Journey to Success Programme

Audience: Secondary Schools, Tertiary Institutions, Fresh Graduates, Youths, Churches, Mosques, and Corporate Organizations

Format: 120-180 minute presentation


Planning for success is much like planning for a long ROAD TRIP!

You need to know where you’re going, why you’re going, and how you’ll get there.  You need that information to pack the necessary tools to ensure you’re equipped for the ride and prepared for arrival.

Participants of the Journey to Success Program explore the Six Steps to developing a Personal Success Strategic Plan (PSSP) as outlined in the book, Mapping Your Journey to Success:

  1. Determine Your DESTINATION.  Define what it means to be successful and understand why it’s important to define it personally.

  2. Identify Your PURPOSE.  Learn to identify, support and empower who you are in order to chart the best route to your personal success.

  3. Set Your GOALS.  Set goals to make the journey more meaningful and increase your optimism, lead to greater fulfillment.

  4. Develop Your STRATEGIES.  Create an appropriate plan of action to accomplish goals, fulfill your purpose and reach success.

  5. Take ACTION.  Execute your plan using a positive attitude, self-motivation, and hard work to achieve success.

  6. Evaluate Your PROGRESS.  Incorporate “checkpoints” into the journey to monitor and track how close you are to your destination. 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand where they want to go in life and why

  • Create better goals and develop strategies to achieve them

  • Use self motivation and hard work to keep moving forward

  • Make adjustments when things don’t go as planned

Program Formats

  1. Plenary Session – This two hour session can be facilitated within a 120-180 minute window.  It offers an interactive and fun overview of the PSSP elements.  This format is great for high schools and conference presentations.  It includes interactive group discussions and exercises.  Participants follow along in the presentations with a full colour PSSP worksheet (4-pages).  Students walk away with plenty of notes to build a PSSP.

  2. Workshop Session – This half-day format can be facilitated within a 180 min – 8 hour window.  It offers a high energy, interactive, and in-depth coverage of the PSSP elements.  This format is great for all audiences.  It includes small group discussions, exercises, role-playing, self-assessments, Q/A and challenging games.  Participants follow along in the presentation with their full colour PSSP workbook (34 pages).  Students walk away with a completed DRAFT of their PSSP to execute.


This program can be presented as a stand-alone presentation or integrated into other full programs, such as:

  • Freshman Orientations

  • Student Life Events

  • Career Development Fairs

  • Student Retreats

  • Leadership Conferences

  • Workforce Training Programs

  • Life Coaching Curriculum

  • Internship Prep Training

  • Rehabilitation Programs

Download PSSP Programme Flyer

Download Pre-Booking Info Sheet4PSSP

Pricing for PSSP Programme

  • Prices for seminars and conferences are all inclusive–they include all travel, flight, car, lodging, meals, etc. and vary from area to area, depending on location and date.
  • Discounts are available for two schools/organizations booking together and sharing the same date (and an even further discount for 4+ schools booking consecutive days).
  • Prices for programmes may also include student materials, t-shirts and other products.
  • T-shirts and other products are optional and may be included at a discount.

We could participate at your event as a session speaker.

Please contact us for prices and possible tours in your area.

Thank you.

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What I Really Want for Christmas

Each year, around this time, friends and business partners start sending presents to my office. The reception desk gets covered with tins of candy, boxes of cookies, sometimes a few bottles of wine. It’s all very nice. But what I’d really like is a flock of chicks or maybe somehoneybees.

Let me explain what I mean. I’m touched that people think to send holiday treats. It’s a fun tradition. My team at the office always looks forward to the flavored popcorn that one of our partners sends every year. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful or deprive my colleagues of caramel corn.

But I can’t help thinking that the money spent on these gifts could go to people who need it more than I do.

For example you might know about Heifer International, a non-profit that lets you buy an animal for a family in need. Send Heifer $30 and someone gets honeybees. $120 buys a pig. There are lots of other options too.

You can even give an animal or other donation in someone else’s name. So if you’re looking for a gift to send your clients and partners this year, you could donate to a group like Heifer on their behalf. They will get a card acknowledging your gift. They’ll have to go get their own cookies, but on the bright side, they will know that your generosity in their name really helped someone.

Heifer is part of a project that Melinda and I are supporting this year called Giving Tuesday. The idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back. The Giving Tuesday web site lists lots of great organizations that need your support. (Although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time.) Melinda and
I have posted our list of four groups that we think are especially effective, including Heifer, but there are many others to choose from. If you run a non-profit, becoming a partner with Giving Tuesday could be a great way to connect with new donors.

I’d encourage you to check out the groups taking part in Giving Tuesday. You could help them make a tangible difference in someone’s life, which is just about the best gift any of us could ask for.

Posted by:Bill GatesBill Gates

  • Syed Nizamul Malik
    Syed Nizamul Malik

    Supply Chain and Logistics Professional

    I am really impressed with the contents in this article. This is impressive that one of the richest person in the World feel like this. Alas! the billionaires in poor or developing countries shall take a lesson from him. Most of the money these people accumulate by corruption deposit in the European or North American Banks. They buy there expensive properties out of this money and rest invest in foreign banks but they never like to spend a single penny on their poor country men.This is really a tragedy. When we shall learn in these countries that honesty is a good thing. When these people will learn to share their wealth with the deprived ones. Here I would like write a quotation by Pope that “An honest man is the noblest work of God” God bless you Bill Gate

  • Patti Taylor
    • Patti Taylor

      Independent Consultant

      Syed – it is part of American culture to give to the needy. If our government would stay out of our business we would be able to give more. For instance a law here that will not allow us to give food to the hungry. Crazy right? The US is the most generous of all countries on humanitarian issues world wide and will continue to be so until we cannot or are not allowed to be generous because of some stupid law.

    • Christopher Singleton
      Christopher Singleton

      Scientist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals

      I don’t think this is relegated to the very wealthy. I have a regular career and have often felt that there is too much of a focus on material things and ‘stuff’ anyway, at almost all income levels. Once you fulfill all of your needs and a few of your wants, extra possessions don’t do much for you (at least in my case). If we opt to give to those in need in lieu of getting gifts, the opportunity and benefit that someone gets will often last much longer than the material gift we would have received.

  • S.Seshadri Srinivasan
    S.Seshadri Srinivasan

    Founder CEO at XLOG Technologies & Consulting

    You give because you have , you give because you want to , you give because you have to , you give because you can .. all these are not giving, but you give because they need. you give because they don’t have, and you give because you are given with. Giving is immortal only if you keep giving in need. that is humane, But above all , to make others think good about giving is divine.That’s what Mr. Bill Gates is doing, Salute to him.

    • Verneata Byrd
      Verneata Byrd

      Entrepreneur, Business Development, Sales/Marketing Leader

      There are still homeless, folks without jobs so there is much more that can be done.

  • David Jennings
    David Jennings

    Multi-disciplined, experienced professional well versed in finance and computer systems. Seeking new challenges

    Having been a recipient of chickens and ducks donated to people in need, it is really heartwarming to know that a couple of families somewhere in the world are able to take steps out of a cycle of poverty on their own. If we are honest, we all have much more stuff than we really need. The holiday season is the perfect time to be thankful for what we already have and think about how really privileged we are. We can give out of our abundance to those whose lives can be changed by a small flock of chickens or a cow. Give to Heifer and to the other organizations Bill recommends. Giving a gift in someone’s name will bless you, the person in whose name you give it, and the family who can see a new future by receiving it. What can be better than that?

    • Pather (Thasegan)
      Pather (Thasegan)

      Quality Assuror at Nedbank

      Why is it that people with a surplus need to be motivated by a “blessing” before they give to those that have nothing. Surely a number of you that have this surplus must have started with nothing and so must realise the pleasure of giving without want.

  • Meg Green
    Meg Green

    CEO of Meg Green & Associates

    I have been giving goats for years through Heiffer International……not only does it feed, emancipate and empower the poorest families, it teaches wonderful lessons about giving, and all of our children and grandchildren need to learn those lessons early on. So here’s to a goat or bees or cows or whatever for Hannukah or Xmas. It’s the best gift you can give.. Thanks Bill for the reminder.

  • Chris Seminatore
    Chris Seminatore

    Chris Seminatore – Digital Marketing Professional

    Really good stuff… Brings back into play what the holidays are truly all about.


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Why a Successful Transition is a Great Legacy


As you’ll know from my earlier posts, I firmly believe in following your intuition, especially in relation to the most important decisions in your life. When I joined Burberry in 2006, it was not without a lot of reflection – I had an incredible role and a fantastic team in New York, and family life was finally beginning to show some semblance of balance. The idea of uprooting our lives to move to London demanded a lot of soul searching and over months of consideration I thought it over so much I realized I was in danger of losing touch with how I truly felt about the opportunity. In the final analysis I realized my truest guide would be my intuition – which told me I would have the greatest partner in Christopher Bailey and that together we could build the company we always dreamed of working for.

My instincts didn’t let me down, and my time as CEO of Burberry has without question been the most rewarding period of my professional life.

