Everyone stop working right now. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Does my boss like having one-on-one meetings with me?
2. Do my co-workers like going to lunch with me?

If you cannot answer yes to both these questions, then you are focusing on the wrong stuff at work. It doesn't matter how well you do your job. If you can't get along with the people at work, no one will want to work with you.

Larry works at a company where new employees are on a one-year probation while they do four rotations. Larry has had reviews after three of his four rotations. The third reviewer told him he is unprofessional. When Larry asked other reviewers why they had not told him this they said, “Management told us not to.”

Larry's interpersonal skills are so lacking that the company decided early on that they want him out after a year. Larry realized it was too late to save his job, but he thought there might be hope for his ego, so he went to a lawyer. The lawyer said it is not illegal to be a bad manager or to run a company poorly.

Larry's problem is that he cannot gauge how people expect him to act in a given situation. And he cannot adjust how he conducts himself depending on the circumstances.

For some people, this skill comes naturally — they are chameleons who can mirror other peoples' moods. Chameleons know what to say when their boss's pet gerbil dies and they know what to say when a co-worker suggests a date. Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer, for example, acts differently when he meets with Wall St. analysts than when he meets will Dell customer service reps.

Some people have one way of conducting themselves and have no idea how to change for a given situation. These are the people who make inappropriate jokes at a client meeting or are too stiff and formal at a company picnic. Chameleons generally disgust these people, but I've got news for you: chameleons don't get fired for being unprofessional.

Most people who hate office social dynamics think people have to change who they are to succeed. But good social skills at work are really a reflection of empathy for the people around you. Anyone who is being their best self — kind, considerate, expressive, interested in others — will instinctively do the right thing at the office.

If you are being your best self, it won't matter that there are difficult personalities at the office. So stop blaming the people you work with for being misfits and morons. People with good social skills can get along with almost anyone; I'm not saying you have to like everyone, I'm saying that you have to make them like you: Figure out what matters to them, what makes them tick, and then speak to that when you interact.

I think you will find, though, that once you get someone at work to like you, you will like them back. When the ugly guy asks you to dance, he is only ugly until he asks you and then his discerning taste makes him more attractive.

So back to Larry. He is young, so he asked his parents what to do. They said, “You can't change other people, but you can change yourself.” (If Larry's parents wrote a career advice column, I would read it. This is good advice for almost any interpersonal problem — at work, at home, anywhere.) So he is seeing a career coach to help him with interpersonal skills: Good idea.

Work is not only about “getting things done” but also getting people to like you. I applaud those of you are hard workers. But let's face it, most work is easily replaceable, especially when five hundred people would love to have your job. Your personality, however, is not so easily replaced. So get people to appreciate you for your interpersonal skills — and you will not only have job security; you'll probably have a spot on the fast track.

The kid competition starts early, with sleep. For the first six months of my son's life, someone would ask me every day, “How's his sleeping?” As if sleep practices are a window into a baby's genius. (And let me tell you something, if sleep is the SATs for babies, I am living with the village idiot.)

Then there are parents who say, “My son adores his books!” like he is the next Shakespeare. And there are the parents who say, “I bought puzzles for her age group but they were too easy for her!” Two words: Who cares?

I am not hoping for an early reader or a math genius. I am looking for my kid to be able to navigate adult life in a way that makes him happy. And since I do not have a trust fund to bequeath, my son will have to find happiness in a career. As a career columnist, I am pretty certain that there are things way more important than sleeping through the night:

1.Take risks
Many people write to me to say they want to change careers and they are too scared. It doesn't matter how gifted these people are: they are stuck because they can't take risks.

Parents are not natural teachers of risk because a parent is all about creating a stable home and keeping the kid from danger. (We have a joke in my family that if my mom is giving someone advice, it must be to do whatever has less risk.)

But if a kid is scared to take risks the kid will get into ruts. The kid will not see possibilities. Adults who take risks understand that failing is okay. Kids need to get practice failing.

2. Be passionate
Many adults cannot figure out what to do with themselves. They have never learned to look inside themselves. They have never developed their own, internal gauges. If you want your kid to figure out what career to go to when she's twenty-five, help her learn to figure out what she's passionate about when she's much younger.

School does not teach passion. In school, a teacher tells kids what to investigate. Whether the kid is a genius or just an average student, school is not teaching him to follow his own passions. (In fact, you could argue that at the end of eighteen years of school, the kid with straight A's had less time than the average student to figure out her own passions; those perfect students are too busy learning what they are supposed to learn.)

There will come a point for your kid when his world is not made of Scantron tests — but of wide-open, connected fields for the kid's dreams. The kid needs a working, internal compass to move in this world.

3. Work hard to attain goals
Gifted kids don't need to work hard to get A's. Pray that you have a normal kid so that schoolwork can be a lesson on working hard. For kids who can do things easily, teach a kid to work hard at something else.

