Tag Archives: Skills

Skills, Pleasure and Money

Once there was this guy who was a professional auto mechanic. Not just a professional auto mechanic, but he was considered the best in his area. He had built up a huge clientele base through several years of dedicated service. One thing that made him stand out was his brutal honesty.

He usually had a flat fee to inspect a car, and then would lay everything out as clearly and specifically as he could. He wouldn’t make any suggestions, he would merely let his experience and the prices speak for themselves.

For example, if somebody had a problem with their engine starting on cold mornings, he would charge fifty bucks to take a look, and then give a full report. He would say exactly what it would take to get the car fixed to the point of starting ok on a regular basis, at a bare minimum cost, and explain exactly what the chances of and how long this “fix” would last.

He would then give another report about how much it would cost to virtually guarantee that this problem would be completely fixed, and how long that would last (usually two or three years, which was the life expectancy of the parts he would replace).

He would then give another report of other problems he found with the car, and what the chances is that they would be a problem, and how likely they would to be happening. Of course he would explain exactly how much this would cost to make sure the problem didn’t happen.

He would, naturally, fix specific problems, to satisfy specific requests. For example, if someone came in saying only that they wanted their timing belt replaced, he would do exactly that.

Because he was so honest and upfront with his costs, he never had any want for business. It wasn’t uncommon to find that you needed to wait a week to have your car even looked at because he had so many customers lined up.

There were several other auto repair businesses in the neighborhood that didn’t do so well. One of the reasons was they because they were always worried about their business, they would sometimes make repairs that weren’t really necessary, or they would rush through and not do a thorough job, making it necessary for some people to come back to get their car repaired. It was no wonder than these other shops didn’t get a whole lot of repeat business from loyal customers.

A lot of people wondered why this guy didn’t branch out, and open up shops that operated on the same principle, as he certainly could. Perhaps it was because he really, honestly enjoyed working on cars so much that he didn’t want to spend time in an office trying to manage multiple businesses and people. He seemed to be extremely happy, and was always quick to remember a customer’s first name when he saw them at the grocery store.

If there is any moral to this story, it’s that if you can combine honesty, a needed skill, and sincere pleasure in performing that skill, you can make a lot of money, and make a lot of people feel satisfied because of your work.

How To Ace a Job Interview Even if There is Tough Competition

If you’ve ever had a job interview, you know now incredibly nerve wracking it can be. Suddenly you are sitting there, feeling completely under the microscope, as the interviewer looks over your resume with a passive look on his or her face. You have no idea what he or she is thinking, but you can’t help but wonder.

The good news is that interviewing is a skill, and like any other skill you can improve with practice. Of course, some people are fortunate enough not to have to go on many interviews, but many others have to go through several to land an even mediocre job.

So what is the secret? A mixture of self-confidence and criteria.

You need to be confident enough to give an honest assessment of your skills and how you can help the company’s bottom line. You do yourself no service whatsoever by being shy or reserved. If you have skills you need to make sure the interviewer knows about them, and believes you. If you don’t have skills, don’t say you do, otherwise you might find yourself in a difficult situation.

I was once in an interview for a technical position that was over my head. The interviewer asked me a question that required a specific knowledge of statistics to answer correctly. He asked the question, and without hesitation, I confidently said “fifteen.”

He paused, looked at me and asked: “Is that based on your knowledge and experience, or did you just make that up?”


You’d be surprised how many people go into an interview with a “please hire me I’ll do anything for you” mentality. Employers don’t like this. They are in business to make money, and they need skills, not somebody looking for an opportunity.

That is where criteria come in. This is an almost magical technique that you can apply in areas much wider than job seeking. And the less technical the position, and the more “people skill” oriented it is, the easier you can leverage criteria, even if you don’t have any particular experience in the field.

Here’s how it works. Once you establish some rapport in the interview, and you get past the “tell me about yourself” part. You’ll likely come to a part where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Most people ask things like “when are the holidays,” or “what are the health benefits,” or “do you have dental,” or other things.

What most people don’t realize is that this part of the interview is a near perfect opportunity to leverage the employers criteria to almost guarantee you the position.

