What I Learned One Year Later: What Drives Work Happiness

Written by Davis Nguyen

Last week marked a full year since I started my first full-time job at Bain. Though I’ve had jobs in high school and college, I always considered myself a student first and an employee second. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I took time to reflect on the largest lessons I’ve learned the past 12 months. 

One of those lessons was learning what drove my happiness at work. 

And it came down to this:

Doing work that pushes you to grow while feeling supported 

The way Bain operates is we work on projects on average 3 to 6 months at a time for our client companies. These projects vary from figuring out which country a company should launch its products to figuring out how a company can save a billion dollars. 

I’ve had seven different projects since starting a year ago and what I’ve learned in all these different environment is what makes the time pass and satisfaction high is having work that pushes my growth while feeling supported along the way.

If you are doing work that pushes you to grow, you are constantly learning and feeling immersed. Time passes by quickly. Compare this to doing a task that is routine and mundane: an hour feels like an entire day. And if you are doing work while feeling supported, you enjoy being where you are and challenging yourself to grow. 

The type of work you’re asked to do day in and out will change. Some days will make you feel so lucky to be where you are; other days will make you want to quit. But what drives happiness is feeling as though you are being challenged without being too stretched, and having people who care about you. The work can be tough, the hours can be long, but with supportive people the experience is more enjoyable.

This lesson is one of the twelve largest learnings one year out of school. You can find the other lessons here.

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

How to Make the Most of the Last Three Months of the Year

Written by Marisol Dahl

The Sun is setting earlier, the days are getting chillier, and the Halloween candy that has taken up residence in your house is just a hint of all the holiday celebrations to come.

There’s so much going on. And that means it’s really really easy to write off the next three months. Q4 is often considered a “lost quarter” in terms of work and productivity, especially if we have the promise of a shiny New Year just around the corner.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to successful quarterly planning is to not treat each quarter like all the others. It’s important to take into account the time of year, acknowledge where you are in your life/career/business, and gauge your productivity levels moving forward. You have to look at the big picture, and set realistic expectations for yourself.

4 Ways to Make Q4 Awesome

1. Tie up loose ends.

What one or two things have you been resolving to do forever but just can’t seem to finish? Q4 is a great time to clear the decks and wrap up all those projects and to-dos that always seem to get pushed to the back-burner. You’ll thank yourself when the New Year rolls around :) Tying up loose ends is also a great goal for Q4 especially if you are wary of taking on completely new projects.

2. Debrief on the past year.

Jenny and I love having debrief sessions right after major initiatives (like a program or book launch!). It’s a great way to acknowledge accomplishments and identify areas for improvement, and we always walk away aligned on a few solid things we want to focus on for the next few months.

In your debrief, choose an area of your life (work, family, relationships, etc.). Identify three things you did well, three things you’d do differently, and three things you’d like to celebrate. Feel free to add any questions to you debrief process, and repeat for as many “life areas” you’d like to review.

3. Focus on relationships.

This is a great focus for Q4, since this time of year is already very relationship-oriented. Instead of seeing the holidays as time and productivity-sucks, use them as an “excuse” to get in touch and open up opportunities for stronger connection and collaboration.

This is a natural time to check in with your extended family, old classmates, former colleagues, and any other business contacts you’d like to keep in touch with—and it won’t be awkward since this is one of the most social seasons of the year.

4. Do sprints.

If you look ahead at your calendar, you might notice pockets of time that aren’t as conducive to work as others. Maybe you’re traveling, taking time off for a holiday, or have a lot of commitments clustered over a few days.

Use your schedule as an indicator of when it’s time to hustle, and when it’s time to let it flow. Instead of trying to evenly pace your work over the next three months, identify a few periods of time where you can do “sprints”—times where you can kick focused work into high gear and make a lot of progress in a short period of time. When you’re “off-sprint,” enjoy the time to celebrate what you achieved and get much-needed rest.

Join Us for the 5-Day #PIVOTsprint — Starts 10/10!

We’re excited to announce the first ever #PIVOTsprint, kicking off on October 10! This is a 5-day kickstart for you to map what’s next, whether you are pivoting within your current role or business, starting a side-hustle, getting unstuck on a major project, or cookin’ up an even bigger life change.

The week of prompts will walk you through the four-stage Pivot Method in—you guessed it!—four days, with some extra reflection at the start and end. Sign up here to join the#PIVOTsprint, and invite your friends for some added accountability!

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and brand strategy. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.


Learning to Say “No”

Written by Davis Nguyen

I’ve always had a hard time saying “no,” until saying “no” was the only thing keeping me from ending up in the hospital this month.  

When I first moved to San Francisco a year ago, I didn’t have much of a social base being 2,500 miles from home and 3,000 miles from where I went to college. 

To fill the void, I started joining volunteer groups at and outside of work. The committees at work and non-profit organizations I joined started to slowly solve my want for a social community. I met people I normally wouldn’t have met, create memories that otherwise wouldn’t have existed, and slowly found my community in the city. 

A year later, I have no problem picking up the phone and having someone come over for dinner. But last month, I started noticing the side effects of being so committed. As my social time increased, my personal time declined. 

This month a number of my commitments ran into unexpected obstacles that needed to be solved quickly. I encountered a problem I’d never experienced in my life: there was just not enough energy in me to do everything despite staying up 7 days to the AMs. I was near exhaustion every night.  

When it was all done and I could finally breathe, I was happy with the results but saddened by the price. I finally understood what “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” meant. Instead of being energized by volunteer work, I felt drained. When the last event concluded, I just went back home and fell on my bed. It was first time I remember such a restful sleep since the cascade of commitments came down. 

But besides the positive communal results that came from this period, there emerged a personal result: I learned to say "no." During this intense period, the request for my time didn’t stop, but it was the first time since moving to San Francisco I just said “no” without hesitation. Not to anyone’s surprise, the world didn’t stop and the people who asked me simply asked someone else. 

I wish this lesson didn’t have to come when my health was declining, but I am glad I learned it. Learning to say no is tough, but I remind myself that if I say yes to something, I am saying no to everything else. In the end, I want to be in control of what I say no to. 

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

My Passion Failed Me

Written by Melissa Anzman

I have a confession to make… it’s something that I’ve alluded to in the past, maybe even said it in different words, but it’s time to come clean. My “dream job,” the thing I was most passionate about, the thing I built my business around… sucked in reality.

Let me explain a bit more.

For ages, I kept hearing the advice: follow your passion. “When you do something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” And various other iterations of the passion is awesome advice.

First I agonized over what the heck “finding my passion” meant… and how to go about doing that. I had always approached work as following opportunities and leveraging my strengths or growing my skills. I didn’t understand how passion should be incorporated into that. But I kept searching and finally “found my passion.” Or maybe, what my ideal job is.

I spent time figuring out what my ideal day looked like, listing out all of my skills, what I did and didn’t want in my future career, and so on. And all answers pointed to me being my own boss. If you know me, that’s not a far stretch.

So I opened a career coaching business… and felt burned out within a year. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing or the people I was working with it, it’s that it felt like a J-O-B again. And my default with that feeling is, “If I’m going to work in a J-O-B, I may as well go back to corporate and get a high paying job that makes me feel the same way as I do now.”

Not the right mindset, I’ll be the first to admit. But I have this weird career-quirk, maybe it’s a personality quirk, I’m not sure. But when I feel like I’m “in a job,” I am MISERABLE. That’s not me being overly dramatic, it feels so taxing and awful and… miserable. Everything else in my life suffers to.

And I felt lied to – I followed my passion, I created a business based around it, and within a year, that same corporate drone misery set-in. Again.

So I followed the next shiny object – another passion of mine. Hey, follow your bliss, right? Built another company around that passion and thought the problem was solved.

But of course, the same thing happened. I hit my burnout point or “misery level”… and was left feeling stuck and like a huge failure (even though I had officially created two successful businesses!).

Why am I telling you this? First, to let you know that if you’re feeling the same way, you’re definitely not alone. Sometimes your passions don’t pan out as a business or career choice. It’s not you, you’re not failing in some way, you’re not defective (like how I felt). Also, to let you know that passions don’t have to be forever things. And sometimes, when you build your career around your passion, it kills it.

Of course I keep pivoting to new paths and ideas, trying to find the intersection of my skills, my “passion,” and what people will pay me for. Or better yet, how I can build something that has a shorter shelf-life, but continues to move me forward on my path.

Oh, and that “passion stuff”… I’ve started to look at it as things I like doing. Not what gets me out of bed. Not what is an awesome hobby. But what I wouldn’t mind doing for work.

Maybe follow your passion was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten – but I’ve learned that passion flame outs, don’t equate to failure. And more important – for me, passion needs to stay in my side projects/hobbies. Not the center focus of my business (unless I’m ready to explore a new passion!).   

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her@MelissaAnzman.

9 Questions You Need to Ask About Your Career

Written by Paul Angone

Do you have big questions about your career? (or lack thereof)

Searching for a career is more than just finding a job, it’s about finding a place to call home where you can thrive and grow.

I believe it should matter that you want your work to matter.

You will spend more time working than you will anywhere else. Don’t you think it should feel like a good fit, instead of something that’s forced? 

If you’re always trying to kill time at work, what does that say about the way you’re spending your life?

If you’re struggling with your current career, are confused about the direction it’s heading, or just want to re-confirm you’re on the right one, here are nine questions you need to ask.

9 Questions You Need to Ask About Your Career

1. Are the people who have obtained success in your career path, you know, actually happy?

When you look at the higher ups in your field of work, the people who have really made it, are they happy? Are they living a life they enjoy or are they doing just the opposite?

As I first wrote in twentysomething problems, if the thought of doing your bosses job 15 years from now makes you throw up a little, then maybe that’s a sign you’re in the wrong job.