As I prepare to start a new chapter in my career, I have had much cause to reflect on what our global teams have achieved these past eight years in creating not only a great brand, but a really great company. Because for me Burberry’s true success is measured not by financial growth or brand momentum, but by something much more human: one of the most connected, creative and compassionate cultures in the world today, steeped in common values and beliefs, and united around a shared vision. Today, I can honestly say that Burberry is the company I had always dreamed of working for.

So the experience of the past eight years has served to reinforce my firm belief that ‘it’s all about people’. And this has never been in sharper focus than in recent weeks, as we have begun the process of transitioning to new leadership at Burberry.

Too often management transitions are viewed with fear or suspicion, when they should be the ultimate example of a natural and healthy organizational evolution. In fact, I believe succession planning is one of the greatest responsibilities you have as a leader – so when your time comes to move on, your team not only doesn’t miss a beat but gains in momentum, embracing new challenges and realizing future opportunities.

Shouldn’t our ambition as leaders be to make a transition something to be celebrated rather than merely managed? And isn’t the reality that a successful transition could in fact be your greatest legacy?

When we announced recently that Christopher Bailey would succeed me at Burberry in the newly created role of Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, I felt such peace. Not only because I believe Christopher is one of the sector’s greatest visionaries and Burberry’s natural next leader, but also because my instincts told me he and the senior team were fully ready for me to pass the baton. After years of hiring and fostering the best talent, as well as constantly evolving the organization to optimize the opportunities available to the brand, the team and the culture have never been stronger. Intuitively I knew this meant the time was right for me to exit stage left, trusting that Burberry would only go from strength to strength in its next exciting chapter.

My instincts were confirmed when we shared the news with the wider organization. At this most significant moment, Christopher and I knew our most important job as leaders was to communicate openly and transparently with our global teams, taking each and every one of our 11,000 associates on the journey with us. Leveraging our internal social media platform, we posted a special video message to share the news internally at the same time as it was announced externally and allowing anyone to post a question, thought or reflection directly to us, or with anyone in the business. Where we could connect in person with our associates in London we did, holding open Q&A sessions that touched everyone in our headquarters, and stores, throughout the first day. And where geography got in the way, we connected via live video conference with teams around the world.

Our priority throughout was to stay true to the principles of open and honest communication that characterize our culture, and to create a human connection that would allow everyone in the organization to feel the same excitement that Christopher and I feel about Burberry’s next phase. The result was that the announcement of this change has united the teams more closely than ever.

As I look around Burberry now, a few weeks later and on the heels of an historic first-half performance, our teams are visibly energized to take Burberry into the future to assure its relevance for the next 150 years.

And as I look forward to what will define the next generation, I believe it is imperative that great companies add greater social value – the larger the company, the larger the obligation. At Burberry our underlying foundation is to give back and share our creative thinking culture to the wider communities where we live and work. This is not only our responsibility but also reinforces and connects our team towards a higher purpose we’re all serving. If a seamless transition is my greatest legacy, then the greatest gift I can receive in return is to see the true measure of the company’s success by how many lives are touched and transformed by the power of our performance.

Posted by:Angela AhrendtsAngela Ahrendts
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Nailing the Job Interview

In the course of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of prospective employees, and I’m always amazed by the way so many of them get the process so wrong. At the end of the day, the interview is really about one thing: Making the person across the table fall in love with you. Here are a few ideas to help you make that happen.

Don’t be a Diva

The single biggest mistake many job candidates make is to walk in with attitude. Even if you think the company would be lucky to have you, and even if – based on your talents and work history – you’re right, no one wants to work with a diva. You’ve been given thirty minutes to impress the interviewer, but the wrong attitude will lose you the job in the first five.

Dress for Success

Another deal-killer is poor aesthetics. You may think you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg, and for all I know you are, but I’m not going to be impressed if you come to see me in a hoodie and torn jeans. We’re pretty casual at RadiumOne – it’s rare to see that many ties in our offices – but if you’re coming in for an interview – remember the importance of a first impression.

Body Language

Body language is also crucial. Be articulate – not boring. Sagging shoulders, slouching, fidgeting – those behaviors make people uncomfortable, and who wants to work with someone that makes them uncomfortable? Be courteous. Smile. Make eye-contact. And treat everyone with respect, including everyone you meet. After all, they may be asked for their opinions after you’ve left the building.

Be Prepared

Another common mistake is to come to the interview unprepared. I think a prospective employee should take the time to do his or her homework, and this will become evident through the quality of his questions. When someone asks who they’re going to be working with, is curious about the specifics of the job, and talks about opportunities for growth, I feel I’m dealing with a person who’s there for the long-haul, and that’s the kind of person I want to invest in.

You should also be prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions, and these tend to be fairly predictable: Why do you want this job? Where do you see yourself in three years? What are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses? If you aren’t prepared, and if you’re struggling to formulate answers, that’s not going to impress anyone. Think of the job interview as a test, and try to prepare for it before you come through the door.


This is a job interview; try to remember that. Small-talk is fine, but this is not the time and place for it. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear about your crazy night at the bar, about the relationship that broke your heart, or about your horrible last boss. Focus on the job, and on yourself as the right person for the job. Be professional. Inappropriate talk and inappropriate behaviors can and will be used against you. And speaking of inappropriate behaviors, remember that everything you post online is viewable to everyone – including an employer. So if you have any embarrassing pictures of yourself, don’t post them. Or change your privacy settings. Better yet, change your privacy settings today.

Don’t Talk Money

Another common mistake is to talk about compensation. If the interviewer brings up money, fine, but don’t go there unless invited. The money conversation will take place in due course, once you’ve been offered the job. And money shouldn’t be the deciding factor, anyway. If you take the job, you’ll have plenty of chances to show the company what you’re worth. And if you turn out to be a rock star, you’re going to get rock star wages.

Be Yourself

This may be the hardest advice of all. You’re in there to get the job, and you’re worried about blowing it. Plus there’s so much to think about: Don’t be a diva. Be prepared. Dress like you want the job. Watch the small- talk. Don’t discuss compensation.

Still, at the end of the day, you’re human. Your potential new boss wants to see the person they’re hiring, not the person you think you want to see. Don’t sell anyone a phony version of yourself. If you’re there it’s because you impressed them enough to get the interview, and they’re just as eager to get to know you, as you are to get the job. Don’t overthink the situation, and don’t try to sell a manufactured version of yourself. Authenticity always wins out.

The Follow Up

Finally, I am always surprised when people fail to follow up after the interview. All it takes is a short, polite email, in which you thank the interviewer for his time and remind him or her that you are seriously interested in the job. Sometimes a candidate doesn’t do well in the room, but I hear from them later in the day and I decide to have a second look. That call or email tell me two things: The candidate has proper etiquette, and they WANT the job.


Posted by:Gurbaksh ChahalGurbaksh Chahal
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How to Protect Yourself from Failure

Setbacks in any career are inevitable, and yet some people manage to succeed despite the worst of setbacks. Their secret is that they know the difference between a setback and failure. The two aren’t the same. A setback has to leave scars before it starts to become a failure. There are ways to protect yourself from being scarred. Some of these can be applied in advance, the way you’d apply prevention before you get sick. Others can be applied after a setback has occurred. But in both cases, anyone can learn the skills that are needed.

In advance:

View yourself as a success, no matter what is happening.

Know your personal weaknesses and deal with them.

Address the influence of fear and anxiety.

Stay immersed in the details of your work.

Have a supportive family.

Participate in a supportive team atmosphere.

Identify with interests outside your work.

Develop core values.

Learn how to be centered.

As you can see, this is a sizable list, which includes some critical elements that even very successful people tend to ignore. Success is not a vaccine against failure. It would make life much simpler if it were, but there will always be challenges that lead to setbacks, and surviving the last crisis, although it will give you some measure of confidence and strength, is only part of the story. The rest depends on the things I’ve listed -let’s examine them in detail.

1. View yourself as a success, no matter what is happening.

Some people grow up feeling so worthy, loved, and special that setbacks affect them much less than other people. They shrug off setbacks and move on to the next challenge. Psychologists don’t seem to know enough about what shapes such fortunate adults when they were children and teenagers. But there’s no doubt that self-esteem can be improved – this is true for anyone. Amazing success has come to individuals with ideal family backgrounds and to those with the worst family background. The more attention you pay to increasing your self-esteem, the less you will be scarred by setbacks.

We don’t have enough space here to go into this topic in detail. There are many popular books on self-esteem. Find one that speaks to you, and begin practicing the recommended steps (I’ve written a book called Spiritual Solutions that covers the topic from the viewpoint of expanding your awareness, since low self-esteem is a form of constricted awareness).

2. Know your personal weaknesses and deal with them.

Most adults are keenly aware of the areas where they are weak, but in a culture where success is too often seen in terms of toughness, admitting a weakness, even to yourself, is considered the sign of a loser. This is far from true in real life, where knowing yourself is an enormous advantage on the road to success. It’s not possible to be all things to all people. No one is a superman or superwoman. If you look in the mirror and honestly assess what you’re good at and what your weak points are, whether it’s a hot temper, perfectionism, procrastination, or any other personal trait, the act of being honest is the first step in getting better. Hiding your weaknesses rarely works, since the people who work and live with us generally know already what our liabilities are.

