"Dr Ali has given us in The Tao of Dating the gift of the goddesses, reminding us that we women are the ones who hold the keys to our fulfilllment...that if we claim our feminine power of simply being who we are, we cannot but find the happiness we want in our relationships with men." --Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Gods And Goddesses in Love

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Are You a Miracle? On the Probability of Existence

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Insight

A little while ago I had the privilege of attending TEDx San Francisco, organized by the incomparable Christine Mason McCaull.  One of the talks was by Mel Robbins, a riotously funny self-help author and life coach with a syndicated radio show.  In it, she mentioned that scientists calculate the probability of your existing as you, today, at about one in 400 trillion.

“That’s a pretty big number,” I thought to myself.  If I had 400 trillion pennies to my name, I could probably build a decent-sized penny fortress with it.

Previously, I had heard the Buddhist version of the probability of ‘this precious incarnation’.  Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere.  The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water — into the middle of that life preserver.  On one try.

So I got curious: are either of these numbers correct?  Which one’s bigger?  Are they gross exaggerations?  Or is it possible that they are underestimates of the true number?

First, let us figure out the probability of one turtle sticking its head out of the one life preserver we toss out somewhere in the ocean.  That’s a pretty straightforward calculation.

According to WolframAlpha, the total area of oceans in the world is 3.409×108 square kilometers, or 340,900,000 km2 (131.6 million square miles, for those benighted souls who still cling to user-hostile British measures).  Let’s say a life preserver’s hole is about 80cm in diameter, which would make the area inside

3.14(0.4)2=0.5024 m2

which we will conveniently round to 0.5 square meters.  If one square kilometer is a million square meters, then the probability of Mr Turtle sticking his head out of that life preserver is simply the area inside the life preserver divided by the total area of all oceans, or

0.5m2/3.409×108x106m2 = 1.47 x 10-15

or one in 6.82×1014, or about 1 in 700 trillion.

One in 400 trillion vs one in 700 trillion?  I gotta say, the two numbers are pretty darn close, for such a farfetched notion from two completely different sources: old-time Buddhist scholars and present-day scientists.  They agree to within a factor of two!

So to the second question: how accurate is this number?  What would we come up with ourselves starting with first principles, making some reasonable assumptions and putting them all together?  That is, instead of making one big hand-waving gesture and pronouncing, “The answer is five hundred bazillion squintillion,” we make a series of sequentially-reasoned, smaller hand-waving gestures so as to make it all seem scientific. (This is also known as ‘consulting’ – especially if you show it all in a PowerPoint deck.)

Oh, this is going to be fun.

First, let’s talk about the probability of your parents meeting.  If they met one new person of the opposite sex every day from age 15 to 40, that would be about 10,000 people.  Let’s confine the pool of possible people they could meet to 1/10 of the world’s population twenty years go (one tenth of 4 billion = 400 million) so it considers not just the population of the US but that of the places they could have visited.  Half of those people, or 200 million, will be of the opposite sex.  So let’s say the probability of your parents meeting, ever, is 10,000 divided by 200 million:

104/2×108= 2×10-4, or one in 20,000.

Probability of boy meeting girl: 1 in 20,000.

So far, so unlikely.

Now let’s say the chances of them actually talking to one another is one in 10.  And the chances of that turning into another meeting is about one in 10 also.  And the chances of that turning into a long-term relationship is also one in 10.  And the chances of that lasting long enough to result in offspring is one in 2.  So the probability of your parents’ chance meeting resulting in kids is about 1 in 2000.

Probability of same boy knocking up same girl: 1 in 2000.

So the combined probability is already around 1 in 40 million — long but not insurmountable odds.  Now things start getting interesting.  Why?  Because we’re about to deal with eggs and sperm, which come in large numbers.

Each sperm and each egg is genetically unique because of the process of meiosis; you are the result of the fusion of one particular egg with one particular sperm.  A fertile woman has 100,000 viable eggs on average.  A man will produce about 12 trillion sperm over the course of his reproductive lifetime.  Let’s say a third of those (4 trillion) are relevant to our calculation, since the sperm created after your mom hits menopause don’t count.  So the probability of that one sperm with half your name on it hitting that one egg with the other half of your name on it is

1/(100,000)(4 trillion)= 1/(105)(4×1012)= 1 in 4 x 1017, or one in 400 quadrillion.

Probability of right sperm meeting right egg: 1 in 400 quadrillion.

