"Give them the gift of words"

Studysuccessful.com Creator, Stefan Knapen, Recommends Efficient Study Habits for Academic Success

College and university life can provide many challenges for students, and it’s always good to have someone around who can give students the hints and effective tips that help them get the most out of their study time and their school years. In fact, the advice that Stefan Knapen provides at his website StudySuccessful.com can be applied to many situations and to people of all ages. After all, learning starts immediately and is a never-ending process! Check out Stefan’s site for answers to your questions about study habits, personal development, modern technology, and more.

7SR: You moved quickly through your university years and are now attending medical school in your early 20s. You must be incredibly busy! How do you fit everything into your schedule?

Haha, yeah things are going pretty fast. Well, what I did in my first couple of years was focussing on setting up a system. What kind of schedule should I use, how much work can I take on, and experimenting with different studying techniques. Probably one of the most interesting concepts I learned was the ‘Parkinson’s Law’, which teaches us that work expands with the amount of time you give it. So by taking up a lot of work, you won’t have a lot of time left to give to it. This results in the need to be highly effective in that work.

Take preparing a presentation for example. I could work hours on creating the perfect powerpoint, preparing all the jokes and practicing the presentation a couple of times beforehand. Now, as I simply did not have that time I needed to find the input which yields the highest results. So I focus on the story, I focus on the core principle. The powerpoint lay-out is not a priority at that point. This is also why starting the night before usually works out ‘fine’ (although it is for stress-reasons definitely not recommended!)

7SR: Here at 7 Speed Reading we encourage students to learn to speed read so that they can get through their research and study projects more quickly. Is this something that you’ve found to be helpful?

In med school I have to read a lot. In keeping up my blog I have to read probably even more. So learning the principles of speed reading helped me definitely. I don’t recommend to always speed read, but if it is a low-density text and there are only a couple of principles to get out of it, speed read your way through it and memorise the concepts later.

7SR: You wrote a free guide on how to build a personal website. Why is it important for people to have an online presence?

First of all: in this day and age it’s really simple. If you don’t own your own domain name somebody else will soon enough.

Second: Anybody who will ever have something to do with you will Google you. Being aware of your online presence and working on it as well can give you easily the ownership of the top 5 results in Google. Now, what do you want your future employer to find when he Googles you. Your own personal website, where your CV is clearly outlined and links to your portfolio? Or that picture where your roommate throws beer over you at that frat party on Facebook?

The free guide is a simple step-by-step instruction on how to create your own personal website. Check it out at StudySuccessful: http://studysuccessful.com/blog-as-student/

7SR: Good study habits are important for success in school, and can be applied even in a person’s later professional life. What are some of the study habits you encourage people to develop?

The best study habit would probably be finding out how you work as a person. Do you learn the most from lectures or from books? Do you like to read text or look at pictures? Do you study better in the morning or in the evening? In your first years these are core concepts to figure out. Find out where you are good at and use that.

7SR: What are three things you would recommend to someone who is starting their first year at university?

Again. Find out how you work. What is your way to do things. Together with that: also find out how social aspects of the University life fit into that, because they have to fit in there. This is the best time to meet new people, to make new connections. Use that. Say yes, become busy and find out how you can flourish! 

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.

What Is A Contronym? (And Why You Should Know About It)

The funny thing about the English language is that it keeps you on your toes. Its pronunciation is unpredictable to put it mildly, and at times, some words seem to fight over a single definition, even when they denote the exact opposite concept. Welcome to the absurdity that is the English language.

A contronym is a word that has two contradictory meanings. For example, if the word ‘open’ were a contronym, it would both mean ‘to open’ and ‘to close.’ Sounds crazy? Well, it’s not. In fact, the English language has several words that are contronyms, or “auto-antonyms.”


If someone says that your jokes are hysterical they probably mean they’re very funny. But if something or someone is hysterical, bad news. They probably mean something is frightening or plain frantic and crazy.


If you dust the table, do you remove the dust from it or do you cover it with it? It ultimately depends on your goal. The same applies with strawberries. You might dust them with sugar or any other sweet substance, or dust them as a way of removing dirt and, well, dust.


