I’m excited to announce the launch of my Udemy course, The Secrets of Body Language! Many of my readers have asked for a more visual way to learn body language, so I put together this body language video course for you!

In this course, I will use body language videos to teach you everything you need to know about body language. Learn how to read body language and read the people around you while perfecting your own nonverbal communication.

Do you ever wish you could know what someone is thinking?

Body language is a great way to find out more about the person you are speaking with. Perhaps you also wish you could improve your own body language or wonder about what your nonverbal behavior is saying to the outside world. This body language course is based on scientifically backed research on the how to read people’s nonverbal behavior and improve your own.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 3.26.54 PMHere are some topics the Secrets of Body Language course will cover:

  • The Foundations of Body Language
  • Nonverbal Communication and the Face
  • Emotions and Body Language
  • Human Lie Detection and Body Language

In celebration of the course’s launch, I’m offering up a limited time offer for the first 100 readers to enroll! Use the coupon code DedicatedReader for a 40% discount on the original price. Not too shabby, right?!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes, so don’t hesitate to let me know what you think!

And thank you in advance for your support and feedback!

What are you waiting for? Take the course now!

 

We are always working from faraway locations because we have no home office. The lower overhead, mobility and flexibility that comes with this is great, but it makes you very reliant on online tools. Entrepreneurs especially can use some of these services to play with the big boys without paying like a big boy. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. RosterBot

We like RosterBot because it lets you organize your teams easily. It does this by polling each person to see if they’re coming to your next event or meeting and then shows you the results, along with some other bells and whistles, on a nicely-organized web page.When you are traveling and need to know who can come to a conference call or the meeting you need to have when you are in town, this is great!

2. BlankSpaces

If you need to have a professional meeting room, or just need to get out of the house to work. Blankspaces is a great option. It is a shared office space for rental for entrepreneurs, freelancers, writers and producers, etc.

3. Legalzoom

This is an online legal document preparation service for pretty much everything you could need–estate planning, trademarks, corporations. For entrepreneurs who do not want to hire a full time lawyer this is a great way to save money and protect yourself.

4. Mikons

If you need to make a logo or icon for yourself, this is a cheaper service that still produces great product. It is an online community and social website where people communicate through visual symbols, logos, icons, or avatars.

5. DimDim

If you need to be out of the office, you can still do your web conferencing with Dimdim. I like them because I think they are the easiest and do not require a lot of downloading.

What are your favorite tools for being an entrepreneur without an office?

 

The Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist

We travel to a ton of new places.  Here is a list we have made of the things we MUST research before traveling to a new destination:

1. What is the currency?

2. Do you need a Visa?

3. Can you drink the water?

4. What is the time difference?

5. What is my address and local number for when I arrive?

6. What is the tipping policy?

7. What is the best way to get from the airport into the city?

8. What is the weather for my time there?

9. Do I need any vaccinations?

10. Any safety concerns or warnings by the embassy?

11. Do I need to bring cash, credit card, ATM or travelers checks?

12. What are the plugs in that country/ Do I need an adapter?

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Santiago, Chile is an up and coming city that should be on every tourists list. Whether you are a luxury traveler or an adventurer you will find fresh food, friendly people and some gorgeous sites.  There is a lot to do in Santiago, here are some tips for tourists visiting Santiago, Chile:

1. Plaza de Armas

This is one of the main areas of downtown with a ton of historic sites.  Take a walk around the Plaza and see the Correo Central and the Municipalidad de Santiago. Also go into the Catedral Metropolitana which is really pretty inside. Go one block down to see the Casa Colorada.

2. Downtown Historic Sites

There are so many historic sites in downtown it is hard to list just one of them. You can easily walk the entire downtown area.  We would recommend after visiting the Plaza de Armas walking down Huerfanos walking street and then stopping by to see La Moneda (the Palace), Plaza Constitucion, Edificio Ex Congreso National, Club de La Union and Iglesia de San Francisco.

