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29 Stirring Idris Elba Quotes

From his roles on major blockbusters such as Pacific Rim and The Dark Tower, to some of his smaller roles on shows such as The Wire and Luther; Idris Elba has demonstrated himself to be not only a skilled actor, but a diverse and adaptive one as well. From his rough origins in Northern London, Idris clawed & worked his way to become one of the most recognized actors in Hollywood. At one point he was sleeping in a van working as a doorman. During his journey, Idris Elba has learned a lot about life, success, and sticking to your passion.

Here are some of Idris Elba’s best quotes:

1. “Waking up in truth is so much better than living in a lie.” – Idris Elba

2. “I’m never shaken or stirred.” – Idris Elba

3. “I’m an ambitious person. I never considered myself in competition with anyone, and I’m not saying that from an arrogant standpoint, It’s just that my journey started so, so long ago, and I’m still on it and I won’t stand still.” – Idris Elba

4. “My father always told me that a fool at 40 is a fool for life.” – Idris Elba

5. “I’m rebelling against being handed a career, like, ‘you’re the next this; you’re the next that.’ I’m not the next anything, I’m the first me. I can’t be myself, I can’t just be Idris Elba. But that’s just the nature of the business.” – Idris Elba

6. “I come from an era, in my world, where you just had to define yourself as who you are and what you do.” – Idris Elba

7. “I’m not afraid to fail. I’m not afraid to fall over and make a mistake. That often cripples people on the onset of getting into anything.” – Idris Elba

8. “When you come from an underprivileged background, oftentimes, you feel a little overwhelmed by your education or your lack of.” – Idris Elba

9. “We’re all human beings. Experience is experience, let’s just be honest. Let’s not try and dissect suffering into a race, or whatever you want to calle it. We’re all human beings, one way or another. All races have gone through times that are challenging; that’s part of being a human.” – Idris Elba

10. “I’ve always had ambition, and the acting was successful and put my name on the map, but it was never the plan to stop there.” – Idris Elba

11. “I love working. I’m a workaholic and I’m really privileged for some of the jobs I get offered and so I just want to keep going.” – Idris Elba

12. “Work hard, sleep less.” – Idris Elba

13. “Don’t just give yourself boundaries!” – Idris Elba

14. “I love to talk about nothing. It’s the only thing I know anything about.” – Idris Elba

15. “Look whoever you’re talking to in the eyes. Don’t look away. Two reasons: you can tell whether they are lying. Also, so that they can see whatever you’re saying you mean and you can connect to that person.” – Idris Elba

Check out these quotes from the epic Chris Sacca!

16. “You wont know you got to the top until you got there.” – Idris Elba

17. “I’m a veteran of looking at an opportunity and knowing whether it will take me forever or not.” – Idris Elba

18. “That’s the thing about people, they always find ways to surprise you.” – Idris Elba

19. “Yeah, I know, any time you hear an actor say, ‘I do music’, you cringe. But I want to be gradual with my music. I want to earn my stripes.” – Idris Elba

20. “Whether it’s music or acting, that creativity all comes from the same source.” – Idris Elba

21. “My definition of bad-ass is that I’m a force of nature and true spirit. I’m self-admitting that, and it sounds vain to say that, but I am.” – Idris Elba

22. “What really excites me in a project is when it goes in a way you haven’t been before.” – Idris Elba

23. “Fear nothing. Do what you want to do, but be educated and intelligent and confident about it.” – Idris Elba

24. “The other thing I think is important is to keep your head down.” – Idris Elba

25. “I love to play different roles. That’s just the kind of actor I am.” – Idris Elba

26. “There are things that I really find important, and that we need to remind ourselves of. When you think about disability, do you really think about it? Someone who’s got a full-time trainer or a boxer, someone who’s got a major disability, but who doesn’t let that get in his way, that’s a really good message for someone who is able-bodied. It can make them think, ‘wow, I suppose I could be doing better for myself.” – Idris Elba

27. “Know what your target is, don’t guess it…if you don’t know what you’re targets are you’re never going to get there.” – Idris Elba

28. “It turns out that you make your own luck but you work hard to keep it.” – Idris Elba

29. “You get a reputation for answering phones, and all they do is ring.” – Idris Elba

Which quote resonated with you the most? Comment below!

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Talk about your death while you’re still healthy | Michelle Knox

Do you know what you want when you die? Do you know how you want to be remembered? In a candid, heartfelt talk about a subject most of us would rather not discuss, mortal realist Michelle Knox asks each of us to reflect on our core values around death and share them with our loved ones, so they can make informed decisions without fear of having failed to honor our legacies. "Life would be a lot easier to live if we talked about death now," Knox says. "We need to discuss these issues when we are fit and healthy so we can take the emotion out of it — and then we can learn not just what is important, but why it’s important." http://ift.tt/2mC6Vkg Source: http://ift.tt/1c2EilT


In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops

by Joe Sexton

If you grew up in New York City in the 1970s, the number can be hard to get your head around: 291. If you were a reporter in New York City in the early 1990s, the number can almost make your head explode: 291 murders in 2017, the lowest total since the 1950s.

But the number is perhaps most striking when set not against the numbers of murders in other years, but against this figure: the roughly 10,000 police stops conducted in 2017.

