All-new launch for my company. Hooray!

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My company just launched, all-new, at For those of you who have been asking for the past year: “What’s your business model?” You can read about it on TechCrunch. If you want the full pitch, you can read the press release, (and you should know that all last week, when I wasn’t blogging, I was writing six thousand versions of our press release.)

Here’s some advice for everyone who is starting a company: Write your big press release first, before you do anything at all. And then work backwards. Map out the milestones you need to make the press release come true, and that tells you how to run the first stage of your startup.

To be clear: we did not do that. I mean, if we did, our press release would have had to say, “Ryan Paugh announces that he has just made it through two years of Ryan Healy and Penelope Trunk fighting tooth and nail over totally irrelevant details of building a social network that is a career management tool for the next generation workforce.”

Then Ryan Healy and I would rewrite that press release ten times because Tech Crunch announced that they are sick of people using the term “next generation” and Ryan doesn’t want to use it but I think it’s fine because it’s in a different context. (LinkedIn is for gen x. Brazen Careerist is the job site for the next generation, demographically speaking. )

Then there would be a quote from Ryan Healy that says, “If I had known that we were going to expand from being a blog network to a full-blown social network then I would have never put up with the insane amount of rewriting that Penelope made me do to have a guest post on her blog.”

I tried to write a normal launch blog post where I take a victory lap, but I think you know that I’m not the type. I do feel really, really proud of what we’ve done. Brazen Careerist is a site that lets you build your network the way it’s supposed to happen: through genuine conversation. Most of you have watched me go through total hell to get this company off the ground. A lot of you wonder why I do it. The reason is that I truly believe that becoming an active participant in a professional community really will change your life.

I was really, really lonely. I was a new mom, and I had a failing marriage, and I moved to a city where I knew no one. I started blogging, and it was a lifeline to me. Not only did it provide fun, stimulating conversation, but it reminded me that I’m great at business, and I should be doing a business. Talking within the context of a community helped me find myself again, and the process of posting ideas helped me announce to the world what I am really good at, and sometimes—actually, most of the time—those things go hand in hand. (So it’s no coincidence that the new launch of Brazen Careerist provides tools so that anyone can have this experience of defining yourself by posting your ideas.)

I convinced Ryan and Ryan to move to Madison to do a company with me. They knew from the beginning that the main goal for me with a startup was to have fun. And when they arrived in Madison, the thing that was most jarring to them was how weird and isolated I was. It’s not how I seem on my blog. I know that. I mean, most people think I am weird on my blog but not that weird in person. The thing is that I’m actually more weird in person. So a lot of what our startup has been is all of us learning to adapt to each other (the company is basically a Penn State fraternity and me. Not kidding.)

I didn’t realize I had Asperger syndrome until Ryan and Ryan kept pointing out the weirdness I have. I realized they are the same things my son goes to therapy for. People ask me a lot to write about Asperger syndrome. I am hesitant because I am still working out how to deal with it. One thing I know, though, is that friends are very very hard. People like me because I’m smart and interesting, but I am hard to be friends with. I don’t quite understand the process. A lot of times people will say, “You think your blog readers are your friends, but they’re not.”

This is probably true, but I don’t get it. The blog has gotten me through one of the toughest times in my life. Today I have a great company, solid funding, a great household arrangement, and a good-for-me boyfriend. I didn’t have this a year ago. I had a mess on my hands. And I was so so grateful to have a community on the blog to talk to. The community talks about work when I want to talk about work, and the community talks about personal stuff when that’s what I’m thinking about.

So. Okay. I am scared to do something now. I am telling you thank you because this community feels like my friend, even though I know it is evidence of mental oddness that I think this. I know I am so lucky to have a community that is so smart and insightful that the comments section is exciting to read. I know that’s rare on the Internet. So every day I feel lucky, and what I’m scared to do is ask you for more. But I’m doing that now.

I’m doing it because I think you know that the last eight years of my career has been dedicated to building the Brazen Careerist brand and the company around it. And now with this launch, we need a lot of people to try out the idea that you can control your career by building strong networks through conversation and talking about your ideas.

If everyone who subscribed to my blog signed up at, the launch would be deemed a huge success. So, I’m asking you to do that now. Go sign up. And then let me know what you think. And thank you so much for sticking with me through hard times so that on this really exciting day you are here to share it with me.

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  1. Ashie
    Ashie says:

    I’d like to ask you a question, in case you get a chance to answer it in between hecticness.
    A lot of successful female bosses I’ve worked with were very angry people and called mean. Yelling at people for no real reason for instance. You seem kind of angry too – yelling at the shoe guy who said you don’t want to look like a prude, the whole David Dellison thing. But I don’t mean that as an insult, it’s standing up for yourself. It’s the yelling women who make life easier for the quiet ones.
    So do you think successful women are generally more “angry” than most women?
    Oh, and did I say congratulations? I’m sure it’ll be a raging success!

