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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What are you good at?


Andy Selsberg's new book, You Are Good at Things, celebrates our secret talents that are typically taken for granted. For example, maybe you have the uncanny ability to always notice when someone gets a new haircut, or make the last drop of toothpaste last for a month.

So, what's your secret talent? I'm weirdly good at knowing exactly what time it is, even if I haven't looked at a clock in hours. (Whattup.) And my little brother can ride a unicycle!

111 comments:

Leah said...

I'm good at remembering details about people, even things they don't remember telling me!

For example, what their siblings do, or where they're from originally.

Jessica Szeto said...

I'm a university student, and laziness/efficiency has made me weirdly good at cooking a whole meal in one pot. I can make a 2-3 course meal with using just one single pot. Maximum output with minimal dishes to wash.

Ellie said...

that is such a wonderful concept! i wish more people would recognize all the great abilities they possess :)

afieldguidelife.blogspot.com

Lady Baughman said...

I am weirdly good at remembering phone numbers and people's birthdays. Sometimes I pretend not to know these things by heart so others don't think I am some sort of weird stalker (which I'm not)

Jessie said...

I can unicycle. I was in a club growing up. Not only can I unicycle, I can jump rope while unicycling- you just ride over the rope. It is always good when you have to do that icebreaker where you tell something random about yourself.

Amanda (Dear Frances) said...

I have a knack for subconsciously taking note of items that appear out of place or not where they would normally be. I dont even know I am doing it, and then my husband will say "Have you seen my iPod?" and I will say without having to think for a second, "Its on the bookshelf up in the hallway, next to the photo of your grandfather." Sounds insignificant, but it has come in handy for locating keys, glasses, wallets and more!

antique engagement rings said...

I like this. Sounds like a great coffee table book!

Anonymous said...

I love this! I always wonder what secret talents we might have now that would be valued in a future time. (Like a talent for computer programming if you lived before computers!)

yours truly said...

What a fun, clever book! I have a built in compass. I always know which direction I'm facing, and also can drive somewhere once and always know how to get right back there. Direction is what I'm good at:)

paige said...

I'm weirdly good at remembering song lyrics. Songs that I have only heard once...or have heard years ago, I can still remember the lyrics to! What a fun question.

AVY said...

I'm very good at mimicing the life of a cat. Eat, sleep and get cuddled with.


/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com



Jo Waterhouse said...

I'm good at being almost too nice to people that other people don't like - I'm talking estate agents, traffic wardens and cold-callers.
Handy.

leigh said...

i am really good at remembering song lyrics.

i am awesome at always picking up the most expense item on a shelf in a store.

i am amazingly wonderful at making fish stew.

and damn, do i make a excellent cup of coffee.

Bubbly said...

I can untie any knot. I mean, impossible knots. Knots in dainty jewelry, hoodie strings that have been washed with the knot in for months, uber-tight plastic bag knots, you name it.

I think my brother purposely tied my skipping rope in one big knot once too many when I was a kid.

Nicole said...

I'm really good at ordering. Like, I nail it. You know how sometimes you're disappointed with what you got, it looked better on the menu, or your friend's dinner looks so much better? I don't have that. I WIN at ordering.

Joanna Goddard said...

a one-pot meal, haha, i love that!

Jess said...

Song lyrics. I remember them all. Even that one time I listened to that Garth Brooks song when I was 9 (some of God's greatest gifts...are unanswered praaaaaayers).

Oh, and I have the crazy ability to look at a page of print (a paper my class mate wrote or the full spread of the newspaper) and single out any typographical or punctuational errors. It's awesome, but my friends usually think I'm a jerk when I do it.

Joanna Goddard said...

nicole, that's so cute, lol.

Mrunmayee said...

I am good at guessing what switch goes for what even in a new room, a new place, sort of creepy. I am mosly right, rest of the times I just get it right the second time. Does that count? I sort of thing they have a standard or something for tjose swutches.

