I get up at 5am to drive my son to his cello lessons in Chicago. On Saturday he’s in lessons for four hours. I wake him and he says, “No. It’s too early. It’s too hard to drive to Chicago all the time. I can’t do it.”

I don’t say anything. I sit on the side of the bed, in the dark, and I can’t force a seven-year-old to drive sixteen hours a week for cello. This is crazy. I can’t do it.

My son glances over at me from his squishy warm pillow. I decide I’ll let him sleep.

Then he throws off the covers, bounds out of bed and says, “I’m just like the kids in the video! I have to work hard if I want to be great! All great artists suffer! I have to suffer on the drive! Let’s go!” Read more

The last company I founded, Brazen Careerist, was full of Gen Yers. In fact, for a while, I was the only person in the company older than 25. I spent a lot of time learning to adapt. Fast. And the whole time I thought to myself: I can’t wait until these kids need to adapt to the next generation. I want them to know what it feels like.

At this point, the oldest in Generation Z are just turning 13, and we have enough information about the two demographics to predict what will happen. Aside from my case of schadenfreude, I’m particularly interested in Generation Z because my sons are smack in the middle of it. But also I’m interested because if we understand the impact the next generation will have on the workforce, we’re better able to adapt our own careers for it. So get ready:  Read more

I was a latchkey kid with unlimited charge accounts at all the local stores before there were charge cards. As a kid I worried I was annoying, because people always rolled their eyes when I said “charge it please”. Now I understand that I was the only person in the city with a charge account at each of these stores. And they thought I was a spoiled brat.  Oblivious to this social nuance, my parents had the idea that if there were no limits to what I could buy then surely I would be taken care of.

You know what’s coming next: kids don’t want money, they want nurturing. I am a very take-charge kind of person, though, so I used my open charge system to buy caretakers. For a while it was the clothing store. But when my mom saw that I owned more than forty sweaters, mostly never worn, she yelled so much that I knew my friendship with the clothing store owner was over. Read more

When we were at LegoLand I was struck by the high emotional intelligence of the employees. Their job is to make everyone feel like their Lego project is great. (You’d be surprised how many parents are there, swiping the white blocks from little kids at the Lego snowman contest.)

High emotional-intelligence jobs are very hard, and I would rather sweep floors. But I force myself to try to improve my emotional intelligence because people who don’t try to improve it generally suck at it. And people with high emotional intelligence are fascinated by how to get even better at reading people.

So I’m always seeking out new data points for emotional intelligence so I can get that social skills boost I most definitely need.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the social skills secrets of successful people:

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I know you’re thinking that the workplace is dead between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but actually, December is a great time for careers. Here are five reasons why:

1. Job hunting is great in December.
January is the biggest month for hiring, but December is the second-best month for a job hunt. This is because people have budget allocated for jobs on a yearly basis. And if they don’t fill those jobs, they lose the position in the new budget. So all those hard-to-fill positions have to get filled no matter what this month. Also, people have money they did not spend in other areas that they can put toward a new hire. But they don’t know if they have that money until the end of the year. This all makes for a hiring frenzy in December, and since most candidates don’t realize this, the candidate pool is not as full in December either. Read more

I get an incredible amount of email from people with Asperger Syndrome. It’s all really similar. Here’s a sample:

“I’m 45 and a lawyer and I have Asperger’s. I don’t know what is appropriate, and not appropriate some of the time, such as talking too much about very personal info, or saying something that offends someone.

“I’ve gone through many friends in life. Most can’t deal with me, I’ve never been married, relationships get complicated, but luckily I’ve had a few who hung on regardless of my flaws.

“How do you feel and deal with the fallout when you say things that cause more problems than you would have had if you just kept your mouth shut? I want to take the attitude that if I say something inappropriate and it’s held against me, screw ’em, I’m not going to worry about it, life is short.

“Do you think there a way of saying inappropriate, blunt things into an asset even though others don’t approve of your behavior?”

I respond to everyone. I don’t even know why I’m writing this in a post—that I respond to all my emails. Because it just means I’ll get more. But I think, even though I know it’s terrible time management to respond to all emails, I must like it because look: I launched the Mailbag section. The emails are probably human contact that I need. Read more

Last week was a board meeting for my company, Brazen Careerist. I used to hate the board meetings because there is so much to prepare beforehand, and if everything is not going great, then you have to really face that.

1. Hide your feelings if they are going to be trouble for someone.
I am still a major shareholder in my company, but I do not work at the company day to day. I would like to say that my neediness issues and fear of abandonment do not follow me to my workplace, but in fact, they are huge there. And I spend a lot of time worrying whether people listen to my opinions because they care or because it’s easier to listen than to try to get me to shut up.

When the board meeting rolls around, I get nervous. I don’t know if I should go or not.

I like to go because I like knowing what’s going on. Well, and of course, I like giving my opinion. I also like hanging out with the board. I really like Ryan Healy now that I don’t have to work with him. And everyone on my board is someone who did a huge amount for me at one of the (many) very tough times in my life. (Like this time.) So I just really like everyone. Read more

You are probably wondering if I think about Melissa having an affair with the Farmer.

I do. I think about it all the time.

As a preventive measure I tell the farmer that if he cheats on me, I'll stay with him. Forever. I'll never leave him. He'll be stuck on the farm with me, in misery. I try to create a scene in his head like a Beckett play: Two characters isolated from the world, in a room, making each other miserable.

Melissa and the Farmer always assure me that they will never do that.

One night, in bed alone, I ask the Farmer: “Do you think about having sex with Melissa?”

He says, “Well, I notice her body. But I don't think about having sex with her.”

I say, “Of course you notice her body. She has a size 00 waist and a size C bra cup.”

“Well, okay. Then stop talking to me all the time about having sex with her and then I'll be less likely to think about it.” Read more

First of all, here is a photo of rhubarb cobbler.

And this is my food blog post for all of yeterday’s commenters who think I would not be a good food blogger. You will love this post: it's about what to do if you think you're about to be fired.

1. Be really interesting. And fun. It's a lethal combination.
This photo looks disgusting, because that is the truth about food. Most of it looks disgusting. Even stuff that tastes good looks disgusting in a photo. It's like sex. If you have a cinematographer and three lighting guys and a foley artist who comes in at the end, then the sex looks great. But if you take a picture of yourself having sex, forget it. You look like gross, retarded animals.

So even good food looks disgusting. But this photo is not actually an example of that, because this rhubarb cobbler tasted disgusting as well. Too much flour, I think. Although Melissa kept saying it had too much butter. Maybe too much flour and butter and it needed more rhubarb. Read more

When we are not in the garden, I obsess about how I want to redesign my blog to look like the Pioneer Woman’s blog. I want to be the Pioneer Woman on Suicide Watch. That will be the new title of my blog. I am obsessed with stealing her blog design.

Melissa sits in my garden with me and talks. She likes to talk to me in my garden because she says it’s the only time I don’t interrupt her.

In the garden Melissa narrates her Facebook activity like it’s a horse race. And she takes pictures of the farm all day long and posts them to Facebook.

Her Facebook friends tell her she is really lucky to be living on a farm. An old friend of hers that is really not her friend but her ex-boyfriend’s friend, says, “You’re so lucky. I wish I were on a farm right now.”

Melissa tells me he is a designer who can write code and he wants to live on the farm.

“Invite him,” I say.

She tells him, “You can come live here. Penelope needs a designer. Can you redesign her blog?”

He says yes. Melissa gives him one of the ten thousand free tickets she has from living in Hong Kong and Milan with jet-set millionaires who foot the bill for everything. Read more