By Ryan Healy — Successful entrepreneurship usually includes a group of trusted mentors, according to Ben Casnocha, author of My Start up Life. But now that I’ve spent a few months in corporate life, it’s clear to me that having a group of mentors is important whether you work for yourself or for someone else.

However, the majority of people I know are not great at seeking out and developing these relationships. What I have learned in the past few months is that it’s easier than you think! Here are three things I have done that have helped me develop very rewarding relationships with mentors.

1. Find the right network
For twentysomethings, the easiest place to look is in your parent’s network. Take advantage of it because they’ve been developing these connections for years. Ask your parents if any of their friends or colleagues work in a field you are interested in.

If you are not lucky enough to have well connected parents, all is not lost. Networking groups are everywhere these days. gives you a way to find people with similar interests. Or you can start a niche blog and comment on blog posts from field-related experts. Leave a few insightful comments and your foot is in the door to contacting them.

2. Reach out
Once you have made the first connection, the next step is simple. Reach out with a short email. Ask for a few pieces of advice. Assuming your contact replies, continue the conversation for a few days. Finally, ask if she is interested in meeting up for a quick lunch. Despite the ease of connecting online, face to face interaction can make a big difference in how quickly you make your mentor feel connected with you. At the very least, try to have a relatively long phone conversation to get to know each other.

3. Think in terms of frequency
After a face to face meeting and a few emails, you should be able to tell if your contact is a potential mentor or advisor. If she is, don’t be afraid to bug her! This is always the hardest part for me, but it’s the only way you can develop a good relationship. Send an occasional email or call with a casual, not extremely important, but honest question once in a while. If she is truly annoyed by this, then it’s probably time to seek advice elsewhere. But for the most part, I have found people genuinely like to help, especially older folks. The more contact you have, the stronger the relationship will be and the more interest your advisor will take in your career.

Finding a true mentor can take a long time, but almost everyone will offer advice and guidance if asked politely. Corporate cultures that encourage collaboration between young and old are absolutely necessary, but the responsibility of developing these relationships is in the hands of young workers. Reach out to someone. Take a chance. The details will work themselves out.

Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.

Other Brazen Careerist posts on mentoring:

7 Steps to finding and keeping a mentor

How to ask for mentoring

You need a mentor now, here’s how to get one

There’s a new workplace etiquette for the new millennium, and, no surprise, it’s all about transparency and authenticity.

The new etiquette is driven by the fact that young people who grew up online don’t know how to operate any other way except transparently. The good news is this means they have great social skills; the bad news is they have no idea that they’re breaking all the old rules.

Here a list tips to help people who aren’t used to living an authentic, transparent work life flourish under the new rules.

1. Forget the exit interview.
An exit interview won’t help you, and it’ll probably create bad will. If you have people to thank when you leave a job, do it at lunch. If you have ideas for how to improve the company, offer to consult. Of course the company will decline, because they don’t care. Otherwise you wouldn’t be quitting, right?

Stop focusing on the exit interview and focus on how to quit like a pro. When you get a new job, your old boss is part of your new network. It’s up to you to make sure that parting ways goes as smoothly as possible so that you can shepherd this person into your network of supporters.

2. Don’t ask for time off, just take it.
When you need to leave work for a few hours or a few days, you don’t need to ask for permission — you’re an adult, after all. Make sure your work is in good order and send an email to the relevant people letting them know you’ll be gone.

This will seem discourteous to older people, who expect you to ask rather than tell. So be sure to give a reason why you’re cutting out. People like to know they matter and where they stand.

3. Keep your headphones on at work.

If you use social media tools, you’re probably good at connecting with people and navigating office politics — good enough that spending all day at work with headphones on won’t hinder you.

If you don’t know what what social media tools are, then you’re probably not innately good at making connections and need to take those headphones off before you’re crushed by office politics.

4. Say no to video résumés.

This is one of the dumbest recruiting trends ever.

Any human resources person in their right mind would hate video résumés. If there’s a stack of 100 paper résumés, the hiring manager will spend 10 seconds on each to decide which ones belong in the garbage. So how annoying is it that it takes 10 seconds just to launch a video résumé?

