“Subtler than space, finer than time, My Presence is ever accessible, though not necessarily easy to reach. Silent dialogue with Me is one of the ways of feeling My presence. If your inner attention is focused on Me, you will sense a delicate tug within you, regardless of the activity you are engaged in.
And you will become aware that I am caring for you, anxious to help you. No activity is insignificant.” “ But you should feel deep in your heart that you need Me in them. Call on Me in the little – nay, in the littlest — things that you do. For then they sprout tiny yet mighty wings which will gracefully transport you to the higher and subtler realms of My presence within you.”
Intimate Conversations With The Awakener, p 8-9
By Bal Natu
Copyright 1998 Sheriar Foundation
Photo inside Baba’s Tomb
By Goodwin harding,
Courtesy Of The Awakener Magazine, vol 17 no 2
With another week gone, let’s wind down and check out some of the stories that made the headlines. Click here to read about all the important goings-on of the world, but otherwise, press on for a dose of the unusual and offbeat.
There were a lot of space-related stories over the last few days. Mars, in particular, had a busy week with news of an underground lake, a dust storm for the ages (more on that below), and efforts to name a new Martian rover. (Yes, they thought of “Rover McRoverface.”) We also check out some bizarre animal behavior, Olympic Games for robots, and footage of the world’s loneliest man.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a new initiative to develop tiny robots that would work in tough environments where large-scale robots are not effective. The new program, dubbed SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms (SHRIMP), will seek proposals from third parties, and the best bots will compete against each other in a series of “Olympic-themed competitions.”
Founded 60 years ago, DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense. It has staged these kinds of grand challenges before in efforts to advance revolutionary research with military potential. According to SHRIMP program manager Dr. Ronald Polcawich, this time, the goal is to develop tools which could prove useful in disaster relief, emergency search and rescue, prosthetics, and steerable optics. DARPA is planning to invest $32 million across the projects accepted into the SHRIMP program.
The first step is to receive and review proposals for suitable robots. They need to be smaller than a cubic centimeter and weigh less than a gram to qualify. Eventually, the best designs will be built and will compete head-to-head in a series of challenges, including steeplechase, vertical ascent, shot put, weightlifting, and rock piling. The SHRIMP Olympics is currently slated for 2021.
According to a new study published in Nature Astronomy, scientists believe that there once was another galaxy similar to our Milky Way which was “devoured” by Andromeda two billion years ago.
Both Milky Way and Andromeda are part of an aggregation of galaxies simply called the Local Group. It contains over 50 galaxies, although the aforementioned two are, by far, the largest ones. Research conducted at the University of Michigan (UM) indicates that there once existed a third galaxy of similar dimensions which was cannibalized when it merged with Andromeda.
The fact that Andromeda, also known as Messier 31 or M31, likes to gobble up its galactic neighbors isn’t news. In fact, this is exactly what UM researchers Richard D’Souza and Eric Bell were studying when they made the discovery. They were running computer simulations to try to piece together the mergers that occurred over the eons. In a self-described “eureka” moment, the duo realized that most of the stars found in the faint outer reaches of Andromeda’s “halo” came from a single merger.
Further simulations revealed a few details about the Milky Way’s departed sibling, dubbed M32p. It was at least 20 times bigger than anything our galaxy ever collided with, and it merged with Messier 31 around two billion years ago. Most interestingly, researchers believe that M32, a satellite galaxy currently orbiting Andromeda, is the remnant of the long-lost galaxy, left over after the galactic giant was finished feasting.
8Amazon Footage Shows Last Surviving Tribesman
Brazilian officials have recently released rare video of an indigenous man living in the Amazon who is believed to be the last surviving member of an uncontacted tribe.
The footage belongs to the country’s National Indian Foundation (Funai) and was actually shot in 2011. The organization hesitated to release it due to not being able to obtain the man’s consent. However, it eventually relented in the hopes that the video will draw attention to the plight of over 100 isolated tribes living in the Amazon whose territory is under threat by loggers, miners, and farmers.
It is believed that the last of the man’s fellow tribesmen were killed in 1995 or 1996, following a run-in with ranchers. Funai has monitored him ever since. They usually keep a safe distance, although they did attempt to make contact in 2005 and were met by a volley of arrows.
Barring that one interaction, the tribesman has been living alone in the jungle for over two decades. The only other image of him is a still from an early-1990s documentary that showed his face partially obscured by foliage. His tracking team refers to him as “the Indian in the hole” due to an unusual pit he dug. Their last sighting was in 2016, but they can tell he is still alive from traces left behind such as footprints, planted fruit, or cut trees.
7Why Do Crows Have Sex With The Dead?
Considered some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, crows have complex reactions when it comes to their own dead. They will alert other crows to the presence of a body. They will remember and avoid people or places connected to the demise of their brethren. Sometimes, they will even gather around a dead crow and hold a “funeral.” And, on rare occasions, they will have sex with the corpse.