When it’s your turn to ask questions, as the employer to describe exactly what they are looking for in an employee. Make sure to really listen, and pay attention to words and phrases that he or she puts extra emphasis on. Especially vague phrases like “people skills,” or “dedication,” or “focused on the final product.”

Then simply ask follow up questions about those particular words or phrases that they “lean on,” so to speak. The more they talk about their ideal employ, with you sitting there in front of them, they will start to subconsciously imagine you as the ideal employee. Especially when almost every other prospective employee is asking what’s in it for them.

The longer you can draw out that part of the conversation, the better. And any time you feel an opportunity to work in a person story or anecdote about yourself, try and use some of those phrases mentioned above. It will go along way to putting you at the to of the list.

Speak Your Skills and the World Will Listen

Once upon a time there was a bricklayer. He had been doing this job for about ten years, and he was very good at it. He was well known amongst his peers as having a very dedicated work ethic, and an incredible amount of skill. There was a waiting list or at least three years long for those that wanted to apprentice under him, as he was well regarded as having the best skills in the area.

He mostly did non-residential buildings, like museums and churches and some city centers. Occasionally he did some small residential projects, fountains, and a few private temples here and there for the religiously inclined. He was very successful, and very happy.

He was also very young. He had only been in the business for ten years, starting fresh from high school. His father had died when he was very young, and as soon as the law would allow, he took full time work. He quickly realized that he had found his calling, as the work was both rewarding and challenging. And he had always made decent money. Yet to start a family on his own, he still gave the bulk of his salary to his mother, who had raised him alone since he was six years old.

Something was happening, though. Although his list of apprentices kept growing, the jobs he was finding were becoming fewer and fewer. Many companies were starting to buy pre-fabricated walls and other structures, as it was much cheaper. The work slowly began to dry up, until he had a list of apprentices wanting to learn under him, but no work to do. Finally he had to suspend his apprenticeship program, as he had to take on simple mundane jobs that even his would be apprentices were qualified to do. Many times he found himself working right alongside of them.

He started to get worried to the point of letting his fears overcome the pleasure he had always received from doing the work. He began staying up late at night, unable to sleep, imagining a future where his skills were no longer needed. His life, which had been so promising, filled with delight and a positive future now was clouded by thoughts of a life filled with performing unskilled labor for low wages, never knowing where his next paycheck was going to come from. It became almost too much to bear.

Then one night he had a dream. In the dream his father came to him. He had always kept a picture of his father on the nightstand next to his bed, always imagining his father looking on hi with pride. In the dream his father said to him:

Son, you have a skill that few possess. When people hire you, they hire you for the beauty that you impart on their buildings, their places of worship. Before, you relied on your work to speak for itself. But now, you must speak for your work. You must proclaim your skills. You must make it easy for others to choose your work over the easier path. You must convince them of your value, and the value your work will bring them. I have faith in you.

He woke up, barely remembering the dream, but he had a new motivation. He set up a meeting with three of the projects that had canceled only a few weeks before. He asked for a meeting with whoever was in charge of deciding on traditionally laid bricks or prefabricated bricks. When he met with them, he spoke with passion and belief and conviction. All three of them agreed to hire him. Soon word spread of his work. Word spread of the conviction with which he spoke of his work. Soon he needed to hire a personal secretary to handle all the calls from around the country of people that wanted to hire him. And now he had two lists of apprentices. One to learn bricklaying, and one to learn how to tell others about their skills, and the value that they would bring to others.

Change – Hit the Ground Running

The other day I was having lunch with a friend of mine. He was a little worried, because he just found out that he was being transferred. He wasn’t only being transferred to a different city; he was being transferred to a different job function as well. The place where I live, it is fairly common for companies to do this, and when they do, the employees usually have to choices. Accept the transfer, or find another job. Because the latter is tantamount to professional suicide, the only real option is to take whatever the company decides to dish out.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been faced with a large and unexpected change in lifestyle, but it can be pretty intimidating. Especially one that involves something as important as your livelihood. Many studies have shown that the older people get, the more we like the same routine over and over again. It’s one thing to change lifestyles again and again when you are young, as many people do when they change schools, make new friends, and generally grow up and learn about life. It’s something else altogether to have this happen when you think you are well established in your career, your family, and your community.

