TIME career

Why You Can (and Should) Become a Mentor

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It's one of the most powerful things you can do as a professional

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A few years ago, I made a major career leap. The jump made me a little nervous, so when I saw a “speed mentoring” event in celebration of International Women’s Day, I signed to be mentored. Imagine my shock when two friends, independently of each other, emailed the event organizer and suggested me as a mentor. I switched sides of the table and met with more than a dozen women over the course of an hour and a half. At the end of the night, everyone listed who they wanted to be matched with for a mentoring relationship and I was the most requested mentor of the night!

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring sounds like such a serious endeavor, but really all it means is giving advice to someone– using your own experiences to provide some perspective or providing specific skill guidance.

Who Is a Good Mentor?

You. You’ve lived. You’ve worked. You’ve loved. You’ve failed. You’ve been scared. You’ve succeeded. There is always someone coming up behind you who could use a hand. You’re never too young to mentor. You’re never too old to be mentored.

MORE Why You Should Say Yes to Napping at Work

How Do You Find Someone Who Wants a Mentor?

The best mentoring relationships happen organically. Listen– find out who needs help you could provide. Ask a colleague to meet for coffee. Contact your alma mater’s career development office or your alumni network. Check your professional development association for opportunities. I’ve even connected with people through Twitter. Finding someone to mentor is as simple as deciding that you want to be a mentor.

How Do You Mentor?

Tell your story honestly. The more vulnerable you can be, the more helpful you’ll be. This is not the place to brag or gloss over the blood, sweat, and tears. Talk about the times you’ve failed. Talk about the risks you’ve taken. What people really want to hear is that it’s all going to be okay through proof & specific guidance, not platitudes.

MORE Tips for Making Friends at Your New Workplace

How Much Time Does It Take to Mentor?

It’s up to you. It can be just one phone call or regular coffee meetings or even just an open invitation for continued contact by email. You’ll know what feels right.

What Do I Get Out Of This?

A former boss asked me to talk to a young woman who had contacted him. She was considering a job and location change and wanted to know more about my career path. I remembered so clearly what I had been like at her age– the assumptions I’d held about marriage and family getting blown apart, the wild freedom that took hold in that wake. So here I was, more than a decade later, still unmarried, still childless, with a wild, hairpin turn career story behind me and an uncertain journey before me. For this young woman to tell me that listening to me gave her hope was strangely comforting. Our actual lives provide the alternative narratives to popular mythologies that make life much harder than it needs to be. Even beyond that, in telling her my story, I learned more about myself and my journey no longer felt so crazy.

MORE Escaping the Career Waiting Trap

The Ultimate Secret Superpower

As I got more serious about building my own business, I once again sought a mentor, this time through the New York state Business Mentor program. I sent her everything I had about my business– financials, proposals, plans. The first thing she said to me when we spoke? “I don’t understand why you think you need a mentor.” And that’s the secret truth here- we know more than we think we do. It’s still important to find and be cheerleaders for each other, but you know more than you think you do.

Mentoring is one of the most powerful things you can do as a professional. We all need a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors, people we can call on when we need perspective or guidance. In offering to be that for someone else, you’re likely to find that you’ll add to your bench of cheerleaders, as well. It’s the ultimate virtuous circle.

You can learn more about Susanna on her website, and follow her on Twitter @SusannaDW.

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

Read next: How to Get the Most Out of Having a Mentor

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MONEY Retirement

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Financial Adviser

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Should I use a financial adviser to manage my retirement portfolio or should I save money by going it alone? – Carl Vitko, Cicero, Illinois

A: That depends on how comfortable you are doing it yourself. If you are familiar with the basic concept of asset allocation and you’re comfortable choosing investments, you shouldn’t have any trouble building a low-cost diversified portfolio on your own, says Robert Stammers, director of investor education at the CFA Institute.

But you don’t necessarily have to pay an adviser to get help. Most people have the bulk of their retirement savings in a 401(k). Many 401(k) plans offer low-cost index funds and target date funds; the latter is a diversified stock and bond portfolio that becomes more conservative as you age. Many employer plans also offer free tools to help you assess your investing options and assemble a portfolio appropriate for your age and risk tolerance. According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s annual survey of 401k plans, 41.4% of plans offer some kind of investment advice.