Necrophilia in the animal kingdom is a poorly understood subject, but we have a few tidbits of information regarding the practice by crows, thanks to a new paper published by University of Washington student Kaeli Swift.
Back in 2015, Swift was trying to get footage of a crow “funeral” and was filming a taxidermied bird. To her amazement, another crow arrived, but it began flaring its wings and bobbing its tail up and down, displaying behavior anticipatory of sex. Since then, Swift expanded her study and used an array of taxidermy animals to observe the behavior of hundreds of crows.
Her research presented the cases of 309 breeding pairs of corvids. Twenty-four percent of the birds had some kind of physical interaction with the corpses, while four percent tried to have sex with them. Most attempts at necrophilia were also paired with other aggressive behaviors such as mutilation and dismemberment.
As far as a possible motive goes, Swift believes it has to do with a hormonal frenzy. Her study took place between April and August, bookending the breeding season. Most cases of necrophilia happened in late spring, when crow testosterone is at a high. Other crow researchers think this could be the case but believe another study during winter could prove more conclusive.
6Martian Dust Storm Might Destroy The Opportunity Rover
While Earth is experiencing a searing heat wave, Mars has its own weatherproblem—a series of storms created a dust cloud so great that it has almost engulfed the entire planet.
This kind of phenomenon occurs once every six to eight years. It started off as a small-scale storm on May 30, and less than a month later, it had gone global. By now, it has become the strongest dust storm we have ever observed on Mars, and it will last, at least, a couple of months more.
Scientists still don’t know how the storm forms or evolves, so they have every available instrument studying the tempest for clues. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Curiosity, and the Mars Odyssey are all on the job.
Notable by its absence is the Opportunity rover, which is currently on the surface of the red planet yet has sent no response as of July 18. Because it runs on solar energy, NASA scientists have chosen to suspend scientific activities to preserve the rover’s batteries. They believe the dust layer will act as an insulator which will protect Opportunity from nighttime temperatures it can’t handle but also fear that it will take weeks or even months before such a layer settles. Currently, they estimate it won’t be until September that the dust will clear out enough to enable communication with Opportunityagain. Until then, we won’t know if the rover survived the Martian storm.
A tomb found in Alexandria garnered a lot of media attention over the past few weeks. It had been untouched for 2,000 years and contained a mysterious black sarcophagus. People let their imaginations run wild, even speculating that it could be the long-lost grave of Alexander the Great. Then we opened it, and the results were underwhelming. A similar discovery went under the radar this week. Archaeologists found an intact grave on the Greek island of Sikinos.
This time, however, opening the tomb didn’t disappoint. The skeleton was intact, her jewelry was still there, and we even know her name thanks to an inscription—Neko. She was a noblewoman buried around 1,800 years ago during the Roman era in the vault of the Episkopi Monument. The structure was later turned into a Byzantine church, but Greek archaeologists now believe that the whole thing was a mausoleum originally built for Neko.
Alongside the skeleton, there were golden rings, wristbands, a necklace, a buckle, vases, and fragments of clothing. Dimitris Athanassoulis, director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, believes the grave managed to elude robbers due to its hidden placement in a blind spot between two walls. Scholars are eager to learn more about Neko and her possible connections to the island of Sikinos.
After almost 40 years in show business, Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel is retiring. The 39-year-old novelty act had its final performance on Sunday during the X Games in Minneapolis.
Some of you might be aware that squirrels don’t live that long. In fact, this is the seventh Twiggy to don a pair of Styrofoam skis and race around a pool at the back of a remote-controlled boat. Her “mom,” Lou Ann Best, raised and trained all of the squirrels. The first one she found as an orphan after Hurricane David in 1979, and she noticed that it liked to ride on people’s shoulders as they swam in the pool.
Twiggy’s popularity led to several appearances in movies and TV shows, including a cameo as Nutty the water-skiing squirrel in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Lou Ann has been using the show to teach kids about water safety ever since her husband drowned over two decades ago. But now she plans to retire to a senior community, and Twiggy is coming with her. She is open to selling the business and letting someone else carry the tradition as long as they will continue promoting water safety.
3A New Scale To Measure Alien Interactions
A team of scientists from the University of St. Andrews and the SETI Institute published a redefined version of the Rio Scale intended to quantify the significance of alien reports.
First devised in 2001, the Rio Scale was mostly used by astronomers to communicate to the public how “excited” they should be following a story potentially involving extraterrestrial phenomenon. The updated version seeks to become more compatible with the world of social media and 24-hour news coverage. Researchers involved are hoping that Rio Scale 2.0 will become somewhat similar to the Richter Scale for earthquakes and will be used automatically whenever there is a story involving possible alien interaction.
The ranking system comes with a Rio Scale Calculator available online, which anyone can use to determine the value of an event. The scale takes into account the likelihood of the event and the reliability of the source but also considers how such an event, even if real, would impact humanity. The final value is a number between 0 (None) and 10 (Extraordinary). Rio Scale 2.0 is awaiting official ratification by the International Academy of Astronautics Permanent Committee.
