Archive for July, 2011

Pay Attention to this World

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The news is often ridiculous but sometimes it can be interesting if you think about it.

For example, I just read that India got 60 million new cell phone subscribers during the past 90 days.

The whole country of Canada has about 34 million people to give you an idea of how huge that number is.

Some people might think, “I don’t really care” or “That’s not very interesting”.

Well, it should be. Sure, I understand, a number of phones doesn’t sound interesting at first. But just think about what it means in terms of possible future opportunities and how quickly the world is changing. 90 days! That’s pretty amazing.

I really believe that the university someone goes to is getting less and less important because the world is changing so fast and everyone needs to keep on learning anyway. The real money and cool opportunities of tomorrow are going to go to the people who understand and do something about all of these amazing changes that are happening all over the world. Understanding the world is more important than ever before and most people are clueless about what’s going on.

Now is a perfect time to use your brain and be creative. Most people don’t think much or travel much. Every day for them is similar to the one before. This is great news if you want to do something important. It’s also great news if English isn’t your first language. Why???

People from the English speaking world, (Canada, USA, Australia, UK…) are kind of like a bunch of little kids with really rich parents. (Life was too easy for them and they got everything they wanted!) Until now, it didn’t really matter what people from those countries did. If you were “normal” your life would be pretty good. You could have 2 cars, 2 kids, a house, a dog, and a nice comfortable life. You had to work, but not very hard and you didn’t need to think much.

That type of situation made the English speaking world very weak and lazy. That is great news for English learners because you know you have to work hard and that’s a great thing. Hard working people (and of course smart working people) from all over the world are getting more opportunities to get great jobs if they work hard and THINK. It’s no surprise that people from the English countries start to cry like little babies because it means they have to stop eating ice cream and pizza all day and maybe try to do something with their lives. Things aren’t as easy for them as they were before.

Speaking 2 languages and knowing what’s going on in a few different places in the world will be more valuable than an MBA from Harvard.

The idea is that learning real English and thinking about the topics we discuss here on the 232 is going to make your whole life a lot better, even if it is already pretty sweet now. I know it’s not going to be easy but that’s ok. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to work!

Love to hear your thoughts guys.


Being a “Back Seat Driver”

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This is a pretty funny phrase that I thought about the other day when I was in the car with my mom.

She’s a wonderful woman but her driving is sometimes a bit ridiculous. Add was sitting in the passenger seat (also known as “shotgun”) and I was in the back seat.

My mom drives differently than I would. She’s pretty safe but I feel a bit scared because I think that she always stops later than she should. Sometimes from the back of the car I will yell something like “slow down” or “stop” or “what are you doing!!!!!”

That’s called being a “back seat driver”. I’m not actually driving the car because I’m in the back seat. I’m a “back seat driver” in this case because I’m sitting in the back seat of the car and giving my mom instructions on how to do a better job driving. Everyone hates back seat drivers when they are on the road but I admit to being one sometimes.

I’m sure you’ve had or seen this experience sometime in your life. You might even see it everyday! Now at least you know what it is and what to call this kind of person.

Being a “Black Sheep”

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I heard this term from a friend of mine the other day. I knew it but it’s one of those hilarious terms that I forgot about. It’s a good one and pretty easy to understand and remember.

It is a “black sheep”. Here is the idea. Most sheep are white but every once in a while it’s possible to find a black sheep.

If someone is “a bit of a black sheep” it means that they are unusual. They are different than what you would expect. This is not necessarily a bad thing to be, it just means different.

For example, imagine that a husband and wife had 6 kids. If 5 of the kids became doctors and one of the kids became a businessman, you could call the businessman, “a bit of a black sheep”.

Here is the way it could be used in a daily conversation:

A: All of Scott’s brothers and sisters are doctors. I wonder how he decided to start his own business.

B: I’m not really sure but I’ve always known that Scott has been a bit of a black sheep.

Improve your English Writing

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

English writing is super important for business. I can really see it more now than ever before.

Aside from China232, Add and I do some online consulting work for international brands. We work from anywhere in the world on our computers and we communicate mostly via email.

Often these emails go to the CEO, Marketing Director, and several other important people in the companies. These people care much more about the quality of ideas than about good grammar or vocabulary.

Some of the people in these companies speak English as a second language. Their English is quite good too. Many people have their MBA and have lived in the USA, Canada, or England for a few years. They speak and write in English everyday at work. There is still a problem…

I hate to say it, but it’s really easy to see who is a native speaker and who isn’t from reading only a few sentences of one email. Often these very intelligent people get ignored by the top people in the company because of language. As I said, their English is still pretty good, it’s just not quite good enough to really get noticed and move higher in the company.

It’s sad but it’s the truth. I keep seeing these hard working people earning less money than they should just because of their English. It’s weird. The bosses are not trying to be unfair, it’s just the way it works. The only solution I can see is to get better at English writing and communication.

Most (I think over 99%) of English learners get up to a certain level in English and then they stop trying to improve. People can understand their main ideas and no one corrects their mistakes anymore. The problem is that this level usually isn’t good enough for the real business world. Once you are in a company, which university you went to means almost nothing. It’s mostly about the “office politics” and the relationships you can form with other “major players” in the company. This is true with both big and small companies. If you want to build a good relationship and get respected from these people, you need to make sure that your writing is clear enough to really make people think. This isn’t easy since you are going to compete with native speakers. It’s possible, it’s just going to take some work.

We’re including a VIP writing section here to help with this important part of English learning. It’s no extra cost, just included in the $37 USD VIP fee that the members pay once a year. We’ll be here to push you and help you improve. I’ll make interesting writing assignments for you guys. I’ll read what you write and point out common mistakes that people keep making. Often these mistakes are quite small and subtle. If you promise to try your best and learn from my personal and honest advice, I guarantee you will improve a lot. This will really make a huge difference in your current or future career.

I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions about this topic. Don’t worry about making mistakes either, just write first. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Confident people lead better lives anyway. Just try your best and learn from your mistakes.