2. The moment right before you enter into your day’s work, how do you feel?

Tomorrow, right before you begin your work, pause, ask yourself this question, and see what you say. Are you excited? Anxious? Overwhelmed?

You might be surprised that you find yourself thrilled to begin another day of work. That’s a great sign! Or maybe you notice that dread is slowly wrapping its fingers around your neck?

How you feel the moment before you begin your day will tell you a lot about how you will feel when your day ends.

3. What’s your Dread/ Tolerate/ Love breakdown?

Let’s make a chart! This will be fun!

Look at a typical work day. Break down each hour. From email, to meetings, travel, and then when you’re actually plugging away at the work you’re supposed to be doing.

Looking at your breakdown, how many hours would you place in each category – Dread, Tolerate, and Love.

Now take your hour breakdown and make it into a pie chart. Does this pie chart make you nauseous or happy? If your day is filled with more dread than love, is there a way you can tackle more projects in your “Love” category?

Is there a way to spice up some of those Tolerate hours to make them fit better within your wheelhouse? Or is this career taking up permanent residence in the Land of Dread.

Define what you love about your job and then refine your job to do more of what you love. 

4. Or do you feel you’re full throttle-ly (that’s a word, right?) employed in a crappy job and it would take an act of God to help you enjoy it?

A crappy job can feel like a black hole — it sucks and feels impossible to escape.

Yes, working a crappy job is a twentysomething rite of passage. But how do we make it smell a little better?

The key to working a crappy job, and then leveraging that job into a better one, is to find and hone your One Thing.

Find and focus on the One Thing you like about this job.

Then do that one thing even better than before. Grow your skill-set there. Learn from co-workers who do that One Thing well.

Make that One Thing your crappy job trampoline, bouncing you to greater heights.

Your twenties are about putting in the work now so that you can enjoy your work later. 

Too many of us want to escape our crappy jobs before we’ve grown in a skill-set that we can leverage into a better opportunity. If you leave your crappy job without learning and growing, chances are another crappy job awaits.

5. Does studying, researching, and becoming more proficient in your career give you energy or drain it?

Does learning about your industry or craft give you life or take from it?

If becoming a master of your craft is something you’re avoiding, it’s either time to fully dive in or it’s time to pick a new craft.

6. Does this career path create the life you want?

Sometimes you can have an amazing career, but the wake from it is choppy and uneasy.

Do you love your job, but it’s pretty much a given that you’re working 70 hour weeks? And your boss works 80. Or maybe your career is filled with purpose and passion, yet it doesn’t really pay the bills? Basically, what’s most important to you? If you’re not sure, maybe start with these 11 questions every twentysomething needs to ask and then come back here.

It’s a strange paradox when you love your job, but you don’t love the lifestyle it creates.

Choose a healthy life, not just a successful career. 

This might mean you have to make a difficult decision about the kind of life you want to live. But I promise it will be easier to make that choice now, than when a house, spouse, and a few kids are in the picture.

7. Are you doing work that matters? Do you believe in it? Should you believe in it?

Boomers and Millennials especially sometimes find themselves at a disconnect when it comes to career choices.

And it seems whether or not you should have purpose and meaning in your career is at the heart of the debate.

I believe it should matter that you want your work to matter. 

For many twentysomethings, they are more focused on finding a job filled with purpose and passsion, than a healthy paycheck.

As a recent Barna study on Millennials states: “When it comes to work and career, more than anything this generation wants to be inspired. Finding a job they are passionate about is the career priority Millennials ranked highest.”

For me personally, doing something that makes an impact in a meaningful way was a number one priority for me. It was a non-negotiable. And it’s compelled me to make hard choices away from comfort and job security. It’s led me through seasons of unemployment and utter leanness. And it’s meant a lot of early mornings and late nights working at a dream, before I went and worked at my work.

This path towards meaning has not been easy, but I love where it’s led me.

8. What are the top skills that you currently using and growing at your work? Are those skills you want to be harnessing and focusing on?

Write down the top 3-5 skills you’re using and developing at work? Or if you’re not working, the top skills you’d like to be developing.

Are those skills you want to be developing? What deeper values are those skills tied to?

I’ve found that many people get stuck in their jobs because they are doing something they find success in, yet they feel this undercurrent of discontent and frustration because the skills they’re using are tied into anything deeper.

Success in your skill-set alone is not your purpose. Your skills should be infused in pursuing something purposeful, but your skills are not your purpose in and of themselves.

Sometimes what we’re good at can become a comfortable trap from living a life away from our true purpose because we’re using skills apart from what we think is important — our “why” – our full Signature Sauce.

9. Do you even want a career?

Career sounds stuffy and inescapable like getting lost in the back of your Aunt Martha’s closet.

The world is flat now with the ability to work anywhere, on anything, at anytime. I’m not sure the standard ideas and concepts behind a linear career are completely relevant any longer.

I don’t think our generation will as readily climb the ladder. Our generation will swim from island to island, picking up necessary skills and experiences as we travel towards our Career Promised Land.

What do these questions say about your career? If it looks like it might be time to make a change, make sure you grab Jenny Blake's new book Pivot to help you navigate the next steps. 

About Paul Angone

Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator ofAllGroanUp.com, a place for those asking “what now?” Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at @PaulAngone.

PIVOT Launches Today! Unboxing + Early Highlights

HAPPY PIVOT LAUNCH DAY!! I can't believe it's here. After three years of preparing for this moment, now the serendipity lottery tickets truly go on sale.

What's next? Although I have hypotheses, in other ways I have no clue which of my next pilots will pick up steam. And as I learned from writing this book, that is A-OK. 

I can't wait to see what bubbles up next, and for all of you to read the book—or listen if Audible is more your style :). Thank you all for the love and support along the way—I am grateful beyond words. 

The most helpful thing you can do this week in addition to social sharing: leave an Amazon review once you've read the book (and thumbs-up other reviews you find helpful). Thank you in advance!!

Early Highlights

I have had such a blast recording podcasts, doing interviews, writing articles, and ninjafying my own business systems (aka digital nesting) to prepare for the extra traffic 'round JBE digital HQ. 

Some favorites:

Here's an Unboxing video of me seeing my book in hardcover for the first time:

Me and James jamming in the studio for our podcast double-header:

Launch Week Momentum

Here are some actions that will make a big difference: 

  • Spread the word via email. Do you know someone at a pivot point in their career or business? I would love for you to send an email to anyone you know who is searching for an answer to “what’s next?” and could benefit from a step-by-step guide to figure that out. If you have a newsletter, online community or other big platform you can include the blurb in, that’s a super bonus! You can find blurb copy here.

  • I have also created a fun Pivotability Self-Assessment where people can take a short 5-minute survey to determine their Pivot Profile. 

  • Amazon review on launch day. This will be a huge help!! Reviews are a huge signal to potential readers that the book is worth their time and a very strong positive momentum/social proof signal as well. Extra credit: copy and paste your review into Goodreads if you’re on that platform too :)  

  • Super Duper Bonus: Purchase more than one copy. Either buy a book for a friend, or if you work within an organization, see if there’s budget to buy a copy for everyone on your team. If you buy 10 books, you’ll get an Actionable Conversation workshop-in-a-box for free ($500 value) to facilitate a one-hour lunch-and-learn session with your group. I’ll be doing a free webinar with Actionable Conversations on 9/8 where you can learn more about this.  

Now let's go rock this launch week!! 

I'll report back on how it all goes soon :) 


My Favorite Thing About Being Self-Employed

Written by Marisol Dahl

Just about a year ago I decided to stop my search for a traditional full-time job.

I was just three months out of college, had turned down two job offers, and had spent the summer going on a handful of interviews. And I was already working with Jenny and other small businesses, helping them manage their businesses day-to-day and explore new and exciting ways to grow.

At the time, I didn’t want to rule out that more “traditional” job route. You know, the one with the 9-5, the steady salary, and your very own desk that’s quite distinctly not in your childhood home. The type of job all my friends from college were going for.

But the jobs that I explored that summer just didn’t feel right.

And then in late August 2015, I finally told the truth to myself. I was doing what I already wanted to be doing. I was working with a fantastic group of entrepreneurs. I was creating my own career, and felt my learning and growth going at hyperspeed. It felt amazing, and I was certainly not going to give that up.

As Jenny notes in her new book PIVOT, I had already been piloting self-employment for a year and a half by the time I graduated. I had tested my systems and strategies for building my business, and experimented with raising my rates and figuring things out along the way.

It was then—in August 2015—that I knew I was ready to move from pilot mode to launch mode—to fully commit to self-employment and not look back. I became a full-time freelancer. A solopreneur. My own boss at 22 years old.

Now, a year later, my vision is changing again. And you know what that means! Time for a pivot.

When Your Launch Becomes a Pilot

I spent the rest of 2015 and early 2016 building my client base and thinking about expansion. That was the whole point of running your own business, right? To add more clients, scale business services, and capital-m Monetize.

But as I got more and more involved with working with my current clients, the last thing I wanted to do was spread myself too thin. I was also still really unsure how to define what I actually did.

That’s when I realized my “launch” into self-employment had transformed into a “pilot” round in itself.

I was testing out what I really wanted to do. I dove into content marketing, social media, brand strategy, business-building, website copywriting, article ghostwriting, community building, and email management. I worked side-by-side with my clients as they launched new websites, built new communities, created awesome content, and took their businesses to the next level.

I spent months saying yes to nearly every freelance opportunity, and by spring 2016 it was time for me to refine my business, to cut loose what wasn’t serving my career development, and go all in on what truly held my interests.

This is why I loved being self-employed. In any other scenario, I would not have been able to pilot as many job roles, to take on the level of responsibility that I did, or be in a position of constant career analysis.