2Naturists Versus Crested Larks
An attempt by Belgian naturists to open the country’s second nudist beachwas met with opposition by wildlife officials, who complained that their presence and “subsidiary activities” would pose a threat to the crested lark.
At the moment, there is only one nudist beach in Belgium, in Bredene. However, Koen Meulemans, chair of the Belgian Naturism Federation, says that is no longer enough. More and more people in the country are looking for holidays where they can cast off their clothes and go back to nature. The federation has 17 clubs and 8,200 paying members, an increase of 600 from two years ago. A quiet spot near Westende would have made a perfect location for a second nudist beach, as there are no buildings or dykes that look out onto it.
However, officials from the Flemish Agency for Nature and Woodland objected to the proposition due to the effect this would have on the crested lark. Specifically, they worry that sex in the dunes will scare off the locally treasured birds. Meulemans criticized the practice, saying such behavior is not indicative of true naturists, but it does happen.
The initial solution involved the building of a barbed wire fence surrounding the dunes where the larks breed. However, this was shut down by Bredene mayor Steve Vandenberghe, who said that barbed wire would not be a strong deterrent against a man without clothes.
One of the processes predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity is called gravitational redshift. When an object approaches something with an incredibly powerful gravitational pull, the light it emits is stretched to longer wavelengths, becoming redder. We have proven the concept with lab experiments but have never actually seen it “in the wild,” until now. Scientists finally made the observation after decades of waiting when a star experienced gravitational redshift as it passed near the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
Astronomers first started tracking the star, dubbed S2, in the early 1990s. Since then, they’ve been patiently waiting for it to complete its elliptical orbit around the black hole, located roughly 26,000 light-years from us.
S2 got as close as it’s ever going to get on May 18 this year. Instruments from all over the world were pointing at it. When it reached its periapsis, the star accelerated to 7,600 kilometers per second (4,700 mi/s), or three percent the speed of light. The results, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics by an international team of scientists, confirmed that light from the star was affected by the gravitational pull of the black hole and experienced a redshift.
The story of the Amber Room has all of the elements of an Indiana Jonesfilm: the bounty of kings, the spoils of war, theft by dastardly Nazis, a tireless search by the Soviet Union, mysterious deaths, and a priceless treasure waiting to be found.
Construction of the opulent “Eighth Wonder of the World” began at the command of the king of Prussia in 1701. Although estimates of its size vary, the Amber Room was believed to span about 55 square meters (592 ft2) after 18th-century renovations. It contained over six tons of amber backed by glittering gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.
As a peace symbol between allies, the Amber Room was moved from its place in Charlottenburg Palace twice—once to Winter House in St. Petersburg and then to Catherine Palace in Pushkin. As an act of war, the room was moved once more before being lost forever.
In 1941, invading Nazi soldiers tore down the room, packed its panels into 27 crates, and shipped it to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany. When the city was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943, the room went missing.
In subsequent years, governments, historians, archaeologists, bounty hunters, and treasure seekers alike have sought it out, interviewing thousands of witnesses, poring over records, digging up locations all over Europe, and spending fortunes along the way. As of this writing, the room has never been found.
Although the prominent theory holds that the Amber Room must have been destroyed by the bombs which rained down upon the city then called Konigsberg, some evidence contradicts this. In over 1,000 pages of reports compiled by the decade-long Soviet investigation, no witnesses attest to any unusual odors as the city burned. Officers involved in this investigation believed that it would be impossible to miss the equivalent of 6 tons of incense burning at once.
In 1997, a German raid in Bremen lent credence to the idea that the room had survived the bombing. One of its Florentine mosaic panels turned up for auction. After its seizure, the panel was authenticated but the seller claimed ignorance as to its origin. His father, a deceased Wehrmacht soldier, never shared the secret of the panel, not even with his own flesh and blood.
Helmut Gaensel was a bounty hunter. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the bounty he hunted was the bejeweled panels of the Amber Room. Former SS officers living in Brazil had tipped him off to a location. According to them, the panels were deposited in the 800-year-old Nicolai Stollen mine near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic.
Gaensel was not the only man to hear the tale. While he and a team of engineers, mining experts, and historians attempted to dig into the mine from the German side, a rival group led by Peter Haustein, then mayor of the town of Deutschneudorf, tried burrowing in from the Czech side. Though the competition led to international headlines and legal headaches, neither team proved successful.
8Covered In A Murky Lagoon
The mayor of the Lithuanian town of Neringa believed that the Amber Room was hidden beneath the dirty waters of a nearby lagoon. According to Stasys Mikelis, SS soldiers were seen attempting to hide wooden crates in the shoreline near the end of the war. They did not count on rising sea levels to submerge their loot.
Not only did Mikelis believe it, he assembled a research team in 1998 to find it, hoping to put his town on the map. His dream was not realized.
7Lost In A Bavarian Woodland
Georg Stein was a strawberry farmer and an avid treasure hunter. His heart was set on finding the Amber Room, but he got too close according to some sources.