Taking advantage of that advice can pay off. In a recent Voya Financial survey of full-time workers, people who saved the most for retirement used online financial advice tools and educational materials provided by their employers at more than double the rate of the lowest-scoring savers.

But the do-it-yourself approach requires time to monitor your portfolio and the discipline to adjust to different market conditions. You also have to keep your emotions in check when markets are volatile, which investors admit they have a hard time doing. In a survey by Natixis Global Asset Management, 65% of investors say they struggle to avoid making emotional decisions about their money during market shocks.

Even more worrisome: 81% of investors say expectations for double digit gains going forward are realistic and 54% believe their portfolios will perform better this year than in 2014, when the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose by 13%, according to the Natixis survey.

Coming off three consecutive years of market returns that exceed 10%, that kind of enthusiasm is not surprising. But historically, the stock market has averaged 7% annual gains. Having an objective investment adviser can help ground your expectations in reality. And there’s evidence that some investors do better getting some professional advice.

Median annual returns for 401(k) holders who got professional help through target date funds, managed accounts, or their plan’s online advice were 3.32 percentage points higher than returns for people who invested on their own, even after taking fees into account, according a 2014 study by benefits consultant Aon Hewitt and Financial Engines, which provides investment advice to 401(k) plans.

If you decide to go the professional route, you have choices. An adviser at a large investment firm typically charges a fee of about 1% of the assets he or she manages for you. A new type of investment service known as a “robo-adviser” uses computer algorithms to build low-cost portfolios and charges as little as 0.5% a year. (To better understand how robo-advisers work, read “Would You Trust Your Retirement to a Machine?“)

You should consider enlisting a financial adviser who can do more than manage your investments. A certified financial planner (CFP) takes a more holistic approach to your retirement readiness. They can help you figure out whether you are on track with your savings and how other investment options, such as Roth and traditional IRAs, fit into your retirement plans. Best to go with a CFP who charges a fee for advice versus one who takes commissions on products he or she sells you. That cost can range from $2,000 to $5,000 a year. You can find fee-only planners through the Financial Planning Association and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

If you decide to go it alone, you’ll need to be vigilant about monitoring your plan, and should take advantage of any free advice available to you through your 401(k) provider. But as you get nearer to retirement, consulting at least once with a professional and reputable financial adviser is a wise move, says Stammers.

TIME advice

How Anyone Can Become a Good Public Speaker

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If you can talk to one person, you can talk to an audience of thousands

Answer by Jim Moore on Quora.

What qualities are needed to be a public speaker? I have observed the following attributes common to most successful speakers:

  • Confident
  • Organized
  • Outgoing
  • Engaging
  • Flexible
  • Unflappable
  • Light-hearted
  • Gracious

Here are some of the tips I shared with speakers I’ve coached over the years:

To begin with, do not for a moment think you cannot give a speech. You give speeches every day to your family, friends, colleagues, and, yes, even to strangers. Your daily conversations are nothing more than mini-speeches in casual clothes. If you can talk to one person, you can talk to an audience of thousands. Really.

When you are speaking to a large crowd, you are still talking to one person at a time, just as if you were chatting to the cashier at the food store or a fellow passenger on a plane. Whether the topic is the weather or a description of a favorite camping trip or an answer to the airborne time-passing question, “What do you do?” you are giving an abbreviated speech, complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

You may have given an “elevator” speech—a short (usually no longer than 30 seconds) statement of purpose or plans to a colleague, boss, or client that conveys key information in a few moments to a captive audience while in transit. Or you may have delivered a “cocktail” party speech (assuming cocktail parties are still in vogue), which is really nothing more than a three-minute burst of information sufficient to enlighten, but short enough to stay within the attention span of an easily-distracted listener. In both instances, sans podium, you have already given many speeches. Now, wasn’t that easy?

Okay, maybe not so easy when you envision a conference room filled with people whose attention is focused on you, up there on that stage, and you wonder in sleepless nights leading up to the big day, “How in the world did I get myself into this?”

So let’s start with some preparation:

1. Know your audience. I cannot stress this enough with my clients or employers for whom I have written or coached. You don’t have to have expert knowledge of the audience, but you should know enough to reference their interests, or mission, or leadership, if, for example, you’re speaking to a trade association. You should have some audience-centric remarks that show you are not just showing up to speak, but that you actually considered the audience’s perspective. There is nothing wrong with calling your host and asking questions about the group. You might learn about an important member of the organization who will be in the audience and can be singled out for podium praise; perhaps there is a charity that has benefited from the group’s work—always a good point to mention. The bottom line: Do your homework!

