If you want to succeed in business you need a mentor. Getting one though, requires patience, a clear focus and the self-confidence to be a nudge.

The multigenerational workplace seems like it would be fertile ground for mentoring. “Generation Y grew up in an environment where parents, teachers and counselors were all about building the self-esteem of children,” says Bruce Tulgan, CEO of RainmakerThinking, “There was a lot of conditioning to engage in a mentoring type of relationship.”

Young people are great at asking for help – in fact renowned for doing things a boomer would never do, like approaching the CEO to ask for a meeting to share ideas, and networking relentlessly up and down the organization.

But older folks are not so keen on mentoring – even though it has been shown to improve the career of the mentor as well as the mentee.

“Baby boomers say, “?I went out into the world and I had my youthful rebellion. You should have seen me!'” Tulgan explains. “Then they get all wistful and say they, “But I went back to the real world and paid my dues and it was sink or swim and no one held my hand.'”

So while getting workplace mentors should be very easy, it’s not.

Here are some tips on how to get and keep a mentor.

1. Look for someone just two or three years ahead of you. Those people will remember what you’re going through, so they’ll give you good tactical advice. Also, young people are very team-oriented, and they grew up with social networking tools, so they are easier to rope into a mentoring relationship than someone older.

In April 2005, Zak Zielezinski, 22, and some friends started an entrepreneurship club at Clark University, and from that, they started a company. One of older students in the club directed Zielezinski to a professor who could help him, and from that interaction, Zielezinski’s company, Interactive Purchasing Solutions was born.

2. Do great work, because potential mentors want to help stars. Ian Ybarra is a good example of someone who does great work wherever he goes, so he attracts mentors who help his career.

Chris Resto hired Ybarra to help him with a consulting job. Ybarra, who was an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was smart, organized, and motivated, and “the reward for good work is more work,” says Resto.

He gave Ybarra more challenging assignments, which Ybarra also did well, so when Resto became head of UPOP, an internship program at MIT, he hired Ybarra as his assistant. Ybarra quickly showed great talent for writing, so Resto gave him more work along those lines. “Finally we had to hire an office assistant because he became the writer,” says Resto.

Ybarra got an internship at Inc. magazine, and once again, did such a high level of work that he attracted a mentor who gave him the opportunity to write a bylined piece for the magazine.

“He probably wrote more of it than I did,” says Ybarra. But it gave Ybarra the opportunity impress Tahl Raz enough that he helped Ybarra get a writing and editing job with business consultant and author Keith Ferrazzi, who, fittingly, is the co-author with Raz of a popular book on relationship building, Never Eat Alone.

3. Figure out goals first, before hitting up a mentor. If you have no idea what questions to ask, it might be because you don’t know what you’re doing. This is career coach territory, not mentoring territory. “A mentor is someone who champions you, opens doors, exposes you to new opportunities. And external career coach cannot do that,” says Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching. “But a career coach is good at goal setting, putting plans into action and moving forward.”

Once your goals are established, then you can go to a mentor with a specific topic in mind, says Miller. “The mentee should drive the conversation,” she says. Importantly, ask for help determining the skills you need to get to where you want to go. Then get some tactical advice on how to develop them.

4. Build deep relationships that will help you on multiple levels. “There are two kinds of mentors. The instrumental mentors give practical help, and the socio-emotional mentors look to build your confidence and let you know they believe in you. A good mentor is like being a parent. They try to customize the experience of the protégés so the protégés gains new capabilities,” says Faye Crosby, professor of psychology at University of California at Santa Cruz.

You can build a great network of contacts, but when you have a crisis in confidence you need someone who is emotionally invested in you. To cultivate that emotional investment, keep in touch; a mentor follows your career over a long period of time. Send updates about what you’re doing, offer congratulations on the mentor’s big moves and be on the lookout for quick little ways to build a long, meaningful relationship.

Ybarra and Resto are a good example of how to keep a relationship strong over time. When Ybarra left MIT, he kept in touch with Resto, and now they are collaborating on a book about how companies can more effectively recruit young people.

Resto is the expert on recruiting and Ybarra, along with friend Ramit Sethi, provide expertise on what young people want. And this story illustrates perhaps the most important and most enticing aspect of mentoring: That the best relationships allow both people to grow.

Thanksgiving is a good time for your career, because practicing gratitude is good for your career.

