My ex-husband worked in the nonprofit sector for a while. And you know what? He rarely got health insurance. At one point, we were completely stressed out about not being insured, and he asked his boss what everyone else was doing, and she said, “Can't you get insurance from your spouse? That's what we do.”

That's appalling. Being a non-profit is no excuse for treating people poorly. And it's not just benefits—It's pay, too. Paying way below a living wage is elitist—as if working in a nonprofit is a rich kids' playground that your parents fund.

Luckily, the non-profit world is changing. The difference between not-for-profit and for profit is becoming more and more artificial.

When a business is deciding whether to be for-profit or not-for-profit, they are thinking about what is the most efficient way to meet their goals. For example, the Gates Foundation was established to get the money out of the hands of one family and give it to people who can change the world with the money. They do not want to make a profit, so they put all the money they make back into the Foundation.

Merck, on the other hand, is changing the world by curing diseases, but they need to create a profit in order to keep their stock price up and pass money on to shareholders.

Both companies are solving huge health problems. Both companies have equal capacity to get you, an employee, very close or relatively far from the act of saving a life. The only difference between the organizations is the financial structure.

So, here is a new way to think about careers in the non-profit sector: Read more

Eighty percent of adults with Asperger Syndrome do not have full-time work. This not because they can’t do the work. It’s that they can’t manage to be socially acceptable while they get the work done. ”

Countless studies show people would rather have pleasant and personable co-workers than a co-worker who is always right. I try to keep this in mind each day, and consequently, I spend a lot of time planning my interactions.

But sometimes my plans fail. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’m going to walk you through my most recent parent-teacher conference. Which was a disaster. And while it was a meeting in a second-grade classroom, it could have been a meeting with anyone, anywhere.

1. I can’t tell the difference between social niceties and reality.
I think I’m late. I am bad with transitions — I space out from the stress of change so I drive around the school a few times without noticing before I go in. I am bad with time, because I don’t totally understand how to predict what the next number will be. So sometimes I forget where I am in the hour.

But then I get to the school and I think I am early to the conference, and I go to the bathroom, because the school halls are bustling and I want calm.

I get to the room and the teacher is sitting at her desk. Doing nothing. I think this means she is waiting. So I ask if I’m late. She says no, but I am pretty sure she means yes. I know some people say the answer they think would be good manners instead of the right answer. I stare at her body language for a clue. Read more

Here’s the deal with giving flowers. Women like receiving flowers. Men think flowers are stupid.

Men think: Flowers die, they don’t do anything when they are alive, they are expensive, and they are a cliche. Men know that women in general like flowers, but men also believe that women they know personally do not like flowers. The women they know are the exception to the rule.

I think it’€™s safe to say that mostly women are reading this post. Women are reading to figure out how to get the men in their lives to send flowers.

Here’€™s what it’€™s going to take: Bottom line impact. Yes, the guys want to get laid, but dinner seems better: it’s like money well spent to them — you still get the sex, but you also get good food. What do you get with flowers? This is how men think, for the most part.

So, here’€™s what you get: Read more

The farmer broke up with me five times the first five months we were together, last year. So I learned that he had huge commitment issues.

I tried to do the advisable thing to do when you're with someone who has commitment issues. I tried to fall in love with someone else. But I didn't. I only missed the farmer more.

So I told myself that it's okay to be with someone who has commitment issues, as long as I am having fun.

But my kids grew to love the farm, and the farmer, almost as quickly as I did. This makes sense. My oldest son was with me on my first visit to the farm, and if you have ever been on a working farm you know that to kids, it's like Disney World.

So my kids were constantly asking to go to the farm, and constantly trying to figure out, what is the farmer? A friend? An uncle? And why did I kiss him if he's not in my family?

This is not a good path for kids if the relationship isn't going toward marriage. So I waited until a day when the farmer and I were holding hands, walking between rows of corn higher than our heads. And I told him that I can't keep bringing the kids to the farm because we're not getting married and I'm scared the kids will get hurt.

The farmer didn't say anything for five minutes. And then he said, “Okay. Let's get married.” Read more

Everyone knows that the best way to get a job is to leverage your network. And almost everyone knows that social media is a great way to build your network.

But many of you are making lots of social media mistakes. I know because so many people tell me that social media is a waste of their time. They're wasting their time, and continuing to make mistakes, because there's a set of common lies that people believe about social media. Here are those lies:

Lie #1: LinkedIn is for networking.

LinkedIn is great. I'm on LinkedIn. I have 650 connections. At first I wondered, why do I need this list of connections published on LinkedIn? What was the purpose of it? But now I get it. With LinkedIn, people can tell that I am a very connected person.

Most of you already know I'm well connected—I'm a print journalist, blogger, and startup founder, which are all very network-intensive jobs. But if you're someone who doesn't know how to tell whether someone is connected, LinkedIn is a great scorecard.

