How to start a Direct Sales job using Gorilla Mindset self-talk

This might be surprising to some of my readers, since I have been a scientist for 20 years. I decided to take a break from science and learn a different skill. There was a quick opportunity to become a direct sales man, doing door to door sales, and I figured that this would be a job where I would be training my people and sales skills in a very direct way, so I decided to give it a go.


Direct Sales

12 characteristics of direct sales jobs

#1 – You are paid on commission.

You are not salaried. That means – you are not trading your time for money! Your pay is a direct readout of your efforts, since every sale you make gets you a percentage commission. Some companies do offer a base salary, others do not and allow you to have a slightly higher commission instead. The company I am working for right now get you around $1,000 per week if you make 3 sales per day. That is not too shabby of an income, since 3 sales per day are doable. If you even make 4 or 5 sales per day, the pay can go up to $1,500 or even $2,000 per week. $75,000 per year is more than your “average” $40K job.

Or you can even earn more than that in other sales jobs. It really depends only on the value of the product you sell (and the percentual commission the company is willing to give you).

#2 – You interact with people.

It’s a “people to people” business. If you only deliver a robotic sales pitch, not many people will be enticed to buy (although some still are). On the other hand, if you find ways to break the ice and develop small relationships with people, it will not even feel like a sale. That means that over time you develop vibe and personality and if you work door-to-door, you’ll get familiar with the whole neighborhood and may even become attached to “your” block!

#3 – You learn about people’s stories.

You will learn that not always all is what it seems. Seemingly happy families were severely behind with their utility bills. Then there is the lady who had worked on AZT (the medication used to treat HIV/AIDS) as a research nurse. Poor, rich, middle of the road – you visit houses, you visit “real” America.

#4 – You learn to become assertive and control your frame.

You will have very little success asking people whether they would “like to buy”. Most people will say “no”. Thus, you learn to ‘assume the sale’. You act as if the sale is a foregone conclusion and you are only talking filling out the details. Of course, you can’t just command people out of the blue, which brings us back to point #2 above – without building a relationship with the customer first, it is more difficult to be assertive. Now, the customer will often try to push you into the frame of a salesman (which you actually are) to reject your approach (which you don’t want). So you learn to become authoritative and stay in charge. That does not need to be pushy (although pushy salesmen do get the sale), it can be outgoing or a little more calmly authoritative. Whichever personality fits you best, you will become assertive, and that is a good lifeskill to have.

#5 – You are constantly being pushed outside your comfort zone.

If you are not naturally assertive, lots of the experiences you get in sales will feel intimidating at first. I did not want to command people around and instead opted for giving the customers a really good and long consultation about the product I was selling. The result: “Thanks so much! I’ll look over it myself” – and no close. On the other hand, you might not feel comfortable talking to strangers in the first place. Whatever it is, you will likely have to step out of your comfort zone and do things – like being more assertive – that feel ‘wrong’ at first.

But doing what ‘feels’ wrong will help you grow.

#6 – You learn to be indifferent

One could also call it the “ZFG – zero fucks given” mentality. Indifference means you remind the customer “everything will stay the same” after they buy from you. It can also mean he does not need to sign up, because you don’t care about that. It works, because it is the opposite of “chasing” and running after something. Nobody likes a “thirsty salesman”.

Being indifferent will also make your life a lot easier. Live and let live. Of course, that does not mean you should just lay back and be disinterested in other people. You like to figure out more about someone because you are curious. But if that person buys into your personality or not is his decision. A very useful mentality to develop, and it saves you a lot of stress if you just let people come to you.

#7 – You learn how to divulge information strategically.

In a sales transaction, there are several specific impulse factors that make people buy. A sales pitch or a landing page, for that matter, don’t just tell a random story. Copywriters place specific triggers into the story that make people buy. The art is to tell a story while placing the right triggers at the right moment. At the beginning, you will be married very strongly to your sales pitch. Then, gradually, you infuse your personality, until it becomes effortlessly effective storytelling that makes people buy into your personality or product (oftentimes both).