To that, we could add the probability that the one sperm and the one egg met one another because she wasn’t in the mood, but let’s not split hairs here.  The numbers are getting plenty huge as it is.

But we’re just getting started.

Because the existence of you here now on planet earth presupposes another supremely unlikely and utterly undeniable chain of events.  Namely, that every one of your ancestors lived to reproductive age – going all the way back not just to the first Homo sapiens, first Homo erectus and Homo habilis, but all the way back to the first single-celled organism.  You are a representative of an unbroken lineage of life going back 4 billion years.

Let’s not get carried away here; we’ll just deal with the human lineage.  Say humans or humanoids have been around for about 3 million years, and that a generation is about 20 years.  That’s 150,000 generations.  Say that over the course of all human existence, the likelihood of any one human offspring to survive childhood and live to reproductive age and have at least one kid is 50:50 – 1 in 2.  Then what would be the chance of your particular lineage to have remained unbroken for 150,000 generations?

Well then, that would be one in 2150,000 , which is about 1 in 1045,000– a number so staggeringly large that my head hurts just writing it down.  That number is not just larger than all of the particles in the universe – it’s larger than all the particles in the universe if each particle were itself a universe.

Probability of every one of your ancestors reproducing successfully: 1 in 1045,000

But let’s think about this some more.  Remember the sperm-meeting-egg argument for the creation of you, since each gamete is unique?  Well, the right sperm also had to meet the right egg to create your grandparents.  Otherwise they’d be different people, and so would their children, who would then have had children who were similar to you but not quite you.  This is also true of your grandparents’ parents, and their grandparents, and so on till the beginning of time.  If even once the wrong sperm met the wrong egg, you would not be sitting here noodling online reading fascinating articles like this one.  It would be your cousin Jethro, and you never really liked him anyway.

That means in every step of your lineage, the probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg such that the exact right ancestor would be created that would end up creating you is one in 400 quadrillion.

So now we must account for that for 150,000 generations by raising 400 quadrillion to the 150,000th power:

[4x1017]150,000 ≈ 102,640,000

That’s a ten followed by 2,640,000 zeroes, which would fill 11 volumes of a book the size of mine with zeroes.

To get the final answer, technically we need to multiply that by the 1045,000 , 2000 and 20,000 up there, but those numbers are so shrimpy in comparison that it almost doesn’t matter.  For the sake of completeness:

(102,640,000)(1045,000)(2000)(20,000) = 4x 102,685,007 ≈ 102,685,000

Probability of your existing at all: 1 in 102,685,000

As a comparison, the number of atoms in the body of an average male (80kg, 175 lb) is 1027.  The number of atoms making up the earth is about 1050.  The number of atoms in the known universe is estimated at 1080.

So what’s the probability of your existing?  It’s the probability of 2 million people getting together – about the population of San Diego – each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice – and they all come up the exact same number – say, 550,343,279,001.

A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible.  By that definition, I’ve just proven that you are a miracle.

Now go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.

Think about it,

Ali

Popularity: 50% [?]

Income inequality in America as a function of height

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Self-Improvement

Saw this brilliant snippet in the ‘The Rise and Rise of the Cognitive Elite’ in the 22 Jan 2010 issue of The Economist which vividly illustrates income inequality in America:

“Jan Pen, a Dutch economist who died last year, came up with a striking way to picture inequality. Imagine people’s height being proportional to their income, so that someone with an average income is of average height. Now imagine that the entire adult population of America is walking past you in a single hour, in ascending order of income.

The first passers-by, the owners of loss-making businesses, are invisible: their heads are below ground. Then come the jobless and the working poor, who are midgets. After half an hour the strollers are still only waist-high, since America’s median income is only half the mean. It takes nearly 45 minutes before normal-sized people appear. But then, in the final minutes, giants thunder by. With six minutes to go they are 12 feet tall. When the 400 highest earners walk by, right at the end, each is more than two miles tall.”

Popularity: 47% [?]

How to park for free anywhere: a metaphor for success

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Self-Improvement, humor

People often ask me about what I’m really good at. And I don’t blame them – when you’re this talented, it’s hard to cite just one thing. Mastery of French and Szechuan cuisine, speaking 37 languages, raising award-winning yaks, creating bunnies out of molten glass with my bare hands, climbing every major peak on Earth and Mars – sure, they all count for something.

But what I’m really good at is parking.