3. Address the influence of fear and anxiety.

Modern life is anxious and stressful. Medical statistics tell us that prescriptions for antidepressants and tranquilizers keep soaring, but no one knows why something like 80% of these medications go to women. Perhaps they are better than men at admitting how they feel inside and taking steps to get better. The whole area of how to treat psychological problems is controversial and perpetually in flux. Popping a pill may or may not alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, but for certain it doesn’t offer a cure. You need to realize that anxiety is a natural reaction to stress. Reducing the pressure at work makes a good beginning, along with meditation, exercise, and learning to relax outside work. Listen to your body. If you are tired, have trouble sleeping, experience muscle tension or other discomforts, these signals should be heeded before you reach the stage of feeling anxious or depressed. It’s significant that a recent study found that getting enough sleep turned out to be a major preventive in depression.

4. Stay immersed in the details of your work.

Setbacks feel worse when they come as a surprise or shock. This can be ameliorated by knowing in advance as much as you can about any situation. After the economic downturn of 2007, each new crisis caused people to ask, “Didn’t they know how bad things actually were?” Quite often the answer was no. Managers and executives either turned a blind eye, refused to see the looming dangers, or otherwise ignored risks that seem obvious in hindsight. So take heed and practice foresight. Don’t trust in luck; don’t assume you are immune to risks. Don’t delegate detail work to others without keeping track of what’s going on.

5. Have a supportive family.

Fifty years ago it was typical for a husband not to tell his wife about what was happening at work. Today husband and wife are likely to both be working, and there’s no reason for either of them to go it alone. Call upon the support of your spouse, and when you are in the supporting position, lend your full attention to what is going on in your partner’s work life. All of us thrive with encouragement and wilt with discouragement. So having an encouraging partner who believes in you is an essential kind of support. If you currently don’t communicate on this level with your partner, take steps to begin to.

6. Participate in a supportive team atmosphere.

Some people are destined to work alone, writers and artists being the classic examples. Everyone else works as part of a team, and teams build their own culture and atmosphere. The ingredients that go into a good team are well known, so it’s important for you to trust that you are participating in one. If you are part of a good team, everyone is respected and listened to. Each member is given an assignment that fits their skills and interests. The ongoing success of the whole team is constantly valued. No one is an outsider, a scapegoat or bully. There’s a sense of moving forward and growing. Being part of such a team provides a major buffer against setbacks when they loom.

7. Identify with interests outside your work.

Everyone needs both down time and play time, not just on the weekends but every day. If you only live for your work, setbacks can be devastating – witness the alarming rise of depression and suicides among middle-aged men who became unemployed after the recent downturn. The value of down time and play time is that your brain, and in fact your whole body, need this change of pace in order to remain in balance. One study showed that the simple act of getting up from your desk and moving around was enough to normalize blood pressure and heartbeat. This is just one clue to the benefits of varying what your brain does throughout the day. The ability of mind and body to restore balance is miraculous – don’t turn your back on it.

8. Develop core values.

I strongly believe that building a self is one of life’s most important goals. It’s a process that proceeds consciously. The self you were born with is full of potential, and all these years you have been developing those potentials. This has been a central activity even though you might not have used the same words for it. Some potentials are skills and talents – learning to play the piano or drive a car. But by far the most valuable potential lies inside consciousness itself. Deep inside you is where core values become established. Their names are familiar: love, trust, honesty, compassion, self-reliance, devotion, reverence, loyalty, and courage. But have you consciously been working to turn these words into your own personal reality? Such core values, when firmly established, prevent you from being scarred by setbacks – a setback won’t turn into a sense of failure when you possess values that endure external crisis.

9. Learn how to be centered.

I’ve saved for last an ingredient that covers everything else. Being centered means that you can rest within yourself no matter how stormy your circumstances may be. You reside in your own existence. You don’t identify with external markers of value like money, rank, and possessions. Being whole within yourself is the prize that comes after you’ve remained centered for years, because being centered isn’t a passive state. It’s the place from which you learn, grow, observe, decide, and appreciate. People who find that they don’t change with time, who bring the same reactions to new situations, who have little appreciation for life – they are not centered enough to build a self. Instead, their existence is passed reacting to daily events. They are up on good days and down on bad days. Then truly horrible days can be devastating, and after they pass, inner scars remain. So if you decide to work on only one thing that helps prevent failure, this is where to begin.

In the next post we’ll discuss the steps to take after a setback has occurred so that it doesn’t leave scars and make you feel that you have failed.

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. What Are You Hungry For? (Harmony, November 12, 2013).

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The next wave of computing is perceptual

Perceptual computing seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately. From a quest to find the Ultimate Coder to the worldwide Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge to a free Perceptual Computing SDK, there are plenty of opportunities for developers to get involved in this cutting-edge exploration of how humans interact with computers.

Editor’s Note:
This is a guest post by Wendy Boswell, technical blogger/writer at Intel. She’s also editor forAbout Web Search, part of the New York Times Company

If you can visualize controlling your computer merely by using your voice or a wave of your hand, rather than a mouse, a keyboard, or even a touchscreen, then you can see just the beginnings of what perceptual computing is capable of. Perceptual computing focuses on natural human interactions with machines in addition to those familiar control apparatuses many of us have literally grown up with: facial recognition, voice commands, gesture swiping, etc.  Responsive computing that is individually tailored to an individual’s unique needs is really what perceptual computing is all about.

There’s a lot of really exciting stuff going on in this space, and in this article, we’re going to focus on just a few of some of the more inspiring and innovative explorations that developers are taking on.

My, Oh Myo

One of the more interesting waves of development that is coming out of the perceptual computing movement is new user interfaces. How about a wearable armband that tracks your arm’s muscle movements and controls your computer via a series of gestures?  Watch the video of Thalmic Labs’ Myo device below:

As you can see from the video, the Myo works with devices that you already have in your home or office. Presentations can be controlled with a flick of the wrist, video games reach a whole new level of interaction, and browsing the web and watching videos is a completely different experience. More about this intriguing device:

What sort of precision does the MYO have

The MYO detects gestures and movements in two ways: 1) muscle activity, and 2) motion sensing. When sensing the muscle movements of the user, the MYO can detect changes down to each individual finger. When tracking the position of the arm and hand, the MYO can detect subtle movements and rotations in all directions!

How quickly does it detect gestures?

Movements can be detected very quickly – sometimes, it even looks like the gesture is recognized before your hand starts moving! This is because the muscles are activated slightly before your fingers actually start moving, and we are able to detect the gesture before that happens.” – Myo FAQ

Use the Force, Luke

Ever wanted to control something with your thoughts, Jedi-style? A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota has put together a four-blade helicopter that can be controlled with the electrical impulses generated by our minds:

More about this amazing technology and how it works:

“The team used a noninvasive technique known as electroencephalography (EEG) to record the electrical brain activity of five different subjects. Each subject was fitted with a cap equipped with 64 electrodes, which sent signals to the quadcopter over a WiFi network. The subjects were positioned in front of a screen that relayed images of the quadcopter’s flight through an on-board camera, allowing them to see the course the way a pilot would. The plane, which was driven with a pre-set forward moving velocity, was then controlled by the subject’s thoughts.” –, “Tiny Helicopter Piloted by Human Thoughts”

The lead researcher on this project, Bin He, realizes that there are many more uses for this new human-computer interface, including helping those suffering from paralysis:

“Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts, sensed from noninvasive brain waves,” said Bin He, lead scientist behind the study and a professor with the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals….with the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders.”

Gesture recognition and Wi-Fi

You’ve probably heard of smart houses, right? Researchers in the University of Washington department of computer science and engineering are going a few steps further with that concept, linking existing wireless technology that most people have in their homes with gesture recognition:

“Forget to turn off the lights before leaving the apartment? No problem. Just raise your hand, finger-swipe the air and your lights will power down. Want to change the song playing on your music system in the other room? Move your hand to the right and flip through the songs. University of Washington computer scientists have developed gesture-recognition technology that brings this a step closer to reality. They have shown it’s possible to use Wi-Fi signals around us to detect specific movements without needing sensors on the human body or cameras. By using an adapted Wi-Fi router and a few wireless devices in the living room, users could control their electronics and household appliances from any room in the home with a simple gesture.” –, “Wi-Fi signals enable gesture recognition throughout entire home”

Watch a video of this technology in action below:

This technology, called WiSee, doesn’t require a complex installation of cameras or sensors in every room; it merely uses existing technology (wireless signals) in a completely new and innovative way. All sorts of household tasks could conceivably be simplified using this technology.

What’s next in perceptual computing?

Innovating on existing technology seems to be a theme with all three of the projects highlighted in this article, with new ways for humans and computers to interact at the forefront.

Recently, Valve’s Gabe Newell sat down with the Intel video team to talk about his impressions of perceptual computing as related to game development. Check out the video below for his views on how new kinds of input – like measured heart rate, perceived emotional state, contextual environmental cues, hand and eye movements, etc. – are shaping where new gaming experiences are going.

What do you think is coming next in perceptual computing? Share with us in the comments.


7 Reasons Great Careers Require Imagination

The faster the world changes, the more critical it becomes to exercise your imagination. If you don’t, you’ll always be surprised by what happens next.

I get calls and emails from all sorts of people, but the most interesting ones are from people who look at the world around us and imagine something different than exists today. Some want to reinvent our educational system. Others want to make banking more customer-friendly, or do the same to a different industry. All have an active imagination, or have partnered with someone who does.

