This webinar includes four days of video sessions and email-based course materials. You can purchase this webinar for anytime, on-demand access. The cost is $195.  

Buy now!

I need to tell you at the top of this that I also have a special guest for this webinar: Guy Kawasaki.

I probably should have a huge picture of Guy because really, he is the king of networking. The last time I hung out with him was at SXSW and he rented a limo to party-hop, because he was invited to all 50 parties that were going on that night. So we are bouncing from party to party and finally I announced, “Did you see how nice the lighting is in this limo? I’m not getting out anymore. I brought a book. I’m reading it.”

But Guy kept going. I asked him how he could manage that and he said,”It’s just part of my job.”

Networking is part of your job, too. It’s part of everyone’s job because really, all good things come from having a network.  Well, except one-night stands. But actually, I never had a good one-night stand, because if I liked the one-night stand then I would stalk the guy til he’d do it again and then it went from a good one-night stand to a bad short-term relationship.

So all good things come from networks. 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

High performers work for free.  The difference between working for free because you’re a loser and working for free because you’re a high performer is what you get from the deal.

People often ask me how to become a writer. The answer is to write for free. You won’t get paid for years. I wrote for decades before I saw any money from my writing.

Here’s how to decide if working for free is a good idea for you:

1. Can you reach your goal without working for free?
If you are aiming to do something that people don’t really like doing, then there is no point working for free. Whoever is hiring is grateful to have you. Child protective services, for example. It’s an impossibly difficult job—low pay, high stakes, and your hands are tied, even in some of the most difficult cases.

But you know how you can tell when it’s a job no one else wants? It’s really easy to get. If you are having trouble doing the work you want to do then it’s a pretty good bet that it’s not easy work to get.

All other jobs—the jobs that people genuinely want to have—are candidates for free labor. Read more

A while back, someone was interviewing me and asked me if I’ve tried yoga.

Right now a zillion people are thinking I’m writing about them. Because so many people, in the middle of an interview, decide they need to recommend to me that I do yoga.

The person tells me that yoga changed their life and they think it would help my life.

So I say that I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga for fifteen years.

This shuts the person up. Because I am, invariably, much more studly about yoga than the person telling me that I should do yoga because they do it.

So they say, invariably, “Oh. I don’t read about it on your blog. Why don’t you write about it?”

First of all, I do write about it, occasionally, like now, to tell everyone that I am better than they are.

But in general, yoga is a topic you should never write about. Because telling someone how your life is great because you are so disciplined to put your leg behind your head every morning is just not interesting. People don’t want to hear about how great you are and how you’re the most healthy person around. Anyway, truly healthy people do not feel compelled to tell the world about how healthy they are.

Not every morning. I mean, I don’t do it every morning. Although every morning that I don’t do it I hate myself for not doing it. Read more

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

After I realized that the most underrated skill is asking good questions, I realized that I am not very good at it. I don’t ask for help enough because I don’t know what question to ask. And also, I worry the question will be bad and then the person won’t want to help me again.

So I started forcing myself to ask for help. Like, I put myself on a schedule. And the result was not so much that I got good help (I did) but what I really got was good at asking questions. Because I thought so much about it.

Here are things I’ve been noticing about what makes a person good at asking questions:

1. Surround yourself with people who make you curious.
The first time we had a bonfire at the farm I was dating the farmer and he was winning over my boys with tree climbing and hot-dog roasting. I was concerned about fire safety, but I knew it was hopeless when I realized that the number-one rule I learned about building fires — put them out before you go to bed — does not apply on the farm. He just lets it burn out itself. Read more

Melissa and I had a fight yesterday. We have this fight once or twice a month. Someone who neither of us knows well will ask Melissa something about me just out of an odd curiosity about my life. Something stupid, like, What’s Penelope doing for Thanksgiving?

It’s stupid, yes, but I think it’s even more stupid that Melissa answers. So I tell her don’t talk to anyone about me. I don’t want her to be a source of Penelope information. I just want her to be a friend.

You will notice this is very hypocritical of me. But I don’t care. I make the rule anyway: No talking about me. Ever.

Then she thinks everything is an exception. Like, telling her co-worker what it’s like sitting across from me while I make up dialogue that she is not saying.

