When Red first heard the phrase "soft skills" she didn't know what it meant. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, communications, and conflict management (vs."hard skills" which refer to tangible and technical skills). Black then mentioned that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) often refers to them as "21st Century Skills" – sarcastically adding how she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

The soft skill topics list below are important for students ranging from middle school to adult education, as well as all employees. That's why we included them in ALL of our Career and Technical Education curricula. What's more, unlike more traditional curricula, they've been developed to allow students to see the relevancy of each topic and how these skills are transferable – between their personal lives and the workforce, and from industry-to-industry.

But don't believe us, check out a few samples! We've linked the high school versions of Money & Math, Motivational Interviewing (Red's favorite because of the worksheet), and Teamwork and hope they'll give you a better feel for our approach.

  1. Introduction Of Red & Black … And Life's Detours
  2. Appearances
  3. Career Opportunities
  4. Communications
  5. Conflict Management
  6. Constructive Feedback
  7. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  8. Diversity
  9. Education
  10. Employability Skills
  11. Intellectual Property
  12. Interpersonal Studies
  13. Leadership
  14. Money & Math
  15. Motivational Interviewing
  16. Negotiating
  17. Policies & Procedures
  18. Project Management
  19. Relationships
  20. Resume & Professional Portfolio
  21. Rights Of Employees & Responsibilities Of Employers
  22. Safety
  23. Teamwork
  24. Technology
  25. Values & Priorities
  26. Vocabulary

The "space race" used to be about countries competing … now, it's billionaires.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We grew up in the 1960s when space exploration was in its infancy and space travel was left to the imagination of television show and movie writers; but since one of us was a theater major and the other studied business, it's not surprising we had very different reactions to the recent flights.

Keep Reading ... Show less

FULL QUESTION: I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).

Photo of Red's beloved stuffed sheep

Photo by Red

I've always loved stuffed animals. And the softer and plusher, the better. They're like family. Only, in some ways, better, but I won't go down that road. Not today, anyway. Some children outgrow their love for stuffed animals (or do they just stopping admitting it?), but not me. And although I've stopped adding to my collection over the years (ok, make that decades), there are always those favorite ones that are loved just a little bit more, squeezed a little tighter, hugged a little longer.

Keep Reading ... Show less