And it’s not just that they’re totally inefficient. Video résumés open up HR departments to a whole new level of discrimination accusations. There’s a reason why newscasters are all good-looking — it’s because we favor the good-looking on-screen. So if you don’t get hit on every time you step into a bar, forget about the video résumé. You probably look better on paper.

5. Invite your CEO to be a friend on Facebook.
That’s right, Facebook is for everyone now. And although the youngest members of the workforce are a little worried that having the adults there will ruin things, adults are psyched to be there. No one wants to miss out on all the fun.

So there’s a good chance that your CEO is registered, and it’s likely that she’ll really want to hear from you about what to do on Facebook, since she surely has no clue.

6. Do reconnaissance on your probable boss.

This tip comes from 20-something Hannah Seligson, whose book, “New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches,” gives great tips on getting through the first years of work — most of which comes down to etiquette.

Seligson recommends you find out all the dirt you can about your future employer, because the best gauge of how a company will treat you is how it treated other employees. So asking people directly is fine.

Remember that it’s often the boss who makes the biggest difference in the workplace, so try using LinkedIn to search for someone who had the job you’re interviewing for. Former employees will always give you the most candid comments.

7. Don’t try to improve a coworker.

If you work with a jerk, just avoid him. We already know from dozens of studies that thinking you can change someone doesn’t really work.

Companies know that getting rid of difficult employees isn’t worth the cost and headache, too. So if the jerk isn’t moving and the company isn’t moving, you need to get moving with your job hunt.

8. Don’t blog under a pseudonym.

It’s enticing to hide your name when you blog, because you don’t want to get fired, or harassed, or held accountable at work for the opinions you have at home. But the truth is that the majority of adults who blog are doing it for business reasons.

Writing a blog that people can actually find among 77 million blogs is very time-consuming. It’s a big commitment to write about what you know on a single topic, but blogging will help your career a lot. So why bother doing it if you’re not going to take credit for it where it matters most — with potential employers who haven’t met you?

9. Call people on the weekend for work.

With the Blackberry going where work has never gone before, it’s no surprise that the lines between work and not-work are blurring. The people who grew up being super-connected don’t differentiate between the workweek and the weekend, so they don’t mind working over the weekend on bits and pieces leftover from the week.

Of course, this also means that people are going home early all week long at random intervals. The result is that the weekend is fair game for phone calls.

If your coworkers don’t like being called on the weekend, they can tell you. But remind them that a flexible work schedule lets you put relationships first all the time, and a work schedule that cordons off five days a week for work and two days a week for a personal life means that the personal life takes a backseat every week of the year.

The best way to get a life is to stop being so rigid about the distinction between time for work and time for life.

10. Be nice like your job depends on it.

In fact, your job does depend on you being nice. The old days of office politics as a means of backstabbing are dead — young people are bringing their team-player, I’m-competing-against-my-best-self mentality from their self-esteem-centric homes into the workplace, and there’s nothing you can do except be nice back.

Anyway, the truth is that the most likable people get promoted, so this is an instance where following the unwritten rules really can save your career.

I get asked a lot of questions about self-promotion. Mostly I give answers like find something you are great at doing and be nice to people. It’s a killer combination, really. But people always want more advice than that. So, here are five tips that I give a lot. And I live by them.

1. Specialize, which means saying what you don’t do
In order to talk about yourself in a memorable way, you need to say something specific. This is why specializing is essential for effective self-promotion.

A good example of this is promoting yourself as a personal trainer. If you say you can train anyone, then you are the same as everyone else. If you say you help people work on their core strength without free weights, then not only do you separate yourself from the crowd, but you say something so unique that you encourage more questions.

It’s always scary for people to specialize because they think they’ll lose clients. But turning away clients is actually the best way to get them. You have to say no to people to establish yourself as an expert in something, and experts get hired more often than non-experts.

2. Stay the most focused when things look the most difficult
We each have a wide range of talents. And it’s easy to get frustrated when things are not happening fast enough. So it makes sense that we’d try something new, to see if it might work faster.