One thing I know for certain: I have always succeeded at parking my car. 100% of the time. Now, some of you may think that a car can’t really hover off the ground, and so by definition, the car ends up getting parked somewhere. But let’s not split hairs here: I’m a damn good parker.

I have parked in Downtown LA during the Art Walk. I have parked on the Sunset Strip on a weekend night. I have parked overnight in Manhattan when they said it couldn’t be done. I’ve parked in downtown Seattle, Dallas, and San Diego – and for 5 years in Boston, one of the toughest parking markets in the world. Ever try finding a spot in Harvard Square? I succeeded. Just left the car right there, boom. I’ve even parked in San Francisco where there are approximately 0.037 parking spots per 100,000 vehicles.

And I have done it legally, without getting fined, and without paying (meters are allowed). No pay parking structures if at all possible, and no valets, ever. To valet a car and say you’ve parked it is to have a fertility clinic artificially inseminate your wife and then claim you knocked her up. It’s just plain cheating.

Of course now that you’ve gone through this cabinet of wonders (“You parked legally in Union Square at 9pm on a Friday night? Will you autograph my son, please?”), you must be wondering: doesn’t he have something more interesting to write about? Like curing cancer, improving education, or chocolate-covered Godiva pretzels? Mmmm, pretzels.

Well, this is about a little more than just parking your car. It’s about the structure of success. Tomfoolery aside, I am exceptionally good at finding parking spots for free where no one else can, and I’ve done it thousands of times. So here are some tips, which you are welcome to apply to other, non-parking areas of your life as well:

1. Believe that it can be done.

Any time I enter a tough parking situation – like Sunset Boulevard in LA on a weekend night – I tell myself that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is a free spot for me. And I find it every time.

This is important for many reasons. It precludes giving up prematurely. It also puts you in a physiological state that is more amenable to success. If you’re in a state of adrenaline-soaked panic, your brain is too stressed to function. But when you know you’re going to succeed, you’re just waiting for your opening, and then – bam – you take it as if you expected it all along. Because you were.

2. Hone your vision for opportunity.

What does a spot look like? Anyone can recognize an empty spot. But what about a proto-empty spot – the one that’s about to be vacated? That’s the one you’re much more likely to score, since an empty spot in the West Hollywood district of Santa Monica Boulevard has a half life of 1.57 microseconds, slightly longer than that of a muon.

So the major repository of spots resides in turnover. Like receptor-ligand dynamics in cell biology, parking spots have a natural turnover rate: people come and go. Recognize that and utilize it. Be ready to nab a spot right when it opens up.

This is how you spot a spot that’s about to become available: first, the driver’s seat is occupied, or about to be. Also, look for people who are walking on the street instead of the sidewalk – they’re probably risking their lives for a good reason, like getting in the car to go catch Monday Night Football.

Second, the rear taillights are on. If the white reverse-gear signaling lights are on, too, then you’ve hit pay dirt. Unless the driver’s got OCD and wants to readjust the car so he’s exactly 4.23 inches from the curb, he’s leaving.

So scan, scan, scan as soon as you get close to your destination. I even start visualizing my outcome: some parked car’s taillights coming on, along with the white reverse-gear lights, and then seeing him pull out. And, more often than not, it happens. Do I have a statistically-significant data set demonstrating at the P=0.01 level that my visualizatons actually aid parking? That it is causation, not correlation? No. Have I parked 100% of the times I tried? Yes. I rest my case.

3. Be bold.

You’d be shocked and amazed at how many times there are free, open spots directly in front of a venue you want to attend. Why? Because of the natural turnover rate. And also because most people don’t even expect a free spot there, and never look! They park 3 blocks away, then kick themselves when they find they could have parked platinum. Needless to say, I’ve never done this myself. Except for the times that I have.

So go for the gusto and, at the very least, make a point of going exactly where you want to be – you just never know when opportunity will smile at you. How many people do you know who have stopped short of their ultimate goals just because they thought, “Oh, that’ll never work out anyway – why bother trying?” There’s a Persian saying: sang moft, gonjeeshk moft – free stone, free bird, so take a shot already, geez.

To maximize your chance of securing a space, you may want to roll on the inside lane at a more leisurely pace to allow for natural turnover to pop open a spot for you. Will this annoy the cars behind you (see below)? Most likely. Will they get to see their football game anyway? Yes – and remember that someday, they’ll be the one holding up traffic with their parking crawl, so it all evens out.