Stein claimed to have discovered a secret radio frequency and to have listened to the last-known communication about the transfer of the Amber Room. This message was reportedly sent from the Castle Lauenstein on the border of Thuringia on a direct shortwave to Switzerland.
Stein then arranged to meet a “search competitor” in Bavaria. The meeting was not to be. In 1987, Stein was found dead in the woodland. His body was stripped, his stomach slashed open with a scalpel. The death was ruled a suicide.
Pensioner Karl-Heinz Kleine believes that he knows the location of the Amber Room and who hid it there. According to Kleine, the Nazi’s chief administrator in East Prussia, Erich Koch, secreted the treasure in his hometown of Wuppertal in the industrial Ruhr area.
It would not be a far stretch to imagine it of Koch. Even the Nazis were appalled by his brazen thefts and use of concentration camp inmates for personal gain. Koch was tried for corruption before a Nazi court in 1944 and sentenced to death. Later reprieved, he returned to favor and continued amassing his personal fortune until the end of the war.
Once captured in Poland, he was sentenced to death for the murder of 72,000 Poles and for sending another 200,000 to labor camps. But he escaped his sentence yet again. Koch’s ill health prevented Poland from carrying out his death sentence, and he lived in prison for 27 years, unrepentant to the last.
The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff on the night of January 30, 1945, was the worst disaster in maritime history. Under the press of the Red Army and rumored defeat, a great evacuation of German civilians began on the Baltic Sea. Every seaworthy vessel was placed into service.
So it was that the Wilhelm Gustloff, a luxury liner designed for fewer than 2,000 people, carried 10,582 shivering evacuees on that fateful night. It was flanked by only one military escort, which stood no chance when a Soviet submarine fired three torpedoes at the Gustloff. Each torpedo hit its target. An estimated 9,343 people died that night, half of them children.
The exact location of the Gustloff has long been known and searched. But some still claim that it may contain the hidden remains of the Amber Room. As the wreckage of the Gustloff is recognized as a war grave, diving to it, penetrating it, or both is illegal. But a lack of resources has left Polish authorities unable to protect it.
4Aboard A Ghost Train, Walbrzych, Southwest Poland
It has long been said that a Nazi train loaded with treasure was lost in secret tunnels under a mountain in Walbrzych. Nobody knows the name of the train, its mission, or from where its precious cargo came.
Some speculate that the lack of written evidence of the train strengthens their hypothesis. Secrecy, the theory goes, was more important than paperwork, even to the Germans. Some theorize that the train may have carried the stolen wedding bands and other personal jewels of interned Jews, while others insist that the train bore the crated panels of the Amber Room.
In 2015, two men, a German and a Pole, claimed to have found the train. The local government of Walbrzych refused to comment on the matter except to warn that the train may be booby-trapped by mines if it exists.
In 2016, officials of the Mamerki Museum reported to have found a hidden room inside a World War II–era bunker using geo-radar. Bartlomiej Plebanczyk of the museum believed it possible that the panels of the Amber Room were hidden inside.
His theory was based upon the testimony of a turncoat Nazi soldier. In the 1950s, the former Nazi told Polish soldiers that he had witnessed heavily guarded cargo trucks delivering their load to the bunker in winter 1944.
2Buried In Tunnels Under The Ore Mountains In Eastern Germany
In 2017, treasure hunters Leonhard Blume, Peter Lohr, and Gunter Eckhardt claimed to have deduced the location of the room via archival and radarsleuthing. Both the East German and Russian secret police held years-long searches for the Amber Room. It is from their records that these men reportedly found a clue as to the room’s whereabouts.
Eyewitnesses claimed that a shipment of crates had been hidden inside the tunnels. The entrance to the tunnels, they said, was then blown up. Blume, Lohr, and Eckhardt eagerly surveyed the “Prince’s Cave” near the Czech border, and the results were astounding.
Mr. Blume said, “We discovered a very big, deep, and long tunnel system and we detected something that we think could be a booby trap.” Their search continues.
The impending raid of Winter Palace was known to the officials and curators of Catherine Palace. According to the official record, they attempted to disassemble and hide the Amber Room. When the brittle panels began to crumble, they chose to wallpaper over them instead. But they could not outwit the Nazis, who discovered the trick almost at once.
This conspiracy theory holds that Joseph Stalin fooled the soldiers after all. The panels they stole were replicas, while the real Amber Room had already been shipped off and hidden elsewhere. If true, the Amber Room may have been cleverly saved, only to be lost forever.
One of the biggest Indian startup news stories of the week was that an Amazon delivery boy and employee were arrested for cheating. Also, US-based footwear brand Skechers has been offered an out-of-court settlement by the walmart-backed company Flipkart. Let’s have a look at these and other important startup news stories of the week.
This week 19 startups raised around $152.46 Mn funding altogether. One of the biggest Indian startup funding this week was raised by Bengaluru-based insurtech startup Digit Insurance raised $44 Mn. In another development, there are speculations around online retailer eBay to join forces with ecommerce company ShopClues to relaunch its platform in India.
