Need to Think Clearly? Try Talking to Yourself in the Third Person.

Need to Think Clearly? Try Talking to Yourself in the Third Person.

Need to Think Clearly? Try Talking to Yourself in the Third Person.

access_time Aug/11/2017

“Rose doesn’t like that.” “Rose will fix this.” If I were to talk like this, especially to myself, it might seem a little nutty. But there might be a good reason to start -- especially if I ever found myself in a stressful situation where I needed to think clearly.  

In a recent study, professors from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan conducted two experiments to find out the effects that self-talk in third person can have on an individual’s mood and emotions. And guess what? Talking to yourself in third person can actually help to regulate your emotions and reduce stress. 

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In the first experiment, participants were presented neutral and disturbing images, and asked to share their feelings in first and third person. By measuring a participant’s neural activity while they shared their reactions, researchers found that people who used their name rather than “I” were less reactive to disturbing images and showed more control over their emotions. In a dramatic example, people who spoke in third person showed less fear when they were presented an image of a man holding a gun to someone’s head.

As an added benefit, third person self talk requires no extra mental effort, compared to other forms of self control. “This bodes well for using third-person self-talk as an on-the-spot strategy for regulating one’s emotions,” explains Jason Moser, MSU associate professor of psychology, “as many other forms of emotion regulation, such as mindfulness and thinking on the bright side, require considerable thought and effort.”

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The second study also proved this to be true. By measuring the brain activity of participants when they were asked to recall personal painful experiences from their pasts, researchers again found that people who spoke in third person had less negative brain activity and better emotional regulation.

So, how can the simple swap of a name do the trick? Speaking to yourself in third person gets you to think from another standpoint, helping to detach you from a situation. “Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others,” says Moser. “That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.”

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What the Amazon Whole Foods Acquisition Has in Store for Supermarkets: Digital Disruption

This summer, a group of Democrats in Congress urged the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a review of Amazon's plan to buy Whole Foods. The lawmakers asked that the review include consideration of what effect the $13.7 billion deal might have on our access to healthy foods.

Related: Amazon Is Buying Whole Foods for a Whopping $13.7 Billion -- Is It a Good Deal?

This may seem like an overreaction to a deal that Wall Street analysts say will have no significant immediate impact on Amazon's overall valuation. However, an examination of the deal within the context of Amazon's strategy starts to paint a picture of an industry on the brink of a massive disruption.

The nature of that disruption? It's clear Amazon is not merely expanding into the grocery business, but is seeking to fundamentally change the way we buy and receive our food.

Amazon's pursuit of value vacancies

If you define Amazon's market as the home delivery of products, goods and services, how does this acquisition fit the company's strategy? Simply put, by purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon is pursuing a value vacancy, or market opportunity that can be exploited through a digitally enabled business model.

Value vacancies, as defined in "Digital Vortex: How Today's Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors at Their Own Game," are those categories in which the competition hasn't caught up to opportunity. Amazon has exploited these opportunities time and time again in publishing, apparel and sporting goods -- with well-documented success. Now, the groceries segment, too, has fallen squarely into Amazon's crosshairs.

Related: The Winners and Losers in Amazon's Whole Foods Deal

In the grocery industry, competition is lagging while the size of the opportunity is immense -- potentially $668 billion, according to some estimates. Consumers are able to go online and click once or twice to order everything from clothes to cars, but a vast majority still drive to stores, navigate crowded aisles to find items and then stand in line to pay for their food.

On the other end of the value chain, grocers -- the middle men between food producers and consumers -- must establish and service chains of stores nationwide. This system is hardly the most convenient or economical, and that makes it ripe for digital disruption.

While groceries are not new to Amazon, this particular acquisition is the company's first significant investment in the industry. In spite of Amazon Fresh, groceries is one of the last large retail sectors where Amazon does not have a significant share. At the same time, the food-delivery market represents a significant revenue opportunity.

According to a recent research by Morgan Stanley, the delivery market could reach a value of $210 billion annually in the long term, rising dramatically from around $11 billion today. A report by Whole Foods itself shows that online ordering represents less than 1 percent of the company's current revenue. This is probably true for the retail grocery sector overall, meaning that the market is still nascent and fragmented, with no established business value model.

