Monday, April 29, 2013

Creative Solutions to Parenting Issues

1. The mom who came up with the "get along shirt."

The mom who came up with the "get along shirt."

2. These parents who know how to travel with kids.

These parents who know how to travel with kids.

3. Any parent that uses the same tactics on their kids and their cats.

Any parent that uses the same tactics on their kids and their cats.

4. These parents who are planning for the future.

These parents who are planning for the future.

5. The masterminds who came up with this trick.

The masterminds who came up with this trick.

6. The parent who wakes up their kids like this.

The parent who wakes up their kids like this.

7. This dad who finally got his baby to fall asleep.

This dad who finally got his baby to fall asleep.

8. This dad who taught his son the classics.

This dad who taught his son the classics.

9. The parent who taught their daughter to have a healthy perspective on gender roles.

The parent who taught their daughter to have a healthy perspective on gender roles.

10. This thoughtful father who planned ahead on Halloween.

This thoughtful father who planned ahead on Halloween.

11. This dad who has a surprise planned for his kids.

This dad who has a surprise planned for his kids.

12. This parent who teamed up with the tooth fairy to get what they wanted.

This parent who teamed up with the tooth fairy to get what they wanted.

13. Any parent who names their kid "Tahra Dactyl."

Any parent who names their kid "Tahra Dactyl."

14. The parent who brought blanket forts to a whole new level.

The parent who brought blanket forts to a whole new level.

15. This dad who came up with the greatest father/baby costume ever.

This dad who came up with the greatest father/baby costume ever.

16. This mom who is teaching her kids to use social media responsibly.

This mom who is teaching her kids to use social media responsibly.

17. This dad who introduced his son to his hobbies.

This dad who introduced his son to his hobbies.

18. This dad who just wants his kid to appreciate the great outdoors.

This dad who just wants his kid to appreciate the great outdoors.

19. This dad who lets his kid go out dressed as Batman.

This dad who lets his kid go out dressed as Batman.

20. This dad who discovered a lifehack that makes everyone happy.

This dad who discovered a lifehack that makes everyone happy.

21. This dad who is equal parts embarrassing and awesome.

This dad who is equal parts embarrassing and awesome.

22. This mom who still knows how to have fun.

This mom who still knows how to have fun.

23. This dad who taught his son to not waste food.

This dad who taught his son to not waste food.

24. This dad who punished his daughter by making her wear his face to school.

This dad who punished his daughter by making her wear his face to school.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Advice on How Best to Chat Someone up!

Even for the most confident sort, chatting someone up can be terrifying but here are some tried-and-tested tips on how, and how not, to ease the fear.

Here are some options for you to try.

Try being direct
Sometimes, going back to basics is best. Forget all the fancy, over-planned introductions, and go for a simple ‘Hello, how are you?’

No one can tell you to go away, or tell you they’re already seeing someone to fob you off, because you haven’t asked that, you only asked how they are.

Nine times out of ten, you end up having a nice conversation. Think of it as chatting rather than chatting up and it becomes much less scary.

Show your playful side
I was recently in a bar, chatting to my mates – everything perfectly calm and normal. Then suddenly this guy appeared beside an attractive woman.

'Hello,’ he said. ‘Look.’ Then he started leaping up and down, hands by his sides. ‘I'm a penguin and I'm trying to break the ice.’

Much to my surprise, he broke it! She couldn’t stop laughing at how totally ridiculous it was, and soon the laughing led to chatting.

Eventually, it led to swapping numbers and three months on, they’re still dating! So if in doubt about how to chat someone up, my advice would be; do something silly! You know you want to, and your good at it!

Try cheesey
‘Shall we talk or continue flirting from a distance?’, ‘Apart from being beautiful, what do you do for a living?’, ‘I seem to have lost my phone number, can I have yours instead?’

I used to think they were all urban myths, clich├ęs that people laughed about but nobody actually said. Unfortunately, it does work.

One night, a few years ago, when a grinning drunk man came into the pub and announced to an attractive woman: ‘Is it hot in here or is it just you?’

It was the worst line I’d ever heard.

In the end though, it didn’t matter; what mattered is that they were chatting!

