11 Life Skills Every Modern Man Should Master

Forget building fires and skinning animals, what are the skills every man in 2015 should know? Here are 10 we should all have in our locker

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1 | How To Give Your Brain A Rest By Meditating

Working against a tight deadline? Skipping lunch? Finding it difficult to breathe? If this is sounding all too familiar, it's probably time to start nourishing your inner zen. According to John McBretney, resident teacher at the Heruka Centre, practising a simple breathing meditation for 15min each day will result in a calm, spacious feeling in the mind and cause many of our usual problems to fall away. Here's how to do it:

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• Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and relaxed. Rest your hands in your lap, partially close your eyes and let all your stress and tension fall away.
• Turn your attention inwards and become aware of your breathing. Don’t attempt to control your breathing – just become aware of it, and follow the inhalation and exhalation of your breath.
• Gradually become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Focus on the sensation of the breath and try to forget about everything else.
• Remain focused on the sensation of the breath. If your mind wanders, let go of the distraction and come back to the breath.
• Gradually your distracting thoughts will subside and you will begin to experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Stay with this feeling of mental calm for a while.

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2 | How to Ace An Interview

Prepare. Practise. Look good. Smile. Maintain eye contact. Speak slower. Ask questions. Start strong and end on an upbeat note. People tend to remember the first and last five minutes more than the middle. Done. Here are the details.

3 | How to Pick Out Good Wine From Bad

No one likes a wine bore but life’s just too short to be drinking bad wine and leaving it to chance. What's the answer? Have a few ground rules in your locker.

• Don’t be tempted by wines under £6, however tempting. Factor in the tax, duty, packaging, transport, marketing and margins, you’re left with about 30p for the wine itself – if you’re lucky.

• Don’t be suckered in by 3 for 2s or half-price deals. Consider that a bottle reduced from £9.99 was only at that price for the legal minimum of six weeks, across a tiny fraction of the supermarket’s stores, before being discounted for the rest of its sorry shelf life and rolled out across the whole estate where it was always destined to be sold at £4.99, its true value.

• Aim for the £8-15 sweetspot, it’s where quality improves exponentially, but below the price at which reputation and personal, acquired tastes kick in.

• Don’t get go second from top on the wine list. Restaurants long ago cottoned on to what is perceived as a safe choice and often fill the spot with overpriced, lowest-common-denominator tat.

• In good restaurants, trust the house wine. It reflects the quality of the establishment, the know-how of the sommelier, and is an opportunity for the restaurant to present an early impression of good value.

• Consider supermarket branded bottles. You might scoff at the notion of turning up at a dinner party with a bottle of Tesco Finest, but given that consumers will associate that quality with the supermarket, not the producer, it’s in the supermarket’s best interests to pick a top-notch supplier, particularly at the top end of its range.

4 | How To Enjoy Exercise

There comes a point when a man has to stop whingeing about having to do exercise like a kid who’s lost his PE kit and realise the countless advantages of being at his physical best. Start with running. It’s a problem-solver, a stress reducer, a blood pressure lowerer, a heart exerciser, a fat dissolver and when you’re through the initial resistance, a life affirmer. It’s the world’s cheapest workout. It’s the world’s cheapest therapy. And the way you remember running is entirely different to what running really is.

5 | How To Get Served First At The Bar

Prepare yourself for the usual Friday night pub crush with our four-point guide to getting a drink before you grow a beard.

1 Position yourself carefully. "The best place to stand is at the bartender's station, or where he is actually making the drinks. The farther away from the station, the longer you'll have to wait," says Vincent McGrath, director of food and beverage at the Savoy.

2 Look prepared. "Having the money in your hand can help, but the brash man waving a £50 note will often be avoided," says Nick House, founder of Mahiki and Whisky Mist. "Also, try to catch the barman's name by listening to the bar team talking."

3 Appearances count. "A good percentage of arm candy always helps," says Dan Kapp, communications director at Movida, "so put your girlfriend in front of you. Cleavage and beauty will always be served first."

4 Do your homework. "Study the barman before you reach the front of the queue. See where he automatically goes. It's natural for bartenders to scope a specific area of the bar," advises William McBean, general manager of the Electricity Showrooms, Hoxton Square. "Whatever the reason they'll always return to this point."

