There are three career paths. One will fit you.

I am reading Miranda July’s book because she made a great ad for her book. It’s like a little film and after I saw the ad I got upset that I cannot make such good ads for my books. But then I read that what she really loves is filmmaking. And anyway, I really don’t love writing books.

Books are too long—my writing sweet spot is about as long as a good blog post. Do you want to know the rule for blog post length? Eight hundred words. Because every big idea in the last 100 years has launched in an op-ed, which is 600 words, so how could you need more? I have been preaching this rule for years. And now I’m breaking it. You haven’t gotten to the end of this post, and, frankly, neither have I. But we are both pretty sure I’m not going to stop at 600 words. Read more

“Your post just destroyed Melissa’s life.” This is the email I got from my friend Melissa‘s fiance, Steven, who is now her ex-fiance.

He did not like the post I wrote.

Before you tell me that I’m a terrible person for writing the post I want you to know that Melissa’s therapist read the post that same day and told her, “Penelope saved your life. That post is the only thing that made Steven angry enough for you guys to call off the engagement.”

So, the truth is that Melissa and Steven were good together as long as there was nothing hard to decide. You don’t really know if someone is good for you until there is something really hard—like telling Steven’s mom that Melissa was not going to have a Catholic wedding.

You don’t really know someone until you know their level of resilience. People can fake emotional stability, but when life brings challenges, resilience is what allows you to maintain a sense of well-being when you deal with the challenge. There are five key characteristics of maintaining your resilience. Read more

See that picture of my son?  I tell him all the time he is not being nice. “Be nice.” I tell him. “If you are not nice then people won’t like you.” So he surprised me by writing it on his hand.

An example of him not being nice is that he doesn’t see that when people play a game together, they care if the other person has fun even though both people try to win. My son does not understand this nuance. So he seems mean. But mean is actually a really complicated intention that people with Aspergers Syndrome don’t have. I have Aspergers as well, so I understand that to my son it looks like a time waste to be intentionally mean. Being direct is so much easier.

This is true for me, as well. For instance, as I have become completely obsessed with my research about homeschooling, I have discovered that the top-tier universities are set up to favor homeschoolers over everyone else. And the most expensive private schools are aware of this and they are switching over to a homeschool model. Read more

I am sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. Alone. Or sometimes with the dog.

I hate writing this story because I want to be a person you admire, but I also hate not writing it. Because I want to be a person I admire. I want to be a person known for honesty.

Which means I need to tell you that I wish I cared more that I’m not talking to the Farmer.

I hate that I have stories I don’t want to tell. Because I have found that almost always, the secrets we keep matter a lot to us, but they don’t matter to other people.

For example, I emailed to Melissa one day. “I have a secret: I drank wine at breakfast today and I haven’t stopped.”

I thought Melissa would email back that I’m an idiot and I’ll be in rehab.

But she emailed back, “I forgot to get a refill for Lexapro and today is the first time in a year that I’ve initiated sex.” Read more

Marissa Mayer has just been named CEO of Yahoo. She is a powerhouse in Silicon Valley and she was on the cover of the most recent Fortune Magazine 50 Most Powerful Women issue.

Before I tell you why I think she has Asperger Syndrome, I want to tell you why I think it’s important: Aspergers is a serious disability that is very very difficult to diagnose in girls. (I know this all too well: I have Aspergers, and I was not diagnosed until I was an adult.)

Aspergers is a mental disability that primarily affects peoples’ ability to read social cues. You might think this is a small deficit, but actually social skills are essential to almost everything we do. An inability to read social cues leads to so much isolation and misunderstanding that suicide is relatively common among people with Aspergers. Read more

The update about my friend Melissa is that she is still working in an administrative job that is totally unimpressive. By choice. Because the only way to know what you’ll like for sure is to try it, so building a career is an exercise in trial and error. Which is what Melissa is doing. And even though trial and error looks very similar to aimless flailing, it’s what everyone has to do. Here’s how to do it well:

1. Let yourself try things that are widely seen as lazy and indulgent.
Melissa was great at everything when she was a kid. She was a math major in college while she was teaching herself to be fluent in Mandarin. She got a job in investment banking.

But really, she just wants to lay in bed and read the New Yorker, (which is actually a common response to childhood in the land of the gifted). Melissa is engaged to Steven, who has a dog that is probably a better catch than he is. This is not to say Steven is bad. He’s good. But his dog is really good. Super smart and well trained and, the best part for Melissa: very needy. The dog waits for Melissa to get home from work and then they get into bed and cuddle and read old New Yorkers. Read more

This is a webinar on how to get an idea for a business and launch it. 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’m giving a webinar on how to get an idea for a business and launch it. And, you’ll be pleased to know that I have never had a lot of money when I launched my businesses, so I’ll teach you how to launch a business the same way: with very little money.

I give lots of big speeches about entrepreneurship, but they are always closed to the public, so blog readers rarely hear them. Also, I do a lot of coaching sessions for entrepreneurs, evaluating their  ideas, getting them out of slumps, helping them raise money—all the stages of a business. And I keep thinking that so many of the calls are the same that I should do a webinar about the most frequent issues.

So the webinar will be one week long: October 15 – October 19. I’ll do a live video each day about how to launch your own business. At the end of each session I’ll take questions, and the last day will be all questions—you can ask me anything, live, and I’ll answer. If you miss any of the sessions, you can listen to the recording on your own schedule.

The cost of this webinar is $195. You can pay the fee via PayPal to  I’ll send you a confirmation and an introduction to the webinar which will include some fun initial reading and instructions for accessing the videos.

Download now!

Here are the topics we’ll cover: Read more

Most career problems stem from the fact that we are terrible at picking jobs. We think we are picking a good job and then it turns out to be a bad job. It’s almost impossible to pick a good job on the first try, actually. So don’t think you’ll be the exception.

I’m not an exception either. When the reality TV people came to our farm , I expected that it would be fun for them and it would suck for me. In fact, though, my family had a really good time, and I couldn’t believe how difficult the work was for the film crew.

Read more

How to understand your relationship to money

Here’s a phone call I had with the Farmer, last summer, when I was at a cello institute with my son:

Me: We have bites everywhere. We are never going blackberry picking again.

Farmer: I don’t have bites. I don’t think it’s blackberries.

Me: They are itching. They are mosquito bites.

Farmer: I think they’re bed bugs.

Me: Country people always think bed bugs! It’s a country thing to think bed bugs are everywhere. I’d know them if I saw them.

Farmer: Well mosquito bites don’t show up two days later.

Two days later, I was up late, reading because I was too itchy to sleep, and a bed bug crawled across my son.
Read more

Do you like that headline? I stole it from CBS. When I saw the headline there, I clicked immediately. I didn’t like the post, but it got me thinking.

Why does anyone want focus? People probably click the headline because we associate focus with success. Of course, I come from a family full of people with Aspergers, so we associate focus with letting the bathtub overflow. But I know that focus is not just the result of obsession and absent-mindedness. It’s also the result of expertise. I have written posts on expertise 10,000 times, but in case you forgot, here’s a link about how everyone should specialize. And if you are sick of me talking about this topic of expertise, here is a new angle. It was fresh to even me, so I bet it will be fresh to you.

But we are not talking about expertise. We’re talking about focus. And after I clicked on the link to 4 secrets and was disappointed by all four, I started noticing that I read about peoples’ secrets for focus all the time. Read more