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25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

Now that the inspirational sparkle of the new year has worn off, you may be falling back into your old routines and habits. Statistically, you probably are. One way to jolt yourself out of a run is to engage in learning new skills. Last year I’ve had the privilege to do research, interview and report on some of today’s most successful people and they all have one thing in common. They are continually learning. Whether it’s reading books, going to seminars, or taking courses, continuously expanding your mind is a fundamental key to success.

If you didn’t love school, don’t worry. Today’s online options have come so far, you can listen on your commute, download everything to your smartphone, or take an entire class via watching short digestible online videos for free.

1. Programming for Everybody

You’ve probably seen or heard the headlines claiming “everybody needs to learn how to code.” If you agree, this University of Michigan course from Coursera is a great option.

2. How To Make iPhone Apps

This course from Udemy teaches how to finally create that app idea you have. If you are very computer savvy, take five hours and you’ll be ready to submit your first app to the App Store by the end of the day.

3. Introduction to Graphic Design

We live in a visual world. Just like some people argue that everyone should know the basics of coding, others feel we should all learn the basics of good design. This beginner course from Udemy teaches the basic principles of design and the theory behind creating attention-grabbing visuals.

4. Beginners Adobe Photoshop

Once you learn the basics of great design, you’re going to want to start designing! This tutorial for beginners from Adobe KnowHow teaches the fundamentals of a, if not the, vital graphic design program. Also a good course idea for beginning photographers.

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5. Internet Marketing for Smart People

If you want to up your marketing game, Copyblogger is a great resource. This class teaches you how to systematically implement effective marketing campaigns. You also get instant access to 14 value-packed ebooks on SEO, copywriting, keywords and more.

6. Diploma in Social Media Marketing

This course from ALISON goes beyond how to use the platforms and teaches the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, email marketing, blogging, social platforms and increasing site traffic.

7. Social Media 101

Want a social media overview? This is a two-minute-a-day class from Buffer to teach you the basics of social media. Learn how to use each platform, how to create a tone for your brand, and how to understand analytics.

8. Become a Networking Master

If you’re intimidated by networking events, meetings and conferences, you’re not alone. Progress your career or your business with this course from The Muse which teaches you how to network, communicate and give a clear elevator pitch to anyone and everyone.

9. Introduction to Public Speaking

Public speaking skills can improve your performance in meetings, calls, and of course on the stage. This edX class from the University of Washington will help you become more effective and confident on debating, presenting and persuading.

10. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Negotiation is not just essential for business owners crafting contracts. If you want to secure yourself a higher salary, better benefits, or that coveted office with a window, start with this course from the University of Michigan from Coursera.

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11. Competitive Strategy

Getting ahead and staying ahead is a science. This more advanced course from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München by Coursera will teach you the basic tools of game theory in order to dissect strategy and gain competitive advantages.

12. How to Finally Start Your Side Project

Many successful businesses started as a side hustle. This class offered by career experts at The Muse will walk you through how to focus and bring your ideas into the world, while still working your 9-to-5.

13. How to Start a Startup

Entrepreneurship is the new black. Stand out from other startups with knowledge on user growth, fundraising, operations, and more. This Stanford lecture by Sam Altman features leaders from successful companies like PayPal, LinkedIn, and Airbnb.

14. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs

In the middle of starting your own business? This is a short course from Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar. He teaches rookie entrepreneurs key lessons based on his first-hand experience vetting ideas, raising money from investors, scaling a business, and more.

15. Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution

If you’re filled with a million ideas but can’t seem to bring any of them to life, check out this course from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University offered by Coursera. It will show you how to correctly build an idea into an actual, stable and scalable operation.

16. The Passive Income Business Plan

If you’ve looked into entrepreneurship, you’ve probably heard of passive income. It sounds too good to be true, is it? This basic introduction to online business from Udemy covers helpful information for entrepreneurs who are considering starting an online business but don’t know how to.

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17. Diploma in Project Management

If you want to become a department head, speed up the growth of your business, or simply become more efficient, you need to master project management. This course from ALISON offers an overview of project management methodology, tools, project life cycles and case studies.

18. The Secret Sauce of Great Writing

The more I study success, the more I realize that good writing is everything. No matter which career you’re in, whether you’re writing an email, a presentation, a script, or a storyboard. This course from Udemy teaches you to enhance your business writing.

19. Writing on Contemporary Issues

Want to get your op-ed featured on NYTimes.com? This course is an introduction from MIT on writing attention-grabbing prose for online audience with a clear and unique personal voice.

20. Chinese Language: Learn Basic Mandarin

This is another skill that is often recommended, especially if you want to climb up the ladder of international business. This beginner course from edX is free, but you can add a MandarinX Verified Certificate for $50.

21. Spanish I

Like Mandarin, many recommend adding Spanish to your resume. This is a beginner course from MIT that teaches Spanish through a quality drama-filled story.

22. Sports Psychology – The Winning Mindset

If you want to win in business, your career, or just in life, think like a winning athlete. Dr Cliff Mallet offers practical strategies in this Olympic.org course that will ensure you approach your next goal with the right mindset.

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23. The Science of Happiness

Who doesn’t want to be happier? The first class from University of California, Berkeley, offered by edX, will teach you science-based principles and practices for a happy and more fulfilling life.

24. Practical Ethics

If you ever look around at the world today and think “I don’t know what I believe anymore” this course will help you figure out just that. Examine your ethical beliefs with this Princeton class offered by Coursera.

25. Guided Meditations

There’s a reason many successful people meditate and practice mindfulness. Figure out those reasons in this introductory class from UCLA, taught by Diana Winston.

Featured photo credit: GaudiLab via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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