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    November 2019

    Make Presence Your Gift

    November 25, 2019 10073 Views No comments

    As the Winter holidays approach, face it: if you’re like most of us, you’re going to feel busy. Overwhelmed. Scattered. Like you can’t keep up with it all.

    And when you swipe through Instagram, Facebook, or any other social network, you’re going to feel like everybody else is having a perfect, twinkle-lit hashtag holiday while you’re simply trying to keep up.

    How did this happen? Wind back the years and maybe you’ll feel nostalgia for the slower pace of time gone by…the fragrant smells, jingling sounds, and warm connections of what the holidays were once meant to be…and wonder why it all feels so frenzied to you.

    If so, take a moment. And a deep breath. Pause, and relax. You’re not alone in getting swept up in the “more more more” that this season has somehow unintentionally become.

    And I’m not alone in attributing that frenzy to the rise of social media and our dependence on our mobile devices as a primary point of connection. In the years since mobile phones found their way into nearly 5.5 billion hands worldwide, we’ve become more distracted, stressed, and, heartbreakingly, depressed than we were only a decade ago. Warnings about the “disconnection” our mobile devices (despite their promise to “connect” us) have risen over these years, It’s a topic I first explored on the TEDx stage in 2016, and it’s only become more concerning with time.

    Close your eyes and imagine the holiday season you’d most like to have. It’s likely pretty different than the one nagging at you from your calendar (or your holiday-planning app).

    What to do? Well, it may feel like you simply have to go with the holiday flow – yet the good news is you actually don’t. We’ve all gotten swept up unwittingly in the frenzy. Yet there’s a way to step back. My recommendation? “Make presence your gift” – and here are three science-backed ways you can make that happen.

    1. Slow things down. You know all those shortcuts we’re taking to try to get more done in less time? They may not actually be helping.

    See, the brain does some lovely stuff when we slow down. The Default Mode Network (DMN) – a special cognitive pattern that kicks in when the “busy” modes shift gears – helps us come up with new ideas and even new perspectives on ourselves. By integrating cognitive modes that otherwise work independently, the DMN helps the brain form new connections between recent thoughts and experiences and ones we’ve had before. That’s an important process that can’t happen when we’re rushing around.

    When we slow down, veg out, and do habitual, repetitive tasks, it’s an invitation for the DMN to activate in ways that can help us gain new insights, update our narratives about what’s happening in our lives, and see things around us in new light.

    Want to turn it on? Rhythmically chop those veggies. Carefully wrap those gifts. Stare out the window and watch the leaves rustle in the winter breeze. Invite a sense of quiet. Let yourself reflect and relax. Your brain will be listening, and will use that little vacation from the hustle to get caught up on some important work that might deliver a new cognitive gift to you.

    2. Check the tech. For at least one of your holiday experiences, put the mobiles out of sight and out of mind. Simply SEEING a mobile phone shifts our focus, researchers say, distracting us from conversations and activities for up to 23 minutes.

    Break the cycle by giving yourself, your guests, and your tech a break. I’m hearing more and more people say they’re putting an “ unplug box” or phone-collecting basket near their front doors and corralling devices there.

    Sure, it can feel weird not to have those always-on distraction optimizers at hand, ready to give us a neurochemical jolt once we’ve scrolled or liked or posted.

    But weird can be good: use it to shine a light on how strong the tech urge has become for each of us, and consider what you might want to do about that as a new year beckons.

    3. Surprise a sense. When we shift the usual way of doing things, we challenge our usual ways of experiencing things. Suddenly we notice things we may have overlooked before.So…why not do that as part of your holiday? Open your mind and consider…let’s be curious here…playing classical music rather than the usual holiday tunes…getting your table guests to enjoy one course in silence… opening a present with eyes shut and trying to feel what it actually is.

    Something tells me you may have thought of something that’s even better than those ideas. If so, make it happen. Simple changes, especially when enjoyed together (hello, mirror neurons) can awaken whole new experiences.

    The frenzy of the season is real, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it take over. Take a breath. Unplug. Do something slow that you enjoy. And pay attention in a way you might forget to indulge in other seasons. In other words, open the real present: your presence. Close your eyes and think about that and you’ll connect with a true gift.