#8 – You get fast and direct feedback.

A sales pitch is a specific sequence of triggers and events. If you use them in the wrong order, you will likely fail; conversely, you can use the different stages to discern where you have to improve. There are five phases to a successful sale: (a) The introduction, where you give your first impression and state who you are; (b) a short story that qualifies the customer for the sale; (c) the presentation of your product, where you introduce specific triggers, like greed, fear of loss or sense of urgency; (d), the close, where you assume the sale and thus get the customer committed to buying; (e) and the rehash, where you complete all details, solidify the interaction and get the opportunity to make an extra sale on top of the first one.
If any of these phases is missing, you are either not getting through the process, or you are losing the customer afterwards – for example, if you leave right after the close without a rehash, “buyer’s remorse” can set in and people cancel their order.
The linearity of the process also means that when you are stuck in a sticking point along the process, you can focus on improving that point. For example, if you don’t get the close, that means you haven’t introduced enough triggers or did not have an emotional enough presentation. You always know where you have to improve.

#9 – You keep your head free for other work

Sales is a pretty automated process. That means that you have your head free to build a more creative side business, since you don’t need to focus all your mental resources on your job.

#10 – Sales is a universal skill

Another advantage of sales is that it is an important skill to develop; the only basic difference across sales jobs is the product that is sold. So if you want to build your own business, but don’t have the financial resources to devote yourself full-time to it, why not take a part-time job in sales? That way, you are learning transferable skills for your business AND earn money.

#11 – You learn to hustle

Rarely does a sale go ‘by the book’. There are always some obstacles to overcome. Especially when you do door-to-door sales and a huge Dobermann-Mastiff tries to jump at you from behind the front door. Or when you don’t even find the door of the apartment at first. So you learn to spot the opportunities. You hustle.

#12 – You need good shoes

An aspect almost no one talks about – if you go from door to door for sales, you are walking and standing the whole day. So you definitely need good shoes with a soft sole. And you have to like walking at least to a certain extent.

#13 – You learn to become selective with your time

The big “enemy” in sales (at least for me) is not a customer saying “no”. A “no” is something you can learn and move on from. The big problems are (a) empty houses, if you are doing door-to-door sales and (b) talkative customers who have no intent of buying. Some people just want to spout off and talk, talk, talk, but they will never buy anything.

This applies to life. Some people just like to hear themselves talk and have no intent of giving anything of value for your life. They are just wasting your precious time, as Bob Dylan once wrote in “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright“. I am particularly prone to that because I believe any conversation adds value to my life, and I normally don’t expect anything back. However, that can also lead to a situation where you listen to the same negative people over and over again and don’t cut them from your life.
But in sales, those people make you lose money. Here, the sales pressure makes you learn to value your time better.

In total, starting a job in Direct Sales, going from door to door, has been an interesting endeavour for me – however,

How did I use self-talk exercises from Gorilla Mindset in my first weeks of sales?

I decided to apply the chapters from Gorilla Mindset to guide me through the transition from a completely different career in biomedical science into sales. Since I had entirely no experience in this new field, I expected some anxiety and wanted to quench these negative feelings and convert them into positive ones. In addition, I wanted to get once through Mike’s book in a very systematic way, applying all the lessons found inside.
To paraphrase Mike Cernovich:
In times of crisis, change or fear we often react by chastising ourselves. “You always screw up!”, “you are simply too stupid”, “you just can’t do it” or “you won’t learn this, ever”.
Now imagine a friend comes by who is in your situation and you give him exactly the above “advice”. That friend would seize to come back. Yet, we are talking to ourselves like that all the time! And we can NOT leave. So we are trapping ourselves with an abusive mindset. We are beating ourselves up. That can’t be good.

So what Mike suggests in Gorilla Mindset is to treat ourselves as a valued friend.

