11 Small Steps That Will Make a Huge Difference in Your Career


Whether you’re just starting out in a new job or looking to climb the corporate ladder, hard work will always be the best way to improve your career. If you want to grow even more quickly, having a few tricks up your sleeve for improving your productivity and making the best impression can only help you take things to the next level.

1. Come up with ways to quantitatively track your impact.

On your first day at a new job, take stock of anything numeric. If you’re in charge of social media, check all the numbers; same goes for things like page views for writers and client numbers for sales professionals. That way, when it comes time to refresh your resume, you’ll be able to measure your influence.

2. Keep lists of things you do.

At the end of a busy week or big project, write a brief summary of everything you did and keep it in a file of personal successes. You’ll have written proof of your achievements on hand for your next performance review or salary negotiation.

3. Introduce yourself.

While it can be easy lock yourself to your desk and put your nose to the grindstone when you start a new job, spending some time by the water cooler can be just as important. By getting to know your coworkers (from the interns to the boss), you learn more about your company and open yourself up to growth opportunities and new projects. Introduce yourself to people outside of your company as well by attending networking events for your industry—referrals are the No. 1 source of hire in North America, after all.

4. Get a stress ball for your desk.

This is not just to keep you from taking out your frustrations on company property, it will also help you with a memory trick tied to making a fist. A recent study showed that making a fist with your right hand while memorizing a piece of information and then squeezing your left hand to recall it later can improve your memory (the reverse is true for lefties). Apply this trick when learning names or committing certain facts to memory before a big presentation and you’ll get a leg up on your slack-fingered friends.

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

A series of experiments conducted in 2014 found that individuals who were more guilt-prone were less likely to want to team up on projects because they worry about disappointing the people around them. If you let this tendency dominate decisions in your career, you run the risk of missing out on key networking opportunities—or just the chance to learn from your coworkers.

6. Pick the right partner.

An Australian study that examined 4,544 married individuals from 2005 to 2009 found that people who have careful, reliable partners tend to do better at work, both in terms of how much they make and how satisfied they are with their jobs. We tend to adopt the characteristics of those closest to us, so it only makes sense that an organized, fastidious spouse might make you a better employee.

7. Dress the part.

It may not be what you want to hear, but a 2011 study showed that women who wear makeup are judged to be more competent by their peers, even if the makeup wasn’t considered especially “glamorous.” While this finding highlights an office double standard, it’s worth noting that a well-kempt, professional appearance will almost certainly help you make a good first impression, regardless of your gender.

8. Keep an actual notebook.

There are tons of note functions on your favorite electronic device, but studies have consistently shown that the physical act of writing something down helps you to commit it to memory. Bring a notebook to meetings for keeping track of ideas and write your to-do list by hand and you’ll be less likely to have something slip your mind.

9. Create a personal website.

If you work in a creative field or plan to do any sort of freelancing, having somewhere to organize and showcase your work is crucial. Build a personal online portfolio early in your career to help refine your public image and it can grow along with you. Learning to manage your site from the outset will help you pick up a few extra technical skills, too.

10. Perfect your handshake.

There’s something to the old school wisdom of a strong handshake. In fact, numerous studies have shown a confident greeting has a range of positive effects that are important in business situations. One such study found that people who follow common prescriptions for shaking hands, such as using a firm grip and looking the other person in the eye, receive higher ratings of employment suitability in job interviews—definitely good news for your career.

11. Practice the rest of your self-presentation as well.

Ninety-three percent of a person’s first impression of you is based on nonverbal clues like body language, what you wear, and even your tone of voice. If you’re prepping for an interview or big presentation, try running through your talking points with a friend who can tell you things like how your posture could be improved.

Taking the right steps early on can set you on track for a long successful career. At HSBC, we’d never claim to play a starring role in your successes, but as part of your supporting cast, we’re here to help you in every way we can. Together, We Advance.

To learn more about HSBC Advance, visit us.hsbc.com/advance.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219


You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35


For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46


This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180


If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65


This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

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7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120


The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90


Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

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9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155


Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

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10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46


Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day


Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.