Some people seem to have it all together, and there's no reason it can't be you. Experts from a variety of fields -- from a master sommelier to a Buddhist monk -- reveal the life skills that can't be taught in school.
How To Delegate
"Make certain the people around you have good values, good judgment, and are loyal. Allow them to impress you but be sure they're comfortable coming to you for feedback. Most important, hire people smarter than you!"
-- Ivanka Trump, executive VP, Trump Organization; principal of Ivanka Trump fashion and accessories lines
How To Comfort Someone
"We're a block from a hospital, so in my 31 years here I've met many people who've just received bad news. If you see someone in distress, don't hesitate to talk to them. Once you've heard their story, sometimes all you have to say is 'I'll be thinking of you.' Your words are more powerful than you think."
-- Jimmy Vecere, bartender at 12th Street Irish Pub, Philadelphia
How To Have More Fun Having Sex
"Sex researchers have found that one of the biggest turn-ons for women is feeling desired. So believing that you're desirable is key. Choose a part of your body you admire. It might be your eyes, your hair, the curve of your calves. Now focus on that part in your mind and 'see' it as your partner would see it. It may feel silly, but imagine he's thinking, 'Wow, I want her so bad.' And remember: You don't have to wait until you're in the mood. Sometimes you just need to get started and the mood will follow."
-- Gail Saltz, MD, author of The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life
How To Spot A Good Opportunity
"A lot of people ask me how I knew 'Mad Men' or 'Breaking Bad' would make great TV. I knew because when I read those scripts, I felt something. I didn't do any market testing or focus groups -- I just asked myself, 'Would I want to watch this?' When you're weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: 'Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should?' It can't just be about those things. It has to make you feel good, too. And by the way, if opportunities aren't knocking, you can make your own. When I was looking for work several years ago, I took everyone I knew in New York, where I'd just moved, to dinner or drinks or tea. I explained that I was open to anything. Six months later, one of those dinner dates called about a possible job at AMC. If I hadn't put myself out there, that never would have happened."
-- Christina Wayne former senior VP at AMC, current president of Cineflix Studios, and an executive producer of the new BBC America series "Copper"
How To Make Conversation At Parties
"First, get a drink. If it's a cocktail, it'll loosen you up, but even if it's just club soda, it's good to have a prop to hold if you're feeling nervous. Next, approach someone -- a person, not a group -- and ask how he or she knows the host. After that, be authentic and interested and ask questions, and others will float over and join in. A good host will have considered the mix of people, so when you arrive, ask, 'Who should I meet?' Most important: Even if you won't know anyone and you're feeling intimidated, you must go. Do not stay home. So many people are afraid that no one will talk to them and they'll leave feeling awful -- but has that ever happened to you? Me, neither. Usually I end up laughing and eating and drinking and making friends, and that's what it's all about."
-- Marjorie Gubelmann CEO of Vie Luxe and society hostess extraordinaire
How To End A Friendship
"Be clear that you need distance, but avoid getting into specifics. You might say, 'I've realized I need to take a break from our friendship. I have so much going on in my life right now, and I need to take more time for myself.' Now isn't the time to try to change your friend or teach her a lesson. (If you believed you could see things the same way, you wouldn't be breaking up in the first place.) Above all, be sure you want to break up. It's unlikely you'll ever be able to return to the same level of intimacy."
-- Irene S. Levine, PHD, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
How To Stay In Touch
"I don't often get to see or even talk to my closest friends from various stages of life (including the 16 who were my bridesmaids). But I stay connected with them -- and the thousands of others in my BlackBerry. The key is managing your friending: The more organized and accessible your friends' information, the easier it is to stay in touch. So you have to set calendar reminders for birthdays (I do it for anniversaries, too), and keep your address book up-to-date. And when someone pops into your mind, let them know, even if it's just with a 'Thinking of you' text. Don't let the moment pass; treat it as a reminder to reach out."
-- Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, cofounder of the five-million-member Gilt Groupe; keeper of 16,500 BlackBerry contacts
How To Not Sweat The Small Stuff
"The thing that's grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don't mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we've now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth -- and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we've looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that -- then you realize that the laundry you've left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold."
-- Alyssa Goodman, professor of astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
- "Warm up all day. Start by counting aloud when you wake. Later, laugh out loud; we laugh higher than we talk, so you'll be activating your upper register.
- Lubricate your voice, especially if you're nervous (stress can dry out your vocal cords). Half an hour before you sing, eat a little bread soaked in olive oil.
- Breathe from your diaphragm. You'll generate the air you need to produce a melodious tone. Inhale through your nose and push your belly button out. Exhale and let your navel go back in.
- Feel free to change keys. Even the pros sing in a lower register when their voice gets tired.
- Sing with joy, from your heart, and no one will care how you sound."
How To Make New Friends -- At Any Age
"I tell my patients, 'Food, alcohol, and drugs are no substitute for a relationship.' If you're lonely, do something about it. If you love the arts, take a course at your local community college. And if you can't find a place to get involved, create one. Besides seeing patients several times a week, I'm thinking about starting a group where immigrants and refugees can talk about their feelings. It's important to be part of a community!"