For one thing, if you write a list of what you’re grateful for each day you are more likely to meet your most important personal goals, according to Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at University of California at Davis.

Susan Quandt found in her research that people who succeed at work are able to look at roadblocks as opportunities because of their inherently optimistic outlook, and this optimism helps people overcome obstacles. Many other researchers have concluded that one’s level of optimism, more than anything else, determines how happy they will be, because happiness is mostly about outlook.

Emmons writes in Science and Theology News that you can affect your level of optimism by practicing gratitude: “A grateful response to life circumstances may be an adaptive psychological strategy and an important process by which people positively interpret everyday experiences. Focusing on the gifts one has been given is an antidote to envy, resentment, regret and other negative states that undermine long-term happiness.”

Practicing gratitude is not that complicated, but of course, not everyone feels grateful toward family on Thanksgiving. Not all families are gems, and there’s a reasons that across the country Thanksgiving is the day for round-the-clock AA meetings. But even in this case, Thanksgiving hones workplace skills. The same skills you need to get along with difficult family are the skills you need to get along with difficult co-workers. Any you can be grateful for this opportunity to practice.

When it comes to video blogging, most people do not have enough talent to be in front of a camera, or enough to say that would not be better as text. But there are some exceptions: In some cases, video can help make a point that you could never make with just text, and in some cases, a video blog can establish you as a thought leader in your field.

The field of well-known video bloggers is much smaller than the field of well-known text-based bloggers. So it might look like video blogging is a quick route to a big audience, but the truth is that the bar is higher with video than with text.

Video blogs that have taken the world by storm are pretty much full-time jobs. For example, Ze Frank spends six hours a day preparing a few minutes of video for The Show. And Wired reports that the popular video lonelygirl15 who seemed to be a home-schooled teen with too-strict parents turned out to be an actress starring in bankrolled, scripted show about a home-schooled teen with too-strict parents.

On top of that, video has to be a lot better than text to stick around. It takes much more time to download a video than just text, and you can’t skim a video. So “the quality of the video blog is very important. If I take the time to se a video and it’s not very compelling, I am not sure I would go back to see the next one,” says Constantin Basturea, director for new media strategies at Converseon.

“The best video bloggers are about customizing their schtick,” says Mark Amerika, professor of media at University of Colorado at Boulder. For example, RocketBoom is all schtick – serving up wacky information with a zany it-girl as presenter.

If you are still thinking video blogging might be for you, here’s a reality check: Five good reasons to create a video blog. You better have at least one of these before jumping into the video blog arena:

1. You are commenting on things that can be seen on video.
The video world is full of moving images that beg for commentary, ranging from video resume horrors, to botched mainstream news, to hipster advertising. If you have a lot to say about a lot of moving images, give video blogging a try.

2. You have a lot you want to illustrate.
A tip on how to be a powerhouse with Excel, for example: that’d make a good video. And, if you had 1000 tips up your sleeve, you might have a good video blog. “Video is good for illustrating things and making tutorials. You can write a very long post to do something difficult, but you could show it very quickly on a video,” says Basturea. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular downloads on YouTube is instructional (and amazing): How to peel a potato.

3. You need to show your emotional side.
A video blog, more than text, can “show emotions, humanize a product and make people more accessible,” says Basturea. When Microsoft, wanted to show that there was a soul behind the logo, Robert Scoble toted a video camera through the company and “people were able to see there are people behind Microsoft products.” (This video blog was so successful that today Scoble is video blogging on his own, backed by investors.)

4. You know you should blog but you don’t have the time.
Video blogging may be just plain more practical for some people. While there are many reasons for executives to blog many may not have the time. As long as the executive “has charisma and is comfortable in front of the camera, a video blog is a solution for a very busy schedule,” says Converseon.

Robert Wright, of BloggingHeads, concurs: “Having a conversation is a lot faster than writing a piece. It’s a way to get your views out quickly.”

5. You are really, really funny and intelligent and charismatic.
If you have all three of these talents, surely you will not be video blogging for long, because some agent will pick you up and put you somewhere in Hollywood. But until then, a text blog would be a waste of your talent, so use video.

In this respect, the two most influential video bloggers are not even online; Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart serve up video daily in an effort to show people a new way of seeing things.

Colbert and Stewart also give us a window into the future of video online. “Young people are getting most of their information from Steven Colbert and the Daily Show and the audience is learning a video language from that,” says Amerika. “The shows demystify the process of creating media. People learn to become their own media producers and develop their own spin.”

