We reorganized the company today. We brought in a new, interim CEO, who's not me. For many entrepreneurs, that is their worst nightmare.

But I couldn't be happier. For one thing, it's a sign that my company, Brazen Careerist, is doing well. Remember when the company was running out of money and my electricity was getting turned off? There was no one worrying then that I was the wrong person for the CEO position. No one cared because it looked like we were going under.

But then the media started talking about how we could be LinkedIn for Gen Y and we started moving fast. I don't worry about of money anymore, and we are moving at a faster speed because we can see where we are going, how we'll make money, and how we'll grow the community.

1. Know where your strengths are.
The thing that makes me great is my writing. I have spent my whole life writing, constantly trying to figure out how to earn money writing. My favorite thing I've ever written is this blog. I adore the conversation, I adore the format, the never-ending research, and the self-referential links, because that's how my mind works: connecting random stuff together all the time trying to figure out the best path to happiness. Blogging is my dream-come-true media. Read more

What I’m listening to right now: Amanda Blank. Here’s a song to play when you’re not at work.

Amanda is a white-girl rapper, darling of the hipsters, and hot-girl candy for the intelligentsia. Right up my alley, right? My favorite line so far is “My rhymes are painful and fresh/My p*ssy’s tastin’ the best.”

Today, Ryan Healy and I were in D.C. for a marathon strategy meeting with a board member. The second half of the meeting was about marketing strategy. The first half of the meeting was about finding a strategy for ending how Ryan and I are at each others’ throats over subjects that having nothing to do with the company.

When the board member left the room for a minute, we had this conversation:

Me: It’s so awkward to be left in here with just you.

Ryan: It’s not awkward. The meeting is going well.

Me: Right. It could be more awkward. Like when it was us not talking in the airport.

Ryan: At least we weren’t sitting together on the plane.

Me: Yeah. I know. I changed my seat so we didn’t sit together.

Ryan: Really? So did I. Read more

A good manager is someone who makes everyone feel like he or she is creative in their work. Because creative work is the most fulfilling work, and we are each capable of that kind of work.

My favorite research on this topic is from John Mirowsky, professor of sociology at University of Texas, Austin.

Mirowsky finds that people who work are happier than people who don’t because people who are employed spend more of their time being creative. This was true regardless of age and race and the amount of creativity that a given job had.

He concludes that people make choices to be more creative if they are gainfully employed. But also that we have more control than we realize over how creative we make our worklife. He says, “One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education.”

How can you tell if you are creative at work? You could just ask yourself if you like your job. It is nearly impossible to like a job if you are not solving problems that are challenging. And if you are doing that, well, that is creative. Read more

It’s great fun to track trends to try to figure out what the future holds. The Generation after Gen Y is a mystery. Sort of. There are some things we know. And what we know, we know doesn’t change much. For example, people thought Gen Y’s sunny optimism would die down under the ardors of raising kids, but it didn’t. And people thought Gen X’s cynical, outsider approach would change when they became soccer moms, and it didn’t.

So it’s a safe bet that once you peg a trait in a generation, it likely won’t change much over time. But it could play out in interesting ways over time. Here are some ways that the traits of Generation Z might play out in the workforce of the future.

1. Generation Z will not be team players.
We know from Strauss and Howe that as generations cycle, the team generations (such as gen y) are usually followed by individualist generations. So it is not surprising to see trends that the same thing will happen over the next decade.
Gen Y are great team players. In fact, they are so team oriented that they often feel that nothing is getting accomplished at work unless there has been a team meeting about it.

But they are not likely to teach the value to their kids. In typical parent fashion, parents stress what they are lacking so that their kids don’t lack it. This is why, for example, first generation immigrants often do not teach their native tongue to their American kids. Read more

The Institute of Social and Economic Research recently published a study about the connection between popularity in high school and earning power later in life. New York magazine, information source to the rich and popular, summarized the study like this: “This study may seem to burst our Revenge of the Nerds fantasies, but it’s logical that people who are attractive, likable, and socially comfortable”?the class officers, the cheerleaders”?should get ahead in corporate settings.”

There is absolutely irrefutable data to support the idea that good-looking people do better in life than everyone else. Gordon Patzer, in his book, Looks, draws from a wide body of research to describe the advantaged life of a good-looking person from the time they are a baby (good-looking babies get better parenting) to the time they are in sales (the whole sales team performs better if there are more good-looking people on the team.)

As a result, I have jumped on the plastic surgery bandwagon. Super-smarty Chelsea Clinton got plastic surgery before she entered the work world. We should all do that. And while I haven’t taken my own advice, I do find myself pinching and pulling at my nose to see what it would look like after a $10,000 investment.

