How to choose a new career

It was a big decision whether we should do reality TV. Since mostly only people with crazy, falling-apart lives do reality TV, I realized that to feel good about doing the show, I’d have to think about it as a job. Otherwise I couldn’t justify spending so much time on it. So I evaluated the TV show as if it were a job opportunity.

1. Make sure it’ll be a psychologically positive experience.
In my mind, reality TV is letting someone else tell my story. But right now I make a living from me telling my story. So I need to be really careful letting other people do that. Also, the Farmer said no. Just plain no. He wanted nothing to do with it. He pointed out that he is the only one of the two of us who lets someone else tell his story, and he can tell me from experience that I won’t like it.

Scientific American published research about how editing our own stories is good for our well-being. And I know from writing other peoples’ resumes that it’s very difficult to see multiple facets of our own story. Which made me very curious about what the reality TV people would put together for my story. So I let them come film. Just to see what it would be like.

2. Make sure you can make money.
I studied the reality TV world for months by reading tabloids. I learned that the people who make the most money from reality TV are people who can run it like a business. Kim Kardashian is like this, but I’d like to think I’d be more like Bethany, who sold a product line from her show.

I called the reality people to make sure I could sell my product on my TV show.

“Sure,” said Yasmine, (the person who is in charge of dealing with me.) “That’s a great idea! What will you sell?”

“Goat cheese,” I said. I have already discarded this idea many times, but I was on the spot. Anyway, I know I’ll think of something that I can make on the farm and sell online, so it only matters that Yasmine said yes.

So they came for two days. That’s Rick, the sound guy. Almost as soon as the team arrived, he put a microphone on each of us.

We never knew when we were turned on and when we were off. I was surprised to see that the Farmer let them put a mic on him.

3. Make sure the new career will leverage your gifts.
Then each of us did an interview. That was great for me, of course, because my favorite thing is to pretend that I’m having a conversation with someone but really it’s just me talking about me and I don’t even have to feign interest in the other person. My sweet spot.

When I think about if this reality TV thing is a good job for me, I think about research I read from Charles Dike, professor of psychiatry at Yale University. He talks about the spectrum of lying and how on one end is the pathological liar, and people with Asperger’s are on the other end.

For most reality shows there’s a problem that the people don’t want to show their true selves on camera. And for most people in business, there’s the problem that people show too much of themselves and get in trouble. Clearly, my penchant for saying whatever comes into my head, is more suited for reality TV than for business. So that’s one sign that I should be doing this.

4. Ask yourself how it’ll affect the people around you.
I worried a bit about my sons doing interviews.

My oldest son relished being able to list the swear words I say in public. “She really needs to work on that,” he said. Not that I would know, really, what he said. Because I couldn’t be there.

But my son told me afterwards, right before he said, “Don’t worry. I didn’t say anything bad.”

This is Dave. He is the creative director. I like him because he listened to me do a coaching call and he said it was so amazing that there needs to be one coaching call on every show.

During the interview with the Farmer, which the Farmer announced he would not do but ended up doing anyway, Dave asked the Farmer about my coaching.

The Farmer said, “She’s amazing at coaching. She can figure out exactly what someone should do with their life after talking with them for just five minutes. I’ve heard her do it over and over again. For someone to get that for an hour, it’s great. It’s a gift she has. They are lucky. But to live with it, that’s different. I feel like one of those ants under a magnifying glass, and the sun is reflecting so hot that I have to keep running away so I don’t burn.”

5. Will you like the people you’ll work with?
By the end of the first day, the crew felt like friends. And we hung out on the porch with them while the kids practiced and I made dinner for everyone. Which brings me to maybe my favorite piece of workplace research ever, which is from Tim Rath, at Gallup: If you have two good friends at work, it will never feel like you have a bad job.
Yasmine said that everyone at the production office took the test on my blog about whether they have a good job, and everyone ended up scoring high because they like the people they work with. I see why. I liked the people, too.

By the second day, the TV people had each improvised a fast way for taking their shoes on and off when they went in the house. They knew where to step to avoid cow poop and the electric fence. And Yasmine, who had the impossible job of keeping everything from baby pig rambunctious boys on schedule, turned the rental car into her office.

