This is about the farmer. The guy I met last year, and I drove through tornados, twice, to see. He dumped me. But I kept his toothbrush in my bathroom for five months while other men paraded through. And the way you can gauge if you love someone is if you keep the toothbrush even after the toothpaste gets so crusty that it makes a mess on the sink.

So it was a big day in May when he sent me an email inviting me to Burgers and Brew. It took only one email for me to let myself be obsessed with him again. (The great thing about a Blackberry is that if you spend the day at the office reading a romantic email fifty-five times, you don’t look obsessed; you look like a hard worker.)

The festival is a big deal. Restaurants here in Madison, WI understand the draw of the grown local movement, and the Farmer's pork is the meat of choice for the most picky chefs in the city and also the best pizza places.

Last year, when I had not met the farmer, his first invitation to me was for Burgers and Brew, and I declined. It struck me as one of the moronic, provincial invitations I get for Wisconsin stuff every day. Read more

It’s great fun to track trends to try to figure out what the future holds. The Generation after Gen Y is a mystery. Sort of. There are some things we know. And what we know, we know doesn’t change much. For example, people thought Gen Y’s sunny optimism would die down under the ardors of raising kids, but it didn’t. And people thought Gen X’s cynical, outsider approach would change when they became soccer moms, and it didn’t.

So it’s a safe bet that once you peg a trait in a generation, it likely won’t change much over time. But it could play out in interesting ways over time. Here are some ways that the traits of Generation Z might play out in the workforce of the future.

1. Generation Z will not be team players.
We know from Strauss and Howe that as generations cycle, the team generations (such as gen y) are usually followed by individualist generations. So it is not surprising to see trends that the same thing will happen over the next decade.
Gen Y are great team players. In fact, they are so team oriented that they often feel that nothing is getting accomplished at work unless there has been a team meeting about it.

But they are not likely to teach the value to their kids. In typical parent fashion, parents stress what they are lacking so that their kids don’t lack it. This is why, for example, first generation immigrants often do not teach their native tongue to their American kids. Read more

Most of us have a terrible time focusing on our work.

Left uninterrupted, we are likely to interrupt ourselves. The Internet, everyone's interrupter of choice, is the most tantalizing type of reward system to our brain: intermittent but unpredictable rewards, in the form of a randomly great video or a juicy email here or there. (This is also why kids love to whine to get what they want. Parents give in only when they are at their wit's end, creating, from a child's perspective, a similar, randomly yummy reward system.)

Each time we interrupt ourselves at work, the process to get us back to that point of focus takes twenty-five minutes. So we spend nearly a third of our work day recovering from interruptions, trying to recover our focus.

The time management gurus are all over this problem.

Winifred Gallagher is the author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. The thesis of the book is that the ability to positively wield your attention is the key to your quality of life. Gallagher says (in either her book or in the article that I am liberally quoting from — I'm not sure which, but I am distracted enough by the issue that I feel compelled to distract you as well) “You can't be happy all the time but you can pretty much focus all the time. That's about as good as it gets.” Read more

People ask me all the time how I can be so honest about my life in my blog. They want to know how I can write about marriage, sex, abortions, or running out of money over and over again. It's an endless list really, of the stuff I write about that people can’t believe I'm writing about.

But each of you has a list of things in your life similar to that, it’s just a list you don't want to talk about. I'm not special—I don't have more stuff that is difficult to talk about. I just have more difficulty not talking about difficult stuff.

This is why.

I’m going to start by telling you that I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. I was in a post-traumatic stress support group afterward. People were divided into groups of ten based on their experience at the site—how bad things were for you that day. I was in a group comprised mostly of people who narrowly escaped the building before it fell and, as they were running out of the building, were splattered by body parts from people who were jumping out of the building.

We had individual therapy as well. Here's what my therapist said to me: “Your childhood was so terrible that your experience at the World Trade Center was nothing compared to what you experienced as a kid. Your post-traumatic stress therapy needs to focus on your childhood.” Read more

Now that we have a recession, and maybe not so much a recession but a new way of doing business, people are starting to look at their career goals differently. And while interesting was the big goal when we were flush with cash, security will be the brass ring of the near future.

Because really, there is just so much interesting that a person can take. When the world becomes too unstable, that lack of stability consumes us.

Jeff Tweedy, from the band Wilco, describes the senselessness of living on the financial edge: “Having a solid [fiscal] base allows you to look at darker things and actually think about them. I debate people about this suffering myth, this tortured artists stuff, and they almost never buy it.” Tweedy is a harbinger of the trend to come, where the demographic you would expect to be holding out against stability for its own sake are actually leading the push for more of it. Because too much instability can ruin anyone, at any age.

Here are five new ways to approach your career so you can create stability in an unstable workforce: Read more

There are a million times we intuitively know what we should be doing in our careers, but the chatter around us makes us question ourselves. Too much. If I have one regret in my career it's that I didn't trust myself more, earlier.

Watching Sarah Palin resign from her governor post in Alaska inspires me to be more brave in my own career. She's running her career in ways I intuitively think we should all be running our careers. And she's reflecting my own experience back to me in a positive way: That breaking new ground is difficult but it pays off.

Here are four new career management ideas that Sarah Palin’s modeling, in an inspiring way, right now:

1. Get out of a job when you’re done doing it

We know that the old ways of managing a career aren't working. But it's so scary to try something new. For example, you know you should job hop, but it's not what careers used to be. And it's scary. People are constantly telling you you'll destroy your career if you job hop.

But Palin is refusing to waste her time in the Alaska governor's office. Who can blame her? It's a lot of small-issue local politics that take away from her establishing big, national-level ideas. Of course quitting a local job is a good idea if you want to run for national office. Read more

When I launched my company, Wired magazine contacted me to write a column about how to run a start-up. The editor, Dylan Tweney, blew me away with his offer. It wasn't just that he took me to lunch in the grown-local lunchroom at Wired. He also had this unbelievable faith in me that I knew what I was doing as a CEO.

Here is a confession of lameness: I said I'd write the column and then I lost confidence. I thought I didn't know enough about running a company to give other people advice.

Since then, I’ve spent two years running a start-up in the worst funding market in decades. After insane amounts of struggling, we have raised about $1 million, and for the first time, I do not feel panicked about keeping the company in business. We will have to raise more money, but I can see the path to that, and I think I can do it.

At the same time, I had a recent flurry of outside affirmation: Psychology Today featured me as a person who has outstanding resilience, and Self magazine is featuring me in their August “success” issue. So even though I squandered my opportunity to have a column in Wired, I am ready to give advice about how to run a start-up.

I'm going to answer the question people ask me most often: “What do I do when my company is out of money?”

Here is the answer: Read more

For a while I have been fascinated by the research about happiness. Some of my favorite research is from Sonja Lyumbomirsky, psychology professor at University of California Riverside. (She’s great at listing really small things you can do to impact your happiness.) And from Dan Gilbert's Hedonic Psychology Lab at Harvard. (I follow PhD students from that lab like other people follow favorite quarterbacks.)

But something I've noticed in the last year is that most of our happiness is actually dependent on our self-discipline. For example, we are happier if we exercise, but the barriers to getting to the gym are so high that it takes a lot more than missives from the Hedonic Psychology Lab to get us there. Also, Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at Florida State University, has studied self-esteem for decades, and finds that when it comes to success, self-discipline is much more important than self-esteem.

So I have started tracking my own self-discipline rather than my happiness. And I think that the process is making me happier, because I am teaching myself how to bounce back quickly when my self-discipline falls apart. Here's what I've learned: Read more