But wait. Before you take out a loan to straighten your nose, maybe you should just start thinking like a tall person. Being good-looking means having the right mix of a lot of things, and for you, being tall might be the final keystone to hold it all in place. (Wondering if you’re already tall? Fast Company has the answer: over 6’3″ for men and over 5’9″ for women, which, by the way, makes me half-an-inch into the land of the tall.) Read more

I do a lot of public speaking, mostly on the topic of how to bridge generational differences in the workplace. And I field tons of questions from corporate audiences. Here are four of the most common questions:

How can you tell if a member of Gen Y hates his or her boss?
You can't. This is a non-confrontational generation. They change politics by voting, not screaming in the streets. And they change the workplace by quitting, rather than complaining. This is a generation that enjoyed mutual respect with their parents and their parents' friends. Gen Y at large feel uncomfortable being openly confrontational than other, less cared-for generations.

This doesn't mean that they are not complaining about their bosses. They are just doing it in a better way. For example, quitting, which members of Gen Y end up doing about once every 18 months. And leaking totally insane emails like the one that was picked up on Dealbreaker and Valleywag, from John Soden, a managing director at the investment bank, Thomas Weisel, who said this to his underlings on Good Friday:

“Everyone below the MD level —

“We are an investment bank. Unless you are an orthodox something, please get into the office. We are getting paid minimum wage for a reason — we are not making money, which is hard to do from home.

“Join Wells Fargo and become a teller if you want to take bank holidays.”

Why does Gen Y feel so entitled to a huge salary?
They don't. In fact, they choose other things over salary: respect for other people, for example. Employers: You could save money in salaries by being a socially responsible company that Gen Y (and the rest of us) want to work for. Read more

Generation Y has a lot of great traits, but classic, top-down leadership is not one of them. This is not a surprise: Because gen Y is the great teamwork generation. They did book reports in teams, they went to prom in teams, and they are notorious for quitting jobs in teams.

I know this first hand. Because the insult Ryan Healy loves to hurl at me most is that I'm a bad team player. At first I thought this was a joke: Of course I'm a bad team player. I am part of gen x – the most disenfranchised, neglected generation in history.

But as CEO of Brazen Careerist, I work pretty hard to be better at being part of a team. Not only to appease Ryan and his gen-y cohorts, but also because I think effective leadership in today’s workplace is about teamwork and following, not about standing out.

Here are five traits of leadership in the new millennium — traits I try to practice myself:

1. Make yourself a source of information

The key trait in a leader is the bravery to put forth an opinion and maybe be wrong. Jeffrey Kluger, writing in Time magazine, reports research that we value leaders not because they are smarter or right more often, but merely because they speak up. We want to be lead by people who take a shot at the answer — right or wrong. So if you want to be perceived as a leader, speak up. Often. Read more

I wish I didn’t love watching Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican convention so much. I love her hair. I love her outfit. I love that she is a great speaker even without a lot of time to train for the convention. I love her sort-of-Wisconsin accent that I sort-of hear myself getting the longer I live in Wisconsin.

I saw her husband hold the baby when she talked about family. I saw her husband give the baby away when she talked about how strong her marriage is. I saw the strain in his face when he smiled. He is a stay-at-home dad, and she didn’t mention that. He just quit his job after twenty years at work. She didn’t mention that.

I can relate to all of that.

I could follow yesterday’s post with a post clarifying my disdain for her. Believe me, I hate her politics. Her politics are so foreign to me that I don’t think I’ve ever even spoken in person with anyone who honestly believes rape victims should not get abortions.

But really, I’ve been like her. Like when she signed up for the PTA to make her kid’s school better. I tried that. It sucked. The lack of power and influence you have in the PTA sucks. It’s the tip of the iceberg of why it sucks to be at home with kids if you are a woman who is a leader — when there is no one to lead, but leading is in your DNA.

On some level, I admire her. I understand how women with big jobs and young kids manage: Compartmentalize, prioritize, multi-task. I am great at that stuff, and so are all the women I know who have big jobs and young kids.

But there is a spot about Palin as VP that mystifies me: Travel. In my life, I have found there is no way to have time with kids when you travel because there is no chance to carve out time; you’re just not there.

And you can’t average it out—kids don’t add up the cumulative time over a month. Maybe an older kid does, but not my three-year-old. Three days away from a three-year-old is a lot. Even for a three-year-old who is supposedly used to it, like mine. Every time (even now) when I’m gone, my husband, who is sort of my ex-husband but not yet, is right there, in the house, taking care of my sons. And it still feels bad for it not to be me.

So I love watching Palin because she makes me believe that I can handle all the travel I do. She is so pretty and capable and somehow, if I ignore that her daughter is pregnant and her husband is lost and her special needs child does not have a mom who is meeting the doctors and therapists and specialists involved in the child’s treatment. If I ignore that, I think that I can travel five times a month and not have a nervous breakdown from the sadness of leaving my kids.

