5 years, 2 months, and 3 days. Beware of the ignorant and arrogant. A wise man knows what he doesn’t know.





My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today’s lesson is really a permutation of the last.  Emotion (in this case, pride) interferes with critical thinking and produces bad results.

We see this all the time in both the young and old.  For example, when you were a toddler, Shosh, you once said, “I know French — ‘french fries’!”  You were proud — rightfully so — of having made the connection between “French” as a language and the use of that word in “french fries”.  What you said as a two-year-old is adorable.  However, when such sentiments are expressed by adults, they only make the speakers appear foolish.  For example, a college graduate — who is a teacher no less! — once explained to me that drinking coffee will darken your skin, and drinking milk will whiten it.  Yeah, right….

Unfortunately, such foolishness is not limited to those without advanced degrees.  For example, someone who attended Tuft University’s Graduate School of International Affairs for a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy claimed she knew as much law a lawyer with a Juris Doctor.  Another, who claims to have two master’s degrees and worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, claimed she knew as much about medicine as a Medical Doctor.  Recently, I overheard two Ph.D.’s assert that government issued driver licenses and other identification papers based on a fraudulent birth certificates (i.e., not one’s own) are valid because the papers are government issued.  Wow…

(Regarding the latter, it should go without saying that anything achieved under fraud pretense cannot be cured by a subsequent lawful act because that latter was obtained under false pretense.  For example, if someone stole my car and sold it for good money to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist, although the purchase may have followed all legal formalities [i.e., the seller forged my name on the car registration and the buyer successfully submitted it to the DMV to obtain a new DMV-issued registration for the car in the buyer’s name], the sale would still be invalid because the “seller” stole the car and was not its true owner.  This is not hard to understand.  See, e.g., https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-99-00570.pdf.)



Remember when I said what people say tells you something about them?  What do these things tell you about the speakers?  Are they wise or are they foolish?

Don’t be like them.  Don’t let emotions, including pride and arrogance, cloud your judgement.

Likewise, don’t let cultural mores blind you and cloud your judgement.  For example, in the Asian tradition, age is respected.  As my mother always said, “70 learns from 71”.  While that may have once been true in olden times, when formal education was limited to the few and experience was the teacher for the masses, in modern age, when education is accessible to the many, it is no longer valid. A  17 year-old with the academic degree Doctor of Medicine knows significantly more about medicine than a 90 year-old layman.  http://www.kansashealthcarecareers.com/10-youngest-doctors-in-the-world/.  Out of politeness, accord your elders a modicum of respect.  However, that respect is temporary and lasts only until you have gathered sufficient information to judge on your own whether respect is appropriate.  In other words, an elder telling you to do something doesn’t not entitle you to suspend your critical thinking faculties.  Any failure resulting from your action would remain with you, not the person who told you to take that action. Thus, don’t let cultural norms, like respect for the elder, cloud your critical thinking.  Sometimes,


Remember, your mind is your greatest asset.  Money, title, fame, etc., may come and go, but if you have a sharp mind, you will always be able to rebuild.  Friends of ours lost everything to a false friends who robbed them blind, but they were able to rebuild their lives to a higher degree than it was.

Because your mind is your greatest asset, make the most of it.  Be informed.  Think critically, broadly, and clearly.

Also, protect your greatest asset.  Take good care of it.  Nourish and use your mind well.

As reported in an article in The Lancet, researchers in San Diego examined the death records of almost 30,000 Chinese-Americans and compared them to over 400,000 randomly selected white people. What they found was that Chinese-Americans, but not whites, die significantly earlier than normal (by as much as five years) if they have a combination of disease and birth year which Chinese astrology and Chinese medicine consider ill-fated.

The researchers found that the more strongly the Chinese-Americans attached to traditional Chinese superstitions, the earlier they died….

The researchers concluded that they died younger not because they have Chinese genes, but because they have Chinese beliefs. They believe they will die younger because the stars have hexed them. And their negative beliefs manifested as a shorter life span.

It’s not just Chinese Americans whose fears about their health can result in negative health outcomes. One study showed that 79% of medical students report developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they are studying. Because they get paranoid and think they’ll get sick, their bodies comply by getting sick.

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9690/scientific-proof-that-negative-beliefs-harm-your-health.html#. (emphasis added)


My dearest sons, I love you more than words can describe, and I want the best for you.  Surround yourself with good people and positive role models. Avoid, like the plague, bad elements.  They do nothing but hurt you — even if only by modeling bad examples, limiting your world view and dreams, etc.  This includes relatives on your mother’s side who have felony conviction, who have been banned from driving because of repeated substance abuse, and whose friends got into a knife fight during the wedding ceremony.  Try to spend more time with my side of the family, where most of use have college degrees, many of us have advanced degrees, and most of us hold notable positions with prestigious organizations.

All my love, always,



5 years, 1 month, and 14 days. Always be you, and beware of hypocrites — those who pretend to be someone they’re not.