Self-employment gave me the confidence and security to try things I NEVER would have gone for.

For instance, when I graduated college, it never crossed my mind to apply for a job at a brand and design agency (and commit myself full time!). I didn’t know the first thing about design, but when Jenny referred me to her friend Adam at ABC Design Lab, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t know what would come of it—for all I knew, it would be a disaster fit. But time went on, and I grew my role at ABC from a 15-hour/week gig to being a (nearly full time) Communication Strategist.

Self-employment had helped me find work I didn’t even know I loved. And I am so, so grateful for that.

Last Week to Pre-Order PIVOT

It is absolutely nuts to think that the book launch is just a week away! We’re so grateful for all the excitement that has already generated around Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, and I don’t want you to miss out on this awesome pre-order bonuses!

If you pre-order by September 6, you'll get all these goodies:

  • Signed Bookplate: a sticker that goes on the inside of the book. For you and a friend if you'd like to gift a copy! Offer good until midnight September 6 (launch day); for U.S. residents only.

  • Sneak Peek: at one of Jenny's favorite chapters—an excerpt from the book on what it means to be High Net Growth, and how to assess your risk threshold.

  • Early access to the Pivot Toolkit: 30+ templates, and a list of Pivot 201 recommended reading.

  • Pivot Playlist on Spotify: Favorite songs Jenny jammed to while going through her last pivot and writing the book, that fit many of the themes she addresses in the book itself :)  

  • Private Q&A Call with Jenny during the launch week. You can submit questions in advance to ensure she covers what you're curious about!

  • Jenny's 20+ Page Behind the Book Toolkit: every tool, template and system I used at each stage of the book writing process: proposal, outline, writing, editing, marketing, and more.

To access the bonus bundle, order your copy of Pivot here. Then grab your confirmation number and fill out the form here . We’re so excited for you to read the book!

Even More Bonuses When You Join Momentum

With Momentum being one of my favorite places to hangout online, I can’t not mention it here and invite you to join this private community for side-hustlers and solopreneurs! :)

Right now, we’re offering a discount on this quarter’s membership to all members who pre-order Pivot (it’s like getting the book for half off!).

Jenny will also be hosting a private webinar later in September called Launch Ninja (+ JB Lessons Learned), where she’ll sit down with the Momentum Crew for a debrief on the launch, best practices when launching (anything), and lessons she's learned along the way.

Plus, you’ll have access to all of our regular Momentum membership perks and bonuses, including access to all of Jenny’s courses, templates, and checklists (over $500 value).  

Interested in joining the fun? Click here to learn more about Momentum.

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and branding. 

She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

3 Things I Learned About Productivity from the Perfect Day Method (+Giveaway!)

Written by Marisol Dahl

As a freelancer, I often feel like I have the best of both worlds. I get to work with amazingly talented people and companies who are doing important and impactful work. But I also get a certain level of freedom in terms of how I work—how many hours I work, where I work, how I schedule my days, and when to take vacation time.

But that’s not to say that freelancing is easy or is the “perfect” situation for everyone.

There have been many mornings where I wake up and have a plan for the day: a few client calls, time blocked out to do certain things, some admin stuff in the afternoon. But then it all goes out the door when the emails come flooding in: new (more pressing) assignments, mini-emergencies, the occasional anxious phone call.

Suddenly I have a million new things screaming for my attention. And I know it’s not just freelancers who deal with this work craziness! :)

The fact is we are working in increasingly interruptive environments.

Pierre Khawand, work and productivity expert and founder and CEO of People-OnTheGo, notes that these interruptions are invasive to our lives and our results:

“We are overloaded with too many e-mails, too much social media, too many competing and changing priorities, too many interruptions. Worse, we are led to believe that we need to keep up, to speedup in order to succeed in the modern workplace. As a result, our minds are overwhelmed and scattered. Studies show that work in an interruptive environment, whether or not those interruptions are related to our work, increases the experience of stress, frustration, time pressure, and effort to get work done." —Pierre Khawand

These interruptions come in all forms—from digital communications and people knocking on your office door, to random thoughts and emotional needs. I was amazed to hear Khawand and his team recently developed a new time management method that takes into account these interruptive demands of the modern working world.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method

In his new book The Perfect 15-Minute Day: Managing Your Time, Thoughts, and Emotions, Khawand walks through a time management method that requires only a journal and a timer. It’s based on doing work within 15-minute focus bursts—enough time to get a good chunk of work done, but not long enough that we get lost in a time warp!

Check out the video below for a closer look at how it works:


I took the Perfect Day Method (PDM) for a test drive in July, and I was amazed at the results. This method goes beyond just helping you get more stuff done.

3 Things I Learned About Productivity from Using the Perfect Day Method:

1. There is power in 15-minute increments.

How many times do you look at the clock and see another 15 or 20 minutes have slipped by without having made progress? While it feels like such a short time block, deciding to focus on something for 15 minutes is such an easy commitment that lowers the barrier of entry into a task. There’s no pressure to complete the task—just to focus on it. You’ll be surprised how being more mindful of your short time blocks really add up in the end!

2. It is important to have a system in place for thought overload.

“The skill of intercepting a thought, before we act on it, needs to be learned and practiced.” —Pierre Khawand

When we set out on a work project, we often find ourselves managing tasks, subtasks, new developments, and other related to-dos along the way. The Perfect Day Method has a designated space for all of these things that we must remember to do— so that we can free up short-term memory, never forget about all the little details, and renew our focus on the task at hand.

3. Productivity means leaving room for the unexpected.

When was the last time your day went exactly as planned? We can set all the intentions, goals, and appointments we want, but the fact is our days develop organically. Our work affects and is affected by the work of other people, life events, and even environmental conditions. With the Perfect Day Method, you don’t have to map out every little thing; the system is tailored to let your day grow organically.

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to announce that five lucky Life After College readers will receive a copy of The Perfect 15-Minute Day Journal!

To enter to win, please answer the following question in the comments by Friday, August 19. We will pick 5 winners via random.org and email to let you know! Good luck!

Comment to Be Entered to Win: 
What is your best productivity tip?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and brand strategy. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Winning the rental game

Written by Davis Nguyen  A year ago, I wrote about how my roommates and I were able to get rents that were less than half average in a newly renovated home in a safe, quiet neighborhood in San Francisco, the most expensive major city in the United States.

This month, one of our roommates is moving out and I was tasked with finding her replacement. And when you have a spare room that is below market price, people flock to you. Within the first day, we had more than 11 requesting applications, and I’d only told a handful of friends that we were looking to fill a vacancy.

Now that I am on the side to who gets to rent a place, I want to share two practices I’ve seen increase people’s odds of being offered a contract and one I wish more people did. Together these three tactics will help you secure a contract in a high demand area even if you are new to a city.

1. Do your research on the people you’ll be living with

Most people don’t know much about the people they will be living with. They are just so worried about securing a room. Doing some research upfront will set you apart. One applicant we had, found that two of us were both management consultants and asked us about tips for making the most of her first year in the field (she was also starting a job in management consulting for a different company).

As Dale Carnegie wrote in his seminal work, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.” With LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google you can do so much when it comes to learning about your roommates. Become interested in them.

2. Think creatively about the unique value that you bring

When interviewing, think about what can you do for the other people, not only what they can do for you. Our original roommate beat out almost 30 other applicants because she was so good at doing this. Despite being away from San Francisco when she initially interviewed, she did a convincing job telling us why we would benefit from having her as a roommate.

She offered to bring her couches cross-country so we would have a hang out area and she shared with us her irrational distaste of dirty bathrooms (meaning she would clean the bathrooms). While other parts of her application stood out, her willingness to think about how having her (or not have her) would influence our living environment brought her over the top.

Do you cook? Do you have a car? Do you have a projector? Think about what “add-on” you can offer for your roommates. By thinking about these “add-on” you’ll show you want to be part of their community.

3. Address your landlord/roommates concerns

This one I wish more people did. When people are reading applications looking for sub-lets, they have concerns: will you pay your rent on time? Will you be a positive energy in the house? Will you bring unwanted guests over?

As an applicant, if you can address these concerns, you’ve almost won them over. They aren’t impressed by what college you went to, where you work, or what talent you have if you can’t address their basic concerns.

If you take the time to put these tactics into practice during your next rental search, you’ll be miles ahead of other applicants. Go the extra mile because it is never crowded up there.

About Davis


Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

Skype Interview Mastery

Written by Melissa Anzman skype-interview

There are so many new ways to interview these days, that having a Skype interview is most likely going to happen during your job hunt. I had my first one about four years ago and I remember being completely freaked out about the whole situation. Since then, I’ve had many Skype interviews and have been the one conducting them as well. Here are a few tips to help you ace your next one.

How to Ace Your Skype Interview

Do a test run.

Before every single interview, test your technology. I cannot stress this enough. Just because Skype worked perfectly yesterday, does not mean that it will be functional when you need it (speaking from experience here). And let's not forget that lately, Skype has been notorious for pushing out updates that take ages to populate on your machine.

Do a quick video chat with a friend about 20 minutes before your interview to test everything out, so you’re set to go before the interview - or at a minimum, do a test run with yourself to make sure you can a) open/access Skype; b) have a stable connection; c) nothing looks ridiculous in the background. 

Keep your Skype name professional.

Same principles apply as using a ridiculous email address on your resume. Your user-name should be your name or some variation of it, to make it easy and professional. If you have to set-up a new “job interview/professional” account, do it – it’s simple and free.

I once interviewed a great candidate, who's Skype name was something like... "partyhardyo" - let's just say I was a bit skeptical when it came time to interview her.

Pay attention to your background setting.