The longstanding rationale for the New York Police Department’s widespread use of what came to be known as stop-and-frisk — encounters between officers and people they suspected of suspicious behavior — had been that it was an essential crime-fighting tool. Such stops got guns off the street, the theory went, and low-level enforcement helped sweep up criminals destined to commit more serious crimes.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a press conference with former New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly to address the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice on Aug. 12, 2013, in New York City.
(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The rationale was employed as the numbers of stops skyrocketed during the 12 years of Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty. Such stops, endorsed and aggressively enforced by then Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, rose from roughly 100,000 in 2002 to nearly 700,000 in 2011. The rationale was critiqued, by the New York Civil Liberties Union among others, but Bloomberg and Kelly pushed back, armed with year upon year of falling murder totals and other broad reductions in serious crime.

Ultimately, a federal judge, Shira Scheindlin, found the NYPD’s enforcement of stop-and-frisk racially unfair and unconstitutional. A new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and the judge’s orders for reform, prompted a radical scaling back of stop-and-frisk. Critics predicted a disastrous return to, depending on one’s age and experience, the 1970s or the 1990s.

The disaster never happened. Instead, what many scholars and police officials thought nearly unthinkable — further reductions in crime after two decades of plummeting numbers — did.

Holding murders under 300 was just the headline of 2017 statistics that saw considerable reductions in almost every category of major crime.

“Like many conservatives, I had grave concerns about curtailing the New York City police department’s controversial tactic of stopping and frisking potential suspects for weapons,” Kyle Smith wrote this month for the National Review.

“Restricting the tactic, I thought, would cause an uptick, maybe even a spike, in crime rates,” he added. “I and others argued that crime would rise. Instead, it fell. We were wrong.”

The achievement — curtailing both murders and stops — forced me to revisit my own decisions. I had the fun and privilege of serving as the metro editor of The New York Times for five years, but along with the occasional satisfactions came plenty of regrets. For me, none greater than my wish that I’d done a better job directing coverage of stop-and-frisk. My years as metro editor, 2006 to 2011, corresponded directly with the surge in stop-and-frisk.

Let me be clear. The New York Times was blessed with the city’s elite law enforcement reporters, and they did lots of fine and enterprising work.

Al Baker and Ray Rivera, for instance, did a breathtaking report on a handful of blocks in one section of Brooklyn where over four years police had conducted 52,000 stops. Numerically, it amounted to one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 people living on the four blocks looked at. In the more than 50,000 stops from 2006 to 2010, the police recovered 25 guns.

That said, I still wish we’d had the series of stop-and-frisk stories Graham Rayman, then of the Village Voice, produced. An officer in a Brooklyn precinct had recorded his commanders as they sent their men and women into the streets to conduct random stops. The reporting, among other things, brought to light the potential that quotas had been set for officers.

I sent an email Tuesday morning to Kelly, the former commissioner, to see if he had thoughts looking back. I also emailed an invitation to the spokesperson for current Police Commissioner James O’Neill to talk about his department’s dual accomplishments.

“No one could possibly believe there could be 685,000 legitimate stops in a year,” the spokesperson, Stephen Davis, said. “We just focused more on learning how crime works. There are a small number of people responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime.”

O’Neill has taken some heat from the monitor charged with overseeing the department’s reform of stop-and-frisk. A report from the monitor late in 2017 said there was credible reason to believe a large number of police stops were not being counted. Still, the true total could be twice the roughly 10,000 claimed and remain a small fraction of the nearly 700,000 recorded in 2011.

Regrets have an upside. They can provoke personal reform. And so when reporters for ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union set out to report on the enforcement of pedestrian tickets by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, we were sure to ask some hard questions. The sheriff’s office has said they viewed pedestrian violations as probable cause to stop and question suspicious people. It was a sensible crime-fighting tactic.

We asked what might form the basis for considering someone suspicious, but the office was not able to say much beyond it could be “tips” about possible drug dealing or the like. We asked about how well the pedestrian tickets were tracked — who was receiving them and where. The office said pedestrian stops were captured incidentally with call logs and other reports, but were not specifically tracked. Officials said it would be "too burdensome" to capture the full scope of every pedestrian encounter and associated demographics.

The reporting, which showed pedestrian tickets were issued disproportionately to blacks in Jacksonville and that hundreds of tickets had been issued in error in recent years, has prompted several local legislators to call for reforms to the state pedestrian statutes and the issuing of tickets by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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The search for aha moments | Matt Goldman

In 1988, Matt Goldman and a few friends created the Blue Man Group, an off-Broadway production that became a sensation known for its humor, blue body paint and wild stunts. The show works on the premise that certain conditions can create "aha moments" — moments of surprise, learning and exuberance — frequent and intentional rather than random and occasional. Now Goldman is working to apply the lessons learned from Blue Man Group to education, creating a school that balances academic mastery, creative thinking and self and social intelligence. "We need to cultivate safe and conducive conditions for new and innovative ideas to evolve and thrive," Goldman says. http://ift.tt/2DayXu6 Source: http://ift.tt/1c2EilT


How a Famous Robot Test Can Help You Beat Impostor Syndrome

"Become a lifelong student, and teach others what you learn." – Kelton Reid

Have you ever had that nightmare where you’re sitting in an examination room in front of a panel of experts watching a timer count down to zero?

You’re being asked a series of critical, complex questions, and you’re running out of time to answer.