2. Keep your remarks brief and to the point. In speech writing, we have a mantra:

  • Tell them what you are going to say;
  • Say it;
  • Tell them what you told them;
  • Say thank you and sit down.

3. Do not attempt humor unless you are, a) a noted humorist, b) an experienced toastmaster or, c) well-acquainted with the humor that will make your audience laugh and not wince. Poking a bit of fun at yourself is fine; sharing a light moment with the audience is good; just keep in mind that pulling off a comedy shtick, even a single joke, is a lot harder than it looks when coming from an experienced speaker.

4. Keep your sentences short, your words shorter. This simply means you should not tax your audience by forcing them to follow a long, convoluted sentence, or interpret a fancy, but unnecessarily long word. Apply the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Short.

5. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The more you rehearse, the less likely you are to shuffle your notes, look down at your speech, stumble on key phrases, or “um and ahh” as you try to recall the order of your words. Some people rehearse in front of a mirror, some go over their speeches with a spouse or friends, some record their speech and play it back over and over. You don’t have to memorize your remarks, but you should know them well enough to just glance at your notes or papers. Whatever works for you, do it.

Once you know your audience and know your remarks, and you’re about to step up to the podium, consider these points:

  • The audience is actually rooting for you to succeed; the fear of public speaking is second only to the fear of death, and most people, when faced with a microphone and a crowd, usually wish they were dead. No one in the audience wants to take your place. So, you have lots of company in front of you.
  • Take a deep breath and don’t push yourself; take your time, organize your thoughts. A good speech is not a sprint or even a marathon; it should be a pleasant, calming walk—for you and for the audience.
  • The podium is not a crutch; don’t cling to the sides of the podium as if you are on a stormed-tossed ship. Use the podium as a base of operations, staying in touch with it, but giving yourself some room for movement. Think of “one hand on the wheel” as a way to keep from becoming a rigid speaker.
  • Give your audience—and yourself—a break from time to time. You needn’t give all your speech all at once. Think of how you normally converse at a small party; there is a natural give and take, pauses in thoughts, breaks for breathing. The same applies when giving a speech. Build in a few quiet moments in your speech, places where you can step back for a few seconds to give yourself and the audience a moment to contemplate what you just said, and to regroup for the next part.
  • The “eyes” have it. The old rule about looking over the heads of the audience to avoid eye contact is rubbish. It only makes you look aloof and disengaged. Before you start speaking, find a few faces in the crowd that you can cycle through as you speak. Return to each one as the speech progresses—only a glance is needed.
  • Be gracious. At the end of your speech, be sure to thank the audience, the host, and the organization.

There are many more tips and strategies for speech makers and speechwriters, but if you apply these tips to your next speech, you will have a foundation for a more enjoyable podium presence. Good luck!

This question originally appeared on Quora: What qualities are needed to be a public speaker? How do I speak among a huge crowd?

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Job

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Post-grad life is so much more than just that title on your business card

Second semester is settling in, and now’s the time that college seniors usually spend breaking out in stress acne, exhausting the “apply now” button on LinkedIn, and binge eating donuts. These things, for the record, are completely normal, or at least things that consumed my second semester senior year.

I was determined to graduate with a full-time position to kickstart my professional career. But I graduated unemployed, and I crafted during those two weeks between my graduation and my formal offer. I crafted a lot. But, here I am almost a year later in a first big kid job. Post-grad life is so much more than just that title on your business card. So, here are five things I wish someone had told me about living life after turning the tassel:

1. How to get a professional wardrobe, stat.

I had two pairs of dress pants in my closet, a plethora of cardigans, and a job offer at an investment firm. I was supposed to start two weeks after my offer and I needed a wardrobe upgrade: fast. And cheap. But not one that screamed it. I wanted my power outfit, and luckily there were cost-effective and cute ways to achieve this. I hit up clearance racks at Express, the Limited, and Kohls and was able to come out with four pairs of dress pants for under $50 total. As my paychecks began rolling in, I was able to add more than just those basics to my closet, which now makes mornings easier since I have a closet with options!