Once fallen to below $5K, slowly and steadily, Bitcoin is getting its charm back. Riding high on Bitcoin which is currently trading at $8.2K, the cryptocurrency market cap too, is ready to hit $300 Bn. Meanwhile, the Law Commission of India in its report submitted to the Minister of Law and Justice has recommended cryptocurrency as one of the cashless means for gambling transactions. Let’s take a look at this week’s development in cryptocurrency!
This week Mobikwik’s Chief Risk Officer, Puneet Agarwal has resigned from the company. Also, another shaker of the week was Sagar Das, the co-founder of Autoportal, who announced that he has quit the company. Let’s have a look at some of the other movers and shakers in the Indian startup ecosystem.
Uttar Pradesh govt to build blockchain infra for data security, TRAI taps blockchain to curb unsolicited calls, Walmart pilots blockchain project to procure farm produce in UP, Google partners with digital asset, BlockApps to push blockchain development & much more…
To discuss the growing trend of freelancing among Indian women, Inc42 and PayPal hosted a webinar — Nailing The Balancing Act: Women Freelancers in India — as part of the ongoing webinar series — The Rising Freelance Economy. Incase you missed it, get all the insights here…
During the media interaction, when asked about an inspiring global business personality, Sharma said, “I’ve interacted with Jack Ma (Alibaba) and Masayoshi Son (SoftBank). I also saw Steve Jobs (Apple) at a close distance. I wish I had interacted with him. But for this (occasion), I will pick Masayoshi Son (Softbank). Masa is not a man of a few billion dollars, but hundreds of billions.”
… that today is Tupperware Day? Celebrate the birthday of Karl Silas Tupper (1907) today, inventor of Tupperware, an airtight plastic container for storing food. The formerly patented “burping seal” is a famous aspect of Tupperware, which distinguishes it from competitors.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Let’s not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”
Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees Meaning: Suggests that money is a resource that must be earned and is not one that’s easily acquired. I sometimes wonder how deep the negotiations go into cutting into teacher’s courses. I found it absurd when the negotiator of an educational institute was so unreasonable – he was happy if I said I will teach ProBono 🙂 I said NO!
Give a Man a Fish Meaning: It’s better to teach a person how to do something than to do that something for them. I TOTALLY agree after this year’s lessons I learnt. Doing things for free, offering free advice has no Value. People like PRICE these days and are mostly unwilling to pay or negotiate hard for a ProBono bargain. The attitudes are so horrific.
What Am I, Chopped Liver? Meaning: A rhetorical question used by a person who feels they are being given less consideration than someone else. Playing Victim, playing damsel in distress like ( even guys do this 🙂 ) is characteristic of some Millennials I have dealt with in the recent past.
On the Same Page Meaning: Thinking alike or understanding something in a similar way with others. Rare to find agreements and I like to push forward with even a few agreements.
Poke Fun At Meaning: Making fun of something or someone; ridicule. Is this second nature in marathi families ? We love to poke fun, pun, pull legs so much that when we do this to others who come close – it demagnetises and repulses them.
Off One’s Base Meaning: A person that is crazy or behaving in idiotic ways. Body language, facial gestures, awkward neck and eye movements all depict disinterest – why don’t people be cogent enough to say it on the face.
When the Rubber Hits the Road Meaning: When something is about to begin, get serious, or put to the test. The real tests hopefully start for a new Revenue making stint next month onwards.
Yada Yada Meaning: A way to notify a person that what they’re saying is predictable or boring. Wonderful expression. I like it. 🙂
Keep Your Shirt On Meaning: Keeping calm. Usually said by someone who is trying to avoid making others upset. What I have come across this year mostly are those who offer their shirts when they are REALLY naked.
Down For The Count Meaning: Someone or something that looks to be defeated, or nearly so. Hmmm… That’s not me ! Never. 🙂
No one is perfect. But that’s a very lame excuse! No? I read this article and said. Oh, Gosh! I have the same habits which surface at wrong times. Interesting article for deeper personal introspection and improvement. LIked and shared.
Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few — the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).
In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 descriptions of people based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated descriptors had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top descriptors were sincerity, transparency, and capable of understanding (another person).
These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmartresearch data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable; they outperform those who don’t by a large margin.
Likeability is so critical to your success at work that it can completely alter your performance. A University of Massachusetts study found that managers were willing to accept an auditor’s argument with no supporting evidence if he or she was likeable, and Jack Zenger found that just 1 in 2,000 unlikeable leaders were considered effective by their colleagues.
Being likeable is as much about avoiding behaviors that decrease your likeability as it is about magnifying those that increase it. To help you with this, I did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that hold people back when it comes to likeability. Make certain these behaviors don’t catch you by surprise.
It’s great to know important and interesting people, but using every conversation as an opportunity to name-drop is pretentious and silly. Just like humble-bragging, people see right through it. Instead of making you look interesting, it makes people feel as though you’re insecure and overly concerned with having them like you. It also cheapens what you have to offer. When you connect everything you know with whoyou know (instead of what you know or what you think), conversations lose their color.