3. La Quinta Normal

Take the gorgeous Santiago metro down to Quinta Normal to visit the (free) National History Museum and the Quinta Normal parks.

4. Cerro Santa Lucia

This is a beautiful mountain top parks with some great sites. You can also walk to Iglesia La Vera Cruz from here.

5. Bella Vista

Bella Vista is one of the best places in Santiago by far.  Bella Vista, especially Calle Constitucion has amazing restaurants and shops.  Stop by Como Agua Para Chocolate if you loved that movie (tables are like beds!). You can also stop by Mercado Central which is very close to get some seafood (a little touristy).

6. Providencia

This is a very business area, but has some nice parks cafes and restaurants.

7. Parque Metropolitano and Las Chascona

You can visit Pablo Neruda’s house right at the base of Parque Metropolitano.  We took the acensor (elevator) up to the top and climbed up to the statue overlooking the entire city.  From up there you get a great view of the Andes as well. You can also visit the Santiago Zoo and Botanical Garden!

8. Las Condes

This is the expat and hotel area of the city. It is very pretty and peaceful, not a ton to do but some great restaurants especially Melba (amazing breakfast).

9. Vitacura

Avenida Alonso de Córdova and Nueva Costanera are the Beverly Hills streets of Santiago.  Here they have art galleries, boutiques and international labels.  Stop and get a drink at a cute outdoor cafe or make reservations at some of their posh restaurants.

10. Los Dominicos Artisans Market

This is by far the best artisan market I have been to in South America.  It is HUGE and right off the metro (at a brand new stop).  All of the tiny stores, trees, and cafes in Los Dominicos offer a place for men to sit and relax while women shop the huge variety of south american goods–leather, Lapiz Lazuli, jams, wool, and much more.

Bonus 11. Cerro San Cristobal (Cemetary) at Night

The cemetary has awesome views of the city at night.  A little spooky, but great photo opp.

Santiago is relatively safe, but you want to be careful at night and always watch your bag, but you will find food delicious (and hefty portion size) and a very friendly local people.

 

Valapraiso is a small city about an hour and a half outside of Santiago on the coast of Chile.  Known for it’s artists, musicians and creativity this beach city, Valparaiso has a ton to offer to tourists.

Here are some things to do in Valparaiso, Chile:

1) Cerro Concepcion

This is the older area of Valparaiso and great for tourists.  There are a ton of hostels, little alleyways, restaurants (amazing!) cafes and galleries.  The hill also gives a great view of the city from Paseo Gervasoni.

2) Cerro Alegre

Walk up through Cerro Alegre with climbing streets and see Iglesia San Luis. Walk up to see Plaza Bismark and take Avenida Alemania to get to…

3) Pablo Neruda’s House

This is closed on Mondays, but a great site in Chile. You can also stop by Plaza de las Poetas nearby for a coffee.

4) Cerra Bellavista

Continue walking through Cerra Bellavista and check out all of the great boutiques and views atop this hilltop.

5) Museo de Cielo Abierto de Valparaiso

This museum has some works from the most famous Chilean painters.  It is huge on a massive and gorgeous garden.

6) Plaza Victoria

Walk down to the Plaza Victoria and see the Catedral de Valparaiso and some other beautiful structures in the park.

7) Vina Del Mar

Vina del Mar is a little beach town about 15 minute train ride from Valparaiso, worth it if you have a few days.  Take the train to the town and walk along the beach to see the Vina del Mar castle and some beautiful people.

8) Plaza Sotomayor

The Naval building is quite impressive and the large square in the center of the port area will give you some great photo opportunities.

9) Mercado Del Puerto

A feria de los artesanos, the port market has about 15 stands with handicrafts and souvenirs.  It is a bit pricey, but you can get some great gifts and often see jugglers.

10) Paseo 21 de Mayo

You have to walk through the port area and take the Acensor Artillera to get to the Paseo 21 del Mayo for about 300 pesos each.  The paseo is some more shops and a great view.  Do not rush to get this in, as the views are just as nice from the other cerros and the shops are similar to the port market.

