As part of my book promotion tour, my publisher sent me to media training with Clarity Media Group. I thought the media trainer would talk with me about being on television — how to sit, where to put my hands, what to wear. Instead, he focused on how to not be a loose cannon.

I know this about myself — that I have a sub-standard edit button. It is not uncommon that our biggest strength is also our biggest weakness. In my case, I’m good at saying what I really think, but in some situations I need to be better at saying the second thing that comes to mind instead of the first.

A good example of this problem is my sex analogies. I don’t know why, but sex seems like an appropriate analogy for almost every point I’ve wanted to make, ever. My editor at Business 2.0 told me early on that I need to stop writing references to sex in my column, and when I didn’t, he just deleted them without asking me.

Five years later, when I had not gotten much better about it, Marci Alboher, a woman I trust, told me I should stop talking about sex because I risk offending people. Actually, she specified a sex act. Which I reference a lot, but need to stop referencing, and will not say here to prove that I am not too old a dog to learn new tricks.

So, anyway, the media trainer spent a lot of time teaching me how to edit myself better as I’m talking out loud.

Luckily, most of his advice was about preparing beforehand. Knowing what answer you’re going to give way before you have to field a question. This is very similar to advice I have given about getting a job, so you should pay attention whether you are being interviewed by the press or by a potential employer. Here’s a quote from the material my media trainer gave me.

“Don’t try to prepare for every possible question that could arise. Determine the 6-8 topics that are likely to come up during your interview and then:

a. Hone a key message for each topic.

b. Identify anecdotes you can tell that illustrate each message.

c. Prepare specific examples or compelling data to prove your point.

d. Think of clever analogies if appropriate.

Think of these interviews as the equivalent of a good movie trailer, in which your quest is to independently drive to the very best scenes, anecdotes and newsworthy revelations in the book.”

Here’s an example of me putting all that training into action: Peter Clayton interviewed me for Total Picture Radio. He is a total pro. I am not quite there. You will notice that after all that training, I still made a reference to sex.

Today, people in their 20s change jobs every two years. This frustrates employers, who say, “Why should I hire someone who is going to leave? I need someone who is loyal.”

At the same time, employees look at the work they are given and say, “How can I spend my days doing work that doesn’t mean anything to me?”

Ironically, the way to make your work more meaningful is to be more loyal. This doesn’t mean you can’t quit in three months. It means that you have to be loyal while you are there. And in this way, the idea of workplace loyalty is changing: Loyalty is not dead, but you have to ask yourself, what are you loyal to?

It’s a great job market for young people today. Among college graduates the unemployment rate is less than 2 percent. The problem is finding meaningful work. But this task doesn’t need to be as hard as people make it.

You don’t need to be saving lives. You need to work at a place that contributes to your core needs, in a way that gives you the opportunity to express passions in significant ways.

One of the most common ways of finding meaning at work is through personal development. “Loyalty as a function of time is a dated idea,” says Jaerid Rossi, process engineer at Specialty Minerals of Canaan, Conn. “Work is only appealing if there’s constant learning.”

But loyalty is a layered concept, and for many this includes the power of a company’s brand.

“Organizations are not a source of security but they are a source of identity,” says Bill Taylor, cofounder of the magazine Fast Company and coauthor of the book, Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win.

So find a company that you want to attach your identity to.

In this way, you are searching for a company that deserves your loyalty. Its brand will be in line with your own values and the image you have of yourself. For example, Steve Rubel runs the blog Micro Persuasion, but he is also an employee at Edelman, a public relations agency that has an image of being forward thinking about technology. Edelman adds a nice element to Rubel’s identity so it makes sense that Rubel would be loyal.

“Edelman’s success online reaffirms in peoples’ minds that I’m with a company whose values I share,” he says.