And that starts with a constructive and positive conversation.
To do that, we need to recognize how we are talking to ourselves. I have recorded myself with cameras on my iMac and iPhone, and these are some examples of negative self-talk:

Notice how annoyed and even disgusted I look at myself? My brow is furrowed. I raise my voice. I am agitated, as if to signal that my behavior is simply unfathomable. No reason to grasp or hold unto.
This self-talk, frankly, is me taking the role of a father who is disgusted with his son’s lack of progress. And yes, I grew up with my mother and only saw my father two weekends a month.
Oh! A rich resource for a psychologist to explore! Instead of handing my money to a shrink though, I follow the advice in Gorilla Mindset – and ask myself questions.

#1 – Am I a lazy person in general?

I think to a certain extent I am. Which begs the question how I could end up getting into a competitive STEM major in Germany – biochemistry, how I was able to do my PhD in a state-of-the-art institution I had dreamt off through all my studies and how I could follow that up with postdoctoral research visits in Princeton and New York?
In those cases, my interest in science lined up with the environment. To this day, I can still leave everything else aside and focus several hours on solving mathematical questions. Scientific questions inspire me to think deeply about life, and this process alone makes me happy.
So I am not lazy. There is just a misalignment between the outside and inside world, and when I realize that, I am loathe to spend any more energy.
So why don’t I figure out how to align both worlds? I don’t know. Maybe I am worried about going into the wrong direction. Maybe I am afraid to take chances. I can’t say yet.
But these thoughts have already turned around the negative energy directed at myself into a question that I can solve.

#2 – Am I a weak person?

It’s true I sometimes lack resolve to see a process through. And maybe, as in #1 above, that is also just me realizing I am not going into a direction that conforms with my goals. So it could be a wise decision to stop a process.
In fact, some processes I do stick to. For example, I finished a 90-Day no-candy detox at the beginning of this year.
Now, if you get used to a new habit, there will be times you feel like quitting. To not give in too early, therefore, I just have to set a landmark up to which I follow the new habit, and then evaluate after I have reached the mark.
That way, I have turned my destructive self-doubt into measures I can take to improve.

#3 – Am I a loser? Do I “deserve” to be in a bad situation?

You only deserve to be in a bad situation if you have not heeded clear warning signs. And I also believe that every day is a new chance to start anew. In fact, it is somewhat unproductive to talk about “being a loser”, acknowledging your situation in any way, good or bad, does not help you move forward.
So instead of bashing myself, I realize that I am the only person that can move my life forward. And thus devise an action plan that I follow for at least a defined period of time.

After this discussion, I can now use these points to come up with mantras.

#1 – I am lazy!
#2 – I am weak!
#3 – I am a loser!

#1 – I love to focus my energy on what matters!
#2 – I am getting closer to my goals every day!
#3 – Right now!

I like #3 because it is short and sweet and also a Van Halen song – the first song I heard when MTV Germany was starting back in the nineties. Which, then, of course reminds me of all the happy times I had back then and the experiences that are now an integral part of the life I have built for myself.

I can also turn these mantras into affirmations.
#1 – I am going to be more energetic, because I am focussing my energy on what really matters to me in my life.
#2 – I am going to be proud of what I have done, because I am giving myself the chance to see change materialize.
#3 – I am never going to be in a bad situation again, because I will focus on the very next step. Right now.

The self-talk worksheet

This is a summary of what I have talked about above, with actionable steps I will take from hereon forward.

#1 – How do I speak to myself?

The phrases I most commonly use are those that reconfirm doubts about my ability to execute. “once again”, “never”, “won’t work”, “why am I always xyz”

#2 – When I talk to myself in that way, how do I feel?

I feel that I am never good enough. I feel that I will always stay behind, that I am in a state of chaos I can never escape.

#3 – What is an empowering or comforting phrase I can use when talking to myself?