Everyone had gotten in a groove.

Except me. The second day I woke up dreading that I had to still be nice to everyone.

6. Figure out what the job will it be like at its worst. Can you take it?
I am a person who needs a lot of alone time. I need writing time. I need time to read obsessively in a scalding hot bath.

So I woke up early to do that, because when I am anxious I get cold, and I cope by taking baths that are so hot that the plumber said it’s illegal to have a house with such hot water. But that’s how hot I need it to feel good.

I didn’t know the hot water wasn’t hot until I got into a cold bath. And once I am wet, and not hot, I can’t get warm again. It’s like I’m a lizard or something. I think this falls under my sensory integration disorder, because my son, who also has sensory integration disorder, has the same issue but with cold water. He can’t cope with even lukewarm water. It must be cold.

So, by the time the film crew came to me on the second day, I was in my winter jacket. Sulking.

I think they were prepared for something like this, though. After all, they found me by reading my blog. So we discussed how I cannot have good social skills right now, so no one should talk to me. They didn’t ask me to take my coat off. They just sort of worked around it for a while, as we walked from scene to scene.

They have a name for every type of shot. The wide angles of the farm are “beauty shots,” the stuff that goes along with a voiceover is “B roll,” and the shot where the protagonist of the show stands alone is the “hero shot,” which I pulled myself together for by the middle of the day.

7. Make a decision and go with it.
The crew was from from Chicago, LA, and Toronto and I felt pressure to tell them if I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want them to do more and more work and then I say no. The second day they spent a lot of time taking footage of the kids playing music.

I usually cringe when they play together because it’s more like a fight than a duet: who can make the other one mess up. But with the camera crew there, the boys played together better than they’ve ever played before. It reminded me of the Stanford Study of Writing that showed that kids learn to write much faster if they are writing for the Internet—where there’s an audience—than for their teacher, which is an audience of one.

It was moments like that, where I saw us each being our best selves for the camera, that I thought this reality show is probably good for us. We cannot be our best selves all the time, but being on camera gives us glimpses of our best selves so that we know better what we are capable of. Each of us. I am not the only one who felt good about the show at the end of the day. We all lingered nearby as the crew packed up their stuff.

Even the Farmer, who was initially was the one who thought doing a reality show was a complete waste of time. He walked over to shake everyone’s hand and to thank them for making the two days so fun for us.

Then, as they drove away, he took a nice long rest.

91 replies
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  1. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Interesting read. It’s nice to see those glimpses of what you are truely capable of and to try new things and explore. This is how we find our true selves and our true loves – what we are passionate about. Always explore and be open! :)

    I also noticed a few mistakes in the article:

    1) “I’m called the reality people to make sure I could sell my product on my TV show.”

    – “I’m” should be “I”

    2) “Which brings me to maybe my favorite piece of workplace resaerch ever…”

    – spelling mistake on research.

    3) “They have a name for every type of shot. The wide angles of the farm are “beauty shots” the stuff that goes along with a voiceover is “B roll” and the shot where the protagonist of the show stands alone is the “hero shot” which I pulled myself together for by the middle of the day.”

    – Just a few commas missing in this paragraph, that’s all. There should be a comma after “beauty shots” and one after “B roll”. And perhaps the “which I pulled myself together for by the middle of the day” could be in brackets as it is written as an afterthought.

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Maybe you were trying to be helpful with this comment, but do have any idea how boring and annoying it is to have the first comment on this post be a spelling and punctuation lesson?

      • Rebekah
        Rebekah says:

        Agree–who made Ashley the queen of spelling, typos, and punctuation? Who does that? Edit your own writing. In silence.

        • Jessica A
          Jessica A says:

          Just send Penelope an email with the corrections. If you read her blog you know she’s the first to acknowledge her need for an editor. I’ve done it before and she replies promptly and graciously. Posting a grammar correction in the comments section is kind of like correcting someone’s table manners while at dinner – fine if you’re a parent or they’ve asked for your feedback, but a bit odd otherwise.