Amerika says students used to come to his classes to learn how to use Photoshop. Now they want to know how to produce their own videos. So if you’re wondering what the future of video blogging will be, look at the bleeding edge of video art where people like Amerika live. And look at popular shows for twentysomethings, because those are the training grounds for the next wave of video blogging.

Here’s an idea: Stop complaining about micromanagers since you can’t change them, and start using them to your benefit. One of the most important workplace strategies is managing up. And one of the easiest types of boss to do this with is a micromanager.

Usually, when I tell people how to manage up, I tell people to work very hard to figure out what your boss cares about. With a micromanager, you know right away. She cares about your job responsibilities. Another difficult part of managing up is getting time with your boss. A micromanager loves to hang out with his staff, though, because that's the most effective way to get a hand in everything the staff is doing. So in some respects, micromanagers make your job of managing up much easier.

In the most extreme cases of micromanagement, the underling does the work and the boss does it all again. All other cases fall somewhere on the spectrum between that and good management. (Hold it. Are you wondering who is a micromanager? Here’s a test. Are you disappointed this is not an anti-micromanager tirade? Here’s a good one.)

So look, if you have a micromanager, you don't have to do your work because your boss is doing it for you. On top of that, your boss actually wants to be doing your work, so you giving him the opportunity is effectively managing up. Of course, you need to do a little work or your boss will get annoyed, because micromanagers don't want to start from scratch. They want to have you get started so they can dismiss your efforts.

So do that. Put very little thought into the work you are doing that you know your manager will redo anyway. If you need to come up with a list of ideas that you know your boss will not take, use only the time it takes to go to the bathroom to do the thinking for that list. And that's all. If you need to write a report that your boss will line edit to the point of oblivion, then write the report as a stream of conscious.

Now you have time for so many other things. Here are things to spend time on while your boss is micromanaging you:

1. Find an area of the business your boss does not feel competent in but you do. People micromanage because it's easier to do what they are comfortable with (your job) than what they are not comfortable with (management).

This means there's a hole somewhere in management. Find that hole and do a bit to fill it. You might be able to do some of your boss's job that he is neglecting (probably big-picture thinking). Or, if that doesn't work, write a memo identifying problems and offering concrete examples of ways you can fix them. Distribute the memo to a wider audience than just your boss.

2. Find a new person in the company to work for. Get the person interested in helping you move to his department by offering to do some projects for him since you have some extra time. Remember, do not dis your current boss. Just be great for the guy you want to work for.

3. Do a little side project of your own. There is a lot to learn in this world, and you probably have an Internet connection at your desk. If you don't, write a novel. If you do something productive with the majority of your time then you won't care that your boss makes the small amount of time you spend working for him unproductive.

All these tactics should float under the radar, until you reach a level to have the autonomy you want, according to Dean Dad, (who will make baseball fans happy with a Joe Girardi example of micromanagement.)

Until then, you have to keep your boss happy, and a micromanager doesn't want to know you are not giving a good effort. After all, micromanagers do not think they're micromanaging. They think they're helping. Your job is to make that person feel helpful. It's not that hard. Thank him for taking the time to line edit. Tell him you appreciate all the ideas he comes up with. Even if they suck. You can appreciate the volume. Give compliments to keep the relationship going well while you make your next move.

And wait. Before I'm done, let me say something to you whiners. Some of you will say that you are offended that your boss has a huge hand in your work but leaves your name on it. I say, Who cares? Focus on the three suggestions above and stop worrying about your reputation. You are not writing Moby Dick here. You're doing an office job. Get over it and focus on something else.

I have been micromanaged. In fact, I have been micromanaged by my current editor for my current book. And you know what? I gave in and wrote the book how she wanted me to, which really improved the book. And in that process I learned the difference between writing a column and a book. (Coming out May 2007 — Hooray!)

So think twice before you complain about being micromanaged. Sometimes you can actually learn something from that micromanager. I did. And I'm grateful.

When Carin Rosenberg and Erik Lawrence got married, they had already done a lot of planning. They had a plan for a baby (lots of hands-on parenting) and careers (no out-of-control hours), and while each were earning advanced degrees, they had no plans for high-powered jobs.

