Exercise 1

A. Listen. What do María and Sam talk about?

B. Listen again. Complete the chart with information from Sam’s performance review.












Sam’s achievements and challenges



wrote copy for the customer services pages that covered all topics; contributed to the effectiveness of the website; presented the information in a direct, easy-to-read style; because he is a cyclist, he knew the kind of information that potential customers would be looking for; was able to make those pages speak to the target audience


a tendency to work alone; not a team player


become a team player; actively participate in meetings; take more initiative


María:   Good morning, Sam. Since this is your first formal performance review, I want to quickly run through the agenda for today.

Sam:   OK.

María:   I emailed you information about the review process, and you’ve already done your self-assessment. Today we’ll discuss the self-assessment, and I’ll present you with several challenges for the remainder of your internship.

Sam:   I understand.

María:   Good. Then let’s begin with the self-assessment. I see that you mention the Davis Bikes project. So, tell me why you’ve listed it as a significant accomplishment.

Sam:   The copy that I wrote for the customer services page covers all of the topics in the outline I was given and contributes to the effectiveness of the website. What’s important is that I presented the information in the direct, easy-to-read style that web users prefer. And because I’m a cyclist myself, I knew the kind of information that potential customers would be looking for. I was able to make those pages speak to the target audience.

María:   Yes, I’d say it was a job well done. You juggled a variety of tasks on the Davis account. That’s exactly the type of flexibility that’s important for your career advancement.

Sam:   Thank you. I feel I’m developing a strong skill set during this internship.

María:   I like the progress you’re making, Sam. But I believe you can do more.

Sam:   What do you mean?

María:   You always fully complete your assigned work. That’s important. But I’ve noticed you have a tendency to work alone. Could you think of some ways to better engage with the team? Collaboration is an important part of what we do here.

Sam:   OK. I hear what you’re saying. I’ll try to think of some ideas.

María:   That’s great. And actually, that leads me to my next point. Overall, I’m looking for more initiative on your part. As one of your new challenges, I’d like you to identify ways that you can contribute to upcoming projects and discuss them with me.

Sam:   All right—I can do that.

María:   Perfect. With that goal in mind, I have a new opportunity for you. We’re undertaking an advertising campaign for the local park district soon. I’ll have oversight of the project, and I want you on the team from start to finish. I want to challenge you take a seat at the table and by that, I mean actively participate in the meetings.

Sam:   OK.

María:   At our first brainstorming session, listen to what your colleagues are saying, but ask questions and offer suggestions as well. Then increase your participation as the project progresses. Are you comfortable with that?

Sam:   Yes, I can handle that. Plus, I should probably touch base with other members of the team outside of the meetings.

María:   Agreed. Get feedback from them on the work you’re doing. Ask questions for clarification and take suggestions for change. When you do this, keep in mind that the feedback isn’t personal. It’s about the work and what’s best for the team and our project. Check in with me regularly as you identify ways that you can further contribute to the project.

Sam:   Absolutely. I’m on board!

Exercise 2

A. Listen. What is the topic of the podcast?

B. Listen again for rhetorical questions. Complete the chart.

Rhetorical questions


So, what is a 30-day challenge, and why should you consider doing one?

to introduce the topic of the podcast


to focus on why people do 30-day challenges


to focus on tips for completing a 30-day challenge

C. Listen again. Answer the questions.

 How do people decide what they will do for their 30-day challenge?

 Why is 30 days a good length of time for a challenge?

 What are some examples of 30-day challenges?

 If someone wanted to plan a 30-day challenge, what tips would you recommend?



30-day challenges


Rhetorical questions


So, what is a 30-day challenge, and why should you consider doing one?

to introduce the topic of the podcast

What’s the motivation for taking these challenges?

to focus on why people do 30-day challenges

So, are you ready for your own 30-day challenge?

to focus on tips for completing a 30-day challenge


Possible answers:

1   They choose an activity that they have wanted to do, but they have put it off. The activity can be for fun or self-improvement.

2   Thirty days is long enough to present a challenge, but short enough to make the challenge seem possible.

3   giving up caffeine or fast food, riding a bike to work, taking an early morning walk, working out, reading for enjoyment, keeping a gratitude journal

4   define your goal, choose something meaningful, have a plan, start small, prepare, remain positive, keep going


Hello, everyone. I’m personal trainer Lisa Carson. Welcome to today’s edition of my podcast, You Can, Too. Today I want to talk to you about the value of 30-day challenges. So, what is a 30-day challenge, and why should you consider doing one?