Loyalty doesn’t always satisfy image-building, though. For instance you can be loyal to a cause, such as the examples cited by Taylor: “People at ING Direct really feel like they are bringing some sense of sanity to an increasingly insane consumer finance culture. In Mavericks at Work, people are loyal to what they want to do in the world. For example, most people at Netflix are true movie fanatics and they believe popular entertainment is better in America because of Netflix.”

If you want to help homeless kids, you can work at many different types of organizations that fight homelessness, and while you might not feel huge dedication to a particular organization, your enthusiasm to the cause will keep you loyal to the work. You can carry your loyalty from company to company.

Taylor explains that “People can [also] be loyal to a cause or to a technology. For example, they think Ajax is the greatest software in the world. They can also be loyal to colleagues and team.”

The common thread in all this loyalty, though, is being part of something bigger than yourself. You cannot give up everything for your company, but being loyal to nothing is equally disconcerting.

“People are their best when they have obligations not only to themselves, but to other people as well. People do their best work when they identify themselves as part of a team or a project.”

Rossi echoes this sensibility: “For me, the services a company provides must somehow be beneficial to the employees and the community around it. I need to understand what the company’s goals are and I need to share that vision.”

What can employers do to attract new loyalists? Find a mission that they believe in. If they don’t believe in it, they’ll never be able to convince other people. And remember that people can feel affiliated to an organization without having to work 70 hours a week.

In fact, some of the most loyal employees are those whose company arranged working situations to accommodate very strong loyalties such as family or athletic endeavors. Even a company that has little mission to speak of can gain extreme loyalty from employees by easing the employee’s individual mission. Among Microsoft loyalists, for example, are those who rely on its outstanding insurance coverage for children with autism.

So figure out your needs and passions, and cast a wide net for the company that could fill them. You’d be surprised at the number of companies that can make you feel like work is meaningful. Similarly, employers will be surprised at the intense loyalty there is to be had from this generation of job hoppers.

The good news about getting a contract for a nonfiction book is that you don’t have to write the book to sell it. You just have to write the proposal. The bad news is that often authors spend four or five months figuring out what the proposal is.

Where agents earn their commission is helping the author to understand what they should be writing a book about. Last week, my agent, Susan Rabiner, laid out seven tips for writing a better proposal. And this week’s Coachology will be 90 minutes of free help from her to get your proposal into shape. Or, if your initial idea doesn’t work, she’ll help you to come up with something else.

For those of you who think 90 minutes is too long, I just got a contract for my second book — to be published in 2008 — and I spent the last five months writing proposals until I got it right. I’d say that I spent about 900 minutes on the phone with Susan, but after 90 minutes you will at least know what you need to work on.

If you’re interested in working with Susan, please send a three-sentence summary of your proposal (include the idea and your qualifications to write it) by the end of the day on April 29.

By Will Schwalbe — Email is great for minor apologies – especially when you think your transgression might not really need an apology at all. A classic is the, “I’m so sorry I didn’t spend more time with you at my party” kind of apology, which is usually greeted with the classic, “Don’t be silly, I had a blast, and it was lovely of you to invite me” response. Any time you get a “No harm, no foul” email in return, you know that either you did nothing wrong after all, or that your email apology has won you forgiveness.

But if you are thinking of apologizing in an email for a more serious transgression, keep in mind that very bad behavior obviously requires a major amount of contrition. For example, if you’ve said something awful about someone and suspect it got back to him; hurt someone’s feelings; missed an important meeting or occasion; accidentally destroyed someone’s stuff; forgot to do something important — all of these are big things, and an apology that is seen as insincere or insufficient could compound your crime.

Before you hit send on your “please forgive me’ email, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Is email really the best way to apologize – or are you just hiding behind a computer screen?
Because it is so easy to email an apology, people don’t always take email apologies seriously. Sometimes the very fact that you are apologizing on email can add salt to the wound. If you don’t receive a reply to your email apology, it’s generally a good indication that it fell short.

