People ask me all the time, “What blogs do you read?” The answer is that I read different ones at different times. It’s a mood thing, I think. I could give you my favorite blogs for finding cool research, or my favorite blogs from my friends, or my favorite fashion blogs for when I don’t know how to wear a pair of shoes I love. But the list I’m going to do today is the list of blogs I read when I get frustrated that running a company is so hard.

ValleyWag
Oh, I love Owen Thomas. He has a knack for making anything in Silicon Valley look totally stupid. And he is so sharp, that when I am feeling totally stupid, he can actually make me believe that I’m not alone. Art Spiegelman elevated the comic book format by using it to talk about the Holocaust. Owen Thomas elevates the gossip rag format by using it to tell people how to run a business.

TechCrunch
You know what? I hate reading this blog because it’s like a frat party but they forgot the beer and the girls. Still, I know that part of feeling like a competent entrepreneur is knowing what’s going on in the community. Plus, who can begrudge Michael Arrington kudos for making the most boring topic in the world — big egos taking down big egos — funny and interesting?

My own blog
Anyone with decent traffic who denies going to their blog for comfort is a liar. The first thing I do is go to the posts with more than 200 comments. I tell myself everyone loves me and I’m part of a vibrant community. So what if, on a typical post, 50% of the commenters say that I’m an idiot? Then I look at my stats page, and click obsessively to the posts people are reading right now. Then I look at the post about how high-earning women get more oral sex and I try to figure out how much money I’ll earn this year.

Waiter Rant
The problem with being a CEO is that when it’s going well, you think everyone is good and kind and the world is a great place. And when things are not going well, suddenly everyone is an asshole. So when things are not going well for me, I go to this blog because my asshole factor is nothing compared to this real-life New York City waiter. Bonus: The writing is beautiful.

Debauchette (not safe for work)
Look, if you don’t know what to do next with your company, you’re probably going to stop working for the day, and you will either eat or masturbate. What else is there? If you don’t want to put on twenty pounds while you’re trying to get funding, then go to debauchette. I’s such good writing about sex: so honest and intelligent. You must see the interview the blogger does with Diane Sawyer. And you must check out the American Apparrel ads on the sidebar: Bare breasts. So unexpected.

GigaOM
In my fantasy world, Brazen Careerist and GigaOM are very similar. In fact, Om and I were both columnists at Business 2.0. So he’s doing great over there — with something like $50 million gazillion in funding or whatever — so I think that somewhere there are people who think my model is similar and money is going to fall from the sky really soon. Then I see that GigaOm made itself a little darker blue and I think about doing the same thing on Brazen Careerist.

How to Change the World
There’s a lot to love about Guy. First, I think Alltop is genius. The fact that Silicon Valley makes fun of it is evidence to me that the rest of the country will find it very useful. And he is so smart about finding fast ways to construct good blog posts. And he’s great at marketing himself as a speaker. When Brazen Careerist runs out of money, I think about Guy: I should be better at marketing myself as a speaker. I got paid $15,000 a speech last year. I should fund the company with speeches. Duh.

Copyblogger
The problem with me running my company is that it’s much more fun to be a blogger than a CEO. In this recession, funding my company is harder than writing posts about the intersection of the workplace and sex. So if I feel stuck in funding, I go to Copyblogger, get a few pointers, put them into my post, and then congratulate myself that I am such a good blogger. If only there were hockey stick financials for a blog like mine. I’d be set.

27 replies
  1. Helen
    Helen says:

    What? A chance to be the first to comment on Penelope’s blog! Brazen Careerist is on my list of must-reads. I love that I keep coming back and am never disappointed.

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    A couple of choices besides the two that you mention if you decide to stop working for the day are to take a walk or take a nap. I recommend either but if you have already hit the food then definitely go for the exercise. By the way if you find yourself depressed I also highly recommend the exercise route.

  3. John
    John says:

    I love reading your blog and it has become one of the few I check on daily. Whether you are giving advice at the intersection of work and life, or the workplace and sex, you always have something great to take my mind away from the mind-numbing work I do. Thanks!