For Generation X, super careers are out and shared parenting is in. What used to be mistaken for a “slacker” work ethic (by media dominated by workaholic boomers) is actually a generation-defining concern for work-life balance. A report from Catalyst says that professionals in Generation X “place more emphasis on personal goals than on those related to work.” Both parents expect to be closely involved with the children, and full-time childcare is widely rejected as not consistent with the core values of the generation.

When children enter the picture, there are three possible paths for dual-career couples:

First path is where one partner leaves the workforce to run the household. This is the path that made men’s careers soar for years, and it was the most popular choice when women had no choice. The second path is where both partners work full time and outsource running the household. This was a popular choice when women thought they could “have it all.” But the women entering the workforce today know better, and most want no part of that lifestyle which now appears to be impossible.

The third path is what Generation X aims for: Reconfigured work around the needs of family. According to Lisa Levey, Director of Advisory Services at Catalyst, most people starting out in their work life say they want a union of equal careers and equal parenting. But most people are unrealistic about what this setup requires. “This is a tough situation to establish because the paradigm has shifted but the jobs have not.”

Most career-worthy jobs are prepackaged for a 40 hour (or more) workweek, which makes little room for two careers and dual parenting. According to Levey, “Five years after business school, only 60% of women are working outside the home. Women look ahead and the path seems impossible. You can’t have two people gunning in their careers, and women are more likely to quit when there’s a problem.”

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and author of the Career Mystique: Cracks in the American Dream, warns that “What happens with two high powered folks is that it becomes impossible and one bails out, typically the woman.” But she offers encouragement in that, “Cracks provide an opportunity, a way to rewrite the script. And Generation X is poised to do that.”

Levey offers a game plan: “You need good planning that starts in one’s mid twenties. You need to have a very substantial conversation about it.” When it comes to choosing a third path, “you have to really want it – seek it out, plan for it over a long period of time.”

That last piece of advice is difficult. Rosenberg and Lawrence know they both want to have family dinners, but neither is sure who will be home at 6pm to do the cooking. “We’ll talk about logistics when we are ready to have a baby,” says Rosenberg. But for optimum chance of success on the third path, the couple should talk about it way before they’re ready for a baby.

Here are some guidelines for early conversation and planning:

1. Build expertise to gain flexibility.
Moen reports that a lot of young people “Say they won’t go for high level jobs but will go for one that allow them to have more time. But that is shooting themselves in the foot because all jobs are demanding but some have more resources than others. If you think you are taking a job that would give you more time, talk to people in that job. We have in our mind that lower status or lower paying would be easier to balance, but this is not the case.

Levey recommends that you focus on building value. “It’s very hard to get a part time job off the bat. If you’re pregnant it’s late to think about part time. Usually you have to earn the opportunity to work part time. Work at the same company for a while, and develop a certain niche. Over time, you can craft something that will work for you.”

2. Live below your means and forget the big house.
If you choose an unconventional path then you need to expect your income to oscillate as each partner steps on and off different career tracks. Levey warns: “People get stuck because they can’t imagine decreasing their financial lifestyle.”

Moen zeroes in on the house: “The one thing that people seem to equate with adulthood is buying a house. In the past – for boomer generation especially – advice was to buy the best house you can afford. But now that house is an albatross, especially because today that purchase is based on two peoples’ salaries.”

Jessica DeGroot of the Third Path, and non-profit that coaches couples in creating a work-life balance says that in addition to homes, people also scale back vacations and maybe even family size in order to afford to reduce work hours.

3. Marry someone whose career aspirations are consistent with yours.
“If one person has a 60 hour/week job and one has a 40 hour a week job, the person with fewer hours at work will do most of the work at home,” says Moen. Similarly, if only one person has flexibility to come home when a child is sick, then that person will come home every time.

4. Talk all the time.
Most people know if the person they’re dating wants to have kids, and they have some sort of idea of how many and how soon. Most people also find out the career aspirations of the person they’re dating. But the intersection of kids and careers is usually in a don’t-ask-don’t-tell paradigm.

People say they can’t talk about how to manage kids and careers until the kids come because they don’t know what they’ll want. But you could say that about everything. And you don’t. So when it comes to the combination of kids and careers, you don’t have to have the perfect answer, but you have to have something you’re shooting for, together, or you won’t have any control over the direction you’re going.

This is true when you are dating, but it’s also true during the course of your whole relationship. An ongoing, engaged discussion of kids and careers is the best way to make sure they work well together for your family.