Be polite
It can be a bit of a minefield nowadays. Opening a door or giving up your seat for a girl isn’t seen as nice, it’s seen as sexist.

But standing at a bar, waiting to get served, everything goes a bit retro; every girl appreciates you letting her go first in the queue for the barman!

So you can always say ‘After you’ to a girl you fancy, and maybe she’ll think you’re such a nice guy, you’ll easily start chatting.

Of course she may also think you are a sap, especially if she is Dutch or German. But that's a blog for another day.

Think tactical
I’m not talking full-on disruption pattern clothing and military tactics, but I think a bit of an agenda does help when you’re trying to chat someone up.

If there is someone you fancy but are too scared to talk to, go and say hi to one of her friends instead, or ask if she has the time or knows where the toilets are.

Yes it’s a bit of a cheat’s way out, but it does get you in the picture, and then you can move on to phase 2- actually trying to impress her!’ But do remember to zip up your fly first!

Be Witty Not rude
My sister told me she was out at a club dancing around with her mates, having a really lovely night, when this guy walked over and declared: ‘Don’t worry, I can’t dance either’.

He then laughed, implying it was a joke – but she was mad and almost decked him!

Remember some gentle teasing can be good flirting, but there’s a fine line between teasing and outright rudeness – a line this guy over-stepped and it almost cost him his front teeth!




Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Avoid Mistakes When Searching for Jobs

Looking for work can be a hard (not to mention lonely and frustrating) experience and the last thing you want to do is scupper your efforts. Take a tip from the experts and discover the common pitfalls to avoid.

1. Going for jobs you don't really want

Casting your net wide can open up opportunities but beware of a scattergun approach.

'Apply only for jobs that you genuinely want and for which you have the relevant skills and experience,' advises Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management.

'No employer will consider you unless you meet their exact requirements or if you seem half-hearted about working for them.'

Not sure what you want or what is possible for you? Corinne suggests spending time researching your options and perhaps working with a career coach to help with your career planning and decision-making.

'Job-search campaigns which are clear and focused are far more likely to be productive and enable you to present confidently to employers.'
2. Not tailoring your CV

You might have spent hours writing your CV - but the work doesn't stop there. Once you have a basic template, be prepared to tweak sections for the particular job you're going for.

'I know this sounds strange, but your CV isn't about you,' says recruiter and careers coach, Aimee Bateman of Careercake.

'It's about how relevant you are to the job you're applying for, and how you can benefit the employer reading it.'

That also means sending a tailored cover letter.

'Don't make an employer feel like you have sent out a batch full of CVs, hoping someone (anyone) invites you for an interview,' says Aimee. 'If you want an employer to be genuinely interested in you, you need to make them feel like you are genuinely interested in them.'

3. Don't make finding work a full-time job

Finding work is often described as a full-time job - but there are good reasons why you shouldn't let it become the sole focus of your day.

'Looking for work can be lonely and frustrating but staying glued to your computer all day can do more harm than good,' says career coach Richard Maun.

'If you sit bashing out job applications you could very well be getting into bad habits and making the same mistakes. Take time out for a networking 'coffee and cake' chat (with friends, ex colleagues or LinkedIn contacts) and you're likely to come away invigorated with new ideas and inspiration.

'Keep a balance and make time for hobbies and family and friends and you'll be a happier and more positive - and that will come across to employers too.'

4. Not practising for interviews

When it comes to interviews, fail to prepare and prepare to fail. As well as researching the company and preparing answers to typical questions, think about how you come across.

'When you are preparing for interview, you need to practice your answers out loud,' says Corinne.

'Ideally this will be a mock interview with someone you trust, but even if you say your answers in front of the mirror, what you often find is that the message is clumsy and will need refining and you can only do this by practising different versions until it works.'

5. Not asking for feedback

If you've been job hunting for a while, seeking a second (objective) opinion can reveal areas you need to work on. Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer for feedback - and ask someone you respect for more general advice on how to approach your job search.

'Always get feedback to ensure that you are presenting your skills and capabilities in the best way possible. This means asking others for their views on your CV, Linkedin profile and interviews,' says Corinne.