    Btw, I hope your investment in men returns some profit and you end up earning a lot of money this year.

  4. Mitch Wagner
    Mitch Wagner says:

    Penelope – Added a few of your reccos to my list.

    I’d like to say that your blog is one of the ones I read when I’m stressed — but by the time I need cheering up, I’ve already read your blog. Yours is one of the few blogs and news sites I read every morning, first thing, no matter how busy my day is, along with InformationWeek (which is where I work) and a couple of others.

  5. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    When I’m stressed I love to read The Bloggess, because she is hilarious and doesn’t hold anything back. Here is one of my favorite posts from her this past year which details when she twittered about her cat’s ovaries. Sounds completely lame but was hilarious, I just love it:
    http://thebloggess.com/?p=849

  6. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Penelope,

    As soon as I read your post I went to the library and checked out Maus. You reminded me that I have been meaning to read it for years. My guess is that graphic novels will become a powerhouse in literature within the decade. If only I could draw!

    Thanks also for your terrific blog. I read the article about changing your walk and the catwalk strut actually works. Unbelievable.

    One question I would love your blog to address is how to handle a promotion you’re not really ready for to a department whose work you don’t understand. I had one a year ago and it led me to your blog for career advice. I’ve been “faking it til you’re making it” and looking for mentors. Unfortunately without success. Also taking every workshop and reading every how-to under the sun. The humility of being under-qualified really take a toll. What would you recommend?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Sometimes people underestimate the difference between management skills and domain skills. For example, I managed a quality assurance department at a software company. And even though I’m not a developer and I don’t understand how to fix any of the bugs, I understand how to manage a large group of twenty-year-old software testers who think they are just playing video games all day.

      What I mean here is that management skills do not usually require domain skills — until you get pretty high up and are focusing on strategy.

      Some people might argue with me here, but when I read your question, I think that you probably are doing okay because you haven’t been fired. And when people get upset that you don’t have domain knowledge, brush it off. Be good at managing people and you’ll be fine.

      Does this help, or did I miss the question?

      Penelope

      • Sharon
        Sharon says:

        Actually it did help. A lot. Your comment about domain knowledge and “brushing off” when people react negatively to my lack of knowledge was especially helpful.

        When you’ve become an expert in your field on a domain level but then become management in another, it’s tough to be called out for not really “getting it.” But having a thick skin would be a huge advantage, and I’ll work at growing mine.

        Also the transition from non-management to middle management without really developed management skills (hey, I’m a MFA not an MBA) takes a lot of getting used to.

        Maybe you could do another column on skills new managers need that you didn’t touch on yet in your “management” section? Such as how to manage people you used to befriend, how to know what really is on the QT and what you can share with colleagues, and how to make friends when there are fewer women at your level (and the guys will wonder if you just want to sleep with them). No doubt you’ve faced and conquered all of these!

        I did wonder if now that you’re divorced that you actually found it less stressful than a promotion? I’ve been both and wonder about the people who dreaded the promotion more…who are they?

        And your comment about not being fired yet made me laugh. Yeah, maybe I am doing okay.

        Thanks for replying!

  7. Richa
    Richa says:

    Hi P,
    Your blog is amongst my ‘must-reads’ when I’m stressed out or just need a quick break. Of all the ‘career advice’ out on the net, I keep coming back to your blog. It sounds more like a chat with a familiar friend than ‘career advice’. And for me right now it serves to tickle the grey cells – I’m on maternity leave with a 2 month old baby :) What with diapers and sleepless nights – your blog is one of my few links to the career woman that i used to be!

  8. principalspage
    principalspage says:

    I don’t mind saying that I am a little hurt…

    I though we had an agreement… I read your blog… you read mine…

    It’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore…

    Is it because I loved the farmer?