Fashalina aka The Hyperbalist said...

funny you mentioned this as one of your examples- because I N-E-V-E-R miss when someone has gotten a haircut, even when they've only remotely touched their hair- like a 1/4 centimeter trim. Always notice it. On people I barely know too. Like a random person at work. Never once been wrong about it. Haha I am very visual and love hair...cuts, style, color, etc., so I guess I just have the eye for it.

Kate said...

http://www.marlowesloft.com/2012/04/bread-chronicles-success-and-how-baking.html

I'm still learning.

Em said...

I am strangely talented at hanging things on the wall, without a level or measuring. Perfectly aligned and spaced every time - booyah!

Corrie Anne said...

That clock skill is impressive. I'm totally clueless there. But I have perfect pitch. Play me any note on the piano, and I can tell you what it is.

Sandra said...

I am good at two things - first, I have an amazing ability to spot a celebrity no matter how disguised they are. I can recognize their body language, their mannerisms and their voice - none of these you can hide.

I also am great at packing up a car. I can see a pile of boxes/suitcases/ski gear/etc. and know exactly how to put them into the trunk/hatch to make it all fit.

kelseyfrost said...

Haha, knowing exactly what time it is without having any recent contact with a clock is my husband's talent too. It's eerie!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Ha, my post today is about things that are little but unusual about ourselves and I ask the same question! Hadn't even heard of this book but obviously now I must read it.
I have an uncanny sense of direction and a mad skill for remembering faces - not names, just faces :)

Erin said...

Oh man, Em stole my talent! I have the exact same skill; no level required, I can hang anything with perfect spacing and make it level. My dad was an architect, I like to think I got that from him :)

Olga said...

I'm really good at empathizing with people. If I see somebody cry I automatically start crying. If I see someone laughing I start smiling too. (Even if it's just a picture or a movie. It's AWFUL for watching sappy movies, but good when talking with a friend.)

I'm pretty sure we all do it with yawning! Ha.

Jill Hardt said...

I see I'm not the only one, but I also have an internal compass. Even when I land in a new country, I can always tell which way is North.

Leica said...

I'm good at recognizing actors--minor movie/TV actors and commercial actors. I'll see them in something and think, hey, that's the person from such-and-such! The most glaring one right now is the blonde from the Marshall's ads is now a lead on some new show called Best Friends Forever.

Kelly J. R. said...

I'm really good at knowing which direction to go to get to a certain destination when we're traveling through uncharted territory with no map or GPS. My internal compass is excellent.

MissLauraHueto said...

HAHAHA I love this! I'm good aat... Hmmm... Waisting time! Really! In fact, I've been doing that for the last 5 days instead of working on my homework projects... :D

j said...

haha, whattup - joanna you are so funny!

i've never thought about this and i can't think of what i'm good at. and it stresses me out a bit lol! i will have to search for it!

SKC said...

I am an excellent organizer. I know it sounds dorky, but my skills are legendary.

Kerry said...

I've been told many times that I'm a good hugger. One co-worker will actually seek me out when she's having a bad day for a big ol' hug!

Nick Goddard said...

I can ride this too: Ultimate Wheel

Sarah Carlson said...

I'm good at getting into buses, elevators, lines, etc. first. I may start at the back of a crowd, but all of a sudden, BAM! I'm at the front. I credit my petite size. I'm practically invisible and just shuffle my way to the front. Sneaky & special.

Anonymous said...

My superpower is recognizing famous voices doing commercial voice-overs. Donald Sutherland: boom! George Clooney: boom! Christine Lahti: can't catch me.

angharad said...

I love this! Sometimes when I'm feeling blue I make lists of things I'm good at to cheer myself up - so this book sounds perfect.

Now for my personal top three. 1. Making friends with cats. 2. Remembering everyone's birthdays, even the kids in my class from when I was about six. And 3. I'm lazy, but somehow I have a kind of permanent, low level stamina. I mean I can jog for an hour, comfortably, even if I haven't done any exercise for like a year, and I don't seem to get out of breath.

Thanks Jo - I feel better already!

Laurie said...