    • Rachel G
      Rachel G says:

      Hi. I’m just writing to defend you, Ashley. I also find reading that reading things with grammar and usage errors is extremely annoying. I often comment when I see errors in a post– but I only comment when the error is big enough to make a difference to the meaning.

      Obviously you haven’t been reading this blog very long, or you wouldn’t waste your time on a few commas. You would wait for something big, like misquoting a major author, or two sentences with opposite meanings, one of which clearly has a “not” missing….


      • Ashley
        Ashley says:

        Thanks Rachel, you would be correct. I have never been on this blog before – I came passing through after a few clicks on another website.

        I apologize if I offended anyone as I did not mean too. This entire week I’ve been noticing numerous mistakes on many sites (even well know Fortune 500 companies who pay people to check these things). I guess after a whole week of it, I just decided to let people know so they could fix it and keep their credibility. After years in school, it’s the number one thing our teachers were always anal about — especially pertaining to online media.

        I just read the blog post, posted my comment, and pointed a few things out. I did not notice the contact email at the bottom of the page, otherwise I would have emailed her accordingly. Again, I apologize for setting the stage for negativity, I just think that after years and years of being taught and told to check our own work, it would be engrained in us to do so. No need to hire an editor, something as oldschool as Word Perfect could run a quick spell/grammar check on things…

        • Rachel G
          Rachel G says:

          Dear Ashley,

          You are going to be very busy if you are going to wander the internet correcting grammar! Also, you will not be very welcome: no one cares. Not even at big fancy companies! Companies care about making money, not about upholding good writing skills.

          If you’re going to keep reading Penelope’s blog, you should know her thoughts on the matter:

          Otherwise, if you want to read something with almost no errors written by people who do care, try The Economist. (I sometimes read their style guide just for fun!)


        • cindy
          cindy says:

          Ashley, you made an error in the following sentence;

          (even well know Fortune 500 companies who pay people to check these things).

          It should read, “even well known Fortune companies…”

          I felt petty and ridiculous pointing that out. If I see errors I usually, except in this case, just correct them in my head and move on…

    • Irving Podolsky
      Irving Podolsky says:

      Dear Ashley,

      I’m late to this thread but I read below and you got some flack about your corrections. That’s too bad, because this is a public forum and Penelope knows that when she lets her words flow to the internet, anything can come back to her. I don’t think she was offended.

      But Penelope is not necessarily the person who should be getting grammar advice. Her EDITOR should have caught the mistakes. The writer rarely sees errors because the writer corrects the mistakes mentally.

      But DOES Penelope have an editor? She told me so last week in an email. She wrote: “I never ever publish anything without having it edited.”

      So, there it is. And the fact that Penelope took the heat and didn’t blame the editor tells us more about her character.


      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        The photos are a combination of me taking them and Jeanenne, my assistant. Also, she will like that I’m writing this because she’s annoyed that I don’t give her photo credits.

        I told her that I don’t give her photo credits because who cares? It’s not going to change her life.

        I think this is probably not good social skills, but it gives you a taste of what it would be like to be my assistant.

        In other news, I struggle to figure out how to give photo credits on this blog. I use photos from a wide range of photographers, and Melissa is the photo editor for all the photos. So if anyone has ideas, let me know.


        • redrock
          redrock says:

          You can always add a little link at the bottom of a post to link to a list of photo credits, that way anybody can check it out, but it does not distract from reading. It can easily include something like “photos taken by…” and “photoediting by…”. I think it is proper to give credit, for a personal pat on the back if there is no career advantage involves, something to be proud of for the person taking the shot, or for Melissa maybe something to use in her portfolio. Independent of whether it matters to a career, credit should be given.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            People do it all the time. They post photos of my kids, on their blog, with not mention of anything related to me or the kids.