You should definitely try the restaurants in Cerro Concepcion and take in the great views of this vertical city and the water!

Cruising to Valparaiso

If you are cruising to Valparaiso you can get everything done in a day.  You can even do it on foot if you do not mind hills and paying for a few funiculars.  Cabs are a bit expensive, but following our walking tour and taking the train to the subway will get you to see a lot.  If you take a shore excursion make sure you see at least Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Bellavista with the surrounding spots.

 

The Puerto Montt region is a great place to visit whether on a drive through Chile or on a cruise.  There are a bunch of things you can do in the surrounding areas while you are visiting the Puerto Montt area.

1. Puerto Montt Waterfront

Puerto Montt itself is a bit industrial, but it has a great waterfront with shops and a view of the port area.

2. Puerto Varas

This is like Chile’s Aspen.  It is a beautiful little town that overlooks Lake Llanquihue (which is the second largest lake in Chile).  The lodges, hotels and wine bistros are fabulous.

3. Frutillar

This is a quaint German town outside of Puerto Montt that is totally worth the visit.  Also on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, the German cottages are protected by the historical society, cafes and little shops are adorable.

4. Petrohue Waterfalls

You definitely want to take a visit to the Petrohue Waterfalls that are a stunning blue coming off of the volcano.  You also get an amazing view of Osorno.

5. Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

Taking a drive through this national park is wonderful.  It is extremely green and you can drive along the Petrohue river and do some white water rafting!

6. Chiloe Island

This is a 30 minute ferry ride from Puerto Montt and you can see how the Island has developed it’s own style and culture.

7. Nueva Braunau

This is another tiny German town from the 1800’s.  The museum is also sweet and all of the houses have wonderful rose gardens and flowers.

8. Alerce Andino National Park

This is a beautiful reserve overlooking the Reloncavi Sanctuary.  The lagoons and large trees make for some great pictures.

9. Osorno Volcano

You can’t miss it, but you might want to drive up to take some pictures.  Also along the Lake you can get fresh salmon lunch and gaze up at the snowy peaks.

10. Lahuen nadi Park

This forest has some of the oldest trees in the world! It is a great spot to hike and see the old protected species of Pine.

If You Are Cruising to Puerto Montt, Argentina

You can do A LOT in a day if you so desire.  The shore excursions in Puerto Montt NEVER cover everything because you cannot move fast enough with 60 people in a large bus.  We highly recommend going on your own in a cab or getting a tour.  We loved GV tours: www.gvtours.com.  They actually have a test for their tour guides and pack in the day so you are moving and shaking, but not exhausted.

 

What is Mindsight? And How It Applies to You

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I just finished Mindsight The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel Siegel and wanted to summarize some of the main ideas into an easily accessible article. First of all, what is mindsight? This is an excerpt from Siegel’s book:

“Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in…The focusing skills that are part of mindsight make it possible to see what is inside, to accept it, and in the accepting to let it go, and, finally, to transform it.”

In other words, mindsight is the capacity to label, analyze and clarify our internal emotional world and how it responds to the world around us. You might be asking yourself, as I did while reading this book: ‘This is a great concept, but where is the science?’

Siegel argues that when we are attentive, the neurons in our brain fire together and that part of your brain becomes activated. This firing amplifies neurplastcity in the brain, which helps us process our emotions. We are literally ‘waking up’ the part of the brain we need to process different emotions.

An example that Siegel gives to help demonstrate the idea of brain activation from mindsight is an experiment done with taxi drivers. The hippocampus is actually enlarged in taxi drivers. This is the part of the brain we use for spatial memory. In addition, Siegel explains, the brain goes on neural pruning sprees and removes neural connections to hone down the various circuits that are unused so brain is more specialized and efficient. Siegel suggests that research finds people with mindful awareness training have a shift in their brain towards ‘approach state’ that allows them to move toward rather than away from challenging situations—which is the brain signature of resilience.

