One of the reasons my column runs in more than 200 newspapers is that I send out one blog post a week to about 1000 editors. I have to do the list manually because, big surprise, most editors at most papers do not subscribe to blogs.

Today I was besieged by out of the office responses. Of course, everyone is out of the office. Very little news happens between Christmas and New Year's that you can't predict and write beforehand.

The time between Christmas and New Year's is a great time for you to take things into your own hands. During this time, almost all of senior management is completely checked out in most industries. After all, this is what senior is all about — getting to go where you want to at the end of December. So you might find that there are opportunities to get a big break. Read more

The process of picking the best posts of 2008 is actually very subjective. But I do think that year-end lists are a good way to look at the conversations we have had this year, and how our thinking has changed both personally and collectively.

Posts about my divorce weren’t my most popular, but I learned the most from them:

A Case Study in Staying Resilient: My Divorce Feb. 2008 (131)
I was scared to post an announcement about my divorce because I was in the middle of raising our first round of funding, and I thought I’d freak out investors. But I was more scared that if I stopped posting about myself I’d ruin the blog and my desire to write it. So I followed this post five seconds later with one about me being on CNN in an effort to distract investors. It turned out that investors were much more interested in divorce than CNN, and I realized that I was being rewarded by investors for being true to myself. Bonus: We raised $700,000 in funding.

Keeping an Eye on My Career While I go through a Divorce May 2008 (95)
The New York Times wrote about my divorce and questioned whether I should be blogging about it. My divorce lawyer told me I was going to jeopardize my settlement by blogging. “You look reckless,” he told me. I decided that I was willing to lose money in the settlement to be able to keep writing about my life. Addendum: My almost-ex-husband never complained about the blog.

Posts about the farmer were also not my most popular. But they were the most exciting for me to write. It’s been a year full of soul-searching about a lot of things in my life, including this blog. I knew I didn’t want to 500 posts on how to write a good resume. But I knew I wanted to still write about the intersection of work and life. The farmer gave me the opportunity to try something new. And these posts ended up opening a larger conversation among you guys about what I should be writing on the blog — input and insight that I really appreciate.

A New Way to Measure Blog ROI June 2008 (112)

How I Started Taming My Workaholic Tendencies June 2008 (136)

Vulnerability is the Key to Likability at Work (and on the Farm) Aug. 2008 (104)

Self-Sabotage is Never Limited to Just One Area of Your Life Oct. 2008 (47)

How to Go to a Meeting When You Want to Sit Home and Cry Nov. 2008 (103)

This is the list you were probably expecting. Before I got sidetracked:

Subjectively popular posts of 2008

The Hardest Part of My Job is that Everyone Lies about Parenting June 2008 (161)

Plastic Surgery is the Next Must-Have Career Tool, Maybe May 2008 (126)

Advice from the Top: Marry a Stay-at-Home Spouse or Buy the Equivalent May 2008 (168)

7 Reasons Why Graduate School is Outdated June 2008 (135)

Living Up to Your Potential is BS June 2008 (202)

My Annual Rant about Christmas at Work Dec. 2008 (187)

Post that generated the most thank-you notes:

How to Answer the Toughest Interview Question Feb. 2008 (117)

Post that I cried the most while I wrote:

The Part of Postpartum Depression that No one Talks About Feb. 2008 (102)

Post with the most diatribes in the comments section:

Writing Without Typos is Totally Outdated May 2008 (151)

Post that generated the most interviews from mainstream media:

Give Thanks that there is No Job Shortage for Young People Nov. 2008 (115)

Most popular guest post:

Twentysomething: Why My Generation is More Productive than Yours Sept. 2008 (140)

Thank you so much for all your comments and emails. The blog continues to be my favorite part of my job. And maybe my favorite job that I’ve ever had.

Last year, the most commented-on post here was Five Things People Say about Christmas that Drive Me Nuts. And the year before that, the piece that made the most newspaper editors cancel my column was, Christmas at the Office is Bad for Diversity.

In general, my point on the Christmas stuff is that religious holidays don't belong at work, and that people who don't celebrate Christmas should not be forced to use one of their religious holidays on Christmas. Why do I use a floating holiday for Yom Kippur and no one uses a floating holiday for Christmas? It's preferential religious treatment and there is no reason for it when you can give each employee x number of days off to use as he or she chooses.

Before you complain about this line of reasoning, please click on the links and read the posts I linked to above. Then you can argue.

I know that you guys have a lot to say about Christmas, not just because of the comments these posts receive, but also because over the years I have found that for the most part, Christians comment publicly, and Jews send private emails to me. Read more

Most people who are on top of their game respond to most emails within 48 hours. However some emails are so terribly written that it's actually impossible to send an answer. Other emails are so terribly written that the amount of time it would take to figure out what to answer is simply not worth it.

In order to get the response you're looking for, you need to ask a very good question. Here are five ways to do that:

1. Don't send an essay. Your whole email should not exceed five sentences. If you need to give the person a lot of information in order to help you, send them an email asking if you can send more information. But here's a tip: You're most likely to get a response if you don't need to send more information. A direct question is easiest to answer, and it doesn't take a lot of space.

2. Don't be vague. Here's an interesting question: “Is there a god?” But it's not a question for email, because any answer would be very long and philosophical. For this question, go buy a book. But that’s not even the worst type of offender. At least “Is there a god” is a short, direct question. Emails that call loudest for the delete button are those with vague requests for help followed by a long-winded personal introduction and no real question. Test yourself: Write a concise subject line, and then go back to the email and delete anything not directly related to that. Read more

I can always tell when things are really falling apart for me by how many days in a row I wear the same outfit. Last week, I wore my I’m-a-successful-CEO outfit four days in a row. In case you need a visual, it is black all over with ruffle near the neck — a little bit girly and hides dirt well.

