I got a book deal. So this is, undoubtedly, the first of at least a hundred columns that will plug the book, which is not coming out until spring 2006. Far away, yes, but not too far for you to make a note in your planner: “Buy Penelope’s book.”

I got a big advance for the book. Not big like Bill Clinton, who received four million dollars. But big enough to buy a nice house (if I didn't live in New York City, which I do) and big enough to stop fights with my husband about money (no small feat, believe me).

Yet for all my recent success, someone asked me last night, “So, what do you do?” and I didn't say anything about a book. Lame. That's when red lights went off in my head. Experience tells me that one needs to manage career success as carefully as one manages failure. So I am making a plan to manage the book success.

1. Take time to be happy.
In the past, I have been at points of great success and been too driven toward the top to see how far I had come. For example, when I was a professional beach volleyball player signing autographs and smacking a volleyball in Bud Light commercials, I was always unhappy that I was not in the top twenty players. Now, as someone who makes a living sitting at a desk, I am amazed at my former athletic achievements (and muscle mass). But I never enjoyed them when I had them. I focused too much on what I didn't have.

So I am taking a month to bask in my book success. I am telling myself that my hard work and tenacity with my book proposal paid off. I am patting myself on the back, which I always tell other people to do, but rarely do myself.

2. Tell people about the success.
One of the people I mentor amazes me with his diligence when it comes to telling me about his success. I don't have a very close relationship with him, and sometimes I think to myself, “Why is he telling me this? Why is he sending me links to his stuff?” but I always end up thinking better of him when he tells me his achievements. He has taught me that there is very little harm in letting people know what you're doing that is great.

When it comes time for me to send emails to announce my book deal, my first instinct is to be hesitant — thinking with each email, “Does this person really want to know? Does she care?” But my mentee has taught me that I shouldn't think twice. I should just send the email. If someone is offended by my announcement then they were probably never going to be helpful to me anyway. Being shy about my success will get me nowhere.

3. Draft a strategy to leverage the success.
Too many times in my life I have followed up success with worries — that I would not get to the next level, that the achievement would slip out from under me. My worries about leveraging success undermined my ability to do it.

Take, for example, the time when I was running my own company and hiring all my friends and family and we had tons of money and great press. I spent my days so worried about where to take the company next that my hair started falling out. Really. I never even knew that women could lose their hair from stress until my shower drain clogged.

This book deal has great potential for worries because really, a book deal is all about sales. I have to make sure people buy the book. Also, I can't help thinking about the next book deal. Writing is a business; there's no point in launching one product and calling it a day because a thriving business is a bunch of products.

So this time, I'm going to use my success as a starting point for strategic thinking instead of fearful thinking. And the first thing, in this vein, will be to craft a new answer to the question, “What do you do?” I need to get my book into the answer.

Most of us never had dreams of being a mathematician or economist; we suffered through algebra as a means to get to senior prom. But if you think you’re going to march up the ranks of management with no math, forget it.

So first, the bad news: You absolutely have to manage the math side of business if you are going to get ahead in your career.

The good news is that you don’t need to be good at math in school to be good at math at work. In fact, so much of workplace math is practical that people who are excellent mathematicians are at a disadvantage. Math at work is about spinning the numbers. And mathematicians are focused on finding pure truth. There is no pure truth in workplace numbers.

Job Hunting
Take, for example, your resume. The line that says, “Increased sales 50%.” That could be true. It could also be true that everyone else increased sales 65%, or that the next quarter you got fired for under performing, or that customer returns on those sales were an incredible 45%.

Numbers at work tell a story, and you pick numbers that tell the best story. You never lie, but you cannot tell every piece of information in the whole world, so tell the ones that suit you best.

The best resume is one that lists quantified achievement. So you should evaluate all projects in terms of possible numbers. If there is no way to show project victory in a number, do not take the project. And do not think for one second that you are in a career that does not require quantified success. Even a ballerina can use numbers: “Increased ticket sales 35% when I took over the lead in the Nutcracker,” sounds much more persuasive than “danced beautifully.”

