I am shocked to hear that 60% of people don’t know what’s holding them back from reaching their goals. So I decide that I will address the topic: The way  you figure out what you should be doing next is that you try stuff.

You make bad choices, you try again. This is really standard advice for recent grads. But then, somewhere around age thirty, people start thinking they are above this advice. Like, this would be too slow and annoying for someone who is older than thirty.

And, in fact, that’s true. Finding out what you should be doing is a slow and annoying process because you have to try stuff. And a lot of times when we get stuck, we think philosophizing will get us out of the rut. But in fact, action gets us out. That’s right. Even for people like INTPs, who basically create theories in response to anything, even the INTPs have to take action in order to find out if they want to think at a think tank or at a university or a business. Read more

1. They use lists. High achievers organize their thinking with lists, they organize their time with lists, and when they want to spur their creativity, the best tool they have is to force themselves out of the comfort of their list.

2. They use pharmaceuticals. Adderall is de rigueur for the high-powered jobs in high-powered cities to the point that there is a shortage of available Adderall, (and a site to monitor the shortage). Pharmaceutical frenzy is nothing new for gen-yers who used prescription drugs to get a leg up on everything. New York magazine’s ode to Xanax lets you diagnose the type of overachiever you are with the type of pharmaceutical you like best.

3. They let doors shut all the time. Overachievers know their mom was lying when she said they could be anything. So it’s not that big a deal when they see doors shut. They pick a specialty, they give stuff up to get stuff, they know adult life is about making tough choices. Read more

The last company I founded, Brazen Careerist, was full of Gen Yers. In fact, for a while, I was the only person in the company older than 25. I spent a lot of time learning to adapt. Fast. And the whole time I thought to myself: I can’t wait until these kids need to adapt to the next generation. I want them to know what it feels like.

At this point, the oldest in Generation Z are just turning 13, and we have enough information about the two demographics to predict what will happen. Aside from my case of schadenfreude, I’m particularly interested in Generation Z because my sons are smack in the middle of it. But also I’m interested because if we understand the impact the next generation will have on the workforce, we’re better able to adapt our own careers for it. So get ready:  Read more

Branding has finally reached the snobs who think they are above it.

Every Gen Y-er knows about personal branding, and every Silicon Valley social media maven has one eye on their Klout score. But this year the New York Times declared that branding is a must-do for psychologists. You can’t make money if you don’t have a brand.

I was thrilled to read this because I have thought for many years that my therapists could benefit from having me help them run their careers. But whenever I ventured into this territory, the therapist invariably did something annoying like reminding me of client-therapist boundaries. Now, though, it’s clear: they should hire me.

Also, in case you think you are not in a field that requires branding, there is now officially nothing without a brand. Because look, even Liechtenstein is rebranding itself as a party room: Harper’s magazine reports that you can rent the whole country for the evening for $20,000.

The thing is that most people don’t want to brand themselves as a party room; they want to be known for being creative. Which makes sense because really, we are all creative – to be human is to be creative. But you have to work hard at it to be good. Read more

Powerful people do not have good listening skills. They hate to listen. They succeed by getting good at faking it. Here’s how I know. There are sixteen Myers Briggs personality types. Only 4% of people are ENTJs, but almost all Fortune 500 CEOs are ENTJs. Each type has an Achilles’ heel. The ESFP can’t stand being alone. The INTP can’t get their head out of the clouds. The ENTJ can’t listen.

Which means that listening skills must not be essential for major success in the corporate world. So maybe instead of building your listening skills, you should buy the book How to Talk so People Listen. If you’re an extrovert, you think while you’re talking. And it’s impossible to listen to someone if you are thinking of the next thing you want to say.

As an ENTJ I get bored with the idea of becoming a better listener. Why would I do that when interrupting people is so much faster? And anyway, there is great advice on how to deal with the people who won’t listen. Forbes magazine says that if you want people to listen to you, you should cut to the chase. That’s great advice. If you could just get your idea out faster, I would listen to it. Read more

I was a latchkey kid with unlimited charge accounts at all the local stores before there were charge cards. As a kid I worried I was annoying, because people always rolled their eyes when I said “charge it please”. Now I understand that I was the only person in the city with a charge account at each of these stores. And they thought I was a spoiled brat.  Oblivious to this social nuance, my parents had the idea that if there were no limits to what I could buy then surely I would be taken care of.