MORE The 5 Most Inspiring Graduation Speeches Of The Decade

2. How to converse with people your parents age (and older).

Suddenly, I was surrounded by coworkers in stages of life far past mine. I was in a place where my guilty pleasure of One Direction didn’t fit, and I was hearing references from a time far before I was even a glimmer in my mother’s eye. Getting stuck in an elevator with one of these people seemed terrifying. And then, they became humanized. Just older humans. It’s all about finding a middle ground, asking about weekend plans, family, and the construction on the way to work. But, what’s even more important, and far more flattering, is remembering what they said and asking about their daughter’s recital or the family barbecue the next time you see them. Everyone loves to be heard, regardless of their stage in life.

3. How to get into a daily routine.

Real life, although it can be crazy, is a true wake up call for a daily routine. Determining a bedtime can make or break your next morning. Getting a good night sleep lets your boss know that you take your job seriously, and it keeps you accountable to putting your best foot forward. Walking into work ready to start the day can keep you efficient and happy until you walk out. That coveted “nap whenever” culture of college has to change, and it’s vital to a successful launch into the professional workplace.

4. How to balance work life and personal life.

This is a challenge I have yet to master. On one hand, our passion and drive an eager young professional can set us apart. On the other hand, it’s just a job, and it’s the first time in our lives when we even have the option of separating our lives. So far in my career, I’ve found that avoiding checking work email on weekends and at home has been a healthy way of doing this. It’s ok to check your email in the morning to see what needs priority when you get to work, but don’t set another place at the dinner table for your phone. Nights are about rest, and weekends are about rest. Coming into work rejuvenated and energized can have many benefits, far more than the attitude of work taking over every moment of our lives.

MORE 5 Thoughts That Go Through A Soon-To-Be Graduate’s Mind

5. How not to compare.

Comparison makes you second guess yourself. Comparison makes you stop setting goals and prevents you from celebrating milestones. So, stop. It’s your journey, so embrace it. The opportunities you took were yours and only yours. The pace you get promoted is the pace intended for you, so do your career path your way. As long as you work hard and take steps toward your dream career, you’re living the dream.

Seeking a career mentor or frequenting your post-grad resources (like Levo!) can really help you feel more comfortable in your new big kid shoes, and less alone in the hustle of adulthood. It may seem intimidating (it still seems that way to me), but it’s also exciting! So enjoy your last few donuts, mid-day naps, and turn your tassel with confidence!

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME Parenting

How to Parent Like a Reporter

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Ask open-ended questions that get the source (your child) talking

Parenting articles are popping up everywhere. Everyone, it seems, has something to say about parenting.

On March 5, TIME.com published How to Parent Like an FBI Agent, but well before that there were stories describing helicopter parents, tiger moms, free-range parenting and so on.

Folks love to put labels on things–but parenting is a task many of us figure out as we go. One day I may be hovering over my kids, and the next I might be doing the opposite, so I can’t imagine that any parent is any one type all of the time. The nature of the job simply doesn’t lend itself to that level of certainty.

Just last week the child who had been giving my husband and me a hard time for the past few weeks suddenly became the easier one, while the other – who had given us no reason for concern for weeks – switched into high-maintenance mode again.

So in the spirit of these parenting “styles,” I present my own method: “How to parent like a reporter.” Loosely based on principles learned in Journalism 101, this is mostly for fun – but with practice and a little luck, these guidelines could lead you a better understanding of your child.

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Ask open-ended questions that get the source (your child) talking. Instead of questions like “How was school today?” – that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or O.K.– some better prompts might be, “What’s going on at the playground during recess?” or “What sort of things are kids fighting over in class?” Determine in advance what information you want to obtain, and craft a line of questioning that will get you there.

Ask follow-up questions. Who, what, when, where, how and why are particularly helpful to get more details or to get the subject to consider the matter more closely themselves.

Monitor social media accounts for tips and trends related to your source. For instance, search Instagram and Twitter with tags the kids and their friends may be using. I guarantee you will be both enlightened and shocked. If you aren’t sure what tags they use, ask them to tag something as a joke, and you’ll get a grasp of the pattern. They may not use the ones you think they are using, so try different combinations.

Observe interactions between the source and others to gain contextual information for follow-up questions or background. Listen closely when your child expresses concerns over trivial matters as well as large issues. Tune your ears to absorb the information as if you had to write down and explain the conversation to others. This technique will curb your daydreaming and the tendency to begin crafting your response in advance.

Be objective. Don’t throw your emotions into the conversation if it is unwarranted.