My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware of hypocrites, my sons.  They are abound and they often assume leadership roles after donning the mantle of virtues to cover up their vices.  A cursory search of the Internet and you’ll find lots of stories about “leaders” who publicly extol the virtues of family values while bedding prostitutes or otherwise cheating on their spouses, who publicly decry the harms of homosexuality while engaging in homosexual conducts behind closed doors and in dark corners, etc.

For example, there is an elderly woman who goes to church 3-4 times a day, befriends mostly priests and nuns and other members of religious orders, constantly talks about her charitable work helping the poor and the disenfranchised, and loves visiting the Holy Land and the Holy See.  From all appearances, one would think her place in heaven is assured.  However, her conducts do not always conform with her words. More often than not, she “helps” the poor while helping herself.  She uses the poor and the cripple to raise funds, a sizeable portion of which goes to support her lavish and jet-set lifestyle.

At least she is small fry and those she professed to help actually do receive help, albeit not as much as they would have had to minimized her expenditures and maximized benefits to those she promised to help.  There are scammers out there who steal millions from the poor and the dying, all while basking in the lie that they’re there to help the poor and the dying.  https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/worst-charities/index.html.

Much has been said in the news recently about the egregious conducts of Oxfam “leaders”, but I am not surprised.  The adage that people kiss up and shit down comes to mind.  While there are lots of good people out there who work hard to help the poor, the homeless, the elderly, and the disenfranchised, too often the dishonorable infiltrates their ranks and besmirch their good names by claiming to help those less fortunate but, in actuality, abusing the latter.

Years ago, while working at a refugee camp to provide free legals services to asylum seekers, I came across a little toad of Vietnamese man from Australia who claimed to volunteer overseas “to help” his people.  In truth, he was there to prey on the weak and helpless and to coerce one into becoming his bride.  Shortly after arrival, reportedly he pointed to the most beautiful young Vietnamese woman helping out in the office and announced that he’d marry her.  True to his words, shortly thereafter, he married her and quit his voluntary position.  (Asylum seekers in those days could spend years languishing in refugee camps and often look for marriages as the way out.  Often, the women would even offer to pay men to marry them.  Of course, this constitutes marriage fraud, is highly unethical, and is illegal.  Love can flourish even in the most dire of circumstances, but these sham marriages are often unbalanced relationships between those with power — the man with an overseas passport (often a loser who has been rejected by his female compatriots at home) — and those without — the powerless woman who has given up everything she’s known to face an uncertain future while languishing in a refugee camp.  There is nothing fair or virtuous about these sham marriages.)

At the same time, I met another winner who repeatedly tried and failed to gain admission to law school then who went about bragging how he intends to get “an MBA in history.”  Another winner.  Unfortunately, they were not alone.

The trick is to watch what people do, and not put too much faith in what they say.  If their conducts conform with their words, then believe them.  If not, then stay clear of them.

A man is only as good as his word.  If a person has no honor and use his or her words only to further his or her deceptions, then be wary of him or her.  It is only a matter of time before you, too, fall prey to his or her lies.

We are raised in honest households; thus, we are no match for those who spend their hours and minutes scheming to defraud others.  Thus, it is best to give such ilk wide berth.

Likewise, do not do anything that would cause you to fall among the ranks of the hypocrites and liars.  Be you.  Be the best you possible.  Live right.  It will not always be easy, but it will always be right.  And, who promised you that life would be easy?  It isn’t.  Regardless, you can still live well, my sons, and leave the world a better place than when you found.

I love you with all my heart,






5 years, 1 month, and 13 days. Given the current tone of discourse, I remind you again to SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND.



Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

Peace Prayer of St. Francis
CCLI Song Number 649264


Auto Scripture:
2 Samuel 14:25; 1 Corinthians 14:9; 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Corinthians 12:15; Psalm 108:1; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 2 John 1:8; 1 Chronicles 2:9;
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The Prayer of Saint Francis has always been one of my favorite hymns growing up.  It’s a simple, yet powerful, prescription from one of the humblest of our saints for how to live well.  The lesson, albeit deeply challenging to put into practice, is eminently simple: put the needs of others first.

Imagine a world where each of us tried to put others before ourselves.  Think of  all the rancor and distrust we’d give up!  Divorce rates, for example, would be greatly reduced.  How could marriages fail if each member puts the needs of the other before his/her own?  (The key here is reciprocity.  If one member puts the needs of the other first, but the second does not reciprocate, then the relationship will be challenged to succeed.)  If you took care of your friends and family and they you, then how could those relationships fail?

As I’ve always said, we are bottomless pits and our thirst for self-fulfillment never ends.  Recall the story of the simple fisherman and the magic fish?  Having caught and released the magical fish that could speak, at the behest of his ungrateful wife, the man asked for a cottage to replace their shack, a castle to replace the cottage, a kingdom in lieu of the castle, an emperorship, the papacy, and ultimately dominion over the sun and the moon.  Because she was never content with each acquisition, she ultimately ended up with nothing.  http://storyberries.com/the-fisherman-and-his-wife/.