2. Email’s speed and ease make it a great way to start an apology.
Remorse is a dish best served hot. Just make sure, though, that the person to whom you are apologizing knows that you will be saying sorry in other ways, too. You can always email, “I wanted to let you know right away how sorry I am about spilling coffee all over the architectural model you spent all weekend building.” But make sure to add something to your email like, “I’m willing to stay all weekend to help you build another. And you will find a bottle of wine waiting for you when you get home.”

3. Put the word “Sorry” or “Apologies” in the Subject line.
If you don’t do this, the aggrieved party might not even open your email.

4. This is one of the many times you don’t want to Cc without permission.
The person you offended may want everyone to know you apologized. Or, he may want to keep it secret. Promiscuous Cc’ing can compound the original offense. For example, “I’m so sorry I blurted out that comment about your personal hygiene problem” is all very well and fine – unless you Cc a whole mess of people and thus send the indiscretion out even wider.

Start focused and ask permission to expand the list. “I’m so sorry I blurted out that comment about your personal hygiene problem – please let me know if you want me to apologize to all the others who were present at the meeting, either by email or in person or both” is a much better way of handling it. Also, always write an apology with the expectation that it will be forwarded without your permission. Oh, and do remember that a true apology is, by its very nature, an admission of guilt.

The bottom line: Email does not mean never having to say you’re sorry. Sometimes, you have to say it and show it, not write it and send it.

Will Schwalbe is the co-author with David Shipley of Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.

I’m not a perfectionist. In fact, when I painted my walls I didn’t paint near the windows because I didn’t want to do the detail work. When I accidentally address an envelope upside down, I don’t get a new envelope.

You know what? Doing those things hasn’t made my life any worse. It hasn’t made me unhappy, and it’s freed me up to do other things besides worry about if what I do is perfect.

I have a good eye for how well something has to be done in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish, and it’s one of my favorite traits about myself. The good that comes from a lack of perfection is that I can set a lot of goals for myself because I get them done.

Here are the reasons I can’t stand perfectionists:

  • Perfectionists procrastinate because they’re scared of not being perfect.
  • Perfectionists are hypercritical to the point that they can’t support people around them.
  • Perfectionists can’t finish a project because they can always think of a way to improve it.
  • Perfectionists are phony, because no one’s perfect and they can’t handle showing that in themselves.

Here are four things to think about if you’re letting perfectionism dictate your life:

1. You get more done if you don’t sweat the details.
My disdain for details started when I looked around at all the people who are disappointed with their lives. For the most part, these are people who wish they’d done something that they didn’t do for fear of failure. In the worst cases, these people have whole lists of such things. Then I saw a bumper sticker that read, “What would you do if failure were not an option?”

When I went through my own list of what I would do, I decided that if I stopped worrying about failure I’d be able to do a lot more. So I started focusing on just getting stuff done instead of getting it done perfectly. Details fell by the wayside.

I also noticed that once I stopped worrying about doing something perfectly, I didn’t have nearly as much reason for procrastination. It’s easy to start something if you tell yourself that getting it done 70 percent perfect (as opposed to 100 percent) is OK.

Believe it or not, in most cases 70 percent perfect is fine for what we do. The trick is to balance fearlessness with attention to detail and understand when you need to concentrate on each.

2. You do better work if you aren’t worried about perfection.
Here’s a story I heard from Alexander Kjerulf, who was talking about David Bayles’s book “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking“:

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced. All those on the right would be graded solely on their works’ quality.

His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the quantity group; 50 pound of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on quality, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an A.

At grading time, the works with the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of clay.

Think about this in your own life, even if you’re not using clay. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. But you can’t practice if you think only of perfection. Practice is about making mistakes; perfection comes from imperfection.

3. Working the longest hours doesn’t mean you’re doing the best work.
Usually, the hardest worker in an office is a perfectionist. This begs a few questions: Why does this person need to work harder than everyone else? Is she slow? Is she stupid? Is she avoiding her home life?