The trick in business is to be consistent and reliable so that people trust you to deliver quality work all the time. But no one can do this all the time. Everyone hides sometimes.

I am pretty good at hiding. My specialty is doing work very fast, mostly because I am so willing to skip over details. So when I fall behind because my life is a mess, I can usually cover things up.

Tricks to covering things up at work are the same tricks you learn in sixth grade: Prepare for a test. Do the reading for the teacher you love. Everything else can wait — you can fake it and catch up later. This is how we buy ourselves time at work to deal with our messy life at home.

Your mess changes, depending where you are in life. In my early twenties my mess was usually something like staying up all night with a new boyfriend. I could fix it by calling in sick. When I had my own company my mess was when I had crises of confidence. The moments when I was scared we wouldn’t get the next round of funding, I hid in conferences rooms and at long lunches so my employees wouldn’t see me worried.

These days my mess is usually my kids. I am fortunate to have a job with loose demands, so disappearing when I have a kid problem typically went unnoticed. Until I started blogging.

With a blog, everyone can tell when you’re not there. And this week, I went four days without a post, which is an obvious sign that things in my life are not running smoothly.

Not that I wasn’t at my computer. I had time to read the statistics about how often you should post and what time of the day. And I had time to obsessively track my Technorati statistics and notice the unfortunate truth that if you don’t post, no one links to you.

Robert Scoble says not to blog when things aren’t going well. I wish I could find this link. But I can’t. So just trust me. He says it. And he is probably right because our mood does affect the way to write. But how can I tell people how to get through a messy spot if I am not struggling to do it myself?

I will now contradict Scoble and say that the first thing about having a personal mess infect your workplace is to come clean. No one wants to hear the sordid details of your life. But by the same token, people need to hear something to explain your inconsistency — otherwise they think you don’t even realize you have a problem.

Here’s my deal: I messed up the school situation for my son when we moved to Madison. I made some bad choices, I didn’t monitor things well. This would be time consuming enough, but I am also taking time to lay guilt trips on myself, and the more creative you are with laying guilt on yourself, the more time it sucks up.

So how do I get out of a mess? First I pretend I am explaining to someone how I got in this mess. If I look at it from an outsider’s perspective I can usually see how to get out. It’s so much easier to see our problems through someone else’s eyes.

Then I go through my to do list, which is always a mess when my life is a mess. I find the number-one item on the list and do it. Last night that item was to deal with my agent. (Sample email: “Will you just write the fcking paragraph and send it to me!”) Today, it’s blogging. (Sample email: “Sweetie. I didn’t get anything this week. Did your blog feed thingy break? Love, Mom”)

The bottom line is that when your life gets messy and you fall behind at work, the only way to dig yourself out is to sit down at your desk and stop looking at the big picture — that your personal mess created a work mess. Sit down at your desk and figure out what needs to get done, and do what is the number one priority. Then do number two. And so on.

Chop wood. Carry water. Post to the blog.

Take the question of where to live seriously. Don’t let inertia push you toward a big-name city, the place you grew up, or your old college haunts. Make a conscious decision to live somewhere that will improve your quality of life by really understanding what your core needs and interests are–and will be.

City leaders understand they are competing to attract vibrant, creative populations and are branding themselves accordingly. Young people get this, and many treat cities as a consumer product to be test-driven, like a new car. A white paper written by Next Generation Consulting stated that because of an increasing shortage in skilled workers, Generation Y is saying, “I can find a job anywhere. It’s more important to me to find a place where I fit in.”

Rebecca Ryan, CEO of Next Generation Consulting, says: “Where you live is more important than where you work because a mortgage and your kids’ school are more long-term than the job you have.”

So how do you choose where to live if everywhere is a possibility?

1. Understand what really matters.
Richard Florida, professor at George Mason University and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, summarized conclusions from a recent summit of the mavens of the economic development and psychology-of-happiness communities: “Place is as important as having a job that challenges you, but not as important as relationships with family and friends.”

Jane Ciccone, designer of jewelry line Jane Elizabeth, got it. She says she and her husband, “fell in love with San Francisco, but our families were in Massachusetts. We could have stayed in San Francisco if we could have gotten some of my family to move there. But no one would move because of the cost of living.” Now they live in Newburyport, MA, and she is expecting to give birth any day.

