherlands.

Featured photo credit: Expat via shutterstock.com

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20 WordPress Plugins You Need To Make Your Blog Awesome

20 WordPress Plugins To Make Your Blog Awesome

Great plugins are awesome. Great and free plugins are even more awesome. WordPress has a directory full of 34,000+. We went through all 34,000 and chose our top 20 WordPress plugins to make your blog awesome. You’re welcome.

For Backend Security & Analytics

1. Anit-spam

Avoid getting spam comments by using the Anti-spam plugin. The best part is your readers don’t have to type in captcha. Anti-spam believes that humans shouldn’t have to prove they’re human.

AntiSpam

Anti-spam plugin page

2. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO helps you write better content. It forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere. This is the perfect plugin to boost your blog’s SEO.

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WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin page

3. Jetpack

Jetpack gives you all the WordPress.com features for you to use on your self-hosted WordPress blog! It’s a quick and easy way for you to check your blog stats straight from your dashboard. It also gives you the option to allow email subscriptions for your blog’s posts and comments.

3jetpackJetpack plugin page

4. GA Google Analytics

This is a simple way to insert your tracking code to view your blog’s stats in your Google account.

4gagoogleanalyticsGA Google Analytics Plugin Page

5. Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics Dashboard gives you the ability to view your Google Analytics data in your WordPress dashboard. As long as your tracking code is inserted (via GA Google Analytics), you can see detailed analytics info and statistics such as number of visits, number of visitors, bounce rates, organic searches, pages per visit and more. 5googleanalyticsdashboardGoogle Analytics Dashboard

For Productivity

6. Editorial Calendar

The amazing editorial calendar gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. Drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog!

6editorialcalendarEditorial Calendar Plugin Page

7. Duplicate Post

The duplicate post plugin gives you the ability to clone a post or a page. This is very useful for posts or pages that you’d like formatted exactly the same. After cloning a page, you can just add content without having to format the page to match the others.

7duplicatepostDuplicate Post Plugin Page

8. Organize Series

The Organize Series WordPress Plugin helps with the organization and presentation of articles/posts you write as part of a series. It helps make it easier for readers of your blog to discover all the series you’ve written and also to easily find post that are part of the same series. 8organizeseries18organizeseries2Organize Series Plugin Page

9. CMS Page Tree View

CMS Page Tree View adds a tree overview of all your pages and custom posts to WordPress – much like the view often found in a page-focused CMS platfrom. Within this tree you can edit pages, view pages, add pages, search pages, and drag and drop pages to rearrange the order.

CMS Page Tree ViewCMS Tree Page View Plugin Page

10. PhotoDropper

PhotoDropper allows you to find and upload images into your content from within WordPress. The plugin contains millions of free & premium images. The best part is – you can find and upload images in just a few clicks, saving you a lot of precious time.

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PhotoDropper Plugin Page

For Engagement

11. Wordpress Notification Bar

Add a quick and easy sticky easy notification bar to your blog with the WordPress Notification Bar plugin. Prompt users to subscribe to your blog or make a purchase with a simple call-to-action button!

WP Notification BarWP Notification BarWordPress Notification Bar Plugin Page

12. Click To Tweet

Allow your audience to post your tweetworthy content to their Twitter timeline with the click of a button. ClickToTweet allows you to easily create tweetable content for your readers. Use pullquotes and custom messages inside the body of your blog post to highlight your content for the reader and make it simple for them to share on Twitter. Click to TweetClick to TweetClick To Tweet Plugin Page

13. PopupAlly

PopupAlly allows you to create advanced popup signup forms in under 5 minutes, even if you don’t know code. PopupAlly’s visual editor allows you to customize the look-and-feel of your popups with an instant preview, saving you lots of time. This plugin also has a great exit-intent feature which means you can prompt a “But, wait! There’s more!” pop-up when users are about to leave your site. PopupAlly PluginPopupAlly Plugin Page

14. Related Posts

Increase your readers’ engagement with your posts by adding Related Posts in the footer of your content. Automatically added Related Posts can increase your internal traffic up to 10%. Related Posts PluginRelated Posts PluginRelated Posts Plugin Page

15. Pay with a tweet

This plugin allows your visitors to download files after publishing a tweet onto their Twitter account. Add “pay with a tweet” links easily with a simple shortcode. When a user pays for content with a tweet, you can recognize and engage with them through your social media. Pay With A TweetPay With a Tweet Plugin Page

Social Sharing

16. Pinterest Hover Pin It Button

This is the official Pinterest Hover Pin It button for WordPress. This plugin enables a Pin It button over all of your images that are at least 120×120.