I did this a lot while I was trying to be a freelance writer. I can write a wide range of stuff, and it took me a while to figure out the intersection of things I like to write and things I could get paid well to write. I knew a ton of opportunities in both of those categories, but I could think of very few things at the cross section of the two categories.

Which is why I found myself writing online dating profiles. I could tell I’d be good at it because it’s a lot like writing a resume. And I could tell there was a big market of people who would pay well for the service. So I gave it a try with my ex-boyfriend’s profile. I told him his was bad and I could fix it. And I did. And then I wrote myself a plan to promote myself as a dating profile editor. And then I threw it out, and focused on my real, long-term goals.

I did this all the time on my way to where I am now. The important thing is to recognize when something is a brilliant idea and when it is a way to avoid facing your true goals when they are difficult.

3. Be the tortoise, not the hare
Self-promotion is about building a long-term reputation for yourself. Establishing trust and respect in the marketplace. This is not something you do in a few months. So you need to get some work habits that will allow you to move self-promotion from a project type thing to a lifestyle type thing.

So first of all, get out of your head that you work well under pressure. You don’t. No one does. Not when you are promoting yourself. Because in the end, what will make you stand out is your ability to find creative approaches to your chosen specialty. And it is a myth that creativity happens best under pressure. Also, you need sleep. People who get enough sleep are more creative.

Another hurdle for being good at self-promotion is that it’s hard to quantify success. There are some metrics, like blog rankings or Academy Awards, but they never show the whole picture. One of the biggest risk factors for burnout is doing lots of work without being able to measure your success. So it’s important, with self-promotion, that you make daily goals for doing something small – reaching out to someone, publishing something, showing up at an event. This way you can show yourself that you are making measurable progress in the self-promotion realm even if the real measure – like new clients – will come months later.

4. Mitigate the fear of starvation
Getting your name out there takes time. And while you’re doing it, there is a nagging fear that you won’t be able to and you will starve. You might be encouraged to hear that this is actually a feeling that is essential to grand success.

But here’s some practical advice as well: Don’t say no to anything. Just because someone is offering you a stupid project or a project that you would never want your name on, don’t turn it down, just raise your fee. It’s rare that someone would offer you work that you wouldn’t do for a million dollars. Start there and go down. For most of my freelance life I was willing to write anything for triple my regular fee.

Another good way to freelance without starving is to change how you think about time. If you keep a paying job and do self-promotion on the side, until you have some traction, then you are giving yourself time to learn how to be your own publicist before you depend on that for food money.

5. Know yourself, really, so you know when to shut up
Most people err on the side of not talking themselves up enough. We each need to learn the right way to toot our own horn. However sometimes you really do have to let your actions are speak louder than words.

I am struck by how well Oprah balances this. When her school was getting trashed, she got out into the press and defended it. But it turns out now that she was the only mainstream media figure to come out against the Iraq war before we went to war, and she does not make a big deal about this at all.

How does Oprah know when to be loud and when not to be? She knows her brand well because she knows herself well. She understands what she has to offer so clearly, and what her goals are so clearly, that she knows she needs to stand up for the school in order to protect her brand, but making a big deal out of her early position on the war would not help her meet her goals.

Make it a point in your life to have the same level of self-knowledge that Oprah has. Don’t underestimate that piece of the self-promotion puzzle.

By Ryan Healy – As much as I enjoy the company of my supervisors and consider many of them my friends, we still work in a professional environment and they are a step above me on the food chain. So I watch what comes out of my mouth around higher level co-workers, but it’s just as important for them to watch what they say, too.

Here are five things you should never say or do around any young workers who you want to keep around:

“Put your iPod away.”
Want to see your young workers jet to a new company after a few months? Tell them they aren’t allowed to listen to their I-Pods in the office. I feel naked without mine. I work out with it, walk with it, attach it to my car stereo and listen to it when I’m working or writing. An old supervisor once told me to put away my I-Pod. I did. Until he left the room!

We all see the stories about small startups and Google’s working environments. These companies are the gold standard for twentysomethings. Employees wear jeans and T-shirts and work from rainbow colored bean bag chairs. If the office I’m at doesn’t even let me listen to an i-Pod, they are obviously behind the times. Who wants to work for a boring, outdated company?