For the bolder amongst you, also scan the opposite side of the street for spots and be willing to make a quasi-legal kamikaze U-turn on demand.

4. Stay with your vision.

Parking in crowded urban settings is inherently messy: you must hold up traffic as you back your car into a space. And, since you have no choice but to ruffle some feathers, make your peace with it. Some people are going to be irked – oh well.

In the entrepreneurial realm, so many people buckle and abandon their causes as soon as they encounter opposition. Remember this: detractors are not a bug – they’re a feature of any successful endeavor. So if people are honking behind you, it means you’re doing it right.

Staying with your vision also involves a little aggression. Various miscreants, varmints, scoundrels and knaves will attempt to take your hard-found spot from you, so don’t let them! Position your car behind the car that’s leaving. That way you’re blocking those behind you from snaking the spot, while allowing the parked car an open avenue to leave. This works orders of magnitude better than getting in front of the parked car which is now blocked from leaving. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find the profound metaphor that’s in there somewhere.

5. Seek underexploited opportunities.

Do you always read the entire novella printed on the parking signs to figure out when you can and cannot park? Most people don’t, leaving perfectly legal parking spots available for intrepid, literate folks like yourself.

Did you know that you can park at a yellow ‘Loading Zone’ curb for free after 6pm Mon-Sat and all day Sunday unless specifically noted otherwise? There aren’t a lot of them, but unless you have a hip-hop entourage of 17 black Escalades, one is all you need.

Did you know that if you go 2-3 blocks away from a venue – especially in the opposite direction that people are arriving – you’re more likely to find spots? At a minute’s walk per block, a spot even 5 blocks away beats circling the streets for 20min.

Are you able to park in a spot that’s only a foot or two longer than your car? If you can, the spot it yours, since most people don’t bother with those (see below).

There are always underexploited opportunities for those seeking them. The surest sign that there’s a better way of doing something is a long line of sheeple waiting obediently for their turn. Dare to bypass the beaten path and blaze your own trail – all great success stories start there.

6. Train the skills in your domain.

When you block a long line of traffic on La Cienega Blvd on a Friday night, it helps to know that you won’t take an extra 15 min to get your car parked. When you’re confident of your abilities, you become more willing to take risks that others leave alone (see kamikaze U-turn above).

I’m pretty good at parallel parking and can get into tight spots on the first try. And, as much as I’d love to brag, it ain’t rocket science. Have you ever practiced your parallel parking – even for 15 minutes? Didn’t think so. If you do, you’ll get a lot better at it. This is also true of public speaking, memory, charisma and sex – other things that we’re supposed to be good at naturally without training. Whatever! The good news is that the initial returns on training in these underserved domains can be huge. So get thee a book like Use Your Perfect Memory by Tony Buzan or The Multiorgasmic Man by Chia & Abrams and behold the miracles that ensue.

7. For real success, be willing to reassess.

It is good to find free or cheap legal parking. However, if accomplishing that means missing the first 15 minutes of the U2 concert or enduring the wrath of a crippled girlfriend after she walks 3 blocks in her tottery heels, then by all means pay for parking – or even give the car to the (gasp) valet. Yes, even I have broken down and done that sometimes. Don’t win the battle and lose the war.

Similarly, in your job, you may get the promotion, the contract, and the big pile of dough but lose your soul in process and be miserable in spite of ’success’. Know that true success makes you feel good. So if you ever deviate from feeling good, you’re not really successful. Reassess and get back on the track of real fulfillment.

Popularity: 47% [?]

How language affects thought & behavior

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Language, Mind

This is one of the most profound, exciting articles I have read in a while. It’s from the 30 July 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal. Turns out that my lifelong suspicion that native language affects thought and behavior at a deep level (see the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) is far truer than I ever imagined.  Here’s the beginning of the article: by Lera Boroditsky, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University:

Lost in Translation

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world; a different sense of blame in Japanese and Spanish

By Lera Boroditsky

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?

Take “Humpty Dumpty sat on a…” Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say “sat” rather than “sit.” In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can’t) change the verb to mark tense.

In Russian, you would have to mark tense and also gender, changing the verb if Mrs. Dumpty did the sitting. You would also have to decide if the sitting event was completed or not. If our ovoid hero sat on the wall for the entire time he was meant to, it would be a different form of the verb than if, say, he had a great fall.