Pinterest PluginPinterest Hover Pin It Button Plugin Page

17. Social Share by AddtoAny

The WordPress sharing plugin to help people share, bookmark, and email your posts and pages using any service, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, Reddit, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and well over 100 more sharing and social bookmarking sites. AddToAny’s customizable platform and social share icons let you optimize your site’s blog posts & pages for the best social sharing engagement. social Share By AddtoAnysocial Share By AddtoAnySocial Share by AddtoAny Plugin Page

18. Simplified Social Share

Let users share your web contents on over 50 social networks resulting into drastic increase in referral traffic. Simplified Social SharingSimplified Social SharingSimplified Social SharingSimple Social Share Plugin Page

19. Floating Social Media Icon

Link customized social icons to your social media profiles. The icons will appear at the bottom right of each page and will stay there even if a user scrolls the page, thus floating.

Floating Social Media IconLive Demo Here    |   Floating Social Media Plugin Page

20. Share by SumoMe

Add floating share buttons on the left side of your blog. Not only does SumoMe make it easy for your readers to share your content, but you can track what’s being shared the most and which social media platform people are using most frequently.

Share by SumoMeShare by SumoMeShare by SumoMeSumoMe Plugin Page

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How to See The Light in Others

seethelight

Some people have talents and qualities hidden inside them that simply have yet to be discovered. Sometimes it’s because they lack the confidence or opportunity to show their strengths, and other times it is because they don’t know their own talents. It can take just one person to bring out the best in someone. You have the ability to help others help themselves and discover what makes them unique and valuable. Who knows, maybe someone will do the same for you some day. Here are some words of advice on how to see the light in others.

Featured photo credit: Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof/marketing deluxe via flic.kr

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When Someone You Love Is Having a Tough Time, Remind Them of These 20 Things

Hug by Mary R. Vogt

If someone you love is having a tough time right now, there are some things that you can remind them of which will help them trough their difficulties. Whatever you say to someone who is struggling, the most important thing is to ensure your tone of voice and demeanor is appropriate. Remind your loved one of the following things in a warm, encouraging way, and not in a “pull your socks up” way. Your approach will make all the difference to the response you get.

1. It’s OK Not to Be OK

When people are struggling, they often make themselves feel worse by placing unrealistic expectations on themselves. They beat themselves up for having a problem and feeling unable to cope with it. Remind your loved one that they are no less of a person just because they are facing something challenging right now. You love them and will support them in good times and bad.

2. You’re Not Alone

Identifying with the person who is struggling can help them feel better. They realize, then, that they are not bearing the weight of the world alone. Remind them that others have had this problem, and that they already have found a way through it. Just knowing that they are not alone can help them feel less lonely and more hopeful. Encourage your loved one to join a support group or forum if appropriate.

3. Let Go of Blame

Sometimes when people are struggling, they either want to blame themselves or other people for their circumstances. It’s OK to initially express anger and frustration, but wallowing in feelings of unfairness or blame will make them feel worse and wastes their energy. Help your loved one to see that the way out their difficulties is in looking for solutions and not in assigning blame or hanging onto angry feelings.

4. Struggles Make You Stronger

Wisdom, strength and resilience can all be built from the foundations of tough times. Help your loved one to see how they’re growing as a person, even if they feel like they’re going through hell. It’s so important not to be glib  or patronizing when you’re saying this ‒ actually tell your loved one the new strengths you see in them.

5. Take a Step Back

People going through tough times often lose perspective, because they feel so mired in the problem itself. Reminding someone to step back from the situation can help them to see things in a fresh light, and will help them find new solutions.

6. Nothing Lasts Forever

The terrible thing about really tough times is that they feel like they will go on forever. But, in reality, nothing lasts forever ‒ not even the most horrible emotions or the direst circumstances. Reminding your loved one of this can help them gain perspective and feel comforted at the same time.

7. Take Things Step By Step

Tough times can often bring complex and confusing feelings, and those who are struggling may feel paralyzed and unable to make decisions. Remind them that they don’t have to solve the whole problem at once. If they just do the next right thing, they will start to make progress.