Potential employers like LinkedIn because they can glance at your LinkedIn profile and get a sense of how connected you are and how much money you make. (Yes, large networks correlate to large salaries.) That’s the utility of the scorecard. Read more

The best writers in the history of the world are graduating from college, right now. So everyone can just shut up about how no one can write anymore.

Newsflash: No one could write in the Middle Ages, when the good writers wrote in Latin and everyone else spoke colloquial languages like French and English, which priests told them were too lame for real writing.

It's the same situation today in that the best way to have a population of good writers is for people to write constantly, in the language that is theirs, so that they are great at expressing themselves.

People do good writing every day, in social media—when they write a note on someone's Facebook wall, when they post a caption to a photo on flickr, or when they post a comment in a group on Brazen Careerist.

The people who are complaining that no one can write anymore are the same ones who are stressed about information overload. This is not a coincidence. Information is changing, the flow of ideas is changing, and written communication is changing with it. Information overload is the feeling of not being able to deal with this change. Young people do not feel information overload, which is another sign that they are excellent writers for the new millennium: They can process and communicate new ideas at the new pace. Read more

How far you get, in almost anything, is limited mainly by your ability to ask good questions.

The problem is that we are not taught to ask good questions. We’re trained to answer questions. But only answering questions doesn’t make an interesting life. After all, if you have all the answers, and you’re spewing them all the time, then you are not learning anything new.

Asking questions is how we get smarter. One of the earliest signs of a child with Asperger syndrome is that they fall behind in their learning because they do not understand how to ask a question. It doesn’t occur to them that someone would have information.

And maybe all my blog posts are actually about my obsession with a good question. For example, my recent rant about how blogs need topics is really about how a good blog is based on a good question. (My question is: how can we make the the intersection of work and life better?)

Today I’m going to focus on the kinds of questions that back us into a corner.

1) The question that asks: What is the meaning of life?

I think a lot about how people ask questions because I get them all the time. Often, the questions are so vague and poorly framed that I can’t believe the person actually sent an email. Here’s an example of one: Read more

I was in the process of setting up Dora the Explorer for my four-year-old so that I could make breakfast. But when Yahoo popped up on the screen, I paused. Then I said, “Look. There’s President Obama. He won a big award.”

My son said, “For what?” Then he pointed to an advertisement for Target — a boxing glove that punches images of the flu. He said, “Did Obama win for killing that stuff?”

I saw a teaching moment. I tried to think of something good. I said, “He won for being nice to people and reminding us all to be nice every day.”

The Nobel Prize Committee said something interesting about Obama’s award: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

And this, I think, is what good leaders do. They help us a see a future that we like, that we’re a part of, and that we can help create. In the case of Obama, his combination of strong values and intellect and charisma are mesmorizing to watch. And to me, his lack of BS in politics is almost as revolutionary as his skin color in politics. I love the whole package, and he makes me proud to be a US citizen. Read more

Stop thinking that you are such an incredibly wide-ranging thinker with so many interests and insights that you cannot be pinned down to just one topic. The top bloggers are all wide-ranging thinkers. That’s why they are interesting. The more information and angles you can draw from, the more interesting your insights are.

I challenge you to think of a popular blogger who lacks focus on their blog.

In the history of writing, everything has a focus. It’s a contract you have with the reader. You stay within the bounds of the reader’s expectations, and if you do that, you can write surprises that seem to stray from your topic, and the reader stays with you. Because surprises are fun. But if there’s no contract because there is no focus, then there are no surprises. Every great piece of writing works this way.

Think about it: Canterbury Tales. The topic is getting to the end of the trip. Or Moby Dick. Melville can write about everything—God, the American dream, fishing boats, marriage, mental illness—and he gets away with it because his topic is totally solid: Nailing the whale.

I challenge you to find a great piece of writing with no topic.

Even columnists stick to their focus. It’s part of the fun. When you audition for a print-based column, you submit ten sample columns to show that you can be interesting in a variety of ways while still sticking to the main topic. Because it’s hard to do. Read more

I don’t usually post clips of myself when I go on TV. But I’m posting this one, where I talk about trying to get an abortion in Wisconsin and end up with a miscarriage at work instead. It was a difficult interview, which is why I like it. And, remarkably, I have good hair without trying, which is another reason I like watching the clip.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about. Here’s my twitter that caused uproar. And here’s my post about it. To give you an idea of the recent coverage, here’s the link that is, right now, on the front page of AOL, and here’s a link to an article by Lara Salahi at ABC News — I really like that one.

If you are new to my blog, and you’ve gotten this far, maybe you’ll like staying here for a while. Here’s a good page to begin on: About this blog.

I know I said that that this week is Asperger’s at work week on my blog. Maybe me talking about my miscarriage to newscasters is part of this series. I’m not sure. But I’ve been learning a lot about women from the comments about the miscarriage twitter — on my blog and on other sites. So I’m sure that other people are learning a lot about the lives of women — at work and at home. And that has to be good.