'While you may understand what you are trying to say, the employer may not, so test it out beforehand with someone who can give you honest and constructive criticism.'

6. Not giving examples or quantifying achievements

The jobs market is more competitive than ever and having the right skills and experience is just the start - to stand out from the crowd you need to differentiate yourself.

'Focus on your key achievements (not just your skills and experience) and make sure to communicate these to a potential employer,' advises Richard.

'Have you made a difference and done something out of the ordinary? Is there a particular situation you did well in that is unique to you?

'Try to quantify the achievement (how much money you made/saved for the company) and include this on your CV - recruiters are more likely to remember an interesting achievement than the usual list of skills and experience they've read 100 times before.'

7. Not taking control of your career

Things can change quickly - so make sure you keep up to date with your chosen industry and what today's employers are looking for.
As Richard explains: 'The days of the traditional career where we worked for one organisation for years are gone. Today we're expected to move between 9-to-5 jobs, consultancy work and self employment - and perhaps do several at the same time as part of a 'portfolio career'.

'To survive in this brave new world we need to develop new talents and be able to spot and create career opportunities for ourselves - rather than waiting for them to fall in our laps.

'Put time into networking (at real-life events and online) and research your chosen industry, whether that's making contacts with key figures, reading trade magazines or keeping up with new technology. Keeping up to date and demonstrating a good awareness of advances in your sector could be what makes you stand out from the next candidate.'

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Networking for introverts

If the prospect of networking fills you with dread or you think it's something only extroverted people do, think again.

You don't need to have a gregarious or outgoing personality to build a network of professional contacts - in fact, your approach may be better received than the brash personality types out there.

Natural listeners
There is a misconception that only extroverts can network. Introverts in fact have some advantages: they are natural listeners and they tend to reflect before they speak. They are also sometimes better at building long-term relationships.

Regarding yourself as an introvert should not be used as an excuse for doing nothing.

Connecting with people in your search is a skill that needs practising, and the less it comes naturally, the easier you should make the first steps.

Begin with "Level 1 - Conversations" the gentlest form of networking, and one which anyone can do.

Start by talking to people you already know and trust, but talk to them in a way you've never done before.

This approach helps avoid mistakes that will feel like setbacks. Like the cold rebuff you get when you start a phone call saying "you don't know me, but...." or approaching high-level contacts too early in the process when you're still feeling bruised and you don't know what you're looking for.

Don't give people the opportunity to say "not now" or a plain "no" when you're aware how much these will set you back.

Easy targets
Nervous networkers should target the easiest people to begin with not the 'main target.'

When you pick up the phone you know that you can just begin a conversation, and you don't need to prepare a script of what you will say.

Be honest about what you're asking for - make it clear that you are setting up brief conversations with a range of people to find out what is going on in the world or in a particularly favourite sector.

Just think carefully about what to ask for and steer clear of asking for favours!

Ask people for things they are happy to talk about, but a good conversation about the world the person knows well is always welcome and don't forget to thank people properly.

Start by talking only to people you know, ask about their job or their hobbies, the universe, then ask them if they can introduce you to someone else; a proper, warm introduction, not just a name.

The big event
Once you've had a few "safe" conversations with the contacts you already know, you may wish to consider attending a more formal networking event.

Of course it can be intimidating going into a room full of strangers and feeling pressured to make contacts, but the fear of networking is often much worse than the reality.

You are all there for the same reason and you are all feeling the fear!

If you are at an event, ask one of the organisers to introduce you to others. any organiser worth their salt will be happy to facilitate this.

Do make sure that you introduce yourself clearly, so that people know your name and what you do, as this often reveals areas of common ground for conversation.

As long as you show an interest in other people and a willingness to listen, generally people will only be too happy to talk to you.

Networking from home
If you can't face wearing a name badge and making small talk, don't despair. Online forums and networking sites like LinkedIn allow you to make contact with people in your sector - without even having to leave home.

To get started, search for ex-colleagues and look for groups set up within your industry. Remember, as with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you'll get out - so be sure to post messages and join the conversation rather than just observing.