Since we typically Skype with friends and family, our surroundings are usually not the main focus. But remember, just like a phone interview, this is an impression situation – you only have a few seconds to make the strongest impression via the screen, so make sure that you have planned everything.

You don’t need to redo your office to make it designer-ready, just be sure to remove any offensive materials behind you. Think: posters, post-it notes, clutter, and so on. Test what is seen through your webcam and make sure it looks decent and comes off as professional, clean and put together.

I'll give you a personal example here - I was going a video interview last year with our very own Paul Angone, and he started laughing when he could finally see me. In the place I was renting, there was a stuffed animal moose head on the wall above me - not really the look I was going for. Be sure you test those things as well - and take a screenshot if needed, so you are able to review everything the interviewer can see.

Professional on the top, party on the bottom.

Just like a mullet, your shirt (top) needs to be business professional clothes, but there can be a party in back (bottom). This is an INTERVIEW. Wear a top that you would wear to an in-person interview such as a suit coat, button-up, etc.

No one can see below your waist, so no need to go all out. It actually helps me calm down knowing that I’m wearing silly pajama pants with a blazer. Do not forget that this interview should be taken seriously and make sure your top-half is groomed accordingly.

And I can't believe I have to remind you, but please do your normal grooming routine - make sure your hair looks presentable. I was interviewing another candidate who was a front-runner for the role, but when we had our Skype interview, she looked like she just rolled out of bed (hair was in serious award-winning bed-head style). I know it isn't always fun or easy to get ready for a 30 minute call, but it will be well worth it.

Figure out where to look.

Skype is strange – it’s hard to figure out where you’re supposed to look on the screen. If you look at the person on your screen, you’re looking down to the person on the other side. That’s ok – the person on the other side is struggling with the same thing as well.

I would advise sitting a bit further away from the camera (if you can), so you can do a better job at looking at the camera and the person. If you need to choose one, I tend to vote for looking at the camera – it’s easier to make a connection on the other end, and is closest to eye contact in an in-person conversation.

And while we're talking about where to look, make sure you position your camera appropriately: you want it at least eye-level to you, but having the camera slightly higher than you - looking down, gives you a better angle. Alas, remember the lighting too - I always look like I'm in the witness protection program when I go with natural light in my home... make sure you don't do that too! If so, I've found that placing a bright light right in front of the camera so you're basically staring into it, sheds the best light and gets me out of shadow. Try a few different angles in your workspace too.

Remember there is a camera on.

I am sure you’ve all heard the funny and scary things that have been captured on a webcam when the owner forgot the camera was on. Don’t be one of those videos on YouTube. Please. Right before and right after the interview, people tend to forget that they are on candid camera and either say or do silly things, forgetting that someone is on the other line.

I’ve seen people fixing their hair, flossing, using the webcam like a mirror to make sure they are prettied up, commenting on how it went (or their opinion about the interviewer… ahem, me), and so on. Remember that the camera is on and someone is watching you. Wow, that just turned a bit Big Brother, but I think you know what I mean.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a Skype interview can really work in your favor. You’re able to get across so much more about who you are live via video versus a phone call. Be you, let your personality shine through, and remain calm at all costs. Part of the lore of doing Skype interviews for hiring managers, is that they are very uncomfortable.

I’m not going to lie – I think it’s super strange that you’re interviewing and seeing someone in their own personal space. It’s awkward and surreal at first – how you manage that, is exactly what they’re looking for.

Remember that they are trying to gauge the following from you: your skills, your personality, how you engage others under pressure, what your “space” looks and feels like, cultural fit with the manager and company, and your skills. Good luck and keep Skyping!

melissa anzmanAbout Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

LAC Round-Up: Favorite Articles, Apps & Podcasts

Written by Marisol Dahl Happy July, LAC!

I’m back with a quarterly round-up of what the team has been loving and reading lately. This time around, I’m digging into the archives of the Life After College newsletter to spotlight all of our favorite reads, podcasts, and apps of 2016 (so far!).

So without further ado, here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

Favorite Reads

Favorite Podcasts

  • Presidential Podcast: In 44 episodes leading up to the next election, this podcast from the Washington Post explores the rise and legacy of each American president.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show: Tim Ferriss deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.  This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.
  • The Mash-Up Americans: Your guide to hyphen-America. Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer talk culture, identity, and what makes us who we are. Get to know yourself, America.
  • The James Altucher Show: Interviews on entrepreneurship, investing, and health.
  • StarTalk Radio: Science, pop culture & comedy collide on StarTalk with astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-hosts, celebrities and scientists.
  • RoboPsych: Tom Guarriello explores the psychology of human robot interaction
  • Writer's Rough Drafts: Host Elisa Doucette climbs into the minds of some of today's most popular authors and business people to learn that and much more about how they moved on from their rough drafts.
  • Two Inboxes: Interviews with the Side Hustle Generation: Learn how to tackle a life with multiple jobs and projects. Hear Molly Ford Beck, a member of the side hustle generation, interview guests who are climbing the ladder of corporate success and managing an entrepreneurial venture on top of their day jobs.
  • Pivot Podcast by Jenny Blake: Jenny Blake talks with peak performers to reverse-engineer their most successful career pivots, interviews experts on what it takes to be agile in a rapidly evolving economy, and opens the kimono on what happens behind-the-scenes of her book and business.

Apps We’re Obsessed With

  • Asana: A new favorite of me and Jenny's for project management. It's been the perfect solution for keeping a pulse on what's going on in each aspect of the business!
  • Edgar: We went for it and made the upgrade! It's a "social media queue that fills itself."
  • Duolingo + Fluencia: Two great apps to brush up on your Spanish.
  • Countable App: Get informed on congressional legislation with this Tinder-like app.
  • Apres: Helping women re-enter the workforce (Check out their feature in Fast Company)
  • Wonder: Save time by getting detailed answers and resources delivered to your inbox by a trusted network of researchers.
  • Hound: A digital assistant that's "faster and smarter than Siri, Google Now, and Cortana"
  • Adhara: Your one-stop-shop for everything spiritual and wellness-related.
  • Nomad House: Live, work and retreat with other digital nomads.
  • Mixmax: A Chrome/Gmail extension that allows you to track email opens, schedule them for later, save templates, send bulk personalized email through mail merge, and more.
  • Letterlist: Discover awesome newsletters!

Ready for More? Subscribe to the Newsletter!

If you liked these recommendations, there's plenty more to come in the Life After College bi-weekly newsletter, chock full of curated links and finds from around the web as well as updates from Jenny and the team. When you subscribe, you'll also get the Organized Like a Ninja Toolkit, which includes 30+ templates for every area of your life, as well as bonus audio, video and hundreds of other helpful tips and tools.

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and branding. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

The Biggest Problem Millennials Face in Achieving Their Dreams

Written by Paul Angone Millennials get knocked for having big dreams. As if having goals, plans, and wanting to do something significant with your life is a personality flaw.

Millennials want to live on purpose with purpose.

How’s this a bad thing?

Staying optimistic, even as all the “reality checkers” are telling you “that won’t work”, is something to be commended – not scoffed at.

Yet, there is a problem.

There is something that will keep you from ever seeing those dreams come to fruition.

There is a problem that we need to understand and overcome if we’re going to make our big dreams a reality.

Here is The Problem to Pursuing Our Dreams in Our 20s and 30s

Your big dreams aren’t the problem. Your timeline is.

As I first wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,

“Our big dreams aren’t the problem. Our crazy timeline of how quickly we want those plans and dreams to be sitting on our doorstep with a big Christmas bow is the problem.”

For me personally, I thought the red carpet was going to be rolled out on Day 33 of life in my 20s when God had that penciled in for Day 2,333.

You know, for when I was actually ready for it.

God has His timeline for your life. You have your timeline for your life. Some of the time those match—like on that one Tuesday in February, three years ago. But most of the time they don’t.

We could try and hold tight to the uncontrollable, gripping the details of our lives like a five-year-old trying to walk a rhinoceros.

Or we can let them go and do their thing. We can drop our dreams deep into the ground and water them with creativity, consistency, and patience.

Don’t let your timeline blow up the timeline that needs to happen.

Keep Growing Your Dreams

As I wrote in All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

“Don’t chase your dreams, grow one. Plant them in good soil and consistently water it. Then trust that God will spark life underground.”

When it’s the right time, we’ll watch our plans and dreams grow bigger, better, and more beautiful than we ever could’ve planned.

Most of the time life will not feel like “it’s supposed to” and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Keep believing that in the small, daily grind something big is taking place.

And that the big outcome might not look anything like the portrait you painted of success while dreaming at the starting line.

Hold your dreams tight as everything tries to rip them away.

Keep warring for hope as everything feels like it’s warring against you.

Sometimes life in your 20s and 30s is about having the courage to write a couple crappy first drafts. Then after 5 re-writes, you start finding the story you need to live.

Paul-in-Stadium-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul Angone

Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator ofAllGroanUp.com, a place for those asking “what now?” Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at@PaulAngone.

Pivot Podcast Round-Up: Techno Literacy, Ego is the Enemy, Navigating a Non-Linear Universe and Standing Out

Written by Jenny Blake We hear so much about pursuing your passion! But sometimes a passion pursues you. That has been the case for me ever since I took the Pivot Podcast “pro” by launching it in iTunes late last year, and committing to releasing one episode per week. Although it is a tremendous amount of work, I had no idea I would come to enjoy it so much. It turns out I love everything about it, from interviewing fascinating guests to audio editing and teaching myself GarageBand.

And in true Pivot form, I have come to realize it’s not a 180 from the other business activities and strengths I have: my 8+ years of coaching experience help me to be a better listener and question asker. When I was a kid, in interviewed family members for a newsletter I created called The Monthly Dig-Up. I also used to record fake news broadcasts with our video recorder. I have always loved teaching myself new technology, and audio editing is really giving me a run for my new skill money!