I park like a rockstar! No driving around forever for me - I always find the perfect parking spot, always close to where I want to be and more often than not, free. I know it, my family knows it, my friends know it - I have uncanny, legendary parking skills.

Lemanie said...

Directions. I don't need a GPS I just need to go there at least once. I can flip 20 quarters off my arm and catch them in mid-air. I can decorate cupcakes like a pro. I remember useless information, but if I'm ever on Jeopardy it is bound to come in handy!

Lemanie's Randomness Blog

Julia said...

I'm good at packing, I have a good sense of direction, (which is partly due to...) a good visual memory. And I remember dates and numbers really well. Like how much I paid for coffee three days ago. Down to the penny.

Although I wish I had my boyfriend's memory when it comes to remembering names.

{Liana} said...

I'm pretty good at guessing the time, too:) Untangling delicate necklaces is something I'm good at. Goes like this: "Here, give me that...voila!"}

WhatWouldGwynethDo said...

I can talk backwards. You would think it's totally useless, but it's a great party trick ;)

Deanna Bauer said...

Too many to list but cooking is what do best. Funny I read this and my blog this week is about finding your strengths ( what your good at) to bring out your inner diva! It must be in the air!

Http://www.lovelypinkdiva.com

hello, Friday said...

I'm eager to read this book! Thanks for the introduction! I guess I'm good at shopping in a hurry. xoxo
http://www.hellohellofriday.com/

Alexa said...

hahaha these comments are hysterical!! i love quirks.

mine is remembering dates. i remember the exact date of EVERYTHING. even my very first kiss way back in the day.

and it's not just my own dates--every few months, one of my guy friends asks when he had his last haircut :) i wait a while to reveal this when meeting new people...this could really appear creepy haha.

gia said...

I'm good at finding things! Not always, but often! Love this.

Katie Ann said...

Haha, I rode the unicycle for ten years, and my mother even asked if I wanted to join the circus or take up tightrope walking! I denied the opportunity then, but the only thing I asked for Christmas this last year was a slack line! Which is similar, but instead of a rope, it's a 1-inch line. So..I suppose I'm good at balancing!

Aaand I'm an expert at balancing spoons on my nose. Like...I'm super good.
...So humble about it too. ;)

Haha, this looks like a great read, thanks Joanna!

Katie

The Gimlet Eye said...

I never forget a face!!

Beatrix said...

I am too! That's so funny! I am always 7 minutes within the correct time!

hannah_byrd said...

I'm good at memorizing and remembering things. When my family is telling a story about someone or something and they forget a detail, they just ask me, and I always know! :)

Also ( because of my "talent") ,I get kind of annoyed when people don't relay the dialogue of a conversation precisely. It's like inadvertently lying!

virginia said...

I am excellent at finding papers/receipts/keys/etc that have been misplaced.

And I am uncannily good at remembering a person's name, even if I only met them one time.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I can find four-leaf clovers.

Liz C said...

I am also good at untying knots... necklaces and kite strings, most often. And I'm amazing at spotting animals. In Africa, I was better than our tracker, and in Maine, when my husband's family had been summering there for years and years, and never seen a moose, I spotted one on the second day while driving down the highway. Oooh, and finding the backs of my earrings. Even if given a whole house, I can find them within minutes.

tomandemma said...

I'm good at parallel parking - it's all about the angles.

Sally said...

If you tell me your birthday once, I will remember it for life. Seriously. I'm a big hit at cocktail parties - it's like my parlor trick. :o)

Maggie said...

Ah! I am weirdly good at knowing the exact time also!

Maud said...

I love this. I am also scary good at recognizing celebrity voices in commercials.

Also, I walk in high heels realllly well. No scary looking giraffe resemblance here... just sashaying around!

randi said...

this comment thread is hilaaaarious! i'm so glad everyone is stepping up and boasting rightfully about their skillz!

one thing i have always done since i was around 2nd grade (i'm 33!) was look at a digital clock somewhere almost every day at exactly 7:22, either day or night or both. it freaked me out for a lot of years, but now i just come to expect it... not a skill, per sé, but worth noting, in case someone else has it, too.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Hmmmm, I'm very good at encouraging and motivating people.

