It’s safe to say that the majority of the world thinks Twitter is a waste of time. Yes, Twitter is a darling of the New York Times and frequents front pages of mainstream media. But Twitter gets coverage not because the intelligentsia loves Twitter, but because the intelligentsia hates feeling like it’s falling behind.

This post is for all the people who think Twitter is stupid but wish they didn’t. Here are five ways Twitter can save your life:

1. Twitter lets you find people like you.
The core of every career problem is actually loneliness. You don’t change jobs because you don’t have faith in yourself.You don’t ask for more money because you don’t believe in your own value. You don’t quit because you worry about not being associated with a company. Believing in ourselves is the only thing that keeps us going and if we stop believing in ourselves, we get stuck.

Twitter helps solve this problem because you can find people like you. That voice inside your head telling you that no one has your problem? Do a search. Every problem you can imagine is tweeted about somewhere. You can find someone talking about it. The most important reason to be on Twitter is to connect with people, so if one person is there, talking about the problem you have, then they want to talk with you about it.

The more people you find who are like you, the more you can connect with others and feel okay with who you are, and then you believe in yourself and you start to move on. Twitter is a live index of people and the weirdness we harbor, which is a gift to the world of loneliness. Read more

Is this even a good headline for a blog post? I don’t know. Do you want to know what I’m like unedited? Read this blog post. I never post unedited, but my editor has a day job, and he has no time to deal with manufactured emergencies like this one, so I’m just posting this post as is.

I’m supposed to be doing a web chat thing tonight. I had this idea that this would be a good format for me. And I had this idea that I could stick to a schedule. But look. It’s the day of my video chat and I have not even announced it. Because I’m nervous.

I’m nervous about a new format. I did a radio show and I hated it. That does not bode well for video. But I like speaking in front of groups. (I do it a lot.) And I like having conversations with blog readers. So it seems like maybe this video discussion or whatever it is might work. Read more

It might be that the only useful thing you ever learned in school (besides how to make small talk at a party) is how to ask a good question.

Most of us didn’t learn that, though. Because it’s so hard to teach. I know it’s really hard to teach because people with Asperger Syndrome don’t understand how to ask a question, and I watched speech therapists (pragmatics specialists) try to teach my son, while I took notes for myself.

Children with Asperger’s often have to learn when to use Why, What, and Where because they don’t know how to ask questions, even though they often have through-the-roof IQs. They actually seem mentally slow because they cannot learn as fast as other children due to the lack of good questions – which is a great illustration of how important asking questions is.

I will answer almost any question someone asks, which makes me better at asking questions myself, but I am also very conscious of the fact that most questions people ask me are terrible.

So here are tips on how to ask good questions. Read more

Everyone knows that the best way to get a job is to leverage your network. And almost everyone knows that social media is a great way to build your network.

But many of you are making lots of social media mistakes. I know because so many people tell me that social media is a waste of their time. They're wasting their time, and continuing to make mistakes, because there's a set of common lies that people believe about social media. Here are those lies:

Lie #1: LinkedIn is for networking.

LinkedIn is great. I'm on LinkedIn. I have 650 connections. At first I wondered, why do I need this list of connections published on LinkedIn? What was the purpose of it? But now I get it. With LinkedIn, people can tell that I am a very connected person.

Most of you already know I'm well connected—I'm a print journalist, blogger, and startup founder, which are all very network-intensive jobs. But if you're someone who doesn't know how to tell whether someone is connected, LinkedIn is a great scorecard.

Potential employers like LinkedIn because they can glance at your LinkedIn profile and get a sense of how connected you are and how much money you make. (Yes, large networks correlate to large salaries.) That’s the utility of the scorecard. Read more

How far you get, in almost anything, is limited mainly by your ability to ask good questions.

The problem is that we are not taught to ask good questions. We’re trained to answer questions. But only answering questions doesn’t make an interesting life. After all, if you have all the answers, and you’re spewing them all the time, then you are not learning anything new.

Asking questions is how we get smarter. One of the earliest signs of a child with Asperger syndrome is that they fall behind in their learning because they do not understand how to ask a question. It doesn’t occur to them that someone would have information.

And maybe all my blog posts are actually about my obsession with a good question. For example, my recent rant about how blogs need topics is really about how a good blog is based on a good question. (My question is: how can we make the the intersection of work and life better?)

Today I’m going to focus on the kinds of questions that back us into a corner.

1) The question that asks: What is the meaning of life?

I think a lot about how people ask questions because I get them all the time. Often, the questions are so vague and poorly framed that I can’t believe the person actually sent an email. Here’s an example of one: Read more

Be careful who you take career advice from. Knowing who to take advice from is a really good skill for any aspect of your life, but especially in the field of work, because work is changing very fast right now. A lot of advice that was good ten years ago is not good now. And people who are using old language to talk about contemporary careers are thinking in terms that will pull you off track.