We are wired to be dissatisfied: our brain adjusts to whatever is new and resets that threshold as the new normal.  This is true of drugs and of all  things in life.  Thus, if we give in to our baser instincts, we will forever be unhappy because no amount of money is enough, no number of cars will keep us satisfied, etc.  A guy we know who is a philanderer, for example, is learning this lesson the hard way.  He cheated on his beautiful wife with one woman.  Over time, he found that being with one woman is not longer enough and he needed two.  Two turned into several.  Where will this end?  In this day and age of AIDS, STDs, etc., what risks is he exposing himself and his poor wife to?  When is enough enough?  Never.

The importance of self-control and self-discipline can never be overstated.  The best meals, for example, are not the ones where you are overstuffed, feel like puking, and have to undo your belt ad unbutton your trouser.  No, the best meals are those that are just shy of being satiated and leave you wanting.  So, put down that fork and appreciate the wonderful experience you have enjoyed.  Overindulgence will ultimately result in your losing appetite for that favorite dish of yours.

I  bring this up today because I am deeply sadden by discourse following the school massacre in Florida.  Children and their families suffered and continue to suffer, but the lack of humanity has caused many to rush to label these kids and marginalize them without listening to their pleas and hearing their pains.  Why?  Where is our humanity?

Listen and try to understand the person speaking to you.  Don’t worry about what you’ll say after the person is done speaking; if you truly listened, the questions will present themselves and you will have endless matters to discuss.  If you do these things, you will find that life will be better.  People will often respond in kind, and you will attract the right sort of people to your circle.  I promise neither utopia nor the absence of the crass and the vulgar, but their effects will be limited.

All my love, always,




5 years, 1 month, and 10 days. Always be the well-mannered gentlemen I raised you to be.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Always be polite — it warms the hearts of those who matter, and rankles the uncouth who expect you to descend to their level.  More importantly, what you say and do reflect on you, and I want the well-bred and the people of quality to count you among their number.  The alternative is highly undesirable, even if their number grows by leaps and bounds everyday.

It seems politeness and manners have fallen out of fashion.  How unfortunate!!!  Life is hard enough as it is without additional friction, vitriol, and rancor added to the mix simply because people cannot conform themselves to the rules of social behavior.

These people lack discipline.  One of your aunts, for example, is known for telling people off — including her bosses, siblings, or whoever — whenever she felt like it.  As you can imagine, she is the least successful among us, has been in one abusive relationship after another, and has condemned her daughter to a life of misery.  She ruined her life and the lives of those she professed to love because she simply lacked the discipline to conform herself to the rules of social behaviors.

If she’d live by herself in the wild, then she would be free to do as she pleased.  No one would care because no one would be around.  However, as soon as a community exist (and that may be a community of two), then understandings must be reached to foster better cooperation between members of the community for the good of the community as a whole.

Garrett Hardin states this best as the Tragedy of the CommonsSee, e.g., https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-tragedy-of-the-commons/; and, https://pages.mtu.edu/~asmayer/rural_sustain/governance/Hardin%201968.pdf.)  If the community has a pond from which members were free to fish and feed themselves, for example, and each member took as much as he pleased and wasted what he caught without regards to other members of the community, then, in time, there would be no more fish for anyone to enjoy.  Everyone would suffer. However, if everyone exercised discipline and conformed their behaviors to the rules of the community, then all members of the society could enjoy the fruits of the pond for a long time — assuming they used good aquaculture management and care techniques.

To put it another way, communal life is like the waltz or other fine-tuned dance.  If everyone follows the rhythm of the music and the steps of the dance, then beauty ensues.  Everyone could enjoy him or herself.  If, however, some members of the party decide to dance off-beat and to whatever steps they fancy, then chaos ensues.  Dancers around them would not know what to expect and would be unable to avoid colliding into them.  These dancers would move away, stop dancing altogether, or leave that party to find their own venue where they could dance in peace.  Joy is thereby reduced the many because of the few.  Thus, the uncouth enjoy themselves at great expense to others and exact a high price on society as a whole.  The community is fractured.

Don’t contribute to the decline of the community.  It doesn’t matter if others do.  That’s on them.  You behave well because you are well-bred and well-mannered.  If you don’t, that would be on you.

I recently heard about a couple who refused clothing ensembles carefully selected and assembled by the grandmother of the couple’s new born, who hand-carried the ensembles to give to her new grandchild.  The couple broke her heart by saying their child only wore “organic cotton grown and processed in the U.S.”  The couple claims to be highborn, but their actions belie their words.

When given a gift, the ONLY permissible response is “Thank you”  — this is especially true when you are accepting the gift on behalf of another.  To respond in any other way is simply rude and unbecoming.

Now, if the gift should be inappropriate (because it is given with expectations of returns which you find intolerable or unacceptable, because it is given to make the giver look good and you look bad, etc.), then you may say, “Thank you, but I cannot accept this gift.”  To do otherwise would be to allow them to bring you to their levels.  They cannot ascend to your level; thus, they aspire to bring you down to theirs.  Don’t let them.

Manners matter, my sons.  Behave well.  You will find yourselves in better company by behaving well than by behaving badly.  “Bad boys” may be popular in high school and later in life to the ill-bred, but they rarely ascend the ladders of success and time/history will rarely treat them kindly.