Major Helpful Concepts of Mindsight:

  • “Name and Tame:” When of the major principles of Mindsight is to ‘name and tame’ the emotions we are feeling. I find this very helpful and easy to adapt in my own life. If we name the emotions we are experiencing, rather than being overwhelmed by them we are in a much better place to process them. For example, think about the difference between saying “I’m angry” and “I feel angry.” There is a very distinct difference between them. “I’m angry” is a kind of self-defined, limiting state. “I feel angry” suggests the ability to identify and accept an emotion, without being overtaken by it.
  • Leaving Autopilot: One of the key concepts Siegel explains, that I find most relevant to my day to day life is being aware of our own mental processes without being swept up by them. This helps us get out of autopilot for ingrained behavior, habitual responses and emotional loops that we can get trapped in.
  • Honing the 9 Prefrontal Functions: Siegel touts nine of the major functions of the prefrontal cortex as being key to the development of mindsight: bodily regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, response flexibility, fear modulation, empathy, insight, moral awareness and intuition. These 9 facets make emotional well-being. Mindsight helps you find impediments to each of the 9 areas so you can liberate the mind’s natural device to heal and reflect. I found it a bit overwhelming to try to think about all 9 at once, but was successful in addressing one area each week. By simply paying attention to each ability, I learned about myself and my ingrained habits.
  • Reflection’s Tripod: The major principle of mindsight is focused attention or reflection. Siegel breaks down reflection further into three pillars: openness, observation and objectivity. This is harder than it seems! However, I did find this helpful when trying to reflect on emotions, I normally tried to shove under the rug–jealousy, anger and vulnerability. At the very least, I felt more calm and was able to move past them easier–mindsight or just time?

One of the areas I truly struggled with was having more concrete steps to achieving or even practicing mindsight. Siegel regularly mentions ‘mindfulness training activities’ but rarely expounds upon how to complete these activities without him. Here are a few mindsight training activities I gathered from the examples he uses in the book:

  1. Non-verbal communication game of copying someone else’s facial expression and guessing the emotion.
  2. Non-verbal communication game of watching TV with the sound off and letting your brain ‘fill-in the blank.’
  3. Journaling about your day in pictures/smells/sounds to help activate the senses
  4. Trying to draw using different sides of the brain (he recommends some books on the topic)
  5. Journaling emotions
  6. Finding words to depict our internal world
  7. Making ‘mindmaps’ of our self and our relationship with others–how we see ourselves and our relations with others.
  8. Tensing and releasing certain muscle groups to become aware of them
  9. Having someone say ‘no’ in a harsh tone and then a nice ‘yes’ several times and discussing how it feels when both words are said to you.

I have yet to try any of these specific activities, but could see how they are action steps for the principles of mindsight. I look forward to further scientific studies–MRI’s, focus groups and research done on the principles of mindsight and it’s effects.

Citations:

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation 2010, New York, NY: Bantam Books

Cozolino, Louis. The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy

Malle, Bertram, Hodges, Sara, eds. Understanding Other Minds (New York: Guilford, 2005).

Eleanor A Maguire et al., “Navigation-Related Structural Change in the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers,” Proceedings of the National Academu of Sciences 97, 8 (2000): 4398-4403.

 

What Your Holiday Gift Wish list Says About You

Recently, I found my wish list from when I was seven. Here is what it said (minus spelling errors):

Barbie with the brown hair and blue sequin dress and perfume bottle

Little Pony Purple

Corral for horses and troughs  (I had miniature plastic horses and wanted a plastic coral and troughs for them)

Pretty Princess make-up kit

Disneyland with Caroline 1 day (my best friend and I both asked for this so we could go together)

No piano lessons

When reading this wish list, I think you can get a pretty good idea of what kind of seven year-old I was: girly, girly, girly. I liked anything that was small, plastic and colorful (sequins helped). Seeing my wish list made me think, what does your gift list say about you?

