Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is in it for me when I help other people?

Don't worry about it.

Have you heard the expression "what goes around comes around"? Doing good things for people just because it is a nice thing to do is one of the most fulfilling actions a human being can take.

Don't worry about how, when, or whether all of your efforts for others will ever be rewarded. Just go with the flow. Trust that they will be. Maybe not today, tomorrow or the day after. But they will be eventually.

When you are nice to people, when you selflessly offer you help to people, when you make yourself available to people in need; you create an environment of goodwill and trust around you -- amazing things happen when these things are present.

Just try it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What criteria is best to decide what to study in college?

Interest, ability, and marketability.

First, lets be clear that whatever you chose to study in college will definitely NOT define what you can and cannot do for the rest of your life.

Studying something that interests you is fun. Studying something that you have a natural ability for is also fun because it is easier. And, studying something that is marketable is great because with money you can really have a lot of fun!

So, does it all boil down to having fun. Sort of : )

Lets start by asking ourselves why we go to college in the first place. It is a reasonable assumption that this huge investment in time, money, and effort is, first and foremost, made to acquire some sort of marketable skills so we can make a living later on.

So what is all this advice about: pursue what makes you happy, do not commit too early, make sure you know exactly what you want, be a generalist, leave your options open, follow your dreams, etc. They are all nice aspirations but the reality is that the real world will hit you hard if you leave the “marketability” part out. Mainly because, unless you are somehow set for life economically, things cost money.

So, what should you do if you cannot make up your mind? Should you commit to studying something interesting and marketable even if you are not sure that is what you were put on this earth to do? Absolutely.

As your interests change and opportunities present themselves, you can adjust things as needed.
Here are a few things that people forget to tell us about:
  • You do not have to do what you studied in college for the rest of your life
  • If you do not like what you are doing, you can change it
  • Life is long and you can relearn anything you want
  • Enjoying your job/career is mostly about attitude
  • And......if it all fails, you can always start your own business and design your dream job/career
So, don't sweat it. Commit to a marketable major. A useful one. One that you have an interest in and some ability for. Even if you are not sure.

Once you are out in the real world, you should be able to find the fun in everything you do. If you cannot, then change it. Life is too short to not do something you enjoy.

What is the best way to negotiate for something?

Develop a strong alternative and Set the stage.

Have you ever tried to figure out why some people are better at negotiating/bargaining than others? What is their secret? What gives them the confidence to get what they want?

It does not matter whether you are negotiating a raise, buying a car, or getting a job -- the better your alternative to a failed negotiation the better.

Think about these alternatives - which one makes you feel more confident:
  • Trying to negotiate a raise when you do not have any other options or when you already have another job lined up that pays twice what you make?
  • Buying a car when you already have a great price from another dealer or when you have no alternatives?
In fact, when negotiating, you should put as much effort in developing your alternatives as you do in developing your plan of action. The better your alternatives the more confident you will be in the negotiation!

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Also, sometimes it makes sense to set the stage for the negotiation because whoever is first in defining the desired outcome of the negotiation will force the discussion to start from that point.

For example, lets say you want a 30% discount on your new car and the dealer is probably only willing to give you 5%. If you are first in stating that your desired outcome is 30%, then the discussion will start at that point and the dealer will try to get you down from there. However, if the dealer is first, then the discussion will start at 5% and the burden will be on you to try to get him up to your desired 30%.

So, plant the stake first.......but be careful when you do not know what the other side is willing to give. Maybe this dealer was willing to give you a 50% discount and you just said 30% instead. Ooops : )