In fact, you haven’t answered one correctly, or at all, and as the examiners prepare to make their final assessment of your work, you realize that you haven’t understood any of their questions.

Your career depends on this test.

They’ll find out. They’ll think you’re a fraud.

As the panel of experts eye you suspiciously, and time runs out, you wake up in a cold sweat, thankful that the examination wasn’t real.

Strangely enough, many of us experience this feeling in our waking lives. It’s something commonly known as “impostor syndrome,” but it’s recently been dubbed the impostor experience by psychologists.

This experience has been recognized in as much as 70 percent of the population and across all demographics. Though not considered a clinical psychological syndrome, it still has a harmful effect on many people.

The experience often leaves individuals feeling isolated, like they can’t talk to anyone about it for fear of being “exposed”

These feelings tend to snowball if not addressed, and they can leave you with a sense of depression, crushing self-doubt, and a feeling of dread at taking on new or challenging tasks.

Everyone from genius-level scientists (Einstein suffered from it late in his career), academy-award winning actors (Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, and Denzel Washington), and famous authors (Neil Gaiman), have all admitted to feeling this very thing.

But it’s not limited to high-achievers; it’s also been studied in a wide range of groups, including those about to start a new endeavor or career, teachers, students, entrepreneurs, people who have recently had a failure, and even those who have had recent success. In fact, success tends to spawn even deeper feelings of the impostor experience in some.

Do any of those groups sound familiar to you?

It seems to me that online content creators and digital entrepreneurs both sit squarely in the cross-hairs for the impostor experience.

What can you do if it’s happening to you?

Enter the power of interactional expertise (aka authority) for vanquishing impostor syndrome.

In 1950, the genius mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing (of Imitation Game fame — think Sherlock but a real person), created what would become known as the Turing Test for testing intelligence in robots and AI for human-like characteristics.

In the original test, if the examiner was unable to distinguish the computer’s answers from a human’s answers to a set of questions, the computer was deemed able to pass as human (or as intelligent as a human — think Ex Machina without the murders).

So, what if the test was used on humans to compare their intelligence in comparison to other humans?

Little did Turing know, more than 60 years later, social scientists would use his test on a wide variety of fields to learn whether or not human subjects could use “… their ability to pass as members of groups to which they do not belong.”

A famous example of this test was documented in Nature (International Journal of Science) when sociologist Harry Collins passed himself off as a gravitational physicist by answering a set of questions judged by nine expert researchers in the field.

In “What Happens When We Turn the World’s Most Famous Robot Test on Ourselves?” for The Atlantic, Evan Selinger wrote that what Collins proved was that his “interactional expertise” — from having spent many years studying the physicists themselves — gave him the ability to speak on the subject as intelligently as the experts who had many combined years of formal education and field experience.

“Asked to spot the real physicist, seven were unsure and two chose Collins … Nature sent the questions and answers to Sheila Rowan, a gravitational-wave physicist at the University of Glasgow. She was likewise unable to spot the impostor.”

In other words, the humble sociologist became an expert on quantum physics simply by socializing and talking with the experts over the years, and thereby he passed as an authority on the subject by proxy.

How to beat your own moments of self-doubt and impostor experience

Become a lifelong student, no matter what level of mastery you’ve achieved in your education or career, and teach others what you learn.

There are a handful of things we can do to vanquish self-doubt and further ourselves along the path toward interactional expertise and becoming an authority in our chosen niche.

“Learners make the best teachers.” – Sonia Simone

My colleague Sonia Simone wrote some great tips in 4 Unexpected Methods for Becoming an Authority on Nearly Any Subject, including:

  1. Recognize that there will always be people who are smarter and more skilled than you are, and be okay with that.
  2. Break down complex subjects that you understand well for others who may not.
  3. Find fellow apprentices who may not know as much as you and begin to teach them.
  4. Commit to a sincere desire to help others.

Those go hand-in-hand with some guidelines for beating the impostor experience from the American Psychological Association:

  • Talk with your mentors to receive supportive and encouraging supervision.
  • Recognize your level of expertise by teaching others.
  • Write down what you’re truly good at and what could use work to get a firm understanding of your abilities.
  • Let go of unhealthy perfectionism and celebrate small wins.
  • Reframe your thinking about what you want to achieve and what is realistic for you now.
  • And lastly, if you’re still in a funk, talk to someone who can help you even more, like a therapist.

From the Turing Test for humans, to helping your fellow humans learn something new, we can’t let the feeling of being an impostor keep us from getting honest about our own abilities, and feeling confident about where we are on our individual paths.

In other words, you don’t have to have a PhD in order to sound smart. All you need is the desire to keep learning from those who may know more than you, and the passion to teach others who may know less.

Fear not, you’ll get there.

Please drop me a comment. I’d be fascinated to know if you’ve ever suffered from “impostor syndrome” yourself, and any solutions you’ve found to overcoming the experience. Cheers.

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9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page

9 key ingredients for the perfect sales page

If you’ve created one of these 7 types of products to sell on your blog, or you’re going to start offering a service to your readers, then you need a sales page.

The sales page is (not surprisingly) a page on your blog that’s all about your product or service. You can link to it in the navigation menu, from an ad on your sidebar, from your social media accounts, and from guest posts.

As an example, here’s the sales page for Digital Photography School’s Photo Magic ebook.

