Category Archives: Lessons

ToolKit to Keep you Socially Upward

sherlock holmes deduction toolkit
Be Like Sherlock Holmes and Deduce Your Way to Social Upward Greatness

You need a toolkit of sorts to keep you on track to socially upward greatness.

Some Context:

A contact reached out to me recently seeking some legal help to help her get some money back from a service provider. She was furious. She wanted justice. She felt ripped off. After a bit of email conversing to get her story, I laid out some of her options. More important, I let her know that she had to pay. I mean, good help isn’t free, right?

Her response…

Cricket chirps as a Tool Kit indicator

That led me to this toolkit of sorts – where you have to deduce other people’s actions and behaviour. Failing to do that, will drive you nuts. Why? Because you will waste time and energy when you could have recognized the warning signs upfront. Heed the warning signs, you save your valuable time and energy. Time and energy that you could use to build your socially upward life. 

Socially Upward Tool Kit – Indicators to Know About

1) Money

As the above story relates, money is a huge indicator. Are people willing to part with their money to do or back up what they SAY?

  • If you’re building a product or providing a service, have people shelled out cash for your product/service?
  • Where and how do people spend their money? Is it on booze, boobs and Netflix or is it on books and a gym membership?

2) Radio Silence

Oh, this indicator could also be called ‘crickets chirping’. What I am getting at is silence speaks volumes.

In fact as Ari Gold would say:

  • Ever texted a ‘love’ interest and got zero response? MOVE ON (don’t waste time going after someone who doesn’t want you!)
  • Do friends fail to get back to your invite? So be it. THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED. Have fun by yourself or find others.

3) Hypocrisy (aka Watch what people DO, not what they say)

People will never cease to shock me with their contradictions.

  • Going on a detox (e.g. no sugar, no salt) or a raw food diet…but SMOKE 3-4 cigarettes a day (Uh, I think smoking will take away any gains from a diet or detox
  • Talking a good game about how important their career is but bitch and moan about work-life balance or how the ‘patriarchy’ keeps you down instead of, you know, DOING THE WORK to advance!

So from this point about “Hypocrisy”, don’t take people’s words at face value. Obvious as that sounds, I am sure you have fallen for people’s sweet talk.


A) Think back to your recent dealings and experiences. Reflect on how “Money”, “Radio Silence” and “Hypocrisy” have factored in. Find the a-ha moment.

B) Don’t beat yourself up if you got fooled. Use the three indicators as your toolkit to reading people and avoiding needless wasted time and effort.

Got a story to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

Valedictorians: Past Behavior is not Predictive of Future Success

He scored four touchdowns in one game in high school. That was his peak.

In the investing/finance world, there is the standard disclaimer “Past performance may not be indicative of future results.” Meaning, a mutual fund that yielded 10x the competition last year, may not happen again this year.

This disclaimer, while weasel-ish (but legally approved!), applies in real life too as the title of this post suggests. Namely, how someone performed in the past may not mean they will be destined for infinite greatness. This relates to a recent article talking about class valedictorians has gone viral in popularity and spread around. The article is actually an excerpt from Barking up the Wrong Tree. The main concept of the article is that those valedictorians and other people who were great at getting A’s in high school don’t necessarily become huge successes later in life.

That’s not to say, however, that top students become hobos or delinquents. Some do go on to become doctors, lawyers, tax partners, etc. But because they know how to follow rules and get good grades, these students only know how to compete in “the system”.

Do you ever look up former competitors classmates on Fakebook or LinkedIn to see what happened to them, much like we look up to celebrities of yesteryear? Perhaps there’s some schadenfreude or some curiosity. Like, did Susie Smartie become that Vice President of Sales? What about Simon Suckup? Is he a surgeon now?

Towards being socially upward, we can’t be chained too much to our past. That article about class valedictorians probably speaks to our insecurities in which we didn’t perform well in a rules-based game (i.e. the school system). But real life doesn’t work that way; and I’d argue that school doesn’t teach you those skills to succeed and be socially upward in real life.

So if you’ve ever failed at something or didn’t seem to have a knack for a topic, don’t let that past behavior rule you forever. It’s not your past behavior that dictates whether you’ll be successful. No, it’s your ability to get knocked down seven times, but get back up eight times that does.



Be wary of Personality Tests

We don’t always show our true face or personality.


The most popular and well-known personality test is the ‘Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test‘ (MBTI in short). You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever used an online dating site and (mainly) women list some four-letter acronym in their bio.

The four letters are from the MBTI test. Invariably, it will either start with an “E” (for extraversion) or “I” (for introversion).

I’ve never really liked the MBTI test. Workplaces, though, love the hell out of MBTI testing. I also noticed women loving MBTI testing. I guess it comes down to trying to un-lock what a person is like. It’s empowering (to think) you know what makes a person tick.

But is the MBTI fool-proof? My own experience is that I’ve taken the test via the book, “Do What you Are“. (Aside: I know some who take an online variant of the MBTI, so the book version is at least more comprehensive.) I found that I can have different ‘personality designations’ depending on what day, what month and even what time I took the test!

I like Sir Ken Robinson’s take about personality tests. That you cannot boil down a person into one of the sixteen personality profiles put down by the MBTI system. In his words from his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes EverythingRobinson writes that rather than a few boxes of personality types, there are about SIX BILLION personalities. He’s riffing on the world population estimate and that each person has his/her own personality quirk.

For what it’s worth, it’s worth knowing about the MBTI personality test if only because a) your friends/co-workers will talk about it and b) you may be forced to take it as part of some management/executive training program.

But don’t let it box you in. It would stunt your path to socially upward greatness to think that you’re stuck as an “INTJ” or an “ENFP”.