Today I’m sharing the last four episodes of the show, as they are some of my favorites yet. Listen to the Pivot Podcast in the embedded players below or subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloudOvercast, orGoogle Play Music. And if you enjoy these episodes, I would be oh-so-grateful for a rating and/or review! It helps me know you’re listening, and what I should focus more on in future shows.


“If we have been living in rigid ice, this is liquid—a new phase state. We are marching inexorably toward connecting all humans and all machines into a global matrix. This matrix is not an artifact, but a process. Our new supernetwork is a standing wave of change . . . the particular products, brands, and companies that will surround us in 30 years are entirely unpredictable. The specifics at that time hinge on the crosswinds of individual chance and fortune.

. . . The Beginning, of course, is just beginning.”

—Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

I almost fainted when this week’s guest, Kevin Kelly, said yes to be on the Pivot Podcast. Kind, brilliant and the king of techno-literacy, Kevin is one of the great technologists, futurists, and thinkers of our time. We talk about how to get better at systems thinking, become more techno-literate in an ever-changing environment that fosters a constant “newbie state,” artificial intelligence, centaurs and robot whispering, virtual and augmented reality, why now is the best possible time to start a company, and much much more. I could listen to Kevin talk all day, but alas! This week’s episode is a digestable power-packed 50 minutes.

Side note: If you enjoy this episode please share it with a friend!! I am a huge Kevin Kelly fan and would love to see this episode spread its wings and fly across the listener-o-sphere :)

Be sure to check out the previous Pivot Podcast, How to Become a Robot Whisperer with Dr. Tom Guariello (founder of RoboPsych), and as I mention in todays episode, if you want to have your mind blown watch this two-minute Magic Leap video: Exclusive Footage of What It’s Like to See Through Magic Leap and the Magic Leap website homepage demo.


“Is it 10,000 hours or 20,000 hours to mastery? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. There is no end zone.”

—Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy

What happens when you reach previously unimaginable pinnacles of success . . . and still find yourself miserable? Listen to this Pivot Podcast with Ryan Holiday—marketing master, studier of Stoic philosophy, and author of several bestselling books. His first, Trust Me, I’m Lying—which the Financial Times called an “astonishing, disturbing book”—was a debut bestseller. His next books,Growth Hacker Marketing and The Obstacle is the Way were both published by Penguin/Portfolio, and his latest, Ego is the Enemy launches next week. Fun fact: he has the last two book titles tattooed on each arm.


“The new attention span is about scope. Time stops, everything is instantaneous, coordinated and synchronous. You can already feel the result existing.”

—Penney Peirce, Leap of Perception

I have had such a blast talking with Penney Peirce about her Transformation Trilogy on intuition, frequency, and now perception. Talk about a dream come true! Today’s Pivot Podcast is our third in the series, and we dive deep into the nature of our holographic universe, the shift toward right-brain perception, why attention is the new intention (forget the law of attraction), how to find flow in projects, and how to navigate the void after major life or work phases are complete. 

Check out our previous conversations on Intuition and Frequency, and Dreams as a Doorway to 24-Hour Consciousness.


“It’s not about selling books or going on the lecture circuit or schmoozing at elite conferences. It’s about solving problems and making a difference in a way that creates value for yourself and others.

True thought leadership is a gift. It is a willingness to be brave, open up, and share yourself. It is a willingness to risk having your ideas shot down because you genuinely believe they can help others.”

—Dorie Clark, Stand Out

Last up for this podcast round-up, I’m thrilled to share an interview with my good friend and business author doppelgänger, Dorie Clark. I interviewed Dorie while writing Pivot on the big ideas from her book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around ItWhen we’re not scrounging up interesting New York activities to try, we both love thinking about how to reinvent careers and the best way to develop and share ideas that make a difference in others’ lives.

Thank you for listening, and I welcome any and all feedback and guest suggestions for future shows!

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book Pivot. She is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 9th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

Procrastination for the Win: 5 Ways to “Waste Time”

Written by Marisol Dahl “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” So says  Dr. John Perry, a Stanford philosopher and pioneer of the concept of “structured procrastination.”

Procrastination gets a bad rap. And that’s why I was thrilled by the very idea that procrastination might not be absolutely horrible. In fact, it’s kind of good for the soul.

Procrastination shows up in many ways, and we all have our own procrastination styles. And part of good procrastination comes with discerning the underlying problem going on: are your burned out and simply need to rest? Are you waiting for some sort of perfect alignment? Is the task ahead just not tapping into your creative genius?

Another way to think about it is to ask yourself: is your procrastination truly debilitating? A 2005 study in The Journal of Social Psychology found that there are two kinds of procrastinators: passive and active. Passive procrastinators are mentally paralyzed by the work ahead, and tend to fail to complete work on time. Active procrastinators better embrace it, knowing their work thrives under pressure. Interestingly, compared to passive procrastinators, active procrastinators were more similar to non-procrastinators in terms of academic performance, purposive use of time, and feelings of self-efficacy.

Procrastination for the win!

5 Ways to Positively Procrastinate

1. Brainstorm ways to make your task more enjoyable.

As Jenny Blake often says, “Let it be easy. Let it be fun.” When you’re facing a to-do that is in no way inspiring you into action, think about ways that it can become something you look forward to doing. Maybe for this particular task you sit outside in the sun. Or you listen to Beyoncé’s new song. Just don’t torture yourself!

2. Take a shower.

Our best thinking often comes in the shower, when we are left in solitude and have only our minds to intellectually engage us. There’s something about a shower that let’s us sort things out in our minds, come up with plans of action, and finally get us ready to jump to work. The next time you feel procrastination creeping up because you just don’t know how to get started on your task, hop into the shower. At the very least, you’ll be clean.

3. Get related work tasks done.

I can’t tell you how many times diving into my email inbox (as procrastination) ended up being the fuel I needed to jump into writing a new article, blog post, or other piece of content. I’d write a paragraph to a friend and realize I’ve come across the very idea I want to articulate or the perfect word to set the tone for my work writing.

When you do something remotely related to your work, like writing email, administrative tasks, or organizing Evernote notebooks, you are subtly warming up your mind, getting the gears turning without forcing it. Andthis is also one of the most productive ways to procrastinate!

4. Watch Anything But Netflix

I get it. It’s tempting to blow off work in favor of a binge round of Orange Is the New Black. But if you’re craving a little screen time, consider tuning into something that will challenge your mind a little. Documentaries and TED Talks are great. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of this year’s commencement speeches.

5. Go down the rabbit hole.

Follow your curiosity. Your fascinations, no matter how trivial or off-topic they may seem to you, are important to cultivate creativity and expand your knowledge. When you honor the things that truly interest you, whether it be the history of paper airplanes or how to grow the best garden tomatoes, you foster a love of learning and thrill for new thinking that can overflow into other, less exciting, areas of work.

Life After College: Now Available On Audible.com

We are thrilled to announce that Life After College is now available as an audio book, read by Jenny herself! Throughout the recording process, Jenny was able to add her own little notes and updates, so there’s even more to discover now.

And it’s another option for a little positive procrastination ;)

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol graduated Yale as a Sociology and Education Studies major in 2015. A longtime NewYorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.comand on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

Written by Davis Nguyen  When my family immigrated to the United States, they had $200 between the six of them. To save costs they would take any job that would accept them, mostly 16-hour factory shifts, and lived together to reduce rent even as our family expanded. At one point we had 11 people sharing 4 rooms and 1 bathroom.

Many of the common conveniences my friends had I didn’t and when you grow up poor, you often imagine what it would be like had your family been wealthy. Sometimes you look at more well-off families with envy. As a kid, I thought about all the negatives of my situation – eating instant noodles for the 5th time in a week does that to you – and when I started as a freshman at a college I felt inferior to my more affluent peers because I lacked the culture, the sophistication, and the elegance I saw they had.

I viewed my upbringing only through the lens of what I missed out on instead of what I gained. Only in adulthood am I beginning to see how my experiences growing up impoverished has positively shaped who I am and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my life.

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

1. The more you give, the more it comes back to you

If you’re poor, most likely your friends are too and you either learn to look after one another or suffer together. When my family first came to the United States, they barely had enough to get by, but my grandmother Rose, the matriarch of our family, always opened our home to those who had even less than us. Sunday dinners were spent with people from all races and backgrounds and my grandma always made sure noone left hungry.

Years later, when my grandmother opened up her own nail salon in our neighborhood, her first customers were many of the families she welcomed into our home all those years earlier. The people my grandmother fed brought their daughters, their friends, and their co-workers. Many of them became my grandmother’s life-long customers and even though my grandmother is now retired, she still gets requests from them to give them manicures and is able to live comfortably in retirement.

When you are generous to others, others will be generous towards you.

2. Problems can be solved with creativity

When my family took our first vacation, we encountered a problem we hadn’t thought about before. Our neighborhood was known for high levels of robberies and we didn’t have an alarm system to protect the house while we were gone. My grandfather didn’t let this deter him from enjoying vacation with his family.

The day before we left, my grandfather closed all the blinds to prevent anyone from peeking in, put the radio on a Vietnamese radio station so it would seem people were talking from within the house, and he allowed our neighbors who normally parked in our street, to park on our driveway so it seemed that people were entering and leaving. When we came back from our vacation we learned that 2 homes had been robbed a street down, but our house had not been hit.

Growing up, learning to be resourceful became a regular part of my identity. When I moved to San Fransisco, a few friends and I wanted to have lunch at a popular restaurant that had an 1-2 hour wait unless you came with a reservation. But to make a reservation, you must have at least 10 people. I gathered a group of 10 friends and made a reservation for the following month. When the day of our reservation came, half of our group could no longer make it and informed me only as I was driving to the restaurant.