A 30-day challenge is all about trying something new and different and, yes, doing it every day for 30 days. Your challenge may add fun or adventure to your life. It may be a way for you to learn a new skill. Or you might use your challenge to work on breaking a bad habit. If there’s something that you’ve been thinking about doing but for one reason or another you’ve put it off, a 30-day challenge will help you take the plunge. The basic concept is straightforward enough. Choose an activity that you want to do. Then create a 30-day plan and get started. Focus on one small change at a time, and you’ll see positive results!

What’s the motivation for taking these challenges? For some, it’s the satisfaction of setting goals and achieving them or excitement of having variety in their everyday routine. For others, a 30-day challenge can be the first step toward a lifestyle change without the pressure of a lifetime commitment.

The beauty of 30-day challenges is that they last… for…thirty…days. They work because they’re doable. They focus on specific, manageable tasks, and most people are willing to experiment with just about anything for 30 days because the end is always in sight. When they successfully complete a challenge and see positive results, they build momentum, and they’ll continue with additional challenges.

30-day challenges often focus on health and fitness-related goals like giving up caffeine or fast food, riding a bike to work, taking an early morning walk, or working out for 15 minutes daily. And for the more ambitious, the challenge might involve increasing the length of a workout from 15 to 30 to 45 to 60 minutes during the 30-day period or raising the bar on the difficulty level of the exercises themselves.

Other challenges might relate to hobbies or social activities. One popular challenge involves reading for pleasure 20 minutes each day. Imagine sitting quietly as you read a novel rather than going through your email or reading a textbook. My current challenge involves keeping a gratitude journal. For 10 minutes each day, I write about one thing in my life that I’m thankful for. This simple act helps me to maintain a positive attitude, especially when things aren’t going my way.

So, are you ready for your own 30-day challenge? Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you start.

• Define your goal. Choose a challenge that’s meaningful to you.

• Have a plan. Start small. Focus on one specific challenge at a time, even if you have a larger end goal in mind.

• Prepare. Collect any necessary clothing and equipment. Set aside time for your daily challenge. Remove temptations. For example, put your coffee pot away if you’re going to live caffeine-free for 30 days.

• Remain positive. Some of your 30 days will be harder than others. If you have a setback one day, stay positive and resume the challenge the next day.

• Keep going. Don’t think of your 30-day challenge as “one-and-done.” As you come to the end of a challenge, keep the momentum going. Make time to map out what you’re going to do next!

Thanks for listening. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please share your 30-day challenge experiences@youcantoopod.

Exercise 3

A. Listen. What is XPRIZE? How are XPRIZE and HeroX different?

B. Listen again. Take notes in the chart.




What is it?




Who participates?




What are some example challenges and solutions?




C. What is the speaker’s purpose? Explain your answer.



Possible answer: XPRIZE is a non-profit organization that designs competitions which invite participants to work in teams to solve problems related to topics such as healthcare, the environment, robotics, etc. XPRIZE is generally on a large scale and competitors usually require specialist expertise. Teams often consist of engineers, inventors, scientists, etc., and are often funded by entrepreneurs. HeroX is a crowdsourcing platform that is open to the general public. Projects take place on a smaller scale and prize money is often far less than for XPRIZE.





What is it?


A non-profit organization; designs competitions which encourage participants to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges; reward-driven

a spin-off organization from XPRIZE; similarly competition-based but open to the general public

Who participates?


(often) engineers, inventors, scientists, or academics; projects sometimes funded by entrepreneurs

the general public

What are some example challenges and solutions?


Challenge: The Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE; find more efficient solutions to the problem of spillages from oil rigs and tankers

Solution: a machine skims the surface of the water and scoops up the floating oil; able to separate surface oil from water

Challenge: The Water Abundance XPRIZE; find an affordable solution to the problem of water shortages in the developing world

Solution: a device that could make water from thin air; uses a shipping container to collect over 500 gallons of water a day at a cost of just 8 cents per gallon

Challenge: Hack HeroX; set up to test how vulnerable their own online platform was to hackers; Solution: ongoing

Challenge: EthicsNet challenge; think of an innovative way to teach machines how to be kind

Solution: a learning system where machines can interact with humans, who provide feedback on social norms


Possible answer: The overall purpose is to inform. However, the speaker ends with a call to action, prompting the audience to consider problems which we need to solve and to come up with ideas 


What Are the XPRIZE and HeroX?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I click through the day’s headlines, I can’t help but feel that the world is facing an overwhelming number of problems. Clearly, it’s going to take a monumental effort to solve all of them. But how can we galvanize the world’s brightest minds into action? Well, one organization has a great idea—the XPRIZE.