        • jen
          jen says:

          Regarding the photos, most of them are ho-hum. The two that aren’t are the one of you on the porch (the shadows and sunlight) and the one of the farmer in the grass, but even these are missing that rare quality that makes a picture sing. I am rarely this critical of anyone’s work, but you are so blunt on this blog, I figure it can’t hurt to be blunt back. The photos you take are the best. Not Melissa’s and unfortunately, not even James, the photographer you wrote about from New York. I think some of his stuff is great, but I’m sorry you paid him. He didn’t know you and if he did, he still didn’t. Your life is full of emotion and your stories are rich with color, but the photos you post have absolutely no soul. I don’t think it hurts though. You’re very successful and I know you’re only going to be able to help more people as time goes on. So, the thing is, if you had amazing photos you would not hesitate to provide credit. It would take less time than answering all the emails you’d get asking, “Who took that shot?” But, nobody will ever ask who took these photos.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            it is a pretty personal matter whether one likes a certain type of photo or not. I happen to like those in the present post, but I am sure many people disagree. Fair enough. However, copyright and acknowledgement of work is independent of whether one likes the work or not. And yes, people copy stuff all the time and put it on their own pages without citing the source – this is plagiarism. Depending on your profession it can get you disbarred, lead to job loss or invalidation of a degree (if you did it in your thesis). While it is officially illegal, I realize that it cannot not be enforced on the internet, but this does not mean that it should be done. It is also a nice thing to recognize a friends work on one’s blog, much as Penelope did with a lot of Melissa’s photos.

        • Lindsay
          Lindsay says:

          It’s pretty obvious to me that your flagrant disregard to crediting people with their own work is mostly meant to get inflamatory remarks and stir the pot. I mean, that is basically all you do and why people share your blog “OMG LOOK AT WHAT THIS IDIOT SAID” or “OMG THIS CHICK IS SOOOO RIGHT”


          What I have to say is that 1) It is illegal to post someone’s creative work without attribution or permission. If she is annoyed that you don’t attribute her, then its pretty obvious that she doesn’t have your permission. She COULD sue you for a portion of any money you make off this blog and have you remove all pictures she has taken. Period. End of story. If she were to sue you, it would also be illegal for you to fire her because she is suing you.

          In fact, this is a common occurance on the net among idiotic bloggers who think that because its a digital photo, they have a right to use it on their blog. Nope. Not the case.

          In regards to whether attribution will make or break her career.. well, that’s the comment that just full of troll.. SO it’s not really worth responding to.

          Fact is.. you not only illegally using pictures that do not belong to you, but you are doing so in a flagrant disregard to the value of an image or the value of a photographer’s creation.

          So just because someone does something illegal to you does not mean it is ok for you to turn around and commit the same crime. It’s not a grey area here.. its a law that’s been enforced plenty of times across the internet with strangers stealing other stranger’s photos – so the blatant theft of a photo is not something that is and abstract concept.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    I really really hope you’ll do the show! I’d love to share this with my own aspie daughter as inspiration for her own future independence, success and prosperity! Please Do! Plus it would be fascinating!

  3. Susan Szafir
    Susan Szafir says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I hate reality TV and yet if they do one about you and the farmer I’d be tempted to watch. I’m not always in agreement with what you say, but I’m absopositively in love with your writing style. Can’t wait to see how this evolves.


  4. Karen
    Karen says:

    By the end of the first day, the crew felt like friends. And we hung out on the porch with them while the kids practiced and I made dinner for everyone. Which brings me to maybe my favorite piece of workplace resaerch ever, which is from Tim Rath, at Gallup: If you have two good friends at work, it will never feel like you have a bad job.

    Yasmine said that everyone at the production office took the testLH on my blog about whether they have a good job, and everyone ended up scoring high because they like the people they work with. I see why. I liked the people, too.

    Yes, but…their job is to betray you.

    They didn’t ask me to take my coat off. They just sort of worked around it for a while, as we walked from scene to scene.

    They didn’t ask you to take it off because they loved it. Because it made you look odd.

  5. alicia
    alicia says:

    Not to be a Debbie downer but I’m just not so sure I want to see you on tv. I love reading your blog and appreciate the honesty in everything you write, but I’m tired of watching train wrecks on television. How many reality tv stars are actually “transformed” into a better person after watching themselves misbehave. I ccould not stomach watching an episode of you and the farmer fighting…. Especially after that post you wrote in response to the last fight you two had. One another note, maybe you could focus more on selling your coaching business. That’s a positive way to impact the world. Especially given the fact that so many of us could use that type of guidance right now….