Photo Magic sales page example

While sales pages don’t need to be complicated, creating your first one can be daunting. You may have seen all sorts of highly designed sales pages on large blogs and thought, “I can’t do anything even remotely like that”.

But all sales pages have similar elements, which you can think of as ‘ingredients’. Those elements are:

  1. A clear, compelling headline
  2. An image of the product or service
  3. An explanation of exactly what’s included
  4. A list of benefits the customer will get from the product
  5. Testimonials from satisfied customers
  6. The price (and the different pricing options, if applicable)
  7. A money-back guarantee (if applicable)
  8. A buy button
  9. No sidebar

Here’s what you need to know about each one.

#1: A Clear, Compelling Headline

Sometimes you can use the name of your product or service as the headline, providing it’s interesting and self-explanatory. But in most cases you should come up with a headline as if you were writing an advertisement.

Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s “Authority” membership.

Their sales page begins with a clear statement: “How to Take the Guesswork Out of Content Marketing”, followed by supporting copy about it being a training and networking community.

Try coming up with several possible headlines, and ask your readers (or fellow bloggers, if you belong to a mastermind group or similar) which one they think works best.

You might also want to look at some of the sales pages of products or services you’ve purchased, to see what they did. Do the headlines grab your attention and draw you in? How do they do it? (And are any of them a bit over the top and potentially off-putting?)

#2: An Image of the Product (or Service)

Even if your product is digital, or your service is something fairly intangible (e.g. email consulting), you need an  image.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a physical product, use high-quality photos that show it from different angles, or perhaps in different operating modes.
  • If you have a digital product, take screenshots of it. If it’s an ebook, you might want to create a ‘3D’ version of the cover to use on your sales page. (A cover designer should be able to do this for you. Alternatively, there are plenty of online and downloadable tools you can use.)
  • If you’re providing a service such as consulting, coaching, an in-person workshop, or similar, use a photo of yourself. If you don’t have any professional headshots, ask a friend or family member to take several different shots so you can select the best.
  • If showing your face isn’t an option for any reason, think of other ways you might include a relevant image. For instance, if you’re an editor you might have a photo of your hands on the keyboard.

On the 2017 ProBlogger Evolve Conference sales page, we had photos taken at past events plus headshots of all the speakers:

Use images in your sales page

Normally, you’ll want to save your image as a .jpg file so it loads quickly without losing much quality.

#3: An Explanation of Exactly What’s Included

Sometimes it seems obvious what the customer will get when they buy your product. But always spell things out as clearly as possible so there’s no room for doubt or confusion.

For instance, if you sell software you might want to make it clear they’ll receive a password to download it from your website. Otherwise, they might expect the software to arrive as an email attachment or even a physical CD.

With an ecourse, you’ll probably want to include at least the title of every module or part. And with an ebook, you may want to provide a full chapter list. Here’s what we do for our courses over on Digital Photography School. (This example is from the Lightroom Mastery course.)

#4: A List of Benefits the Customer Will Get

When you’ve created a great product or service, it’s easy to get carried away with the “features” – the nuts and bolts of how it works.

But customers don’t buy features – they buy benefits. (Or, as Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”)

Think about what your product (or service) will help your customer achieve. Will they save time, avoid silly mistakes, or overcome fears?

You might want to list a benefit for each feature. For instance, if you offer website setup and design services, some of the features might be:

  • You’ll get your own domain name
  • Your site will run on WordPress
  • Your site will feature responsive design
  • You’ll get unlimited email support

But these features may not mean much to someone who’s new to websites. They might not even know exactly what a domain name is, let alone why having their own matters.

Here are those same features, along with their benefits:

  • You’ll get your very own domain name: you’ll look professional from the moment someone sees your blog’s address.
  • Your site will run on WordPress: this popular website platform lets you easily make changes without touching a word of code.
  • Your site will feature responsive design: it can tell when someone’s visiting from a mobile or tablet, and adjust (just for them) accordingly.
  • You’ll get unlimited email support: while you’ll be able to update every aspect of your site on your own if you want to, I’ll always be available to help.

You can see how adding simple, clear benefits makes the offer sound much more attractive.

#5: Testimonials from Satisfied Customers

One crucial sales tool is what other people say about your product or service. Readers will (rightly) treat your own claims with a little skepticism – of course you think your product is great. But what do other customers think?

Testimonials are quotes from customers recommending your product. You could think of them as reviews, though they’re invariably focused on the positive. And each testimonial may only talk about one or two aspects of the product.

Of course, before you launch your product you won’t have any customers. To get your first few testimonials, you may want to make advance copies of the product available for free (or very cheap), or offer your services for a nominal fee, or even free. You could ask people  on your blog or social media sites whether they’d be interested in using your product and providing a testimonial.

Here’s how Erin Chase from $5 Dinners incorporates testimonials for her meal plan subscription:

Use Testimonials in your sales pages

Ideally, you’ll want to use the full name and a headshot of anyone providing a testimonial to prove they really exist. But ask permission before doing it – some people may prefer to be known by their initials alone.

#6: The Price (and Pricing Options)

It probably goes without saying, but at some point you’ll need to let customers know how much your product (or service) costs.

Be clear about the price, and exactly what it covers. If there are several options, you may want to use a pricing table (showing the options side by side) to help customers choose.