  9. curiously random
    curiously random says:

    Oooooh, thanks for sharing. The blog I’m posting under here is my “anonymous” blog which doesn’t get out and find other bloggers very often. It’s nice to be introduced to some interesting writers that have nothing to do with what I do for a living. My work blog gets tedious at times.

    • lance stratton
      lance stratton says:

      HERE’S A RADICAL THOUGHT:

      WHY DON’T YOU CONSIDER THE IDEA OF FUNDING YOUR COMPANY WITH COMPANY PROFITS FOR A CHANGE?

  10. Frank
    Frank says:

    http://www.dooce.com/
    She writes just like you, about…? Don’t know what the theme might be…don’t go to it that often because it sucks the hours out of my life. I can’t stop reading. You’ll love it. Direct, honest, fucking hilarious knife-edge subtle wit.

    Thanks for the list. If I ever lose my job, my wife and kids, and my house fixes itself, I’ll check them out. More likely, some night when I’m pulling an all nighter, supposed to be grading…that’s probably when I’ll check them out.

  11. Lorne Pike
    Lorne Pike says:

    Thanks Penelope. Say your blog mentioned on Twitter so I thought I’d take a look. Enjoyed the post; I’ll be back! And thanks for these new blogs to check; some good reading for this evening.

    Have a great day…

  12. bilbo
    bilbo says:

    I’ve seen your picture. The amount of money you make will have very little to do with how much oral sex you get. You’ll be able to get as much as you want.

    I’m still interested in the Blackberry job.

  13. Anna
    Anna says:

    Well, I don’t comment much as I feel lost in the crowd, but I’m more motivated to do it when I disagree with you that when what you write seems true and obvious.

  14. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    I read your blog, weekly or so, usually when I’m feeling the need for “a reality check.” I’m finance analyst, and spend almost all of my work hours alone (with some teamwork). I’m also parenting, and caring for an older spouse. Being part of the sandwich generation (among other labels) I often wonder how I’m doing, in my life goals (if I even know what they are these days, having achieved many and still creating new ones) and in comparison to my peers, not as a competitive thing, just because I like to know I’m not alone. Most of my colleagues are off in their own worlds and we just work together, no socializing, not much in common after hours. We do work hard, keep busy with multiple on-going projects, and are an educated bunch that like to keep on top of the news. Still I find I’m lonely and reading your blog, for some crazy reason, makes me feel more normal! I’ve tried your spin off web-site (with all the kids) and it just isn’t the same. I guess I’m too old to be amazed that work is work, or jaded to believe it isn’t, and yes I already know that finding my dream job was a job itself. I’m generally happy with my choices (I did the MBA, no regrets though it was damn expensive and took years to pay off, and I’m on my third major career change, so I figure I’ll have at least one more). I’m looking forward to my child growing up and going to college and making her own life. I get a lot from this blog, about how to describe the modern world to my daughter in a no-nonsense way, and I’ve learned that learning is lifelong (and no college isn’t necessary, but it would be nice, if we can afford it for her). I get a kick out of the personal stories (the farmer, divorce, dating again, and 9/11) and I am always more impressed by the career advice, because even though I’m not looking for a new job at the moment, my resume is always up to date and I’m looking for the next big thing. (I have some ideas.) I’ve commented before, and very much enjoy reading the comments on this web-site. I think this blog attracts an intelligent community and certainly readers are encouraged to write too, which is way cool. I was always amused by the complaints too, marveling that people would even bother. Here are my two other favorite web-sites to read when I’m feeling the need for a reality check. Best wishes, to all, and all you folks in Wisconsin I do hope are staying warm!

  15. eneralme
    eneralme says:

    Известная компания Дженерал Мебель предлагает мебель из массива сосны, скамейки и пластиковый стул с доставкой по умеренной цене. Мы гарантируем высокое качество всего ассортимента продукции нашего магазина.

  16. Jeffrey
    Jeffrey says:

    I just stumbled upon this blog a couple of weeks ago and have been quite – but I love your writing style – wonderful – I am also a fan of copyblogger :)

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