Key to productivity: Choose phone calls carefully

One of the keys to my ability to work 40 hours a week and homeschool two kids is that I have great time management. Which is to say, I say no to just about everything. But learning when to say no is still a work in progress. Here’s what I know about saying no to phone calls:

1. It’s more efficient to read the book than talk to the author.
I get about ten emails a day asking me if I want to talk to someone about their book so I’ll recommend it on the blog. My answer is always no.

I said yes once because it was Gloria Steinem. And it turned out to be a really disappointing phone call. If she is disappointing pitching to me, then everyone else will be, too.

Now I ask people to send me the book. If I like the idea of it, I’ll read it. I just read a book by Alexandra Robbins about why high school is destroying the kids who go there. She didn’t come to that conclusion, I did. But see, that’s why it’s good that I read the book myself instead of talking to her.

2. Interviews are a faster form of entertainment than going to a movie.
But I do try to say yes to all interviews. I like the Russian Roulette aspect of interviews in that I never know what I’ll get. I liked getting grilled on CNN about my miscarriage. They didn’t tell me that was the topic, but it’s okay. It was interesting to answer the questions.

And I didn’t like talking to Steve Roy about his career, but whenever I listen to the recording of the call, I laugh out loud, so in hindsight, even that was a good interview to say yes to.

So this guy, Michael Zenn, sent me this email:

Subject hed: Your Input

…I am currently in the process of producing a new edition of my book and reaching out to interview some of the leading female thought leaders in the nation, which I believe you are one.

I will be adding a brand new material to the book and am looking for female influencers, bloggers, websites, resources and ideas that I could potentially feature in the new book that would benefit women readers.

Please let me know when you might have a few minutes for us to chat.

I replied with a yes. I figured I’d give him 15 minutes, and anyway, people never call me about food, so it might be fun to answer questions about that.

3. Smalltalk goes faster with short responses.
Here’s what happened. He opened up with some platitudes. Like, who he is and that his book is sold in Whole Foods and it’s the only book the CEO of Whole Foods has ever endorsed.

I think a few things. I think, I hope he gets to the questions fast. Then I think, he must be the illicit lover of the Whole Foods CEO to be leveraging the checkout counter in the way that he is. He is telling me how his first printing will sell out in one month. And I am thinking, something is fishy here.

Then he says he reads my blog, and he wonders if I have always been so direct and unfiltered.

I say, “Yes.”

He asks, “Do you know why?”

I say, “Yes. I have Asperger’s Syndrome.”

He has never heard of it.

“It’s like autism,” I say. “But with a high IQ. I’m smart about some things, but not social skills. So I have no patience for you making small talk with me.”

He laughs. He says “Oh, it’s like you can’t tell a lie.”


“I wish I had more people in my life like that,” he says.

“No you don’t,” I say. “You’d get sick of it.”


4. Tirades take too long (and they’re hard to stop once you get going)

He asks, “What is your goal? What do you want to tell the world?”

“I don’t want to stand in front of everyone and tell them what to do. Because I don’t know. Life is hard. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with the difficulties of life, and I like that people do that with me, on my blog.”

He says, “Yeah, it’s much better to just be honest about what you’re doing.”


Then he asks me if I have written at all about the food I eat.

I think to myself that he is either illiterate or a liar. I say, “Yeah, I live on a farm. With animals that we eat. I write a lot about that. With pictures.”

I can’t remember what happens next. I think I decide to tell him that all of the goat cheese that’s labeled by Whole Foods is made by killing the boy goats as soon as they are born. I hear nothing on his end. So I add that they are crushed underfoot, in the snow.

I tell him people need to pay a lot more money for pork if they want to have pork from mothers who are not chained like prisoners while they are having their babies. It costs a lot more money to raise pork if the farmer lets the mom roll on top of some of the piglets, but it’s what she would naturally do.

5. A fast way to feel good is to attack a caller you’re sick of. (Childish but effective.)
I don’t know what he says next. He is saying something about how I have strong opinions or something. He is not used to this.