The people working the hardest are usually stuck on getting all the details perfect, but they’ve lost sight of one of the most important things — which is that you look desperate if you work more hours than everyone else. The person working the hardest looks incompetent, either at managing their workload or at managing their family life.

Of course, you don’t want to work the least number of hours, either. But you want to fall somewhere in between. People who work very long hours are inefficient and sometimes get so little sleep that they’re performing at the level of a drunkard at work. So cut back your hours, and even if you do things with less attention to detail in order to get them done faster, they might actually get done better because you have a better handle on the time in your life.

4. Stop procrastination by stopping perfectionism.
One of the biggest productivity problems is procrastination. And one of the biggest contributors to procrastination is the feeling that we need to do something perfectly.

The key to ending procrastination in your life is to be honest about what you’re really doing with your time and energy. Look closely at why you’ve made the bar so high that you can’t even start. Procrastination can only flourish in a situation where perfection is so clearly demanded and so intrinsically impossible that inaction seems preferable to action.

So be honest with yourself about why being perfect is so important to you. Perfectionism doesn’t make people happy, and often makes them nutcases.

And remember those clay pots — they represent all the creativity and excitement you could unleash if you’d let the attention to detail slip a little.

You need to be nice at work. This doesn’t mean holding the door. Well, it does, but you need to do more than that. You need to do high-profile, from-the-heart niceness. People who are popular at work do better at work. Yes, it’s true, the popularity contest never ends.

So why not try cupcakes? Wait. Stay with me here. Cupcakes are good because they are easy to make. You can leave them in a central location in the office, or even on your desk, and people can just pick one up. They will be impressed and touched that you cooked. (I use the recipe in Joy of Cooking and believe me, I am no cook.)

Don’t tell me about Dunkin Donuts or store-bought-popcorn. You need to bake. It shows you really care if you take the time to bake. And for most of you, it will shock your office and show a side of you that people don’t usually see. The more you can show people that you are human and caring, the easier it will be to ask for major concessions.

You might say, why not cake? Why not cookies? Cake is hard to transport and hard to dole out. And cookies are not as fun. You want people to think you’re fun. People like fun.

For you overachievers, here’s a cheat sheet for cupcake decorating ideas.

For you who think you’re too cool for cupcakes, here’s the cupcake blog, written by an editor of Penthouse Variations.

For all of you who think cooking cupcakes is not in line with your workplace image, ask yourself: Why cultivate an image that cannot accommodate such a sweet and giving act?

By Ryan Healy — Unless you are a professional athlete or working on Wall Street, an entry-level salary is not very exciting. When you couple this with the fact that the average college student graduates with tens of thousands in student loan and credit card debt and the cost of renting a place in any major city is an absolute rip off, a paycheck does not go very far. If I am paying an arm and a leg just to have a roof over my head and pay back an education that wasn’t exactly optional, how can I possibly save any decent amount of money? Realistically, I can’t. But that is alright.

If I stay in the corporate world, the paychecks will keep coming, I will pay down debt, I will pay my rent and I will spend the majority of the rest on food, entertainment and happy hours. The remainder will go to savings. One thing I will not waste my money on is “stuff.” Nothing bothers me more than seeing people living in houses above their means and driving cars they can’t afford.

I am not foolish enough to believe a paycheck will ever make me rich. The only reason I get excited about a 3% raise is because of what it represents; my hard work. The increase in money is barely noticeable and will disappear into my 3% lifestyle increase. Sure, I could invest that 3% in stocks, mutual funds or better yet an IRA, but what exactly am I saving for?

It’s a forgone conclusion that I will never retire, and anyone my age who believes they will, is mistaken. First of all, by the time I have children to send off to college, the average tuition will probably be around $100,000 a year. If I have “2.5 kids” that is $1 million dollars out of my pocket (or more realistically out of loans). Even if I deprive myself of vacations, entertainment and fun to save throughout my twenties, I can’t possibly save enough money to retire.