How can I recognize and correct a mistake without beating myself up?
I like to split up my actions into two parts: (a) a part that was already good and (b) a part that I want to improve on. The more specific I am with (a) and (b), the more precise I can be with concrete steps that I can take to improve.
I can never beat myself up over something, because to me, there are only good things in this world – and those that I can even make better. In addition, this set of phrases implies that there is action I can take to improve.
For example: It’s a good thing I am not satisfied with my current situation. The biggest sticking point I had today was [x]. To get to [y], I need to add more time/focus/energy to my actions. One way to do that is to get to bed on time, so I can wake up 30 minutes earlier the next day.
See how that makes everything work better? It lets me go from “I am lazy” to “Hell yeah, I am looking forward to the next day!”

#4 – Conversations with others

When I change my self-talk from subdued-negative into energetically positive, of course conversations with others will change. Energy is a great resource to give.

Using positive self-talk to get started in a new job.

As I mentioned above, I have started a direct sales job a couple of weeks ago.
In the beginning, I could get easily discouraged by customers telling you “no”, and while earning commission is great, if you don’t earn it, you don’t eat.
Some days this would get to me, and my sales presentations would suffer.
So I looked at my self-talk.


Bad and annoyed body language. Mocking myself. Very destructive talk.

Turning negative talk into questions

#1 – Am I really “shit” when I can’t “close shit”?

Of course not. That phrase came from a “motivational speech Alec Baldwin did in Glengary Glenn Ross. First of all, you are newly learning a technique completely different from what you did before. And second, I am indeed able to “close” the more positive customers. The rest is just learning.

#2 – Do I really deserve ridicule?

It’s good to laugh about yourself. And you realized what you need to change. In reality though, the sales pitch is very similar in all cases. So over time, I will automatically lose these “uhms” and filler words. It’s a matter of practise.

#3 – Do I really “lose” customers?

I would lose customers when I “overpitch”, and I think I do recognize when the other person becomes more distant and sympathy reverses. What I observed here is that it is a very fine line to sometimes walk and clearly a matter of practise. “Losing” a customer is actually a good sign, because that means I am able to win the customer over to my side first. I sometimes tell myself I “lose” them when I never had them in the first place. And “getting them” is also just a matter of training.


#1 “I can’t close shit” -> “I can close more and more customers by the day!”
#2 “I say too many ‘uhms'” -> “Uhm… yeah!”
#3 “I lose customers” -> “Every lost customers gets me closer to a sale!”


#1 – “I am going to Always Be Closing, because I am training for every problem under the sun.”
#2 – “I am going to improve my speaking flow, because I am practising my words every day over and over.”
#3 – “I am going to get rock-solid fundamentals, because every lost customer makes me want to build a more solid first impression.”

1. How do I speak to myself during sales?

The main source of negativity is doubt in my ability to deal with the sales pressure – and since there are people who are good at sales, I tend to use words that confirm I am not talented. Phrases like “never”, “can’t”, “doesn’t work”, “never learn”, ” I’m not cut out for this” etc.

2. When I talk to myself in that way, how do I feel?

Hopeless, inferior and desperate. Fearful even.

3. What is an empowering or comforting phrase I can use?

Whenever we interact with people, there is at least one part of the interaction we can’t influence. However, if we behave in a rude way, we will turn people off that were on our side, initially. On the other hand, when we radiate positive energy, people that were stand-offish will flock to our side.
Now, developing a good “ice-breaker” is no guarantee to have people react positive to us, it is just more likely.
In addition, if we use a page out of Mike Cernovich’s playbook and tell ourselves “There is no place I’d rather be. There is no one I’d rather see”, we will come across as more charismatic.
So clearly, there is a component of our interaction with others that we do have influence on. And that is something I want to focus on in sales talks. So whenever I am moving towards negativity, I am realigning my focus with those steps that are under my control.
So whenever I move towards negativity, I can tell myself: “The customer became stand-offish after my presentation and did not want to finish the close with me. That means I did not pay attention enough to the customer and forgot to adjust the presentation to his needs. Next time I will focus more on the interaction and less on the words in the presentation.”

Thanks for reading!