I tell him people don’t have enough money to pay 50% more for groceries at Whole Foods. I tell him that group child care for kids under two is very bad for the kids and people should spend their money solving that problem. It’s a lot more important than not having food additives.

He says his book tells people to do small steps.

“Like what?”

“Like eggs.”

I say, “Do you buy your eggs at Whole Foods?”


“Well, they suck compared to my free range farm eggs.”

“The eggs at Whole Foods are free range.”

“What does that mean? Free range for one day a year? Who regulates the words free range? Free range on sawdust? You can look at my eggs and the eggs you eat and you can see a huge difference in how yellow the yolk is.”

“People need to know what they are eating.”

“You don’t even know what you’re eating. This is a black hole for spending and it’s not appropriate for poor people. You can buy pork at Whole Foods where the moms are chained at birth and the pork could be organic.”

5. Get off the phone as fast as possible.
Then I tell him it’s time to go to skateboarding. I tell him that my son gets more out of the money I spend on skateboarding lessons than the money I spend on organic juice with 50% less sugar which he thinks taste terrible, by the way.

The guy says, “Can I send my book to you?”

I can’t believe it. I want to tell him that he should have just sent that email to me, instead of wasting my time talking to me about his book. I would have said yes to just an email but now I hate him. I hate that he told me he wants to interview me for his book but he doesn’t. He’s a lifestyle guy, really. He’s telling people how to have a good life. And he’s lying to me.

So I say, “Why do you need to pitch your book to me? You have a monopoly in Whole Foods checkout lines. Your book is selling out it’s first printing. Why don’t you do something more interesting than marketing a book?”

He says, “I want to change the world. Obesity is a huge problem in this country.”

“You’re going to solve obesity by telling people to buy free-range eggs?”

“Yes. Education is the key to curbing obesity.”

“You think fat people are too stupid to know that if you pay double for your food you get better food? I think they know that. Try being a single mom with two jobs and four kids and then tell her she has weight problems because she doesn’t buy free range eggs.”

He asks, “Well what do you think is the panacea?”

And I say, “Panacea? You are looking for a panacea? There aren’t those in this world.”


120 replies
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  1. TR
    TR says:

    "I wish I had more people in my life like that," he says.
    "No you don't," I say. "You'd get sick of it."
    LOL be careful what you wish for you might just get it

    I would be much more interested in reading his book if he actually had better ideas about combating obesity rather than the usual “blah blah” about buying more expensive food.

  2. Nessa Speirs
    Nessa Speirs says:

    Thank you for raising the point that obesity is, among other things, a class issue. People are blameful of the overweight and obese without caring that there is a huge government-subsidized food machine also responsible for perpetuating the problem.

  3. Patrick Gant
    Patrick Gant says:

    “It’s more efficient to read the book than talk to the author.”

    My wife tells a good story about that. She was a big fan of Margaret Atwood. And then one day she met her while doing an interview. It didn’t go very well. She never read her works quite the same way again.

    • Melita
      Melita says:

      I saw Margaret Atwood read from her book The Robber Bride many years ago, and when someone from the audience asked: “Does each character in this book represent a different type of literary criticism?” she replied “If you want” oh so very dryly. The audience roared with laughter. She’s a gem.

  4. Jen
    Jen says:

    Oh my god. Dear lord. People are morons sometimes. I’m sorry for you and I’m embarrassed for him. Thank you for sharing, though :)

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      ya some people’s ideas sound better when written and edited but they are weird when talking. sometimes i’m one of those.

    • Marylynn
      Marylynn says:

      GO see his only not good review on Amazon. Its funny. Self health revolution is the book. Guy is a wack job.

  5. Gib Wallis
    Gib Wallis says:

    Are you giving this interview as an example of good time management? Or was it a learning experience for you with take aways?

    You usually give examples that demonstrate what will work.