8. Look For The Open Door

When life shuts one door, another one will always open. Losing something will always lead to new opportunities, but only if you are open to them. Remind your loved one to stay alert to fresh opportunities and solutions.

9. Just Do Your Best

People who are struggling can put so much pressure on themselves to get things right that they feel even more upset when they don’t meet their own unrealistic expectations. Remind them that as long as they just do their best, that’s all that matters. They are human, after all. Their best is good enough.

10. You’ve Come Through Tough Times Before

If someone you love is having a hard time, it may be difficult for them to see their strengths. Reminding them that they have already survived tough times before can show them that there is an end in sight, and that they have the strength to reach it.

11. You’re Brave

Most people who are struggling refuse to acknowledge how strong and brave they actually are. They may see themselves as weak and scared. Remind them that courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the willingness to go on even when you’re afraid.

12. There Is Something Good in Each Day

Going through difficulties can lead to a negative mindset. If someone is really going through a desperately hard time, and dealing with something like depression, being all happy-clappy with them won’t work. But do ask them about the good things in their life, what has gone well, and what they have achieved. It will help them to see a glimmer of hope, even in the darkness.

13. Look at What You’re Gaining

Even when someone has a difficult problem, there will always be an upside to it. Whether it’s finding out who their true friends are when they’re struggling, or having the opportunity to develop patience, strength and problem-solving abilities, there will always be a silver lining. Help your loved one to find it.

14. It’s Not Your Fault

Sometimes when people are struggling, they take their problems very personally, almost believing that their difficulties are sent in some way to punish them. If your loved one is doing this, reminding them that it’s not their fault can help them feel relieved.

15. Well Done

Validating someone for their efforts when they’re having a miserable time can make a big difference in their day. If someone is struggling, they may not acknowledge their own hard work. Giving them praise can help them feel rewarded and appreciated..

16. Focus on Now

Often people make their tough times even tougher by worrying about the future or fretting about the past. They may add to their misery by letting themselves think back to all the times life has treated them badly or that they’ve failed before; or they may fear that their current difficulty will lead to yet more problems. Remind them to focus on now, because that’s the only part of the story they can change at the moment.

17. Nothing Is Ever the End of the World

Very few problems, however big or small, can actually stop you from breathing. You can encourage your loved one by reminding them that everything is survivable and beatable. They will find a way of dealing with this issue, however tough, if only they keep trying.

18. Be Kind To Yourself

When someone is going through a hard time, they may feel so frustrated by their problems that they resort to beating themselves up or not allowing themselves a minute of reprieve from the issue. Remind your loved one that tough times are easier when we’re kind to ourselves. They are allowed “time off” from their problem to have a laugh, treat themselves, and be around good people. Relieving stress can actually help them to come back to the problem refreshed and recharged.

19. People Want to Help

If your loved one is suffering, they may believe that they have to go through it all by themselves. They may not want to burden others with their problems, and won’t want to ask for help. Remind them that most people are amenable to helping; in fact, helping feels good. The reason people have different strengths is precisely so that they can help each other. Encourage your loved one to seek extra help should they need it.

20. I’m There For You

The strength of these words can not be underestimated. Letting your loved one know that you’re there for them, and that you will listen to their feelings, dry their tears, or even just be around, can mean everything to someone going through hell. Just being a non-judgmental, caring presence in your loved one’s life can make a massive difference in how they feel and how they cope.

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How To Reclaim Your Mornings

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Mornings are rough. Most of us should be applauded simply for getting out of bed. There are, however, an intriguing group of individuals who are referred to as “morning people”. They show up to work or school cheerful, excited, and most importantly — fully awake and functional. It’s quite fascinating really.

But you can be a morning person, too! Take a look at the infographic above for tips on what to do and what not to do at night, in the morning, and even once you get to work. I know I’m personally especially guilty of using my electronics right up until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, but that’s got to change. Hopefully by following this guide you’ll find yourself waking up feeling more alert, energized, and ready to take on the world.

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Take Back Your Mornings #infographic | Visualistan

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15 New, Must-Read Business Books for Achieving Success

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Growing up as a kid, I never exposed myself to books unless I absolutely had to. Sometimes I’d “have to” read a book and write up a report. Other times, I’d “have to” read a book to prepare for an exam of some sort. To sum it up: unless I had some required reading to do for school, you’d never see me reading.

