After yesterday's post, about how stupid grad school is, a lot of people asked, what is an alternative to grad school?

This is a great question.

I see this picture outside my window at least once a month.

I have only a little idea of what’s going on. Should I go to graduate school to figure it out? I could. I could get in. And it’s clear that the next stage in my life will involve some sort of work related to farming. A business. Or writing. Or marketing. But I’m not going to graduate school to learn about agriculture because I have tried going to graduate school to get a jump on my job prospects and it doesn’t work.

When I graduated from college, I was supposedly going to graduate school in history. But I kept writing entrance essays about why I wanted to tell stories about people and history is a good way to do that. And finally, my professor who had stood by me for four years, getting undergraduate research grants for me to study mass movements in colonial America, said, “Forget it. You don't want to be a historian.” Read more

It’s pretty well established that non-science degrees are not necessary for a job. In fact, the degrees cost you too much money, require too long of a commitment, and do not teach you the real-life skills they promise.

Yet, I do tons of radio call-in shows where I say that graduate degrees in the humanities are so useless that they actually set you back in your career in many cases. And then 400 callers dial-in and start screaming at me about how great a graduate degree is.

Here are the six most common arguments they make. And why they are wrong.

1. My parents are paying.
Get them to buy you a company instead. Because what are you going to do when you graduate? You’re right back at square one, looking for a job and not knowing what to do. But if you spent the next three years running a company, even if it failed, you would be more employable than you are now, and you’d have a good sense of where your skill set fits in the workplace. (This is especially true for people thinking about business school.) Read more

Melissa rides her horse every morning before she goes to work, at noon, which is when her boss gets to work. I am sad that Melissa is happy because now she will not come back to the farm and be my permanent photographer.

I used to feel sorry for Brad and Angelina because they had photographers trailing them all the time. Now I think they are lucky because if they had a blog, they'd have so many good photos to use.

I feel like the parent of a twenty-something who wants their kid to stop feeling lost, but wants that feeling of being unlost to happen a little closer to home. I know that's selfish. And anyway, I'm not even Melissa’s mom. But I think I want to be because I wonder where my place is in her life. Read more

When I drive, I have arguments with people in my head. I think of someone who does not realize how smart I am about what I am smart about, and I go on tirades to show them how misguided they are.

And I realized one day, while I had a particularly long car ride, that I am actually feeling like I know what women should be doing with their adult life.

Most people would be too humble to say this. But I’m the woman who, after ten years in the workforce, built a career on telling people how to manage their career. So, it makes sense that after getting to age 45 I am ready to tell all women how to live their adult life.

To be clear, I have made lots of mistakes. But I like to think I would not have made those mistakes if I had had a blueprint for adult life like the one I’m giving you, right here. The blueprint starts at age 18 and goes to 45. Read more

Melissa is back. She stole my purse.

But first, before she stole my purse, she opened my mail.

I walked into the kitchen and I said, “Hey, you opened my mail.”

“No I didn't.

“What's this? What's this opened envelope that is addressed to me?”

“Oh. That? I didn't think you counted that as mail.”

“What does it count as?”

“I knew it was from an author. I could just tell from the expensive stationary. So I thought it was like getting a book in the mail from a publisher. And you told me I could open those if I was looking for something to read.”

“No. It's mail.”

“No. It's not. Look. It's from Jon Acuff.”

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This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic because we think you deserve to get your best night's sleep every night.

I’ve been reading a lot about willpower to find out how to get more. It turns out that we only have a very little bit, and we cannot be demanding it of ourselves all day long because that would exhaust our supply and make us nuts. Which is, of course, what I do.

But I have watched the farmer for a few years now, and I see that he substitutes three things for willpower which allows him to seem to have willpower beyond his actual willpower reserve.

Here they are:

1. Rigid schedule
It came to me when I started to understand the ebb and flow of the pigs.

There are about 500 pigs on the farm at any given time. Someone who does not do routine well—someone like me—would say, I’ll feed the pigs later. But the Farmer gets up every morning, at 6am, eats breakfast with us, and then feeds the pigs. And he’s blown away by the fact that every single morning I think we need to make a fresh decision about what we are going to do that morning.