    Also, there are fat farmers so access to organic, free range, fresh and local grown food doesn’t stop people from being fat.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      being fat doesn’t equal obesity.

      obesity is actually a problem…like a disease (having a hard time explaining i guess).

      if you’re just fat you are uncomfortable but can lose the weight if you want.

      if you’re obese there are health problems associated with that and weight loss does not equal calories in = calories out.

      i did a crazy diet (the first one of my life by choice and not doctor recommendation) called hcg. i actually read the protocol because i thought it was nuts.

      i did it out of curiousity and yes, wanted to lose weight but mostly because i wanted to “cleanse” for my blood sugar issues. and i was curious as for why it’s so nuts.

      so i read the doc’s protocol and it’s immensely interesting. he doesn’t even know why exactly it works he just know it does.

      and he goes on to explain obesity which people who are not super huge can actually suffer from.

      i’m 5’9″ and weight about 205 lbs.

      when I tell my friends my weight they respond with “NO YOU’RE NOT!!! YOU DON’T LOOK FAT” which is so funny.

      i don’t look fat because i’m tall and everyone thinks that weighing over 200 lbs is obscene. the truth is, obesity can happen in skinny people too and it has this symptoms that can be detected if you’re familiar with them. one of them is in the knees.

      anyway, i think this is interesting.

  6. Natasha
    Natasha says:

    “Try being a single mom with two jobs and four kids and then tell her she has weight problems because she doesn't buy free range eggs.”

    You are my hero.

    • D
      D says:

      I’m not sure I understand the point of this. You advocate spending money on plastic surgery and botox, but not better food? When did you become a champion of the poor?

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I think buying decisions are very difficult. If you depend on looking good to get your job done, then you should probably buy Botox before free range eggs.

        Free range eggs are for people with disposable income. Things like Botox and a car are essential for some people to keep their job. It’s the oldest business advice there is: you have to spend money to take money.


      • karelys
        karelys says:

        it’s so weird how you get all up in arms about this!

        she wrote about surgery a while ago in the light of “if x increases your chances of making bank go for it” and x happened to be plastic surgery.

        free range eggs are great for health but if you’re poor then get surgery and a gym membership, look hott then when you’re making bank buy the eggs!

  7. D
    D says:

    Try dropping juice altogether. Even fresh squeezed yields way too much fructose per serving. Instead, try eating whole fruit and drink water.

    I usually buy free range eggs but you have a point that no one knows what that means. I have noticed that the yolks are a more vibrant yellow.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      I’m not an egg expert, but from what I know yolk color and “free range” or “good” are not necessarily directly connected. For example, chickens fed corn will have vibrant yellow yolks; those fed wheat will have light-colored yolks. (I can’t imagine that corn is a “premium” chicken food, but I don’t really know.) My take-away is that yolk color can be influenced by more than “good healthy conditions.”

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I think this is a misunderstanding. Chickens can go in your front yard and eat all the best things for them — bugs, seeds, etc.

        We have free range chickens and there is a big difference in the color of egg yolk wether they are fed any type of grain vs. just grazing our yard. The yard is always way better. But they can’t do it in the winter.


      • Pen
        Pen says:

        What I was trying to say (and perhaps did not do clearly) was that yolk color alone is not indicative of “good” eggs. To wit: Chickens fed corn have lovely, deep golden/orange yolks, but somehow I don’t think corn-fed chickens necessarily means healthy, happy, free-range chickens.

        The summer I ate eggs from chickens that had free range in the backyard (good weather, all the grass, bugs, etc. they could want, etc.), they were wonderful; but I don’t think you could tell that just by yolk color, as it was not much different than the factory, corn-fed egg’s yolk color.

        I hope that’s more clear.

  8. Paul Reiber
    Paul Reiber says:

    His email to you gave me pause. (if you’ve copied that text verbatim) He wrote in a manner which would have made both Strunk and White vomit.

    This isn’t to say everyone should always follow the rules, but his writing was all over the map, as a harbinger of things to come. Few authors write that poorly.

    Switching from ducks to geese, a few years back I lived by an old couple with chickens. They sold the eggs for $1/dozen.

    They were AWESOME – 100x better than what can be had in ANY grocery store. It felt like heaven living there, until the snow started to fall.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      Reading his e-mail as posted in the blog, I assumed he was not a native Engish speaker, because that’s how it read. I just Googled his name and was not able to quickly figure out where he is from, so I’m still not sure.