    And what’s with the previous yahoo trying to edit the post??? Who does that?

    • diana
      diana says:

      I know, right?
      I liked all the pics, and I think you should consult your favorite styleguide to figure out how to give proper credit. Yes, something might come from that, for the photographer.

  6. Suzanne Kaplan
    Suzanne Kaplan says:

    I’m selfish, and I want you to do this show! Well, I’m a voyeur too.

    On another note, this post brings up a good point about how important it is to like the people you work with – at least 2 of them, anyway. I can like a job in and of itself, but if I’m there 8+ hours a day and have no good company, it starts to feel really lonely.

  7. John
    John says:

    “It was moments like that, where I saw us each being our best selves for the camera, that I thought this reality show is probably good for us.”

    I think you are being impossibly narcissistic and naive – this is not what sells reality television. On the contrary, what sells reality TV is people acting like a train wreck – I mean, the whole point of reality TV is to make the audience feel superior to the subjects of the show. Nobody admires the Kardashians, Snooki, or whoever, because they’re disasters as human beings. And a show depicting people being their best possible selves (unless that “best” is very dismal indeed) is going to be a snooze-fest. Conflict, drama, people behaving badly; that’s what sells reality TV. Wake up.

    Oh well, always interesting to stop by and see what the crazy lady has to say.

    • eden
      eden says:

      John, I think this comment is so reductive and sadly cynical. No one is always their best selves, seeing a show where a complicated family is striving to be their best selves would be fascinating. And FULL of conflict. It’s very easy to hate on reality tv, but it does not all play to the lowest common denominator. It certainly doesn’t have to to be successful. Anyone interested documenting Penelope’s life from reading her blog would be aware of that.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Most of the family-oriented shows on TLC.

          See? I’ve done my research!


          • Eden
            Eden says:

            Yes! And though it’s a different kind of format, most of the competition shows on bravo. They run on creativity, competitive spirit and expertise; for the most part.

  8. M
    M says:

    I’m sure you’re probably keeping in mind that 2 days of being filmed is different from prolonged filming. I think the good thing for you (and us readers) is that there will be new interesting material for your blog, even if it turns out not to be pleasant you will have your say, and we will get to learn what it’s like behind the scenes, how much editing, shaping, etc. goes on. I think for you and your personality there will be no problem because brazen honesty is your thing, especially if you have an arena to tell it your way which you do in your blog.

    The people I’d be more concerned about are your kids and husband. I’m old so I’m thinking about the Loud family. But your family is used to your brazen honesty so maybe they know how to deal with exposure of all kinds. I really hope you continue to be honest and don’t have to do what they direct you to do. (I know other people who’ve been on reality shows and ultimately it hasn’t been pleasant for them) but you’re already, for lack of a better word, exhibitionistic. I love that you know your sweet spot and admit to it. I don’t think you’re completely uninterested in people though.

    Good luck to you. I knew you years ago and continue to wish you well.

  9. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    My favorite research is from Daniel Gilbert who you’ve written about on this blog – we can’t predict what we’ll like with any certainty. I think it applies here.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hahahahha. Touche, Mark.

      I think that would normally be my favorite piece of happiness research as well. But since it applies so well in this situation, I don’t like it. So I am glossing over it.

      Maybe the most useful way to study happiness research is to be conscious of the research your most carefully ignore.


  10. Dale
    Dale says:

    I think that this is a bad idea for your family. I can’t say why on a conscious level, but it just feels wrong for you.

  11. Sheryl
    Sheryl says:

    I remember years ago seeing a British program – a tv crew was filming a woman in her apartment. The woman was black, wearing a bold flowered dress and turban, and her apartment was painted in bright hues and full of colourful knickknacks. In the first scene, she was seated under the lights, with the camera looking up at her, and the interviewer asked her questions in rapid-fire. The woman answered slowly. She sounded stupid. Under the lights, her apartment looked tacky and silly.The next scene was in muted light, the camera was at a higher angle, and the woman looked beautiful and regal. Her apartment seemed cheerful and charming. She spoke by herself, slowly, and with a commanding presence. The lights, the interviewer, the angles – they made the difference between the audience seeing the woman as n object of ridicule or a dignified human being deserving respect.