XPRIZE is a non-profit organization, founded by Peter Diamandis, that designs competitions which encourage participants to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges. The idea behind the XPRIZE approach is to make it rewarding for people to find solutions, and so competitions usually involve prize money, which can be millions of dollars. Most of these challenges require innovation through technology, and they address a range of issues across areas such as healthcare, the environment, energy, transportation, and robotics. Anyone can enter, but because XPRIZE challenges usually require specialist expertise, competitors are often engineers, inventors, scientists, or academics, with projects sometimes funded by entrepreneurs.

XPRIZE has resulted in some truly innovative breakthroughs. For example, the Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE asked participants to find more efficient solutions to the problem of spillages from oil rigs and tankers. The winners designed a device that skims oil off of the surface of the water three times faster than existing inventions. Fantastic, right? They were awarded $1 million for their creation.

Here’s another example. The Water Abundance XPRIZE challenged participants to find affordable solutions to the problem of water shortages in the developing world using 100% renewable energy. It turned out that one entrant, David Hertz, had already designed a suitable solution. He’d produced a system, installed on the roof of his office, that was making water from thin air. Amazing! With the help of his team, he upscaled his design, using a shipping container to collect over 500 gallons of water a day at a cost of just 8 cents per gallon. His team was awarded $1.5 million.

The success of XPRIZE led Diamandis to co-found a spin-off, for-profit organization called HeroX. HeroX is a crowdsourcing platform which allows anyone, anywhere to create a challenge in an area they care about. People from around the world set up their own challenges with guidelines, and individuals compete to try and solve the problem. HeroX makes the initial idea of XPRIZE far more open and accessible, and encourages smaller-scale initiatives with some prizes as low as $500.

The thing I love about HeroX is that you never know what challenges will be created. The Hack HeroX Challenge, posted by HeroX themselves, was set up to test how vulnerable their own online platform was to hackers. They encouraged hackers to try and breach the security of their computer system. Imagine that, being offered prize money to hack into computers! This challenge is still ongoing. There was also a $10,000 prize awarded by EthicsNet to anyone who could think of an innovative way to teach machines how to be kind. The eventual winners devised a learning system where machines can interact with humans in order to gain insight into social norms. You simply never know what you’re going to get with HeroX!

Of course, while initiatives like XPRIZE and HeroX have been hugely successful, not everyone is keen on the idea of such contests. Critics point out that many competitors have fantastic ideas, but they lack the funding or practical capabilities to produce something tangible. XPRIZE and HeroX challenges attract thousands of entrants, but there are only a handful of winners. This amounts to thousands of hours of wasted effort from participants, whose ideas come to nothing.

Whatever you think of XPRIZE, it seems clear that if we’re going to find solutions for the world’s problems, we can’t just sit back and wait. So, I’d like to end this talk by leaving you with a little challenge—what problem would you like to solve? What’s your bright idea?

Exercise 4

A. Listen to the article. Explain the title.

B. Listen again. Answer the questions, according to the article.

1   What are three reasons that teens take part in viral challenges?

2   What does having a “reward-seeking brain” mean?

3   How might social media use lead to participation in viral challenges?



The title suggests that there is a link between the young person’s brain and the temptation to take part in viral challenges.


Possible answers:

1   The pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed in young people, meaning they may make poor judgment calls. Young people have a reward-seeking brain—they value the kudos they receive by undertaking viral challenges more than adults do. Young people are constantly connected to social media, meaning more exposure to viral videos.

2   It means you are sensitive to the rewards associated with a goal or challenge. You value the social recognition and acceptance gained from your actions.

3   The more we use social media, the more we are exposed to viral challenges. This may increase our desire to participate in these challenges.



Love them or hate them, viral challenges have been all over social media in recent years. These online dares are often harmless fun. Take the Ice Bucket challenge, which involved people throwing buckets of ice water over their heads in the name of charity.

Some viral challenges, however, are less innocuous. The Laundry Pod challenge encouraged participants to eat (yes, eat) a capsule of laundry detergent. This landed dozens of people in the emergency room. In another challenge, people imitated events in the popular film Bird Box by doing everyday activities blindfolded. Predictably, this resulted in injuries and at least one auto accident.

In the wake of these incidents, social media companies decided that they had a responsibility to keep users from harm and banned dangerous challenges. However, the popularity of these challenges begs the question: What made them so alluring in the first place? The answer could be human nature. Or, in particular, “young” human nature.

Viral challenge participants are usually between 13 and 25 years old. This is no surprise. The key component of these videos is often risk, and some evidence suggests that young brains are predisposed to taking risks. Various neuroscientific studies have found that teens and young adults may be hardwired to make poor judgment calls. This trait simply reflects their stage of cognitive development.