Do not rant, do not pontificate, and do not over-criticise others. Let the tolerant, thoughtful and collaborative you come through in your conversations.

Having a few open conversations online should make it easier when you take the plunge and meet up at a real life event. You'll be networking like a pro before you know it.

Are you over-sharing or just mouthing off?

Being friendly and open on dates is good, but don’t cross the line of telling potential partners too much, too soon.

Privacy isn’t the most valued character trait nowadays.

Twitter, Facebook, checking in on your smart-phone for every lunch, bar and shopping trip – basically, letting everyone know everything has become second nature.

As a general rule, this has many plus points. You can feel closer to friends you don’t have the time or energy to see face-to-face, you can get tips on good new places to hang out, you can spy on people’s wardrobes.

But as with most rules, there are some exceptions and in the case of sharing, that first date is the exception.

It’s not without good reason that throughout history the ‘mystery’ man or woman flickers our flame of intrigue.

Think of the dark brooding Mr Darcy of Jane Austen times, or that dopey girl Peter Andre wanted to get close to in 1996.

Sure, they had water-drenched white shirts and waterfall-filled music videos on their side, but the attraction went much deeper than that; namely that we always like the intrigue and the thrill of the chase.

So when you meet a potential new partner, how do you keep your secretive allure and make sure they’re chasing you, rather than you gushing all over them - information overload.

Anti-social media
One little name-search of your upcoming date is normal. Hanging out outside their house all night is not!

Following each other on Facebook or Twitter can’t do any harm you both need to check each other out, making sure you’re both normal/ human/ take a nice holiday snap and like similar things.

If you agreed to a first date in the first place, chances are, you've been doing a bit of research about each other and a little bit is all you need until you actually meet.

You are not trying to select an interview candidate from a huge pile of CVs! You are just making friends with a select number of people.

If things don’t work out with this person, you will move on to the next. At that time will you be looking back and regretting you shared the entire ins and outs of your whole life with them? Hopefully not.

Don’t pre-date - Leave some Mystery!
With work, friends and general life chores, it can often be a few weeks between you clicking someone you like online and actually meeting face-to-face.

Staying in touch with a few messages or texts in this limbo period is fine, but be careful not to over-communicate. There's a fine line between interested and obsessive!

By sending 20 texts a day, you can develop false intimacy, thinking you know someone better than you actually do and the chances are they'll have blocked your messages by then anyway.

So keep pre-date contact to a minimum and remember if you’ve told them everything before you actually meet, what will there be left to talk about?

Nothing, so all that's left is a long bout of snogging or going to somewhere very noisy to avoid speaking at all!

Ask questions - Don't interrogate!
If, like most normal people, you get nervous on first dates, it’s very easy to want to fill awkward silences with a wall of noise.

This is not helped if you have already been topping up on coffee or worse, vodka! Stick to pre-date soft drinks without caffeine!

Any conversational void gets bombarded with a rush of facts about anything and everything that springs to mind; your bus journey there, your planned bus journey back, what you had for lunch.

Leave some gaps in your monologue to allow the other person to speak about themselves, sometimes.

Being chatty is obviously a good thing, but if it veers into ‘telling everyone absolutely everything’ territory, then stop and turn the conversation around. Ask your date some questions about themselves but do it nicely.

Do not use any interrogation techniques you may have picked up in your army career, on the news or from watching Jeremy Paxman!

You don’t want your date to be so over-whelmed by the minutiae of your life, nor do you want them to feel that your working as an undercover investigator for the local authorities.

Stay cool, calm and collected and above all appear interested in what they're saying. Do not check your emails and text messages during this period and do not check out the cute guys at the bar. We are looking to create intrigue not conflict!

Remember your friends
It’s sod’s law that on the day of your date shit happens but however flustered all the frustrations of life  makes you feel, refrain from telling your date.

If you must unload and gripe to someone, call one of your established mates instead, unload your problems to them, then arrive at your date seeming bright, confident and problem-free.

In general, be pragmatic and philosophical about life's attempts to stub your toe and spill your drinks, on a regular basis.

Laugh at life's hurdles! This is a very attractive characteristic in a person and you should cultivate it before your next date. Good luck!