Don’t assume any details are correct. Confirm locations and chaperone details with an independent source.

Take lots of photos to document this moment in time. You never know when that one photo will tell the story better than written words.

Respect “off the record” details as confidential. Don’t share your source’s (child’s) private thoughts as fodder in conversations with friends, or you’ll lose that rapport.

Be prepared for the unpredictable. Parenting, just like covering breaking news, is a lot about reacting. Just as a reporter was not expecting a fire to ignite at that factory downtown, you may not be ready for your child to launch into questions about the birds and the bees on a Saturday morning. Take a breath, rely on what you know to be true, and figure out what you still need to know to properly inform and guide them.

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat or via email at laura.stetser@catamaranmedia.com.

This article originally appeared on Shore News Today.

TIME Culture

Why Everything I Own Fits in One Bag

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One-bag living has simplified my life in a way that very few other things have

About 2-3 years ago, I decided I wanted to start to declutter my life gradually. I went from one backpack and a carry-on bag to just one backpack. I count the following things as my belongings at this point:

  • 6 T-shirts
  • 2 sweaters, 2 hoodies
  • 1 coat
  • 2 pairs of dress-pant sweat-pants
  • 6 pairs of socks and boxer shorts
  • 1 backpack
  • An iPhone, a Kindle, 1 notepad and a MacBook Air (+ keyboard and mouse)
  • Gym shoes and gym shorts
  • Various toiletries like toothbrush, contact lenses, etc.

When I say “things that I count,” it does actually mean that I’m somewhat cheating. I did only live with the above things until I moved into an apartment earlier in 2014.

Since then I bought some kitchen utensils as well as a mattress, bed, a couch, some lamps and a desk. I do plan on getting rid of these things in early May again, so I’m putting them on a separate “temporary” list in the meantime.

Declutter your life, declutter your mind

If you have ever cleared your desk one morning before working, you’ll know the feeling of tranquility and peace this can give you. I found that that is exactly what happens when I got rid of most things I owned, apart from the crucial essentials.

Here is a list of the amazing benefits I observed from getting rid of stuff:

  • No decision-making about what to wear in the morning, more decision making about stuff that actually matters
  • I can pack for trips in 5 minutes
  • I go clothes shopping about once a year (more on that below) and don’t waste any more time on it
  • There are less things to think about and there is more simplicity in my life
  • I don’t spend a lot of money on stuff
  • I indulge the “Is this all you have?” questions at borders after a long-haul flight

In order to see things clearly in life, and observe reality as it truly happens, owning less stuff is a super valuable step. Of course, I’d never claim to be at a place where I can truly do that—see things as they are, without attachment or judgement—but I have an intuition that owning less things sets me on the right track towards that.

Replacement shopping

There are of course moments when you have to go shopping and buy new things. I managed to do this while keeping to a minimalist lifestyle with one simple rule:

Anytime I buy something new, I need to throw out the equivalent of what I’m already owning.

So if I buy new shoes, I throw out my old pair of shoes. If I buy a new coat, sweater or T-shirt, the old sweater, coat or T-shirt are thrown out or given away. Between my co-founder Joel and myself this lead us to call it “replacement shopping” or “clothes replacement day.”

Over the last few years, I also went up in quality gradually every time a new clothes replacement day came around. Recently, I invested in a MissionWorkshop backpack ($380), ordered a pair of custom tailored jeans from Gebrueder Stitch ($535) and bought a coat from Burberry ($2200).

The prices for these things may sound expensive at first, but I plan on owning and using them for several years to come, which makes this well worth the cost broken down over that period of time. I’ve also made an effort to prioritize function over form—although at a very high level of quality, luckily often both are included. Dustin Curtis had some great thoughts on this with his post “The Best.”

Getting started with one bag living

The thought for many to get started with one bag living is a scary one. Luckily Greg McKeown wrote a terrific book titled “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” where he outlines a very handy technique:

“Set aside some time where you go through your stuff and decide what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. You’ll end up with a few things that you can throw right out. Then you’ll end up with a few things that you’ll want to keep. Then you’ll end up with a few things you’re unsure of.

Put anything that you want to keep, but haven’t used in a while and anything you are unsure of in a box. Now, see, if after 3 or 6 months, you’ve actually taken out any of the things from that box and used them. If you haven’t, you can calmly through them out without having to worry whether you’ll need them in the future.”

