Several years ago when the father dear and I were perusing a second-hand bookstore, he came across Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. He told me that he had been forced to read the book when he was in grade school, and that he had disliked it based on the excessive amounts of analysis that the teacher had instructed the class to do. Even with this memory, however, the father dear bought the book for me - I cannot recall, now, whether he bought it because he thought that I would truly enjoy the story, or if he bought it because it's one of those books that everyone "should" read.
Regardless of the reason behind the gift, I did indeed read the small book (which can be finished in the space of a few hours), and I enjoyed it immensely. There is something very sweet, sorrowful, and real about The Little Prince and the characters in it. Here are some of the real-life lessons we can take away from this strange and compelling novella:
1) "Growing up" doesn't mean we have to lose perspective. As many people get older, they tend to become more set in their ways and value system. This, however, inhibits further growth, because it prevents us from seeing other points of view and from taking the time to slow down, really see the world, and enjoy ourselves. Adults may reach their peak physically, but mentally we should strive to continue our education (academically and/or from life experience).
2) Something may still be of "great consequence" to someone else, even if it is meaningless to you. That is what makes us all different, special, and unique. That is what enables us to connect with and relate to others and share our knowledge of the world. It's something to keep in mind when we encounter people with vastly different opinions from our own.
3) As with the baob trees overtaking small planets that the little prince is witness to, we should all be aware of "bad seeds". Continual maintenance of soil is necessary to stamp out bad seeds and cultivate good ones - just the same as we should cultivate that which is positive and healthy, and do what we can to prevent poor habits from developing.
4) We form our understandings of the world based on our experiences from and impressions of it. Thus one person may see the world entirely different from another - and thus we may have problems of miscommunication. We need to anticipate potential problems so as to deal with them immediately when they arise.
5) Too much time spent agonizing over money or careers or to-do lists will run us down and prevent us from appreciating life and the relationships that we have. As the fox in The Little Prince says, "...there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends anymore." (65). Put love first.
Have you read The Little Prince? Is there another book you've read recently that you extracted some life lessons from? Share in the comments below.
"Words are the source of misunderstandings."
The Little Prince, page 65.
Tip cups are a common feature found in cafes. In recent years, the word "tip" has changed to "karma". By calling it a karma cup, the baristas of the cafe are likely increasing their chances of getting more tips. After all, if the patron believes (even subconsciously) that they will have "good karma" by leaving a tip, they will be more likely to do leave the tip.
Karma cups are a real puzzle to me. If one believes in karma at all, it sounds as though the basic premise of karma is that by doing something good for someone else's sake, one will be rewarded for their good deeds. However, it seems that labelling the tip cup as a "karma cup" isn't going to increase the likelihood of people giving tips for the sake of giving someone their just reward: instead, it seems more likely that patrons will be taking into consideration how they can bring back positive energy to themselves. And that contradicts the point of doing something for the sake of someone else, because in essence one is then giving the tip in the hope that it will return positively on them in the future.
When a cafe has a cup labelled "tip cup", the point of the cup is very clear. If you like the service, you drop a few coins in the cup. If you don't like the service, then you probably aren't going to open up your wallet. A tip cup is honest in its wording; the point of the cup is made clear and obvious.
"Karma cups", on the other hand, are a more subtle way to entice patrons to give money in the hopes that the world will return the "good deed" back to them. Even people who do not believe in karma or who are not superstitious are still liable to pause and think that it's worth it to leave a coin or two - just in case it promotes positive return in the future.
It would be interesting to do a study to find out if more customers leave money in a cup labelled "karma" over a cup labelled "tips". Personally I prefer the straight-up bluntness of giving a tip, rather than the notion of giving money in the event that it will benefit me. Gratuities should be for the people behind the counter who have done work that we appreciate; it shouldn't be something that we grudgingly hand over because we want "good karma" to come back to us. If it does, then so much the better - but that shouldn't be the main reason for why we tip.
What are your thoughts on the rhetoric of the karma/tip cup? Do you find yourself giving more when the label reminds you that you will benefit from your tip rather than if you just think about giving the money for the sake of the work that the person behind the counter has done? Do you think that a person who pours coffee and then hands it to you over the counter deserves a tip, or should a tip only be left for someone who has to wait on your table? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Read our Job Interview Tips, Part One: Preparation before you check out this post.
Jobs do not tend to be handed to us on a silver platter. Although I haven't had too many job interviews, I have been able to learn a lot from the handful that I have had. For some people, job interviews are one of the scariest things they will ever have to do for the job. These tips could help you to pass your interview - and even to enjoy the interviewing process.