Remember, though, that hard work is not an end in itself. I know too many people who worked hard in school, went on to Ivy League, and now have no idea what to do with themselves.

Hard work only matters in the context of passion and risk taking. Otherwise, you can only work hard at someone else's dreams. So lets all raise dreamers, adventurers and leaders. And don't bug me when I tell you my son never shuts his eyes, because sleep isn't the only place for dreams.

Peggy Klaus flits around the crowded room of 40 women like a fairy. She wields a silver-plated backscratcher and strokes the unsuspecting — on a wrist, a neck — cooing, “Doesn’t that feel good?”

This is how Peggy warms up the party to get everyone to start bragging. My friend Liz is horrified. Liz can’t believe I dragged her to a party where everyone is supposed to brag. She can’t believe the chief bragger is also a scratcher.

Peggy is a communications coach who is going to teach this group how to talk about career achievements in a way that captivates other people. One of Peggy’s favorite phrases is, “Brag is not a four-letter word.” Another favorite phrase is “Buy my book,” which she is hawking at brag parties all over the country. Brag! is a good book, which is why I wanted to see her in action.

According to Peggy, hard work and humility might be rewarded in heaven, but not in the work place. Promotions come to those who tout their own achievements. In order to get noticed in this world, you need a spunky four or five sentence answer to the question: What do you do? In fact, you need to be selling yourself at all times, because if you don’t then no one is.

Peggy drops her scratcher by her side and approaches Liz, who has been hovering in a corner ever since I broke the final piece of news to her: That there will be role playing.

Peggy asks Liz the question that reveals all to a brag coach: “What do you do?”

Liz looks down and says, “I’m a psychologist.” That’s it. No sales job. No passion. Barely a full sentence. I cringe.

Peggy says, “You will hate tonight’s party, but you will learn a lot.” Then she gathers everyone into a room and starts her coaching.

Peggy coaches men and women, but tonight’s party is women only. Peggy tells us that women are not as good as men when it comes to selling themselves. For one thing, men job-hop more than women, (hard to take a day off for a sick kid if it’s your third month on the job). So men interview frequently and get practice talking about their greatness, while women are better at talking about their kids and pets and other objects of nurture.

Peggy says the most successful components of a brag are excitement and a good story. If you have those, everyone will want to listen to you.

She says that most fears of bragging stem from parenting factors. She confesses that her father told her, “Don’t toot your own horn. If you do a good job people will notice you.”

So Klaus didn’t vote for herself for class president. (Don’t worry, she won anyway.) This monologue opens floodgates: Liz’s parents were handicapped so she never wanted anyone to notice her.

Another woman says her Mexican immigrant family told her to blend in. Someone says, “I’m from Canada, and for us it’s not a parenting issue, it’s a national issue.” Then Klaus says, “What about Catholics, do I have any Catholics in the room?” Hands shoot in the air. Everyone wants to talk about how Catholic school squelches the instinct to speak up about one’s achievements.

According to Peggy, good communication is much more than just good jokes or good body language.

This is good news for Liz, who is definitely not funny and has the body language of someone who is going to vomit. Liz did not realize she would have to be excited.

Peggy has everyone find a partner who we don’t know. We have 30 seconds to tell each other about ourselves. Then Peggy announces that we did a bad job.

“There is no excitement in the room,” she says. “If you are not excited about what you’re saying then no one else will be either.”

She teaches us how to be excited about the hors d’oeuvres we just ate (and believe me, they were not exciting.) Then she pairs us up again to talk about ourselves and she reminds us that if we can be excited about pigs in a blanket then we can be excited about our careers.

Once we get our excitement level up, she tells us that a successful bragger tells a story. When you want to impress someone, a story is more memorable than a list of achievements. When you want to establish a connection with someone, a story provides social glue.

We each work on the 30-second story of our career, and then we tell it to a new partner, with our new, excited voices. After an hour of Peggy’s coaching, everyone realizes that a good bragger is actually a pleasure to listen to.

Even Liz has made improvement: She has glimmers of excitement when she talks about her career, and she has a much more interesting answer to the question, “What do you do?”

But the art of bragging is not easy, and old habits die hard. I tell Liz I am going to write about her brag because it’s so impressive and she says, “Oh god. Don’t write about my career. I don’t want anyone to know.”

A very major publication just reviewed my friend's book. The reviewer loved the book and as I read the review, each laudatory sentence makes me more ill. I feel an overwhelming moment of self-doubt coming on. I get sweaty and my heart pounds and I feel like the world will end if I don't have sugar.

My moments of self-doubt always begin with the panic that I will not do anything important in my life. I panic that I will not even figure out what is important, let alone do it. Then I have flashbacks to all the teachers who wrote, “Penelope is bright, but she does not work up to her potential.”