Here’s what Thrive Themes does with its Thrive Leads product (affiliate link), so customers can compare the monthly subscription to all of its products with the price of just Thrive Leads:

We have a Thrive Themes Membership for ProBlogger, and now use it to create all of our sales pages. Check out their sales page so you can see what’s possible with their drag-and-drop builder, Thrive Architect.

#7: A Money-Back Guarantee (if Applicable)

Providing it’s reasonable to do so, offering a money-back guarantee can help those customers ‘on the fence’ decide to buy. This is particularly true for digital products such as ebooks or ecourses. If they buy it and realise it’s not what they wanted, they can get a refund.

With services you might offer a trial period, or a short free consulting session, to help customers make up their mind.

Most bloggers find that very few customers ever ask for a refund, but giving people the option results in more sales. A standard money-back guarantee period is 30 days, but you might offer a longer period if your product is quite involved (e.g. a 60-day refund period on a six-month ecourse).

Here’s an example from a recent Digital Photography School deal. And you can check out the full sales page we built with with Thrive Architect (affiliate link)

Use a guarantee in your sales page

#8: A “Buy” Button

This seems so obvious that you’re probably wondering why I’m including it. But if you’re creating your first sales page, you may not have given it much thought.

To sell your product or service, you’ll need a “buy” button. It might read:

  • Buy now
  • Add to cart
  • Sign up
  • Join now

or whatever makes sense for your product.

You can easily create a button using PayPal. If you want to style the button yourself, you can create any image and use the PayPal button link. (PayPal currently calls it the “Email payment code”. It’s just a URL you can send by email, use in a sales page, etc.)

If you want to automatically deliver a digital product when someone makes a purchase, you’ll need to use a third-party website or tool such as Easy Digital Downloads (affiliate link), which is what we use at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Experienced bloggers sometimes split-test different button text, and even different button colours. But the most important thing is to make sure:

  • it’s clearly visible and easy to find (you may want to include several buttons on the page
  • it works.

#9: No Sidebar

This final ingredient is one you’ll remove from your sales page, rather than add. If you look at  the examples I’ve linked to in this post, you’ll see that while they all look very different in terms of design and layout, they all have one thing in common.

They don’t have a blog sidebar. And there are no interesting links and widgets to distract the customer from making a purchase.

Many bloggers use special software to create sales pages without sidebars (and even without the navigation bar or other standard elements on their blog). But you may be able to do it with your current WordPress theme.

When you’re editing a page, go to “Page Attributes” and look for an option called “blank page”, “no sidebars”, “full width” or similar:

Simply select the appropriate option and update your page: the sidebar should disappear.

I hope I’ve made the process of building a sales page a little less daunting. By gathering these ingredients one by one you can put your page together a bit at a time, rather than trying to write the whole thing at once.

Best of luck with your sales page, and your first product or service. I hope it’s the first of many for you.

The post 9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

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Poker, Speeding Tickets, and Expected Value: Making Decisions in an Uncertain World

“Take the probability of loss times the amount of possible loss from the probability of gain times the amount of possible gain. That is what we’re trying to do. It’s imperfect but that’s what it’s all about.”

— Warren Buffett

You can train your brain to think like CEOs, professional poker players, investors, and others who make tricky decisions in an uncertain world by weighing probabilities.

All decisions involve potential tradeoffs and opportunity costs. The question is, how can we make the best possible choices when the factors involved are often so complicated and confusing? How can we determine which statistics and metrics are worth paying attention to? How do we think about averages?

Expected value is one of the simplest tools you can use to think better. While not a natural way of thinking for most people, it instantly turns the world into shades of grey by forcing us to weigh probabilities and outcomes. Once we’ve mastered it, our decisions become supercharged. We know which risks to take, when to quit projects, when to go all in, and more.

Expected value refers to the long-run average of a random variable.

If you flip a fair coin ten times, the heads-to-tails ratio will probably not be exactly equal. If you flip it one hundred times, the ratio will be closer to 50:50, though again not exactly. But for a very large number of iterations, you can expect heads to come up half the time and tails the other half. The more coin flips, the closer you get to the 50:50 ratio. If you bet a sum of money on a coin flip, the potential winnings would have to be double your bet for the expected value to be positive.

Likewise, enough rolls of a fair six-sided die will result in a mean expected value of 3.5. The law of large numbers dictates that the values will, in the long term, regress to the mean, even if the first few flips or throws seem unequal.

We make many expected-value calculations without even realizing it. If we decide to stay up late and have a few drinks on a Tuesday, we regard the expected value of an enjoyable evening as higher than the expected costs the following day. If we decide to always leave early for appointments, we weigh the expected value of being on time against the frequent instances when we arrive early. When we take on work, we view the expected value in terms of income and other career benefits as higher than the cost in terms of time and/or sanity.

Likewise, anyone who reads a lot knows that most books they choose will have minimal impact on them, while a few books will change their lives and be of tremendous value. Looking at the required time and money as an investment, books have a positive expected value (provided we choose them with care and make use of the lessons they teach).

These decisions might seem obvious. But the math behind them would be somewhat complicated if we tried to sit down and calculate it. Who pulls out a calculator before deciding whether to open a bottle of wine (certainly not me) or walk into a bookstore?