6 | How To Build Their Wardrobe Around Style Not Trends

Trends are all well and good – some of them are even worth paying attention to (this season’s oversized coat trend, for instance, isn’t likely to have gone anywhere by next winter) – but on the whole it’s far more sensible, not to mention stylish, to invest in key items that transcend seasonal fashions (no, those leopard-print ponyskin boots you just bought don’t count). A solid pair of slim indigo jeans, a beautifully cut white Oxford shirt and an impeccably tailored navy wool blazer, will always look sharp, so spend your cash on them. It's just one of the 11 Habits Of Stylish Men.

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7 | How To Deliver A Great Pitch

Michael Parker, a pitch coach with over 20 years experience at Saatchi & Saatchi, and author of It’s Not What You Say, It’s The Way You Say It notes that “nothing is as powerful in a pitch as a good story.” This not only gives a sense of your personality, making you more memorable, but it also taps into our ancient affinity with stories and helps you tap into the emotions of your audience.

Another way to take the pressure off yourself during a pitch is to think of it as a performance in which you’re playing a character. Basically, it’s all about turning your pitch into an experience that will stay in the minds of the audience long after you’ve left the room.

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“Think of Steve Jobs introducing the latest innovation from Apple," says Parker, "Imagination and staging can add pizzaz.” And remember to practice as much as is feasible: “With rehearsal you will become more natural on stage and more spontaneous, creating an interesting, engaging experience.”

Here's the full lowdown on perfect presentations.

8 | How to Know If You’re Being Lied To

Body language skills are often neglected, so learning a few could give you a ninja-like edge.

For instance, there are certain ‘tells’ people perform with their face if they’re lying (unless they’re particularly good at it). They might blink rapidly, which means their brain is doing overtime making up some crazy ‘late train’ story. They may scratch their nose, which means they really want to cover their mouth (an instinctive response to shame). Or they may purse their lips, which is an unconscious effort to gag themselves when they’re saying something they may come to regret.

9 | How To Chop Vegetables Like A Master

It's the skill that sets cooks apart from chefs. Colin Bond explains how it's done.

1. Make sure that your blade is freshly sharpened, you want your slices to be clean, a blunt knife will make the cuts harder to control.

2. Use a “French knife”. These are designed so that they will ease the chopping motion by rocking on the chopping board as you go.

3. Grip the knife similar as to how you would hold a tennis racket, this will give you more control when cutting.

4. Hold your non-knife hand in a claw-type fashion, curling your fingers inwards to protect the tips, your thumb and pinkie will be behind your other fingers.

5. Place this hand on the vegetable with your thumb and pinkie furthest away from the end you wish to slice. Rest the blade against the end joints of the fingers on the non-knife hand.

6. Slice in a rocking motion pushing the blade down and forward. Using the finger joints of your non-cutting hand to guide the cuts. By moving your non-cutting hand along the vegetable you can control the thickness of the slices. Start slow and when you get used to the movements build up speed.

10 | How To Buy Shoes

When it comes to dressing, it doesn't matter if you don the best suits, the most beautifully cut trousers or the sharpest shirts. If the shoes are wrong, you're stuffed. Thankfully, Jim McFarland of McFarland's Shoe Repair is here to give us the inside track on how to buy shoes. Take note.

Wear the right socks. If you wear a thick pair of  crew socks when trying on a smart shoe, you'll only buy a pair that's too big.
Get sized by a professional using the Brannock Device. Your shoe size can change so it's best to be accurate.
Buy in the afternoon. Your feet swell to their largest as the day progresses, and it's better to buy a pair of shoes that are a little too big than a little too small.
Check the inside. If the inside of the shoe has no lining and the grain of the leather is exposed, the shoes won't last as long.
Walk around the store when trying them on.
Don't wear them outside. Take a night or two to wear your new shoes around the house. As long as the soles haven't been worn away by walking outdoors, many shoe stores will allow you to return them in the event that you change your mind.

11 | How to Find Your Go-To Hangover Cure

You've had enough of them by now to know what your personal weak points are. You've also had enough of them to know they can really take the fun out of your weekends.

So when a really bad one hits, it's high time you know what works for you. Best go straight to the real experts on the best ways to beat a hangover out there. You might just get your life back.

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