Julia Child’s picture from cordonbleu.edu

Take a moment to consider how much you’ve learned this year. How your conceptions of hygiene, social etiquette, workplace interaction, daily commute and holidays have changed. Maybe your own job has been transformed — as the world order was turned upside down, it might have been declared unnecessary or perceived as essential. Either way, what this pandemic showed us, as if we needed any more evidence, is that our ability to learn (and, if necessary, unlearn what we took for certain) is what gets us through life’s biggest challenges.

The old premise “I’ll spend X years studying and then…” (fill…


Photo Credits: Pexels

In 1962, way before the Internet would make it possible to watch other people cooking, playing, reorganizing their closets or remodelling their houses, Albert Bandura introduced the term vicarious learning (known today as observational learning) to refer to the process of acquiring new information, skills or behavior through watching the performance of others, either directly or through videos (1). As technology evolved throughout the years, though, the learning part seems to have waned in favor of the mere observation.

Cooking shows and videos are a great example. Initially conceived to help the average home cook learn some basic skills, they…


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“I went to bed at 11 pm, then woke up at 1 am to watch the episode. At 3 am my head hurt like hell but I was so excited I couldn’t go back to sleep.”

These words came from a young woman sitting next to me in a restaurant where we were both having lunch. As she proceeded to share updates on her favourite show with her friend and I tried to go back to my book, a thought wouldn’t leave my mind:

Congratulations Reed Hastings, you won.

Hastings is the CEO and cofounder of Netflix, and he has…


Photo Credits: Terra das Histórias

Your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. For any introvert, it can very well become one of the most exhausting ones too. With the first anniversary just around the corner, I started looking back on the whole wedding experience and gathered a few notes on the small things that made a difference in my case:

Wedding dress shopping

There is a tendency (and some pressure) these days to invite a bunch of people to go shopping for the wedding dress. Bridal boutiques even had to set guest limits to avoid crowds. I knew there was a…


Photo by Timothy Paule II from Pexels

For the past decade or so, the concept of self-improvement has gained impressive steam and paved the way to the rise of an industry that is estimated to generate profits of ten billion dollars a year.

The hype might have started somewhere around 2011, when the United Nations adopted a resolution that made research on happiness part of its official agenda, setting the ground for the pursuit of knowledge and content production on the topic. …


Photo credits: Pexels

It’s hard to be sad in 2019. There’s ‘good vibes only’ posters everywhere. Pessimism is unwelcome in most contexts. Not even the psychotherapist’s office seems to be a safe emotional outlet anymore. For those of us not powered by the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra, the world can be a lonely place right now.

Enter the era of positivity.

Social media has presented us with the unprecedented opportunity to display only the fun, sexy, enviable parts of our existence. …


A year ago, in January 2018, I felt like I had everything under control: I was about to take an important step in my personal life, I had found a simple practice to deal with my chronic pain, I was at peace with the challenges of friendships, and I had found a job that perfectly matched my ideal job description.

Then, February came and things started to change at work. Fast, really fast. A new leader came in, the vision for the unit was redefined and part of the team was leaving or being reassigned. By the end of march…


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Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a weird obsession with biographies. It all started when a friend casually shared an opinion:

You know, bookstores shouldn’t have a specific section for biographies. Instead, biographies should be labeled according to the main lesson to be learned from that person’s life.

I probably looked puzzled.

Let’s say you’re looking for a book on resilience. Where would you search for it? Probably under ‘Psychology’ or even ‘Self-Help’. …


Photo credits: Pexels

Last month I was in Sydney for the first time. I marvelled at the city’s organization, cleanliness and laid-back lifestyle as much as I was stunned by its visitors inability to appreciate those things. The reason: they were on selfie mode.

For anyone who’s watched Finding Nemo, the Australian marine life holds an almost mystic quality. The Sea Life Sydney Aquarium presents over 700 species from different habitats. And yet, everyone there seemed more inclined to take pictures of themselves than to even notice that diversity.

One might argue that they weren’t much into animals though. Let’s turn to an…


Leonardo da Vinci’s application letter, from Letters of Note

Having worked as a recruiter, I know most people dread recruitment processes. What should I write in my application letter? or What should I answer if they ask about my weaknesses? are some of the most frequent questions I get. It is also pretty common for people to dwell on their mistakes — I think I said too much, I probably should have kept that to myself.

If you’re struggling with one of these experiences, you might find consolation in knowing that even the widely successful have had their share of recruitment fears and failures. Take Leonardo da Vinci and…

Ana Vargas Santos

HR Research Partner. I write about learning and career management.

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