Why Whole Foods?

The most limiting challenge to date for home delivery of groceries has been the ability to deliver perishable foods quickly. However, the short shelf life of fresh food is a competitive advantage for a leader in fast delivery. Amazon, through its logistical expertise, has been able to dramatically reduce delivery time over its competitors'. However, quicker delivery is still needed to make online food shopping a reality and one-day delivery remains an exception.

To achieve this, Amazon needs a presence closer to its customers. And Whole Foods fills that vacuum. Its hundreds of stores offer a hyper-local presence in areas with the highest density of high net worth individuals. This high-end positioning is the best fit in the industry for Amazon's pursuit of consumers with discretionary income.

What can Amazon bring to the industry?

Amazon has made its fortune by selling products at prices most competitors can't match while driving revenue through membership programs and other services. In essence, Amazon doesn't have to operate at a profit as others in the industry do. If Amazon operates the fresh groceries business at a very low margin, while driving profitability through its Prime membership and cash from other areas, many grocery chains won't be able to compete.

This model has been proven elsewhere in the grocery industry through membership-only warehouse clubs. Costco, the largest of such retailers, extends deep savings on bulk items to its members, deriving most of its revenue from annual membership fees. In fact, in 2017, membership fees accounted for 73 percent of the company's operating income.

In addition to this advantage in cost savings, Amazon can also provide customers with an unparalleled shopping experience. Those who have been to a grocery store the day before a holiday have likely felt the pain of a business competing primarily on cost rather than experience. Stores offer promotional prices to lure as many customers into the building as possible, but pay little mind to how the customer feels when inside.

Amazon will not only save the post-deal customer time; it will be able to apply its established services of automated checkout and "intelligent shopping."

Further, Amazon will maximize the spend of customers in a way brick and mortar retailers are simply unable to do. This will be possible through use of its analytics capabilities, to predict just what customers will need plus its one-click replenishment through its Dash Buttons, and its ability to suggest additional, complementary products.

Time is of the essence.

Amazon's unique model and position in the marketplace afford it many advantages in entering the grocery industry. However, the behemoth must act quickly to maximize the value it gets from the acquisition. Value vacancies like this one are notoriously fleeting. Disruptors will soon attack any profitable new market, so companies must win them and maximize revenue and profit margin while they can.

Competitive players are already experimenting and growing their revenue in this area: Instacart, Uber EATS and Google Shopping Express are all disruptive players in the market that could pose a competitive threat if they establish leadership in this segment before Amazon does.

Amazon appears to be taking this threat seriously, though, with rumblings of more acquisitions planned in the grocery industry. Supermarkets with membership business models similar to that of Prime will be able to help an Amazon-fueled Whole foods expand on a private label brand. They'll provide more brick and mortar bases from which to improve delivery times.

Related: With Its Whole Foods Purchase, Amazon Just Bought a Playground for Big Data

Although all this is just speculation right now, one thing is certain: Amazon is not nearly done with its plans to reshape how we buy food.

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Why You Must Allow Mistakes in Your Life

How often have you beaten yourself up over making a mistake?

Maybe it was small, or maybe it was big, but did it really serve you and your bigger goal to get down on yourself? If you’re being honest, the answer is likely "no."

That’s because everyone makes a lot of mistakes in their lifetimes, and those mistakes often turn out to be our biggest teachers.

But they can’t teach us anything if we shame ourselves when we make mistakes.

Instead, I invite you to practice gratitude for each mistake, see it as an opportunity to learn and let it add fuel to your fire to become better.

Sharing my thoughts on this in 5 Minute Friday, Episode 516.

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Love Your Job? Put an Exit Plan in Place Anyways.

When you hate your job, you often think about leaving it. But when you are happy with your work putting an exit plan into place seems somewhat bizarre. Nevertheless, smart employees should always be prepared to quit their job tomorrow.

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The reason is that the future is always unknowable. Just because your job satisfaction is sky-high today doesn't mean that tomorrow your company won't announce mass layoffs, or hire a horrible new boss, or commit an ethical transgression that you do not wish to comply with.