1) Dress appropriately. For an interview, I wouldn't be as concerned about wearing closed-toed versus open-toed shoes as I would about dressing in a professional manner. Don't wear anything too flashy and never wear jeans. A simple blazer can class-up most outfits. Be aware that the weather may take a turn for the worse, so have a back-up outfit ready: if you plan on wearing a skirt and pumps but then it begins to rain, it would certainly be a better choice to wear pants and shoes that won't fall apart (or cause you to slip on the sidewalk!). Rain pants and a rain jacket are another good option to protect your clothes. Don't worry about showing up looking ridiculous; you can pop into the washroom to peel off your outer layers and you will appear much more presentable than if you arrived looking like a drowned rat.
2) Accept the glass of water if/when it is offered. You will likely feel nervous throughout the interview, and your mouth is going to get dry fast from answering so many questions. Having a glass of water on hand will also give you something to reach for throughout the interview, and it will likely put you at ease. Choose water over coffee or tea if the options are offered, however - there's always the possibility that your hand will be a little shaky from nerves, and you definitely don't want to accidentally spill a hot beverage over yourself!
3) Allow your tone of voice and gestures to speak for you. You might say all the right things, but if you slouch or if you speak in a careless manner or use slang, the interviewer won't be very impressed. On the other hand, if you have difficulty in answering the questions but you have good posture, articulate your words well, and use your body language to indicate interest, the interviewer will be able to see that you have the capabilities to develop job-related skills over time.
4) Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask for clarification if you do not understand something that the interviewer has said. You will fare better if you fully understand the question than if you try to cobble together a response which in fact has nothing to do with the question (and yes, I have unfortunately learned that from experience). Show interest in the company by inquiring as to how it is run and the experiences that both the employees and the clients have had.
5) Remember that the interviewer wants you to succeed. This is perhaps one of the best statements that I have ever heard an interviewer say. They aren't there to scare you off; they want a new employee just as much as you want a new job. If you act with polite confidence, offer a firm handshake, and think of the interviewer as a person with a similar interest and goal as your own - that is, for you (presumably the ideal candidate!) to get the job - then you will be in a much more comfortable position which will reflect in your demeanor.
What steps do you take to prepare for an interview?
Jobs do not tend to be handed to us on a silver platter. Although I haven't had too many job interviews, I have been able to learn a lot from the handful that I have had. For some people, job interviews are one of the scariest things they will ever have to do for the job. These tips could help you to prepare for your interview - and even to enjoy the interviewing process.
1) Do your research. Know about the company, know about the people who work for it, and know about their mission statement. You don't have to memorize it all, but you should be able to have a good grasp of what the business does and the kind of people who work there. When you have an awareness of what kind of background the employees have, you can also use this to your advantage: if you notice that all of the employees have Bachelor of Science degrees but you have a Bachelor of Arts degree, play up your strengths as a creative individual with excellent communication skills, for example (not that I'm saying that those with a Bachelor of Science degree aren't as creative or as proficient with communicating - but a Bachelor of Arts is more likely to have to hone those skills in a university setting).
2) Know where and when the interview is. Don't necessarily assume the interview will be held at the place where you would be working. Figure out how you will get to the interview ahead of time so that you have an idea of how long it will take. Make sure that you check your phone and e-mail for messages the morning of the interview, just in case something unexpected has arisen and your interviewer is calling to change the time. Also find out who will be interviewing you, and how many people will be on the interview board. It may come as quite a shock if you are expecting to be interviewed by one person, only to learn upon your arrival that there are three people waiting for you!
3) Prepare for all kinds of different questions. Look up on the Internet for frequently asked interview questions. Think of several different scenarios in which you have been put in, and examine how you reacted to these situations in the past. Imagine potential obstacles you might come across in the job you are interviewing for, and work out how you will overcome them. Know what salary range you will be willing to take the job for.
4) Expect at least one question in which you will not know the answer. In one interview, I was asked if I prefer red or white wine, and what kind of tree I would be if I could be a tree. In another interview, I was asked for my opinion on a local news story. Yet another interview focused on questions about giving examples of situations in which I demonstrated leadership skills. All of these questions threw me for a loop. There's going to be something unexpected, no matter how prepared you are. Relax and take a moment to think about the question if you don't have an answer right away.
5) Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be able to pinpoint what you do well and what you can improve on, and be proactive to determine how you can improve on weaknesses (or, even better, how you have already been able to turn your weakness into a strength). The better you know yourself, the better you will be able to present yourself to your interviewer.
Check back next week for Job Interview Tips, Part Two: The Interview.