I can’t imagine what I would do if I ever did retire. Sure you may be thinking that I’m barely out of college and wouldn’t be saying this if I had been working for 10 or 20 years. But this is exactly why I am so desperate to find meaning and happiness out of work, rather than just a paycheck.

I guess if the end goal is riding off into the sunset and retiring, then you can put up with a boring, well paid job for 30 years (I guess). This is not my end goal. I would rather find fulfillment in a job that gives me flexible hours and is accommodating to my lifestyle.

Of course, if I am lucky enough to make it to my golden years, I will cut back on the amount I work and supplement my smaller income with the earnings from the smart investments I made along the way. But I certainly won’t be moving south to sit around and do nothing for the last ten years of my life.

The way I see it my life will turn out one of two ways.

1. I will get lucky somewhere along the way and strike it rich. I will pay for my kids’ education, I will buy a moderate house and moderate cars and I will make smart investments for the future. I will use the money to make a difference in one way or another. I will be happy.

2. I will find meaningful, fulfilling jobs with decent salaries or start a mildly successful business. My kids will take out loans for their education, I will buy a moderate house and moderate cars and I will continue to work and invest a reasonable amount. I will donate my time rather than my money to make a difference in one way or another. I will be happy.

Before you assume I am a naïve kid, who needs some financial education, keep in mind, I have a degree in accounting and finance and I regularly read financial books, magazines, newspapers and blogs. Despite all of this, I have come to the conclusion that life is too short to spend worrying about how much money is in my bank account. I will not chase a paycheck.

A few months ago, I saw Guy Kawasaki’s blog post, 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn, and it made me realize that you can use LinkedIn for a lot more than just networking. For example, journalists can get value from LinkedIn both as a research tool and as a tool for career development:

Here are ten ways for journalists to use LinkedIn:

1. Get noticed for the work you do
I’ve seen a lot of journalists with pretty sparse profiles. This is a mistake. You don’t have to write a novel, but at least put information about your areas of interest so that people know what to contact you for. The text that you include is searchable, so if you’re looking for travel-writing gigs, make sure you include this somewhere in your profile. Also, listing your past employers and education makes it easier for old colleagues and classmates to find you. Here’s an example of a well crafted profile: David Lidsky, Senior Editor of Fast Company.

2. Build a network without making networking your full-time job
To use LinkedIn well, you need at least 20 connections. But, this doesn’t mean you should connect to every publicist who sends you an invitation. LinkedIn works best when you connect to your top sources, important industry contacts, coworkers, and people who know you well. These are the people who can help you do your job, find new opportunities and pass on story ideas that are more likely to be of interest to you.

3. Network without suffering the deluge of requests to “write about me!”
Journalists and high-profile bloggers tend to be highly coveted individuals. In fact, TechCrunch blogger, Michael Arrington, is the second most contacted person on LinkedIn (after LinkedIn’s founder). Control who makes it to your in-box by going to LinkedIn’s Accounts & Settings page to alter your notification preferences. If you find yourself overwhelmed with requests, you can opt to receive notifications once a week or only when you log into the LinkedIn website.

4. Use a connection to get a great assignment.
If you’re a freelancer or looking for a job, perform a search in the “Writing and Editing” industry sorted by “Degrees away from you” to see who might be able to help you in your network.

5. Find an expert fast
The advanced search feature is the most powerful tools you can use on LinkedIn. You can search for any combination of keywords, job title, company, location, industry, and you can sort by “degrees away from you” to find people close to you in your network. This is a great way to find experts in almost any field or subject matter. You can also track down executives at companies.

6. Confirm a rumor
One of the best ways to find out the inside scoop on companies is to find former employees who are willing to talk to you. To do this, use LinkedIn’s advanced search for the company’s name and uncheck the “Current companies only” box. The results will include both current and past employees.