  2. Theresa Quintanilla
    Theresa Quintanilla says:

    I’m 51 years old but fall into that weird preview generation you mentioned once. Should I still sign up? Or should I stay out of the way? I don’t want to make the 20-somethings uncomfortable. (I make enough people uncomfortable as it is.)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Go ahead and sign up!

      The site is for people who understand that the rules of managing one’s own career have changed, and that we are each responsible for our own career path. All the ideas we talk about on this blog all the time. Anyone who can keep up with this blog is someone who would fit on Brazen Careerist.

      One of the most popular posts on my blog is that your age is not about when you were born. It’s about how you communicate. And this is true for community at Brazen Careerist, as well.

      (link to that post: )

      Everyone who enjoys reading my blog should go sign up!


    • John
      John says:

      No, it’s a sign of mental weirdness to think you “almost died” when the twin towers fell on you when they didn’t, that you’re a “serial entrepreneur” who founded three companies before this one (later changed to two) when she didn’t, and when you believe you’re a business success when all you’ve ever done that can be factually-documented is play professional beach volleyball and write online porn.

      • Caitlin
        Caitlin says:

        It’s a sign of mental weirdness to obsessively read a blogger you don’t respect solely for the purpose of leaving disparaging comments. In the real world, that’s called stalking and harassment.

        As for the Asperger’s syndrome, I think everyone is on a continuum and most people are more self-obsessed than is truly desirable.

  3. Ashe Mischief
    Ashe Mischief says:

    I have to agree with JenX above– I don’t think its a sign of mental weirdness to think your readers are your friends… I tend to think that way about mine as well.

  4. Erin
    Erin says:

    I don’t think it’s weird at all that you consider this community your friend. That’s exactly how I feel about the people who leave comments on my blog as well. How could people who read your most intimate thoughts not become friends?

    • Jo
      Jo says:

      It depends on your definition of “friend”.
      Merriam-Webster online:
      1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : acquaintance
      2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group
      3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
      4 : a favored companion

      Many readers are 2a, I don’t know how many are 4, or even 1a. Other online definitions go even further, such as Princeton’s Wordnet:

      # S: (n) friend (a person you know well and regard with affection and trust) “he was my best friend at the university”
      # S: (n) ally, friend (an associate who provides cooperation or assistance) “he’s a good ally in fight”
      # S: (n) acquaintance, friend (a person with whom you are acquainted) “I have trouble remembering the names of all my acquaintances”; “we are friends of the family”
      # S: (n) supporter, protagonist, champion, admirer, booster, friend (a person who backs a politician or a team etc.) “all their supporters came out for the game”; “they are friends of the library”

      I would guess many readers are supporters, but most are not known well & regarded with affection and trust.

      Degrees of meaning; we could use some more words for “friend”!

  5. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Have you actually been diagnosed with Aspberger’s syndrome or is this a self-diagnosis? If you are self diagnosing, I would highly encourage you to go in and be tested yourself to verify this.

    • John
      John says:

      Penelope’s been diagnosed with whatever makes her life more dramatic this post: Aspberger’s, serial entrepreneurial bug, a near-death in the twin towers, sexual abuse, you name it. Alien abduction and impregnation is probably next.

      • Belinda Gomez
        Belinda Gomez says:

        JOhn–you’re a genius. I like to read PT because she’s entertaining, but I don’t believe a word of any of it, including “the”, “a” and “and”.

        The self-created are fun to watch.

  6. I'm In
    I'm In says:

    Congratulations on your new unveiling!

    Like Theresa, I’m out of your target audience’s age group – this was a big 5-0 for me this year. But, career-wise, I’m a late bloomer and I feel more part of the Gen Y than my own. My age-peers are planning their retirements. I’m planning my business start-up!

    So, yes, I signed up.

  7. editormum
    editormum says:

    Congratulations on the launch. I hope you are successful.

    I don’t know if I will sign up or not. I’m already on Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other sites … it gets pretty overwhelming to keep up with half a dozen social networking sites plus keeping my own blog up-to-date, and since I’m not in your target group (I just turned 40, so I’m guessing I’m on the outermost fringe), I don’t know that I would fit in.

    I DO want to encourage you to post about your Asperger’s Syndrome. I know several people who have it, including a sweet young kid in my karate class, and would love an “insider’s view.”

    And I do echo the previous commenter who asked if you have been officially diagnosed. Because I have some indicators of both Asperger’s and OCD, but official diagnosis was negative for both. Which I guess means that I am just weird, without a good excuse for it. :-)

  8. Margie Newman
    Margie Newman says:


    Congrats! I’ve been one of your faithful virtual friends for a few years now – and proud of it! I’m so excited for you and the Ryans. The new site is beautiful. Although I expressed (last night) some doubt I’d fit in with your new vision, (this morning) I’m finding the new layout much easier to navigate – more inviting. When I leave, I find myself wanting to log back in again!