“Pay your dues.”
I understand the logic behind this way of thinking. There’s certainly something to be said for putting in your time and learning the ropes before jumping into a management position, but watch your wording.

Ryan Geist once put it this way: “Don’t tell me to pay my dues. Tell me to sell myself.”

The point is, youngsters are not stupid. We know a few years of grunt work is to be expected, but we don’t like to think of it as “paying dues.” Young workers will respond better if you say something like, “develop your skill set” or “ build your brand.” These are two positive ways to imply the same message. “Paying your dues” is not entirely false, but its significance gets lost in translation. It screams negativity. .

“Don’t you wish we were on vacation all the time?”
No, actually I don’t wish I was on vacation all the time. I plan to accomplish many things in my short time on this planet. Getting a great tan on a life long vacation is right above swimming with sharks on my to-do list.

If a manager that I plan to replace one day said this to me, I would have more than a few second thoughts. Desiring to be on vacation all the time implies that you don’t like your job and you have little ambition. I don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t keep their employees happy, and I don’t want to work for a manager who has no aspirations.

“Before I was at the top of the food chain…”
This is my all time favorite. Please do not talk about your days as a low-level cog in the corporate machine. For one thing, those days are now my reality. It’s not necessary to remind me about the late nights and crummy hotels you were stuck in.

But also, I know you’re the boss. I do not need to be reminded. I have seen the corporate reporting structure, and unless you’re the CEO, you’re not at the top of the food chain. If a manager needs to talk about their status as “the boss,” this gives the impression that the company is apprehensive about status and titles. Young people really don’t care about titles. My goal is not the corner office and I’m not awestruck by a high profile executive. We’re all people.

“I wasted a huge part of my youth doing what you are doing.”
Yes, somebody actually said this to me.

Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.

I’m speaking at the BlogHer Conference in Chicago on July 27. My panel is titled Self-Branding and Self-Promotion. I’ll be talking about how to use your marriage as a way to increase blog traffic. Just kidding. (By the way, I get way more traffic when I post bulleted lists about productivity, so keep your eye out for those…)

Nina Burokas and Stephanie Cockerl are on the panel as well.

I hope to see a bunch of you there.

It is clear from a wide range of polls that the majority of both men and women under 40 are willing to give up power and money to get flexible and interesting work. The problem is that this is not so simple. Taking a low-paying, unimpressive job is not going to give you flexibility. In fact it will probably put you on track to be serving fast-food on a schedule that is so inflexible you have to negotiate with six people to cover your shifts during vacation.

The best way to get flexible, interesting work is to be great at something, and let everyone know your focus, according to research by Ezra Zuckerman, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This doesn’t mean being great at climbing the corporate ladder or great at working tons of hours to make partner at a law firm that will dump you. This means getting great at something because, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at Claremont University and author of the book Flow, we feel best when we are doing work at a high level of competence.

On top of that, though, employers give flexible deals to people who are in high demand. It’s fortunate that the best way to be in high demand is to do the work you’re great at. Theoretically everyone will be very happy with their flexible, interesting work life.

So, how do you get to that point where you’re great at something?

It’s hard. It’s all about risk, honesty, and, frankly, shattered dreams. Your parents tell you that you can be anything, but you know what? You can’t. If you’re tall you can’t be an Olympic gymnast, and if you’re short you can’t be a runway model. If you’re great with numbers you probably can’t be a talk show host – the skills of a mathematician and a crowd pleaser seldom overlap.

So one of the most important things you can do is come to terms with what you are uniquely suited to do , and what you’re not–and to understand which is which.

Once you admit that some things will suit you better than others, you have to start trying things. Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard, wrote a whole book – Stumbling on Happiness – about how terrible we are at predicting what we’ll like, and nowhere is this more salient a point than in the job world. So start trying things.

Most of what makes people great at something is not raw talent but how hard they work at it, according to research by Steven Levitt, economist at University of Chicago and author of the book Freakonomics. So choose to do something you are excited enough about to work very hard at it, and keep testing things until something grabs you.