Fast forward into my late teens. I started becoming interested in the notion of “Why.”

Why do some people succeed in life and business, while others get left behind? After talking to or studying some of the most successful people I could think of at the time, I learned something special that nearly all of them had in common—they read books. Lots of books.

And that’s when I asked myself the following question:

“If successful people keep saying they became successful by reading books about what they were passionate about—and then taking action on what they learned—then why couldn’t I do the same?”

Today, I read about a book or two per week. In fact, reading is part of what I do for a living. I imagine that if I were to have a conversation with the 14-year-old version of myself, I’d have a pretty tough time convincing him of how much of a dorky book worm I’ve turned into.

In this article, I’d like to share with you 15 new, must-read business books for achieving success in your professional career. This list is filled with gems. Ready? Let’s go.

1. Zero To One by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

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This book is a collection of lectures delivered by billionaire investor and founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, during his teaching years at Stanford. Along with co-author (and former student) Blake Masters, Thiel has put together a hard-hitting set of standards for entrepreneurs, startups, and thought-leaders to carefully consider when building the “next big thing” of the future. Quite frankly, certain sections of the book are so ridiculously well put together that one just sits there and thinks after reading them. Chapter after chapter, Thiel gives example after example of how to successfully build the future.

2. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

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If you honestly believe in the possibility of a brighter future for the way we work and how our organizations are led, then this is not recommend reading—this is required reading. Leaders Eat Last lays out idea after idea that provokes us to think about whether we need to overhaul our approach to leadership completely. In this book, Sinek explains why leaders must replace “Command & Control” models of management with more sustainable approaches, that are grounded in empathy and designed to boost engagement and a sense of “family” that we’ve all wished we could experience in the workplace. Pick this book up to gain an understanding of what it truly means to be part of a team, and how to cultivate an environment that fosters it if it’s something you currently lack at work.

3. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolutioninnovators

If you’ve ever wondered what makes the most innovative people in the business and tech world tick, then this book is for you.

4. Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyalhooked

If you’re interested in learning the mechanics of what goes into designing habit-forming products, then this book is for you. In this book, author Nir Eyal breaks down the ingredients of a habit-forming product, and uses supporting examples to clarify his points, so that you can really learn how to implement the triggers that popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and Google have used in order to get us “hooked” on their products. If you’re at all interested in learning what it takes to create products that help others create positive habits in life and business, this episode is for you.

5. Mindset by Carol Dweckmindset 

After decades of research on achievement and success, Carol Dweck shows us how the power of our mindset can contribute to our success in life and business. It’s more than just skills and abilities—it’s about how we approach things in life: are you cultivating a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset?” Reach your goals and raise your quality of life with this book on psychological mastery—and how to put it to use.

6. Crazy Is a Compliment by Linda Rottenbergcrazy-compliment

If you’ve been called crazy for your business ideas, or if people don’t seem to understand what you understand—then this book is a way for you to cope and collect the inspiration and insight you need to forge ahead and do what you love—successfully.

7. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeauthe-happiness-of-pursuit-chris-guillabaeue

What good does all your business know-how do you if you’re not in the moment, enjoying the journey?This book is about the patterns of happiness author Chris Guillebeau has recognized in successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and change-makers around the world. What he noticed was simple: they were happiest throughout each of their individual journeys—not necessarily when they finally achieved a specific goal they were after. Essential reading for anyone who wants to extract as much fulfillment out of life as possible.

8. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwaldervalue-proposition

This is a hard-hitting book that equips people and teams with the tools to drive meaningful, productive, collaboration towards creating and building the future.

9. How to Speak Money by John Lanchesterhow-to-speak-money-cover

If confusing algorithms and number-crunching financial talk confuses you, then How to Speak Money is for you. In this book, you’ll learn how the world of finance really works: from little loop-holes in the Terms & Conditions of your checking account, to the actual definitions (and implications) of terms and acronyms, like “amortization,” GDP, and the real definition of “inflation.” He also dives into how the IMF and World Bank operate, as well as how hedge funds work. This is essential for anyone who feels the need to get a handle on how the financial industry really works—in plain English.