Do you have any experiences from changing jobs or career fields where you had to change yuor mindset?

Did you use meditation, affirmations, mantras or anything else that helped you?

Let me know in the comments below!

One Year Of Discipline

30 Days of Discipline

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After my positive experience with NoNothingNovember, I decided to kick the year 2015 off with Victor Pride’s “30 Days of Discipline”.

This time, there is an important twist, though.

I already did “30 DOD” in spring 2014, you can see my review here.

Several others have also provided video reviews, see for example here, here and here.

However… I have decided to up the ante. This year, I have several goals that are just easier to achieve when I am keeping a routine of discipline all the time.

Continue reading “One Year Of Discipline”

How I Decided To Become A Scientist

The day I decided to become a scientist was a sunny spring day.

The birds were singing – I know, my parakeet had enthusiastically greeted them right after dawn – and it was warm, with no breeze blowing. I was standing next to our apple tree, its full blossoms foretelling a glorious harvest in the fall, and fully taking the air in.

As I raked the freshly mowed grass, I realized that this was actually the first serene day in a longer while. I thought back at the slogan “April, April, he does whatever he will.” Except that “whatever” was never clear. Sometimes it was rain, sometimes it was sunshine, and how about some hail?

On that particular day, fog abounded all morning long. I thought at the beginning of Bruckner’s symphonies and Wagner’s operas. They enveloped the world in a primeval fog, an “Urnebel”, from which the first melody emerged. I thought back at the fall in the previous year, riding my bike through the evening mist, arriving at home and listening to those symphonies.

I loved it when the strings carried the melody. It was as if I could grab my cello and break through the fog myself. And here I was, standing in the fresh and crisp air.

How I Became A Scientist

Music or Science?

Back then, I alternated science homework with cello practise. If I had played enough, I’d start to solve equations – and vice versa. Beethoven inspired science, while mathematics inspired a yearning for Bach. Numbers were beautiful, and music was a different medium for me to understand that which holds the world together. It was all magic.

I asked myself: Would I become a musician? Or a scientist? And was it really either-or? A plethora of images and impressions floated through my mind. They still do. And I love them all. Mastering to accept this abundance and the contradictions within seems more important to me than to give preference to one side over the other.

Unfortunately, there was no “science cello” subject. Maybe I should have studied “cellology”. Or “Cellectrical engineering”? The closest I got was a couple of years later, when I greeted the professor with my own version of the Elgar cello concerto. For my attempts at crossover, my room mate rewarded me with a beer, but sadly, no career grew out of it.

Back at home, I was still deep in thought, piling the grass next to our apple tree, when my father stopped by. “You know what? I met a toxicologist the other day. Maybe you want to look into becoming a scientist. It sounded amazing!”

Toxins? Poisons? To my 17-year old mind, that sounded like the best idea in the entire world. In biology, I had sat in awe in front of the posters depicting biochemical pathways. Toxicology gave me an opportunity to understand all these complex diagrams, which to me always appeared a bit – foggy.

That was when I decided to become a scientist. Everything clicked. It was as if I had found the missing piece of the puzzle and all the different images had lined up in my mind. The fog had cleared.

And since then, I lived happily ever after as a scientist, while keeping my cello as a source of inspiration.


The end? Not quite.

There is a classic experiment in quantum physics that I learnt in high school just one year later.

It’s called the double slit experiment.

Electrons are shot through two vertical gates onto a screen. Dots emerge on the photographic paper in a seemingly random manner, like stars in the night sky. Then, with more electrons, more dots appear, but now they form clusters that yield a curious structure: evenly spaced vertical stripes. Dark-Bright-Dark-Bright.

This is called an interference pattern, and it is precisely what we can see when waves overlap each others. If one wave is at its strongest and hits another wave at its weakest, both cancel each other out. If both waves are at their maximum, they add up. Dark-Bright-Dark-Bright.



How I became a scientist


















Still, the interference pattern consists of single dots. We imagine single electrons hitting the screen.