  9. Hope
    Hope says:

    Like earlier commenter Natasha, I think your comment about poverty was dead-on.

    And like earlier commenter D, I have a hard time reconciling your choices to fly to New York for eyebrows and LA for hair and then work up a sense of outrage over the high cost of cage free eggs for folks on a budget.

    • clark
      clark says:

      I don’t think she’s outraged that good food costs a lot, I think she’s outraged that this dick fooled her into talking to him. This isn’t a food post, it is a don’t be a dick post featuring a guy who happens to be in the food business.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I am outraged that people think people don’t buy expensive food because they are uneducated. People don’t buy expensive food because they are poor.

        I live on a farm and I truly understand that food is too cheap in this country and we are selling people crap at very low prices. But if we sell only expensive food, which probably we should, then what happens to housing costs? Or transportation costs? Because something has to give in order for poor people to afford higher food prices.

        I just think it’s the rich talking to the rich when we talk about the virtues of expensive food.


        • Alan
          Alan says:

          I think that most poor people don’t pay for their food, the government does. I am unemployable in a slightly Penelope-ish fashion, and I eat for free.

          I think that the good food/bad food issue is mostly about the volumes that have to be produced. You really can’t mass-produce quality items.

          I also think that fancy stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans are much more about style than they are about good.

          But don’t listen to me. I don’t know anything.

      • Casual Surfer
        Casual Surfer says:

        Am trying to respond to P’s comment that we sell crap food for too cheap in this country but other things would have to change in order for food to improve & prices to rise …

        One thing that could change almost immediately is for people to eat less meat. That will usually help bring grocery bills down quickly unless you start substituting expensive pre-fab meat substitutes (fake burgers, fake chicken patties). Eating less meat & less fish is good for our health and our wallets.

  10. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and you’ll know exactly what free-range (and “organic”) means to the big agriculture concerns. (Penelope, I know *you* know exactly what free-range is supposed to mean!) But you won’t like it. Best to shop at your local farmer’s market whenever possible.

    But I really love this post because I am a self-employed editor and have to explain to potential clients all the time that NO, I don’t want to talk to them about their book. Everything I need to know about the manuscript is *on the page.* That’s where my job lies. The telephone (or worse, a meeting) is the absolute worst use of my time. Thanks for letting me rant alongside you. :)

  11. Scott
    Scott says:

    It is so great that you can get to the point with someone in no time.

    I can tell you that you may have laughed out loud at the interview with Steve Roy, but your responses helped change my life and how I think about my career. I want to thank you for that.

    Your blog is fantastic!!!

  12. Randy
    Randy says:

    “The eggs at Whole Foods are free range”. Probably but Like Penelope stated, “What does that mean?” most likely industrial organic. One way to check: The Cornucopia Institute is trying to take the guesswork out of this. For those who are interested.

    I wish I could have a couple of laying hens where I live but there is an ordinance prohibiting it.

    All that said, the guy was crazy. Accept your product placement and cash your checks.

  13. Mark Wiehenstroer
    Mark Wiehenstroer says:

    I think it’s always important to know the source … whether it’s your information or your food.
    I seriously have doubts that J. Michael Zenn read your blog. However I bet he read this post.
    “I hate that he told me he wants to interview me for his book but he doesn't.” That would make me livid and be the end of the conversation. I mean, how can you be productive when someone’s lying to you?

  14. Valter
    Valter says:

    @Penelope: “"Panacea? You are looking for a panacea? There aren't those in this world."

    Oh man! I love it!
    Panacea is pure BS. It’s so refreshing hearing your honesty, Pen. Thanks.

    And you always manage to be fun, intentionally or not. :D

  15. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    I like this story. It reminds me of my occasional behavior.

    Over the past few years I’ve been holding people accountable for their lies, insincerity and broken commitments. I don’t have Aspergers Syndrome. I don’t have too many friends left either. Well…I’m okay with it. Those kinds of “friends” are not friends.

    I also don’t do well with phone soliciting into my home. Sometimes I’m kind and polite. Sometimes I’m not.

