A lot of people ask me how I manage to keep a job when I have Asperger syndrome. So I’m doing a series this week on the topic, because it's true that most people with Asperger's are not doing well at work. The work place rewards social skills, and people with Asperger's have a social skill disorder.

I will never have great social skills, but I make them better by ensuring that I'm in my best social environment for work. For most people with Asperger's, inadequate social skills are exacerbated by sensory integration disorder, which is a tendency to be overwhelmed by outside stimuli. This frequently overwhelmed feeling makes one unable to concentrate on social skills.

Here are the ways I compensate for sensory integration disorder so that I can focus on having social skills that will make people want to work with me.

1. Establish routines to limit input.
Food is a problem for me. I hate variety. I hate that I don't know what is coming. My effort to control food got so extreme that I landed in a mental ward with an eating disorder. Today, I try to never go out for a meal. If I have to, I order salmon. Everywhere. And just looking for the salmon I get overwhelmed reading the menu. Too many details about food.

Given a choice, I eat a Power Bar for every meal and snack, (two= a meal, one= a snack,) and I hate if the store is out of both peanut butter and vanilla. I don't like variety, even in Power Bars. Read more

People often tell me that I should write career advice for people with Asperger Syndrome. This is because I am surrounded by people who have Asperger's, and I have it myself. Please, do not tell me I don't have it. First of all, it looks very different in men and women, and most of you have experience with men. Second, I'm way more weird in person than I am on the blog. And surely you thought it was the other way around.

So, anyway, the reason I'm good at giving career advice is because I had to learn things systematically, which helps me break it down for everyone else.

For example, I had to learn that a candy dish on someone's desk means “I like to talk with people.” Other people read this cue instinctively. It makes for a good blog post but an annoying co-worker if I don't teach myself stuff quickly.

I don't really do career coaching. I don't have patience. But often career coaches send people with Asperger's to me, because mostly, these people are extremely difficult to coach.

They are difficult to coach because the biggest problem is that non-verbal cues that are obvious to everyone else are totally lost on people with Asperger's. For example, you can tell when you are boring someone, but someone with Asperger's cannot—we just keep talking. Read more

I starting to think that the most effective preparation for a good career is religion.

I am writing this post on the eve of Yom Kippur. I am constantly trying to figure out how religion fits in my life. Sometimes I think it doesn't fit. I mean, I'm a Jew dating a pig farmer. And I can't figure out what to do with my kids on Yom Kippur, so I'm sending them to school. I never, once in eighteen years, went to school on Yom Kippur. So I know it's going to feel crappy. I hope my family is not reading this.

Well, of course they are not, because they are in synagogue today.

I wish I could make my religion problems go away. I wish I could not care about religion because I'm an intellectual. Or I wish I could not care about religion because I am fine doing it however I do it.

One thing that nags at me is that I know for sure is that religion is great preparation for being able to get what you want out of your work life. And, if you read this blog regularly, you know that I think the purpose of work is to get you what you want out of your whole life, not just the work part. Read more

Here is my advice about job hunting long-distance: Forget it. It’s not going to work for most of you, and you’ll need to relocate before you get the job. But for a few of you, there’s hope for a long-distance job hunt will work. So, here’s some advice if you must make it work:

1. Pitch yourself as specialized.
Most people are relocating from a city that is in low demand to a city that is high demand. For example: Tucson to San Francisco. There are not a lot of skill sets that someone has to look outside San Francisco to get. If you want to get a job from Tucson, you need to have one of those skill sets that people do not think they can hire for in San Francisco. Usually this means that you’re very specialized. So, the first thing about getting a job in a city you don’t live in is that you need to be very specialized or in high demand.

The idea behind being a specialist is that you are so good at a very specific thing that people are unlikely to find someone as good as you locally. Sometimes a good career coach can help you rewrite your resume to focus on a specialty. If you don’t have one, a good primer for finding a specialty is reading about the funeral industry, where you have to specialize in something (sometimes weird) in order to survive. Read more

Recently I ran the following twitter:

“I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

Why the uproar over this twitter?

Not only have bloggers written whole posts about the disgustingness of it, but 70 people unfollowed me, and people actually came to my blog and wrote complaints about the twitter on random, unrelated posts.

So, to all of you who think the twitter was outrageous, think about this:

Most miscarriages happen at work. Twenty-five percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Seventy-five percent of women who are of child-bearing age are working. Most miscarriages run their course over weeks. Even if you are someone who wanted the baby and are devastated by the loss, you’re not going to sit in bed for weeks. You are going to pick up your life and get back to it, which includes going back to work.

This means that there are thousands of miscarriages in progress, at work, on any given day. That we don’t acknowledge this is absurd. That it is such a common occurrence and no one thinks it’s okay to talk about is terrible for women. Read more

We reorganized the company today. We brought in a new, interim CEO, who's not me. For many entrepreneurs, that is their worst nightmare.

But I couldn't be happier. For one thing, it's a sign that my company, Brazen Careerist, is doing well. Remember when the company was running out of money and my electricity was getting turned off? There was no one worrying then that I was the wrong person for the CEO position. No one cared because it looked like we were going under.