It appears that photons, electrons, atoms and almost all other components of matter are waves and particles at the same time. Without our attempt at observation, electrons stay both wave and particle at the same time and merrily go their way.

We can focus on the dots that are arranged in a specific pattern. Or we can focus at the pattern that consists of little dots.


A friend asked me recently how I make my decisions. I realized – I actually don’t try to make a choice. My thoughts are as ambiguous as the matter from which they arise.

The choice comes to me once my mind has pondered the different possibilities long enough. Then one flash of insight, one idea, is enough to crystallize all impressions into one clear pattern, one image that tells me exactly what I want to do.

And even then, I am merely deciding to go into one direction. The other part is still there.

I found it curious that my decision to become a scientist is similar to one of the best-known experiments in science.

Maybe I was destined to become a scientist and not musician after all.

Yet, even though the grass has long gone – I am happy the music never left.




The Happiness Habit

The Happiness Habit

Can we CREATE happiness in our lives?

According to Jeff Olson’s “Slight Edge”, happiness is indeed nothing that “just happens” to you. It will not fall down from the sky in an act of Godly inspiration, and it will also NOT be the automatic byproduct of hard work. Neither are people happy just because they bought expensive toys, like a sports car, a yacht or a luxury apartment. Even indulging in a little reward, because you need to “live a little”, can lose its power and become a routine.

You have to actively work towards happiness.

A great way to do this is to develop a daily habit where you move yourself towards being a happier person.

It has worked for me over the last 8 months. Here is what I do:

Every day, I write down 3 things that I am grateful for.

That’s it. The key here is “every day”. You gotta be consistent. And five minutes in the morning, that’s all it costs.

How did I start it?

Back in February 2014, I had just finished reading “The Slight Edge”. I was literally “blown away” and started to implement the lessons in this book.

I had also just downloaded an app called “Day One”, which basically is a great way to keep a diary – because it synced to all my devices. A “Common place” where I could store my thoughts anywhere I was.

So every morning, I got up to make my bed (see, sat down at my computer and wrote up what immediately came to my mind. The weather, a successful experiment at work, connecting to an old friend, dating – whatever it was.

I did not spend forever on this. I just looked around in my apartment, out the window and remembered the day before. So most of what I wrote was pretty mundane. But if that came to my mind and made me smile a little, I wrote it down. Some days I had more than 3 points.

What is the result of following this habit?

I am a happier person…

… there is literally no day I was truly unhappy.

Over the last eight months that I was following that habit, I could observe some interesting patterns.

Take May as an example – 100 items I was happy about, and I realize that they fall into 4 categories: Health and Fitness, Social Life and Business/Career, with a couple of “Others” (in my case, the “others” mostly consisted of being happy about the sun rising in the morning).

Happiness Habit






I think people call them the three “F”s: Fitness, Friends, Freedom (because working on your business is a chance for you to earn money and become free).

Here are some examples of what I was grateful for:

A loving family and friends that appreciate and support me.

Dating and Sex.

Getting good sleep.

Being able to cook a simple meal.

Sticking to my goals, even when I’m tired or distractions appear.

You see how these goals can also take on their own dynamics? How they positively reinforce what I am doing on a day-to-day base?

Another interesting observation: anything that promises instant gratification vanishingly rarely makes it onto the list.

I indulged a lot in sweets and snacks on the weekend. I surfed the internet. I searched for the “quick fix” that gave me instant relief.

But those things, I did not remember the next morning!

I would put “free weekend” on the list, but not “the pizza I ate yesterday”.

That told me something about what truly made me happy.

Why does this method work?

I think it works because it accomplishes several things:

#1 – It gives you a “reward”.

You think of something nice, and you have to smile. For example, nowadays, I am very thankful for something mundane like my space heater. It puts a smile on my face. I think about cosy times I had in the past this time of the year. November. Thanksgiving. Christmas.

#2 – You are looking forward to the morning.