All my love, always,


5 years and 22 days. Keys to success: (1) be likeable, i.e., have good manners, listen to others, be present, etc.







Good Manners Make Everyone Comfortable

By Margaret Webb-Pressler
Friday, February 11, 2011; 1:19 PM

Take your elbows off the table.
Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Look people in the eye when you speak to them.
Write your thank-you notes.

You’ve probably heard all or most of those orders from your parents. And even though you do them, you might have wondered why grown-ups make such a fuss about good manners.

“I think manners are important, but I wouldn’t like to be one of those high-society English people with their pinkie stuck out,” said Isabel Uriagereka Herburger, 11, of Washington. “For myself at home, I could care less about manners, but at other people’s homes I’m more careful.”

Manners are about more than using the right fork or not slurping when you drink. Those rules of etiquette might be expected in certain situations, but not doing those things isn’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings. Good manners are a way to show others that you care about them. Manners also make it easier for everyone to feel comfortable in social situations.

Think of manners as traffic lights for life, said Pier Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who has written books about manners. On the road, traffic lights turn a world full of cars moving in different directions into an orderly system that allows everyone to get where they are going.

“The rules of good manners are the traffic lights of human interaction,” Forni said. “They make it so that we don’t crash into one another in everyday behavior.”

Even cavemen used manners!

Manners have developed over tens of thousands of years as a key element of human society, and they might even have helped the species survive.

Early humans lived in groups in order to hunt, share food and keep one another warm. But to live so close together, Forni said, humans had to learn to think about others, not just themselves. Think of it this way: If every person in the group looked out for only himself, the group would fall apart.

Our distant ancestors developed behaviors to show others respect, fairness and kindness. Those have evolved into today’s manners. “You cannot have any kind of community if there are not some rules,” Forni said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021103541.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you.  I simply miss you, my sons.  I want the best for you and I want you to find happiness and achieve success in life.

With that, let’s continue our discussion about what it takes to be successful.  Note that the first picture of success is devoid of ANY mention of collaboration, teamwork, and working with others around you.  That is wrong.

Unless you are amazingly and overwhelming brilliant — like Steve Job — you need to be able to get along with others and to work well with others in order to be successful.  In my two decades working with human resource professionals, I found that whether someone will fit in with the organization is a critical factor in their decision making process.

Think about it: if you hire someone who doesn’t fit in with the organization, that person will eventually cause conflicts and tension, thereby destroying group cohesion, morale, motivation, etc.  As the saying goes, “One bad apple can ruin the barrel.”  (Steve Job — and others like him — is the exception to this rule because his was so overwhelmingly brilliant that organizations needed him and had to make exceptions for him.  But, recall, even he was kicked out of Apple, the company he founded, and had to work his way back in.)

This is where yesterday’s discussion about listening and being present comes in.  When I was taking graduate classes in counseling psychology, they said if we practiced the listening skills taught in that class, we will find that people will love talking to us.  That proved true.  I once met a gal from Georgetown Law School, and we spent 10 minutes talking before she had to run off for class.  I revealed little about myself during the conversation, and spent most of the time listening to her and reflecting back what she said.  At the close of that conversation, she insisted that we meet again and said that was one of the best conversations she’s had.

We connect with others when we give them the gift of our time and our attention.  Relationships are built on that.

On the flip side, think of all the occasions when we don’t listen to others or they us.  How did you feel about those interactions?  Were you frustrated?

I don’t have to look afar for examples.  My siblings, your aunts and uncles, may be well-educated and accomplished, but, if memory serves me correctly, they sucked at listening to others in the family.  They always thought they knew more, and was always more interested talking and showing off their “knowledge” than listening and gathering knowledge to build their up repertoire.  (They have doctorates and master’s degrees, but we each have our own expertise, and, having an M.D. or a Ph.D. in one field does not make you an expert in ALL things in life.  Your uncle, the M.D., thought he knew enough to hire a divorce lawyer without consulting me, a lawyer, and ended up hiring a guy who wrote a book on computer law to be his divorce lawyer.   As you can imagine, that ended badly and left a bad distaste for all lawyers.  But, the fault lies with him for not bothering to listen to others with more expertise in that field.)

While listening is necessary, it is not a sufficient condition for success.  For example, no matter how well someone is listening to you, would you want to continue spending time with that person if he burped and farted as he talked to you? if he continually picked at his teeth and his feet during the conversation? if he engaged in otherwise rude and ill-bred manners?  No!

Manners put others at ease and enable them to enjoy themselves.  In order to be successful, you must be able to get along with others and collaborate with them; to do that, you must first put them at ease and enable them to want to work with you (because they found the experience enjoyable, in addition to being necessary — we’ll get to the latter part later).

Many people fail because they think being smart, having good grades, being at the top of their class, etc., is enough to get them invited to colleges, to join companies, etc.  They are wrong.  Those may be necessary conditions, but they are rarely sufficient conditions.  Given a choice, people choose to follow  and work with people they like, not those they find distasteful.

So, remember, be kinder than necessary, have good manners, and listen.