    -Ellen Petry Leanse, neuroscience educator and author of The Happiness Hack

    For more brain hacks, check out The Happiness Hack>>

    Let Go of These 5 Things to Start Living a Better Future

    November 18, 2019 2834 Views No comments

    There are a lot of things you can do this coming year. This could be the year in your life where everything changed, because you finally got clarity and put in the work. However, there are certain things you must let go of to start having a better future. Once you give up these 5 things, everything in your life could change.

    1. Other People’s Definition of Success

    In the words of Srinivas Rao, host of The Unmistakable Creative podcast:

    “At some point, I realized that I had to give up other people’s definition of success. This is one of the most difficult things to give up because it is so deeply embedded in our cultural narratives that it becomes the standard by which we measure our lives. Even as entrepreneurs we have collectively agreed that fame and fortune are the markers of success.

    But, giving up other people’s definition of success is incredibly liberating and ultimately leads to the fullest expression of who you are and what matters to you. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a daily habit of comparing less and creating more.”

    “Success” doesn’t just mean what the larger mob of society says it means: lots of money, fame, and fortune. Many people with fame, fortune, and money have terribly empty, imbalanced lives.

    Your success isn’t defined by what other people say.

    No one can define your success but you. If you continue to let others tell you what success is, you’ll never reach it. Even if you did, it wouldn’t be a true success, because it’s not what you really valued.

    No, living an extraordinary life means defining your own version of what success is. You can begin to spend your time on what really matters to you.

    • Do you really want 1,000,000 Twitter followers?
    • Do you really need to be in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list?
    • Do you really want to be a New York Times best-selling author?

    Or is your version of success more nuanced, more narrowed, more focused, more specific?

    If you want to live an extraordinary life, your definition of success must be your own. If we are always chasing what other people tell us to, we’ll never experience true success.

    Let go of other people’s versions of success. Define your own success, and achieve it.

    That is true success.

    2. Looking Good

    Here’s an old parable:

    “Once upon a time, there was a wise Zen master. People traveled from far away to seek his help. In return, he would teach them and show them the way to enlightenment.

    On this particular day, a scholar came to visit the master for advice. “I have come to ask you to teach me about Zen,” the scholar said.

    Soon, it became obvious that the scholar was full of his own opinions and knowledge. He interrupted the master repeatedly with his own stories and failed to listen to what the master had to say. The master calmly suggested that they should have tea.

    So the master poured his guest a cup. The cup was filled, yet he kept pouring until the cup overflowed onto the table, onto the floor, and finally onto the scholar’s robes. The scholar cried “Stop! The cup is full already. Can’t you see?”

    “Exactly,” the Zen master replied with a smile. “You are like this cup — so full of ideas that nothing more will fit in. Come back to me with an empty cup.”

    Most people believe they already have it all figured out, yet wonder why opportunities, luck, and success continues to elude them.

    Choose to become a student first, and success will find you.

    If you want to look good — if you want everyone to think you have all the answers — then you’re fooling all of them and yourself.

    True success comes from knowledge, humility, and becoming a student of your craft. You can’t have that if you insist on looking like you have all the answers.

    3. Busyness

    “The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.” -Jeff Goins, best-selling author

    How you spend your days is how you spend your life.

    A lot of people love being “busy.” They wear it as a badge of honor. When you ask them how they’ve been, what’s the response? “I’m so busy,” they lament. But it’s a subtle brag. They like the feeling.

    But when you’re busy, you don’t really do anything — just because your calendar is full of meetings, appointments, and commutes doesn’t mean you’re actually making any progress towards your true goals.

    Are you focused, making tangible action steps towards what truly matters?

    …Or are you just “busy?”

    When you’re busy, you are on autopilot. You can’t see the hours slipping away, time you’ll never get back.

    But when you choose to be focused — to spend your time and energy on achieving your true goals — that’s where the magic happens. That’s where focus turns into flow states, hyper-focused mental efforts to make fast progress.

    Most people prefer the emotional boost of bragging about how “busy” they are, instead of actually doing the real hard work. Choose focus, not busyness.

    4. Entertainment and Distraction

    “Successful people don’t see it as ‘free time.’ They see it as the only time they have to do the things they really want to do in life and they don’t take a minute for granted.” -Nicolas Cole

    Reinvesting your free time is one of the most important ingredients to your success.

    If you’re working a full-time job, with a commute and family and bills, you don’t have a lot of free time. If you’re like most people, the precious little free time you do have is spent on entertainment and distraction, not learning and growing.