If you’re nervy you’re either very courageous or very volatile and likely to lack nerve. Here are some examples to make this difference clear:

“You’re nervy to show up after what you did!”

“He’s nervy whenever he has to talk in front of a large audience.”


When you cleave onto something, you cling tight to it, or join it. As in:

“The homeless baby, frightened of the pedestrians, cleaved to his mother.”

But cleave also has the meaning of splitting up through cutting something in half or in more pieces. So for example, you can cleave open a piece of wood or meat.


When you strike something you hit it. But in baseball, a strike is a miss. So yes, in this world, on this planet, strike means both hit and miss.


You can overlook a team of scientists or you can overlook your team’s mistake’s. The second one might be a problem, with the result of them doing their own thing and missing your deadlines. Overlook can mean either monitor/supervise or a failure to notice something.

To Sanction or Not?

If a government sanctions a law, they either approve it or boycott it. To sanction is to penalize or punish a person, organization, or even country as a way of deterring a behavior or action in the future. But a government can also approve, endorse or ‘OK’ a law or project if it’s a good one.

Off it goes – or is it On?

If the alarm goes off, it actually means that it is activated, triggering the alarm sound. So in this sense, ‘off’ means the alarm goes on.


Perhaps the most confusing contronyms or auto-antonyms are verbs because the action they’re supposed to perform is contradicted.

Take ‘to peruse’ as an example. You can peruse an email as a way of reading very carefully what’s being said or you can peruse a magazine casually and without much focus or attention to detail, just skimming through it.

For more information on contronyms check this great list by The Daily Writing Tips.

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One Word A Day – Start Improving Your Vocabulary Now!

You don’t need an expensive tutor or a five-year plan in order to improve your vocabulary. All you need is the determination to learn just one word a day.

One word a day doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you’re wondering how this works, read on!


Today more than ever, your access to quality online content is super easy, super instant. You can read on your tablet or your smartphone on the way to work, you can read a print book in the park, and you can read at home while taking a bath or listen to an audio book while you’re cooking.

In other words, there are no excuses here when it comes to finding the time to read. So grab a book (or download one, whichever is your thing) and delve right into a story.

Even if you read just a few pages, you will probably stumble upon a new word or phrase. Look it up and try to use it that day or the next day. This way you will be able to recall and use your new vocabulary again when the circumstances call for it.

Dictionaries are your new best friend

I’m not talking about the bulky dictionaries that seem to weigh as much as a car. I’m talking about an app you can download on your smartphone or tablet so that you have an offline dictionary at your disposal at any given time.

Whether at school, college, or work, the world’s knowledge will be literally at your fingertips. When you come across a word you don’t know, tap the app, learn what the word means and how to use it, and go back to your life. It doesn’t get easier than this!

Subscribe to a word a day service

To help you stick to your a word a day pledge, do the most sensible thing possible: subscribe to a service that provides exactly that. Most online dictionaries offer this feature, usually in the form of a daily email. Here are a few you should give a try:

Dictionary.com: Word of The Day

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Word of The Day

WordSmith.Org: Word A Day

Don’t wait any longer. Start improving your vocabulary today!

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How Did April Get Its Name?

Ever wonder why the months are named the way they are? What is it about the last month of the year that makes “December” an apt name for it? What about April and March – what are their stories?

We know for certain that for August through December, the months’ name correspond to their order of appearing in the year. September was the seventh month, October the eighth and so on, back when March was the first month of the year. However, April’s name has nothing to do to its position in the sequence.

April, the blossoming of Nature

The most prevalent theory as to how April got its name says that it goes back to the Latin word ‘aprilis’ and the verb ‘aperire,’ both of which denote an opening, to open, or blossom. This is a well-grounded hypothesis considering that April is the time when both animals and nature resume their activities after the long winter. Signaling this activity by naming the month after it seems like a sensible thing to do.

Another theory, however, says that ‘April’ got its name from the Greek goddess of Beauty and Love, Aphrodite. Again, this could be seen as an attempt to denote the beauty of this time of the year as the trees and flowers begin to blossom, showing off their radiant colors.

April is a month commonly mentioned in literary works, music and other forms of oral culture and arts. T. S. Eliot’s Waste Land opens with the line: “April is the cruellest month” and George Orwell’s 1984 novel opens with this strong image:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks  were striking thirteen.”