So the 4 of us that remained had to either find more people or lose our table and wait 2 hours. I decided to recruit people who were waiting without a reservation and asked if they wanted to join our group. The first 4 groups I asked rejected me, since we were pretty young, I imagine they thought we would run when the bill came out, but the 5th group I asked said yes and we had our table of 10, saving both groups a combined wait time of 2 hours. When you grow up poor, you’re forced to use creativity to solve your problems.

3. Comparing plate sizes is the fastest way to be unhappy

With such a large family and a small budget, my family only ate out on special occasions. Whenever we went out to eat I would always look at what others were eating. I envied how others could have lobster, crab, and even shrimp when my family only had rice and simple meats. When I was four and we were celebrating my aunt Quyen’s birthday, my aunt pulled me to the side and said, “only look at what others are eating to see that they have enough; never look at another person’s plate to see if you have more.”

Today, I earn more on my own than entire families make in a year, but even with a large income, I see how unhappy many of my co-workers are. They make 2-3 times more than the average American, but still consider themselves poor because they see and compare themselves to the person who has been at the firm longer or their friends who work at larger firms. When you look at what others have that you don’t, you are going to be unhappy no matter how much you have.

4. If you don’t ask, the answer is already “no”

When you are poor, you do a lot of asking. Asking for a discount, asking for work, asking for an extension on your rent. In asking, you learn that the worst response anyone could give you is a “no.”

When I was five, I wanted to learn how to ride a bike so I could join the other kids in my neighborhood instead of just watching them from the sidewalk, but my family couldn’t afford to buy me a bike.

One day, my dad saw that our neighbor had thrown out a used bike that was about right for my size. My dad saw an opportunity and walked to our neighbor’s house, knocked on their door, and asked if he could have the bike they had just thrown out. That used bike became how I learned to ride a bike and it was only possible because my dad had the audacity to ask to go through another family’s trash.

In high school, I made it a goal to win enough scholarships so that I could pay for college on my own and my family wouldn’t need to take out a loan. As I was applying for scholarships, I remembered how my dad knew the worst that could happen to him was someone tells him “no”.

Over three years, I made a list of 312 scholarships and applied to every single one of them. 281 rejected me, but the remaining 31 said yes and together equaled more than $1.2 million in scholarships, more than enough money to pay for any university that would take me. I only got to this point because of the lesson my dad had taught me earlier in life. The worst anyone could tell you is “no” and if you don’t ask, the answer is already “no.”

5. A good solution is better than a perfect solution

When my dad was still working on an assembly line, he was applying for his nail technician license hoping that he could join my grandmother’s nail salon, then our family business. Because he was working during the weekdays and got off too late to attend non-weekend classes, it would have taken him months to get his license.

To speed up his learning, he volunteered to give free manicures to all the women who worked in customer service and secretarial roles at his factory. When he took the licensing exam he had enough experience to pass and shaved weeks off his training saving him time and money. My dad’s solution wasn’t the most elegant but it solved the problem.

When I was applying for college, I knew I needed at high SAT score but I couldn’t afford to take the same SAT courses that other students were. As an alternative, I asked a student for a syllabus of the prep course she was taking. I found the books listed on her syllabus throughout various libraries in my state and asked my local library to borrow them for me.

When the books arrived, I spent the summer self-teaching myself the material on the syllabus. It took me twice as long to get the results, but by the end of the summer I saw the same 400 point boost on the SAT while saving my family $3000 in the process. When you’re poor you can’t wait for the perfect solution so you do what you can with what you have.

6. You can find comfort in the uncomfortable

When I was still young, my father walked out on our family leaving me, my mother, and my little brother to survive on our own. My mom who had been handicapped since she was young was unable to work. To get by we relied on food stamps, welfare, and what the rest of our family could contribute.

It became normal for my mom to miss her payments: sometimes I would wake up and there would be no water and other times our electricity had been cut off. So I would go on for days dressing in the dark or not taking a shower. Somehow along the way, I learned to be comfortable. I knew if the electricity went out to grab the flashlight and when the gas went out to use a lighter to heat our food. I learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

My job involves working with people who are older and more experienced than I am, but it is my job to be in the same room with them and give them advice on how to run their business; some of my clients joke that I’m young enough to be their son. To a 23-year old, being in this situation can be frightening, knowing if you say the wrong things, you’ll be out of a job, but when you know what it is like going for days without running water, going into a broad room isn’t so scary.

The more uncomfortable situations you experience, the more comfortable you will be next time you find yourself in one.

7. Don’t be bothered by small stuff

When you move from house to house and you have a budget constraint there is never a perfect home. Sometimes the heater didn’t work well, other times you hear the noise from cars driving on the major road in front of your house.

One of the homes I lived in had such a bad cockroach problem that even exterminators couldn’t keep them from coming back. I would find at least a dozen cockroaches when I turned on the light in the morning, but everything else about the home was great: big rooms, cheap cost of living, and on a quiet street. Crazy looking back on what my family put up with, but it helped me learn not to be bothered by minor inconveniences.

In life things are inevitability going to go wrong. Your taxi driver will take a wrong turn so you’re late for a meeting, you forgot your umbrella at home so you’re walking in the rain, or you get locked out of your house. In those moments it can be frustrating but remember that compared to a hundred of other inconveniences such as living with cockroaches, your inconveniences are quite small, so don’t let it bother you.

8. Knowledge is indeed power

Growing up my uncle worked at my grandmother’s nail salon, but since the income wasn’t fantastic, he read books on computers when computers were still new and floppy disks were the closest thing we had to the “cloud.” On the weekend, he would repair computers of local businesses. He was able to make a good side-income doing this for years based on a few books he read.

Even when my aunt passed away and he was the sole provider, he would continue to read books and find ways to make side-income to care for my cousins. My uncle is one of the most resourceful people I know – give him a book and he’ll turn it into income.

My first apartment after college didn’t have a washer or a dryer and going to a local laundromat would have cost me an afternoon. Luckily, a roommate of mine found a young couple who were giving away their washer and dryer for free, it just needed some small repairs.

After we spent a Friday evening moving the washer/dryer into our apartment, I spent the weekend learning how a washer and a dryer worked, went to a local hardware store, bought some parts, and spent the weekend repairing the units. By Sunday evening, they were as good as new and I did my first laundry load in our washer. Though I don’t plan to be a professional washer/dryer repairman knowing I have the power to access knowledge and use it to improve my life is powerful.

9. Care for the things you have, no matter how little you have

I didn’t have much growing up. My drawers were never filled and my room was mostly empty. This made it easy to clean up my room and care for my stuff. Because I didn’t have much, I would wear the same clothes often and so I took care of the few shirts and pants I did have. So when a shirt was stained, I would clean it right away otherwise I just lost a shirt I’ve had a long history with. Today, I still own very few things but whatever I do own it is because I enjoy having it and invest effort in caring for it.

10. Opportunity is everywhere, but not where you thought it would be

My Yale friends are some of the most intelligent people I know, but I still can’t find more street smart than with the friends I grew up with. One of my best friends in high school is a guy name Phi. He and I had similar backgrounds, our families immigrated from Vietnam and we both had fathers who left us when we were younger.

Phi wasn’t the academic type, but he knew how to create opportunities for himself. When we all turned 18, we began receiving credit card offers. These credit cards are meant to get you to spend and begin a cycle of debt. For the people who knew this they avoided the cards all together. Phi saw an opportunity.

Many of these credit cards even though they had horrible terms gave you a period where you didn’t have to pay interest. Phi applied for all these cards that had a 0% interest period and withdrew all the cash he could from them. He used all the money to buy three small homes that were in foreclosure, fixed it up when he wasn’t at school, and moved himself, his siblings, and his mom to one of these homes and rented out the other two.

Since he fixed the other two homes, he used the rental income from those to pay off his bills, the mortgage on the house his mom lives in, and earns equity at the same time. Since the 0% interest credit cards keep coming, every time a card is nearing its end, he would use the new card to pay off all the debt of the old one and cancel the old card.

Today, Phi has paid off all three homes and all income he makes from them he invests in a fourth rental home. Where the banks thought they would make money off Phi, he has used them to make a better life for himself and his family.

11. If you want something, no one will get it for you except you

My grandparents always dreamt of owning their own business so when they came to America they spent their time and money to make their dream a reality. They only bought second-hand clothes, cooked all their lunches, and when something was broken would attempt to fix it themselves before hiring someone or buying a new one.

On the weekends when they weren’t working, they would drive around looking for locations to open their shop and scoping out the competition. When I was 4, a location opened up near where we lived and my grandparents spent their savings to secure the lease. My grandparents had a dream and pushed themselves to make it happen.

When I was applying for college, my grandparents became my role models. Though my community wasn’t known for sending people to elite universities, my dream was to be the exception. I would wake up while my friends were still asleep to work on my essays and stay up late when my friends were already in bed to work some more on my applications, essays, and scholarships. When you grow up poor, you learn that no one will push you. You have to push yourself.

12. What you have and where you are at isn’t as important as who you are with

Growing up, my family vacations were going to nearby beaches. These beaches weren’t the cleanest, but they were close and the motels were cheap so my family could afford to take a weekend trip every summer. As a kid, I didn’t mind how dirty or trashed the beaches we went to where because I was just glad I could leave the house.

As a teenager, TV and the internet showed me that beaches didn’t always have beer cans everywhere or were puke green in color. I just wanted to escape all of it and vacation somewhere beautiful like what I was seeing on National Geographic.

After I graduated from college, I took 5 months to travel the world by myself with money I saved from working the previous summers. I saw the most beautiful sites in the world from the beaches of Thailand to the mountains of Sapa, but all I could think was how I wished I could have spent those months with my family back on the dirty beaches I would despise as a kid. As I learned, being on top of the world doesn’t mean much when you can’t share that view with people you care about.