The factors involved are impossible to quantify in a non-subjective manner – like trying to explain how to catch a baseball. We just have a feel for them. This expected-value analysis is unconscious – something to consider if you have ever labeled yourself as “bad at math.”

Parking Tickets

Another example of expected value is parking tickets. Let’s say that a parking spot costs $5 and the fine for not paying is $10. If you can expect to be caught one-third of the time, why pay for parking? The expected value of doing so is negative. It’s a disincentive. You can park without paying three times and pay only $10 in fines, instead of paying $15 for three parking spots. But if the fine is $100, the probability of getting caught would have to be higher than one in twenty for it to be worthwhile. This is why fines tend to seem excessive. They cover the people who are not caught while giving an incentive for everyone to pay.

Consider speeding tickets. Here, the expected value can be more abstract, encompassing different factors. If speeding on the way to work saves 15 minutes, then a monthly $100 fine might seem worthwhile to some people. For most of us, though, a weekly fine would mean that speeding has a negative expected value. Add in other disincentives (such as the loss of your driver’s license), and speeding is not worth it. So the calculation is not just financial; it takes into account other tradeoffs as well.

The same goes for free samples and trial periods on subscription services. Many companies (such as Graze, Blue Apron, and Amazon Prime) offer generous free trials. How can they afford to do this? Again, it comes down to expected value. The companies know how much the free trials cost them. They also know the probability of someone’s paying afterwards and the lifetime value of a customer. Basic math reveals why free trials are profitable. Say that a free trial costs the company $10 per person, and one in ten people then sign up for the paid service, going on to generate $150 in profits. The expected value is positive. If only one in twenty people sign up, the company needs to find a cheaper free trial or scrap it.

Similarly, expected value applies to services that offer a free “lite” version (such as Buffer and Spotify). Doing so costs them a small amount or even nothing. Yet it increases the chance of someone’s deciding to pay for the premium version. For the expected value to be positive, the combined cost of the people who never upgrade needs to be lower than the profit from the people who do pay.

Lottery tickets prove useless when viewed through the lens of expected value. If a ticket costs $1 and there is a possibility of winning $500,000, it might seem as if the expected value of the ticket is positive. But it is almost always negative. If one million people purchase a ticket, the expected value is $0.50. That difference is the profit that lottery companies make. Only on sporadic occasions is the expected value positive, even though the probability of winning remains minuscule.

Failing to understand expected value is a common logical fallacy. Getting a grasp of it can help us to overcome many limitations and cognitive biases.

“Constantly thinking in expected value terms requires discipline and is somewhat unnatural. But the leading thinkers and practitioners from somewhat varied fields have converged on the same formula: focus not on the frequency of correctness, but on the magnitude of correctness.”

— Michael Mauboussin

Expected Value and Poker

Let’s look at poker. How do professional poker players manage to win large sums of money and hold impressive track records? Well, we can be certain that the answer isn’t all luck, although there is some of that involved.

Professional players rely on mathematical mental models that create order among random variables. Although these models are basic, it takes extensive experience to create the fingerspitzengefühl (“fingertips feeling,” or instinct) necessary to use them.

A player needs to make correct calculations every minute of a game with an automaton-like mindset. Emotions and distractions can corrupt the accuracy of the raw math.

In a game of poker, the expected value is the average return on each dollar invested in the pot. Each time a player makes a bet or call, they are taking into account the probability of making more money than they invest. If a player is risking $100, with a 1 in 5 probability of success, the pot must contain at least $500 for the bet to be safe. The expected value per call is at least equal to the amount the player stands to lose. If the pot contains $300 and the probability is 1 in 5, the expected value is negative. The idea is that even if this tactic is unsuccessful at times, in the long run, the player will profit.

Expected-value analysis gives players a clear idea of probabilistic payoffs. Successful poker players can win millions one week, then make nothing or lose money the next, depending on the probability of winning. Even the best possible hands can lose due to simple probability. With each move, players also need to use Bayesian updating to adapt their calculations. because sticking with a prior figure could prove disastrous. Casinos make their fortunes from people who bet on situations with a negative expected value.

Expected Value and the Ludic Fallacy

In The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb explains the difference between everyday randomness and randomness in the context of a game or casino. Taleb coined the term “ludic fallacy” to refer to “the misuse of games to model real-life situations.” (Or, as the website logicallyfallacious.com puts it: the assumption that flawless statistical models apply to situations where they don’t actually apply.)

In Taleb’s words, gambling is “sterilized and domesticated uncertainty. In the casino, you know the rules, you can calculate the odds… ‘The casino is the only human venture I know where the probabilities are known, Gaussian (i.e., bell-curve), and almost computable.’ You cannot expect the casino to pay out a million times your bet, or to change the rules abruptly during the game….”

Games like poker have a defined, calculable expected value. That’s because we know the outcomes, the cards, and the math. Most decisions are more complicated. If you decide to bet $100 that it will rain tomorrow, the expected value of the wager is incalculable. The factors involved are too numerous and complex to compute. Relevant factors do exist; you are more likely to win the bet if you live in England than if you live in the Sahara, for example. But that doesn’t rule out Black Swan events, nor does it give you the neat probabilities which exist in games. In short, there is a key distinction between Knightian risks, which are computable because we have enough information to calculate the odds, and Knightian uncertainty, which is non-computable because we don’t have enough information to calculate odds accurately. (This distinction between risk and uncertainty is based on the writings of economist Frank Knight.) Poker falls into the former category. Real life is in the latter. If we take the concept literally and only plan for the expected, we will run into some serious problems.