    • Yvette
      Yvette says:

      @ Sheryl, I so believe in what you said. Do you remember the name of the show?
      I’ve seen pictures of the same apartment; one for Elle Decor, and the other, for a Spanish or French magazine. The one in Elle Decor looked glamorous; the other one looked tacky. Same spaces, different lighting/angle, etc.

  12. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    How FUN!!! Have a blast! I’m proud of the Farmer for trying it, too. Let us know how we can watch.


  13. Dannielle Blumenthal
    Dannielle Blumenthal says:

    Hi Penelope,

    For most families a reality show would be a bad thing, but for yours I think it will be a good thing. You guys seem to need a lot of drama in order to be happy. So now you can externalize it. That might help to keep the peace at home.

    I also think you are a perfect candidate for a reality show, based on the strong positive/negative feelings you elicit even in fans like myself.

    — Here is the post I wrote about one blog you did that I hated:

    — Here is the post you wrote that I loved, that completely changed my life and turned me into almost a different person from a professional perspective. In a way, it set me free: (see how much influence you have?)

    Looking at this post, the only thing I would caution you about is your brand. Is anyone looking out for it, advising you?

    (Please note that I thought from Day 1 that you had a good potential brand – I have a pretty good radar about this stuff. Check out this post

    Here is some free advice, from someone who thinks that you will succeed anyway, because G-d has a plan:

    1 – Get a professional opinion on what your brand is. Hire someone good. United Talent Agency recently added a brand unit – possibly them? (

    2. My take – your brand could be reduced to “contradiction.” You are the embodiment of this attribute.

    For example

    – You seem like a warm, nice person but your advice is rather cold.

    – You are awkward with people (you identify as having Asperger’s) yet you have a huge blog following who talks to you (like me) as if they are your regular friends.

    -You are a devoted wife and mom who offers career advice. You are a feminist who offers some decidedly retro personal advice. Etc.

    – You come off as crazy on the outside, but are incredibly sane inside.

    3. The network’s brand will become your brand.

    You are not network television. Don’t do it.

    You are not E!.

    You are probably Bravo.

    Possibly National Geographic.

    Hold out.

    4. Control how they portray you – study and model yourself after Kris Jenner.

    It would be easy for the producers to use you to make fun of. Don’t let them.

    Make them portray you as the contradiction you are: Someone who sort of stumbles through life, confused and shy; who has all these stray friends in real life and online; and who has to sort it all out in her mind later on. Have them work in the career advice element – bring in someone for you to counsel on every episode. Make them live on the farm.

    5. I would be happy to review tapes, etc. if you want.

    Good luck – this is really going to happen – and mark my words, there is going to be a movie, too.


    • Sadya
      Sadya says:

      @Dannielle – That post ‘How to decide how much to reveal about yourself” is so hard-hitting and so raw, its impossible not to be affected by it. I hadnt discovered the blog by then but it was still very impactful.
      I think what stands out most is that PT does not see herself as a victim and that’s why she doesnt portray herself as one. The one time she did do that was when she posted that ass/bruise picture post of hers.

      The secrets we keep, the refusal to acknowledge reality as it is, end up defining us. The worst thing that happen to us is not that someone knows our secret, but that noone knows it.
      Reality TV makes sense that way.

  14. Wendy
    Wendy says:


    The “product” you are selling on the show? Is coaching. (It’s also the blog.) Double your rate!

  15. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    This is awesome. I would love to see coaching sessions. They could do a whole series just on that alone. I hope we get to see this :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh, I don’t know. The process from getting from where we were this week to when the show is on air. It’s probably a year. Who knows? It’s an insanely long process, and actually, the slowness of network television reminds me of the slowness of outdated big-publisher print book publishing.