All my love, always,



10 Traits of Likeable People

This is a an every day occurrence, if you’re a likeable person. If this seems like something that could never possibly happen to you then I’d like to remind you that social skills, like any skills, are completely learn-able; and with a little practice you too could be the talk of the office, and be going home with a thriving social life.

Here are several traits that likeable people share. If you cultivate them, you’ll join the ranks of those who spend their weekends with friends, their evenings at dinner parties, and their days surrounded by coworkers that love and respect them.

1. They Aren’t Insecure

Likeable people don’t come from a place of insecurity. They go into every interaction thinking “I bet me and this other person would get along great, I should really get to know them better.” And then the likeable person moves on from there. Start from a positive place and others will notice. If you’re not there yet, faking your confidence will help put your insecurities at ease.

2. They’re Genuine

Likeable people never try to be something they aren’t. If you don’t know something, admit it. If you don’t agree with a statement someone else has made, don’t grin and bare it. Instead, honestly admit that you don’t see it the same way as the other person. Don’t put them down. Simply try to see where they’re coming from, and strive to understand their point of view.

3. They Don’t Judge

When you are judgmental, people can sense it. Even if you smile and hide your negative feelings, the people around you can sense that you have just formed a poor opinion of them. Rather than seeing others as good or bad, try to understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, choices, and mistakes. Likeable people make this their philosophy and, as long as no one is getting hurt, they never pass judgment on the value or morality of another person.

4. They’re Positive

Negativity abounds in our world. We have negativity in the news, on our homepages, and it appears on the Facebook and twitter feeds of our friends. Even a lot of the novels I read end up with negative endings! Be a positive voice in a world where everyone sounds a little like Eeyore. Being positive will make you a pleasure to talk to and more people will want to talk to you.

5. They Don’t Compete

Conversations aren’t competitions. Likeable people never story-top or one-up in a conversation. Instead, they view conversations as an opportunity to connect and create deep relationships with others. If you want to be more likeable, enter every conversation with the goal to make the other person feel liked and respected. This will change the tone of the interactions you have, and make everyone involved more likely to enjoy it.

6. They Provide Value

When you’re in a conversation with someone and they complain that they don’t know what to get their mom for Christmas, do you lament how awful that must be before going into a story of your own? Or do you recognize that they have a problem they may need help solving? People everywhere have problems they wouldn’t mind help solving. But as people, we tend to be self-involved and not notice. If you take notice and help people solve their problems, you’ll create friends for life.

7. They Don’t Settle for Small Talk

Small talk doesn’t develop long lasting friendships, and small talk won’t make you likeable person. Likeable people avoid small talk by transforming it into deep conversation. They do this by being genuinely interested in others, asking honest questions to help further their understanding, and relating to what they’re told, briefly, before gathering more from the person they’re talking to. Don’t settle for small talk–do everything in your power to move the conversation forward to more personal subjects.

8. They Touch People

Patting shoulders, shaking hands, and (in some cases) hugging other people makes people more comfortable around you. Touching eliminates the physical barrier of distance, and so it eliminates the emotional barrier that the distance represents. Touch is an art, and the first few times that you attempt it it may seem awkward, but practice makes perfect and the art of touch is important if you want to become more likeable.

9. They Don’t Shy Away

Likeable people have tons of friends! This isn’t magic–it’s because they intentionally befriend tons of people. They meet people; they get those peoples’ contact information; they befriend those people and spend time with them; and then they go meet more people, never losing touch with anyone they’ve gotten to know. You can’t be more likeable and not meet new people. You have to get out of your comfort zone and build lots of relationships if you want to become more likeable.

10. They Genuinely Like People

I know what you’re thinking: But people suck! It’s true, everyone has moments when they act rudely and everyone can be annoying from time to time. But deep down, most people are really nice. They care about others, and unless they’re having a bad day, they’re easy to get along with. Likeable people know this, and so they like people. They want to get to know other people, and they enter every interaction expecting a positive experience. If you only remember one tip from this article, it should be to develop the attitude of liking people. If you do that you’ll become more likeable in no time.

Likeable people were all less likeable at one point in time. They simply decided to work at becoming more engaged, more respectful, and more likeable. Now they seem to work magic and develop friendships wherever they go. You can seem like that too! You simply have to develop the habits I’ve outlined above and you’ll have the social life, the career, and the life that being more likeable brings you.

What about you? When was the last time you interacted with a truly likeable person? What did they say or do that made you instantly take interest in them? Let us know in the comments.



The Top 10 Skills You Need to Be Successful

These abilities are key for your career in any company or industry.

By Rebecca Healy, Contributor |Dec. 10, 2014, at 11:03 a.m.

A professional woman asking a question.

To be successful, you must ask for what you want. Speak up if you’d like a promotion, a bigger sales deal or more responsibility. (iStockphoto)

Success comes from the mastery of a core set of skills that can be applied to any position, field or company. When you practice and strengthen these skills in your work, you’ll rise to the top. Read on to discover the crucial talents you need to launch your career:

1. Sales skills. Sales is the basis of all business success. You are always selling, even if your role does not include sales in the job description. You sell during marketing activities, team meetings, customer service, product management, conferences, business development, engineering, user experience and more. A solid foundation in how to sell can give you a wide advantage over your colleagues and competitors.