In Turkish, you would have to include in the verb how you acquired this information. For example, if you saw the chubby fellow on the wall with your own eyes, you’d use one form of the verb, but if you had simply read or heard about it, you’d use a different form.

Do English, Indonesian, Russian and Turkish speakers end up attending to, understanding, and remembering their experiences differently simply because they speak different languages?  Continue reading article here

Popularity: 62% [?]

‘The How of Happiness’: Interview with Prof Sonja Lyubomirsky

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Happiness, Mind, Self-Improvement

There have been a number a number of excellent books on happiness published in the past few years, and I have been consuming them avidly. Not only do I use their principles to help my students and hypnotherapy clients lead happier lives, but I also enjoy applying the principles to my own life. The books are also fun to read, with accounts of quirky psych experiments and fun, touching anecdotes.

One of the best of the happiness batch is The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by UC Riverside Professor of Psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky. Amongst all the happiness texts I’ve read (and there have been about 8), this one I found to be the most practical in its ability to increase real happiness in your life.

This is because of Prof Lyubomirsky’s judicious use of questionnaires and the Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic, which figures out which activities end up creating the most happiness for you. The results for me were somewhat surprising and allowed me to focus more of my time and energy on the activities that, unbeknownst to myself, meant the most to me.

Prof Lyubomirsky, a Santa Monica neighbor and fellow Harvard grad, was kind enough to let me into her home for a very informative interview which you can watch below. I recommend everyone, young and old, to get a copy of The How of Happiness for yourself and someone you love. There is no greater gift than enabling “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.” So go forth and be a happiness enabler.

In Part 1, we talk about how the book can help you custom-design your own happiness program. We also discuss savoring, flow, and 2 of the 3 happiness myths.

In Part 2, we finish up the happiness myths, get into hedonic adaptation and the infamous story of Markus and Roland.

Get your copy of The How of Happiness on Amazon

Popularity: 49% [?]

What it really means when you criticize others

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Self-Improvement

The other day I heard a friend say, “Y’know, so-and-so is really judgmental, don’t you think?” I couldn’t help but smile a little bit, since she was completely oblivious to the fact that, at that moment, she was engaging in the very same behavior she found reprehensible in another person — namely, being judgmental.

You can think of this as a blind spot — people being oblivious to their own faults while gleefully pointing out those of others. I prefer to think of it as a homing device and highly accurate insight into the self.

Why? Because the trait we find least attractive in others tends to be a trait that we exhibit and secretly, unconsciously, don’t like about ourselves. This I’ve found to be true with remarkable consistency — pretty much always. As Jung is purported to have said, all perception is projection. And Anaïs Nin: “We don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.”

The criticism is most pronounced when someone is a slightly worse version of yourself in some department. You’ll really dig into someone who’s slightly lazier than you, or slightly later than you, because you hate that laziness and lateness in yourself with a blazing passion.

So next time, whether in the context of friendship or love, you find yourself criticizing someone, take that as an opportunity to assess who you are and what you don’t like about yourself. As the Persian expression goes, kolahe khodeto ghazi kon — literally, make your own hat the judge. Or as we say in English, take a look in the mirror.

Popularity: 52% [?]

Mind-Blowing Optical Illusion: 2010 Contest Winner

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Neuroscience

Ever wonder how reliable your senses are? Courtesy of NewScientist, here’s an optical illusion called Impossible Motion that should have you questioning your visual interpretation of the world:

Popularity: 52% [?]

Dave Barry ad-libs on his new book “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead”

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Self-Improvement, humor

Dave Barry, the author of such immortal classics as Dave Barry Does Japan, Big Trouble, Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys and Boogers Are My Beat, demonstrates novel and exciting uses for his new book I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood, rendering his interviewer pretty helpless with laughter in the process.

Dave ad-libs everything in this interview — watch that split second he takes to come up with ‘Defacebook’ to witness the gears turning in the mind of a comic genius. The already notorious bits in I’ll Mature When I’m Dead on vasectomies and colonoscopies are worth the admission price all by themselves, so go get yourself three copies: one for yourself, one for a mopey friend who could use a laugh, and one to replace the first copy your friends will steal from you.

Popularity: 65% [?]

Video: Dan Siegel on Mindfulness and Feeling Good

Daniel Siegel, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Co-Director of the UCLA Mindfulness Research Center, author of Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation and all-around stud does a striking demonstration of how you can go from a negative state of mind to a positive one in a matter of seconds — using only one word.