-- Hedda Bolgar, 103-year-old practicing psychoanalyst and cofounder of the Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic in Los Angeles
How To Forgive Yourself
"You have to find a way forward. You can say, 'I'm going to work to improve myself so I never hurt another person that way.' And then you need to atone, to make the lesson you learned mean something. Do this, and you will be able to look in the mirror again."
-- Jennifer Thompson, rape victim whose testimony sent the wrong man to prison for ten years
- "Find someone who revealed something similar and survived, and talk to them about how they did it. No matter what your secret is, someone out there shares it.
- Make sure the first person you tell will accept you and your secret -- you don't want to take a risk right away.
- Be short and sweet. All I had to say to get my point across was 'Dad, I'm gay.'"
-- Randy Phillips, airman and formerly anonymous video blogger who came out to his dad after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Simple Ways To Look Polished
"Start with a great haircut, neat nails, and well-shaped eyebrows (if eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames). Invest in a tailor -- and in a few no-fail items that will help you look pulled together: a crisp white shirt, a pencil skirt, a great-fitting shift dress (just add shoes and go!), a tissue-weight scarf, and the perfect jacket. Whether it's a black blazer with a structured shoulder and nipped-in waist or a little leather jacket that looks great over anything, the right jacket projects confidence. And isn't that what polished really means?"
-- Adam Glassman, O creative director
How To Let Go Of Anger
"Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: With mindfulness, you can see that she is unhappy, that she is suffering. You can see her wrong perceptions. You can see that she is not beautiful when she says things that are unkind. You can also see that you don't want to be like her. You'll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice -- to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and author of Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
How To Say Goodbye To A Loved One
"First and most important: Meet the dying person where she is. She may be in denial, and denial is a fabulous crutch. You don't pull a crutch out from under somebody. Try to validate the feelings behind the denial. So imagine your aunt says, 'Let's reserve a house at the lake this summer. I loved the weeks we used to spend there.' You don't rush out to make a reservation; you reminisce with her about those good times. She's living in memories much kinder than her reality.
"But let's say she tells you, 'You know, I'm not going to live much longer.' The door's open. Be honest, direct. Tell her you hate that this is happening. Tell her it mattered that she was here. Tell her how she enriched your life, that she won't be forgotten. This is no time to pussyfoot. For God's sake, don't tell her she looks great, or that she'll pull through. Pretending creates a chasm of loneliness for the dying. Can you imagine if you were in labor, and no one in the room would acknowledge that you were giving birth?
"Toward the end, dying people tend to withdraw. You know how when you drop a pebble in a pond, the rings ripple out? For a dying person, the rings go in. It doesn't matter what's happening in politics or sports or the next room. Eventually all that matters is 'I'm hot. I'm cold. I love you. Do you love me?' At that point, all that's required is your presence. Be quiet. Put your hands on hers. That's it."
-- Maggie Callanan, hospice nurse since 1981 and coauthor of the celebrated book Final Gifts
How To Know When To Quit
"After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right. I didn't even name it -- it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. 'None of the things you do well are in evidence here,' she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop. If you don't feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there's no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can't discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you're unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo."
-- Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
How To Listen Better
"Start by doing everything you can to fire up the 'mirror neurons' in your brain, which mimic what others are experiencing. You can subtly imitate the other person's posture, even match the pace and depth of their breathing. Your words can also mirror what the other person is telling you. For example, you might say, 'What I'm hearing is that it distresses you when your husband wears his tiara in public' or 'Wow, I can tell just from your voice that you're under serious pressure.' Don't add advice or commentary -- just reflect. If you simply must add something, ask the speaker to disconfirm what you say. In other words, ask to be told where you're mistaken -- and mean it. 'I'm thinking it's not so much that you're embarrassed as that you want a tiara of your own -- am I wrong about that?' Do not ask to be told that you're right; it turns a listening ear into a bid for authority, and no one will want to talk to you then."
-- Martha Beck, O's resident life coach and author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World
How To Get Past Emotional Pain
"Everything we experience -- no matter how unpleasant -- comes into our lives to teach us something. To move on from something difficult, look for the lesson. Start by asking yourself: 'If this is the way things are supposed to be, what can I learn from it?' Think about how you may have contributed to the painful experience, or if there was anything you could have done to prevent it. Often we don't realize the lesson because we'd rather avoid reliving the pain. But once you allow yourself to reflect on the sadness, anger, guilt, or shame you've been hiding, those feelings will begin to subside. Yes, someone hurt you. Once you've forgiven them and let go, you can move forward and begin creating the life you desire."
-- Iyanla Vanzant, host of OWN's "Iyanla: Fix My Life"
- "See if an expensive wine's producer also makes a value bottle -- it's likely to be crafted with the same care.
- Serve wine with food from its region. For pasta, look to an Italian bottle. For paella, go Spanish.
- If all else fails, try Malbec from Argentina, Merlot from France, Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy, and Chardonnay from Australia. Pinot Noir pairs with almost anything. And you can't go wrong with bubbly."
-- Sheri Sauter Morano, Institute of Masters of Wine
How To Laugh At Life
"The tap water hits a spoon in the sink and sprays you. You pull a window shade and it just keeps going and going. You can't roll up a garden hose in any dignified way. You have to become a connoisseur of these events -- 'Wow, look at that, that's great.' You have to hope that a higher power is saying, 'That was a good one!' And that you're sharing the divine pleasure it's taking in your misfortune."
-- Ian Frazier, author of The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days