Jessica Dang also wrote a great getting-started guide on one bag living that you can check out.

One-bag living has simplified my life in a way that very few other things have and I can highly recommend giving it a try.

This article originally appeared on Buffer.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

15 Ways to Empower Others in 15 Minutes

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Being the agent of positive change for those around you is a responsibility

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

Empowering others happens as you develop into a better leader and friend. After empowering YOU, the key is using that courage and sensibility to lead and change lives. Building a community, a tribe, a plan for world domination—all of that big, heavy world-changing stuff begins with the ability to make other people do positive things they already want to do. Sounds crazy, right? Strong female leaders such as Michelle Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi are able to mobilize entire communities and countries, with just words and actions, and they do it with intellect and style. Here are 15 fifteen-minute ways to empower others:

1. Smile.

The universe is made up of little interactions that stimulate the energy and growth within a community. Whether that community is New York or Reykjavik, friends and strangers alike are influenced by a simple smile.

MORE 6 Ways to Face Your Fears and Become More Empowered

2. Be positive.

Be conscious about your words and actions so that you can be a positive force, rather than fueling the fire. Your energy will offer insights to any discussion and invite others to see things from your perspective.

3. Give genuine compliments.

I’m a firm believer in saying what you want, when you want to—especially if what I say will make someone feel great. Whether it’s acknowledging someone’s generosity or their new shoes, compliments generate conversation and allow others to open up to you.

4. Challenge others.

My friends often impress me with their talents; however, many of us are plagued by extreme self-doubt or paralysis-by-analysis. I try to help by brainstorming ways in which my friends can take their skills to the next level, either to make money or gain followers. It’s rewarding, and I find that we challenge each other to be better every day.

5. Encourage creation.

From themed movie nights (like rom-com marathons) to cooking classes to photo-shoots, doing things with friends is an excellent way to foster creativity and refine skills. MAJOR plus: there’s nothing like taking great photos to post on Instagram or making new friends through collaboration.

6. Do things together.

Little things matter, like grabbing breakfast or lunch with coworkers or calling a friend who’s having a bad day. Smaller groups encourage sharing and empower the shyer ones to speak up.

7. Share ideas.

Budding entrepreneurs and artists can relate because sharing ideas is crucial to the work, but everyone thrives from idea generation because it leads to incredible bonds and unforeseen adventures. Sharing ideas can take 3 minutes or it can turn into hour-long conversations over caffeinated beverages… so share away.

8. Teach.

Education is powerful and necessary, but not left to just certified teachers. The most prolific and impactful teachers are often friends and family. It could be a small anecdote of how you overcame an obstacle, how to do a V-lookup on Excel, or dating advice. Teach others so they can be more efficient, knowledgeable humans.

9. Participate.

Attend events (join Local Levo here), inspiring lectures, and even parties. Seek them out, and be a resource for others. If there are places you want to go, chances are others do, too—but need an extra push, so don’t be afraid to motivate others to join.

10. Travel.

Okay, so traveling takes more than 15 minutes, but booking it only takes a few! Exploring new, exotic places immerses you in a diverse environment. It makes you a more open-minded, innovative, inviting leader because living outside of your comfort zone requires resourcefulness and courage.

MORE How to Balance Giving Positive and Negative Feedback

11. Mobilize.

Working together toward a common goal or purpose is a surefire way to empower an entire team. Suggest volunteer days with your pals, or join a meet-up for a cause you believe in. You’re bound to meet like-minded individuals and inspire each other to do even greater things together.

12. Live outside your comfort zone.

It’s contagious. Start by making video blogs or striking up conversations with strangers.

13. Make connections.

By expanding your network, you’re gaining influence in your “tribe”—your beliefs and values are as contagious as laughter. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

14. Pay it forward.

Hold the door open, turn in a lost wallet, or recommend a friend for her dream job (find your dream job here). Pass on the goodwill.

15. Trust in karma.

Whether you believe it or not, treat positive energy as a plentiful renewable resource. It doesn’t diminish with use. So do good things, give freely, and treat others with respect. That positivity will inevitably come back around.

