This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Take a look at Steve Martin’s business card. I love it because it brings to light the lack of meaning we often feel during the daily routine of work life.

When I was new to the workforce, I saw two ends of a spectrum. On one end, risking one’s life to save dying children, and on the other end, hedge-fund banking to make millions.

If you see the work world that way, then you feel compelled to choose between making good money or doing good deeds. But at this point, I don’t think the world breaks down like that. I think all jobs are meaningful. Read more

My homeschool blog is mentioned in the New York Times. It’s a small mention, but it’s a big deal for me, because lately I’ve been obsessed with how people learn, and what makes a successful adult. It’s appropriate that the Times would link the day I wrote about what my day is like trying to homeschool and work full-time. It’s a colossal mess, really. But it’s a work in progress.

When things got really bad — me trying to do everything, and me having marriage trouble — Melissa said, “You need a vacation.” So the boys and Melissa and I went to Hermosa Beach. We stayed at a hotel called The Beach House. It’s right on the ocean, and it’s in front of volleyball courts I used to play on when I was on the pro circuit and too poor to stay in hotels as nice as this one.

I thought the best part of the vacation would be the hotel. It’s dreamy – with a perfect balcony and a fireplace, and soft thick towels that I never had to wash.

But it turned out that the best part was watching the kids learn. The hotel was the facilitator.

The first thing the kids did was line up their Pokemon everywhere so the place felt like home.

Read more

I’m doing a series of webinars about how to blog.

I will teach you how to set goals for blogging and meet them, continuously. I’ll also show you how to develop an approach to blogging that will get you noticed by people you care about very quickly. The bootcamp takes place November 14-18. You can sign up here.

Here’s more about what we’ll cover:

1. Use blogging to jumpstart your career and your earnings.
Blogging will transform your work life. Here are things you can do with a blog:

  • Double your earning potential
  • Switch careers with flair
  • Win a more flexible work schedule
  • Create a reliable revenue stream
  • Build a large, useful network very quickly

Blogging is something you should do to meet a specific goal. I’ll show you how you can meet almost any goal with a smart approach to blogging. Read more

Melissa and I had a fight yesterday. We have this fight once or twice a month. Someone who neither of us knows well will ask Melissa something about me just out of an odd curiosity about my life. Something stupid, like, What’s Penelope doing for Thanksgiving?

It’s stupid, yes, but I think it’s even more stupid that Melissa answers. So I tell her don’t talk to anyone about me. I don’t want her to be a source of Penelope information. I just want her to be a friend.

You will notice this is very hypocritical of me. But I don’t care. I make the rule anyway: No talking about me. Ever.

Then she thinks everything is an exception. Like, telling her co-worker what it’s like sitting across from me while I make up dialogue that she is not saying.

So I say, “I’m not talking to you anymore. You’re a terrible friend.”

She says, “I am not a terrible friend. I have really good intentions.”

“Okay. You’re a retarded friend. You don’t understand boundaries.”

“I’m trying. And you see everything black and white and it’s not.” Read more

Sometimes people ask me how I get ideas for blog posts. Really, the question is how do I find enough time to let everyone know about everything that bugs me?

For example, here are photos I’ve been holding onto for a while. It’s a series of the dumbest engagement photos ever. But wait. Before you click I’m going to tell you that they are actually someone’s real engagement photos. And if you thought it was too mean to call out David Dellifield for being an asshole to me, then you are probably not going to like that I’m linking to real-life photos to dis them. So if you feel high and mighty, don’t click.

Really, though, I encourage you to click. Because first of all, these people liked their photos enough to let their photographer put them on her blog. But also, these photos are part of a trend where people do completely stupid, out-of-the-ordinary things for their engagement photos, so they feel that they will have a special, extraordinary life.

But newsflash to all you newlyweds spending too much money on engagement photos: You will not have even an ordinary life. But you will wish you did. You will dream of an easy family life, and easy marriage, and a dog that is housetrained even when you’re gone the whole day. You will not get that. No one does. And everyone wants it.