Image Management
Once you land the job, the easiest way to let others quantify your failure is to go over budget; never, never, never go over budget. Always pad each line of your budget, because you can’t control everything and some costs will be higher than anticipated. This budget bloating will force you to cut line items from the start, but better to cut them at the beginning than be over budget at the end.

Before you go blaming your cost overruns on someone else, remember that your boss’s boss never sees your budget line by line and definitely doesn’t care about your finger pointing. She only sees your final number and whether or not you stayed within budget. The best way to manage your image among the higher-ups is to stay in budget no matter what.

Getting a Raise
Use numbers to negotiate your raise, too. When it comes to compensation, do your own research to present a rational, numbers-based explanation for why your salary is not in line with comparable salaries in your field.

If your company won’t budge, figure out which non-financial perks will equal a financial perk. (Finally! A use for high school algebra!) For example, extra vacation time is free to the company and a laptop, after tax deductions, is very cheap for the company.

If you want to get more comfortable with this kind of math, take a look here for help.

Presentations and Reports
This is my favorite book about numbers: How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis. This book is a must for everyone. Each of us must use numbers to make our point. So we should all learn to present the numbers in the best light possible. Managing numbers is not about lying (this book title aside), managing numbers is about being smart about what you show people.

Innovative Thinking
Another must for everyone is Excel. It’s quick to learn the basics, and Excel provides endless fun for turning recurring fights with your significant other into statistically revealing graphs. I hate to plug Microsoft, but really, learning to use Excel teaches everyone — even English majors – to think about numbers in new ways. And new ways of thinking always opens up new avenues of achievement.

You don’t have to be a math star to present numbers well. But you do need to give time and thought to numbers on a daily basis so you can leverage statistics to bolster your career.

Get more control of your time. It's hard to leave the office at a reasonable time of day when your workplace culture centers on long hours. But the cost of not leaving work is high: A half-built life and career burnout.

Of course, if you never work long hours, you will never appear committed enough to get to the top ranks. So your job is to work enough hours to look committed but not so many hours that you risk your personal life and your ability to succeed over the long haul. People cannot work full-speed until they die. Pace yourself so you don't burnout before you reach your potential.

1. Find the back door. Figure out what criteria people use for promotion. It is never only how many hours you work. In many professions you need to work a lot of hours, but there is always a way to be impressive enough to cut back on hours. In the realm of superstars, achievement is based on quality over quantity. Figure out how to turn out extremely impressive work so that you can get away with fewer hours. For example, if you're a lawyer, you could pick up one, very important client for the firm, and then cut back a little on your hours.

2. Be clear on your schedule and clear on priorities. Once you figure out which projects matter a lot and which don't, get the high-priority work. Then you can jump at the chance to tell someone handing out low-profile projects that you're booked – working on something that is a higher priority.

3. Go public. Tell people about your schedule ahead of time. For example, “I have Portuguese lessons on Thursdays at 7pm. The class is important to me.” When you plan a vacation, announce it early and talk about it a lot. The more people know about how much you have been preparing and anticipating your trip the less likely people will be to ask you to cancel it.

4. Find a silent mentor. Look for someone who is respected but does not work insane hours. This will take careful hunting because this person is not likely to be obvious about it. Watch him from afar and figure out how he operates. Few people will want to mentor you in the art of dodging work — it's bad for one's image. But you could enlist the person to help you in other areas and hope he decides to help you in the workload area as well.

5. Find a new specialty. There are some careers that hold no hope for shorter hours. Video game production and surgery come to mind. At the beginning of your career, you're in a good spot to change your path if you see no hope for a personal life on the horizon. A career change is easier when your career is new. Don't take this opportunity for granted; it will be much harder to change when you're in you’ve invested a decade in the career.

6. Respect your personal life so that other people will, too. If you don't create a life outside of work that is joyful and engaging then you won't feel a huge need to leave work. And if you don't project a passion for life outside of work then no one will think twice about asking you to live at work.

So get some passion in your personal life. If you can't think of anything, start trying stuff: Snowboarding, pottery, speed dating. The only way to discover new aspects of yourself is to give them new opportunities to come out.