7. Get responses to queries from non-PR types
Often, if you send a query to a place like PRLeads, you get mostly public relations people answering you. This works fine in most cases, but sometimes you need something different – for example a quote from a type of person who would not typically hire a publicist. LinkedIn’s Answers service allows you to ask questions to the network and get answers from a wide range of people. Answers are tied to the professional profile of the person who responded so you can quickly assess credibility and determine whether to contact the person. Here’s an example of a journalist’s question on LinkedIn Answers.

8. Get ideas for sources, topics and trends
If you don’t want to post a question, LinkedIn Answers has a search box that allows you to search the archives. This is a great way to search for sources. A search for keyword “Des Moines” will likely find you folks in the city who like to talk about it, a search for “iPhone” will show you some of the buzz around the product. A great way to get ideas for stories is to peruse through the various categories of LinkedIn Answers to find out what people are saying about topics and trends. For example, here are a few of the many categories: career development, personal finance, technology.

9. Qualify pitches
f you find yourself getting daily pitches from the “hottest new [insert industry buzzword] company,” try searching for the company on LinkedIn. Take a look to see if you are connected to any of the employees, check out their profiles, their backgrounds, and their relationships. If they’re really hot, then they’re probably connected to key industry movers and shakers.

10. Promote your book!
LinkedIn allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc. If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you have a book, you can create a link to a webpage that promotes it or directly to an Amazon page where people can buy it. You can bet that I was all over this feature: My new book: Brazen Careerist.

A lot of people who would like to start a business think the task is too daunting. But following a passion is not as high risk as you may think. Conventional wisdom about entrepreneurs being big risk takers and living on the edge is not all that realistic. In fact, there are ways to minimize the financial risk and emotional drama of going after your dreams. And, most of the skills you need to be an entrepreneur, you can teach yourself.

Alex Shear founded the production company Projectile Arts, in order to produce the documentary, “Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball.” The topic of baseball appealed to Shear, in part, because of the risks involved. “There is so much failure” in baseball, says Shear. He wanted to know how players deal with it. In the meantime, he had to deal with those same issues himself, starting a business to make the documentary.

Like many people, Shear is not a fan of huge risk: “I didn’t know what I was getting into. If I knew I was going to have to move twice, sell my car, and go broke,” I probably wouldn’t have done it. “You need to be stubborn and thickheaded and not think things through all the way,” advises Shear.

In a case like this, Saras Sarasvathy , professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, told me that she asks her students to look inside themselves: “Why do you want to open a restaurant? Is it because you love to cook? Then you can have a catering business out of your home. Is it because you have a great location? What else can you put at that location that would be more likely to succeed?”

Have basic skills in the field you are choosing. Sarasvathy uses the analogy of cooking a meal to describe the entrepreneurial way of thinking. Some people have a list of ingredients on a recipe and follow its steps exactly. Other people walk into a kitchen, see what ingredients are on hand, and whip something up. If you want to start your own business, you should be a person comfortable with no recipe. “But,” Sarasvathy cautions, “you need to know how to cook.” Both types of people probably will come up with good meals if they have cooking skills, and both will come up with bad meals if they don’t

Not knowing exactly what you will create is OK. Sarasvathy told me: “Entrepreneurs don’t believe in planning because they don’t want to be in a future that is predictable. If you want to create something new, then the future is unpredictable. If you can predict what will happen, there is no room for creativity.” This also leaves room for genuine partnerships, which you will need.

Get help in a partner. Finding a business to launch is a soul-searching venture, because you have to be passionate about your choice. But “part of your search for passion should be a search to know your skill set. Ask your parents, mentors, and friends. Then try to match skills you have with your passions and fill in what you need,” said Andrew Zacharakis, professor at Babson College. Most feelings of risk come from doing things you have not done before, so surrounding yourself with people who complement your skills can minimize risk.

Relax. The point of entrepreneurship is to have fun doing something you’re passionate about. But a small-business owner’s mind can race constantly. Learn to control this and business will feel less risky.