2. Leave room for career flexibility.
You probably won’t have the same career your whole life. If you move to a city where the culture or demographics reflect your values (think recycling rates, number of churches) and meets the needs of your non-work interests (e.g. kayaking in the Pacific Northwest) then you are more likely to move among careers without having to relocate away from your interests or relationships.

Realize that a high-cost of living directly affects what flexibility you have in your career. You severely limit your ability to drop in and out of the workforce and careers if you are raising kids and paying a mortgage in an expensive place.

3. Live where your income is at least as high as the median.
If you’re surrounded by people who have more money than you, you won’t feel like you have enough. The relative amount of money is what matters, according to Daniel Khaneman, who won a Nobel Prize for applying psychology to economics.

3. Consider that more choice is not intrinsically more desirable.
Do you really need to be able to choose from 20 takeout restaurants every night? Probably not. The same is true for private schools, and pet-friendly parks. More choices make us nervous about deciding and more likely to regret what we’ve ultimately settled on, according to Barry Schwartz, author of the Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. You don’t want life dictated to you, but you also don’t want to spend your whole life deliberating what-if scenarios.

4. Don’t relocate away from a spouse or significant other.
The single biggest factor in our happiness, according to many studies is not money, it’s our sex life. Daniel Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College, has quantified it for us: “Going from sex once a month to sex once a week creates a big jump in happiness.” Caveat for the adventurous: Sex needs to be with a single, consistent partner to confer bigtime benefits.

5. Keep your commute short.
There’s a huge psychic cost to joining the suburban crawl. “You think you are moving out to the suburbs because it’s better for your kids, but in some cities, you’re never going to see your kids because you’re always in your car,” says Wendy Waters, founder of the blog All About Cities.

6. Seek diverse populations for a richer life.
Bigger cities are often among the most homogenous. Ethnic diversity and racial differences now are not as pronounced as economic and educational differences. Diverse ideas are often based in diverse experience; however housing costs are pushing out nearly everyone but the rich from the most popular cities.

Richard Florida says, “San Francisco is becoming an entirely homogenous place. This is true of entire regions and migration trends will make this worse. The creative revolution is creating a concentration of wealth worse than in the Industrial Revolution.”

7. Make a decision to improve the world.
“The key to solving this problem,” says Florida, “is not to beat up Boston and San Francisco, but to make second-tier cities attractive.”

In a large part, this is a government problem. Pay attention to cities such as Columbus, Ohio, where mayor Michael Coleman has a vision for the city that intensely embraces diversity. Or Madison, Wisconsin, where there’s a capable network of investors working with the government to promote local technology innovations.

You can find meaning in community by helping to promote diversity and creativity in a city such as these. You can help build new models for cities that make room for communities of people with diverse ideas and diverse income levels. The decision is a little like driving a hybrid car: We can’t fix everything in the world. But we can live our life in sync with our values and with intention to make a difference.

There is a lot of information out there about how to start a blog — but don’t click that link. The following instructions are a lot easier and you’ll get the same result:

1. Ignore buzzwords.
RSS, SEO, AdSense, Technorati, Digg. If you have a buzz word buzzing in your head and you’re not sure if it belongs on the ignore list, assume it does.

2. Pick a topic — you can change it when you know what you’re doing.
This is like dating. Pick something that seems good, and if it isn’t, try again. Don’t get hung up on topic. As in dating, you’ll know when you’ve found one that’s the right fit. There are some obvious things, like pick a topic you have a lot to say about, pick something that interests you, pick something that will help your career. This is great advice, but you already know that if you look for a perfect match you’ll never actually go on a date.

3. Spend two seconds choosing software.
Ignore the fact that there are lots of choices. I will give you two: Blogger and TypePad. Pick one. It doesn’t matter which one. Click on the home page where it says open an account. Don’t worry about what you click during setup. It’s very hard to do damage that you can’t fix later. Finding good software to host your own blog used to be really complicated. But sites like Hosting Facts have taken everything you need to know about hosting your blog and put it all in one place.

4. Post something right now.
Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow. Blogging is about courage to say something. Don’t worry about being stupid because trust me, no one is reading your blog. Post anything. You can nix bad posts later. For now just start writing.

5. Practice, practice, practice.
Post, post, post. Soon you’ll find the link button and make a link. Maybe you’ll find a category button and make a category. Maybe you won’t find those buttons for weeks. Don’t worry. You’re practicing. And if you happen to write something really good you can feature it later, when people are reading.