    So when I read a story like this one, I feel you’re making the world a more honest place. And then I don’t feel so alone.


  16. ida
    ida says:

    Penelope, you are far too real for this tool! I loved this post. I so wish more people shared your opinion ions on life, the world and phone calls.
    Asbergers has so many wonderful, effective qualities.

      • Brad
        Brad says:

        Obviously the “panacea” remark was out of frustration from P’s continued attacks. And he’s not putting her quotes in his book. Filthy liar.

        As the saying goes, never bullshit a bullshit artist. And never market your book to Penelope.

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        haha! i want yard eggs and as i read the comments i’m trying to figure out if i can have chickens in my house. i know you can have up to 6 (?) in the city but i don’t know if logistics work out :(

  17. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    Caitlin @ Roaming Tales says:

    Penelope, come back to us and tell us what happens when the sows give birth and whether they roll on their babies.

    I’ve had organic pork farmers tell me that it’s a myth. They only roll on their babies if they’re in a small crate but not totally confined. They don’t do it if they are in a big barn and barn yard with all the space they need to move around freely.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The Farmer just moved the pigs from crates to a very open space where it’s like a free-range pig maternity ward. The Farmer calls it “voluntary confinement” because if the pigs want to stay with their piglets in their spot, they do, and if they want to leave, they do.

      I have to say, it’s so so cute to see the piglets, and the pigs are so happy, and it’s amazing to see how much nicer the pigs are when they are giving birth in a nice environment.

      That said, they still roll on babies. But not that many.


  18. Gretchen Powers
    Gretchen Powers says:

    OT, but maybe fuel for another post (or perhaps on the homeschooling side…)

    I want to know more about your thoughts on THIS: “I tell him that group child care for kids under two is very bad for the kids and people should spend their money solving that problem.” (And the wiki link, is, well, just a wiki link).

    I TOTALLY AGREE, but it seems like totally a subject in which you get your ass reamed out by people if you bring up because it makes them feel “guilty”…

  19. Barchbo
    Barchbo says:

    That guy well sums up Austin elite mindset – the arrogance and the ignorance rolled into one. I’ll be sure to snicker at his book the next time I am at Whole Foods.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      so, does he actually recommend in his book to BUY all your groceries at Whole Foods? Or is it just that Whole Foods endorses his book because they support the idea of having heathy food? Which is by itself a good idea, and possible to do on a budget without ever setting foot into a Whole Foods store.

  20. dale
    dale says:

    You miss the obvious. Whole Foods is doing their part to fight obesity. They charge double for their food so you can only afford half as much.

  21. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    This post is the best I’ve read in some time (my opinion). You really nailed some important points, such as the notion that “organic” food is automatically the best and the fact that the definition of “free range” poultry can be very nebulous.

  22. Jim Smith
    Jim Smith says:

    Not to disparage anyone’s convictions but free range and factory farmed eggs are nutritionally identical and, having performed blind tastings, the main difference is freshness (i.e. yesterday’s factory farmed egg tastes better than last week’s free range egg) – and by factory farmed I mean indoors in cages and by free range I mean outdoors in a yard. The relative living conditions of the animals is a different debate; no-one complains when you skin and boil a carrot alive…

  23. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    There are so many great things about this post, but one of the best is how it exposes a certain lack of integrity among many online entrepreneurs / authors, which is basically what Michael Zenn is.

    First of all, the CEO of Whole Foods is widely known in the natural foods industry to have Asperger’s. I don't think this is a diagnosis Mackey necessarily identifies with or admits to, but anyone who has dealt with him even a little bit in person would not be so thrown by Penelope's conversational style. I too think the relationship sounds fishy and wonder what is really going on.

    Zenn's book is essentially regurgitating what has already been said, and said better, by many other authors – €“ Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Barbara Kingsolver – €“ and I am only naming a few big names. Thought leaders in this area are already moving on to tackle the issue of how to make local food more affordable/accessible, lobbying congress to shift the farm subsidy system around, WIC vouchers for real foods, etc. What is this guy contributing to the conversation except mind-numbing self-promotion? His website doesn't even have links to farmer's market resources, just product endorsements that he is likely paid for.