    And thank you for your thoughtful comment on my blog; I appreciate you stopping by FlackRabbit.

  9. JS Dixon
    JS Dixon says:

    While we may not be friends in the traditional sense of the word the nice thing about a blog is that we are still a community, and writing is very therapeutic. The thing is if you have a lot of readers than it is because you provide good content with your writing. While yeah, getting out and doing stuff with people in the real world is important, I would not let those comments get to you.

  10. rainie
    rainie says:

    Congratulations! When I am at home and not wage slaving, I will definitely sign up! To me, friends are people you miss when they aren’t around. I’d miss you if you weren’t here. *hugs*

  11. Mike
    Mike says:

    Just singed up. :)

    Congratulations P. Looks like the hard work has paid off. I’m excited to see what you and the Ryans have up your sleeve.

    It’s very nice to hear you this happy. May it always be so.


  12. Barbara A. Zelnick
    Barbara A. Zelnick says:

    Odd-weirdness of the globe untie! Just kidding – unite!

    I’m am sooo enjoying your offerings and work. (Still awed by the honesty of your post about your family trauma. You’ll inspire others to be kind to themselves.)

    Thank you for doing such an amazing job of being real and building a community of appreciative odd-weird friends – the best kind!

    I’ll go sign up – even though my body is old, my mind is young.

  13. Karl Staib - Work Happy Now
    Karl Staib - Work Happy Now says:

    I think it’s very cool of you to admit that you have Asperger syndrome. I actually think it’s helped your creativity. Every time I come to this blog I am always amazed by the unique ways you present ideas. You take life in from a new angle and throw light on these concepts that have taught me a lot about writing and communication.

    That’s what working happy is all about to me. Letting our true selves out and not being afraid of what other people think.

    I signed up for the Brazen Careerist network. Good luck and I’ll be here and on the Brazen Careerist network.

  14. Nat
    Nat says:

    I relay your blog posts to my friends as if I’m sharing a success, or challenge of any of my friends. If the ‘career rules’ are changing, why not the ‘friendship rules’ as well?

    Best of luck and congratulations. All the best!


  15. Becca
    Becca says:

    WOW. My brother just visited me in Denver last weekend, he traveled from Madison via train with his gf….that was a mess of issues in itself…but that is it!!!! He has Asperger syndrome!!! I don’t mean to take away from your fantastic launch, I think it will be a huge success…..but from the age of 8 I didn’t understand why running his little sister over with a massive wood toboggan while she screamed in pain never quite bothered him, I mean he tried to show it bothered him but I knew he was more concerned with the lines of his next run…..ANYWAY, THANK YOU!!!!!!! 20 years later it is starting to make some sense, to give it a name…..well its HUGE for me. I wonder how he will take my e-mail today……we shall see!

  16. Colin
    Colin says:

    Congrats on your new launch! I’m planning to sign up today or tomorrow.

    I, too, am curious to hear more about Asperger’s connection.

  17. Ruby Leigh
    Ruby Leigh says:

    Hi Penelope!
    Whenever I read this site… I feel like I am your friend! I say this because (though no formal diagnosis) I too have been aligned with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I struggle to make friends too. I consider my “online community” to be my friends too. I read blogs and think I am “building relationships”, but I’m not… especially since I rarely make comments, and my own blog is often dormant. It seems that a common parallel with AS symptoms is to have a difficult time seperating reality from the imagined. I might be speaking out of turn here, but it’s true for me at least. I can identify what is “real” and down to earth, and I whole-heartly admire that quality… but on the inside I live in a fantastical land. Made up of conversations that could have happened (but didn’t) and the pretense that I am famous.. and my name is Ruby Leigh.

  18. eugene
    eugene says:

    This is a pretty dope site~ I’ve always been reluctant to use LinkedIn because of its design, color-scheme, and layout. BC looks a lot like fb, which only means that I’m more comfortable using it than other career-based social networking alternatives.

    The “Featured Posts” is an excellent way of giving me something to do with i visit BC. On LinkedIn, I am updated with mundane connections from my other friends… which is wonderful & everything, but doesn’t really give me direction or inspiration.

    Nice job. Keep up the good work yo~


  19. Amy L
    Amy L says:

    Some feedback which sounds harsh but isn’t meant to be:

    I went to the site, but all there is is a sign up form. Maybe that’s because there isn’t any content, but it’s not very compelling. I wanted to browse the site and see some enticing stuff that convinces me joining is worthwhile. I want to see profiles, conversations, etc., stuff that gives me a preview of what I’m getting myself into. An “About” page or ad copy isn’t going to do it, that doesn’t really have much credibility.