So the engagement photo trend is terrible. Horrible. And the corollary to that trend is the tablescape trend. Read more

Brazen Careerist is my third startup. People ask me all the time why I gave up my position as CEO. If you knew what startup life was really like, you would ask me why I was CEO for as long as I was.

When I started building the brand of Brazen Careerist around the year 2000, I talked about ideas like job hopping as a way to build a solid career, and I warned that generation Y’s entry into the workforce would be a total shock to employers. I was labeled a heretic and a moron.

But pretty quickly, people started thinking I was right. And I started making $15,000 a speech to discuss these ideas.

The intoxication of being on a trend, and knowing how to monetize it and being excited about being right, that’s what makes someone do a startup. So I picked up two partners, I launched Brazen Careerist, and quickly, Mashable called us the number-one social networking site for Gen Y. We were on a roll.

We raised money. We launched products, we pivoted 20 times. We were due to raise more money right after the markets crashed. So of course we couldn’t raise money. And of course I did what all startup founders do when they run out of money: I had a shit fit. And then I had a nervous breakdown.

But the thing is, in a startup, everything moves at warp speed, even a nervous breakdown. So I recovered fast, convinced investors to put in more money. And we kept going. Read more

This is probably what you think self-employed looks like:

I’m at an amusement park with my kids, in the middle of the week, and I’m on a conference call while I watch my son try to get on a ride.

Being self-employed looks so nice at an amusement park. The self-employed are always free to go on a vacation. They pick up their friends at the airport in the middle of the day, they show up for poker night because they can stay out late, and they can plan their wedding without having to pretend they are working.

Close up, though, most self-employed people are completely stressed about money.

That money part is what I hate about being self-employed. Anyone who says they don’t love a steady paycheck is lying. A paycheck is so nice. It’s reliable like a friend, it makes you safe, it gives you a way to organize your life.

Here’s how I deal with the worrying: Read more

The best way to understand earning power—no matter what your age—is to understand the factors that go into it. For example, most people who have careers that are plateauing usually have a learning problem that manifests itself as an earning problem.

And for parents, schooling discussions are really earning discussions. Because you can say that kids with a love of learning are lifelong learners (essential for workplace success today), but truly, who wants an unemployed Ph.D candidate? You don’t want a lawyer who can’t get a job because of poor social skills, you don’t want a kid with perfect SAT scores who marries for money because supporting oneself seems too hard. Every parent wants to raise a kid who is capable of supporting himself and capable of finding engaging work for a stable life.

Here’s how schooling affects earning power. Read more

The farmer is separating his farm from his parents’ farm. To say this has been a summer full of drama would be a total understatement. I would say that the drama has gone from his larger family, to our little family, and now, to the economics of the farm.

This is probably where the drama should be: The Farmer is essentially starting a new business. I have always thought he would do a great job on his own and it’s been fun to watch him.

He is experimenting, trying to figure out what he wants. This summer, for example, he let the pigs graze in our field of sweet corn after the season was done.

Read more

Last week was a board meeting for my company, Brazen Careerist. I used to hate the board meetings because there is so much to prepare beforehand, and if everything is not going great, then you have to really face that.

1. Hide your feelings if they are going to be trouble for someone.
I am still a major shareholder in my company, but I do not work at the company day to day. I would like to say that my neediness issues and fear of abandonment do not follow me to my workplace, but in fact, they are huge there. And I spend a lot of time worrying whether people listen to my opinions because they care or because it’s easier to listen than to try to get me to shut up.

When the board meeting rolls around, I get nervous. I don’t know if I should go or not.

I like to go because I like knowing what’s going on. Well, and of course, I like giving my opinion. I also like hanging out with the board. I really like Ryan Healy now that I don’t have to work with him. And everyone on my board is someone who did a huge amount for me at one of the (many) very tough times in my life. (Like this time.) So I just really like everyone. Read more