Paul Hatziiliades went through this process of self-discovery by starting as an accountant at a kitchen remodeling store. The sales guy left, with no notice, and Hatziiliades found himself greeting customers. And making sales. And liking it.

Then he kept learning about other aspects of the business until he was essentially designing kitchens, which he turned out to have great talent for. He’d have never known this about himself if he had been rigid in what sorts of roles he was willing to take on.

Even when you find that thing, though, at some point you will get stuck. You will see that you are probably great at something, but still not be sure of it. Maybe it’s a startup that you think you can make a go of; maybe it’s a freelance career that is almost sustainable; maybe it’s a big project that could change your career but is very scary.

All these things approach what Seth Godin calls the Dip. In his new book, The Dip, Godin explains that the things that are really worth doing in life – the things that will get you the passion and competence necessary for flow – require getting through a dip. And it’s at the dip where you decide if you can actually get to greatness.

Hatziiliades saw his Dip when the store owners decided to sell. Hatziiliades bought it and turned it into a high-end kitchen design company, called Moda Cucina, that leveraged both his talent for putting together kitchens that customers loved, and his talent for sourcing the right products and materials from all over the world. He had no idea if this business model would work, and he put all his cash into the business. This was the Dip for him. Today, he is on the other side of the Dip, doing what he’s great at, and being recognized for owning that niche he risked everything to get: high-end kitchen design.

Not everyone has Hatziiliades’ experience, though. Sometimes you’ll find you can’t do it – you can’t get past the Dip. Maybe you are trying something that is not the best idea, or you need to shift. Maybe you had an impossible goal. It’s hard in the dip. It’s the time when you doubt yourself, or your ideas, or both. Or you fear failure or you fear success, or both, because both will change you. These are times when you really find out what you can do.

Godin says if you’re on a path worth pursuing, you will walk into the Dip. If there’s no Dip ahead then you are not challenging yourself. You already have accomplished what you will accomplish on that path. And if you never experience the challenge of that Dip then you’ll miss out on the interesting, flexible work, yes, but most of all, you’ll miss out on the great feeling Csikszentmihalyi describes when work is at a high level of competence and engagement.

Sure, sometimes your Dip will come in an area that is not work – for example if you are training for a marathon. Usually, though, the time and energy we spend on our work is so great that it behooves us to look for opportunities that have a dip in them.

With the goals of work changing – from power to personal growth – the process of work will change as well. Work used to be about safety and stability and the Dip was for the risk-loving mid-life-crisis-suffering entrepreneurs. Today a Dip is the necessary path to the dream career where you can control your time and you can be engaged in work at the same time.

My dad is a lawyer-turned-history-teacher who wants to go back to being a lawyer. His career change has been tumultuous, and at this point, he is distressed that his Harvard law degree doesn’t open doors like it used to. Forty years ago. So he did what everyone in my family does when there’s a career problem: He called me.

And I called Stephen Seckler, who is a recruiter for attorneys at BCG. I only know Stephen from his blog, Counsel to Counsel, which I really like, and from post he wrote here at Brazen Careerist titled 5 Myths About Going to Law School. I like Stephen because he understands that the legal profession is limited in terms of flexibility, but he has a lot of ideas for how to make that mesh with personal growth and common core values.

I explained to Stephen that my dad is really lost and needs someone to help him understand what his options are. I was nervous to have my dad talk with someone I knew only professionally. What if my dad sounded like a nutcase or something? (And speaking of nutcases, I reminded my dad ten times that on this phone call he must refer to me as Penelope.)

Stephen was so helpful to my dad. He showed my dad his strengths for the marketplace, he showed my dad alternative opportunities that most people wouldn’t think of for lawyers, and, most of all, he made my dad feel a little more in control of his destiny, and I think, in the end, that’s what we all want from our career plans.

Stephen is a very practical guy, and he’s great at seeing ways around problems that other people don’t see. For example, I once asked him how lawyers can get out of working long hours. He had five good ideas, but one of them really resonated because I can use it in my own life, right now – it’s the idea that the most exciting, in-the-fray work is usually also the most demanding of all your time, and we need to be conscious of that when we’re picking our specialty

So, this is a taste of the kind of advice Stephen gives. He is a legal recruiter, but in the past he has also been a career coach, and that combination makes him a uniquely useful resource.

