This is a guest post from Cassie Boorn. She is 25 years old, and she is a social media specialist at a large public relations firm. She is also a single mom to a six-year-old son, and they live in a town in Illionois with a population of 2000.

I read Penelope’s blog posts about abuse and bulimia and failure and oral sex and I wondered if I could ever be that brave. I built my career by becoming friends with big bloggers, and I decided I wanted to make Penelope my friend.

So I hired her for a career coaching session because I knew if we talked on the phone she would remember me. After that I just kept emailing her links to stuff I thought she would like and pitching her for projects I was working on.

She hated all of the projects I pitched her. Read more

Forbes just published a survey that shows that 84% of working women want to stay home with kids . The new job that everyone wants is stay-at-home mom. This makes sense to me. It’s clear that women don’t want to bust through the glass ceiling, or they’d have done it by now. And it’s clear that men are not pulled by kids in nearly the same way women are, because women’s careers tank when they have kids and mens’ careers don’t.

So now that we are acknowledging that women aspire to stay home with kids, the question remains, “What should women do in their twenties to get to that life they want in their thirties?” Read more

Lessons with 9/11: How to live without regret

I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. Every year I say to myself that this will be the last post I write about 9/11. And then every year I write another post. So, now I have a whole archive of posts about my story:  I was so close to death, from suffocation, that I went through the acceptance process. Then I lived. Now I write about it.

For a while I thought the most remarkable part of my story is not that I lived, but that I walked toward the building. I had time to get away, but I wanted to see people jumping. I couldn’t believe it. So I stood, right there at the bottom, looking up to see what was going on. I talked to people next to me. I did many things that I could have regretted. Read more

The research about inspiration is, generally, that it improves our wellbeing but we cannot control when it comes to us. That said, opening ourselves to new experiences makes inspiration more likely. And surrounding ourselves with inspired people makes us more likely to feel inspired ourselves.

We constantly look for work that inspires us, but I have found in my career that often the jobs that were most inspiring to me were not necessarily at companies doing inspiring work. One example of this is a job I had at CyberMedia. Read more

I took my kids to a four-day music workshop in Boston. The kids play fiddle music at home and the workshop is with a fiddle player they love: Brian Wicklund. But the workshop was terrible, so we quit the first day.

Now we are tourists in Boston. So I go through my list of people who I know who I would want to hang out with in Boston, and the list is really long. If I were here with no kids.

I call Ryan Paugh. I started Brazen Careerist with him. And one of the notable things about my relationship with him is that he was fresh out of college when I met him, and I had a falling-apart marriage, and he used to babysit my kids while I went to meetings with investors.

So when I tell the kids we are going to see Ryan Paugh, they high-five each other and say, “Oh yeah! This is the best music workshop ever!” Read more

I am in Boston having post-traumatic stress syndrome from being too close to the town where I went to college. The kids are doing a music workshop and it’s in Newton, which is very close to Waltham, which is where I went to college. So I thought travel planning would be easy since I know my way around. But the cab pulled up to the hotel and I realized it was the hotel where I lost my virginity.

It was not a good scene. Well, the first time I was there was definitely not a good scene, but this time was not either.

“Mom! I don’t want to leave the hotel!”

“Mom! I like this hotel! I want to lay in bed and watch TV!”

I took half a Xanax and we changed hotels. Read more

In the last week I have written three blog posts that my editor told me are stupid. The first one was about the Olympics. April Ross, a silver medalist in beach volleyball, said that she quit playing indoor volleyball because the practices were too regimented. That made me realize that there are some professional sports that are entrepreneurial. Beach volleyball is one. The coach works for the players, instead of the other way around, and the players drum up their own money instead of receiving a paycheck from the team.

My editor said, “I hope you have a great photo for this post, because your readers generally don’t respond with much gusto when you write about entrepreneurship.”

This is true. So then I wrote a post titled, “I hate USA Today and I don’t fucking care if you’re sick of me ranting about how women cannot have it all. I’m still writing about it because I’m so pissed.” Read more

A common refrain about Generation Y is that there is a dearth of leadership. It’s something I heard every day when I was a twenty-something at work, when people were saying Generation X were slackers. And, I have a feeling that while the Baby Boomers were high at Woodstock, their elders were saying there was a dearth of leadership in the younger generation.

So, instead of constantly complaining about the coming doom in the leadership realm, we should see the idea of leadership as dynamic, and the faster we can understand how it changes, the faster we can identify the upcoming leaders of our time. Read more

One of the earliest pieces of advice I got when I started getting paid to write was to not write about women. So I have spent a good part of my career trying to figure out how much of myself to put in the picture.

My first monthly column was in Business 2.0 magazine, and every time I wrote about women my editor deleted the section. When I insisted on writing about what it’s like to be pregnant  he fired me and suggested that I try to write for Yahoo’s women section.

I didn’t, of course. I wrote for their finance section, because that’s where you get paid the most. And they fired me because the stuff I wrote geared toward women was off-topic.

When I negotiated my first book deal, I had to present a ton of metrics to show that my audience was half men.

And when I was just writing for myself on my own blog, and I could write about whatever I want, I realized that if I wrote about women and sex, men would stick with me through the women stuff. (Here’s a link to women and sex for men who are about to give up on this post.) Read more

How to get the guts to buck a trend

For the last three months I’ve been working in my garden about six hours a day. I dug up an acre of land.

The first thing I did was plant a vegetable garden that is 50 yards long and 10 yards wide. I planted everything I had ever seen people grow in my area. Next I added paths and walls and stairs and bridges. I spent the majority of my time as a new mom in New York City wandering around the Brooklyn Botanical Garden trying to figure out what to do with my life, napping among the cherry blossom trees with my son. So it’s not surprising that I found myself subconsciously turning my acre into a miniature of that garden. There are twenty different rose bushes. Twenty varieties of peonies. I drove eight hours to bring home obscure types of hydrangeas. Read more