    This is low-level thinking, and it will lead you to a, frankly, low-level life.

    But true success requires sacrifice. A common misconception many of those sleep-when-you’re-dead hustle-entrepreneurs claim is that you need be working all the time.

    The truth is, you need to work your butt off — for a time. After you’ve spent the time creating your life, you can sit back and enjoy the work you’ve done.

    I like aimless free time, and it’s important no matter who you are or where you’re at.

    But if you want to make great strides and achieve a truly extraordinary life, you need to reinvest your free time into learning new skills, putting in the work, and being productive.

    It won’t last forever. But you need to put in the time now, so later, you can have the life you want.

    5. “Kinda-Good” Opportunities

    You can do amazing things with your life — but only if you have the time to do them.

    When my wife and I moved to South Korea for a year to teach English, my #1 goal was to become a full-time writer by the end of the 12 months.

    During that year, I was offered several high-paying, interesting jobs:

    • Youth basketball coach
    • Career coach
    • Private tutor
    • Remote data analyst
    • Musician for a church worship group

    But in the end, none of these kinda-cool opportunities would help me achieve my #1 goal. On the contrary, they’d take up what little free time I had.

    I said no to all of them. By the end of 12 months, I was making a full-time income as a writer. I had a signed book deal, tens of thousands of new followers, and I was getting hundreds of thousands of views each month.

    There’s great power in saying no to kinda-good opportunities. There’s also great consequences if you spend all your time on the merely “good” opportunities — it means you won’t have time for the truly great ones when they come.

    In Conclusion

    Good things come from sacrifice.

    If you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. It’s to start sacrificing the right things so you can have a better future.

    Don’t let anyone define success but you. Stop being “busy,” and start being focused. Don’t worry about looking good, concentrate on learning all you can from everywhere you can. Spend your time wisely, because many things want your attention and energy. Make sure they’re the right things.

    -Anthony Moore, author of What Extraordinary People Know

    For more on living your best life, check out What Extraordinary People Know>>

    4 Brain Hacks to a More Satisfying Work Day

    November 14, 2019 1736 Views No comments

    According to Gallup research, as few as 13% of US employees are engaged at their jobs. I’ve been reading a lot lately about things business leaders and managers can do to deal with this trend. Management consultants and coaches advise a list of cures, including upgraded perks, mindfulness practices, training in psychological safety, daily surveys, and enhanced leadership practices – some of which actually work.

    Yet I can’t find anything about what employees themselves can do when they feel disengaged. And, face it, not all companies are equipped to improve what disengaged employees experience. So I’m sharing these 4 neuroscience-based brain hacks on what any employee can do to make their days more interesting, more tolerable, and maybe even more satisfying than what they’re feeling now.

    1. Take a phone break. We pay a price for our reliance on mobile technology: rising distraction and stress. The little buzzes and chirps that call our attention to our phones have trained us to constantly anticipate interruptions and “things we need to do.”

    I’m far from alone in writing about the impact of tech on the quality of life, though I explore it (and what to do about it!) in The Happiness Hack. We all need to realize that our dependence on our phones is changing our brains in ways associated with anxiety, stress, and even obsessive behavior. Getting our phones out of sight and out of mind, even for a short stretch of time each day, reminds us that we have a say in the way we think and act. It also helps us reconnect with more focus and persistence in satisfying ways.

    Putting your phone away won’t change anything about your job. Yet it might remind you that even small acts can feel empowering in ways that might encourage other small acts – or larger ones. Our phones are great at making us forget some of our autonomy and choice. Maybe this small practice will spark an idea or change that reminds you that you have a say in how your time is spent, in ways that ripple out to other aspects of your work day.

    2. Step outside. Schedule time on your calendar to simply walk out the door. Head outside, even if it’s for a short break, and remind yourself of all that’s happening outside of your workplace walls. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. Look at the leaves on nearby trees, or see how far you can look out into the distance. Nature shifts brain patterns: natural light helps lower blood pressure; patterns and movements reduce stress. Even a short break can help you reconnect with yourself, check in with what you need to accomplish next, and reset your focus for the rest of the day.

    Want more? Bring a bit of nature, even if it’s only a picture, to the place where you work. Even a quick visual nature break refreshes the brain, improving concentration and focus.