So you can get 90 free minutes with Stephen. You can use it to make yourself more appealing as a candidate in the legal field, you can use it to get advice on how to slow down or ramp up. This is a good opportunity for a lawyer who needs to fine tune how things are going, or for someone who is trying to figure out if law school is a good decision.

Please send three sentences about how you’d like Stephen to help you, and he’ll pick someone to work with. Deadline is Sunday, July 22.

Need help realizing your career goals? Want to talk to Penelope directly? Penelope now offers 1 on 1 career coaching and can help you take the right path.

For those of you who don’t know what’s going on in my marriage, please read My First Day of Marriage Counseling, and maybe you will want to leave a comment about how if you were my husband, you’d divorce me for blogging about my marriage.

My husband, in fact, has brought up divorce for other reasons. I am not totally sure which ones, to be honest, but I think it is career related since I have a great career and his sort of stalled when he became a stay-at-home dad and then went to hell from there.

I know that there are a lot of stay-at-home dads. But while it may seem like there are a lot who are happy, I think it’s really just that every single one of the happy ones is blogging.

There are a lot of stay-at-home dads in my neighborhood. After all, I live in a town where you can buy a house for under $200,000, so living on one income is not that hard here. That’s part of the reason we moved to Madison.

So my friend who writes for a very huge and widely read publication needed some stay-at-home dads to interview. And I said, “I know a bunch. I’ll give you names.” But you know what? None of them would talk. And of course my husband would not talk, because stay-at-home parenting has been a disaster for us. And if you ask all the high-level women who have men at home with their kids, (there are tons) their husbands are not talking.

So I’m going to tell you the truth about stay-at-home dads: The happy ones are working part-time at something they love. This is not surprising because the majority of women with kids would rather work part-time than either stay-at home full-time or work full-time. Which explains why we’re done with the stay-at-home dad routine.

Not that I really know what my husband is doing, though, because we are barely talking. We are doing what I imagine lots of couples do when things fall apart: Acting totally normal at events where normal families show up as families, and then pretending we don’t know each other at home.

And I do feel a little like I don’t know him. Last night I accepted a LinkedIn invitation from a friend. I went immediately to see our common connections – my favorite thing to on LinkedIn — and, there was my husband.

I wasn’t shocked that she knew him. I was shocked by what he wrote for his profession. Stay-at-home dad, former online game producer.

Surely writing stay-at-home dad on a LinkedIn profile cannot be good. But that’s what he is, so what else is he going to write? I went to LinkedIn to investigate the stay-at-home situation. When I searched the string “stay at home”, I got 471 results. It makes sense, I guess, because the biggest problem people have when they leave work to take care of a kid is that they lose their contacts. So LinkedIn would be an obvious thing to do to make going back to work easier.

The list was mostly moms. The first guy I saw was not only a stay-at-home dad, but in his special skills section he lists “baby stuff”.

As the career expert in my household, I always think I’m ten steps ahead of my husband. But I didn’t know that somewhere in the back of his mind, while we’re at soccer games and swimming lessons, he has been wrestling with the question of what to write on LinkedIn, which is really the question of how to present himself professionally when he’s abandoned his profession. I feel very lucky that I’m the one who kept up a career.

So we are interviewing babysitters because my husband needs time to think, and you can’t think about the state of your life and what to do about it when you are taking care of kids.

While I was conducting an interview, my husband was scurrying around getting camp lunches ready for the next day. This is an endearing thing about my husband – he is the king of details, and I am terrible with them. Every time there is something wrong in the lunchbox, my son comes home and asks if I could please not pack his lunch anymore.

So my husband was running around the house and he bumped into me. A normal thing to do would be to say I’m sorry. But we are not talking to each other. And the babysitter saw that an opportunity to be normal was somehow missed.

I needed to say something to explain the weirdness, because good babysitters do not work in homes of messed up families. I thought a little story might make things feel like I have some control. So I said, “Um. My husband and I are, uh. Well. We are…”

And the babysitter said, “Oh, don’t worry. I know. I read your blog.”