Even though I’ve experienced and performed many such demonstrations myself, this one’s pretty dramatic in its impact and simplicity, so be sure to watch the first two minutes at the very least. Towards the end, he gives a practical mindfulness technique you can use at any time.

Popularity: 55% [?]

Five Expert Persuasion Tips to Nail the Job Interview

Written by: Ali Binazir Topics: Persuasion

A friend of mine just landed a job interview with a company he’s really eager to join. He’s one of two finalists for the position, and he wants to maximize his chances of success, so he asked me for some interview tips.

Especially in a contracting job market, even getting the job interview counts as a triumph. But now that you’ve arrived at the human-human interface of you and your potential future employer, what are you going to do, champ? How can you optimize your chances of nailing down the job?

This article is not about what to wear or updating your resume. It’s about five ninja tactics that compel your interviewer to see you in a completely different light than other interviewees. Derived from a powerful course in persuasion, these techniques create structures in your interviewer’s mind that bias them at an unconscious level towards hiring you versus anyone else.

1) Paint a picture of you already working at the company.
If you create a picture in your interviewer’s head of you already in the job, doing the things you’d be doing as an employee of the company, then you’re in very good shape indeed. This is because the unconscious mind can’t tell the difference between real and imagined pictures.

So ask a question like this: “I’d like to have a better idea of my work if I were to be hired so I know it’s a right fit. What would you envision me doing here in a typical week?”

If this does not come up during the interview, make sure it’s the very first one you ask when it’s time for your questions. To answer this question, the interviewer has to make a picture of you working for him. Elicit additional detail so the interviewer can make the picture more vivid — with whom, where, what dress code. At the same time, you’re getting key information about your potential future job, which is also useful. This brings us to the next point.

2) Let the employer do some of the selling.
In the early stages of courtship, if you’re fully taken with the object of your affection and he or she knows it, you have no leverage. Same with this courtship. So part of your power comes from not being 100% taken with the job. Sure, you’re interested in the position, but you still need to be persuaded a little bit.

So think that you have some leverage. How would you act if you had at least two other offers in the wings? You’re a hot commodity — present yourself as one. Ask discerning questions about the job and the company that show that you’re evaluating them, too.

3) Sell the way your customers buy by appealing to their values and criteria.
Ask a question like this: “I’m sure you’ve hired some top-notch people in your day. I’m very curious — what’s important to you about what they do for XYZ?” “What’s important to you about” is the magic question that elicits the deep criteria and values that motivate a person. Once you’ve found out what they are, you want to make your qualifications and work history relevant to those values and criteria.

Let’s say she responds, “Well, my best employees are really on board with XYZ’s innovative and customer-centered culture. They’re really excited about the prospect of revolutionizing an industry.”

Now you want to use the words innovative, customer-centered, and revolutionize in describing what you’ve done so far and what you’d like to do for the company. Sell the way your customer buys.

4) Speak aspirationally.
Ask a question such as, “Where do you see the company going in the next 5-10 years?” Then proffer your vision of what’s possible and how you fit in it. This is your chance to shine, so do some homework on the industry.

Sure, it’s important to tell them what you’ve done so far and what you’re capable of doing. However, don’t let yourself be limited by that. What puts you over the top is your ability to provide a picture of the magnificent things you will be doing for the company that the boss hasn’t even dreamt of.

So, to expand on #1 above, create that compelling vision of the future with you the indispensable linchpin of it all. In fact, there’s a new book out by Seth Godin called Linchpin which speaks to this. Check it out and maybe read it on the plane to the interview.

5) Sell yourself like you’re the cure for cancer.
If you had the cure for cancer, how hesitant would you be to present that to patients who needed the drug? If you possess the solution to someone’s problem, you have a moral obligation to present that solution as clearly and convincingly as possible. Not in a needy way (see #2), but with appropriate grace and power. This is no time to be shy, my friend. Be your own best advocate, because no one else is volunteering for the position.

6) Rehearse.
Make a list of all the possible questions they could ask you and all the questions you’d like to ask. Then get a friend to do a practice interview with you. Record it on video and watch yourself. Rehearse the answers to the questions out loud at least five times. Even better, write out all the answers to the questions. That’s what I did for a series of 10 interviews for one particularly selective company, and there is no better way to think through the answers and burn them in your memory. Eight solid hours spent earnestly preparing for a job that could be paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years may be the best investment of time you’ve ever made.

Check out the persuasion course for greater business and social success.

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