Before I had this habit, I’d think “oh well, another day, let’s get up, although I’d rather sleep”. Now I think “let’s get up and see what is already great about this day.”

#3 – You are educating yourself to becoming a more positive person.

If you get up and then check your eMails and Twitter feeds, you are already reacting to something other people ask you.

By writing down what you are happy about, your first act of the day is remembering what makes you happy.

You truly ACT to create happiness in your life.

Mike from says that once you give in to negativity, you are on a downward spiral that is tough to get out of.

By writing down what you are THANKFUL for, you occupy your mind with positive thoughts and literally leave no place for negativity.

Check also these articles:

What has worked for you to make you happier in your life? Or is there something that permanently clouds your mind?

Let me know in the comments below!

Always Make Your Bed

Kick-start your day with a clean mind and a bed that’s made.

Always Make Your Bed








How do you develop a good, sustainable work ethic?

People normally tell you “set a goal” or “you need a vision” or “think big!”

Then most of us start following it and run out of steam. The task just seems so overwhelming, and we are distracted all the time.

I certainly was one of them.

In the past, I would set myself a goal: lose weight, never be late again, finish the work before deadline – and then I’d never bring up enough discipline to actually follow through.

And why not?

Because if I don’t have my own stuff in order, how could I hope to achieve anything beyond that?

Good resolutions failed because their fundament was shaky.

Until one day a friend posted a video on Facebook:

In it, Admiral William McRaven gave the 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin. He detailed several steps that he learnt and that have guided him through his life. The first of those was:

Always Make Your Bed.

This simple task makes sure that you have accomplished the first task of the day directly after waking up.

(You can check the complete speech with more awesome advice here:

“Always make your bed” accomplishes several things:

#1 – It gets your day going.

By starting small, you don’t have to climb an overwhelmingly high mountain. It’s also unlikely you wear yourself out doing it. Yet, you already have  achieved something.

#2 – It sets a precedent for the rest of your activities. 

If you have already done something, you don’t want to let the rest of your day go unorganized. You invested into your day. Now you wanna keep going on that trajectory.

#3 – It cleans up your mind.

Can you think when you have thousand different thoughts running through your head? I certainly can’t. And worse yet, if your environment is chaotic, you need extra focus to clear your mind, focus that you can’t use for really thinking about the problem at hand.

Thus, if the first memory of your day is a clean and made bed, you will be that much more eager to kick-ass and get to the next task.

And what’s even more – imagine a day where everything is so overwhelming that you can get nothing done.

For me, those days are the ones I am most likely to break the habits I want to internalize.

I might not do the workout, I forget to drink my juice, I am not working efficiently – in brief – things just spiral out of control.

But if that happens to YOU now, you know that by the end of the day, you don’t need to worry about an unorganized home.

You can literally take refuge in your bed room, pour yourself some tea/wine/whiskey, take your favorite book or TV show on your tablet, kick back and just breathe. Things may be chaotic out there, but at home, you are safe.

“Always make your bed” is the first step in good habits that you can use to get your day going.

And what comes then?

The Happiness Habit:

Networking Your Way to Happiness

Networking. What an amazing word. You hear it all the time, everywhere. This word, though, does not do the power justice that lays behind it. Let’s name it differently:

Making friends.

Because that’s what it is.

“Networking” to me has something strategic in it. I don’t like to think about it that way.

Because every time I “networked”, I have made new friends or connected more deeply to the ones I already had. It enriched my life.

There are three big events that have shaped my life and made me the person i am today, and I am going to tell you about them and what I think happened there – so you can learn about them and find ways to “network” for yourself.

Example #1 – Holstein Chamber Orchestra

-> Leverage your skill.

I play the cello. I have inherited the instrument from my Grandma, and I started playing when I was 14 years old – older than most kids that learn to play an instrument, and people say “you can’t really learn an instrument when you are past 10”.