But then the media started talking about how we could be LinkedIn for Gen Y and we started moving fast. I don't worry about of money anymore, and we are moving at a faster speed because we can see where we are going, how we'll make money, and how we'll grow the community.

1. Know where your strengths are.
The thing that makes me great is my writing. I have spent my whole life writing, constantly trying to figure out how to earn money writing. My favorite thing I've ever written is this blog. I adore the conversation, I adore the format, the never-ending research, and the self-referential links, because that's how my mind works: connecting random stuff together all the time trying to figure out the best path to happiness. Blogging is my dream-come-true media. Read more

I usually leave work at 2:30 to pick up my kids. But on days when I ditch the kids and work to go to the farm, I allay my guilt by staying at work well after 2:30 so everyone will think I stayed late. I call the farmer when I'm on the road because I always leave a little later than I say I will and he never believes I'm on my way until I am.

I have written before about how insane it is to have a long commute. In case you’re wondering, the average commute in the US is 25 minutes each way. Newsweek describes the population of people who travel at least 90 minutes each way as “extreme commuters”. That is me, twice a week, on farm days.

Before I leave work, I line up five calls at twenty minute intervals because if I don't get a lot done on the drive then I question whether it is responsible for a woman who struggles to find time for her kids and career to also have a boyfriend ninety minutes from civilization.

I wonder a lot if the guys at work know how often I go to the farm.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a 50 minute commute each way, and I had a panic attack on the 405. So I know a bit about long commutes. Mostly, that they are impossible. So I try to pretend I’m not actually doing a commute. I make a list of stuff to think about and tell myself it’s thinking time. I do Kegel exercises and tell myself it’s Pilates time. (Because most of Pilates is Kegel-based anyway. Really.)

At the one-hour point there's a gas station. It used to be, when my company was out of funding, I wouldn't buy gas until the last minute. And I worried that I'd run out of money before I got myself home.

That actually happened once, I took the farmer's credit card to get home. And he didn't blink. Because we both know that I take home 25 times his salary but he always has more money than I do. Read more

It's 9/11 again. And for the last seven years, I've written on this day about how I have grown since the World Trade Center. I was standing next to the first tower when it fell.

Mostly, I don't think about 9/11 anymore. Well, not on a daily basis at least. But, for example, I so seldom hear a plane flying over my town—Middleton, WI—that when I do, I have flashbacks to hearing the second plane fly right over me and into the building.

I also have flashbacks when I go running with the farmer on his dirt road. On a dry day the dust gets in my mouth and it feels like the moments leading up to when the air was so thick with debris from the fallen building that I couldn't breath. We stopped running on the dirt for the summer.

In an odd way, though, 9/11 has helped me. It helped me focus my career, and understand my personal history, and it helped me have compassion for my husband when our marriage was ending.

Over the years, what that upsets me the most about 9/11 has changed. In the beginning, I was most upset about how when I saw danger, I walked toward the building, to see what was happening, rather than getting back on the train and going home. Later I learned that most of Wall St. responded the same way, so I was beating myself up for what was simple human nature. Read more

Self-knowledge can solve all your problems. Because it’s more difficult to understand what your problem is than to know how to solve it.

Most of the time we actually have the knowledge we need to solve a problem, but we don’t like reality, so we pretend to not have the knowledge.

This reminds me of the bazillion times I’ve told someone to take the Myers Briggs test. I think everyone should take it so you know your natural strengths and weaknesses. But most people already have an idea of who they want to be based on what their parents have told them about who they should be. And so almost most people are shocked and a little disappointed when they get their Myers Briggs score. Reality is almost never what we think it is when it comes to assessing ourselves.

So most people live in denial about their personality profile. I did that. I thought I was a writer even when I kept scoring as an ENTJ. But if you are an ENTJ, you need to do something much bigger than writing a book all by yourself, because you need some people to boss around. Or at least some people to leverage to get a bigger book written, like maybe the encyclopedia. So I pretended to not be an ENTJ by pretending that I was really one of those super creative people trapped in corporate America. But you know what? I love corporate America. I love the game part of it. Read more

What I’m listening to right now: Amanda Blank. Here’s a song to play when you’re not at work.

Amanda is a white-girl rapper, darling of the hipsters, and hot-girl candy for the intelligentsia. Right up my alley, right? My favorite line so far is “My rhymes are painful and fresh/My p*ssy’s tastin’ the best.”

Today, Ryan Healy and I were in D.C. for a marathon strategy meeting with a board member. The second half of the meeting was about marketing strategy. The first half of the meeting was about finding a strategy for ending how Ryan and I are at each others’ throats over subjects that having nothing to do with the company.

When the board member left the room for a minute, we had this conversation:

Me: It’s so awkward to be left in here with just you.

Ryan: It’s not awkward. The meeting is going well.

Me: Right. It could be more awkward. Like when it was us not talking in the airport.

Ryan: At least we weren’t sitting together on the plane.

Me: Yeah. I know. I changed my seat so we didn’t sit together.

Ryan: Really? So did I. Read more