An exit plan is about giving yourself options. Our jobs are usually the only means we have of paying rent, buying groceries and supporting ourselves and our families. Job-hunting is tough and can take a long time. Being unprepared, therefore, means risking getting stuck at a workplace you've suddenly found you hate.

Convinced of the need for an exit plan but confused about its practicalities? Here's what yours should look like:

1. Have unemployment savings

The majority of us -- 63 percent -- are one paycheck away from homelessness. The reason? A lack of savings; one-quarter of workers save nothing at all each month. For those in steady employment, this might not seem like a big deal. But what if you were made redundant tomorrow?

Make it a personal goal to have a savings account that would allow you and your dependents to survive several months of unemployment. How much you need to save depends both on your necessary outgoings (rent, bills, etc.) and the average length of time it takes someone of your position and industry to find a new job.

Quitting a job without another source of income guaranteed is rarely a good idea, but sometimes circumstances may force your hand. Knowing that you have emergency savings to fall back will alleviate some of the stress of these situations and give you enough time to get fully back on your feet.

2. Network, network, network

The widespread statistic that 85 percent of jobs are filled by networking may be an exaggeration, but the power of personal connections is indisputable. Professional contacts can alert you to industry openings, put in a good word for you with their employer, hire you on a freelance or contract basis, provide references and recommendations and generally smooth your job hunting process considerably.

Related: 3 Ways Being a Bookworm Translates to Career Success

You don't have to be actively looking for a job to be actively sourcing, building and maintaining these relationships. Keep in touch with useful business contacts. Attend relevant conferences and industry meets. Be ready to provide assistance and favors to people who could be useful to you in the future. Expand your network by soliciting introduction to new contacts from current ones.

In short, build a reputation as a competent, friendly and dynamic person that people want to hire and work with.

3. Do your freelance prep

Thanks to the twin forces of globalization and digitization, many jobs can now be performed on a freelance or contractor basis. If that is applicable to your job, it's worthwhile investing some time in figuring out how it would work and laying some groundwork. That could mean building good relationships with potential clients, making sure your LinkedIn page and other websites are top-notch, and gathering together suitable examples for a portfolio.

It may even be appropriate to dip your toe in the freelance waters by taking on some side-projects (assuming your company doesn't prohibit this). The idea is to get everything in a place where you could easily ramp it up if necessary.

The same logic should apply to any side-projects you've got an interest in doing. If you enjoy spending your weekends making jewelry or writing science-related blog posts, explore the ways you could turn it into a money-spinner if needed. Personal businesses always require some initial capital to get going; whether for printing business cards or buying a website domain name. Covering those initial costs while employed means you wouldn't have to worry about multiple out-of-pocket expenses when you're not.

4. Keep your skills polished

There are undoubtedly specific skills that help you do your job well; invest time and effort into ensuring they're consistently honed, updated and expanded upon. Research the attributes that would be required for a job at the level above you, and start working on them now, whether in work or outside of it.

The internet is filled with free online courses that can teach you everything from coding to Adobe Photoshop. Take advantage of them. Not only will it benefit you in your current position, it'll ensure your CV is kept up-to-scratch should you need to pull it out in a hurry.

Related: 4 Things You Need to Start Rewarding Yourself For

In conclusion...

It may be that you never need to use your exit plan at all. Great! You'll benefit from the strong network, polished skills and rainy-day funds regardless. You'll also be able to enjoy your awesome job in security and confidence, and be better placed to tackle any arising issues or rough patches with the mindset that working through it is a choice, not a requirement.

Exit plans are there to give you relief if things go wrong in the future, but they will also make you a better, happier and more confident employee in the present.

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How to Face Your Fears and Bounce Back

Not everyone would choose this path. But when Mark Mathews was a kid, he was terrified of the ocean. However, professional surfing was the lifestyle and career that was calling to him.

So he faced his fear, dove in and became one of the best big wave surfers in the world. And he didn’t stop there. As an introvert, he was also extremely scared of public speaking.