Oh! And really really good at explaining things to others .... I can leap tall concepts in a single bound!

clarity enhanced diamonds said...

I'm good at eating a lot of snacks lol

Jessica said...

I have the uncanny ability to catch people doing stupid things that they didn't think people would notice. It usually ends up with a stunned look of embarassment on their part, the phrase "You weren't supposed to see that!", and a giggle about the moment.
I guess you could say I'm just observant all around. I notice a lot of details that others dont.
-Jess

mylemonadelifeblog.blogspot.com

.aubrey c. said...

I notice whenever people change their hair!

http://gandacummings.blogspot.com

Jamie said...

Omg @Randi - I used to look at the clock at 12:34 ALL THE TIME, either noon or night, for years! but that hasn't happened in a long time. They say numbers come into your life at certain times and have meaning... maybe 1-2-3-4 meant something for me back then? and maybe 722 means something for you??

As for my talents, I am really good at directions. I always know if we're going North, East, South, or West, and can keep track easily even on a very twisted route. I'm also really good at eyeballing small measurements without a ruler. For example I can easily tell if something is specifically 3/16in. wide, and not 1/8in. or 1/4in., just by looking at it. This is related to my next talent: an internal level. If I'm hanging a large frame and it's tilting by only a teeny amount, like 1/8in. or so, it will stand out to me like a sore thumb. I wish I had some of the other talents mentioned here, like remembering people's details or where lost items are! I am horrible at that stuff!

C. said...

I'm extremely good at remembering people's full names. I mean, their first, middle and last names. I also have an unusual (and utterly ridiculous) talent for remembering what people wore. As in, I remember every single detail, even the stains on their shoes. But I can't remember the dates to save my life, nor any kind of useful information I need to remember.

Kate K said...

While watching movies and tv shows, I can look at actors and remember where I last saw them, even if it was a bit part in a movie I saw five years ago. It is an absolutely useless skill and not one I usually share with others (it's kind of weird) but it fills me with happiness. It's like figuring out a pop culture riddle.

Leah Hendrick said...

internet surfing :)

Alexis said...

irish step dancing ;o)

www.adellaandco.com

Amy P said...

I'm good at being prepared for anything. I don't have that big of a purse, but I always happen to have just the right things on me at the right time (safety pins, pen, lighter, knife, snack, kleenex, water bottle, bottle opener, gravol, tide-to-go, bandaids, bobby pin, screwdriver, floss, sewing kit...)
If it ever happens that I don't have something I need, I go a little bananas.

Cup and Saucer said...

I'm good at wiggling my ears and making curry. I'm not sure which is more useful, the ear wiggling always raises a laugh

Jenni said...

I'm not good with names, but I'm insanely good at facial recognition. This skill can be handy/creepy/annoying. For instance "Oh I met you 7 years ago at a brunch!" = Creepy-if the other person doesn't remember you. Turning to my husband 100 times during a movie: "Oh, look! That actor was in this, this, and this film, and this TV show!" = Annoying. But really fun ;)

Bladh photography said...

Im really good at remembering birthdays. Its a crazy talent I have!!!!!!!!!!
Im also a great photographer. Have been since I was in Highschool

www.bladhphotography.com

Bladh photography said...

Im really good at remembering birthdays. Its a crazy talent I have!!!!!!!!!!
Im also a great photographer. Have been since I was in Highschool

www.bladhphotography.com

leah p. said...

I'm the master of celebrity children's names. Try me. Any relevant celebrity and I can tell you the wierd hollywood name they named their kid(s). Shiloh? Suri? Blue Ivy? PSH. Child's play. I'm talking Miranda Kerr's son Flynn and the Duggars J Named clan. All 19.

When will this skill come in handy?

Aimee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hannah_byrd said...