There used to be lots of careers in which you could thrive without an imagination. Many industries did not change that fast, and many career paths were pretty stable. Neither of these statements are still true.

Here are seven reasons career – and life – success requires that you exercise your imagination:

1. All business growth starts with imagination. Every new product and service starts with someone saying, “What if?” To succeed in this realm, you don’t need to have the imagination of a great artist or inventor. You might simply ask: what if we offered a different size, or package, or payment plan, or service plan, or logo?

Long ago, when I worked at a collectibles firm called The Danbury Mint, I was often surprised at how a tiny change would result in millions of dollars in incremental sales. Someone would say, “Let’s offer a smaller size of the same doll,” and that was it. Start small, but be ready for big results.

2. Imagination is how we recognize talent. When the new intern shuffles by you with his or her head bowed, imagine what sort of talent is lurking inside that person. When you hear about a school that lacks basic supplies, or a community that lacks even simple medicine, imagine how much talent is being wasted. Then do something about it.

All of us were at one point in a position that required others to use their imaginations. I can remember plenty of times early in my career when it would have taken a great deal of imagination to recognize I had even one ounce of initiative or ability.

3. Imagination enables us to understand the reality of other people’s situation. You know that guy who always seems to do the least amount of work possible? Maybe he isn’t lazy. Maybe he stays up all night caring for a sick relative, or maybe no one ever bothered to train him to do his job, or maybe he’s in the wrong job.

Use your imagination to understand the challenges and opportunities that others face. They aren’t always obvious.

4. Imagination makes it clear how far we’ve come. It’s easy to lose sight of where you are today. Both in terms of society and your own accomplishments, remarkable things had to happen to get you to this place. After all, it took 15 or 20 years simply for you to grow to be full size. Every day of that time, someone had to help you find food, clothing and shelter. Before you were born, others had to sacrifice to build the roads and houses and electric plants that make up your community.

And someone had to stand in a wide open, empty space and say, “Let’s build a town here.”

Use your imagination to make an equally powerful leap forward.

5. Imagination powers love, hope and caring. Every new relationship requires imagination. Someone has to think: I might like this person. Or: I can’t live without this person.

Often times, someone has to push past fear or rejection to make what they imagined come true.

Every new charity requires not only this sort of imagination, but also the determination to ask other people for time, money and effort. It’s hard work, but can you imagine how much of a difference you can make?

6. When we lose, imagination keeps us going. Without imagination, every loss would feel like the end. When you got fired, you would simply stop working. When you got dumped in a relationship, you would simply be alone.

Imagination makes it possible for you to see a world that is different from the one that exists today. It might be a world in which you weigh less, or have stronger muscles, or live in a different place. It might be whatever you can imagine.

7. Imagination turns obstacles into opportunities. It’s tempting to wait for good things to happen to you, but many times the best outcomes begin with a problem. Most great entrepreneurs got their start by tackling basic problems. The same is true for nearly every profession.

Don’t avoid problems. Seek them out, then imagine and implement solutions.

I’d like to suggest you ponder a question this week: when you look back on your life, will you be proud of your imagination?

For many years, I’ve admired Ben Heine’s work. He graciously allowed me to use his images not only in this article, but also in the “visual version” of this article (please see below.) To find more of Ben’s highly imaginative artworks, visit his Facebook page.

Posted by:Bruce KasanoffBruce Kasanoff

A 16-Year-Old Is Becoming Mobile Ad Star By Telling Companies What They’re Doing Wrong

ash Bhat 16 kiip

Sixteen-year-old Ash Bhat’s parents are terrified that he is going to drop out of school. It’s not drugs or bad grades that’s afflicting the rising high school junior. Ash is just really, really good at programming.

In fact, the San Jose native won a full scholarship to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which sold out in two minutes in April, and a summer job at Kiip, one of the hottest mobile advertising startups in the Valley, by telling the companies what they’re doing wrong.

Kiip’s Brian Spittler told Business Insider that the company hired Ash “after he discovered a bug in one of our codes that was allowing him to redeem unlimited rewards.” (Kiip provides users with rewards during natural pauses in mobile games, essentially incentivizing ad clicks with treats.)

“I exploited it for a little bit, but then I thought there might be a consequence,” Bhat said. So he emailed Kiip’s CTO along with a video documenting the program error.

That was in February, which Ash defines as his “breakthrough” month when he started dominating hackathons and getting public attention. He was offered an internship paying thousands of dollars shortly after.

Although Kiip’s wunderkind founder Brian Wong is only 22 — “I’ve been able to connect with Brian pretty well, he knows what it’s like,” Ash said — the next youngest intern is a college junior at Berkeley.

“I’m the youngest by far,” Ash said.

He got a scholarship to the highly anticipated WWDC in a similar manner.

“I told [Apple] Siri sucks, you shouldn’t make it so users have to touch [a button] to talk to it,” he said. So Ash created and submitted an app that allows people to navigate iOS with only voice commands, using a software that is always listening as opposed to being turned on with a click.

Ash started programming as part of a (successful) attempt to convince his parents to buy him a MacBook Pro.

“They said it was $2,000, we aren’t getting it for you,” Ash said, so he decided to make some apps to convince them it would be a good investment. “I originally thought it was something I would do once or twice and then just keep the Macbook,” but Ash was quickly hooked.

He got his first paycheck for a couple hundred dollars from Apple for an app called iSchoolerz, which creates customized mobile apps for different schools, as a 14-year-old. The app is now used by 16,000 students and is run by three people, Ash and some friends.

Ash also applied for a Y-Combinator, but co-founder Paul Graham personally reached out to him.

“He said I was way too young to drop out of high school,” Ash said. “Paul started talking about a hand gliding analogy that while you’re getting an education you are reaching more and more paths … I didn’t really agree with that, you can always learn if you drop out.”

Ash says his parents, however, are adamant that he stay in school.

“My mom is the biggest advocate of education,” Ash said. “I went to a hackathon without their permission the other day, that I won actually, and she went crazy.”

The young programmer, who is currently writing code that is already getting used by developers and immediately impacting the company, is probably heading back to high school in Fall.

But Kiip told us, “we definitely want to keep him on board after the summer.”



Google says it won’t approve any Glass apps with facial recognition until it has protections in place


Today, Google posted a notice to its Google Glass channel on G+ that lays out its plan to prevent abuse of facial recognition on the head-mounted computer. Its solution? Reject any Glassware that uses it until they have proper protections in place.

Since Glass began hitting people’s faces, the questions about how a wearable camera with a computer attached would affect privacy have been ramping up. Specifically, facial recognition technology jumped out as a concern. If Google Glass can take HD video of you, why couldn’t it match your face up with a G+ profile or other data set and allow the user access to more information at a ‘glance’ than you’d care to give them?

Now, Google has outlined an official policy about Glassware with facial recognition elements:

When we started the Explorer Program nearly a year ago our goal was simple: we wanted to make people active participants in shaping the future of this technology ahead of a broader consumer launch.  We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass. As Google has said for several years, we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.

We’ve learned a lot from you in just a few weeks and we’ll continue to learn more as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead.

The updated developer policies on Google’s Glass developer site has added a new clause that states:

  1. Don’t use the camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print. Applications that do this will not be approved at this time.

As part of its response to congressional concerns over Glass privacy, Google has also codified its statement that it won’t allow the display to turn off while shooting an image or video. That’s now a hard rule as well. Google also added the Android section on content policies that cover things like gambling, viruses, hate speech and more.

Google engineers said something similar during an I/O session about Glass. Our own Alex Wilhelm reported on the facial recognition question:

Facial recognition is something that Google has worked on. They can imagine it existing through a third party. The company appeared to decline stating that they would build it themselves, likely to avoid painfully ignorant headlines. The company is “not scared” of it, but wants to ensure that it has clear user benefit.

Obviously wearable computing that combines camera technology, an always-on connection and a computing platform poses a bunch of privacy and security challenges, not just facial recognition. But it appears that Google has been feeling enough heat about this particular feature to ban the apps until they can get a policy in place.

Note that this official policy applies to apps that are ‘Glassware’. That means that they use the Mirror API and are installed via a web interface. These apps have limited access to the hardware and must be allowed by Google. Developers can build whatever native apps they like, root the device and install them directly. Google has even stated that it is working on a native API for Glass. But, for now, the official channel for facial recognition apps is closed.

I’ve been using Glass myself and have some mixed feelings about it. I’m not bullish or bearish on it, but find it interesting and something definitely worth ‘pulling the string’ on, to borrow Tim Cook’s phrase. There are some very interesting applications here, but it’s definitely a ‘far future’, not ‘near future’ technology.


Why Are College Students Flocking to Economics?

Harvard University students attend commencement ceremonies Budding economists, all of them.

It’s college graduation season — a time of year for reflection and deep thought about life’s challenges, the ephemeral nature of youth, and the number of economics majors coming out of Ivy League schools.