Jim Fannin is a success coach whose clients include more than twenty Major League Baseball players. He told me that research has shown that wildly successful people have 1,000 fewer thoughts a day than others, which allows the successful people to have exceptional focus on their goals.

Shear says he tried to focus on his next step instead of looking at the whole project, which would have been overwhelming. “If you think too much about the big picture it can paralyze you — mess you up in the moment.”

Fannin agrees. There are so many things you can worry about, so “I tell people to go on a mental diet,” says Fannin. “Cut out thoughts that won’t make you better because they hold you down.”

You need a sense of peace to perform well. Fannin says that just taking deeper breaths will slow your thinking and help your focus.

Stay optimistic. People who have big success have optimism. The key is to manage your thinking. When something bad happens, “learn from it and move on.” If you let yourself replay bad situations, you will get used to seeing your life that way.

Seventy-five percent of people report that negative thinking goes away if you look toward the sky. So for those would-be entrepreneurs trying to fend off negative thinking, Fannin says: “Chin up.”

I met my husband when he was in film school at UCLA. He was doing quirky video art instead of mainstream feature films, which made me think he’d be good to date. So when he was interviewing people for a video about memory, I was happy to participate.

I tried to be really charming in the interview – scintillating, funny, adorable – all the things he might want in a date.

Then a year went by with no contact.

Then I got a call from him. He ended up making the whole video about me, and the video was being shown in Europe and winning film festivals and it was part of UCLA film school’s curricula. He said he spent a ten months editing my interview and he felt like he’d been talking with me the whole time.

Of course, I knew this was my cue.

On our second date, I saw the video. He had footage of me telling all the most important stories of my life. He cut up the footage, reordered it, and created a tool that allowed viewers to recombine stories as they unfolded.

He basically made me sound like a lunatic. Like I was probably a liar and maybe delusional, depending on how someone ordered the video.

I fell in love with him immediately. I thought the work was genius commentary on storytelling. We each tell stories that matter to us. We take in the world, and tell it back in a way that creates meaning. My husband’s video is an extreme example, but it resonates in a lot of different contexts, including journalism.

The reason that everyone thinks journalists misquote them is that the person who is writing is the one who gets to tell the story. No two people tell the same story.

Not every example of this is so extreme as my husband’s video. Look at David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris. They grew up in the same house, but they don’t have the same tales to tell from it. They are both great writers who see different stories in the same facts.

Journalists who think they are telling “the truth” don’t understand the truth. We each have our own truth. When you leave out details, you might leave out what is unimportant to you but very important to someone else, and things start feeling untrue to the person who wishes you included something else.

Recruiters, by the way, know this well. If I get fired from three jobs but I only report that during that period I taught dance lessons to toddlers, I am not lying. I am merely telling the part of the story that I want to tell. No one can tell every part of every story. The details are infinite. But in this case, the fact that I left off the details most important to the recruiter makes the recruiter feel like it’s lying. But it’s not. I’m telling my version of the story.

So everyone feels misquoted because people say twenty or thirty sentences for every one sentence that a journalist prints. It’s always in the context of the journalist’s story, not the speaker’s story.

Here’s my advice: If you do an interview with a journalist, don’t expect the journalist to be there to tell your story. The journalist gets paid to tell her own stories which you might or might not be a part of. And journalists, don’t be so arrogant to think you are not “one of those” who misquotes everyone. Because that is to say that your story is the right story. But it’s not. We each have a story. And whether or not someone actually said what you said they said, they will probably still feel misquoted.

And this problem is not limited to text-based journalism. When my husband and I got married, we had a big wedding. When the photos came back, I said to my husband, “These are terrible. He missed all the good photos.” And my husband said, “They seem fine. They’re the photographer’s version of the story.”

Other posts from “A Week in Journalism” series:

How to be a freelance writer without starving

How to move from print journalism to online journalism

Seven ways to get an agent’s attention (by my agent, Susan Rabiner)