I began to ask friends what they are wishing for this holiday season. First, I was struck with the surprise that my friends showed when I asked them this question. “What I want for Christmas? Aren’t I too old for that?” They would ask. Or, “my parents have even stopped asking me that question.” Here, I would argue that the question was not meant to make them miss the days of letters to Santa, but think about what their modern day wish list would be and if it says anything about them. Here were a few of the answers (both realistic and not).

To have my college loans paid off

An iPad

A boyfriend

A trip to Thailand

A new sound system in my car

Each of these items did actually speak volumes about the person. My iPad requesting friend is very into technology and the latest and greatest gadget. The person who wanted a new sound system for his car is a musician on his free time and is very particular about his music taste (that is a nice way of putting it). My friend who wanted a boyfriend has baby on the brain and is quickly approaching her thirties.

What do you think your gift wish list says about you? And, another question that makes great conversation topics is, what did you want when you were seven…has it changed much?

 
I’m pretty obsessed with getting the best deal on my airline ticket, but there are still times when I buy and think I’ve gotten the best deal, only to check again the next day and see fares have actually dropped. Fortunately there is a great service out there I now use for every trip I take, and it’s called Yapta.

Yapta helps you track the cost of an itinerary you’re looking to book before and after you actually make your purchase. The genius of this free service though becomes apparent once you tell it how much you actually paid for that ticket. You put in the price you paid and Yapta will check the price of that ticket every day. If the price drops, Yapta alerts you and instructs you how to go about getting a refund from the airline for the difference.

This service works really well if you fly on discount airlines like JetBlue a lot, because they won’t charge you anything if their fares drop. The major carriers though will sometimes charge you up to $150 (even though you aren’t actually changing your tickets, they want to charge you the fee anyway). Yapta knows this and sets the target price it will alert you at to incorporate the required fee by airline.

If you’re looking for some guidance before you pull the trigger and buy your ticket, check out Bing Travel. A little known feature of Bing Travel actually predicts whether a ticket on a route your about to purchase will rise or fall over the next seven days. It also tells you how confident Bing is so you can make an informed decision.

 

What would you do if you were in a waiting room and smoke began to come through the vents? Before you answer, you should ask who is in the room with you. Astoundingly, researchers have found that who is in the room with you greatly affects your response to this odd situation. Scientists, Latane and Darley set-up three different groups. As each group filled-out papers in a waiting room, smoke would fill the room through an air vent. In the first group, there was only one subject in the room and he or she left and reported the smoke 75% of the time. In the second group three people were in the room, but two of the people were part of the study and were instructed to act unconcerned. In this scenario, only 10% of the unknowing person reported the smoke and left the room! In the third group, none of the three participants in the waiting room knew about the experiment and 38% of them left and reported the smoke.

I think this experiment adds a new dimension to peer pressure. Often times, we focus on peer pressure as a demand from friends to do something. This experiment talks about the peer pressure to not do something. As teens and kids, I think we experienced peer pressure to take ‘bad’ action—smoke, drink, party or have sex. Yet, as adults we still feel peer pressure, but often times it is to not take ‘good’ action—not quit our jobs, not try something new, not get commit.

The reason adult peer pressure is about not taking action, is because as we get older we fear change. Not only do we fear change for ourselves, we also fear it for our friends because if they change we might have to! The experiment above is actually quite scary. It shows how differently we act when there are other people in the room. These people were unspeaking strangers! Imagine if you have verbal friends telling you not to do something. Sometimes this kind of peer pressure can be good—perhaps a friend discouraging another friend from quitting her job to become an actress. But, like in the study, it can also be peer pressure to not act out of our own best interest. If smoke is filling the room, it is in our best interest to get out. I think it is essential to think about our actions and our friend’s encouragement (or discouragement) and challenge whether or not it is truly good for us. Do you ever experience adult peer pressure?

Citation:

Latane, Bibb and John M. Darley. “Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies.” Journal of personality and social psychology. Vol 10 (3) 1968, 215-221.

 
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