    The idea that this guy wants to change the world is a total lie. He wants to make money without having to come up with any new ideas. I also wonder why he is not doing something more interesting.

    So I guess the other key to productivity I learned from this post: to be productive, I need to be honest with myself about whether I am actually producing anything. Otherwise, I am just wasting my time and that of others.

  24. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Whenever I buy free-range eggs it is with the chickens in mind, not me.

    Should poor people make chickens a priority? ha ha

  25. karelys
    karelys says:

    we don’t have a farmers market year round here. but i’m trying to come up with ways around the burden of spending too much money on fresh food.

    it’s a process and in that process i waste too much time because of inexperience!

    • Rachel
      Rachel says:

      Yeah! What happened to the mailbag? I thought it was supposed to be quick and easy to update, since you are sending emails to people anyway all the time.
      I miss it!

  26. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I decided when the recession started that I would stop answering my phone at work. That was because my phone was ringing off the hook with cold calls and it was very unproductive for me to be polite to all these people with these horrible cold calling practices. This was hard for me because in the past I was a marketer and set up cold calling campaigns. I always felt like taking cold calls would bring my campaigns good luck. Now that I am my former target, an I.T. person, the cold calls waste my time. Every once in awhile I mess up and pick up the phone. Invariably it is someone from India, cold calling for a US company. I just want to scream into the phone, “WHY DO YOU THINK THIS WOULD EVER WORK?” But I realize it is not the telemarketer’s fault and make a mental note to email the CEO of the company (which I never do). So I listen politely for a few seconds, then make a static-like noise, pound the phone on the desk and hang it up.

  27. Barbara Taylor
    Barbara Taylor says:

    Re: Gretchen’s comment — yes, please do a post on group child care for kids under two. My husband and I quit our corporate jobs, moved from Seattle to Arkansas and became serial entrepreneurs largely because there was no way I was going to be forced into having a typical dual-income household and putting my kids in day care.

    • Helen
      Helen says:

      This site is very anti-childcare and anti-working parent (unless you’re an “entrepreneur”, not one of those naff wage slaves. While we’re on the subject of privilege!…) I can offer a counter-data-point: My children are both proud alumni of our local community childcare facility from 1 yr to 4 yrs and they are both wonderful. they also have staunch friends with whom they have maintained friendships into teenagerhood/young adulthood and whose parents are also our friends. I prefer that to some elitist homeschooling coterie where my kid’s only friends are the ones I choose for him.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        My second son was in child care from age 3-5, and, like you write in your comment, I dont think it hurt him. He loved the place.

        I just report the research on the topic, which is pretty clear and with wide consensus. That doesnt mean I’ve always lived my own life in step with the research.


  28. Citizen Reader
    Citizen Reader says:

    I too have a question about that wiki link to the attachment theory article. Somewhere in the middle it states that “quality time is more important than quantity time.” That seems to me to say that as long as the caregiver spends some quality time with their infant, even if they spend all day in group daycare, attachment will still work.

    I ask because I very much believe that kids should have a primary caregiver at home through childhood. But I’m sick of being judged by our pediatrician who grills me about working at home and raising my boy at the same time (the insinuation being I ignore him while I work–I don’t; I work while he naps and at night) and indicates that he needs babysitting or daycare instead. I’d love to have an answer for her about attachment theory.

    Enjoyed this post.

    • Jeanne
      Jeanne says:

      I remember a comment I heard many years ago, as a young mother with four young children: Children spell love T-I-M-E.

      Most people would be bothered by a person getting a puppy, and then never being home with the puppy. But we do that all the time with our children–have children and give them to someone else to raise.

      I have five children, and of the four marrieds who have children, two families have stay-at-home moms, and in two families, both parents work. So much depends on what a parent is willing to give up in order to get by on one income. But much depends, also, on who is working where, and at what income level.

      • Lina
        Lina says:

        “But much depends, also, on who is working where, and at what income level.”

        …and on their own memories.