No sales experience? No worries! If you’ve worked in retail or fundraising, or convinced a neighbor to let you babysit, you already have the sales foundation you need. For a great primer on how to use sales to your advantage, check out “To Sell is Human,” by bestselling author Daniel H. Pink.

2. Transferable skills. Transferable skills give you the ability to see your past experience in a new light. That experience can be as varied as volunteer work, to a full-time job, to your weekend hobby to a waitressing gig. During each experience, you acquired skills that can be applied to your career success.

For example, as a waitress, you likely learned critical people skills, such as crisis communication, customer service and teamwork. That interpersonal expertise can be applied to your next job in public relations, and indeed, should be highlighted in your cover letter and résumé when applying for the job.

3. The ability to ask. The ability to ask is the easiest, most underutilized skill to catapult your career. The old adage is true: “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.” Many careerists don’t ask to pitch their idea, for a raise or promotion, a bigger sales deal or to take on more responsibility. When this happens – or doesn’t happen, rather – you’re far less likely to find challenge, meaning and reward in your work.

If the thought of asking makes you break out in hives, try practicing in non-work related contexts. At the farmer’s market, you could ask a vendor for a lower price on the asparagus; at home, you could ask your partner to attend dance lessons; on the street, you could ask a stranger, “how are you?” The more you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more likely you’ll decide they’re not that uncomfortable after all.

4. The ability to code. You don’t need to know how to build the next Facebook, but a basic understanding of how the Web works and how software and apps are built can be a game-changing advantage. An increasing number of positions require technical knowledge, but even if your job never requires you to be technical, you should know what’s happening under the hood. The knowledge will help you interface with development and engineering teams, as well as hold more realistic expectations.

Try doing small side projects to familiarize yourself with programming concepts, like building a blog. Or choose one of the many free online classes out there, like Codecademy.

5. Communication skills. Both written and oral communication skills are basic, but that doesn’t mean they’re not difficult to master! Think about ways to challenge yourself and tweak how you write an email or behave in a meeting.

For example, don’t hit “send” immediately after composing a note. Instead, give yourself a beat or two, then reread the email, make edits and then hit “send.” Or during your next team meeting, resist talking about your idea or opinion right off the bat. Instead, count to five, and if you still feel like you have something relevant to contribute, speak up. On the flip side, if you’re shy, challenge yourself to say what you’re thinking, instead of remaining silent.

 6. Interpersonal skills. The ability to be a team player is so fundamental to your work that there are few better things to focus on. Interpersonal skills are just a fancy way of saying how you get along, relate and communicate with others. Employers hire people with domain expertise, of course, but mostly they hire people they like and can get along with.

Think about how to become more likable. You might try mimicking the body language of the people you’re talking with, repeating their ideas and opinions back to them and really listening. But keep in mind that all the tips and tricks in the world won’t help if you don’t have genuine interest in and empathy for your fellow team member.

7. Project management skills. Can you see the big picture and break it down into small, manageable and action-oriented steps? Then you have undeniable value. Many employees consider themselves “idea people” but don’t have the ability to execute on those ideas. If you have the ability to prioritize and get things done, you’ll be able to lead a team in no time.

If you find project management difficult, try taking a project that’s already complete and work backward. What are the tasks and assignments it took to complete that goal? Write them down in detail to get a better picture of a the project road map.

8. The ability to be a self-starter. Do you have an entrepreneurial drive? Apply it to the workplace. Employers increasingly value folks who can take initiative and own a project from start to finish. As a creative self-starter, you should take calculated risks, brainstorm new ideas and execute with precision.

If you’re not sure of what problems you should help solve, start by looking for the roadblocks your co-workers repeatedly run into or issues your customers continually face. Still stuck? Simply ask your boss for a side project to work on when your normal responsibilities are complete.

9. The ability to be curious. To really stand out in a company, you should always be looking to improve, both individually and company-wide. Hone your inquisitive thinking skills by asking questions like “why?” and “how?” to your employers, your customers and yourself. Everyone will appreciate your interest and thirst for knowledge.

While it may be difficult to open up initially and admit you don’t know it all, curiosity helps strengthen self-confidence. As a result, you will learn new ideas and job skills that will stay with you throughout your career.

10. The ability to drive results. Through it all, you should know what your goals are and how you are going to achieve them. This skill requires you to synthesize many of your other skills and layer on an intense passion and focus. Results-driven individuals are metrics-oriented and can quantify outcomes to motivate themselves and their teams, all while contributing to the bottom line.

Write out your personal and career goals to keep your eye on the prize, and try forming a partnership with a friend to hold you accountable, help you stay driven and keep you on track.

As you cultivate and master these core 10 skills, you’ll create the career you want – for now and for the future.

Rebecca Healy is the founder of Kontrary, a different take on money and happiness that helps you take control of your work and life. She lives in Washington, DC.