I want to be that. I want to be the CEO who can travel all the time. Because I get invitations to travel to appear on TV, and to travel to deliver speeches, and to travel to wrangle investment in the company. And recently I have been that CEO: I traveled every week for twelve weeks, sometimes twice a week. And everyone said, how do you do it? And I said I don’t know. Because I didn’t know if I was pulling it off or pulling my family apart. I wasn’t sure.

And then I took a break. And when it was time to start traveling again, I had a panic attack. I was driving with my kids to the farm and I remembered how I would be traveling again and I started crying uncontrollably and I snapped at the kids and I drove the car to the farmer‘s house and told him to drive up and down the dirt road for a few minutes while I called my friend who is the only friend I know with both a venture-backed company and the mom responsibilities for a young child, and I told her I can’t do it anymore and she told me she doesn’t know why I didn’t have a breakdown earlier.

She said stop with the speeches and the media and the sky-high aspirations. And after a while I stopped crying and I said okay. And I got back in the car. And I drove to the farm. And we played with chicks and baby pigs and cooked over an open fire.

And then I resumed my travel schedule.

Because I am trying to figure out what’s right. And canceling everything is not what’s right for me. I did the PTA. It sucks. And I’ve done travel every week. It sucks. I don’t know how Palin will do it.

But part of me wants to watch. Will she take her baby? (I’ve done that. It’s impossible to focus.) Will she travel with a nanny? (Done that. It’s awkwardly intimate.) Will she cut back on travel? (Done that. People started doubting me.) What will she do? I want to see because I need some new ideas.

There are a lot of rules for first-time managers. For example, never hold a meeting without an agenda, because if you don’t know what you’re going to do there, then no one else will know what you’re doing, either. But the rule about agendas is a great example, because, like most rules for good management, it is about being kind.

Your job as a manager is to make sure your employees are growing and learning and enjoying their time at work. Bringing them to a meeting without an agenda is wasting their time, and that is disrespectful. A meeting without an agenda is like saying, “My time is so much more important than yours that instead of taking time to prepare, I’m going to figure out what we’re doing in real-time, and you will sit here and watch me.”

So the first rule, and probably the only rule of management, is to be respectful. A lot of questions I get from managers can be answered the same way: ask yourself if you are really being respectful.

Example:

Manager: My employees are totally unmotivated. What can I do?

Me: Do you give them work that respects their intelligence or is the work you give them crappy?

Manager: There’s nothing I can do. Someone has to do the low level work.

Me: People are much more motivated to do totally boring work (as a favor to you) if they feel respected by you in other ways. So give them good mentoring and pay attention to building their skills. In return, they will want to help you, even if it means sending 400 faxes.

I receive lots of email from people who have just become managers but who are still figuring out what their new role really means. One of my favorites comes from Kristy, in Canada:

I got promoted to being a manager last year. . . .. I have really struggled with trying to teach others, because coming from a background of life really being about myself, my own learning, and satisfying my own personal growth, making the switch to feeling like to have to now do that for others almost feels like you are giving something of yourself away. It has only been in the past few months that I have really come recognize that providing others with the opportunities that I have been given actually feels good. . . and that I am still growing, just in a different way.

Kristy admits what most people won’t: that management requires giving so much of yourself that it’s disconcerting. Most people who are new managers just sort of disappear. They pop out of their office from time to time to tell people they are doing stuff wrong, or to let people know about new goals or new procedures. But that is not managing. That is being a human memo. A piece of paper could be that kind of manager.

Real managing is about growth and caring. It’s about taking time to see what skills people need to develop to move in the direction they want to move, and then helping them get those skills. This means that you need to sit with the person and find out what matters to them. And then you need to sit with yourself and figure out how you can help the person. Most people don’t see management as listening and thinking, but that’s what it is. Because that’s what caring about someone looks like.

A good manager pops up all the time, just to check in. Not because you are micromanaging and you don’t trust anyone around you. But because you can’t know how to help people if you don’t know how they are doing. And take time to chat when things are going fine, because that’s when it’s clear that you’re just talking because you care as much about the person as the work they’re doing.

Once you get to the point where you are connecting with the people you manage, and you are helping them get what they want from their job, you are in a position to change the world. Really.

I had a big moment in my own career as a manager when I realized that I could change the world, in a small way, just by being more open-minded and generous to the people around me. I was a very young manager, and found myself interviewing people much older than I was. Seeing those people from the point of view of my mom, who was working for someone my age, made me change how I approached my job as a manager. And I know that people today are trying to do this as well, because this post is four years old, and it was one of the most popular on my blog last month.