    3. Journal about a goal that matters to you. Take 10 minutes, even 5, to write about a future ambition or priority. Then jot down one simple thing you can do tomorrow to take a step toward this goal (even if all you can do is remind yourself of the goal again). Once you’ve said something about the goal and a small step toward it, write down why achieving this matters to you. This simple exercise calls upon several distinct cognitive cycles, and also “primes” the brain to be more attentive to information aligned with your vision.

    Directing your brain towards a future improvement helps activate thoughts and decisions that are more likely to point toward that improvement. Make this a daily practice and see what happens.

    4. Find one thing. Quick: think of something that is actually good about your work. Maybe there’s a kind co-worker who helps you believe in yourself. Or a project that has glimmers of work you actually like to do. Or maybe there’s new knowledge or a new ability you have the chance to learn. If you can find even one such thing, you have a cornerstone to building more satisfaction at work.

    Connecting through relationships, making a worthy contribution, and seeking growth: these are three timeless keys to happiness. If you can identify one worthy thing and – really, try this if you can – express appreciation and gratitude for it, you’re exercising a part of your brain known to help with stress management, big-picture thinking, emotional regulation, and more.

    I’m not saying employees alone should bear the responsibility for fixing engagement issues or dysfunctions in their workplace, nor am I suggesting anything above is a cure-all for a widespread problem.

    However, we owe it to ourselves to counterbalance workplace challenges by connecting with our own well-being and the bigger picture. See what happens when you try the above practices, and consider sharing them with a work buddy. You may end up getting closer to that percentage of people who actually feel connected to their work – or seeing some new choices to help you get there.

    -Ellen Petry Leanse, neuroscience educator and author of The Happiness Hack

    For more brain hacks, check out The Happiness Hack>>

    Believe You Belong - And You Will

    November 12, 2019 3278 Views No comments

    In 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators, I save the best tip for last. Secret number ten is ‘Reinvent Yourself.’ It simply means that great communicators are made, not born. It could be the most important lesson of all.

    If you don’t believe in your ability to improve as a speaker, to inspire and to electrify your audiences, I’m afraid the other communication strategies won’t do you much good. Here’s the good news—anyone can become a great speaker. Yes, it takes some people longer than others to get really good at it, but you can master the skill that is essential to elevating your success. In fact, people who have always been fairly comfortable at public speaking aren’t necessarily the ones who capture our hearts.

    Great speakers make it look effortless because they put a lot of effort into making it great.

    Let me offer a few examples from people who make an appearance in my book. Not one of these speakers was a ‘natural.’ Some had serious stage fright. But they all have a growth mindset, built their skills, and believed in their ability to reinvent themselves.

    Warren Buffett
    Warren Buffett’s most cherished degree isn’t his business school diploma; it’s a certificate from a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course. Buffett has acknowledged that he was “terrified” of public speaking early in his career. He knew he had to get comfortable in front of groups if he hoped to succeed as an investment advisor. Recently, Buffett has been asked by young people for life advice. Get really good at public-speaking, he always says. It can raise your career value by 50%, instantly, according to Buffett. When a billionaire offers advice, it pays to listen!

    Arnold Schwarzenegger
    I worked as a television news journalist before I made the transition to writing full-time. In 2003, CBS News invited me to cover Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political campaign and his first 100 days as California’s governor. I guess they thought a movie star would be filling his days with celebrity parties. When it became clear that Schwarzenegger was spending his time, well, governing, I got less time on the air. But what I learned changed my life and my career.

    You see, I had a front-row seat to Schwarzenegger’s speeches, sometimes more than one a day. He delivered talks to a wide range of audiences: voters, students, and business leaders. I watched him take complex subjects and customize the language he used for different audiences so they could relate to him and understand the subject. It was an advanced master class in public-speaking.

    Keep this in mind. Schwarzenegger came to the U.S. as a body builder who didn’t speak English very well. The studio hired an actor to provide the voice-over in one of Schwarzenegger’s early movies. However, he attacked the language barrier with the same razor-sharp focus he put into his sports career. In the mid-1990s, Schwarzenegger’s visibility as a political leader began to rise. Schwarzenegger knew that he had to become a better speaker in front of a live audience—not a movie camera. He began to seek out every opportunity to practice. Much as Ronald Reagan had done before him, Schwarzenegger gave speeches to every possible group, not only to share his ideas but to improve his speaking ability.