Tonight I am so upset I can't even finish my stack of reading. I fear I will read somewhere in my pile that the Nobel Prize committee has decided to make 100 simultaneous awards and they are all to people I know and now everyone I ever talk to will have a Nobel Prize and I won't.

Tonight I am worrying that other people have greatness and there is a finite amount of greatness and it is slipping out of my hands. Also, it is embarrassing to admit to wanting greatness knowing that there is a risk that I will not achieve it.

To calm myself down I eat some Oreos and as the double-stuffness clears my mind, I remember the aspects of my friend's life that are so destroyed that not even an outstanding book review will help:

1. He has been married for fifteen years and cheated on his wife about fifteen times.
2. His mother is overbearing and controlling and spent his book advance on purchases that will not improve her life, or his.
3. His wife's friends hate him so much for his arrogance they do not talk to him.
4. His dog does not play well with others and you can't teach old dogs new tricks.

Okay. There. I am feeling better already.

So I sit down to do the only thing that can make things better: I do my job. I am sure that the best way to face self-doubt is to push through it.

I remind myself that this guy had writer's block for six months, and nearly lost his whole book contract because he wasn't meeting deadlines. He ran out of money three months before he delivered the book and he lived off credit cards, hoping that the book would sell so well that he would earn over and above the initial advance. He pushed himself in the face of failure and even bet on himself a second time.

I can do that. With a clear head I know that everyone who has wild success is someone who had to eat a box of Oreos. Everyone has her moments of huge self-doubt, often in the face of someone else's grand success. But there is not finite success in the world. There is just a finite amount of people who can stomach the pain of wanting success so much.

So tonight I stomach pain. I put the book review on my fridge to remind myself that my friend pushed through his own self-doubt and garnered laudatory reviews from his peers. I sit down to write another column, and eventually my self-doubt dissipates. It always does.

The major difference between a millionaire and a working stiff is that the worker uses his job as an excuse for why he’s not living his dreams and a millionaire doesn’t have that luxury. So if you want to feel like a millionaire, start asking yourself the million-dollar question: What would make me feel fulfilled?

In September, Microsoft will end the option grant program that made an estimated 10,000 employees millionaires. While this compensation change signals the end of an era of money, history should prove this time to be the beginning of an era of soul-searching.

Typically, Microsoft millionaires cashed out and bought some big-ticket items. But after a year of shopping and travel, most people grew bored and started looking for something else. Few people had planned to be so rich so early in their career. Most people planned to work their whole lives. Without the need to work they had to ask themselves, what now? What is my life about? What makes me tick?

In fact, what these millionaires had to do was figure out their priorities. What we can learn from this era of options is that everyone can have the life of a millionaire if you soul-search as seriously as the Microsofties did. Soul-searching is difficult, but it is free to those who can endure the challenges of honesty and self-knowledge.

So ask yourself, what would you do if you were a millionaire? Then figure out how to do it now, when you don’t have millions. Because it turns out that very few answers to that question really require you to stop working and live among piles of money.

I realized this truth when I cashed out of one company and started another and found myself making a salary larger than I ever imagined. To my surprise, not much changed besides my bank statement and the restaurants I went to.

Sure, I loved my career, but I would have done the same job for less than half the salary. Once I saw that money didn’t change my life, I felt a lot more freedom to make career choices that were financially risky. Later, when I left my corporate life in order to write, I did not create a financial windfall — in fact, you could say the change had the opposite effect. But I would write this column even if I were a millionaire.

So try thinking about your career as if money weren’t the goal. There are two kinds of jobs: fulfilling and enabling. If you have a fulfilling job, then you are doing exactly what you want to be doing and it doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or not. You are lucky. (Though not alone: Microsoft has a large contingency of millionaires –“volunteers” — who continue working even though they don’t need the money.)

An enabling job is what you do if your fulfillment comes from something that doesn’t pay. This kind of job takes the most discipline. If you work and work and never get to the exciting thing you’re going to do on the side, then the only thing you enable is shopping.

And don’t say you have no energy. If you had an appointment with the President of the United States after work, even if you hate him, you’d have enough energy to make it to the meeting. People who are too tired after work are people who don’t know what they want to do. It’s very tiring to not know what makes you feel fulfilled.

One Microsoft millionaire made a mission statement for himself. This is not a bad idea, especially if you cannot figure out what will make you fulfilled. Most of you will find that your mission statement is not about money. His, for example, was about “hard work,” “passion” and “leaving the world a better place than you found it.” Your own mission statement will help you to figure out what you should be doing with your days.

We might not all make millions from our job, but we are all equals in the effort to find a fulfilling life. So stop telling yourself that your life would be really different if you had a million dollars. For most of us, the only difference would be a bigger bank account.