People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than who you know.
My company provides 360° feedback assessments, and we come across far too many instances of people throwing things, screaming, making people cry, and other telltale signs of an emotional hijacking. An emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence. As soon as you show that level of instability, people will question whether or not you’re trustworthy and capable of keeping it together when it counts.
Exploding at anyone, regardless of how much they might “deserve it,” turns a huge amount of negative attention your way. You’ll be labeled as unstable, unapproachable, and intimidating. Controlling your emotions keeps you in the driver’s seat. When you’re able to control your emotions around someone who wrongs you, they end up looking bad instead of you.
We all know those people who like to brag about themselves behind the mask of self-deprecation. For example, the gal who makes fun of herself for being a nerd when she really wants to draw attention to the fact that she’s smart or the guy who makes fun of himself for having a strict diet when he really wants you to know how healthy and fit he is. While many people think that self-deprecation masks their bragging, everyone sees right through it. This makes the bragging all the more frustrating, because it isn’t just bragging; it’s also an attempt to deceive.
Whipping out your phone
Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation. You’ll find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.
Having a closed mind
If you want to be likeable, you must be open-minded, which makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is unwilling to listen. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace, where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require that you believe what they believe or condone their behavior; it simply means that you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick.
The biggest mistake people make in conversation is being so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening but that you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.
Being too serious
People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested, because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion for their work with their ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers, remembering what people said to them yesterday or last week, which shows people that they are just as important to them as their work is.
People make themselves look terrible when they get carried away with gossiping. Wallowing in talk of other people’s misdeeds or misfortunes may end up hurting their feelings if the gossip ever finds its way to them, but gossiping is guaranteed to make you look negative and spiteful every time.
Sharing too much, too early
While getting to know people requires a healthy amount of sharing, sharing too much about yourself right off the bat comes across wrong. Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly. Likeable people let the other person guide them as to when it’s the right time for them to open up. Over-sharing comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive to the balance of the conversation. Think of it this way: if you’re getting into the nitty gritty of your life without learning about the other person first, you’re sending the message that you see them as nothing more than a sounding board for your problems.
Studies have shown that people who over-share on social media do so because they crave acceptance, but the Pew Research Center has revealed that this over-sharing works against them by making people dislike them. Sharing on social media can be an important mode of expression, but it needs to be done thoughtfully and with some self-control. Letting everyone know what you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with how many times you walked your dog today will do much more harm than good when it comes to likeability.
Bringing it all together
When you build your awareness of how your actions are received by other people, you pave the way to becoming more likeable.
This question makes me cringe. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I do — I really do. It’s just that when someone asks me to be their mentor, I don’t know what I’m signing up for. The question feels like a marriage proposal from someone I’ve never met, an indefinite labor contract with unspecified terms of service, and a giant pile of responsibility on an already full plate.
But I understand where people are coming from. We’ve been spoon-fed the idea that finding a mentor is a prerequisite for success. Countless business books and self-help guides preach the importance of a good mentor. Under this image we have nurtured, a mentor takes a mentee under their wing, like Socrates and Plato, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, and Mr. Miyagi and Daniel. The relationship then blossoms, and the mentee achieves philosophical greatness, makes billions, or wins the All Valley Karate Championship.
I hate to be a buzzkill, but this isn’t how things work in real life. We wait for a good mentor to arrive like a prophet, whisk us from our canyon of despair, and push us up the ladder of success. But that mentor often doesn’t come, at least not in the form that we’re expecting. We then use the lack of a mentor as an excuse for not getting started.
The solution to this quandary appears in a scene in Good Will Hunting, one of my favorite movies. In the scene, Sean McGuire, the therapist played by Robin Williams, asks Matt Damon’s genius character, Will Hunting, if he has a soulmate—someone who challenges him.
After some meandering, Will replies: “I got plenty. Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Frost, O’Connor, Kant, Pope, Locke.” Sean mocks this answer: “That’s great. They’re all dead.” Undeterred, Will says: “Not to me, they’re not.”
Will is on to something. We assume our soulmates and sources of inspiration have to be real-life mentors who are a quick phone call or an email away. But that assumption is false. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes, mentors “live on the shelves of your library; they live on the walls of museums; they live in recordings made decades ago.”
No one has taught me more about democracy than the Czech writer and politician Vaclav Havel. He’s not alive. No one has taught me more about writing than Stephen King. I’ve never met him. No one has taught me more about humility than the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. He’s been fertilizing daffodils for nearly two thousand years. No one has inspired me more about leveraging failure for success than Sara Blakely. I saw her on the television show Billions once, but our paths have never crossed.
All I had to do to learn from these incredible people, and many others like them, was to study their lives. Take, for example, Stephen King. I treat his fiction like a textbook. I highlight, underline, circle, and review. I’ve learned more from studying his writing than I ever could from a formal “mentoring” session where I would ask him if he has any advice on writing (to which he would probably respond, “Go read my books.”).
