This is the column I wrote for BNET. Usually I keep my best ideas for my blog, but after I posted this on BNET I thought: Hold it! This is a great idea! Everyone should be doing this to make their career great. So here’s the post.

If you want to make yourself stand out as a top candidate for almost any job, try this approach: start a company and then sell it for nothing. This is a lot easier to do than you may realize, especially if you think of entrepreneurship as a career-building tool— instead of a bank-account building tool.

Are you thinking this sell-for-a-dollar thing is a waste of time and effort?

It’s not. Here are five reasons why it's a smart career move: Read more

I am not a big believer in the dream job. For one thing, I don’t think people know their dream job. Because it’s a job description that has to cover eight hours a day of work. It’s hard to imagine something you’d love to do eight hours a day, much less fit into in a nice, neat job description.

And then there’s the be-careful-what-you-wish-for syndrome. Because it’s hard to know what you’d like to do for eight hours a day til you try it.

I used to think I wanted to be a sex writer. My master’s thesis from graduate school was about my sex life. But when I tried to support myself writing about sex, when I started pitching stories to Cosmo, I found that no one wanted to hire me; magazines hire people to write about officially important sex research. I wanted to write about me.

So I looked for that magic intersection of things I’m good at and things I like to do and things people will pay me for. And I ended up being a career writer. Fortunately, though, I was able to be a career writer writing about me.

Which is probably what I wanted to do all along. So this is a great argument for the advice I give all the time which is to shut up about not having your dream job and just take any job so you can learn about what people will pay you to do that you might like to do.

Still, I am very excited to tell you that finally, someone offered to pay me to write about my sex life. I had a great time, but surprise, I discovered that I couldn’t resist slipping in some career advice anyway. So I guess I have my dream job, right here. If there were such thing as a dream job.

Anyway, here’s the piece I wrote, for The Daily Beast.

I can’t help being giddy that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the (now former) managing director of the IMF, was whisked off his plane at JFK and delivered to one of the most notorious criminal holding arenas in the world, Riker’s Island. It’s a great story about sexual harassment because it’s so hard to nail someone like this. And it was done so well.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of raping a maid at his hotel. Which is sad. But there are some notable things about the case: First, he forced her to give him a blow job, and now it seems that there is widespread recognition that a forced blow job is rape. This is a big deal in legal history. For a long time, blow jobs didn’t count.

Another notable thing is that a woman who is a maid took legal action against a man who was staying in a hotel room that costs $3000 a night.

Typically, men harass women who they felt were beneath them. For most of history, this has meant all women – as all women had little power. In the last few decades, though, women have gained more power, and men have paid heed to that in their harassment targets. Read more

Why are almost all the bloggers in the Life at Work section at BNET women? I’m worried, because it’s never good for one’s career to be in a room full of women unless you’re a model or a stripper. Because where there are women there are lower salaries.

This is not a case of discrimination. I mean, it’s not that men get paid more for the same work that women do. It’s that women choose to do different work. I interviewed Al Lee, the quantitative analysis genius who combs through salaries at PayScale, and among the fascinating things he told me was that women and men get paid similar amounts for similar work but that women pick lower-paying fields, and lower paying paths.

So, for instance, neurosurgeons are men and family practice doctors are women. And social workers are women and psychiatrists are men. Al says that the best thing women can do to increase their earning power is “to choose fields dominated by men right out of college.”

I have actually been given this advice often in my career. For example, mentors told me to stay in line for management positions where I would be responsible for profit and loss for the company (product manager, for example) rather than go into support roles where I help people become stars in profit and loss but get no direct credit myself (human resources, for example).

So I went into tech. All men. And I started doing venture-backed startups. All men. And when I have been in departments that were all women, I either quit or switched to another department. Really. I am not stupid.

But all that careful work throughout my career and now I’m writing with all women. I am sure this is not good.

I went over the BNET to investigate the situation and I stumbled on Kimberly Weisul’s piece titled,Why Mentoring Helps Men More than Women. I clicked, mostly because I am always worried about not having the right mentors.

It turns out, I probably don’t have the right mentors, because women connect with people lower on the food chain than men do. I panic. I need to connect with business writers who are not writing work life stuff. No. Wait. I need to connect with Eric Schurenberg, who is editor-in-chief of BNET. I need to go out to lunch with him and make him love me, and then he’ll think of me first when he creates the power-writer’s group that lives on the home page of BNET and pops up in everyone’s browser with the urgency of a subscribe-now button on a porn site.

The thing is that Kimberly concludes in her post that women are getting ripped off. It kills me. I don’t want to be writing next to women who believe that women are getting a raw deal and then complain about it. I don’t buy it.

As I said, there is not a salary gap between women and men. There is a competition gap between women and men. Women choose collaborative, feel-good jobs, like writing in the how-can-we-all-get-along-better section of BNET and men choose the competitive, dog-eat-dog jobs like managing all the feel-good writers on BNET. That link is to Paul Sloan. My editor.