13. Be confident with who you are

Being comfortable with who I am took a long time for me to accept. When I started college, in my class were the decedents of many of America’s most prominent families. I didn’t dress as well as they did; I didn’t speak as eloquently as they did; and I wasn’t as cultured as they were. I felt vastly inferior.

As college went on and I became friends with many of the people I initially felt so intimated by, I realized I didn’t have many of the experiences they did, but that wasn’t to say my experiences weren’t as valuable. Since graduating from Yale and working with some of the wealthiest people in the world, I’ve come to see that I do lack many of the experiences they’ve had and learned from, but I also learnt I could easily gain many of these experiences.

A few wine tastings and I can tell you why you should pair your ribeye steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux for a juicier dining experience; a few black tie events later, I can tell you how to present yourself at an elegant setting; and a few fancy dinners later, I could tell you why sending your daughter to a summer camp in Maine might be the best thing you do for her.

I learned that many of the experiences that my friends who grew up in wealthy households had, I still have opportunities to have and learn from but few of them will ever get an opportunity to have the experiences I’ve had and learn the lessons I’ve learnt.

We can’t change how we were raised, we can only appreciate how it has made us the person we are today.

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

Planning Advice from My Barista

Written by Melissa Anzman pins on map

I was talking to my local barista yesterday morning about her summer plans - with snow still falling every other day, I needed something fun and exciting to look forward to. She said, “I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing this summer, but I KNOW I’ll be in Australia next summer.”

Um... huh?

Me: “That’s awesome... but, um, how do you know what you’ll be doing next summer without plans for this one?”

Barista: “I’ve always been a future planner - I can’t manage the day-to-day well, but give me a year or more out and I know exactly what I’ll be doing.

Huh. That confused me on so many levels. You see, I’m not really a future planner - I can’t create a 5-year plan to save my life; I am happy to put down my annual business goals, but it’s pure guesstimation - not at all based on what will happen; and I wouldn’t even know where to start when thinking about where I’ll be next summer.

Me: “Wow - together we’d be the best planner in the world! We should get right on that.”

I’m not sure why it took a simple conversation to remind of these different approaches to planning and accomplishing goals, it struck me as a light-bulb moment.

Maybe it’s because I was recently asked how I planned to get to where I am in my career and I was left speechless (not a typical state of being for me).

Or maybe it’s because I have been trying to flex my planning muscles recently, growing a new tool for my toolkit.

But whatever the reason, it was a great reminder of the many paths to planning and achieving.

I tried to think like my barista since our conversation... ... If I knew that this time next year I’d be packing for a summer-long adventure in Australia, what would I need to do to get me there?

I was blank - nothing came up other than to pack my suitcase.

How I would save the funds? What I would do with my car? My cat? My things... and so on. No clue at all.

If you’re a future planner like my barista, you probably are yelling at your screen having everything planned out for me already (calculate the money you’ll need for the flight and living expenses, the amount of time you have to earn that much and you’re there... I didn’t come up with that on my own, my barista helped me with that answer).

For the first hour of this exercise yesterday when I was trying to plan for Australia and then more importantly, for my business and career, I was panicked. I could not create a future plan so therefore I will definitely fail... right? But I remembered that I got to where I am now with my shorter-term planning methods and am doing just fine.

I’m not the person who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now or 10 years from now, heck, I hardly know what I’ll be doing a month from now. But what I do know, is that if you are feeling fear or failure because you don’t have the same process as someone else - whether that be in planning, goal making, career pathing, or laundry - it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at it.

Hearing how other people would tackle a situation is helpful, but it’s not the only way you can make your way through decisions along the way. Had I planned out my career as a future-planner, there is no way in the world I would be doing what I am doing now. Had I listened to the experts out there - I would have never have taken the various leaps I have that have lead my career on its unique path.

Just a little friendly reminder from my barista. Now go plan something - create SMART goals and set the right achievement timeline for you. :)

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

LAC Round-Up: Book Ninja, Audiobook, and Updates from the Team

Written by Marisol Dahl Happy May, everyone! With the mid-way point of the year creeping up and lots of exciting things on the horizon, we thought it was about time we did a little round-up of everything going on in the Life After College world!

An Update from The LAC Team

Paul has put 10 years of writing, researching, and studying into a structured course that is helping other people create a framework for finding meaningful work they love and create the life they want: Finding Your Signature Sauce: Where Your Passion, Purpose, and Career Collide. He says it's been amazing seeing the successful and meaningful outcomes people are getting from the course as well as his free 3-part video mini-course called Get UnStuck.

Melissa’s new venture MConnected Communications is going strong, and she loves helping her clients take employee engagement and communication to the next level. Be sure to check out her guide, 3 Things Your Need to Know about Employee Engagement in a Multi-generational Workforce.

Davis has been enjoying working at Bain and growing his own blog, Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life, where he reflects on the lessons he’s learned from fighting his way from a poor community in Atlanta to graduating with honors and debt-free from Yale University. He looks to inspire his readers to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Marisol is now a Communications Strategist at ABC Design Lab, and she continues to work with solo-entrepreneurs to help them grow their platforms. Despite a love-hate relationship with the platform, she is most active on Twitter, where she keeps a log of her most interesting reads.

Book Ninja 101

Been itching to write a book but not sure where to start? Or in the middle of one but stuck on what’s next? You might be interested in Jenny’s upcoming course.

Fresh off a three-year marathon of writing Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, Jenny will be sharing her best tips and tools for every stage of the book writing process during a live week-long Book Ninja course. With amazing guest speakers, this course provides soup-to-nuts tactical tips for generating momentum and getting published.

Here is what we will cover:

  • Monday, May 16: Craft a One-Page Book Pitch with Jennie Nash
  • Tuesday, May 17: Systems for Outlining, Researching, Writing, and Editing with Elisa Doucette, founder of Craft Your Content
  • Wednesday, May 18: Traditional Publishing Q&A with Jenny's editor at Portfolio/Penguin Random House, Natalie Horbachevsky
  • Thursday, May 19: Self-Publishing Success with Taylor Pearson
  • Friday, May 20: Open Q&A with Jenny (+ Special Bonus)

Enroll in Book Ninja with this link to get $28 off (making the course $97), or get the course for free when you join Momentum ($97/quarter), which includes every course and template Jenny has ever created ($700 value), live monthly workshops, and optional private office hours calls with Jenny.

Want a sneak peek at what’s in store for the course? Check out Jenny’s latest post 10 tips (+ 18 Tools) To Make Writing a Book Easier.

Life After College On Audible!

We’re so excited to announce that Life After College has been turned into an audio book!

With the voice talent of Jenny Blake herself, it’s amazing to see LAC come to life in this way. The book launches on Audible.com on May 24 and is available for pre-order—perfect if you’re looking for something to listen to on the road or an awesome graduation gift for a loved one. :)  

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol recently graduated Yale as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Turn Mundane Jobs Into Larger Opportunities

Written by Davis Nguyen 

At dinner during our senior year of college, a friend and I debated if a perfect post-graduation job existed. We couldn’t name one.

She instead shared a story of how no matter how mundane/uninspiring/replaceable our first job after college would be, that the job description didn’t limit the opportunities we could create from it.

She shared with me a story of how a CEO of a small company hired a part-time janitor to clean their office. This janitor was responsible for cleaning the floors, windows, and restrooms. After sometime, the other employees would notice how this janitor would spend more time than he needed with each task. It was as if he was on a crusade to eliminate every single germ from the office. In particular, he took pride in how well he kept the restrooms clean, claiming someone could drink from the toilet bowl because it was so clean. The other employees saw how clean the restrooms were, but thought the janitor was joking.

One day, the company CEO was using the restroom as the janitor was cleaning it. The CEO commented how clean the restrooms are always, and the janitor mentioned you could drink from the bowl. The CEO knew the janitor worked hard but laughed; the janitor took out a red solo cup, filled his cup with water from the toilet bowl, and drank from it. The CEO was left speechless. Later that week, the CEO hired the janitor as one of his full-time project managers.

We know this story is true because the janitor is my friend’s uncle.

Take ownership of your responsibilities no matter how small

Your first job after college won’t be the sexiest, most fulfilling, or highest paying job you’ll ever have, but every day you wake up you have an opportunity to create opportunities for yourself to get closer to that sexier, more fulfilling, and higher paying job. All you have to do is be willing to do more than what other people expect of you with whatever opportunities you are given, no matter how small, mundane, or uneventful it might be.

You won’t have to drink out of a toilet bowl, but if you take ownership in your responsibilities and demonstrate the ability to handle more, you will be given more. Even if most people don’t care about the results and bypass it, you shouldn’t. Average people take average opportunities and create average results. Great people take average opportunities and turn them into greater opportunities. Don’t’ believe me? Just ask the now-CEOs who started as unpaid interns.

Your first job(s) out of college won’t be glamorous, but if you are willing to take the opportunity you are given—no matter how little, how mundane, or how dirty—and deliver more than what is expected, you can turn that small opportunity into something bigger.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: What is one thing you could do today at work to do more than what others expect?

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

Late Bloomers in the Wild

Written by Jenna Leah

“It’s OK to be a late bloomer as long as you don’t miss the flower show.”

—Jane Fonda

Not living your dream yet? You might just be the coolest person I've never met.

I used to sit behind our high school prom queen in math class. I remember staring at her impossibly shiny hair and the careless way she tossed it over her shoulder. I would study her always impeccable outfits and marvel at the ever-present crowd of admirers around her desk. She was bright enough to get by, but her crowning achievement was beauty and fame of the effervescent all-American cheerleader variety. She made everything look effortless and imbued with magic, and I know for a fact that I would have given up everything that I was for just a second of life in her shoes.