You can channel the power of these teachers without holding a seance. Pick your favorite source of inspiration and ask yourself this question: What would they do if they were in my shoes? What would Elon Musk do when faced with this challenge? How would Elizabeth Gilbert tackle this creativity problem? How would Jane Austen develop the character in my novel? If you’ve done your homework, and studied their works, you’ll know what the answer is.
So, to those of you looking for real-life mentors, I say, stop looking.
Your mentors are already all around you.
You just have to open your eyes to see them.
Ozan Varol is a rocket scientist turned law professor and bestselling author. Click here to download a free copy of his e-book, The Contrarian Handbook: 8 Principles for Innovating Your Thinking. Along with your free e-book, you’ll get the Weekly Contrarian — a newsletter that challenges conventional wisdom and changes the way we look at the world (plus access to exclusive content for subscribers only).
Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.
The last full week of July was marked by tragedy. An inexplicable shooting in Toronto, a dam collapse in Laos, and a horrific wildfire in Greece all wreaked havoc on humanity. But while sadness was part and parcel of this week’s news, there were more upbeat stories, too—alongside plenty that were just straight-up newsworthy.
It was one of the worst wildfires to ever hit Greece. On Monday afternoon, a blaze started in the village of Mati on the edges of Athens. Thanks to the dry conditions, it quickly became an inferno. The coastline, the nearby countryside, and some districts of the capital were engulfed in fast-moving flames. At the time of this writing, over 80 have been confirmed killed, with another 40 still missing.
Among the dead were tourists and children, including one group of 26 charred bodies found clutching each other at a cliff’s edge. They are thought to have been a family. In many ways, it could have been even worse. Extremely close proximity to the sea allowed hundreds of people to escape the fire by running into the ocean.
An investigation has now been opened into the possibility of arson. Greece has a track record of wildfires springing from attempts to clear forest land for new buildings. It could be that the deaths of these 80 people rest on the conscience of a single idiot.
9A Mass Shooting Caused Grief (And Mystery) In Toronto
On Sunday night, Faisal Hussain took a gun and walked onto busy Danforth Avenue in Toronto. There, he opened fire, killing one teenage girl and one child and wounding 13 others before committing suicide. He left in his wake not only heartbreak, but a horrible mystery.
While many mass shootings appear to be motiveless (we still don’t know why Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in Las Vegas last year), the actions of Hussain seem almost cruelly unfathomable because there are perhaps too many possible motives to count.
He was friends with some Islamic extremists, yet the police say it wasn’t a terrorist attack. He was on the fringes of Toronto’s gang culture, yet the shooting was too random for gang violence. He was mentally ill, yet doctors believe that it was not to a degree that might have triggered a massacre.
Ultimately, we may never know why such bloodshed came to Toronto on Sunday. All we do know is that, for whatever combination of reasons, two people are now dead because of Hussain.
8We Heard The Shocking Details Of MGM’s Plan To Sue The Vegas Shooting Victims
For centuries to come, this will be the lawsuit that gets trotted out whenever anyone wants to prove that the legal system is screwed beyond hope. At a press conference on Monday, we learned the shocking details of MGM Resorts International’s plan to sue the victims of last year’s Las Vegas shooting. Filed in court last week, MGM’s lawsuit would drag survivors of America’s worst-ever mass shooting through the trauma all over again.
MGM is not seeking money from the victims. Instead, it is seeking to avoid having to pay damages to those who were wounded—some 850 people. MGM contends that the shooting was an act of terrorism. As a result, they believe that they are not liable under a federal act passed after 9/11. This is despite both federal and local authorities saying that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was not a terrorist.
To call this lawsuit insane would be an understatement. Aside from making MGM look like the bad guys in a Hollywood flick about heartless corporate scumbags, it will ensure that many of the survivors are forced to relive the massacre in court.
This week, a group of Italian scientists published a paper that could well change how we view our solar system. They discovered an underground lake of liquid water on Mars. If confirmed, the finding could represent our best chance for locating alien life in the near future.
Briny water isn’t unheard-of on the Red Planet, but it has previously always been either seasonal or frozen inside chunks of ice. This lake would be unique because it seems to be in a permanently liquid state. A stable source of water is one of the essentials for life (as we know it) to arise.
If the lake is for real, though, getting to it will be a problem. It exists 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mi) below the surface of the Martian south pole, a tall order for exploring.
6Hackers Stole Data On A Quarter Of Singapore’s Population
It was the eye-watering numbers that really made it headline news. Last Friday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared that a massive cyberattack had hit the country’s biggest health provider, making off with the data of 1.5 million patients—over a quarter of the city-state’s population. While the majority of those targeted only had their most basic details stolen, another 160,000 had details about their prescriptions snatched.
Although the main focus was on the numbers, perhaps the most chilling part was the political nature of the breach. Prime Minister Lee was among those targeted, alongside several other ministers.
Lee claimed that the attack was seemingly carried out with the backing of a nation-state, likely one looking for embarrassing or blackmail-worthy material. With a number of countries recently flexing their hacking muscles on the world stage, identifying the culprit could be even harder than it seems.