Will he even let me run this piece? I don’t know. You know what? I can’t stop writing about him. I have a little crush on him even though he won’t answer his phone when I call and he always returns my calls at 6pm central when he knows I won’t pick up the phone because I’m having dinner with my family.

Women: It is very bad to write stuff about dinner with family if you are trying to get ahead. Do not do this. People assume that if you have kids you will do less work. This may or may not be true – I mean, doing less work. But what is true is that you should not talk about family at work if you want to be in the all-boys departments.

However it is okay to talk about crushes at work because it is more of a single person thing to do. I mean, everyone has crushes, but only single people talk about it. So I think it makes me have a better chance of getting out of the girl ghetto at BNET if I tell you that Paul is a little shorter than I am, and not as good-looking as I am, but still, he is fun and cute.

I just spent the last two weeks selling my self-published book. I published a book a few years ago with Time Warner, but I wanted to see what it would be like to self-publish. I decided against an ebook format because I really like holding the book of an author I love to read. I like living with that book in my house because it’s like living with a friend.

So I went with a print book. And I did a lot of unconventional things – beginning with the announcement — and they paid off. So, here’s my advice on the new rules for self-publishing.

1. Mainstream publishers help very few people. And probably not you.
Authors sell books, not publishers. For writers without a big name, publishers give them credibility. The problem is that publishers aren’t set up to be able to make money from authors who haven’t already made a name for themselves. This arrangement used to be fine before social media, before almost every author needed a channel to an audience. But now authors have the ready-made sales channel that is social media, so the publishers are no longer the gatekeepers to customers.

Amanda Hocking is reportedly making a million dollars a year self-publishing ebooks. And very rich author Joe Konrath, who has written about the math behind publishing, recently he turned down a half-a-million-dollar book deal so that he could self-publish. Read more

If you’re here because you read the Tim Ferriss article in the New York Times today, you will probably want to read the blog post I wrote about my experiences with Tim Ferriss:

5 Time management tips I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss

And, here are some other posts you might enjoy:

What it’s like to have sex with someone who has Aspergers Syndrome

Bad career advice: Do what you love

Tim Ferriss Diet

I hope you enjoy my blog!

Penelope

Here’s how I got my job at BNET. Paul Sloan asked me if I write for other publications. I said no because I love my blog too much. (Where else could I write a post about what it’s like to have sex with me?)

Then Paul said that he would be my editor. So I said yes. I love Paul. He is fun and smart and he (almost) always answers his phone when I want to talk about my marital problems. (Although he will not publish my marital problems, which, again, is why I love my blog.)

So I tried to negotiate really hard to get a lot of money from BNET. I had Paul get his boss Eric on the phone. I worked with Eric when we were both at Business 2.0. When that magazine went under, Paul, Eric and I all got fired together. Or, wait. Maybe Paul or Eric fired me. Read more

Yesterday I was on the phone with Rachel Mendleson, from Canadian Business. She is writing an article about how to quit a job without burning bridges. She wants me to give people advice about not burning bridges.

I tell her I think the topic is stupid. I tell her everyone knows that advice already.

She says, “What about the blog post you wrote 9 Tips for Quitting a Job Gracefully?” Do you think that information is no longer right?”

“Oh. I forgot about that,” I say. “But it's old. It's a boring topic now.”

“What about your number-seven tip: about how you shouldn’t do an exit interview?”

“Yeah. People shouldn't do that. I'm sorry to be difficult. Why don't you just copy and paste what I wrote about exit interviews into your story? I used to do that when I was a columnist at the Boston Globe —just lift stuff and quote people. It's so much faster than real interviews.”

“I don't do that.”

“Oh. Okay. Sorry. Sorry. Okay. I'm going to try to be more helpful. Here's a quote for you: Quitting a job is a networking event. It's about making sure you bring your old co-workers into the fold of your network before you leave.”

“What are tips for doing that?” Read more

Whatever you earn at age 40 is likely to be the top of your earning potential. This is one of a gazillion things I've learned from talking with Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.

Al’s data, which is based on the careers of college graduates, is basically that the salary curve for most people in their 20s is very steep. Then it starts to flatten in the 30s, and then you get into the land of the 3% raise. In real dollars, those 3% raises are not actually raises, they are just keeping up with inflation.

The information is grim. But here are some things you can do with it:

1. Go where the men are. To be precise, pay tops out at age 38 for women ($61K) and age 45 for men ($95K). But the difference, according to PayScale data, is not due to unequal pay for equal work. Rather, the difference is that women choose lower paying careers, and women are more likely to take time out of the workforce for kids. So the first thing you can do to prevent your salary from flat-lining is choose a career that men dominate. But it's not just about industry—it is also about influence. Stick to line-management positions rather than support roles. For example, skip human resources and go to supply chain management. Read more