      • Anca
        Anca says:

        Air it online. There are definitely shows that air entirely online. It will probably give you a lot more control/flexibility, and when the network(s) catch up, you’ll have a whole season’s worth of episodes already produced.

  16. Melanie Gao
    Melanie Gao says:

    My family and I did a few reality TV shows back when we lived in China and they are some of our favorite memories together. The crew put us up to some incredible stunts, like learning to do Chinese acrobatics while wearing full-body spandex. The pyramids were just hilarious, we kept sliding off of each other because the material was so slick. At one point my husband did have the whole entire family on his shoulders. Those were good times. The shows were exhausting but I’m totally glad we did them, not because of the shows we made but because of the memories.

  17. RMA
    RMA says:

    I think:

    “3. Make sure the new career will leverage your gifts.”

    Is the most important key to being happy where your new career opportunity takes you. As an recruiter, my job is to help people get a job that utilies their gitts.

    Great post!

    Laura M.

  18. pfj
    pfj says:

    Yes, what they said — several people above noticed — the “product” that you sell (on the show, and also NOT on the show) — coaching.


    1) You already know how to do it.

    2) You’re already good at it . . . learning curve has already happened.

    3) There’s definitely a market.

    4) Nothing to wash, wrap, clean, package up — and no shipping costs.

    And (as someone already suggested) you can raise your rates if you get too much business.

  19. Cassie Boorn
    Cassie Boorn says:

    You should create a Pinterest board for each of the people that take your photos.

    Pin the photos they take to their board and link to their board under the photo.

    This will give them credit, build a portfolio for them on Pinterest AND drive more traffic to your blog.

  20. Clara
    Clara says:

    I, for one, found your insights fascinating. To think that by virtue of Asperger’s you might be naturally suited for reality t.v. made me smile at first, and then made perfect sense.

    Knowing that reality t.v. subjects have limited control over how they’re presented, it strikes me that having a good experience during the filming is crucial–in large part because at that point you have to divorce the experience you and your family had from what will end up on television.

    It’s similar to the way I’ve heard actors talk about their films. A good experience making the film doesn’t mean that the movie will be a good one; while some actors who had a lousy time making the movie ended up a film that was considered a masterpiece.

  21. Nova
    Nova says:

    Aren’t you worried that your blog readers might stop reading you after seeing you on the reality show? I read all your posts and check every few days for new posts and feel like I have comonalities with you but I think that if I see you in the show, I might not continue to feel the same way. It is like seeing a movie based on a book you have already read. Especially since they will probably tell your story differntly than from how they will you tell your story.

  22. Alisha
    Alisha says:

    Under #3, “research from Charles Dike”, the link isn’t working for me…
    I hope that your international readers (eg in Australia like me…) can watch this series :)

  23. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Since you only have two sons, one would be older and one would be younger, as opposed to oldest and youngest.

  24. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Been reading pretty regularly for quite awhile now. Just today for the first time there was an ad with a soundtrack. Have to say I HATE that. With a passion. Sound that automatically plays when you arrive on a page is very unfriendly… Please please please ditch the soundtrack ads!

  25. Fozz
    Fozz says:

    “Since mostly only people with crazy, falling-apart lives do reality TV”, says it all really.

  26. Ebriel
    Ebriel says:

    Your reasons are spot-on, and very similar to mine. Of course better articulated! Within the past year my husband and I – and our Sicilian art studio – were filmed for a contrived-but-popular American reality show. It was due to be on TV this June in the USA, but we have no idea if it’s been aired or not.

    And we don’t really care. It was quite the experience and will help to sell the place in a few years, when we upsize to a larger place, or to a houseboat somewhere else.

  27. Heather
    Heather says:

    You have to let us know when and where we can see this. I would love to see how reality TV portrays your life. Hope they did a good job, but it does sound like they did.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hi. Dannielle. Your comment got stuck in the spam filter because of the list, I think. Which is ironic since I love lists. And your comment is great. And let me just say that I almost never yank a comment from the blog. I love the comments too much. I love the comments so much that I even love the comments that tell me I’m making bad decisions!