10. The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris & Rob Walling7-day-startup

What if you could learn from someone who built a business in 7 days, from scratch, and grew it up to $400,000 in annual recurring revenue within just a few years?

If you just asked “where do I signup?” then this book is for you. In this book, author Dan Norris discusses unconventional methods and strategies you can apply towards your business (or business idea), such as:

– Why validation isn’t the answer
– How to evaluate your startup idea
– How to build a website in 1 day for under $100
– 10 proven marketing methods you can apply quickly
– and much, much more.

This is the essential guide for founders, freelancers, boots trappers, and entrepreneurs to stand up and start something that matters.

11. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

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This is a book about designing efficient systems that you can leverage at work and at home to maximize your output, results, and rewards. Pick this up if you want to achieve the unachievable. 

12. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts

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More than another book about the father of capitalism, this book exposes a side of Adam Smith that most economists never knew he had—in this book, author Russ Roberts dives into the virtuous side of Smith, influenced by one of Smith’s writings that barely got read, titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Roberts pulls nuggets of practical wisdom from this text about human nature, and organizes it all into a master piece for personal and professional wellbeing that provides an answer to the age old question of “how to live a good life” that rings just as applicable today, as it did when Smith originally penned it three-hundred years ago.

13. Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell

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Get ready to have all your pressing leadership questions answered, because in this book, Maxwell tackles questions every leader wants to know, such as:

– How can I discover my unique purpose as a leader?
– What is the most effective daily habit that any leader should develop?
– How do you motivate an unmotivated person?
– How would you work with a difficult leader who has no vision?

14. Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work by Liz Wiseman

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If you think what you know now may eventually become useless and obsolete in the uncertain—and increasingly changing future—then Rookie Smarts is for you. Pickup on the skills that will help you “pay the bills” (plus some) in the rapidly changing economy that we’re heading into over the coming years. 

15. Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder by Jim Clifton & Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

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From the same folks who brought you the famous StrengthsFinder books, Gallup delivers again. This time however, they’re aiming for the success and prosperity of the entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder delves into the psychology of the entrepreneur. Everything from personality to sustainability—the authors of this book leave no stone un-turned when it comes to addressing even the most minute of details that can have an impact on the growth of a successful business.

Decisions, Decisions…

Okay, now you’ve got a list of the 15 newest, must-read books for achieving success as a modern professional in a modern world that’s moving faster than ever. Now what?

Which book do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all? So many options. So little time.

Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

  • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashNotes Book Summaries to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
  • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
  • If you’re in a rush, try Audio books, or Audible Book Summaries.
  • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

The post 15 New, Must-Read Business Books for Achieving Success appeared first on Lifehack.

20 Quotes That Show What Friendship Truly Means

Taking the time to evaluate the people you call friends is something we all need to do now and again.

Are your friendships supporting and building you, or are they holding you back? Sometimes we develop friendships because they’re convenient, or hold on to dying ones because they’re old. For those who can and have cut those unhealthy friendships out of their lives, these quotes about real friendship will ring true. For those who are surrounded by friends but find themselves unsupported and uninspired, let these be words of wisdom to consider. No matter how many friends you have, keep these qualities in mind when choosing who comes and goes in your life!

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Featured photo credit: Friends/PC My Shots@Photography via flic.kr

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An Open Letter to Anyone Looking for True Love

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Dear True Love Seeker,

We must begin with your personal definition of TRUE LOVE. Without that, your search is pointless as the roundabout with no feasible exit for your journey. Don’t race to the dictionary, as the definition lies within your own life philosophy and experience.

Our adult happiness lies rooted in the soil of our childhood. Instinctively, we bonded to our mothers for survival and eventually understood the protective potential of our fathers. All can agree that our basis of love stems from these early interactions. Rather than bandy about the countless theories concerning “mommy” and “daddy” issues, let’s begin with the idea that you have come to terms with your past and are eager to move forward into your own loving relationship.

The best predictor of one’s future behavior is to look at past behavior. By looking at your actions, can you say that you’ve fallen in love with the most important person…yourself? Without arrogance and hubris, do you LOVE the person you have become?