This year, as in most years, a plurality of the graduates of our nation’s top-ranked schools will have degrees in economics. The so-called “dismal science” has been one of the most popular majors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for many consecutive years, and students for decades have treated economics departments as a step toward jobs on Wall Street and in consulting. In recent years, the lust for econ degrees has spread to even those Ivies that are not known for producing budding young financiers. Even at Brown — yes, Brown, the grades-optional lefty paradise — 17 percent of this year’s graduating seniors had some kind of economics concentration under their belts. Brown is a bit miffed: President Christina Paxson has said too many economics concentrators see it as a Wall Street stepping-stone, and the school’s economics department has spoken about how the wave of interest has strained its resources, as the following Brown Daily Herald graph demonstrates:

I was intrigued by the curious case of the Brown economics bubble and decided to pull data from several other Ivy League schools, showing the popularity of the economics major over time.

Before I get to the graph: a note on methodology. Lots of schools make selected major-by-major data available through their Offices of Institutional Research. Harvard’s data were provided both by its OIR and, for estimated figures for the last two years, by Professor Jeffrey Miron, who leads the undergraduate studies program at Harvard’s economics department. Data from Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were provided by those schools’ respective OIRs, and Brown’s data came from both its OIR and its economics department’s undergraduate studies director, Louis Putterman. I omitted Penn and Cornell because those schools have undergraduate business programs that mess up the numbers, and Columbia because it didn’t have previous years’ statistics posted in a place I could find. Wherever possible, I included just the pure economics majors and not majors of affiliated programs like applied math. And wherever possible, I calculated the economics majors as a percentage of all completed majors, not as a percentage of graduating students, to account for the possibility of double-majors. Also, Brown calls its majors “concentrations,” but it means the same thing.

Here’s what I found. You’ll note that while Brown is the biggest gainer — jumping from 4.1 percent economics concentrators in 2003 to around 14 percent this year (with an additional 3 percent choosing applied math–econ and mathematical economics) — the numbers have held relatively steadily at several other schools for the last few years.

In my mind, there are three plausible explanations for the rise in economics majors at Brown and the steady streams everywhere else. Let’s examine each one:

1. They’re all going to Wall Street.

Most Ivy League schools don’t offer finance or business degrees, so students hoping to land on Wall Street after graduation have often hoped to get the closest thing possible to a preprofessional education by majoring in econ.

But with the decline of the financial sector and the concurrent decline in recruiting on top college campuses since the crash of 2008, it’s not clear that economics majors from the Ivy League are actually flocking to financial firms like they once did.

In fact, at many schools, the number of econ majors is staying stable, while the number of students headed to Wall Street is falling precipitously. In 2006, before the crisis, 46 percent of Princeton students went directly into finance; last year, that number dipped to 11.5 percent. At Harvard, 15 percent of this year’s graduating class is planning to go into finance — roughly the same number that majored in economics. At other schools, the number of econ majors has eclipsed the number of Wall Street–bound seniors, a sign that not all of the growth in the econ major can be attributed to the financial sector’s siren song.

2. They’re being practical in a tough job market.

The job market is rarely “tough” for Ivy League graduates — they usually land on their feet somewhere — but the past few years have certainly been stressful for job-seeking overachievers. In the fact of such uncertainty, it’s natural that Ivy League students would seek a degree that is seen as a financial safety net. Economics majors earn more, on average, than majors in most other fields and have lower unemployment rates than graduates of other social sciences and humanities programs. And you can imagine how pushy parents, seeing the youth unemployment rate hovering above 15 percent, would prod their kids away from art history and philosophy and toward something that will make them more employable.

Perhaps Brown’s rising interest in economics means that it’s simply catching up to its rivals where pragmatic degree-searching is concerned. One Brown student summarized her reason for studying econ in an interview with the campus paper earlier this year: “Coming to college and shelling out a quarter of a million dollars, you want to make sure you can get a job.”

3. They’re — gasp! — actually interested in economics.

Another theory is that the financial crisis of 2008, and subsequent recession, have made it an exciting time to study what’s going on in the global economy. In other words, economics is hot right now. Professor Putterman at Brown shot this theory down: “Our casual impression is that the main motivator of student interest is still to get business, consulting, and finance type jobs,” he wrote me. “Students are under the belief that the strategy makes sense.”

But I don’t think it can be dismissed so easily. After all, this year’s seniors have been in college during an incredible period in our nation’s economy. Most of them matriculated in 2009, a truly dark year when the Dow was below 10,000 and the country was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month in the midst of a global financial collapse. Understanding the basics of economic theory wasn’t just a good professional move — it was what allowed people to understand and contribute to the biggest stories of the day. And faced with the opportunity to study a field promising such immediate relevance, it would have made sense for some students to pick economics — where all the action was — over more arcane majors.

If the Great Recession is, in fact, responsible for the flood of new economics majors at Brown — either because it made students interested in the economy or because it scared them away from less practical majors — you’d expect to see a shift in the other direction in the next few years. Barring a double-dip recession, today’s freshmen and sophomores will have gone through college in very different economic times. And in a recovering economy, with fewer dramatic headlines about bank failures and billion-dollar bailouts, some of them might lose interest in economics or feel more confident about their chances of landing a job with a softer major.

But if Brown and other Ivies keep churning out econ majors, even in a strengthened economy with a depressed financial sector, it may mean something more lasting than a temporary, recession-fueled spike. It may mean that economics is the major of the future.


To The Teacher Who Inspired Me

The teaching instinct must run very deep in my family, since both my mother and father were originally teachers. My mother was a teacher before she became a full-time homemaker. My father left teaching to be a pharmaceutical salesman because there were six children in our family and he needed to earn more money. If things had been different, he might have remained a teacher all his life.

With National Teacher Appreciation Day this week, it seems like the right time to reflect on the important role teachers play in our society.

When I think back on my early years as a student, I feel tremendously grateful for the quality and caliber of the women and men into whose care I was entrusted by my parents, day after day.

I completed my entire pre-college education in the wonderful public school system in Nutley, New Jersey, the little town where I grew up. From my very first day in kindergarten, I knew I would love learning and being taught. I remember the names and faces of every one of my teachers, from Miss Parks and Miss Mitchell, my first- and second-grade teachers, to Mrs. Harth, my fifth-grade science teacher whose inspiring lessons in biology and botany still help me identify sea life and garden plants and trees.

But the one who made the deepest impression on me was my third-grade teacher, Miss Irene Weyer. It was Miss Weyer who showed me what made a great teacher and why. Smart, poised, and beautifully groomed, she was not even five feet tall, and several of her young students towered over her. Nevertheless she did not allow any of the twenty or so 8 and 9 year olds in her charge to intimidate her. She was loving, but also firm and determined. She kept rowdiness to a minimum with a sweet smile and an iron will.

Among the many subjects she taught, Miss Weyer had the difficult assignment of teaching penmanship, a required class in those days. It was not an easy task. She taught us according to the fairly strict Palmer method. With our Number Two pencils, we were required to make well-formed letters – round where they should be round, oval where they should be oval, and straight where they should be straight. It was very conformist but it produced legible handwriting.

Hour after hour I practiced the required shape and slant of the letters in my blue-covered notebook printed with thin guidelines for upper- and lower-case letters. I was striving so hard to make my letters perfect, but what I really wanted was Miss Weyer’s approval. I respected her, and I wanted her respect in return.

I believe kids really want to learn, but their curiosity must be nurtured. They need to learn something new every day, they crave interesting projects, they desire assignments, they need instruction, and above all they want to have fun.

When I became a mother, I started taking my daughter Alexis to school in New York City, but by then I was taken aback by the changes that had taken place. I realized that the social value given to teachers had diminished dramatically. Teaching had become a business, not a revered profession. The respect and viability of the teaching profession has eroded so much. Today so many amazing teachers struggle to move mountains with few resources.

Now I am a grandmother, and I have the chance to experience those early learning experiences with my grandchildren. I see my granddaughter Jude and how much she already loves going to school at age two, which makes me happy. I will do my best to encourage her to like and appreciate her teachers and form close bonds with them, just as my parents did with us. As a society we must continue to support our teachers and help them inspire the creativity, expressiveness and leadership of future generations.

Unfortunately these days my handwriting has deteriorated to a scrawling, almost illegible script. Try as I might, I cannot seem to improve it or make it as elegant as I would like it to be. Today so many people rely on their computers for correspondence and papers, and penmanship is not taught much anymore. But I often think of Miss Weyer and the invaluable lessons I learned from her.

Posted by:Martha StewartMartha

6 Tips for Coping with Boredom


Samuel Johnson wrote, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.” Little things make us happy, and little things can drag us down.

One “little thing” that can be a source of unhappiness is boredom. Sitting in traffic. Doing laundry. Waiting in a long line at the grocery store.

I’ve found that the more I focus on my boredom or irritation, the more I amplify that feeling. Here are six strategies I use to “re-frame” the moment; even if I can’t escape a situation, by re-framing my emotions about it, I can transform it.

– Put the word “meditation” after the activity that’s boring you. (This is my invention.) If you’re standing in a slow line at the drugstore, you’re doing “Waiting in line meditation.” If you’re cleaning up after a party, you’re doing “Cleaning meditation.” Just saying these words makes me feel very spiritual and high-minded and wise.