The key thing to consider when facing issues like this is that you always have the ability to learn new skills. The one thing about humans that separates us from all the other animals is our ability to change and adapt. And the heart of changing and adapting is the ability to not only learns new things on a regular basis, but to figure out how to apply old learnings in new situations. I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to experience this, but it really is a natural part of human behavior.

Some people resist change completely. I’m sure you know people that resisted change so much, by hanging on to old ways that they’ve really lost out when a new and better way to do things came around. The hallmark of a modern society is the natural ability to adapt and change with the times.

When I caught up with my friend a few weeks later, he was ecstatic. He had applied the skills form engineering into his new job as a regional sales manager. Because he was able to combine skills from different areas, he vastly exceeded his supervisor’s expectations, earning him a top spot in the company. And his wife and kids had similar success. All from being able to accept, embrace, and realize your full potential and the ability to use change to your advantage.

The Skillfull Bees

Once there was a group of bees. They lived in a rather large hive, which was located in a fairly large forest. They had been living there for about a year, and were aware that their growing hive would need to find another place to live soon. Now bees are a particularly strange animal. Most animals live in a kind of social organization. Wolves, dolphins, hummingbirds, they all have their own set of social rules or instincts that they live by. Some closer knit than others, like dolphins or wolves. Some more loosely based on family ties as in hummingbirds or walrus’s.

Bees are an exception. Bees are much more influenced by social instincts than other creatures. It is not accident that the word for a group of bees, “swarm,” is used in mathematics to describe any number of different collections of elements that can collectively be described as a single entity. One hive of bees can almost be treated as a single animal, according to many scientists. Not unlike many different cells in the body of a mammal, each bee has a specific function, and does not stray from that function. A bee separated from its group will not survive very long.

It’s interesting to compare this to human beings. Several studies have been done (anecdotally of course) where human babies that have not been provided with a physical connection with others has been severely developmentally disabled. Humans need physical contact with other humans as much as we need food and water. Some argue that this need is much more pronounced in early life, but it never disappears altogether. We need each other.

And the particular group of bees in this particular story is no different. They, collectively, realized that with the growing number in their group, they needed to find a new home that would support them. And so they decided, collectively, to begin actively seeking new resources. Now when bees do something like this, a peculiar thing happens. Some of the bees whose job it is to find food, and then through an elaborate set of signals and dances alert the rest of the group where it is, must use this same bee technology to find a place that they deem suitable for their new home.

It’s kind of like when you develop a skill of some sort, and you realize that you can transfer this skill into another area of your life. Because you have certain skills, you can easily use this skill in another part of what you do. And it’s important to realize that you have these skills, and that there are many ways to use them.

So the bees, through their magic of bee technology, quickly shifted their behavior to achieve a new goal. And before they knew it, the collective had re established itself in a new home, which was bigger and brighter than ever before. And that is something to think about.


Transfer Skills To Dance Through Life

I had an interesting experience this evening. I was invited to a dance performance by a friend of mine. He is part of a dance group, and they put on performance several times a year. He is a junior high school student, and whenever I speak with him he is incredibly shy. I gave me the ticket to his performance, and asked me if I’d come. Of course I said yes. I had no idea how big his group was, or how extravagant the performance was going to be.

It was incredible. I was expecting a small show, with perhaps parents and friends coming to see. It was in a large hall, downtown in the city where I live. I was surprised to see a large, long snaking line waiting for the doors to open. It was raining today, so the line had to form inside. The reception area of the hall itself is quite large, but it wasn’t built to accommodate a long, slinking line. So there was a lady holding a sign that identified the end of the line.

Finally the doors opened, and I walked in, and was lucky to get a seat. The place was packed, both levels. Before the lights dimmed, I found my friends picture, and figured out which group he was in. (Which was kind of difficult, as it was all written in Japanese.) The amount of moves and choreography presented was amazing. It was truly a professionally done show, that had obviously been well rehearsed.

That wasn’t quite what amazed me the most. This shy kid, who is almost too embarrassed to make eye contact during a normal conversation, was on fire on stage in front of thousands. In his particular group, he was the lead dancer. I remember back on Valentines day, when here in Japan it’s traditional for girls to give guys chocolates, he was lamenting that no girls had given him any chocolate. One of the performances his group did was him and about twenty girls doing a number on stage with him being the lead dancer.