And like so many things “people say”, that’s almost complete BS. But I digress 😉


Cello Toronto















After three months of daily practicing, I finally got my first clear sound out of my instrument. A great feeling. Soon I played better and joined the school orchestra.

At the same time, my friend Stefan was playing in a youth symphony orchestra. The “Holstein Chamber Orchestra”. A big dream of mine, but he played way better than me.

I forgot about that orchestra, until a few years later, Stefan told me they were looking for cellists.

I jumped at this opportunity… and won a plethora of new friendships. The orchestra traveled all over Europe in summer – what can be better than hanging out with your friends in great summer weather and playing cool music?

Playing my cello gave me access to a lot of people I would have never known otherwise.

And these friendships still last to this day. And generate further friendships.

If you love music and learn an instrument, there are a whole host of amateur orchestras in almost any city of the world you can join. Or bands. Jazz, rock, pop – you name it.

You don’t need to learn an instrument, though. Are you great at a certain team sport? People meet all the time to play. Or maybe you have another trade you can offer?

As long as you can help people with a skill or trade they need, you can unlock a whole host of new contacts and friends.


Example #2 – ORC CUP

-> Dare to be different. People accept you BECAUSE of who you are.
















Nowadays, everyone always stresses the importance of being a “team player”. Don’t ruffle feathers. Be as inclusive as possible. While these are absolutely noble goals to live by, we must not forget that we act as individuals and that simply not everyone gets along with everyone else.

Here is an example from my own life. I studied in Hanover, Germany; ca. 200 miles to the south of my hometown, Hamburg. One day, as fall semester began, I noticed another student sitting in the same train and bus as me.

To my surprise, I saw him next day standing in the auditorium. I just shouted “hey, you must be from North Germany too, am I right?” and at that point he thought I was crazy, because I was just charging directly towards him without a polite “hello” first.

Half a year later, I sat on the chemistry table in the lecture hall with my cello and played when the professor entered. It won me a beer. I wasn’t shy.

I must have impressed my friend Boris with my brashness, though, since he introduced me later on to a Fantasy Football simulation named “ORC CUP”.  This is not your standard fantasy football, though… in ORC CUP, the players manage teams made out of actual fantasy characters, like Orcs, Trolls, Elves, Cartoons or whatever their fantasy permits. And yes, only crazy people would play such a game, and it is likely that Boris would not have asked me if I would have come up as a person that was only polite.

Once again, by doing what I felt like and what I wanted, I made a lot of new friends. One of them, RIPley, is still one of my best friends to date.

Always be yourself, dare to be different. Of course, always be respectful and treat people as you would like to be treated… but if you really really enjoy what you are doing, keep doing it. People don’t really look at what you are doing. At a certain point, they are swayed by the good emotions you bring.

And those that really like you will take you for who you are.

You will build stronger friendships by living life your own way.


Example #3 – my PhD thesis advisor

-> Always catch the opportunities where you can give and do somebody else a favor.

By the end of my University studies, I went to a summer lab course.

I was very excited about this opportunity and loved the research we were doing.

And then, when one of the PhD students had to leave a bit earlier to take care of her daughter, I volunteered to take a plate out for her later that evening. It cost me literally nothing, yet it helped her in her schedule.

We stayed friends.

Then, one year later, when I applied for my PhD in another institute, one of the group leaders there directly asked me if I wanted to join his up and coming lab.

He did not know me, but… he knew that student that I had treated well. And she had fully and completely vouched for me.

It’s absolutely crazy to become aware that that one small act of 10 seconds secured my career in one of the best labs I have ever worked.

The help I offered came back thousandfold.


So there you have it.

1. Learn a fun skill that makes you happy.

2. Be yourself in whatever you are doing.

3. Watch out for the opportunities to lend a helping hand.

If you get together with people and follow either of these rules, you will increase your circle of friends and have new opportunities come your way.


Useful links

If you are further looking to enhance your social skills, these links here have helped me a ton:


Let me know what you think in the comments. Did you have similar experiences? Do you know of other ways you can give value and win friends?