-– If you can’t get out of it, get into it. Diane Arbus wrote, “The Chinese have a theory that you pass through boredom into fascination and I think it’s true.” If something is boring for two minutes, do it for four minutes. If it’s still boring, do it for eight minutes, then sixteen, and so on. Eventually you discover that it’s not boring at all. In my life, I’ve found that if part of my research isn’t interesting to me — for example, studying the Dardanelles campaign for Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill — I read a whole book about it, and then it becomes absorbing. The same principle holds when doing boring or irritating tasks, like washing dishes.

– Take the perspective of a journalist or scientist. Really study what’s around you. What are people wearing, what do the interiors of buildings look like, what noises do you hear? If you bring your analytical powers to bear, you can make almost anything interesting.

– Find an area of refuge. Have a mental escape route planned. Think about something delightful or uplifting (not your to-do list!). Or maybe review photos of your kids on your phone; studies show that looking at photos of loved ones provides a big mood boost.

– Take your time. I realize that when information bores me, like trying to understand a change-of-service notice from the cable company, I try to rush through it. This makes things worse, though, not better, because I feel not only bored, but also impatient and confused. Now, when I have to make sense of something that’s both boring and bewildering, I deliberately slow myself down and take all the time I need. My resolution to Put myself in jail is helpful.

– Most important: always have something good to read!

How about you? Have you found strategies to deal with boredom?

Posted by:Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin

Are You Only Pretending to Be in the Right Job?

Every day I come across people who are in the wrong job. You do, too. They are sad, unhelpful and may seem incompetent. It’s tempting to get mad at them, but the more humane response is compassion. No one feels comfortable doing a job for which they are a bad fit.

These experiences are frustrating, which is why it’s so refreshing to come across someone who is in the right job. Glenn O’Neill, for example, is a middle school teacher who has taught social studies to all three of my kids. He is always upbeat, inspiring and insightful; the students love him, and the parents do, too. Most importantly, he seems to love what he does.

In honor of this great teacher, I created The Glenn O’Neill Test. It will help you understand if you are actually a good fit for your current job:

Do people seek you out? If others go out of their way to tap into your expertise, it’s a very good sign you are in the right position. To test this, ask yourself a hard question: do people come to you for help because they have to, or because they want to?

Do “customers” recommend you? Everyone has customers, even if you don’t call them that. Someone depends on you to do your job well. The highest compliment is when these folks praise your skills to others. When people recommend someone, they are putting their personal reputation on the line. Do others respect the job you are doing enough to risk their reputation endorsing you?

Does your job feel “just right?” It’s not too easy, but it’s not too hard, either. You generally don’t get either overwhelmed or bored. This can be a really hard balance to sustain, and it’s quite possible that the job that was perfect for you two years ago is too basic for you today.

Do you have room – and the energy – to grow? Every year should bring fresh challenges. It’s a giant warning sign when your job theoretically leaves you room to grow, but you lack the energy to tackle those “challenges.” Early in my career, I worked in an entry-level position for WGBH/Boston, the public broadcasting station. My supervisor gave me a review that said I still had plenty of room to master my basic responsibilities, but I perceived those tasks were so far below my aspirations as to not be worth my time. Her supervisor agreed, and pulled me out of the department to take on on a much more challenging position.

Are you eager to learn? People who think they know everything there is to know about their job are at risk of getting old, jaded and inflexible. The world is constantly changing, and there are always new skills and insights to learn. If you don’t feel this way, you’re in the wrong job.

Are you comfortable with your compensation? We all could use more money, but it’s critical that you are able to make things work on your current income. Life is not always fair, and sometimes society doesn’t value highly enough the job you were born to do. You may have made other life decisions – such as having four kids – that preclude you from being a good fit for a job you otherwise would love. Few things eat away at your soul like feeling that you are underpaid for the work that you do.

Does your job fit your self-image? Human beings are complicated. We don’t just need money and something worthwhile to do. Many of us need prestige, power, or respect. Some people care more about their influence than their income. Others want to be in the room when big decisions are being made. While your job won’t satisfy all your needs, it should be a good fit with who you really are.

Are you thankful? Gratitude is important. I feel bad for people who don’t know how lucky they are until they lose what they had. If you are actively thankful for your job, the odds are good that others are also thankful you are in your position.

Thanks, Glenn!

Posted by:Bruce K.Bruce K.

“Am I Money?” 3 Signs You Are

Awhile back, we started a project on CAREEREALISM called, “Am I Money?” We positioned it as the, “Hot-or-Not” of job search. Readers would submit their resume and Linkedin profile and I’d review them for free and tell them ways to be more attractive to hiring managers. We thought only a few people would take us up on our offer, but instead, we got so many requests, we had to stop doing it. We just couldn’t keep up. We decided to build our sister site, CareerHMO to support them instead.

Being “Money” is About Alleviating Pain

There’s an easy way to tell if you are “money” to employers. You need to determine if you are the extra-strength aspirin to an employer’s pain. The three signs are:

  1. Your manager proactively seeks your input on important projects he’s working on.
  2. Your manager regularly comments on how you saved her time or money with the work you completed.
  3. Your Linkedin profile and resume are filled with quantifiable accomplishments that articulate how you have saved and/or made your employer money.

Answer “yes” to all three and you can rest assured you’re a “money” professional.

Not “Money” Yet? Try This…

The easiest way to be valued more by employers is to “manage up.” I wrote the following post to teach people how to do that: 10 Tips for Controlling Your Boss.

Finding ways to alleviate pain for your manager is the fastest way to get what you want. There’s nothing more valuable than an employee who makes life easier for their boss. It’s what earns you raises, promotions, and better job opportunities….it’s what makes you “money.”

What “Money” Making Tips Can You Share?

I’d love to hear from readers how they are earning a reputation as “money” to employers.

Posted by:J.T. O'DonnellJ.T. O’Donnell

7 Key Career Lessons from ‘The Apprentice’

This week we saw the start of the 2013 series of The Apprentice here in the UK. The popular and award-winning reality TV show sees 16 business-hopefuls compete to become Lord Sugar’s apprentice. Each episode we see candidates fighting for survival by competing on business tasks. Over 12 weeks we will see one after the other being fired until one is crowned ‘The Apprentice‘ winning a £250,000 investment into a potential business venture as well as the opportunity to work in partnership with business tycoon Lord Sugar. I love the show!

Why do I like it so much? It’s like being a fly on the wall in an assessment centre for three months. Candidates are split into two teams who then compete on tasks to demonstrate their business skills such as leadership, organisation, financial acumen, negotiation and sales. Tasks vary from selling a container load of different products for the most profit, to setting up a shop or developing a brand new product. The winning team is rewarded with a treat (helicopter flights, meals out, cocktail parties, etc.) while the losing team has to face Lord Sugar in the board room for a ferocious grilling. Ultimately one of them gets fired. This continues each week until a handful of candidates remain and those lucky souls are treated to some ‘interviews from hell’ with Lord Sugar’s most trusted aides.

Watching 16 candidates trying to make a good impression while fighting for survival is not only very entertaining (there are lots of tantrums and personality clashes) but is also great for picking up dos and don’ts for your own career or business venture. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from previous series:

1. Don’t be overconfident – There are few people that have succeeded in their careers without a sound level of self-confidence. However, being over-confident can be detrimental. Candidates on The Apprentice are given every opportunity to sing their own praises and do so with great gusto! They are always the best negotiators, the best financiers, the best presenters… I remember (with a slight smile on my face) a candidate saying ‘As a salesperson, I would rate myself as probably the best in Europe.’ Whilst entertaining for the viewer there are serious lessons to be learnt. Their exuberant confidence often leads to over-promising on tasks, it makes them less likeable and they often find it difficult to listen to other people’s ideas (even if they are better ideas). What we can learn from the show is that those who succeed have an air of confidence and conviction about them without being overbearing and that the line between confident and smug is thin.

2. Be a team player – Success in your career nearly always depends on your ability to be an effective team player. It is important to recognise that sometimes you have a specific role to play within a team. Sometimes you might be required to lead and sometimes you will be asked to work in the background organising things or delivering specific sub-tasks. On The Apprentice we see time and time again individual candidates who ignore their designated role and instead aim for a leadership position. This often causes tension and friction within the team and can have a negative impact on task delivery . A good team player can lead when required but ultimately puts the team’s objectives above their own.

3. Pull your weight – People that are successful in their career make sure they pull their weight and contribute effectively to any task they are involved in. In each and every series ofThe Apprentice we see candidates that just stand back or hide in the background hoping they won’t be noticed. For some candidates it’s part of a game plan i.e. not to stick their neck out in the fist 2-3 episodes and therefore avoid being blamed for any failures. This strategy has backfired in more recent shows with candidates being fired for not contributing enough. It is key that we get involved in tasks, take on some risk and responsibility and get noticed for our input.

4. Be likeable – Candidates that get promoted and move up in their careers are generally well liked by others. It is much harder to fire someone you really like and have built a relationship with. Each year on The Apprentice we see one or two candidates who rub everyone up the wrong way. It’s often their downfall, especially when it comes to confronting Lord Sugar in the board room – fellow candidates gang up on the ones they don’t like, even if they have performed well. It’s crucial to form good relationships with your colleagues. Be friendly, helpful and interested in other people… and not just those in management but colleagues performing different roles across the organisation.