Then when it came time when each group lined up and waited for their name to be called by the announcer, so they could take their bow, he blew me away. Instead of just saying “Hai!” and taking a bow like the rest of his fellow dancers, he did a quick dance move, and then blew several kisses to the crowd. Not the shy junior high kid that I imagined.

Which got me thinking, all of us have different resources for different situations. I think it’s important to realize this when we say things to ourselves like “I’m shy,” or “I’m not a good public speaker,” or “I’m not very smart.” All of us can be all things, in some context or another. The trick is to figure out how to transfer skills in one area of life into other areas. Up until now, I’ve been taking this kids statements of his being shy at face value. Never again. Maybe when I remind him how brave and relaxed he was in front of over a thousand people, he’ll convince himself as well.


Snakes on a Slope

This morning I was walking down the steps from the temple where I do my morning Qi Kong exercise, when I noticed a large snake stretched across one of the steps about halfway down.  It was almost, but not quite stretched out perfectly straight, as if he was seeing if he could stretch from one side of the step to the other. He hadn’t quite made it when I almost stepped on him. I paused and waited for him to finish his trek across the step. I wasn’t sure where he was going, but as I wasn’t in any rush, I didn’t ask him to hurry up. I’ve never really had any fears of snakes. Although once I was at a place called “Snake Alley” in Taipei, Taiwan, which is a street with a lot of weird shops. Some of which are shops which specialize in snakes. (Hence the name.) There was a woman standing outside with a rather large boa constrictor trying to entice customers to enter. I had just finished my second shot of snake blood liquor, (at least that’s what they said it was) when I decided to ask the woman if I could take a picture with her.

She didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Chinese, so she misunderstood me. She didn’t realize that I wanted to take a picture with her and the snake, and thought I wanted to take a picture with only the snake. As I stood next to her, and handed my camera to my snake blood liquor waiter, she proceeded to take the rather large boa constrictor and drape it around my neck. As I stood smiling for the snake blood liquor waiter to take what seemed like several long minutes to figure out my digital camera, the snake started to explore the side of my face with it’s tongue.  Finally, the waiter snapped a couple of photos and that was that.

I have a friend that would pass out cold if something like that happened to him. He is deathly afraid of snakes. Yet he is an avid skier, and the only time I went skiing with him, I was petrified to follow him down some of the jagged rock exposed, triple diamond runs he went on for fun.

He has been able to develop a skill which allows him to see a potentially dangerous situation as something to use to have lots of fun. He has gone on that particular run so many times, that his experience tells him that everything is ok. I, on the other hand, haven’t yet been able to develop good experience with respect to skiing, and perhaps I never will. For me, it is just too scary to think about being able to put in the effort in getting good at that so the good feelings naturally outweigh the bad.

It’s interesting when two people can look at the same experience and have two completely different interpretations of it.  It’s not like either of the snakes really had the time to decide whether they wanted to eat me or not. Besides, I don’t even like snake meat.


Develop Powers of Instant Deep and Peaceful Sleep Anywhere, Anytime

You roll over, nervously glance at the clock. 2:46. Ugh. You need to wake up in less than 5 hours. Roll back over. Sleep. Sleep. You need to sleep. Focus. The more you worry, the more awake you become. You roll back over, afraid to rest your eyes on the soft glow from clock, taunting you with the ever increasing speed with which it reminds you of your increasingly disappearing night. 2:58. Less tired. More awake. This goes on for the entire night. An eternity of rapidly increasing anxiety fueled thoughts racing around your head. Finally you feel the long awaited sleep which beckons you to blissful unconsciousness. MMmm. Feels wonderful, worries melting away, sleep, soft warm, dreamy escape. Just as you nod off…


Crap!  What, only two minutes of sleep is all I get? Why does this always happen? You know exactly what I”m talking about, because there is an obvious conspiracy of alarm clocks which somehow magically keep us awake until just moments before their alarm is set, at which time they maliciously send out some kind of trans-dimensional sleep inducing alarm clock voodoo only to cause us anguish. Who is setting whom?

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can train yourself to fall sleep easily and naturally every night so you can rest peacefully, and enjoy those dreams that you can interpret for your benefit.  You can wake up  and notice that you feel refreshed and rested so that you can overcome any challenge the day can dream up to throw at you, unaware that you now possess super sleep skills.