The predominant stereotype we have of leaders, particularly business leaders, is that they are male (usually white), tall, assertive—even aggressive—and driven to produce bottom-line, short-term results. This stereotype still persists, one that is eagerly perpetuated by the media and movies, despite the decades of research on leadership and the promotion of transformational, servant-style and values-based leadership. The focus on leaders who have advanced emotional intelligence and social skills rarely gets the attention of management gurus or researchers.

For example, Joey Cheng and his colleagues at The University of British Columbia published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which found when groups were given the task of choosing a leader, they identified people who had the appearance of both skills and competency as well as the ability to impose their ideas on others in a dominating manner. They concluded that their findings show why more aggressive leaders continue to populate both business and politics. It appears from this study that the stereotype of a leader as an aggressive, dominant male is still widely embraced by people as desirable as opposed to what might be identified as more female characteristics of compassion, warmth and interpersonal skills.

We have come so far in stereotyping leadership characteristics, including imbedding them into recruitment practices, that leadership style is now becoming increasingly extreme, as witnessed by the increase of psychopaths in the boardroom., or the kind of amoral behavior portrayed in the true-to-life movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Yet there is a contrasting view, one being talked about more and more, that advances the notion that social skills are critical for leadership success.

Tiziana Cascario and Miguel Suusa Lobo, in an article in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge entitled “Fool vs. Jerk: Whom Would You Hire?”, argue when given a choice of whom to work with, people will pick one person over another, according to 2 criteria; one is competence on the job and the other is likeability. The authors conducted their study of organizations of varying size and industries in North America and Europe. Their research showed that no matter what kind of organization they studied, everyone wanted to work with the “loveable star” and nobody wanted to work with an incompetent jerk. The researchers also concluded that personal feelings played a much more important role than is commonly acknowledged. They also found that if a person was strongly disliked, it was irrelevant how competent he or she was, they would prefer not to work with that person.

Roger Covin, writing in the Huffington Post, contends that most people are not aware of the traits or qualities that are appealing to others. He argues, based on his research, the most likeable qualities are sincerity, honesty, and the capacity for understanding, loyalty and trustworthiness. Intelligence and a sense of humor is also important, whereas being popular is much further down on the list. He cites other research, which identifies warmth, kindness, openness, expressiveness, as important determinants of likeability.

Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior and Inspiring Action, says there is a real “ROI to likeability.” He makes a distinction between “nice” people and “likeable people,” referring to the latter’s capacity for honesty, whereas the former may avoid being candid for fear of not being liked or hurting others’ feelings. He also identifies unselfishness as a key likeability characteristic.

Jeff Hayden, writing in Inc.com, described how likeable leaders don’t try to impress people with the typical power poses—standing tall and square, taking big strides, firm handshakes, a deeper voice. He argues that this kind of posturing may be designed to impress people but it is very self-focused. In contrast, using the example of a meeting between Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, their body language was more relaxed including movement forward with a slight bow and a smile.  Hayden describes other characteristics of likeability—the use of light physical touch; focusing the conversation on the other person; humility; disclosure of vulnerable parts of self including mistakes; and making no requests of the other person but offering to help the other person instead.

The individuals cited above identify themes reflected in a two books, one by Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Leadership, and the other by Tim Sanders, entitled The Likeabilty Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams.

Matthew Lieberman, writing in the Harvard Business Review blogs asks the question, “Should Leaders Focus on Results Or On People?” He cites the work of Jack Zenger who examined characteristics of great leaders. Two of those characteristics were a results focus and social skills. He found that if the leader was seen as very strong on results focus, the chance of that leader being seen as a great leader was only 14%, whereas if a leader was strong on social skills—such as empathy—the leader was seen as a great leader only 12% of the time. However, if the leader was seen as being strong equally on both results and social skills, the likelihood of being seen as a great leader rose to 72%. Lieberman contends “strong social skills can leverage the analytical abilities far more efficiently.” Yet studies show that few leaders are perceived as having both strengths.

In his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect, Lieberman argues our brains have made it difficult to be both socially and analytically focused at the same  time.   He says evolution built our brains with different networks for handling these two ways of thinking.  In the frontal lobe, regions on the outer surface, closer to the skull, are responsible for analytical thinking and are highly related to IQ.  In contrast, regions in the middle of the brain, where the two hemispheres touch, support social thinking. These regions allow us to piece together a person’s thoughts, feelings, and goals based on what we see from their actions, words, and context. Lieberman describes how “these two networks function like a neural seesaw. In countless neuroimaging studies, the more one of these networks was active, the more the other one became quieter.  Although there are some exceptions, in general, engaging in one of the kinds of thinking makes it harder to engage in the other kind.  It’s safe to say that in business, analytical thinking has historically been the coin of the realm—making it harder to recognize the social issues that significantly affect productivity and profits.  Moreover, employees are much more likely to be promoted to leadership positions because of their technical prowess.  We are thus promoting people who may lack the social skills to make the most of their teams and not giving them the training they need to thrive once promoted.”