Being the agent of positive change for those around you is a responsibility, so wear it wisely and wear it well. It takes real determination and commitment to your own values to be a great leader. However, learning about you, your community, and the way the world works is a valuable tool for success and happiness.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

Read next: How to Not Sweat the Small Stuff

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TIME health

Angelina Jolie Says She Had Her Ovaries Removed

Angelina Jolie arrives at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 15, 2015 in Los Angeles.
Matt Sayles—Invision/AP Angelina Jolie arrives at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 15, 2015 in Los Angeles.

"I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family"

Angelina Jolie said Tuesday that she underwent preventative surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes, two years after she sparked a debate on women’s health by getting a preventative double mastectomy.

Writing in the New York Times, the Hollywood actress and U.N. envoy said her decision, made because she carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that gave her a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer, was not an easy one.

“It is not easy to make these decisions,” she said. “But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue.”

The procedure forces a woman into menopause and Jolie will now take hormone replacements.

Jolie, 39, who wrote about her decision to have a double mastectomy after learning she had the gene mutation two years ago, said she wants to help provide information to women going through similar experiences.

“You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you,” she said.

Read more at the Times

Read next: Angelina Jolie: The World Must Do More for Syrian and Iraqi Refugees

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TIME advice

How to Build a Really Cool Storage Bed

storage bed
Laura Moss

This storage bed contains 23 cubic feet of storage but no room for dust bunnies

When we told reader John Klei recently about this project, he exclaimed, “You guys must have been reading my mind!” No, John, just your letter—the one in which you asked for plans for the storage bed we featured in the January/February 2012 issue. Sorry it took a while to get back to you, but there were no plans. So we asked This Old House contributor and furniture maker Christopher Beidel, owner of Pernt, in Brooklyn, New York, to re-create the bed from the photo using DIY-friendly construction techniques. Follow along on the next pages to see how to build a bed every bit as practical as it is handsome.

“I cut out the picture of the bed and put it in my workshop. It’s been on my to-do list ever since.” —John Klei, Gordonsville, Virginia

Overview

Day-to-day timeline

SATURDAY Build the platform and make the bed frame.
SUNDAY Install the trim and beadboard, and paint.

Storage Bed Cut List

Large Storage Carcasses
¾-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF) tops and bottoms: 4 @ 21 x 82 inches
¾-inch MDF backs: 2 @ 10½ x 82 inches
¾-inch MDF dividers: 8 @ 10½ x 20¼ inches

Small Storage Carcass
¾-inch MDF top and bottom: 2 @ 21 x 27½ inches
¾-inch MDF sides: 2 @ 10½ x 26¾ inches
¾-inch MDF back: 1 @ 10½ x 21 inches

Bed Frame
¾-inch MDF headboard: 1 @ 48 x 63 inches (cut to fit)
¾-inch MDF side panels: 2 @ 8½ x 82 inches
¾-inch MDF footboard: 1 @ 8½ x 61½ inches

All Trim and Beadboard Panels: Measure and cut to fit.

2×4 Support Frame: Measure void and cut to fit.

The finished dimensions for a queen-size mattress: 64½”W 83½”L

Download and print the Storage bed cut list

Step 1: Cut the MDF Pieces

The mattress platform is made up of three storage carcasses: one along each side with three bays, and another one-bay box that fits between those two, at the foot of the bed. Take the sheets of MDF, clamp a straightedge in place, and use a circular saw to cut the pieces per the cut list.

Step 2: Assemble the Storage Carcasses

The back piece and dividers get sandwiched between the top and bottom. Lay a bottom piece flat and run a bead of wood glue atop its back edge. Stand the back piece on edge on the glue line, and use four bar clamps to hold it upright. Once the back is clamped down, get a partner to help tip up the L-shaped assembly, and drill pilot holes through the bottom and into the edge. Screw the pieces together with 1½-inch MDF screws. Evenly space the four dividers along the length of the assembly. Glue, clamp, and screw them in place, then do the same for the top piece. Build the other two carcasses the same way.

Step 3: Dry-Fit the Carcasses

Arrange the three carcasses as they will be assembled, and clamp them together at the foot. Measure the length and width of the void between the carcasses, as shown. Unclamp them and prime all surfaces.

Step 4: Join the Carcasses

Grab a partner and move the carcasses into the bedroom. Place them on 1×2 furring strips so that the bottom rails will be flush with the storage openings, and clamp them back together. Using 1¼-inch MDF screws, go through the wall of the small carcass and into the adjacent ones, as shown.

Read the full list of steps HERE.

This article originally appeared on This Old House.

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