As Taleb writes in Fooled By Randomness:

Probability is not a mere computation of odds on the dice or more complicated variants; it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and the development of methods for dealing with our ignorance. Outside of textbooks and casinos, probability almost never presents itself as a mathematical problem or a brain teaser. Mother nature does not tell you how many holes there are on the roulette table, nor does she deliver problems in a textbook way (in the real world one has to guess the problem more than the solution).

The Monte Carlo Fallacy

Even in the domesticated environment of a casino, probabilistic thinking can go awry if the principle of expected value is forgotten. This famously occurred in Monte Carlo Casino in 1913. A group of gamblers lost millions when the roulette table landed on black 26 times in a row. The probability of this occurring is no more or less likely than the other 67,108,863 possible permutations, but the people present kept thinking, “It has to be red next time.” They saw the likelihood of the wheel landing on red as higher each time it landed on black. In hindsight, what sense does that make? A roulette wheel does not remember the color it landed on last time. The likelihood of either outcome is exactly 50% with each spin, regardless of the previous iteration. So the potential winnings for each spin need to be at least twice the bet a player makes, or the expected value is negative.

“A lot of people start out with a 400-horsepower motor but only get 100 horsepower of output. It’s way better to have a 200-horsepower motor and get it all into output.”

— Warren Buffett

Given all the casinos and roulette tables in the world, the Monte Carlo incident had to happen at some point. Perhaps some day a roulette wheel will land on red 26 times in a row and the incident will repeat. The gamblers involved did not consider the negative expected value of each bet they made. We know this mistake as the Monte Carlo fallacy (or the “gambler’s fallacy” or “the fallacy of the maturity of chances”) – the assumption that prior independent outcomes influence future outcomes that are actually also independent. In other words, people assume that “a random process becomes less random and more predictable as it is repeated”1.

It’s a common error. People who play the lottery for years without success think that their chance of winning rises with each ticket, but the expected value is unchanged between iterations. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman consider this kind of thinking a component of the representativeness heuristic, stating that the more we believe we control random events, the more likely we are to succumb to the Monte Carlo fallacy.

Magnitude over Frequency

Steven Crist, in his book Bet with the Best, offers an example of how an expected-value mindset can be applied. Consider a hypothetical race with four horses. If you’re trying to maximize return on investment, you might want to avoid the horse with a high likelihood of winning. Crist writes,

The point of this exercise is to illustrate that even a horse with a very high likelihood of winning can be either a very good or a very bad bet, and that the difference between the two is determined by only one thing: the odds.”2

Everything comes down to payoffs. A horse with a 50% chance of winning might be a good bet, but it depends on the payoff. The same holds for a 100-to-1 longshot. It’s not the frequency of winning but the magnitude of the win that matters.

Error Rates, Averages, and Variability

When Bill Gates walks into a room with 20 people, the average wealth per person in the room quickly goes beyond a billion dollars. It doesn’t matter if the 20 people are wealthy or not; Gates’s wealth is off the charts and distorts the results.

An old joke tells of the man who drowns in a river which is, on average, three feet deep. If you’re deciding to cross a river and can’t swim, the range of depths matters a heck of a lot more than the average depth.

The Use of Expected Value: How to Make Decisions in an Uncertain World

Thinking in terms of expected value requires discipline and practice. And yet, the top performers in almost any field think in terms of probabilities. While this isn’t natural for most of us, once you implement the discipline of the process, you’ll see the quality of your thinking and decisions improve.

In poker, players can predict the likelihood of a particular outcome. In the vast majority of cases, we cannot predict the future with anything approaching accuracy. So what use is expected value outside gambling? It turns out, quite a lot. Recognizing how expected value works puts any of us at an advantage. We can mentally leap through various scenarios and understand how they affect outcomes.

Expected value takes into account wild deviations. Averages are useful, but they have limits, as the man who tried to cross the river discovered. When making predictions about the future, we need to consider the range of outcomes. The greater the possible variance from the average, the more our decisions should account for a wider range of outcomes.

There’s a saying in the design world: when you design for the average, you design for no one. Large deviations can mean more risk-which is not always a bad thing. So expected-value calculations take into account the deviations. If we can make decisions with a positive expected value and the lowest possible risk, we are open to large benefits.

Investors use expected value to make decisions. Choices with a positive expected value and minimal risk of losing money are wise. Even if some losses occur, the net gain should be positive over time. In investing, unlike in poker, the potential losses and gains cannot be calculated in exact terms. Expected-value analysis reveals opportunities that people who just use probabilistic thinking often miss. A trade with a low probability of success can still carry a high expected value. That’s why it is crucial to have a large number of robust mental models. As useful as probabilistic thinking can be, it has far more utility when combined with expected value.

Understanding expected value is also an effective way to overcome the sunk costs fallacy. Many of our decisions are based on non-recoverable past investments of time, money, or resources. These investments are irrelevant; we can’t recover them, so we shouldn’t factor them into new decisions. Sunk costs push us toward situations with a negative expected value. For example, consider a company that has invested considerable time and money in the development of a new product. As the launch date nears, they receive irrefutable evidence that the product will be a failure. Perhaps research shows that customers are disinterested, or a competitor launches a similar, better product. The sunk costs fallacy would lead them to release their product anyway. Even if they take a loss. Even if it damages their reputation. After all, why waste the money they spent developing the product? Here’s why: Because the product has a negative expected value, which will only worsen their losses. An escalation of commitment will only increase sunk costs.