      Thanks for the advice, Dannielle. I got it out of the spam filter and approved it :)


      • Dannielle Blumenthal
        Dannielle Blumenthal says:

        POSTED! Totally awesome.

        Someone should study the anxiety it generates when you write a comment and for some unknown reason it is being “moderated” for days. I could only guess that the network censored it.

        Interesting, isn’t it Penelope, that your brand is about your reality, and now the prospect of a reality show looms, and I start to wonder how the portrayal of your reality will become a fiction.

        Go for it nevertheless, if it’s what you want to do. Either way I’ll still be reading and I’ll still be a fan.

        Not to get all religious and stuff but you are Jewish, and what you are doing with your work is a very Jewish thing – tikkun olam – healing the world in your own way.


  28. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Okay, let me be trite. OMG. I can’t believe you are doing this and I can’t wait to see the show. Also, as Penelope Trunk blog posts go, this batch of comments was just PLAIN funny. Link edits, grammar corrections, speculation on the reason they want you for reality TV “because you are kind of wacky.” Well duh. Good stuff.

  29. Elisa
    Elisa says:

    These comments are absolutely absurd. This is one of the most exciting things to happen to Penelope since she marooned her family on a farm and you’re commenting about GRAMMAR???

  30. sandy
    sandy says:

    I like the photos. I think they’re all good. And I think you should give photo credits to your assistant or anyone else because it’s the right thing to do.

    I think one benefit of doing the show would be to see the comments each of you made when you’re alone on camera. There might be some great insights there like the Farmer’s comment about feeling like an ant under a magnifying glass running for his life. Honestly he should write a book or something. His images are really good.

    I do think anyone producing a reality show wants ratings. And dysfunction seems to generate more ratings than those kumbaya family interactions. Think about partner melt-downs in the Great Race and Big Brother. Or conniving and maneuvering in Survivor.

    But I would watch the show. I agree with everyone else that your product is your coaching. Go with your strengths.

  31. Diane P
    Diane P says:

    I will watch and recommend this show to my friends, just as I read and recommend this blog. YAY!!!!

  32. Lacey Smith
    Lacey Smith says:

    What a great posting!!! I’ve been tossing around the idea of changing careers, but I’ve been too scared, especially since jobs seems to be so scares. I think it’s so important for individuals to do everything they can to stay sharp and confident, and I’m really going to use your post as a personal push! I just read a great book called “How to Avoid the Common Failure” by Michael Horton. You can find out more on his website and you can pick up the book at I highly recommend it, and I think everyone could really benefit from it!

  33. Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz)
    Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz) says:

    1. If anyone can pull off an awesome reality TV experience, it’s you, Penelope. Hope it airs, & I’ll be watching.

    2. Pointing out typos in the comments are mean, dumb, & pointless. And also? Severely hilarious when they contain typos, too! LMAO

    3. Giving credit makes people feel good about their work & reassures them of their importance in your life. Hope you start this act!

    4. Your comments in the comment section are always as good as your articles themselves. Thank you not just for sharing, but for interacting as well. Not that you need my approval, but… I like you! :)

  34. classycareergirl
    classycareergirl says:

    This is so interesting! No wonder you’re still on the list of top 100 websites for women 2012 on Forbes because you are really good in writing and sharing what’s in your mind. Congratulations! Looking forward to that reality TV show!

  35. betty in munich
    betty in munich says:

    “Since mostly only people with crazy, falling-apart lives do reality TV…” you’re a perfect fit. Well – this has been you at various times in your life…maybe not now…which is actually nice to see.

  36. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    Throughout this post, you are really unsure about this decision – for you and your family. By the end, you and your family are at ease, as you observed. I think it may be because you live a rather remote life. When visitors arrived, with something productive to do — not just visit — you were all involved. Your boys had a purpose; you had a purpose (beyond just entertaining them); the farmer felt purposeful because the crew was genuinely interested in him. All of that, in just two days of production. Not a bad experience at all. I think it was good for your family. Now, let’s hope the editing is good for your family. Do you have any say in the editing process, or do you see a finished show before it airs?

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