A lot of people ask me if they should blog under a pseudonym. They ask me because I started writing under a pseudonym eight years ago, and it ended up being such a mess that I turned it into my real name. So I advise everyone to start out using their real name. Here are the reasons why:

1. Your blog could get very popular, so plan for that. Blogging takes a lot of time. If you’re going to put in the time, you may as well do it assuming that you will gain a very big readership.

Imagine you get phone calls from the New York Times and they ask for you using your pseudonym instead of your name. What do you say? Imagine you get an inquiry from someone who might hire you and you have to explain that you are not exactly the person they’re calling. Mostly, though, imagine that when you use your real name and people don’t know who you are. No one wants to hear a long-winded explanation for a name. They just want you to use a name that works. Take it from me.

2. Blogging is good for your career, if you allow it to be. Picking a topic helps you focus your career energy on the intersection of your strengths and your interests. And really, it’s hard to blog and not become an expert in your topic. You read about the topic all the time, you think about it when you think about your posts, you have conversations about it constantly via links and comments. One of the best benefits of blogging is that it’s a great education. But how can you get credit in your field for this expertise if you blog under a pseudonym?

If you’re worried about how to keep a personal blog while you have a corporate job, check out Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion. He is employed at Edelman and is sort of inventing the wheel as he goes along. He makes mistakes very publicly, and we all learn from them, and he’s a great model for making a blog and a corporate job work together. Other examples of bloggers who have personal blogs and corporate jobs are Tim Bray and Melanie Parsons Gao (both at Sun Microsystems) or the hundreds of bloggers at Microsoft.

3. Blogging is a great way to network – if you are being yourself. Blogs are one, big conversation, so your ability to meet people and make real connections with them increases geometrically through blogging. People were very unsatisfied to hear that they thought they knew me but in fact I was not giving them my real name. And people who were just getting to know me got hung up on the name issue – they couldn’t believe that I was so well known by a name that wasn’t my name. Having a pseudonym is like having a wall up between you and everyone else. It doesn’t have to be that way, but that’s usually how people perceive it when they find out.

4. Technology can make your life feel more coherent, if you plan for that. One of the great things about social media is that we can integrate our work life and personal life so well because we can work remotely and on our own time. But this sense of an integrated life is undermined with dual identities. If you always tell people you have two names then your pseudonym will start to feel fragmented and fake. And if you never tell some people and not others then you won’t remember who knows you as which name, and you will feel inauthentic.

5. A pseudonym will not protect you from sexual harassment. It’s true that women bloggers get harassed online way more than men. Kathy Sierra is an extreme and terrible example, of course, but harassment happens in not so dramatic a way every day .

Online men pick on women because they are women . For example, Mike Arrington, a highly influential technology journalist, inexplicably insulted, the topic (knitting) of a very successful web site aimed at women. And each week I receive many comments on Yahoo Finance rife with misogynist accusations about sex and intelligence that the male columnists at Yahoo Fiance do not endure nearly as often.

But is this a reason to hide? There is a 70% chance that a knowlege worker will be harassed on the job. Women are more likely to be harassed in their office than online. Does it mean women shouldn’t show up to the office? No. Women have gotten good at dealing with harassment. Probably because it’s a fact of life. It starts when we are twelve years old and a guy whistles from a car as he drives by. And it looks to me like it never ends. We cannot stop this. At lest not today.

The best we can do is not suppress ourselves behind a pseudonym as a measure of protection. Otherwise, men get all the benefits of blogging and women don’t, and we create an all-new Web 2.0 version of the gender divide.

It’s telling that some of the most popular blogs focus on productivity. I learned this when I interviewed productivity gurus about their best time-management tips last year and it became the post that bloggers link to most often on Brazen Careerist.

How to get more things done is a hot topic for younger workers especially, and one that has seemingly endless angles. That’s because young people are good at multitasking, and yet feel as though true productivity goes a step further than simply working feverishly on more than one task at the same time.