April Proverbs and Sayings

Cultures around the world have proverbs about the month of April that help us better understand the significance and role it had to play in their daily lives.

“March Winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”

This well-known proverb perfectly illustrates how the weather in March and April ensures the abundance of May and early summer.

This proverb signals the anticipation of spring and all the images this conjures up of blossoming flowers and buzzing nature. In many countries and especially the UK and Ireland, April has heavy rain (or ‘April showers’) due to the jet stream.  The Spanish face the same phenomenon as illustrated by their own saying which is very similar: “En abril, aguas mil.” This proverb says that during the month of April, there’s a lot of rain, ‘millions of water.’

In previous centuries when people use to forecast weather based on the weather of particular days and months, April was among the months whose weather was under scrutiny. Such forecasts include:

– After a wet April, a dry June

– Fogs in April, floods in June

– Moist April, clear June.

At the same time, the French have a saying that counsels patience. The proverb says that April is not yet the time to don your summer outfits:

-En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil.

The French caution you not to put away your winter clothes yet as cold is still a fact.

Is there a special proverb or saying in your language about April? Let us know in the comments below!

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How Months Got Their Names (HINT: Gods Are Involved!)

Ever wondered how the months got their names? Then read on!


The first month of the year is named after the Roman god Janus, the god in charge of beginnings and passages. This was an apt name for January as it marked a review of the year that just ended and the optimism associated with a new year ahead.


This month took its name from ‘februa’, the cultural practice taking place halfway through the month. The Februa feast culminated between the 15th and 13th centuries as a form of ritual purification.


This one is easy! March got its name from the god of war, Mars. Several cultural practices devoted to Mars were taking place around this season, hence the name.


This name was presumably derived from the Latin word ‘aprillis’ coming from the verb aperio, which means “to open.” Given the agricultural focus of civilizations thousands of years ago, April was a busy, thriving month for farmers that signaling the opening of new agricultural possibilities ahead.


The fifth month is named after Maia, a goddess who, according to Greek mythology is Hermes’ mother and Atlas’ daughter. She was celebrated as a deity with a nurturing, motherly attitude.


Named after the Roman goddess, Juno, June is a month dedicated to marriage, childbirth and women’s well-being. Often Juno was associated with her Greek counterpart, Hera.


Named after Julius Caesar as a way to commemorate him, July is the first month of the calendar year not named after a deity, and it’s the month Caesar was born in.

Now let’s take a breather and a brief history lesson to understand the naming of the remaining months.

Hundreds of years back, the Romans had only ten months. These were what we now know as March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. They also had a dead or idle period of about 60 days in which nothing major happened , at least not anything related to agriculture.

So, according to the Roman year, the year started in March and ended about 60 days after the end of December.  So considering that March was the first month, that makes August the sixth, September the seventh and so forth.

Now, Numa Pompilius, the King of Rome 2,700 or so years ago, decided to spice things up a bit. He said that the year should start earlier than March, and so he divided and named that dead winter time, creating January and February.

August, September, October, November, December

Before being named August, the six month was known as Sextilis (the ‘sixth’, see history lesson above). It was renamed as August in honor of the first Roman emperor.

September is the seventh month, October is the eighth month, November the ninth and of course, December, the tenth. These all come from the Latin words for those numbers: septem, octo, novem, decem.

Now you know why months are named the way they are!

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Social Media, Interaction and A Lot More Knowledge From What’s Next Blog Author BL Ochman

BL Ochman

Internationally-known internet marketer, blogger, and consultant B.L. Ochman has the ability to help clients move their business into the online marketplace – and then to make a success of that online business. Not only that, she’s created some online best-sellers herself! In a recent interview, she talked about a few of her favorite projects.

UV: You have helped worldwide companies like IBM and Budget Car Rental develop and succeed in their social media campaigns. Are the problems that huge multinationals face the same as those that a 20-year-old hopeful web entrepreneur would have to deal with too?

No not really.

Large multinational companies have huge marketing budgets compared to 20-year-old hopefuls. The goals are the same because they want to protect their reputation and have engagements with their clients. But, the way that a big company has to go about it is different because they are generally so siloed. So, my work to IBM, and so on, has been to interrupt those siloed to get people to talk to each other.