Fast forward 15+ years, and thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I actually know where this girl is now. Her life in small-town USA looks nice enough: she has two kids, a big yard, and a husband with a warm smile—but there is nothing remarkable about how she turned out. On the contrary, from a looks, respect and star quality perspective, a jury would be pretty unanimous in saying that she peaked in high school.

If I wanted to find this girl's antithesis, I would need to look no further than myself. Maybe it was my glasses, braces, pale skin and gangly body that made me unpopular. Or maybe it was the fact that I grew up as an only child and truly didn't understand how to interact with my peers. I chose books over soccer at recess, and I proudly wore plaids with polka dots before clashing was cool.

Yep, I was awkward...and not in the fun way. True to any coming of age story, I wouldn't have forgone a single moment of my awkward adolescence, super sloooow life purpose development, relationship missteps and general extended angst.

But to be honest, over the years something has shifted. I have developed a certain confidence and sassiness that is well beyond anything I would ever have imagined for myself in my younger years. I am finally able to cop to my early days of nerddom, and in doing so admit to myself that I am no longer that frightened wallflower watching life go by around her.

As uncomfortable as it is for me to admit this to myself, somewhere along the way I started to bloom. I'm still a work in progress, but for the first time in a long time, I no longer doubt that I will get there.

Clearly I have a bit of a bias in the late bloomer direction—it serves my soul to feel that it is possible to start off as a cockroach and somehow mystically morph into a bunny. Yet at the heart of the matter, when I cast all of my stubborn beliefs aside, I believe in late bloomerdom because I've heard wonderful, heart opening stories of it from my friends, witnessed it with my own eyes, and delighted in the stories of the movers and shakers of the world (think Van Gogh, Martha Stewart and Julia Child) as they recall their days as struggling peons.

Here are some of my favorite late bloomer facts:

They take a circuitous path.

Many late bloomers have dabbled in not one or two, but a vast multitude of professions that runs far closer to the double digits. Back in the day, we used to call people who were well versed in a myriad of different arenas renaissance people or polymaths. These terms were used to denote people that were both clever and interesting, who also boasted an impressive amount of knowledge that spanned fields and made for some pretty fascinating conversations.

Part of allowing yourself to bloom a bit behind the typical timeframe requires a willingness to get a bit sidetracked and not always understand where your passions are leading you. It involves being willing to get really uncomfortable and wake up in the middle of the night wondering what the f--- you are doing. It requires heaps of blind faith and a willingness to sometimes leap with trust that the net will appear. Late blooming is not for the faint of heart ;)

They tend to be experimental, rather than conceptual.

This means that instead of starting off saying "I want to be a lawyer" and then doggedly pursuing a course of action that makes perfect sense, late bloomers are more likely to say "I'd really like to sign up for this online HR course," and then allow that to seamlessly lead them into the next passion they pursue. They make choices not because there is a clear end goal in mind, but with the bold understanding that they can't yet know where they are being led. Simply put, being a late bloomer often forces people to dig the journey more than the destination—or at least develop a healthy respect for the process.

They are often misunderstood.

To further complicate our societal notions of late bloomers, Malcolm Gladwell tackles the typical late bloomer story by arguing that being a late bloomer is not always synonymous with being a late starter. Although we are all familiar with stories of the famous fashion designers who never sewed a button until age 40, it is equally likely that the late bloomer down the hall from you has been painting or writing screenplays since they were 8.

Why hasn't the world seen them before now? Late bloomers are as complex as any other group of people, and so their decision to wait on revealing their gifts to the world may stem from a variety of sources. Perhaps they are insecure, not ready for the pressures that success will bring, or uncertain if they are chasing the right dream. Whatever the reason, a late bloomer that appears on the scene at 30 may be new to success, but not to the craft for which they are becoming famous. You just never know!

Sometimes they get left in the dust by the new and shiny.

Lately the demise of late bloomerdom has been getting a lot of press, with articles proclaiming that times are changing with the rise of the 24 year old CEO wunderkind. There is certainly a case to be made for the fact that our society is obsessed with the new and shiny, hence the prevalence of "30 under 30" lists heralding the next big thing.

In addition, many of the more lucrative, innovation-driven fields (think technology) tend to be more inclined in the direction of youth. That said, late bloomers have been around since time immemorial, and it seems highly unlikely that even the best laid social conventions can touch them.

Why I get super stoked about working with LBs:

Whether you've never had the chance to be what you might have been, or identify as a mid-career professional wanting to make a radical shift, I LOVE YOUR ADVENTURE. I might be biased, but I believe that the time you've spend developing your identity, observing, and gathering information about the world around you makes you immensely valuable in whatever realm you choose to direct your focus. You don't take anything for granted, because you know what it looks like to feel unsuccessful.

When you DO blossom and achieve success, you truly feel it and have the opportunity to know true gratitude. You are kind-you've learned to have patience with yourself, and that sensitivity translates to holding space for other people as well. Having spent time watching from the sidelines, you understand more about the way other people work, and you are filled with ideas and wisdom as a result of what you've seen.

In sum:

If this were a fairy tale and we went hunting for the moral, it would probably be something like this: there is no “perfect” journey, and there is no “normal” timeline. Wherever you are is just ducky, and wherever you are going is even better. I say this as someone who fights the good fight against perfectionism and linear thinking almost daily. I’ve outlawed career ladders, pyramids, and just about any other hierarchical model used to mark progress. Real peace for me comes from visualizing growth and progress as a spiral. True success of the lasting variety rarely happens the way we think it will, but it always promises a wild ride, and it is never truly far beyond your reach. <3



Jenna is a Silicon Valley tech gal by day/intrepid adventurer and yogi by night. She believes that everyone is born with a purpose, and that not everyone finds theirs at the same time. She loves to work with late bloomers, mid-career pivoters, and people who are struggling with a vague sense of feeling unfulfilled. It is her deepest joy and calling to help people unwrap their life stories and build awareness around what they offer to the world. She graduated from Smith with a degree in Anthropology more years ago than she cares to admit, and embraces the late bloomer label with pride.You can find her at www.Jennaleahcoaching.com.

Been Itching to Write a Book? Join me for a Live 5 Day Book Ninja 101 in May

Written by Jenny Blake I can hardly believe it, but the Pivot manuscript is DONE! D-O-N-E, done. Last week I turned in the very last paper “first pass” edit on Pivot, and now we work on finalizing the cover before sending it off to galley printing (advance copies for media) before the September 6 launch.

It is crazy to think how close this book is to launching. For three years this project had taken up residence in a very large portion of my brain. Only when it was out of my consciousness did I realize how all-consuming it had been, churning in my sleep, my waking hours, my walks, and my showers. Now I'm able to take a step back and share more of my process.

Wondering how long it takes to write a book? Check out last month’s behind-the-business episode of the Pivot Podcast. On Kevin John’s The Writing Coach podcast, I also discuss how surrender and serendipity are playing a bigger role in my launch planning this time around. And I'm very excited to bring you a live 5-day series in May. Introducing . . .

BOOK NINJA 101: 5 Days of Live Workshops


Been itching to write a book but not sure where to start? Or in the middle of one but stuck on what’s next? Join me for the week-long Book Ninja course in May with soup-to-nuts practical, tactical tips for generating momentum and getting published.

As one of my book mentors Michael Larsen once said to me, “It is no longer a question of if you will get published, but when and how.” This course includes five live workshops during the week of May 16 (at 3pm ET), with recordings if you can’t make it.

Early birds: if you join Momentum by April 17, you will get this course for free and receive an advance copy ofPivot when the galleys are sent out in May!

Here is what we will cover:

  • Monday, May 16: Systems for Outlining, Researching, Writing, and Editing—Fresh off a three-year marathon of writing Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, I will share my best tips and tools for every stage of the book writing process: how to organize ideas and research, outline the book, chunk writing into bite-sized essays, and how to get unstuck when you hit book block.
  • Tuesday, May 17: Craft a One-Page Book Pitch with Jennie Nash—Jennie will introduce her simple tool for harnessing your idea, framing your marketing strategy, and knowing how to answer when someone says, “What’s your book about?”
  • Wednesday, May 18: Traditional Publishing Q&A with my editor at Portfolio/Penguin Random House, Natalie Horbachevsky—A conversation with my genius editor, Natalie, in which I get to ask everything I have always wanted to know too! We will dig into tips for landing a coveted “Big Five” book deal, what she looks for in terms of platform, what types of big ideas are most appealing to publishers, her role as editor throughout the process, what motivates her to proactively reach out to an author (scouting), and if self-publishing first helps or hurts. You can also submit questions too, and I’ll be sure we cover them!
  • Thursday, May 19: Self-Publishing Success with Taylor Pearson—An in-depth conversation with Taylor Pearson about self-publishing his book The End of Jobs to smashing success—how he sold 5K copies in the first month, 12K to-date, made $35K in resulting revenue, and grew his list by 500%. For a sneak peek at what he will be sharing, check out his post Jesus Marketing.
  • Friday, May 20: Open Q&A with Jenny (+ Special Bonus): Map what’s next for your book project, and ask me anything that is still on your mind. We’ll also do a round-robin sharing (optional) for committing to next steps. All members of the course and the Momentum Community will receive access to my super secret work in progress, the 20+ page Behind-the-Book toolkit, including my proposal template that landed the Penguin deal, my writing tracker template, book tour planning process, and more.

Enroll in Book Ninja here ($125), or get the course for free when you join Momentum ($97/quarter), which includes every course and template I have ever created ($700 value), live monthly workshops, and optional private office hours calls with me.


About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book Pivot. She is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 9th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.