Oh! I went through a phase a few months ago where I would look at the clock at 4:20 PM every day, just like the other commentators. So weird!

Annie said...

I too can always tell the time, even in the middle of the night. Plus, I know my compass orientation - useful knack.
Also know all the kings and queens of England from 1066 onwards.
Weird. But it passes the midnight hours....

Colleen said...

I am ridiculously good at identifying songs. The school bus driver listened to WHOM 94.9 in the mornings (when I was 17) and when the station would have their trivia challenge, she'd make everyone be quiet, so I could hear the question, and see if I got the answer right (which I did, 97% of the time). Growing up with a dad who listened to a wide variety of music, and I took up what he didn't listen to, helped a whole bunch.

Nadia said...

I can roll my stomach. Not like a belly dancer but I can move my stomach muscle independently. Weird stomach muscles run in the family. I'm also good at guessing the lyrics to songs I've never heard before and singing along.

kaela said...

i am actually a really good tap dancer. i can make my top lip go one way and my bottom lip go the other way in both directions (hard to explain). i am really good at remembering details like birthdays, addresses, credit card numbers (gets me in trouble online shopping), what people wore the last time i saw them...etc. i can say all 50 states in alphabetical order in less than 30 seconds and honestly, making friends with strangers. thanks joanna! it's really gloomy outside and suddenly i feel better now :)

jill + oakley said...

i'm good at seeing someone on the street and identifying their celebrity facial mash-up (as in...that guy looks like steven spielberg and robin williams had a baby together).

b and e said...

Perhaps reading peoples emotions/body language. Or not even - once I just knew my friend in Canada was having a rough time (shrugs) I'm in Australia and hadn't talked in ages and I emailed her and turned out to be true! I find when I think of someone, and just get a feeling they are down, and contact them to see how they are, they always are just as I thought!

scary.
bxx

p.s How are you today?

www.bybande.blogspot.com

Lindsey Fyfe said...

ha ha! my mom's "thing" is that she always knows the exact size tupperware to fit any amount of leftovers from the table. She nails it every time, down to a tablespoon. So funny and great.

beccainboston said...

I remember random facts about people too and also I have that things in random places superpower! I think it's because my roommate used to lose her keys and phone all the time and I would be like it was in your purse because we went out last night!

PoetessWug said...

I'm good at knowing when something is out of place in my room...anywhere!

aubry. said...

i have this amazing ability to jump from the couch when the timer on the oven counts down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, buzzzzz! and my food is ready. no matter how long my banana bread has been baking, my asparagus has been broiling... no matter what, my internal timer knows when the count down is over!

Taryn Louise said...

What are the odds. I was amazed to see that we share the same talent!! However, I must say, not only am I good at guessing what time it is, but I get this HUGE thrill when I guess it correctly!

Now I'll have to think of something else I'm good at to be unique ;) At work, I'm told I'm really good at seeing the bright side in crappy situations..

I think you've inspired me to post about this phenomenon.

PS. That video was really funny. Thank you!

Kate said...

I love this idea! I actually have no idea what my secret talent is, but I'll be sure to comment back here once I've had a good think! I will definitely be more aware from now on! x

Kate {Something Fabulous}
http://thesomethingfabulous.blogspot.com

Miyan said...

this is fun! im pretty darn good at bargaining with people. at markets for jewelry or even at a supermarket/ drugstore for a discount =)

Miyan
www.miyan-overseas.blogspot.com

kendra said...

i'm really good at remembering middle names. and using them

and i'm good at changing lanes at the right moment so i don't hit the reflectors on the dotted line.

Rita said...

I can find a person among many or an object lost on the floor...for instance, in concerts, a needle lost in a carpet, "where is wally" books are piece of cake to me!
I'm also good at recognizing people not by their face but by small things in theis attitde such has walk, movements,hair...

Olya said...

I have a 6th sense for fashion trend comebacks - I start liking it, 1/2 year later it appear on a runway. My hubby jokes, that If I worked for a fashion magazine , they'd make million off me. but how do you put this on a resume?! "hi, i'm Olya. I predict fashion trends"... Right...