        If you watched your mom stay at home focusing on you for years and then be unable to earn money to pay bills once your father got laid off, you might hesitate to do what she did (whether you’re a mother hesitating to be a stay-at-home mom or a father hesitating to be a stay-at-home dad).

        If you watched your mom get hit by your dad and stay because she couldn’t afford to leave, you might want to keep earning some money yourself *just in case*(whether you’re a mother hesitating to completely rely on your husband or a father hesitating to completely rely on your wife).

    • Gretchen Powers
      Gretchen Powers says:

      The thing about the quality vs quantity time w little kids is that they don’t see it that way. They need you when they need you. You don’t get to pick. Your pediatrician ought to stick to medical issues unless there is some physical manifestation of a problem. I work from home and sometimes I even have done it while my kid is awake. I do the light, task-oriented things when she’s up and the more focused, harder work when she’s asleep or at preschool. Kids don’t need your attention 100 percent of the time, but they do need it when they need it, to some extent until they can be taught to hold on for five minutes then mommy will play after she sends this email. It’s not rocket science, it’s just being responsive. I still think that for 0-3s they do much better at home most of the day, even with a working parent than being thrown into the fray of a group dynamic where they have to be “on” for hours at a time, following someone else’s rules and schedules. I think a few hours of preschool at 3 are good to break up their days and add some interest, but my kid has really thrived just hanging out at home with me in addition to limited preschool. I do, however, let her run pretty free as far as having access to art supplies, making messes, being creative, etc.

  29. Yuse Lajiminmuhip
    Yuse Lajiminmuhip says:

    Love how much of a food expert you are now. I think there is a key difference between stating the obvious (there is an obesity problem in America) and highlighting key reasons for our problems (money and facts).

    That guy should’ve read your blog. Though, to be honest, even reading your blog wouldn’t have prepared him…

  30. emily
    emily says:

    Woah Nelly. Is it really Michael Zenn you’re mad it? He may not be that smart but he managed to do what most people aren’t able to do: get a mention in your blog.

    This Zenn man says he’s looking for female thought leaders in the nation for his new book. But his new book is about food. So what does the gender have to do with his topic?

    He says that he wants to focus on female readers. But he is only looking for female influencers. Not to understand what female readers want to read about.

    So he’s looking for a way into a female audience – one that he believes wants or needs advice on food. As if women don’t have enough advice on food as it is.

    You know what? This guy may not be very successful at all. In fact, he may only be experienced at one thing: manipulation.

  31. Greg
    Greg says:

    Oh my! Awesome.

    May I send you a new food book? You won’t be in the book (even though you’re a leading leader). I’m not even the author. And, it (probably) won’t be at the checkout line at Whole Foods. In fact, the author would never ask you to read his book. But, it’s a book you should enjoy.

  32. Wim Chase
    Wim Chase says:

    This is a great post. From a negotiation standpoint, you want to drive their time budget and keep yours to a minimum. The hard part is saying ‘no’ to them without making them feel inferior, which they may since they clearly value what you do and write. This line was used on me once – (he was telling me no ) ,” I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I have something that is definitely going to benefit them. I am afraid I may have been misleading.” He got rid of me. invessted no more time, and I spent the next two months, a lot of time, wondering how he could benefit me and then I bought his product at the price he was asking.

  33. Working
    Working says:

    I’m curious to see the version of Michael Zenn of both the call and his e-mail.
    That panacea part was too predictable. You rarely see that word in a non-negative context.

      • Marylynn
        Marylynn says:

        The book is at Whole Foods right now. Thats how I found this blog. I checked for reviews on search engine. Checked on Amazon and on this blog and saw on both that he looks not all there. He was all over his only bad reviewer. I hope he dosnt find thsi blog or he’ll threaten Penelope too.

  34. Adam
    Adam says:

    Your simple statement of “saying no” is something that definitely made an impact on me today. I have fallen into a trap of always saying “yes” to prospects and clients, which is why I’ve been struggling lately with my productivity.

    On a side note, I don’t know how folks eat all that whole food stuff. It’s all pretty bland!

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