For example, when I went to a very large publishing company, I found that there were different people handling different PR in different divisions who have never met. They were essentially working on the same projects with different budgets & tools. Once they were introduced to each other, they were able to pool their resources and learn from each other this resulted to an ongoing open communication.

In a big company, I always start from the bottom-up. Learning what everybody’s level of understanding is of  social media and marketing in regard to their jobs and responsibilities helps me formulate recommendations for changes. I love with working with entrepreneurs because they’re more likely to be open-minded and willing to experiment.

Getting everything done in bigger companies is really challenging. If you work with small companies or you work with entrepreneurs, you can get things moving quickly.

UV: Part of public relations is knowing how to make a quick and successful connection with each client so that you’re communicating with them directly (or at least give them the impression that you are) and that means knowing the right words to use. What new vocabulary skills do online entrepreneurs need to develop to really get the most out of social media?

They need the willingness to put in some time. Communication is a must in social media since it is the new customer relationship marketing. But there’s no magic quick way to establish traction and interaction in social media.

The first thing that I have to  explain to every business I work with, is that social media is not advertising and not a broadcast medium. Everyone should be willing to create actual relationships by having conversations. I use the 12-to-1 rule: twelve times you help other people, provide information that is useful for them and one time you promote yourself.

I teach people it is more than telling people what you want to tell them.  You have to tell people things that they will want to share. What companies and individuals share are quite different from each other. And I strongly advise my clients not to include press releases in their blogs or social media posts. When did anyone ever share a press release in social media – unless they were making fun of it.

“Don’t forget you have a day job.” I believe Cisco was the first company to include that statement in their social media policy. If you go rogue on social media, there are consequences for that. The thing that every company needs, both large and small, is training on how to use social media.

One client said they don’t care whether it’s bots that are following them on Twitter as long as they get big numbers. What is the point of that? I told them that I would rather have engagement with 100 real people than a thousand who are spammers and bots. I zap the bots and spammers every day in my Twitter account and in the ones I run for clients.

UV: What’s the story behind the name of your website “What’s Next Blog”?

I had a print newsletter called “What’s Next”, it was a $350 a year subscription public relations newsletter with thousands of subscribers. But, as soon as I saw the internet (which was around 1995), I was so seduced by it and that I moved my newsletter online. I started blogging in  2002.

That absolute minute that I could have a blog on WordPress, I started What’s Next BlogIn my experience, the more you give, the more you get back. I don’t worry about giving away with information because information does not mean anything until it is shared.

Also, I just love to write. What’s Next Blog is just my way of sharing the information I know to my readers and subscribers. Research and writing is fun for me.

UV: Another website you started, Pawfun.com is for pet lovers, so you probably have pets of your own. What motivated you to create this website?

I actually have a dog and a cat, and I adore them both. Pawfun is more of a hobby.  

I started Pawfun.com 8 years ago and the idea originally was to help people create t-shirts with pictures of their pet. However, once you own a t-shirt with your pet’s photo, when will you buy another? So, it wasn’t really a sustainable business.  People can use the interface to make e-cards with pictures of their pets and send them.

UV: Finally, we have to ask the logical question:  What’s next?

In addition to adding video to your marketing mix, it is definitely paying attention to the new Google AboutMeProfileGoogle for some reason has named your profile “AboutMe” even though there is a long-term website called “About Me”. I wrote a blog post explaining it http://www.whatsnextblog.com/what-you-must-know-about-google-about-me-profile/

So now, it is Google About Me and that is where your real Google profile is going to reside. That profile is going to be part of every Google platform that you use, whether it be Youtube, Google Play or any Google platform. Whatever platform you use, that bio will go with you. That bio also will have an impact on your search optimization. That is definitely what’s next, along with Snapchat, Vine and Facebook livestreaming.

Everything that Google do is an experiment. Therefore, we should always keep an eye with their updates.

B.L. Ochman is a uniquely experienced digital pioneer who has been helping blue chip brands incorporate social media into their marketing strategy since 1996. She blogs at What’s Next Blog, co-hosts and produces the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show podcast and contributes to AdAge DigitalNext. On Twitter, she’s @whatsnext.

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