You will be interested to know that four days included one plane trip, meetings with six investors, and one date (I smelled the shirt right beforehand and it seemed okay. I didn’t think he’d be getting that close anyway.)

The last day was when I was really sure I was going to change outfits. I had an interview with Elizabeth Vargas for 20/20. I packed a huge suitcase full of everything that might look good on TV and I told myself that I’d figure out what to wear the morning of the interview. But the morning of the interview I was actually crying to my attorney about how complicated our second round of funding is becoming, and I told him that I was going to quit the company and get a job writing for a local newspaper. I really said that.

Forget the fact that local newspapers really are not hiring writers. Really. I think I was just saying it to him so he could understand how totally stressful it is raising money in this financial environment. Plus, it’s totally not cool to be admitting to such huge stress levels when you are the CEO. I mean, who wants to fund a company when the CEO is having a mental breakdown? But really, every CEO who is raising money right now is staying up all night worrying. And not telling anyone.

Well, except me. I am telling my attorney. And now you. Read more

This week’s poll is about celebrities because I love peeking into their lives in order to see the world in new ways. I love learning so much that I think that's even why I spent so much time with the farmer even though it was bad for a long time before I stopped dating him. I was learning so much about farming and how people make life decisions in the context of that profession. So the learning part is sort of addictive to me. And in that respect, my attraction to the farmer is similar to my attraction to Madonna, Britney, Ashton, and Brad.

If you don’t read about celebrities, you’re missing a big learning moment. Of course, you’re missing a learning moment by not dating a farmer, too. But some things are more time-consuming than others. And I have to say that flipping through People has relatively high payoff. Here are some reasons I do it:

1. Use celebrity messes to gauge how you’re doing in your own failures.
One of my (many) past therapists told me that you can’t really tell how well you’re doing until something bad happens. Most of us manage ourselves fine when everything is going well. We discover our level of resilience only when things go poorly (download movies).

But how do you learn about this when most people hide themselves when things are bad? Most people hide and most people don’t talk about what’s truly sucking in their life, so we don’t really see how their resilience is tested until their problems are so over the top that they’re uncontrollably leaking into all aspects of life.

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It’s a season of joy, right? You are probably thinking that you can count on my blog posts to be a respite from seasonal joy. But still, I’m susceptible to peer pressure. Mostly because I think it’s an obligation of a friend to be sort of cheery. Because cheeriness is contagious. And on some level, I want to be your friend.

I have always thought a good mood is contagious, but now there’s more proof, in a study published last week in the British Medical Journal, (and in the Los Angeles Times, for those of us who like our research sliced in candy-sized bites.) The researchers followed 5000 people for decades and found that if you hang out with people who say they are happy then you are more likely to report that you are happy, too.

This might be a peer pressure thing, except it’s really a moot point. Because if you say you are happy, you get all the health benefits of being happy (image hosting). And, of course, those benefits are huge. It doesn’t really matter that it is irrational to be happy—you will mentally and physically in better shape if you go down that irrational path.

So even though I tend to choose rational discourse over cheery conversation, today we can have both. Here are three places where I found happiness and work intersecting.

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I announced last week that I’ll be running a poll on my sidebar each week. I'm aiming for a new one every Tuesday.

The poll is a fun way for me to think about career topics. A new format always gets me going. But it’s also fun because even after writing about careers for ten years, I have a lot of questions in my head that I have not found research to address.

Today’s poll is one of them. I know the research about who is bulimic and what happens to them. Mostly because I was bulimic all through college and I thought becoming an expert on the topic would help me stop throwing up. (That didn’t work, but the mental ward did). But there is no workplace research. And I’m curious. So I wrote the poll question because I genuinely want to know the answer: What percentage of women in corporate America are bulimic? I think the answer is higher than anyone would expect.

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I know that we have a bad economy, so bad that we have a not-yet-President who is running the country from the Chicago Hilton so that the markets don’t implode while Bush gives pardons for cronies.

But can we just take a minute for a reality check? It’s not really bad for people who are young. It’s a part of the world you don’t hear much about in mainstream media. Think about it. Most media is in NYC, and you don’t make a lot of money as a writer, so most people who are writing in the tri-State area are married to bankers. Yes, this is a huge generalization, but it is a stereotype because it’s true.

Two neighborhoods—Montclair, NJ, and Park Slope, NY—are the bastions of media elite married to banker elite. And it’s a combustible moment there, demonstrated by how we get a lot of reporting about how sad it is for the bankers right now. Who are mostly middle aged.

And we get a lot of reporting about how sad it is for older people in the workforce because those are the people getting laid off. The baby boomers love to report about how much discrimination there is against them. And they have huge pulpits to report that from.

Of course, don’t get me started. The baby boomers had a great run spending tons of money they didn’t have and then bitching that the economic rug is pulled out from under them. But there is no mention that Gen X never even had a good run. How about reporting that?

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I was thinking that a new blog design would be frivolous, and I should just write good posts. But then I ran the post about my new headshots, and the comments section was filled with people saying how much they hate the photo on my blog masthead.

That photo is from a time when I was just getting my big writing jobs—at Yahoo Finance and the Boston Globe—and my book was coming out. And the headshot was all about making me look older and wiser than people maybe thought I was.

But, really, I am not big on authority. I’m more about conversation. And I think it’s way more interesting to look a little off-kilter and ask good questions, than it is to look perfect and act like I have all the answers. So I knew it was time to change my photo.

Then I started getting excited about trying lots of new things on my blog.

Then I did what I do best: Found great people to work with.

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