I’ve been an amazingly consistent blogger lately. My secret is that I’ve been calling Carmen a lot and dictating my posts to her.

In the middle of my blogging flurry, I read this book to my son, Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen. Its about this kid who can see businesses everywhere in all kinds of talents that other people have, and he ends up making money from all his friends.

Throughout the book I was thinking, “Oh my God, I have to do this with Carmen. I have to start selling her services because everyone can be a great blogger if they could dictate posts while they’re driving. Now all the people who are driving to and from work can now be big bloggers and love their commute too! Stay‑at‑home moms can do a blog post every time they drive to ballet lessons!”

So I pitched the idea to Carmen, except I didn’t tell Carmen about how the boy in the book pissed everyone off because he was making money from all the things they do, and he ended up with no friends and no money. Instead, I just told her that I thought I could sell her services as a court reporter. Read more

Whenever I write about grad school, someone writes in the comments about how I’m just bitter that I didn’t get a degree.

But what I’m really bitter about is that no one wanted to have sex with me. Some famous poet was a visiting professor, hitting on every grad student but me. And Leslie Epstein was there, who is not only king of the Jews but the father of Theo Epstein, a big name in baseball. Leslie said I’m the best sex writer he’s ever read. So why wasn’t he asking me for sex?

Probably because I’m the master of bad sex. There is no anal penetration that I cannot ruin with a piece of poop at the end of the paragraph.

So no one hit on me in grad school except maybe Susanna Kaysen. I was starving and homeless and she was getting movie deals that included Winona Ryder riders. And if I had not been so Aspergery I would have done anything to get her to edit my memoir – she is a master of the line edit. I’ll always worry that my memoir could have been edited better.  Read more

For those of you who don’t remember, a film crew came for three days to make a demo reel for a reality show based on my family.

Here is the problem: we are too normal. I’m not kidding. That’s what the TV people ultimately concluded. But I take being too normal for reality TV as new-millennium Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

The other thing the TV people said was that listening to my coaching sessions was magical. Really. They said that. So I’m writing it for you again: magical. They filmed at our house for three days, which means they heard my side of a dozen calls, and in each case, they couldn’t believe how fast I could figure out the person’s problems and solve them. (And then, of course, I started doing that for the producer of the demo reel. That was a big hit.)

So there is probably not going to be a reality show based on my family. But the good news is that I’m going to focus on doing my own video podcast/reality show where I coach people. I am not totally sure how I’m going to execute that, so if you have ideas, please let me know.

And if you want to know how to specialize, this is the process. You think you’ll be great at one thing, but people tell you you’re great at something else, so do what people tell you you’re great at. Don’t fight it.

So somehow I’m going to be great at reality TV coaching. In the meantime, here is a peek into my too-normal-for-TV family.

This post is about productivity. I have to tell you that because this is a career blog and career blogs need topics that fall into the career space. You can’t have a blog that doesn’t have a topic. Even Mark Cuban, who seems to not have a topic because he writes about basketball and colleges and eating at the iHop still has a clear topic: How to make a ton of money.

1. Life is easier if you embrace hardship instead of trying to avoid it.
My blog topic is not how to make a ton of money. It used to be. When I was in my twenties, and early 30s, my focus was money.  But somewhere I realized that I wanted an interesting life more than money. I think it was when I was at Ingram Micro, a Fortune 50 company, and I was blown away at how boring and risk averse everyone was. The Fortune 50 is a study is seeking safety in product lines, in workplace practices, and in a stable life. Read more

I took the kids to New York City for a week, and while Melissa was trying to figure out what to do with the kids for the day I was working, she came up with this idea that my seven-year-old son should do an internship with a stylist.

He wants to be a stylist. He talks about it all the time. And it’s hard for me because I’m so bad at dressing myself that he has actually reprimanded me: “Mom. That’s okay for the farm, but not for Boca Raton.” Read more

I’m fascinated by the idea of judging whether you are on a good path. Because everyone wants to know if they are doing okay. The problem is that if you look at things out of context, you can’t really see what’s going on.

See the picture up top? You can’t totally tell what they are doing until you see other pictures, pictures of similar but different paths. Read more

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

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

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

During my twenties I played in beach volleyball tournaments with Olympic contenders all the time. You’d think this would mean that I love watching beach volleyball in the Olympics. But actually, watching makes me sad.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles, determined to play on the professional beach volleyball tour. People thought I had completely lost my mind. I gave up an invitation to study history in Yale’s graduate program. I gave up a job offer in New York City publishing. I gave up living in Chicago, where my whole family was.

Here’s what my day was like: I woke up at 7am and I walked to a bagel store. I ate four bagels because I had no money for food and I had to eat cheap calories that would hold me over until the end of  the day. Read more