So I say, “I’m not talking to you anymore. You’re a terrible friend.”

She says, “I am not a terrible friend. I have really good intentions.”

“Okay. You’re a retarded friend. You don’t understand boundaries.”

“I’m trying. And you see everything black and white and it’s not.” Read more

My friend Melissa is gone. It’s been two weeks since her visit ended, but I’m still so sad. I’m not sure if I’m sad because I’m really lonely and isolated on the farm or if I’m sad because I fell in love with Melissa.

I miss her taking pictures all the time. For example this self-portrait. Which she took 500 versions of. She wore the same clothes for a week— something that feels natural to do on a farm—and even though the paint is red and her clothes are pink, she magically matches my bathroom walls.

She left me with a folder of 50 photos for my blog. That’s a good gift. And she left my kids with the feeling that they made a new friend.

I took this photo from the front seat. I told her maybe I didn’t like it. She looks sad. But she said, “We were sad. It’s a sad movie. The Dalmatians are being turned into coats!” Read more

A couple of days ago, Louise Fletcher, a professional resume writer, blogged about my ability to say whatever I want and not kill my career. That same day, Kathy Williams wrote this comment on my blog:

My son introduced me to your blog which I appreciate. I am your polar opposite. You have complete freedom to say whatever you want … for whatever reason is not important. We can all use a little more honesty.

In general, I think people can say much more than they think they can. It used to be that no one blogged about unemployment, bad bosses or screaming at their kids. Now these are all pretty common posts. This should tell you that topics that you think will change what people think about you don’t actually do that. Consider what you’re doing — if it’s within the realm of normal, people don’t care that you’re doing it—it’s not interesting.

Of course, things that I think are totally normal, like, having a miscarriage at work, turn out to be very controversial. But really, I am still not sure why. I mean, just thinking logically, hundreds of thousands of women have miscarriages every year, and most of those women have not had a kid so they are working, so hundreds of thousands of women each year have a miscarriage at work.

I think my inability to understand why this is controversial might be a blessing. Read more

Right after college, I was playing a bazillion hours a week of volleyball to get on the pro tour, and reading a book a night to make up for the fact that I was tortured for eighteen years by having to read what other people told me to read. But when people asked, “What do you do?” I said, “I work at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in arbitrage.”

It's a good answer, right? I had choices: I could admit to reading like a crazy person. I could admit to trying to be in professional sports but not quite there, or I could give an answer that impressed everyone: I work in currency arbitrage. In reality, I was so incompetent at this job that when currencies went wild after the Berlin Wall fell, I lost a few million dollars for a few violent traders. The only possible reason to keep a dyslexic, literary, arbitrage clerk around was because she was good looking. But I wasn't good looking enough. I got fired.

Immediately I focused on getting on the pro volleyball tour. At that point, “What do you do?” questions did not get “I'm getting a job in a children's book store because I worked in the family book store for ten years and I can tell you the publisher of any author–quiz me.” Instead, I said, “I'm moving to Los Angeles to play professional beach volleyball.” To me, the book store was a step back to support volleyball, which was a step forward.

Describing my move to LA over and over again to prying relatives and concerned strangers actually made me believe it. How you answer the question “What do you do?” is important because it frames your story for you in a much more visceral way than it frames it for anyone else.

Recently, I had the problem again. I was sort of working at my startup, Brazen Careerist, but not really. The company got a new CEO and was moving to Washington, DC , and I was staying in Wisconsin and marrying the farmer.

“What do you do?” came up a lot because I was redecorating the farm house and traveling back and forth between DC and Madison and NY and Darlington. People in cities asked me what I was doing because clearly, I was not full-time at Brazen Careerist. And people in Darlington asked me because clearly I did not have a life in Darlington. Read more

The party in DC was at a bar, which is a difficult environment for me, because I never go to bars. We were the first ones there because it’s our party. People started coming and I realized that the most awkward part of the party would be at the beginning, when you have to talk to whoever walks in because you can’t pretend that you need to be talking to someone else. The most claustrophobic time of a party is when only a few people are there.

This is the broom closet I hid in.

Photis saw me go in. He said, “What are you doing?”

“Taking a break,” I said. And I shut the door. Read more