Forget Stormy Daniels. The big sex scandal to hit the White House now goes by the name of Karen McDougal. On Wednesday, a secret recording from 2016 was broadcast on CNN, detailing a conversation between Trump and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, about paying hush money to McDougal over a kiss-and-tell she planned to publish in the National Enquirer.
The real story of the tape wasn’t its contents. Although it appears to confirm that Trump had an affair with McDougal, it offers no evidence that he actually broke the law by authorizing hush payments. No, the real story was the tape’s origins. It was released by Cohen.
A longtime lawyer for Trump, Cohen was disgraced during the Stormy Daniels scandal and forced to walk away from the president. Now he appears to have decided to turn on his old boss, and he presumably has the tapes to make Trump’s life very uncomfortable. He’s also hired lawyer Lanny Davis, a Democratic stalwart and Clinton ally who specializes in attacking Republicans.
It seems likely that this tape is just the opening salvo in an upcoming Trump-Cohen war.
4A Bizarre Scandal Threatened To Bring Down Emmanuel Macron’s Presidency
Whatever you may think of him, French President Emmanuel Macron is usually adept at staying on top of things. Which is part of what makes the huge scandal currently rocking his presidency so bizarre.
On May 1, Macron’s personal bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, was filmed impersonating a police officer to rough up two rock-throwing protesters. The government was told, and Benalla was given a slap on the wrist. The footage was then made public last week, and people began to ask why Benalla hadn’t been punished properly.
Macron’s response? He fell completely silent for five whole days.
If there’s one thing that Macron likes to do, it’s talk. Endlessly. So his sudden absence made journalists wonder if there was more to the story. They started digging and discovered that Benalla was being paid an inflated salary of €10,000 a month. He also had his own government car with a siren for cutting through traffic and his own key to the house shared by Macron and his wife in northern France. Clearly, something very unusual was up.
Benalla has since been fired, but the scandal is being compared in the Paris press to Watergate. A vote of no-confidence in Macron has been arranged, but don’t expect it to succeed. He will almost certainly survive this scandal. His reputation may not.
3Colombia’s Ex-President Stepped Down To Face Bribery Charges
For a country with a long track record of impunity for the rich and powerful, it was a bombshell moment. On Tuesday, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe stepped down from the Senate to face charges of corruption and witness tampering. His summons marked the first time a Colombian court has ever asked an ex-president to testify.
The charges are largely of Uribe’s own making. For years, the former president has been suspected of funding right-wing death squads to carry out atrocities. Those charges are unproven. But when lawmaker Ivan Cepeda tried to open an investigation in 2012, Uribe demanded an investigation into Cepeda.
Colombia’s Supreme Court dismissed the charges against Cepeda. In reviewing the case, however, they found evidence that Uribe had bribed witnesses. Cepeda was cleared, and a case was opened against Uribe.
Now that he’s left the Senate, Uribe’s case will be transferred to the Public Prosecution Service, which critics say will be far easier for the former president to pay off. Yet his resignation still marks a defeat. Uribe was one of the most powerful anti–peace deal voices in Colombia. His exit makes it far less likely that the deal will be undone.
At the time of this writing, we still don’t know the true death toll. After a hydroelectric dam failed in Laos on Monday night, it unleashed a torrent of water that obliterated entire rural communities and caused catastrophic flooding even over the border in Cambodia. As of Thursday, the number of the dead stands at 27. But with hundreds of people missing, it is thought that the final toll could be as much as 10 times higher.
In addition to this, 3,000 people are currently trapped by floodwaters and awaiting rescue. Meanwhile, some 6,000 families have been displaced in Laos, with even more displaced in Cambodia. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said it could be the worst natural disaster to hit Laos in decades.
However, “natural” may be a stretch. Warnings about the dam had been sounded leading up to the disaster, but it seems that nobody did a damn thing.
1Pakistan’s Election Descended Into Violence And Scandal
Everyone was braced for it, but still the violence was shocking. Pakistan went to the polls for a general election on Wednesday in the shadow of a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed a candidate for former cricketer Imran Khan’s populist nationalist PTI party.
As the polls opened, a further spate of shooting and bomb attacks killed another 33 people. Crazily, this wasn’t even the most controversial part of the election. That came when the PML-N party claimed that the military had rigged the vote.
This isn’t as wild a claim as it seems. Pakistan’s military is notorious for coups and meddling in civilian politics. However, it’s also a claim clearly designed to help the ruling PML-N ignore results which currently have it in second place behind PTI. In a terse press conference on Thursday, PML-N said it would refuse to step down, adding that every other party running aside from PTI was alleging election interference, too.
If a so-called “soft coup” has indeed taken place, it would mean that this election failed to deliver Pakistan’s second ever civilian transfer of power. Whatever the truth, it now looks certain that Khan will be the next prime minister. His stated plan to turn Pakistan into an “Islamic welfare state” will have repercussions for years to come.