All this reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As a psychologist, he developed a theory to describe the path people take to address first their core needs, and then eventually to achieve their ultimate need for a life of self-actualization:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological — food, water, sleep

2. Safety — security of body, health, resources

3. Love and belonging — family, friends, sexual intimacy

4. Esteem — self-confidence, respect of others, respect by others

5. Self-actualization — morality, creativity, problem solving

I think this pyramid applies to work as well. You start off just making sure you can get a job, and you figure out, eventually, how to use your job to make the world a better place.

Pseudo-Maslow Hierarchy of Job Needs

1. Physiological – Take care of keeping yourself fed and clothed.

2. Safety – Work on feeling secure that you can keep yourself employed, if something happens.

3. Love and belonging – Figure out how to get a job that respects your personal life.

4. Esteem — perform well at your job because you have the resources and the security to do so

5. Self-actualization — help other people reach their potential through creative and moral problem solving

So really, management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code. Some people will self-actualize through management. Some, a combination.

But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. If you allow it. You will need to set aside real time to make this happen. And you need to give generously. No big surprise there, though, because why else are we here, on this planet, except to give to each other?

Since today’s job market is employee-driven, many candidates are fielding more than one or two offers at a time, and at this point, maybe it’s the employers who need the advice on how to attract the employees, instead of the other way around.

There is lots of chatter about how resumes are on their way out. There will be blogs, and videos, and LinkedIn profiles and other mechanisms to downplay the concept of a linear career and put upfront the way someone thinks and the ideas he or she has. There should be similar chatter about the near-death of the job listing.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of consulting to companies about how to recruit and retain employees. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic, and here are five of my favorite ways companies can hire people without focusing on the job listing itself.

1. Tell people where they’ll go next.
Michael Arrington, co-editor of the popular blog TechCrunch, just lost his right-hand man. What did he do? He wrote a very public thank you for good work done – so that people know how appreciative he is. And he wrote a little side note about how everyone who has left TechCrunch has gone on to amazing jobs.

I was talking with Dylan Tweney, senior editor at Wired, and he was using a similar hiring tactic, showing people how a stint with him at Wired is a stepping stone to places like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

2. Use your public relations team to prop up the manager.
One of the most important aspects of a job is who you are working for. A good manager can help you to get where you want to go next, and a bad manager can be so undermining that the job becomes a blemish on your resume. So it’s odd that companies advertise jobs instead of managers. Instead of publishing a laundry list of dream traits of a dream candidate (usually unreasonable anyway), companies should list the dream traits of the dream manager this job falls under.

3. Get some respect for speciality recruiters.
It used to be that companies owned the employee’s loyalty. But today, with employees changing jobs every two or three years, they are more likely to be loyal to the recruiters who placed them than with the companies they work for. Especially when that recruiter is there to place the candidate again and again.

Art Papas knows a bit about recruiters. He is the chief executive of Bullhorn, which makes staffing and recruitment software. Bullhorn is a testament to the fact that both candidates and employers are relying increasingly on the recruiting industry for help. Bullhorn has more than 12,000 users and the company grew by 70 percent in the last year.

Most recruiters are running their own business in one way or another, and Papas points out why recruiters are poised to take on an increasingly important role in the employee-driven market: “Generally speaking, recruiters are high energy, good with people, and they are incredibly tenacious and persistent.”

4. Advertise in niche communities.
Joel Spolsky is chief executive of a midsized firm, Fog Creek Software, and he spends a lot of time blogging, at Joel on Software. Spolsky makes it clear he’s blogging to make himself part of a community of smart, curious, high-performing engineers who become Spolsky’s employee pool.

Here’s another example: Lots of companies talk about the importance of catching women re-entering the workforce after they have children, but it’s hard to get those women. One way is to be a part of their communities. Websites that focus on women and careers like WorkIt Mom are places where you can become a part of the social fabric of the community you want to hire from.

Bonus idea: Make it part of someone’s job description in your company to truly become part of the community, and swoop in to scoop up promising candidates for interviews. It’s so tough to get A players to interview today that people are actually charging companies for an interview at Notchup.com. But coming from a trusted friend, an invitation to interview is hard to turn down, even if you’re not looking.

5. Leverage social media.
Why don’t companies use social media tools to attract candidates? It’s already a proven recruiting method for young people.

The Center for Market Research at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth reports that, “Colleges are adopting Internet technologies such as podcasts, message boards, blogs, and social networks faster than Fortune 500 companies. The explosion of social media, higher education specialists say, is revolutionizing the college search process and the way colleges and prospective students interact.”

Standout Jobs is a new site that provides easy-to-use social media recruiting tools for small companies and then aggregates them into a sort of recruiting network. This is a great on-ramp for companies with trepidations about social media