Here are six productivity-blogger tips with some new takes on the old idea of blowing through your to-do list to feel good about your day. What’s interesting to note is that each piece of advice actually encourages people to get more done by slowing down to focus rather than multitasking nonstop:

Having goals is more important than the content of the goals

Productivity should be aimed at meeting goals rather than merely keeping up with one’s to-do list. It’s a question of the big picture versus the little picture, and we need to be sure to have some big-picture ideas about our life or we won’t be able to steer it.

So often, though, we don’t set goals because we’re worried they’ll change. But they’ll change regardless, and we don’t want the same things throughout our whole lives anyway. As Eric Nehrlich says on his blog Unrepentant Generalist, “The particular goals aren’t as important as the process of setting goals and working to meet them.”

Knowing you can meet goals encourages you to set more, and setting more encourages more conscious thinking about what you’re doing. That may well be the very core of productivity.

• Get information at scheduled times

In a world where most of us are knowledge workers, the person who’s best at taking in information and synthesizing it is going to stand out. The last thing you’d want to do, then, is stop taking in information. But there’s limitless information, so you have to set your own limits.

Tiffany Monhollon at Little Red Suit suggests scheduling when precisely you take in your information. This means that it doesn’t interrupt you constantly, which really undermines productivity, but it also doesn’t elude you, which is the sure way to become obsolete in the workforce.

• Make your to-do list doable

A lot of us get stuck because everything on our to-do list is daunting. As Gina Trapani explains at Lifehacker, each of us has two selves — the boss and the assistant. The boss self comes up with things that are cool to do, as well as things that are awful to do but that need to get done anyway. The assistant self has to execute all of it, and sometimes the boss self makes life impossible for the assistant self.

Ideas that have no execution strategy, projects that have 50 (or more) steps, and administrative tasks that aren’t essential all drive your assistant self crazy. Trapani explains how to make sure your boss self and assistant self are working together to create a to-do list that doesn’t stop you in your tracks.

You actually need to put a lot of thought into how you manage yourself. Maybe that’s why the best reader for this column is your philosopher self.

• Do something you’re passionate about

Every Monday, Zen Habits‘ Leo Babauta blogs about productivity and organization. That in itself is a great productivity lesson: If you schedule something important for certain days or certain times each day, you’ll get into the habit of getting the important things done.

Zen Habits’ No. 1 productivity tip is to do something you’re passionate about. Why? Because when you’re enthusiastic about something you’re better at it, and you don’t mind trying harder and putting more time into it. It’s the work you don’t really want to do that you put off or do slowly and without much attention.

• Do important tasks instead of urgent ones

Steve Pavlina shows how to make a distinction between the important tasks and the urgent tasks on your to-do list. Examples of important items on your list could be learning new skills, finding a new relationship (or working on the one you have), or starting a new project. Note that these items are for you, not for someone waiting for a response to your e-mail. Steve calls this paying yourself first.

Ask yourself if it will matter in five years whether you did a particular task or not. Taking that class you’ve always wanted to take passes the test — it’ll surely matter in five years. On the other hand, not answering that e-mail from an impatient coworker right this minute probably won’t matter in five years.

What does this have to do with productivity? You can’t be truly productive if you’re wearing yourself out by taking care of other people’s needs. If you decide that 5 out of 10 things on your to-do list won’t really be important in the long run, then you’ll be much more productive by making time to work on those less-urgent but more-important items first.

• Focus on outcome

Just because you’re getting something done doesn’t mean it matters. In the long run, you’ll feel better about the time you spend if you’re making a difference with the outcome.

We often put things on our to-do list that take much more time to accomplish than they’re worth, but we focus so much on getting them done that we don’t think about if they were worth the time.

Chris Michel has an equation for this on his blog Found|Read: Take the desired outcome (value) and divide it by actions (cost), and you have the return on your investment (time). Michael theorizes that looking at tasks this way will inspire you to come up with ways to get to the outcome with fewer wasted actions.

Timing Is Everything

As you try to implement new productivity tactics in your life, keep in mind a study from the Center for Creative Leadership that says we each have ways of doing things that are hardwired, and if we get stressed out we’ll revert to those ways.

So even though it’s tempting to try new productivity methods when you need them the most, you’ll have more success making the switch if you wait until a relatively calm period of your life.