1. Love yourself

It is impossible to give deep love to another if you don’t hold it within yourself. Bitterness can’t be hidden for long; its flavor will spoil the love you’ve found and set you back onto the repeat cycle of dead end relationships. By loving the person you are, you accept your humanity which is made up of inadequacies and accomplishments. The pressure is off then! The person you seek will not have the burden of “fixing” you because you’ve accepted yourself wholly. Having that comfort allows you to be open and accepting of others, and the exchange of emotions can begin.

2. Set aside your ego

Mutation of oneself to better fit into a relationship is a necessary sacrifice. It certainly does not mean that you have to give up your personal identity, but if the love you seek will be bound in truth, it is a fact that “to receive much, one must give much.” Setting aside your ego to explore what is best for the couple versus what is best for the individual will be a daily choice. There is a sweet spot that each couple must find which will give them independence but also a level of healthy co-dependence.

3. Be clear with expectations

You love yourself, you feel you love another, and the couple you have become has great potential. Did both of you come into the relationship with clear expectations? If the love is TRUE in the sense that you’re seeking, then the discussions of what you hope your duo will evolve into will not be an issue. Love is vulnerability and if two people cannot be open and supportive of each other’s concerns or expectations, then are you in the kind of love which you seek?

4. Don’t make promises

Although that sounds harsh and against what you may believe encompasses true love, the pressure of a promise can cause an ultimate break. Instead, try expressing yourself with INTENTION. Intention adds the truth to love; humans are weakest when we’ve made ourselves vulnerable. We feed our inner fear when we add the pressure of “I promise to love you forever.” Intellectually, we see that love can’t be perfect because we are imperfect people. Thus, the rantings of heartbroken lovers are as old as mankind. Instead of the fear that “promises are meant to be broken,” embrace the concept that you will “pay attention to the intention.”

5. Check the chemistry

TRUE LOVE is based on chemical reactions. Rather than feel deflated by this fact, celebrate it. The hormonal functions that set off “chemistry” between two people are miraculous. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally by taking care of yourself will help you sort through the “love fog” after it lifts and you can then enjoy the benefits of a mutually fulfilling relationship. Those who have celebrated countless happy anniversaries give common advice–true love begins after the initial chemistry has ended. Take the time to learn how your particular chemistry is best kept alive.

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30 Best Price-Comparison Apps You Need to Download Now

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Gone are the days when price-comparison apps like Red Laser and Amazon’s price checker ruled the roost. Joining those favorites are new, as well as tried-and-true, price-comparison apps that will help you save a bundle.

For Shopping

1. RedLaser: Get the Best Price for Anything

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RedLaser is still one of the best QR code readers and barcode scanners around, because not only can you scan products and find the best prices—the app also has lots of coupon options and the ability to store loyalty cards. (Find it on iTunes and Google Play.)

2. ShopSavvy: Find Low Product Prices and Trending Sales

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ShopSavvy guarantees that their iTunes and Google Play app will help you not only find the lowest prices of the products you scan, but it will also alert you to price cuts and new sales items. Therefore, if there’s a new Sears coupon that’s just hit the Internet, ShopSavvy will find it and send it to you.

3. Sell Textbooks for Cash: Compare the Best Prices for Your Old Books

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Students know that textbooks can represent a big expense. Compare the websites that will pay you the most money for them with this app you can find on iTunes or Google Play.

4. ScanLife: Compare Prices from Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy and More

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With ScanLife—see the app here on iTunes and Google Play—users can scan barcodes to see the cost of items across a variety of their favorite stores, and also view customer reviews.

For Travel, Hotel and Flights

5. Trivago: Compare Hotel Prices

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The app called simply “trivago” on iTunes and Google Play compares more than 700,000 hotel prices across 200-plus booking websites to bring you the best deals.

6. TripAdvisor: Find Low-Priced Hotels, Flights, Restaurants

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The very popular TripAdvisor iTunes and Google Play free app is beloved by users because it helps them find the lowest prices in airfare, dining options and eateries.

7. Liligo: International Travel Comparison

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Liligo is a well-reviewed app that allows users to search through hundreds of travel websites to find optimal deals. (iTunes and Google Play.)

8. Booking.com: Best Hotel Deals

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This website with the funny commercials also has an app (iTunes and Google Play) that finds and compares great deals on hotels, and not just the cheap dives.

9. Hotwire: Compare Car Rental Prices and More

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There’s a reason the Hotwire apps for hotel and car rentals are popular, both the iOS and Android versions. People like deals they can easily grab via their phone, letting the app do the work of searching for the best prices.