But as his surfing career took off, he realized he could create a second career on stage, speaking about facing fear.

So he once again faced one of his greatest fears and learned the skill of public speaking.

Today Mark is not only a sought-after surfer and speaker, he is one of the most grateful men I’ve met.

Especially considering how many injuries he’s sustained (including an intense leg injury he’s still recovering from).

As we talked about what pain and fear have taught us, Mark explained in simple terms how valuable it is to face our fears, push ourselves through them and practice that over and over again. It’s how we become comfortable being uncomfortable.

That’s just one inspiring lesson you’ll hear in Episode 515.

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Do Your Suppliers Like You?

We were broke. We were looking for every way possible to save money even though we didn’t have any. We had no choice but to be resourceful when we started Barefoot Wines. It wasn't long before we realized that the best use of our limited funds was simply to improve the quality of our business relationships.

Did our customers, suppliers and employees like us? Did they know us? Did they trust us? If so, we could get more done with less. If not, it would cost us significantly more money and limit our opportunities to grow.

Related: Build a Good Relationship With Your Suppliers

One of the greatest lessons we learned during our adventures creating this top-selling wine brand was to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. Sounds simple. But it's not. We learned that we really had to probe deeply to find out what each group wanted. It wasn't always what we thought. We asked tons of questions, and after a while, we began to understand their needs and help them achieve their goals.

We thought our suppliers’ top concern was getting paid, and getting paid on time. Sure, that was a big factor, but we discovered other, more subtle interests they were just as keen on. They wanted to grow their business, just like we did.

Our largest supplier provided us with bottles, corks, closures, and cartons, basically all our packaging needs. Our good credit and terms with them were critical to our survival. The first time we discovered we couldn’t make a payment to them on time, we were shaking in our boots. We knew we could not afford to lose them. But after we thought about it and the long-term consequences, we decided to take the initiative and we gave them a call.

Related: Don't Get Scammed: 3 Tips to Find a Supplier

We told them we were aware that we owed them $40,000 and the payment was due in two weeks. We said our cash flow report indicated that we would not have the funds to pay them on time. We said we knew they were counting on our payment to pay their own bills, and we were calling because we wanted to give them a heads-up so they could plan ahead for this shortage of funds. Further, we told them that our next three receivables were earmarked for them, and our account would be current within 60 days.

They said, “Wow! Nobody ever called ahead of time us to tell us they’re going to miss a payment. They usually go dark and we have to chase them down! You’re the kind of customer we want to do more business with!” They extended our credit terms right then and there, even when we were late on our payment! By showing empathy for their position, they felt they could trust us. We reinforced our relationship by signing a long-term agreement with them.

Interestingly, we had started this positive relationship by how we behaved under duress. We continued to build this essential rapport by meeting with them in person every quarter to share our plans, our progress, our challenges, and our opportunities. They knew that if our business was successful they would grow with us. They would sell a lot more supplies to a high volume, popular-priced wine than to an exclusive high-priced wine.

After a few years, we had a tremendous opportunity to sell to a giant chain in Florida with more than 600 stores. It meant a huge increase in volume …if we could only afford the supplies to fill their initial order! When we shared this opportunity and corresponding challenge, our supplier agreed to raise our credit limits and extend our terms to get the business going. Building that relationship was worth a fortune!

Related: 10 Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask Suppliers

Once they saw us as a true “partner,” they would regularly advise us about changes in the marketplace, competitive initiatives, and best practices. This insight was invaluable, especially to a new, struggling company. Eventually, we ordered supplies from them at quantity discounts and they warehoused them at no charge until we needed them. This enabled us to lock in the best prices without sitting on inventory.

Today when we ask entrepreneurs what they need the most, “More money!” is the most common refrain. But when we probe a little deeper, it’s their relationships with their suppliers that need their attention. Instead of playing suppliers off against each other for the best prices, we found that giving the one that was eager to grow our empathy, our loyalty, and our plans for expansion, we forged a solid strategic alliance worth more than money.

How is your relationship with your supplier? Do you really need more money, or would extended credit, free warehousing, and reduced costs of goods satisfy your needs?

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