Here are three examples of topics your parents talk about all the time in their careers, but these topics will not be a part of new millennium careers. Watch out for these three terms — they probably come with outdated advice.

1. Career change
When Baby Boomers change careers, they stand on mountaintops. They announce that career change is a new trend, and they are doing it, of course, to save the world. The Baby Boomer specialty is saving the world by screaming from mountaintops, and then borrowing some more money to support that habit.

The other thing about Baby Boomers and career change is that they didn't really do it before now. I mean, they did, but it was cataclysmic and often seen as reckless. For example, it's what men did in their 40s after a midlife crises. Or what people did when they got to middle management and realized they were sub-par at their chosen career. (Note: It's very easy to delude yourself that you're competent until you get to your mid-30s. Around then, the less competent end up competing with people in their late 20s and losing.) Read more

I met D at a party. I was there with Ryan Paugh and a few bloggers from the Brazen Careerist network, and because it was SXSW and it was all parties all the time, I was pretty partied out. But the party was for Kirtsy, and I love the women who run Kirtsy, so I went.

Also, Holly Hoffman wanted to meet Guy Kawasaki. And really, it’s not like I’m his best friend, but because I know him, I could say to Holly, “Oh, I’ll introduce you.” And I did that. And Holly was thank-you-thank-you, even though Guy is so nice that you can just walk up to him and introduce yourself and he’ll be nice. To everyone.

And I’m standing there with a bunch of 25 year olds, because I’m always hanging out with 25 year olds because that’s basically my job—I work with them and my business is for them. But I was not with THE 25 year old because the night before, I woke up to him peeing on the carpet in my hotel room.

When I asked what he was doing, he said, “Oh, sorry” and then he went back to bed. So I woke him up. And yelled at him.

He said he was drunk. He went back to sleep. I woke him up. I said, “I told you you had to go down on me and you didn’t. You asked a woman out after she wrote a whole blog post about oral sex and you don’t even do oral sex.

I’m pissed.” Read more

This is another post about a book. Two days in a row. But before you get all giddy and think you should send your book to me so I’ll write about it, forget it.

First of all, I get five to ten books every week. And I throw most of them away. Second, honestly, for the most part, you have to be my friend for me to write a whole post about your book. Sure, there are exceptions. For example, Tim Ferriss is not my friend but I wrote about his book anyway. But the exceptions are mostly for academic books with research that blew me away.

So stop thinking that I am going to write about your book if you simply send it to me. But really, if you want to promote a book, the best thing to do is make a lot of friends before the book comes out. Just like you don’t want to wait to build a job search network until you need a job, you don’t want to build a book promotion network when you need press.

So, Ramit has put up with a lot from me, including me being an hour late to have coffee with him. More than once. He has earned a post. Read more

Being laid off used to be taboo. But not anymore. And most of us have thought through some sort of plan for if it happens to us. Gone are the days when people pretend this is not happening.

One of the things my ex-husband and I did well, as did our peers, was learn to tag-team in the layoff department. We both got laid off pretty much all the time throughout the 90s. And somehow, we got a sort of routine, and it became a normal way of life.

Today there is a generation of us in the workforce, totally familiar with layoffs, and totally unfamiliar with the idea that a job is secure. Ever. The good news about this is that there is not a huge difference between someone laid off and someone not laid off in that all of us feel vulnerable and scared.

Which means the etiquette is different than it used to be for talking to someone who's been laid off.

1. Don’t ask “how’s the job hunt?”
Do you know how many times a day someone hears this if he is unemployed? Ten. And even if it’s not ten really, it’s ten in his head. He asks himself that, and he imagines other people asking that, and he stresses about the answer. Because the job hunt doesn’t change much from day to day, but it’s demoralizing to report that.

So trust that someone who is laid off who has something great to report will volunteer it without you asking. Read more

Here’s a post for all the people who are trying to be artists. It is not a friendly post. I do not think that people who want to create art need to get paid to do it. Do you get paid to have sex? No. Same thing. You love it, but you just do it after work. And sometimes, if you are driven mad by it, you leave work in the middle of the day for it.

Treat art the same way, and you will stay sane. Really. Here are five things I would nag you about if you were talking with me about your burgeoning career as an artist:

1. You cannot do art if you are starving.
The starving artist routine is total bullshit. I know because I did it. Once you know that you are not going to make rent, you can’t really make art. Because your sense of self-preservation insists that your brain focus on the possibility that you will be out on the street. Your brain cannot stop solving that problem long enough to solve the problem of what is truth and beauty.

Here are some things I did while I was becoming a writer: I ate only bagels because I didn’t have enough money for anything else and then I got anemic and had to go to the doctor but I didn’t have health insurance so I had to lie and say I did in order to get the iron pills I needed so that I didn’t pass out from exhaustion the moment I woke up in the morning. Believe me, I was not making great art during this period. Read more