What exactly is the skill? Easy to learn, and you will receive immediate benefit once you naturally put it into practice. Some call it focused attention, others call it trans-hemispheric dialogue, but you probably know the ancient name of counting sheep. But with a twist.

What it does is allows you to develop a mental conversation between your right and left brains. One side is used to visualizing, imagination, while the other side is used for the creation of speech (among about billion other really fascinating stuff.) The idea is to create enough brain fatigue, so it eventually just gives up and you are consequently out like a light.

Here’s how to do it.

As you lay there, finished with your day. Close your eyes. (Ok, not right now because you need to read this.) Allow whatever you see in your imagination. Describe it, to yourself, in your mind. As you see it. Be careful not to create any images, just follow your imagination with your description of it.  Allow it to go wherever it goes, and describe it, to youself, in your mind, in as much detail as you can imagine. Here is an example:

Ok, I see a field, a green field with some trees off to the left, and now I see a rocking chair,and at the bottom of the rocking chair is an old pair of shoes, and one of the shoes is on the left side, and the other shoe, is, wait, ok, now there are a bunch of chickens, and, wait, there’s my mom, and no, wait, there is that guy I knew in elementary school, and, wait, there’s, no wait, theres..z..z.z.z.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Next thing you know, it’s morning.

You get the idea.

And the more you practice this technique, the more you will be able to fall asleep faster and faster, and pretty soon you will be able to train your body to fall asleep and recharge your mind and body in so many fascinating ways you’ll wonder why you didn’t discover this earlier.

And of course, if you remember to come back often, and read more articles, you can easily begin to realize just how much potential you have inside you, right now, to do those things that you’ve always wanted to do.

And if you want, you can also share this site with others as well, because the more you share, the more there is.  And that’s good for everybody.


Instant Conversation Skills

Who is that over there?  Wow. They look kind of interesting. Should you go talk to them? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t know what to say?

Have you ever had these thoughts? Evil blobs of mind poison that instantly crippled any short lived hopes you’d had of maybe being able to make a friend?

Well, you are in luck, because I am going to not only show you a foolproof way to start a conversation with a complete stranger, but how you can make them do all the talking, and end up thinking you are the stunning conversationalist.  Ready? Let’s go.

You will need three basic tools.

1) How to form a tag question.

2) How to ask interesting, open ended follow up questions.

3) Basic body language reading skills.

First thing you need to do is approach casually, and stand a few yards from them for a couple of minutes.  Just find any old excuse to go hang out near their “space.” While you are standing there, notice something interesting about the environment. The trees, the weather, anything that makes you think, just a little bit, wow, cool. Let’s say you see a cool leaf on a tree. (This is just an example, if there are no trees in your situation, this probably won’t work out so well). Look at the leaf, imagine out how cool it is. Try and think of all the stuff that’s happened since the big bang, and here this leaf is right here, being all leafy.

Now you make your move. Bust out your brilliant tag question.

“Wow, that is a really cool leaf, isn’t it?”

Be sure when you say the “isn’t it” part, you don’t make it sound like a question. Make it sound like a statement. And smile. Next come your wicked body language skills. If the person responds with “um, yea” and looks like he or she just found a cockroach in their kool aid, then move on, the conversation is over. If they look at the leaf, and then at you, you’re in. Bonus points if they match your smile.

Next you ask your open ended question. About anything that’s easy to talk about, the surroundings, party, bar, study session, whatever.

“So what do you think about….” and insert any old topic. Then as he or she is speaking, watch their face for signs of life.  Whatever they say when their face lights up, grab it.

Watch them talk, watch their face, and ask them for more information about things they seem happy about. Nothing too personal. Some good questions are:

How do you feel about..

What do you like about…

What is your favorite part about…

Just pick out a few words here and there, follow up on them while you speak, and they will think you are the greatest conversationalist since Dale Carnegie. Make sure to throw your name out in there someplace, don’t wait for them to ask. They’re probably nervous. It’s not everyday people get approached by a wicked word master like you!

Make sure to come back often, and tell your friends, as I will be posting several “How To..” articles that can easily improve your life in many ways.