    If this were my company, I would have harnessed the community of bloggers from the old site to play on there for a while so there was something for people to look at on launch.

  20. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I totally want to try it. Of course, I’m going to sign up! And I fit the target market anyway, since I’m on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y. I’ll report back…

  21. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    Signed up, Penelope. Intriguing – looks a little too much like FB for my taste – but needs more stuff to get me excited about making it a daily destination. Maybe because I’m a little older than your target (ok, a lot older) but I need to be convinced that this is where I want to spend my time. So go ahead. Dazzle me.

  22. Van
    Van says:

    I’m sold, joined! Like some others, I am experiencing some bugs. Hopefully these will be fixed in due time.

    I’m enjoying the website so far, congratulations on your success!

  23. Jim
    Jim says:

    I’m glad to see you’re getting your mojo back Penelope. Congrats on your launch. I was pleased with your reply to the 51 year old dude, especially since I’m a tad older than he. I’m about to wrap up an almost 30 year career in a job I now despise and trying to set myself up for a new career in something different – hence my leap into the use of social technologies. Have you thought (maybe it’s too late) to address the Baby Boomers who are planning second careers? I don’t mean mixing this in with your new site but maybe as another service. Just a thought.

    And last, re your comment about friends in the blogosphere, you no doubt know that you have a supportive community. But there are also the voyeurs who like to peek in to observe when people are having difficulties and expose their feelings publicly.

    • I'm In
      I'm In says:

      You should join BC and start a group for second careerists. I’ll join, since that’s definately me.

  24. Matt Wrench
    Matt Wrench says:

    Congrats! I’m excited to try out the site. Thanks for always being completely honest on your blog; it’s a rare but refreshing concept to witness online.

  25. Clare
    Clare says:

    Congratulations from another gen-Xer. Signed up and Ryan Paugh is already a fan… Does this mean I’m cool with the gen-Y crowd too?!

  26. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    Congrats Penelope!

    I’ve followed your challenges in building Brazen Careerist with special interest as I’ve been starting a company of my own, Your writing has made me smile late at night as I searched for bugs and wrote endless versions of my “pitch”.

    While you’ve targeted the underserved Generation Y market early in their lives, RememberItNow! is targeted to boomers and their parents further down the road. Instead of networking for a job this group thinks about taking pills on time, providing long-distance caregiving, and organizing their healthcare. (As a baby boomer, I have to say, the challenges of Generation Y sound like more fun.)

    I’ve found creating a startup to be a very lonely process. Thanks for the company.

    May Brazen Careerist be a blazing success, and your mornings be filled with private Pilates instruction.

  27. Dree
    Dree says:

    I just joined…I’m glad it’s more Facebooky now. I often feel like a biological Gen Y with the cynical outlook of a Gen Xer, so the bubbly preachiness of the old blog-focused site didn’t much appeal to me. I feel like I could better find my way in this format. Up yours, Ryan!

    Re: Asbergers…I find most people I meet exhibit autistic-like symptoms at some point or another. If they don’t, it’s almost like I’m not interested. My favorite people are all a little “autistic”. I feel like sometimes autistic tendencies are just a way of acknowledging how weird and nonsensical this existence can be.

  28. Confused User
    Confused User says:

    I’m not sure I quite get it.

    So I sign-up, create a profile, share my ideas by blogging, etc. But how do employers find me to offer me a job if the site is members only?

  29. mtimothy
    mtimothy says:

    Congratulations! I’m really glad to read that you’re doing so well.

    I also have Asperger’s syndrome and (consequently) no friends. Reading and writing are my primary means of communication. So please know the imaginary-friend syndrome goes both ways (at least with some of your readers).

  30. Heather
    Heather says:

    I’ve signed up and found a group- the site is really easy to navigate and I already have a fan – (thanks Ryan). Congrats!

  31. poboy
    poboy says:

    If I can offer one piece of advice – I would be reluctant to create a job network based on ‘Generation Y’, because that could be interpreted by a disgruntled plaintiff to mean you are discriminating based on age, which is of course illegal under US federal law.

    Your press release implies in several places that the site is for people of a particular age, e.g. “Gen-Y’ers finally have a place where they can gather, share ideas, form meaningful relationships based on shared interests and, most of all, be themselves”. It is illegal to “classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of such individual's age”, which is what your press release states.

    • Caitlin
      Caitlin says:

      That’s ridiculous. There are plenty of age-based clubs, including for Baby Boomers and seniors.

      In any case, any such lawsuit would fall flat on its face given that there is no actual barrier to people of any age signing up. In the sign-up process it asks for a date of birth and the drop-down menu options stretch back to the beginning of last century.

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