When we try to justify a prior expense, calculating the expected value can prevent us from worsening the situation. The sunk costs fallacy robs us of our most precious resource: time. Each day we are faced with the choice between continuing and quitting numerous endeavors. Expected-value analysis reveals where we should continue, and where we should cut our losses and move on to a better use of time and resources. It’s an efficient way to work smarter, and not engage in unnecessary projects.

Thinking in terms of expected value will make you feel awkward when you first try it. That’s the hardest thing about it; you need to practice it a while before it becomes second nature. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it’s valuable in almost every decision. That’s why the most rational people in the world constantly think about expected value. They’ve uncovered the key insight that the magnitude of correctness matters more than its frequency. And yet, human nature is such that we’re happier when we’re frequently right.


Sponsored by: Royce & Associates – Small Cap Specialists with Unparalleled Knowledge and Experience..

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2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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When tears turn into pearls: Post-traumatic growth following childhood and adolescent cancer

GettyImages-619368670.jpgBy guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski

It’s hard to imagine a crueller fate than when a child receives a diagnosis of an illness as difficult as cancer. A young human being, still not fully formed, is suddenly and irrevocably thrown into a situation that many adults are unable to cope with. Each year, around 160,000 children and youngsters worldwide are diagnosed with cancer, and this trend is growing in industrialised societies. Faced with such facts, it is particularly important to understand how children cope. What traces of the experience remain in their psyche if they manage to survive?

Partial answers to these questions come from a trio of Australian researchers in their systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research into the psychological effects of cancer on children, published recently in Psycho-Oncology. Their findings give us reason for some optimism. It turns out children and adolescents affected by cancer are no more likely to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms than their healthy peers. In fact, several studies have found that children affected by cancer go on to experience greater than usual adjustment and quality of life and lower anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms. In psychology, we refer to this as the post-traumatic growth (PTG) effect, which can arise from the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances or trauma.

Results from the analysed body of research – 18 studies in all – indicated that participants who were older when surveyed, or older when diagnosed with cancer, were more likely to experience PTG. Most likely, this is a product of the development of abstract reasoning that occurs sometime after the 11th or 12th year of life, when adolescents begin to formulate their own value systems, take an interest in philosophical ideas, and think about the meaning of life – cognitive processes that are involved in the development of PTG.

The meta-analysis also revealed a small but statistically significant correlation between post-traumatic stress and PTG. By definition, the struggle with trauma is necessary for the development of PTG, because it is during such struggles with disease that a teenager may experience both obsessive thoughts about death, but also may begin to appreciate life more. The vision of losing the normalcy that healthy people take for granted can turn into affirmation of that very normalcy. It is precisely these difficult experiences in youth that contribute to the formation of individuals who psychologists refer to as “prematurely mature”.

The least surprising result was the positive link between PTG and having greater social support, as well as between PTG and being more optimistic. Unfortunately, these correlations don’t tell us whether social support and optimism lead to PTG, or if the reverse is true. Further studies may identify the causal relations between these factors. In turn this may help inform the development of support programmes targeting children with cancer and other difficult illnesses.

The new meta-analysis also looked for potential correlations between PTG and depression, anxiety, pessimism, and quality of life, but all were statistically nonsignificant. Jasmin Turner and her colleagues suspect that this could be caused by small sample sizes.

For decades, psychology has treated negative human experiences as unequivocally harmful to people, assuming that they lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, and poorer psychological and physical functioning. Regardless of their actual psychological state, people who have survived negative experiences have sometimes been treated like patients in need of help, and at times this help has even proved harmful to them. The discovery that following some traumatic situations, tears can turn into pearls is one of the more significant and promising discoveries of psychology. Understanding when and why this happens is a means for science to make a clear contribution to improving people’s well-being. And while the new results are not very strong, nevertheless they may help guide future research, potentially helping social support and clinical interventions for cancer patients. Also important is consideration of the factors leading to PTG and how to share this information appropriately and sensitively with people suffering illnesses. However, before we can label any such programmes as “evidence based”, further studies are necessary, particularly longitudinal research.

That said, it is not worth waiting passively for the results of such studies. With the knowledge that the experience of trauma can lead to PTG, we can begin providing intelligent support to people whose luck is down – encouraging reflection on the experience of trauma, rather than mechanical consolation with exhortations to think positively. Intelligent support should be an unobtrusive presence, without encouraging the rejection of negative emotions, and without attempts at eliciting positive ones. In all certainty, this kind of approach will be different from the offerings we have received for many years from some unreflexive positive psychologists.

Correlates of post-traumatic growth following childhood and adolescent cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Post written by Dr Tomasz Witkowski for the BPS Research Digest. Tomasz is a psychologist and science writer who specialises in debunking pseudoscience in the field of psychology, psychotherapy and diagnosis. He has published over a dozen books, dozens of scientific papers and over 100 popular articles (some of them in Skeptical Inquirer). In 2016 his latest book Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy was published by BrownWalker Press. He blogs at http://ift.tt/2futFR5.

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