You know what’s coming next: kids don’t want money, they want nurturing. I am a very take-charge kind of person, though, so I used my open charge system to buy caretakers. For a while it was the clothing store. But when my mom saw that I owned more than forty sweaters, mostly never worn, she yelled so much that I knew my friendship with the clothing store owner was over. Read more

The title of this post should really be 5 Steps to Have a Career that Makes the World a Better Place. But the first thing about making the world a better place is that if you really want to do that, you’ll have to make some compromises. Like, I have to write blog post titles that will rank high in Google searches instead of writing the titles I feel most like writing.

I’ve been on a yoga rampage—going to yoga every day for two weeks. I have gone to classes in Madison, WI, Chicago and LA. And I’ve noticed that people who open yoga studios are probably going to fail. Here’s what they need to know:

1. Bringing peace is not a differentiator. Of course every yoga studio brings peace, harmony, and blah blah blah. That doesn’t make the studio special enough to compete with the 10,000 other yoga studios around them. Read more

When someone asks you, in an interview, “What is your weakness?” do not give a bullshit answer. Saying something like, “I pay too much attention to detail” is actually a terrible answer for someone who is getting hired to do detail work. It means you have a deficit in the exact area you’re tying to get hired for.

The best answer to the question is when you tell a truthful answer, because it’s very unlikely will be hired for the thing you are most weak at doing. For example, my weakness is details. I hate them so much that I simply don’t think about them. And if you talk to me about them, I tune you out. I get hired to think big picture. I get hired to create big plans with big results. So no one cares that I don’t do details.

Someone who is a production artist could say his weakness is finance. When people start talking about budgets, he just wants to back to his cube and work on design. So what if he doesn’t like finance? He is not getting hired to do it. Read more

This webinar will teach you how to write about your life. It includes four days of of video sessions and email-based course materials. You can purchase this workshop for anytime, on-demand access. The cost is $195.

Get access now.

I’ve been writing about myself for as long as I can remember. I’ve lectured on writing at places like Boston University, Brown University, and the University of Paris. My first book was a memoir that Publisher’s Weekly said was “quick, punchy prose that keeps the reader riveted.”

(A really big rule about selling something is that you don’t offer something cheaper first, but whatever. Here I go.) That first book, the memoir, is a little like Fifty Shades of Grey but with more vomit and more beach volleyball. The print version of my book is $500 on Amazon, but you can buy the electronic version here. And, if you’re wondering why the author on the book is not Penelope Trunk, here’s the post about my many names.

But back to the webinar.  For $195 you get access to all the videos and course materials.  It’s significantly more expensive than the ebook, but really, which will be more fulfilling to you, reading about my life or writing about yours? If you can’t be there for the live version, you can download the video to watch whenever you want.

Sign up now.

The secret sauce to all good blog posts is writing about yourself. Successful blogs infuse the personality of blogger into whatever the blog topic is. And successful professional sites do this as well. In fact, as early as 2008, the Harvard Business Review was warning executives that social media won’t work for them if they don’t do it themselves with no ghost writers—because they need to use their personality.

The trick is to know how to reveal your personality and tell stories about yourself in a way that helps you reach your goals.

I’m going to teach you how to make your writing so interesting that people can’t stop reading. And once you have that, you have so many choices about what you do with your writing—a blog, a book, a business. Good writing can launch all of these. I know—I’ve done it myself.

So here’s what you will learn: Read more

I hate myself for not doing yoga every day. That’s how you know you’re serious about yoga: you use it to generate self-hatred.

I am the type of person who can use a wide range of things to this end: telling my son the wrong name for the D major scale on the piano, for example. Are there parents who are more stupid when it comes to music than I am? Maybe. But probably not one who also goes to ten hours of violin/cello/piano lessons each week.

Before I go on about self-hatred, let me assure you that I am more accomplished than most people you know.

I was going to list it. The accomplishments. But you know what? I’m over that. Does Bill Gates list his accomplishments? No. It’s a sign of self-assurance to not bother. Which is why the best resumes are one short page. Read more