    Schwarzenegger saw himself as someone very different than the movie-going public saw him. He reinvented himself to pursue that vision.

    Barbara Corcoran
    Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran made a fortune in real estate. She turned a $1,000 loan into a multi-million-dollar empire. Today, Corcoran puts her money behind entrepreneurs who have a good idea and make a pitch on the hit show. Corcoran was once terrified of public speaking. Determined to grow and reinvent herself as a speaker, Corcoran volunteered to teach a real-estate course at a local junior college. It paid off in two ways. She grew more comfortable as a public speaker, and she met a woman who would go on to become one of Corcoran’s top salespeople.

    When you change the way you see yourself as a speaker, the speaker your audience sees will change. Reinvent yourself. Believe you belong—and you will.

    -Carmine Gallo, author of 10 Simple Secrets to the World's Greatest Business Communicators

    For the other 9 secrets, check out 10 Simple Secrets to the World's Greatest Business Communicators>>

    How To Get a Raise, Promotion, and Huge Network — and Have Fun Doing It

    November 11, 2019 366 Views No comments

    Years ago, I was working as a telemarketer. There were about 100 of us, all making 250+ calls a day to angry people, trying to get the sale.

    But after 14 months of telemarketing, my 99 other coworkers were still stuck at their job. On the other hand, I was offered a high salary, a huge promotion, and an enormous network of top-tier company executives.

    When I told people how I did it, they didn’t believe me. They thought I was making it up.

    “No,” I insisted. “I’m telling you — I just bought coffee and lunch for anyone willing to sit down and chat with me about their job. And it worked.”

    If you want to get a raise, promotion, or build your network — especially in your company — the secret is simple: informational interviews. Because once you start to build relationships with the higher-ups (something any employee can do, using this method), you can expect to move up quickly in the company while the rest of your coworkers look on with confusion, jealousy, and awe.

    In the meantime — because frankly, just because you start meeting people doesn’t magically create job openings, these things take time — start asking people what skills you should be learning. Then, start practicing those things.

    For me, I learned the Career Services department wanted leadership and project management skills. It was really hard to be motivated in my telemarketing job, and there were lots of committees, projects, and leadership roles I could’ve been doing. So, that’s where I started. I became a team lead. I helped with the Title IX committee. I offered to volunteer to help with the sexual harassment training program. Anything to learn the skills my new job would want.

    As for raises and promotions, those come with the territory for new jobs. Still, I’ve had several high-stakes salary negotiations (the conversations that determine how much money you get), and the most helpful strategy I learned was simple: know your stuff, and know the people. If you can present who you are, the skills you learned for that exact role, and how that will benefit the company, the rest of the conversation swings heavily in your favor. Compare that with the random employee with the short resume who has no idea what the company wants.

    In short: focus on learning and creating. It’s easy to take the minimum-amount-of-work road at your job — frankly, most people do. But spend your free time becoming the person your next job wants you to be. As Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert once wrote, “Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.”

    Take it From a Hardcore Introvert - Meeting People Can Actually Be Fun

    I’m a soft-spoken introvert. I don’t excel at talking to new people. (Why do you think I’m writing this??) But I managed to build tight relationships with some of the most senior-level executives at my company, many of whom were 10-20 years older than me, which I used to get a huge raise, promotion, and great network I still use to this day.

    Take the first step — send an email to the person in your company you want to meet. Start with the people/department you want to work with. They’re going to be the key to finding the shortcut past all the job postings, hiring managers, and timetables.

    I used to work at an online university. I wanted to switch from telemarketing to Career Services. So I began systematically reaching out to every single employee in that department. I took over a dozen of them out to coffee and lunch. By the 8th or 9th person, I began hearing the same thing: “I’ve heard about you. It’s Anthony, right? You took Sharon out to lunch!” They were talking about me. And guess who’s name came up when the new job opened?

    The truth is, this is fun. It’s not about all work-related stuff — my coworkers-to-be and I talked about sports, current events, hobbies, anything fun. People are going to pick the nice guy who bought them lunch instead of the other just-as-qualified guy 9 times out of 10. Build relationships, and have fun doing it.

    -Anthony Moore, author of What Extraordinary People Know

    For more on living your best life, check out What Extraordinary People Know>>

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