Olya
www.livingnotesfromnyc.com

Brittany Lauren said...

*Adding to my book list!

Haha My husband finds it amazing that I can wake myself up for the next morning without help or an alarm clock. If I tell myself to wake up at 7:25 - I will. I don't know if its a secret talent… but I save money on buying an alarm clock!

Anabel said...

I'm going out to buy this today! Right now I'm in a funk professionally, plus I'm having a hard time getting pregnant, and I could use a reminder of the weird things I'm good at... thanks for the post.

Sammi said...

Raising a smile from my colleagues (including the boss) even on the gloomiest days :)

Nicki Clark said...

I'm surprisingly good at knowing how someone spells their name when there is more than one option (i.e. katy vs. katie, sarah vs. sara, larson vs. larsen, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I'm good at convincing people to do things, and making people laugh.

Love this post!! I wish I had your talent.

Kate said...

So fun!

As someone else mentioned, I'm also good at celebrity face mash-ups. I am an excellent parallel Parker (I even parked a U-Haul once!) and I do a pretty good Scottish accent - it's a great parlor trick. Oh and I'm a decent whistler.

natalienoods said...

I'm a baller at making paper snowflakes. Also very good at cleaning up in 5 minutes. And avoiding eye contact on subways.

Sarah said...

Hilarious! Love reading these comments!

Mine: 1) Finding the perfect word. 2) Mixing multiple prints in one outfit without looking clownish. 3) Faking surprise. :)

Chelsea said...

I need to check this out, because I have a complex about how I'm not good at anything...especially compared to my brother, who is an artist and writer and cook and all around talented guy.

Ordering this book. Thanks for the reco, Jo!

Angeline said...

hmmmm... I'm pretty good at recognizing people from the back, even if I've only met you once lol
Oh! And I can memorize easier when I'm cleaning the dishes, don't ask why but if I'm cleaning them I only have to recite my notes once and I know them :P :D

Melani said...

I have a knack for organizing things in a way that's aesthetically pleasing. I can hang pictures and shelves straight just by eyeballing it. I used to be able to tell you exactly what brand and type of shampoo you used by sniffing your hair, though I haven't done it in years and there's a lot of different shampoo out there now. I'm the go-to girl at work for fixing things when no one else can, and my co-workers also tell me I know something about everything, though it's usually just trivial information. I can read multiple books at once and not confuse plot lines/characters. haha This totally made my day.

Anonymous said...

My Super Power is finding parking spots. I always find a spot right near wherever I want to go. I never have to do car park laps or follow people to their car. I am the only person I know who can rock up to a Boxing Day Sale 10 minutes before the stores open and get a park 3 spots from the entrance.
Felicia

italian ceramics said...

I am weirdly good at remembering phone numbers and people's birthdays. Sometimes I pretend not to know these things by heart so others don't think I am some sort of weird stalker (which I'm not)

Shena said...

We share the same weird talent. But you would think that a good sense of direction would accompany that talent but I have a terrible sense of direction. I'm curious to know if that is the same for you or not? :)

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Edward Wang said...

I have been telling privacies such as their relationship with someone or their concerns by strange and unfamiliar(and familiar) people,from primary school until now;I am strong six sense which always surprises me;I when I hear a single voice from a TV or computer,I know immediately which movie it is; When I go out and lost somewhere,I can always find my way back home

Edward Wang said...

I have been telling privacies such as their relationship with someone or their concerns by strange and unfamiliar(and familiar) people,from primary school until now;I am strong six sense which always surprises me;I when I hear a single voice from a TV or computer,I know immediately which movie it is; When I go out and lost somewhere,I can always find my way back home

Edward Wang said...

I have been telling privacies such as their relationship with someone or their concerns by strange and unfamiliar(and familiar) people,from primary school until now;I am strong six sense which always surprises me;I when I hear a single voice from a TV or computer,I know immediately which movie it is; When I go out and lost somewhere,I can always find my way back home

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