5. Speak up – If you think something is not going right or could be done better then say so – don’t just watch your team fail in silence and then lay blame. Make sure you put your point across but accept it if the team decides to go in a different direction to the one you think is best. On The Apprentice we see candidates fired for claiming (after the event) that they would have done things differently. It’s important to contribute your opinion while there’s still a chance to influence the outcome. However, if you can’t convince the other team members that your idea is a good one then take it on the nose. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and just continue to be a great team player regardless.

6. Don’t forget the task at hand – Successful candidates remain on task – they always have the team objective at the forefront of their minds. Those who take their eyes off the ball and focus too much on promoting themselves or standing out from the crowd often end up getting fired because they failed to focus on the important issue and got side-tracked with less important or even trivial or counter-productive elements of the task. Many tasks on The Apprentice involve making more money or profit than the other team – the candidates and teams that make decisions always with this objective in mind normally do very well.

7. Don’t lie – Every year on The Apprentice we bear witness to candidates who have ‘stretched’ the truth in their application forms and CVs… e.g. the candidate who went to university (but only stayed for four months). There is sometimes a fine line between creatively promoting yourself and telling blatant lies. In my opinion honesty is the best policy as a little bit of digging and one or two phone calls will very quickly reveal the truth.

Do you watch The Apprentice? Have you picked up any career tips from the show?

Posted by:Bernard MarrBernard Mar

The 1 Thing a Business Leader Must Do to Succeed

Sadly, 25% of businesses fail within their first year and an astonishing 70% of businesses fail within ten years. So, if you’re thinking about starting a business or you’ve recently made the leap, how can you optimize your chances of success? What is the single most important factor in determining your success? I asked this question of 10 successful business leaders from the Young Entrepreneur Council, and their answers are below, followed by mine:

1. Build A Strong Leadership Team

We used to invest in technology. Then it was marketing. Then we woke up and realized it was all about the people. Bringing in the best, seasoned, Director/VP-level talent over the past 18 months has really helped the owners bring the company’s goals back in focus. Do your systems, workflow and technology always need to be evolving? You bet. But at a certain point in company’s growth, you will NEED an experienced leader helping you architect those things if you want to go to the next level. – Andrew LoosAttack

2. Have A Great Mindset

Your mindset drives so much in business: the risks you take, opportunities you pursue, challenges to tackle, confidence level and vision. The great thing is that even if you have doubts and fears now, your mindset can change and grow with you as an entrepreneur. The things that once terrified me are now easy to manage and I understand much better why entrepreneurship is an excellent avenue for personal growth and development! – Kelly AzevedoShe’s Got Systems

3. Execute

Hands down, continuing to execute to accomplish your goals is the single most important factor in making your business a success. Without continual execution, businesses sink. However, executing on the right goals will not only keep you from sinking, it will help you excel. – Stacey FerreiraMySocialCloud4. Have a Passion for Change 

At Star Toilet Paper, we have a deep-seated yearning to change the world and that is what we are doing and will continue to do. Each and every week, we have a weekly email that we sign off with, “Let’s change the world and disrupt the status quo.” Having an internal team slogan like that really helps bring out the best in us and continues to fuel our passion. – Bryan SilvermanStar Toilet Paper

5. Create Value

Purchase decisions almost always come down to value — customers must realize a benefit from working with your business. That can mean a multitude of things, such as cost savings, convenience, reliability, increased quality, etc. Effectively providing value is integral to the long-term success of your company; not only does it assist in retaining your current customers, but also provides the highest-quality referrals you can ask for when attempting to gain new business. – Charles Bogoian,Kenai Sports, LLC

6. Work With Clients Who Share Your Beliefs

Being ourselves and working with companies who share our beliefs is everything. We believe design makes a difference and we look to work with companies who agree. We also work with companies who know the people inside the building are what counts. Working with companies with soul has been the key to our success. – Chuck Longaneckerdigital-telepathy
7. Focus 

It’s so tempting early on to chase after every interesting idea and business opportunity. Learning to say “no” or at least “not yet” is paramount to every entrepreneur’s success. Focus on what’s most important. Your customers and investors will thank you for it eventually. – Ryan BuckleyScripted, Inc.

8. Serve Your Customers

By providing your product or service in a fast, convenient, and friendly way, you’ll establish your business as one built for the long term. Any unsatisfied customers should be compensated to ensure they’ll still consider you for future business. Happy customers are everything. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

9. Remain Unsatisfied

I am famous internally for saying “we’re almost there” when referring to the business. The truth is that “there” is a constantly moving goal post. As a team, we have a positive but relentless and never-satisfied attitude, which in turn results in our company always pushing for better and never being complacent. – Lauren FrieseTalentEgg

10. Hire the Right People

I was telling my team just last week that regardless of how much we market or sell, if we don’t create good products (in our case, websites), then we can’t progress. It’s people who create those sites, so hiring the best developers (or widget makers, or whoever makes your business succeed) is vital to keeping the engine of your business running. – Hassan BawabMagic Logix

These are the single most important things a leader must do to succeed in business according to ten successful young entrepreneurs. But wait – there are 10 different factors listed above! So which, in fact, is most important?

My answer to this question:

Focus is the single most important factor in determining your success as a business leader.

Focus means understanding what your priorities are in any given hour, day, month, quarter or year. Focus means knowing what’s most important – product, service, hiring, fundraising, sales or innovation, and then concentrating on that one thing. Focus means knowing what’s not as important in any given time period. Without focus, it’s easy to wander – it’s easy to become reactive instead of proactive – it’s easy to fail. With focus and determination, you and your team will understand what’s most important, and help you execute – to success. So that unlike that 70%, you can beat the odds and maintain a successful business over time.


Now it’s your turn. How important do you think focus is for leaders in determining business success? How important do you think the other factors listed above are? What do YOU think is the single most important factor in determining whether a business succeeds or fails? Let me know in the Comments section below, please share this post with your network, and here’s to your success!

Posted by:Dave KerpenDave Kerpen

The Best Talent Is Bringing Out Talent in Others

“A superior leader is a person who can bring ordinary people together to achieve extraordinary results.” Many years ago, an entrepreneur told me that. He was right.

But this isn’t just true of leaders. It’s true of all human beings.

I’ve come to believe that the most valuable talent is being able to recognize hidden skills that others possess. Why? There’s only one you, and you only have so much time. But if you can bring out the best in others, you gain remarkable leverage.

So very hard…

I’m not just talking about recognizing talent. I’m talking about being able to recognize a look in someone’s eyes that tells you something valuable is burning inside that person.

I’m talking about realizing that if you take Jake’s drive, mix it with Julie’s intelligence and Dave’s creativity, then you will transform three mildly effective people into a spectacular team.

I’m talking about looking past what’s “wrong” with others, and instead seeing what’s special about them in very pragmatic and actionable terms.

How do you do this?

Here’s a short list of ways you can bring out the best in others:

1.) Let your gaze – and your attention – linger. Instead of rushing past a person, or barely acknowledging their existence, you could choose to stop and really look into their eyes. Look at their body language. Consider what they are NOT saying and NOT doing. Ask yourself why.

Consider two possibilities. One is that they have more value to add, but are unwilling (yet) to show greater initiative. Another is that they lack the confidence to utilize their “hidden” talents in a public fashion. Then look for ways to offer motivation and support.

2.) Magnify the quietest voices. Money, power, and influence often flow towards the loudest voices in an organization – but sometimes the quietest voices possess the best answers. Can you think of a way to magnify the quiet voices?

For example, I once visited an organization and was greeted by dozens of outgoing, warm people. But one young woman sat quietly in a corner, studying a book. It turned out she had recently moved from China, and did not yet have a strong mastery of English. But she was a genius, had performed at Carnegie Hall as a teenager, and had both a broader and deeper perspective than virtually everyone in the room.

Think about ways you can identify and encourage these quiet gems.

3.) Mix things up. Watch for opportunities to create non-intuitive combinations of people, ideas and circumstances. You can do this through social events, discussion groups, or even a carefully orchestrated meeting. You can do this by introducing people via email, and giving them a reason to interact.

Many times, we make the mistake of waiting for others to initiate change. You might be thinking: this isn’t my job, I’m not head of the department/division/company. Anyone can do this, and no matter who does it, that person is cultivating the amazing skill of bringing out the best in others.

4.) Look past your own biases. Most of us are drawn to certain types of people. They might be like us, or they might simply be people who like us.

If all you do is to follow your natural instincts, then you will be blind to most of the talent on Earth. You need to cultivate an appreciation for people who think, act, and feel differently than you. This is a tremendously difficult challenge.

One way to start is to make others feel important by listening, really hard – with 100% of your attention – to what they have to say. Then repeat back what they told you, so that they know you understood. It’s a small step, but an important one in the right direction.

If you only interact with people who are within your comfort zone, you will seldom achieve anything great. Almost by definition, spectacular progress requires disparate ideas and talents to come together in unprecedented ways.

Become one who cultivates talent in others. It will enrich your life and supercharge your career.

Posted by:Bruce KasanoffBruce Kasanoff

To Innovate, First Expand Your Mind

It’s no secret that creativity feeds on contrasting perspectives. Innovative ideas are often sparked by mixing up the concepts and perspectives of quite different disciplines, stirring the pot of metaphorical reasoning we all carry within our own minds.