6. Ignore your lack of readers.
The hardest part is sitting down to post on a regular basis. Don’t distract yourself with blog promotion until you’re sure you can actually do the writing. If you can blog regularly for a month, you can be a blogger.

When you get to number six, and you’ve made it through a month, go back over this post, and click all the stuff I told you to ignore.

Hiring managers don’t hire the most qualified person. They hire the person they want to work with the most. Whether this is fair is not up for discussion, because the philosophical and de facto practices of corporate hiring aren’t going to change any time soon. However, we can discuss how to get hired when being qualified is a small factor in the decision.

Too many people have had slews of interviews with no offers. To be sure, you need to work at getting interviews, but you also need to work hard at turning an interview into a job. The skills to turn an interview into a job have little to do with having the skills to do the job. People use resumes and phone screens to make sure someone has the skills to do the job. When you get to the interview, it’s usually about other things — such as the unquantifiable but all-important likeability factor.

Here are six steps between landing the interview and actually doing it that will help you get an offer.

1. Research the company. Comb through every section of the company’s site and memorize it as if you were cramming for a test. Unlike a test, though, you won’t have a chance to spout the six facts you learned about the company during the interview.

Rather, there will be a random, fleeting second when a relevant fact you gained from the site will be the perfect answer to something the interviewer says. To find the right comment for that fleeting moment, you’ll need wide knowledge and good judgment. The overall goal is to seem as though you are intimately aquainted with their area of business and you monitor the company independently of your desperate need for a job.

Favorite places to do reasearch about companies: TechCrunch (for startups), TechDirt (gossip for intellectuals), Fortune (to know what everyone else knows).

2. Get the right outfit. Corporate America has a uniform; wear it. People like to hire people who look like them, and clothing is the easiest way to make this impression. An interview is not the time to dress to express your true self. In fact, no one needs to know your true self at the office. You will fit in and work best with others by keeping eccentricities to a minimum. Each company has a variation on “the uniform,” so loiter near the office ahead of time and spy on its workers to get a sense of the corporate dress code.

3. Prepare stock answers. Most interview questions are standard, and surprisingly enough, have standard answers. Take the question, “Why did you want to leave your current job?” The correct answer incorporates phrases like, “I am looking for a company like this one,” and “Your company offers a unique opportunity that is a perfect fit for me.” Learn these answers before the interview and be prepared to deliver them with a special flair, so they don’t seem rehearsed.

There are three or four good books that list interview questions and how you should answer them. The one I have used successfully is, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book, by Jeffrey B. Allen. Also, Perri Capell points out that your answers should always be on message — speaking to most important points you want to make about yourself.

4. Go to the gym. Taking charge of the first 15 seconds of an interview is critical. An interviewer will judge you first and most significantly on non-verbal cues, and having a great interview outfit alone may not be enough to make the best impression. This is because thin, good-looking people are more likely to get hired than overweight, less attractive people.

If you have scheduled the interview already, it’s probably too late to drop forty pounds. But go to the gym anyway. By using your chest and back muscles to life weights, you’ll stand up straighter in the interview – which shows poise and self-confidence. Also take a ride on the treadmill. The more energy you expend now the more relaxed you’ll be at the interview, and being calm will help you seem more confident.

5. Prepare to close the deal. Leave nothing open-ended when you walk out of the interview. This means saying at the end, “I would really like this job. Do you have any reservations about hiring me?” This is scary to say because the interviewer might have reservations you can’t overcome. But closers get the contracts, and you need to be a closer in interviews. Risk hearing any reservations about hiring you because it’s better to confront them and fail than to never try. You have nothing to lose.

When I tried this, the hiring manager told me her reservations (which were large). After I countered them one by one, she was so impressed that she offered me a job on the spot. But I also had done my homework. I knew what I wanted from a job and what were dealbreakers. And I had prepared extensively for the interview. Which leads me to my last point….

6. Practice, practice, practice. Maybe your friends will be helpful in a mock interview situation. Even if your friend does a terrible job pretending to be an interviewer, you get practice interviewing with someone who doesn’t know how to do their job. You can bet, though, that someone in the career counseling office of your college knows what they are doing in this regard. Career centers are evaluated based on the career success of their graduates, so most centers are happy to field your phone calls, no matter how long ago you graduated. Ask someone there to do a mock interview with you. The feedback you get will probably be very useful.