The pre-frontal cortex of the brain plays an important role in the inhibition of risk-taking behavior. This area analyzes potential risk and gives the all-clear to proceed with an action. However, the pre-frontal cortex does not fully develop until the age of 25, meaning that young people do not have the same capacity as adults when it comes to analyzing risk.

Furthermore, research suggests that most young people have a reward-seeking brain. That is, they are more sensitive to the rewards associated with a goal or challenge than adults are. The bragging rights, the kudos, and the “likes” that can be gained for completing such daredevil antics seem to outweigh the dangers for many young people. Of all the benefits of social media, the chance of social recognition is seen as particularly attractive.

Beyond the science, there may be other elements involved in making viral challenges popular. One is a fear of missing out on the latest trends. Many young people are constantly connected to social media. Disconnecting can cause anxiety and a feeling that they might miss something important. Some studies report that this social anxiety is one of the main causes of social media addiction among young people. Their constant online presence means more exposure to viral challenges and perhaps a stronger desire to participate.

Whether the main factor compelling young people to take part in these challenges is social or cognitive, findings suggest that it is inherent. They have a built-in tendency towards risk-taking, and risky viral challenges merely add fuel to the fire.

Exercise 5

Listen. Check (✓) the correct answers.




Can’t say

1   The manager is concerned that Lucas doesn’t have enough goals.

2   What is worrying Lena is her upcoming performance review.

3   Omar thinks that he should have gotten a higher rating on his review.

4   Ryan’s poor track record is the reason why he won’t get the promotion.

5   Trudy isn’t interested in what the other speaker is saying.

6   Jamal always does what his manager expects of him.


1 False   2 True   3 True   4 Can’t say

5 False   6 Can’t say



A:   I’ve just looked over your goals, Lucas. What concerns me is that you’re taking on too much. I’m worried that you’ll get burned out.

B:   Hmm. I see what you mean. Maybe I should save one or two of those goals for next quarter.


A:   I’ve noticed you’re really edgy today, Lena. Is everything OK?

B:   Yeah. Sorry. I’m just nervous because I have a performance review this afternoon.

A:   Well, I don’t know why you’re nervous. You’re such a high achiever. I’m sure you’ll have a great review.


A:   I exceeded all of my sales targets this year. I wonder why I didn’t get a higher rating on my performance review.

B:   It’s possible that it was just an oversight, Omar. Have you asked our manager about it?


A:   I heard Ryan applied for the new leadership position. Do you think he’ll get it?

B:   I don’t know. The fact that he’s often late for meetings and that he leaves early every Friday certainly won’t help him get the promotion.


A:   Hey, Trudy. Have you looked at the new training software we just purchased? It’s a huge improvement over what we were using before.

B:   No, not yet. I want to hear more, but I’m afraid I’ve got to run to a meeting right now. Can we talk later this afternoon?


A:   Thanks for all your help, Jamal. I really appreciate how much effort you’ve put into this project.

B:   No problem. I enjoy the work.

Exercise 6

Listen. Circle the correct answers.

1   They’re on the verge of completing a project / going out to dinner.

2   He is about to / not about to start a new 30-day challenge.

3   Her team is bound to win / lose the competition.

4   His gym membership is due to / bound to end soon.

5   She is not to run twice a week / eat fast food.

6   He is on the brink of ending / due to end the challenge early.

7   She is to read / get outside more.

8   She is about to / not about to face some new challenges.


1 completing a project   2 not about to

3 lose   4 due to   5 eat fast food

6 on the brink of ending

7 get outside   8 about to


1   We’ve been working on this project for over a month, and now the end is finally in sight. Can you believe we’ll be finished with the entire thing in about two hours? Why don’t we all go out for dinner next weekend to celebrate?

2   This challenge is not going my way right now. I’m so happy it ends in a couple of days. There’s no way I’ll ever try one of these 30-day challenges again.

3   Our company started a 30-day challenge to see which team walks the most steps. We wear fitness trackers to monitor our progress. The challenge ends tomorrow, and my team is in last place. How did that happen? We won last year, but for one reason or another, no one on my team has had time to walk or run much this month.

4   I pay a fortune for my gym membership, but I never have time to use it. My annual membership ends in a couple of months and I don’t think I’ll renew it.

5   My original goal was to run two days a week, but my fitness trainer says I have to raise the bar a little. He says I need to run at least three days a week, and I have to stop eating fast food.

6   I’m not sure I can handle this 30-day caffeine free challenge. It’s been only one week, and I can’t stand it. I feel like I have to have a cup of coffee today.

7   I really want to lose 10 pounds by the summer. I need to stop reading about exercising and instead start doing something. I need to get outside more.

8   While I’m sad to be leaving the company, I cannot wait to start my new job next week. I’m really looking forward to some new challenges in my life.

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