10. FareCompare: Find Out When to Fly

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This highly rated app alerts users when to fly by notifying them when their favorite trip route’s airfare has dropped. Find it here on iTunes.

11. Skyscanner: Compare Cheap Flights

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More than 30 million people have download Skyscanner, which is a fast iTunes and Android app that lets users get the cheapest prices on flights in seconds.

12. Kayak: Find Cheaper Flights, Hotels and Cars

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Kayak was one of the first price-comparison travel apps that provided users the best deals on hotels, cars and flights. (iTunes and Google Play.)

For Food

13. Grocery Exchange: Compare Food Prices

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The Grocery Exchange app lets food buyers share and compare the prices of the items they find in the store. Check it out on iTunes.

14. Apples2Oranges: Convert to Unit Prices

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The best thing about the Apples2Oranges iTunes app is that it helps users convert items down to their unit prices to discover what’s really a great bargain, e.g., a package of 20 cookies for $10.99 or 35 cookies for $12.99 per pack.

15. Consumr: Groceries, Books, Movies and More

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Not only can consumers use the Consumr iTunes app to compare grocery prices, but they can also find the comparable costs of strollers, toys and everything in between.

16. Gas Buddy: Find Inexpensive Gasoline

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More than 40 million people use Gas Buddy to discover the cheapest gas nearby. (iTunes and Google Play.)

17. Gas Guru: Cheap Gas Prices

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Gas Guru is another highly visual iTunes and Google Play app that allows users to find the best gas prices near them.

18. Fuel Finder: Discount Gas in the U.S. and Canada

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Fuel Finder is another popular gasoline app on iTunes and Google Play that visually displays the cheapest fuel prices nearby.

For Online Shopping

19. BuyVia: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

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Available on iOS and Android, the apps from BuyVia will keep you ahead of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals game.

20. The Amazon App: For Brick-and-Mortar Store Price Checking

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Although some storeowners gave Amazon a hard time for suggesting that their customers use The Amazon App to scan the prices of products they find within stores to see if they are cheaper online, that’s exactly what consumers love to do.

21. TheFind: Local and Online Deals

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Use the app called TheFind (iTunes and Android) to literally find local deals and compare them with what’s available online. You can also set price alerts with this app.

22. ShopAdvisor: Product Tracking

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ShopAdvisor is like having a personal price tracker because it not only compares prices, it also tracks the changes in prices and alerts you when a product hits the cost you’d like. (iOS and Android.)

23. PriceGrabber: Compare In-Store to Online Price

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PriceGrabber allows users to compare online deals with the in-store prices—and it even gathers up Groupon deals in 160 U.S. cities. Here are the iTunes and Google Play links.

24. Smoopa: Green-Lights the Best Deal

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Smoopa lets buyers scan a product’s barcode and compare it to the same deals online. If the item you scan has a lower price, the app displays a green button. Find it on iTunes and Google Play.

Advanced Features

25. CamFind: Take a Photo of Object Without Typing

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CamFind is a unique iTunes and Google Play app in that it allows users to scan a photo of an object to find it instead of typing in words to search.

26. Milo: For Local Shopping

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Milo is an interesting computer-based app that helps consumers find local products in stock nearby the address they enter.

27. Shelfbucks: Customized Deals Sent to You

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With Shelfbucks, you will be able to receive in-store deals customized for you and sent to your phone. See their iTunes and Google Play app versions.

28. Walmart’s Savings Catcher: Scan Your Receipts for Great Deals

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Walmart’s Savings Catcher is a fascinating module that allows users to enter their receipt numbers to find any lower advertised prices and get paid the difference.

29. Shopular: Find the Best Deals in Stores

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Shopular is a popular app that’s updated daily that gives shoppers the best deals and coupons for stores like Starbucks, Forever 21, Best Buy and more. Get it on iTunes and Google Play.

30. PriceBlink: Browser Add-On Finds Lower Prices During Online Shopping

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PriceBlink is an add-on for your browser that automatically finds the lowest prices while you shop.

So there you have it—a list of 30 price-comparison apps that should help you begin to save lots more money when shopping.

Featured photo credit: barcode printed on a label Stock Photo ID: 26360507 Copyright: trans961 via bigstockphoto.com

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