He is like, what? Are you kidding? We’re eating breakfast and doing chores. Read more

The second start-up I did was with a guy who had great data about city governments but didn't know how to turn it into an Internet company. So I wrote a business plan and got it funded.

It turned out that he also had no idea how to use the Internet. He had a secretary, Laura, who printed out his emails for him to read and then he dictated responses to her.

He hid this from me until one day I needed to dig through his emails to find correspondences from investors. I said, “Give me your password.”

“I don't know it.”

“Okay. I'll get it from Laura.”

“No. Okay. I'll give it to you.”

“What is it?”

“Hold on. There is stuff about sex sites in there and I want you to know I don't know how it got there. ”

“I know. Everyone gets spam from sex sites. It's not just you.”


This is funny now, right? It's funny that he thought typing was not in his job description. It's funny that he thought he could get by without learning how to use the Internet.

But that was 1996. The corollary to that today is people who think they do not need to be good at using social media.

The whole Internet is going to be social media: shopping will be social, your resume will be social, your whole career will be built on social media, and your kids' education will be built on social media. (And if you think you don't want kids, then the way you are going to get to a place where people don't bug you about that decision is through social media).

I wrote very early that social media is the key to a good career. It seemed so crazy when I wrote it, but I was sure it was true. And now that I am running a vibrant tech career from a rural farm, I thank god every day that I'm great at social media.

Do you think social media is too much work, and you have a life to live? This is what social media gets you:

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I realize that the last time you heard from me, the Farmer was running me over with his tractor. But it was just a fight. Today I feel like I fit on the farm. When I am getting along with the Farmer, the whole farm feels enchanting – even a goat standing on top of my car and probably putting a dent in it.

It’s reframing: When you feel like you’re in the right place, you can reframe the bad stuff to feel like good stuff. I learned this from all the counseling I went through after being at the World Trade Center when it fell. Now that it’s almost the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I field a phone call each week from a reporter writing a story about how 9/11 affected the survivors, and I always talk about reframing.

I’m starting to think where I fit, in terms of my career, is saying what none of us wants to hear, and then reframing it so it feels good.
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Look at this picture. I love this picture. I am carefree, pulled together, and a little bit like a farmer but not too much.

I keep thinking I want to put this picture online. And then I think, I can't. I'm too sad. I need a picture of me moping.

This feeling reminds me of when I was younger, it was very hard for me to get a job, and also hard for me to keep one. I was job hunting all the time. Read more

I am not good at launching stuff. It stresses me out. I am not good at focusing on multiple things. Ryan Healy used to hate working with me because of this, and, frankly, I hate working with me because of this too.

I need to divide everything into very little projects in order to ensure that one project does not ruin everything else around me. This is why, in the past, blog posts have been the perfect length for me, and having a startup has derailed my whole life.

The first thing I'm launching today is a homeschooling section. To be clear, I don't homeschool. But I definitely think it's a huge trend that will shake up all of our lives, because homschoolers will take over the workplace in the next ten years. I am worried that I'm making the wrong decision by keeping my kids in school. So this is the spot where I will worry about it discuss it. Here is the post where I explain in more detail why I’m adding the homeschool section.

The other section that I'm launching is Mailbag.

I answer all my email. People are often shocked by this, which, in turn, shocks me. I mean, what am I writing a blog for if I don't want to communicate with people? But I decided I should publish the questions and answers since many people ask the same type of questions. (Don’t worry, I’m changing details to conceal the writer’s identity.)

When I met my Ex he was working for Sony. He was in charge of online properties for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The marketing people always said that people watch Jeopardy to say “He's so smart!” and people watch Wheel of Fortune to say “He's so stupid!”

I think that marketing approach may be applicable to the questions in Mailbag. Hopefully you will think my answers are smart. But if you don't, there’s room for you to give your own answers.

On Sundays my Ex comes to our house to hang out with the kids, which made today a great day for my launch.

Also, do you ever wonder what my Ex looks like? Here he is — well, about one-third of him — with my son.

Here’s a question I get a lot: Does your Ex mind being on your blog?

Here’s the answer: He’s probably really happy being on with just one-third.