Conventional wisdom has told us that “nice guys finish last,” as might nice organizations. Dachel Keltner, a University of California psychologist and author of Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and a number of his fellow colleagues are building the case that humans are the successful dominant species because of our compassionate, kind, altruistic and nurturing traits. One of these studies has shown that many people are genetically predisposed to be empathetic. New research by Jon Bohlmann and Rob Handfield of North Carolina State University, Tianjao Qiu of California State university, William Qualls and Deborah Rupp of the University Illinois published in The Journal of Product InnovationManagement, shows that project managers got much better performance from their team when they treated team members with honesty, kindness and respect. Bohlmann explains “if you think you’re being treated well, you are going to work well with others on your team.”

Our excessive focus on bottom-line results at any cost, driven by aggressive men who see social skills as a means to an end, has been a contributing factor to many of our current economic and social problems. Expanding our concept of leadership to require that leaders possess greater social skills and practice them in organizations that embrace trust, honesty, compassion, generosity, empathy, kindness and genuine concern for the welfare of others would be welcome change.







5 years and 18 days. Be confident in who you are and the value you bring to the world, but don’t be arrogant.











My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Always be yourselves and always believe in the value you bring to the world, but never be arrogant about it.  Why?  As a social matter, it is unseemly; as a practical matter, there is always someone better or more gifted than you.

For example, hubris is what caused BUFU to claim that he is always the smartest guy in the room — until he moved to New York City and got his shorts eaten by the really smart guys.  BUFU didn’t last more than few months in NYC, and had to run back home to his small city with his tail tucked between his legs.  Don’t be like that.

Don’t rest on your laurels either.  You are only as good as your last project.

For example, my sister, who graduated from high school when she was 14 years old, has earned her doctorate but has not much to show for her intelligence.  Why?  She rests on her laurels.  Yes, you can tell people how smart you are, how young you were when you graduated from high school (many many years ago), how you have a doctorate, etc., but at the end of the day, people only care about what you can do NOW.  Can they partner with you to achieve greatness?  to make money?  to build something worthy?  to leave a legacy for future generations?

Don’t worry so much about what others think of you.  Focus on improving yourself daily, on gaining knowledge about the world around you, and on making the world a better place for yourself and others, and people will see value in your work.  Your value is intrinsic and not dependent on what people think of you.  You don’t gain a penny in your bank account, or an ounce of health, or an extra second of time just because someone thinks better of you.

Your reputation only helps pave the way for you to accomplish your goals, to find people to collaborate with, etc., but it does not define you.  You define you.  No one else does.  Never let others define you.

Be good, my sons.  Be the best you can be, but be yourselves.  You are good kids.  I know.  I’ve watched your intrinsic goodness reveal itself as you grew up.  Shosh, you used to cry when friends get hurt, and offer candies and nice things for them.  Jailai, you used to save all your treats from school each day to share with Shosh, Little V, etc., and you used to befriend kids who had no friends.  You brought them into your circle of popular kids.  Don’t change!

I love you so much and miss you much!

All my love, always,


5 years and 10 days. Life is sales. Be good at it by focusing on the needs of others, instead of on what you are selling — your talents, your candidacy, your idea, etc.









My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It has been said that all of life is sales.  I cannot disagree.  Whether you realize it or not, you engage in sales tactics everyday.  You persuade a friend to go to see this movie instead of that, or do this activity instead of that.  That’s sales.  You try out for the school team or newspaper.  That’s sales.  You write an essay for college admission.  That’s sales.  You try to persuade a girl to go to the prom with you.   That’s sales.

In light of the above, in my opinion, the last image above is the most powerful.  People give up too easily.  They tried and failed, and they never try again.  That’s the Homer Simpson approach to life.


Don’t be like them.  Perseverance is critical to success.  Learn from your mistake and try again.  Success comes to those to forge on, not those who give up.

More importantly, often, people fail because they focus on themselves or their products, but not on the needs of their customers.  They forget — it’s not about them; it’s about the customer.

If you meet or exceed the expectations of the person you are pitching to, you will succeed.  Learn to focus on the needs of others and how you can help others, and you will be surprise at how people will be drawn to you.

This reminds me of additional quotes by Zig Ziglar.  Read on.

Zig Ziglar: 10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life

Zig Ziglar died today at age 86. A World War II veteran, Zig Ziglar became the top sales person in several organizations before striking out on his own as a motivational speaker and trainer. With a Southern charm and lessons grounded in Christianity, Ziglar wrote over two dozen books and amassed a following of millions who were encouraged by his lessons for success.

Below are 10 quotes from Zig Ziglar that have the power to completely change the direction of one’s life.

10) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

9) “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

8 ) “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

 7) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

6) “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

 5) “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

4) “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

3) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

2) “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

1) “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”


Have a good attitude, be a good friend, work hard, and enjoy a good life, my sons.

All my love, always,


P.S., please do not mistaken this post as an encouragement to become a salesman.  It is an honest profession and there is nothing wrong with it, but I would rather you pursue a career in which you can create something for the betterment of the world — be it an idea, an improved product, a new product, or simply something that brings light into someone’s life.  You are capable of so much more than selling the wares of others.  I, for example, sell ideas and solutions to people’s legal and healthcare problems.  That said, if sales is your vocation or avocation, then I fully support you.