One of the things I do, personally, to try to keep my thinking sharper and my perspectives more original, is spend time consciously trying to absorb information and ideas from disciplines that are totally unrelated to marketing, sales, customer service, or business strategy.

Consider, for instance, the following list of random and interesting facts from a variety of disciplines:

  • 90% of the cells in a human body are bacteria.
  • All the light we are able to see – that is, the entire visible world (to us) – comes from less than 1 ten-trillionth of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • In 2010 twelve witches were burned in Haiti. In the US, 39% of people believe astrology is a science, and 40% believe the human species is less than ten thousand years old.
  • Statistically, you are less likely to die from a spider bite than from the stress caused by a fear of spiders.
  • A million high-school seniors rated themselves on their “ability to get along with others.” Virtually no one came in “below average,” and 25% felt they were in the top 1%.

Each of these facts, and many others, can be found in a single, highly stimulating book entitled (appropriately)This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking (Harper Perennial, 2012), compiled and edited by John Brockman. The book is composed of 150 brief essays (two or three pages each) by some of the brightest scientific, economic, and philosophical thinkers of our time.

And the perspectives are indeed profound. This may come as a shock, for instance, but there is no such thing as “scientific proof.” Science is a process of increasingly accurate approximation, and the vast majority of today’s scientific theories will eventually prove to be wrong, in one aspect or another.

Even today, however, most people aren’t fully cognizant of how the scientific method is applied, so Richard Dawkins suggests one of the single most important tasks for a school should be to teach students how to do a double-blind control experiment. If people graduated from high school (or even university!) with this knowledge, Dawkins says, then we would “learn not to generalize from anecdotes. We would learn how to assess the likelihood that an apparently important effect might have happened by chance alone. We would learn how extremely difficult it is to eliminate subjective bias, and that subjective bias does not imply dishonesty or venality of any kind.” Just think how this skill could, all by itself, elevate the quality of the vitriolic and often moronic political discussion in this country about the right kind of economic policy to follow, or the correct response to global warming.

As our world becomes more complex, applying the scientific method is likely to become more and more important. Gerald Smallberg, a neurologist, points out that the “exponential explosion of information and its accessibility make our ability to gauge its truthfulness not only more important but also more difficult. Information has importance in proportion to its relevance and meaning.” (This is, in fact, similar to the argument Martha Rogers and I make inExtreme Trust in which, among other things, we suggest people’s ability to trust information depends on both its accuracy and its objectivity.)

And the world is indeed getting more and more complex as we add information from our tools and devices, as well as from our connections with others. Nicholas A. Christakis, the physician and social networks expert (he wrote a classic book explaining the nature of social networks, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives), says that complexity is particularly acute when it comes to the information generated by networks of people:

“If we have 10 people in a group, there are a maximum of 10 x 9/2 = 45 possible connections between them. If we increase the number of people to 1,000, the number of possible ties increases to 1,000 x 999/2 = 499,500. So, while the number of people has increased by a hundredfold (from 10 to 1,000), the number of possible ties (and hence this one measure of the system’s complexity) has increased more than ten-thousandfold.”

There are many other “fascinating facts” in This Will Make You Smarter including, for instance:

  • Bacteria can be programmed to solve Sudoku problems (did you know that?)
  • There are roughly a hundred thousand earth-like planets in our own galaxy
  • The ability to deceive is an extremely important – perhaps the most important – evolutionary advantage for higher animals (including humans)
  • People tend to think more creatively when exposed either to a picture of a light bulb or to the Apple logo
  • Birds have local dialects
  • One in every four species of mammals is threatened with extinction today
  • Emissions reduction has no hope of stopping global warming. To do that we have to develop technologies to draw down the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere.

If you want to expand your own creative potential, this is the kind of book even the most attention-span-challenged reader can get into. Consume it 5 minutes at a time, or (as I did) gorge yourself for hours on one challenging new perspective after another.

Posted by:Don P.Don P.

30 Unconventional Business Cards




Yes, more traditional business practices are going digital these days. Though sometimes, a good ol’ physical business card is just as effective for that networking event, trade fair or random grocery store encounter. 

But to make yourself memorable, leave behind the ho-hum, stock-designed business cards in favor of something a bit more creative. Who knows? It might be worth that little extra investment when your company stands out from the stack of cards already on everyone’s desk.

We scoured the Internet and found some pretty clever designs. Check out our list below of 30 creative business cards (in no particular order) — they leave quite the impression.

1. Face to a Name

Truly put a face to a name with this design by REACTOR.

REACTOR Business Cards

Embedded image courtesy of Card Observer.

2. Tabs

If multiple people from a company are passing out cards, this sort of tab style by Diesel Designkeeps things organized for recipients.

Diesel Design

Embedded image courtesy of Card Observer.

3. Stencil

A eye-catching design by “itomizer” for Davide Gasperini.

Davide Gasperini

Embedded image courtesy of Card Observer.

4. Your URL

If you’re looking to emphasize your online presence for a personal or corporate brand, this is a clear way to make a statement.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, donveto.

5. Hacker

If you’re a coder or web guru, why not show off your skills?

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, BurgerGrease.


This “card” doubles as a LEGO toy and memorable desk ornament.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, skmotay.

7. Not Just a Card

This card design complements what the company mission and includes actual lawn seeds. Designed by creative agency STRUCK.

Images courtesy of STRUCK.

8. Hungry?

Who wouldn’t love a business card you can eat? The only hitch would be noting down all that contact information before taking a bite. Dizzy Design created the card for The Bombay Bakery.

Source: via Kathy on Pinterest

9. Snack Time

Organic beef jerky, anyone? Designed by the folks at Rethink, Canada.

Source: via Scott on Pinterest

10. Useful

A business card you can truly use as a tool. This design also from Rethink, Canada.


11. Cheese Grater

Yet another useful business card.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, dogbombs.

12. Natural

This card gets back to nature with a wood design.

13. Just Stretch It Out

Since you have to stretch it to actually read the text, this flexible card is super playful. And hey, the design stretches the imagination (pun completely intended).

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, kid_z.

14. Photo Genius

If you’re a photographer, this design conveys a visual career with a camera viewfinder display.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, lordla.

15. Clear

Another transparent-style card.

Source: via Sarah Müller on Pinterest

16. QR Codes

Though arguably QR codes may not withstand the test of time, they could be a good way to lead people toward your online content.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Low/Thomas Lowe Design.

17. Augmented Reality

Want to get more interactive? Augmented reality cards can be unique solution. But the recipient usually has to hold these special cards up to his/her webcam for the experience to work.

18. Shapes

A unique square card with color that pops.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Kyle Van Horn/kvanhorn.

19. Beyond The Square

Why be square (or rectangle)? Cards with different shapes stand out amongst a pile, but some might not fit nicely in your wallet.

Source: via Lloyd on Pinterest

Source: via Kiana on Pinterest

20. Mini Me

Why does size matter? Go mini. Design by MOO.

Image courtesy of MOO Inc.

21. Circle

Another anti-rectangle design.

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

22. Double-sided

Mullet style: party on the back, business on the front. Design by MOO.

Image courtesy of MOO Inc.

23. Facebook Style

For true social media aficionados, emphasize your brand’s Facebook presence. Design byMOO.

Image courtesy of MOO Inc.

24. Minimalist, Yet Personal

These handmade cards with hand-stamped ink leave an original impression. Designed by The Awesome Project.
Hand-Made Awesome Business Cards
Via CardObserver

25. Sliding

A clever visual effect when you slide the card. Design by Chez Valois for Caroline Biosvert.

Caroline Biosvert Branding

Via CardObserver

26. Skateboard

Think beyond plain paper — this design by JukeBoxPrint for Powell Peralta is quite unique.

Skateboard Business Card

Via CardObserver

27. Standing

This design by David Sjunnesson features a pop-out figure.

28. Words of Encouragement

Get direct with your text. Apple retail stores have reportedly used this card design for recruiting.

My friend's new business card. He works for some fruit company.

29. The Irishman

Sometimes, humor is the best way to break the ice.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, boomtownbuzz.

30. How Woz Rolls

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s card is totally sleek in a geeky kind of way.

Embedded image courtesy of Imgur, dre10g.

What is the most creative business card you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments.



What’s the best measurement for success? Happiness

How happy are you?

How much has your company grossed this quarter?

Which question is more important to you? If you are more concerned about the latter, then one suspects the answer to the former is not going to be very positive.

With this in mind, I was delighted to hear the Bhutanese have introduced a Minister for Happiness.

This Himalayan kingdom has a new measurement of national prosperity too – “gross national happiness”. By focussing on people’s well-being rather than economic productivity, there is likely to be a knock-on effect for business too. After all, a happy workforce makes for a more successful and productive team.

Success and money can contribute to happiness, but happiness itself is another thing altogether. Words like ‘family’, ‘friends’, ‘love’ and ‘laughter’ have a lot more to do with happiness than words like ‘gross’, ‘capital’ and ‘revenue’.

Money is a by-product of bigger, more meaningful goals such as passion, fun and wisdom. As I’ve said before, have fun, do good, and the money will come.

Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the Bhutanese and their Minister for Happiness. What other measurements for success are important to you?

Posted by:Richard BransonRichard Branson