How to Build a Business by Playing Nice (+ Book Giveaway!)

Lisa Sugar is a pretty cool person. She has attended the Oscars, had a Hollywood-themed Bat Mitzvah, and her first concert was Michael Jackson. 

She's also the founder of POPSUGAR, a global lifestyle media and tech company inspiring and engaging over 100 million readers. Since its beginnings in 2005, POPSUGAR has embraced a vision to "modernize the newsstand" and connect readers to all the latest trends in lifestyle and pop culture. It is now the #1 independent media company for women. 

Of course, a successful business like POPSUGAR doesn't just appear. It takes a lot of hard work and passion, and Lisa Sugar's new book Power Your Happy details her steps to success in both life and career. 

One of Sugar's overarching philosophies is to "work hard, play nice." She believes that you don't have to cheat or be cutthroat to get to the top—working hard and playing by the rules is rewarded just as well. Sugar notes:

For me, nice doesn't mean saccharine or relentlessly positive. It can mean being fiercely competitive (which I'll be the first to admit I am) as long as you play by the rules. Nor does nice mean being sickly sweet or timid (I also curse like a sailor). My brand of nice comes from a place of honesty, supporting others, and being empathetic. Nice is the simple lesson you learn in preschool: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

3 Ways to Build a Business While Playing Nice

1. Make friends with your competition

It's easy to think of your competition as the enemy—a person or entity from which you want to distance yourself and keep secrets. But Sugar recognizes that a huge part of POPSUGAR's early success is due to the support of other writers and celebrity sites:

It felt as though these fellow bloggers were my coworkers. ... We gave one another advice—about coding, finding images, tools, and navigating legalities—and become friends in the process. We were fond of one another and knew how much hard work we all were putting into our sites. ... Rather than see one another as rivals, we figured out how to collaborate. As a result, all of us grew our sites' traffic much faster than we would have alone.

As you build your business and navigate your career, consider doing so with a mindset of collaboration and abundance. Going it alone and feeling as though you are in a stressful state of "survival of the fittest" is not healthy. 

2. Stay true to your values

When it comes to building a business or career, know that you have a unique understanding of your industry—the good and the bad—and have an opportunity to consciously choose how you want to participate. 

When Sugar started POPSUGAR, she knew she wanted to promote a positive voice that inspires women to build confidence, celebrate their diversity, and feel supported. While many other celebrity and media sites thrive on a negative voice, Sugar was sure to cultivate an online community where people were safe. For instance, a primary editorial guideline from the beginning was to never write anything about a person you would not say directly to their face. Comments and audience engagement are also well-monitored to encourage positive conversation and weed out the trolls. In the end, POPSUGAR's values-drive business practices were rewarded with a rapidly growing community. 

3. Focus on team culture

The success of your business depends on many people, which is why it's so important to thoughtfully grow your team and team culture. Sugar notes that by focusing on building a work atmosphere that is happy and supportive, her employees are better able to do good work, suggest new ideas, and appropriately resolve conflict. 

More specifically, Sugar encourages transparency and an all-hands-on-deck mentality in her team:

I want to create a safe, positive environment where I'd rather hear what the twenty-two-year-olds have to say than make them cower in fear. ... At POPSUGAR, we have the mentality that everyone should know how to do a little bit of everything. Sure, you need to start by learning the basics and train your way up to bigger tasks, but being at the top doesn't mean you are ever above doing a little dirty work. That's part of working hard and playing nice and being a team player. 

Book Giveaway

We're excited to announce that one awesome Life After College reader will receive a copy of Lisa Sugar's Power Your Happy!

To enter to win, please answer the following question in the comments by Friday, March 10. We will pick a winner via and let you know! Good luck!

Comment to Be Entered to Win: 
What does "playing nice" in your business or career mean to you? 

Marisol Dahl graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. She is currently a New York-based freelancer in communications and brand strategy, and loves exploring minimalist blogging and social media practices at her site Mindful & Minimal. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

How to Scale Your Impact and Make More Money

As mentioned in a recent LAC newsletter, my word for 2017 is impact. With everything going on in the world lately, these last few months have had me really evaluating how I am making a (positive) difference—with my clients, in my community, in the environment, and more. 

And as a full-time freelancer, you bet I've been taking a hard look at how I can connect this service-driven side to my business goals. Being quite honest here, ever since I graduated college my major focus has been on making money and figuring out how to financially support myself and my ambitions. 

But now it's time to reconcile two things that I've always internally thought were at odds with each other: making money and doing good in the world. 

What I'm realizing now is that how much revenue you earn is actually a pretty good indicator of your impact on the world. If we consider the basic principles of supply and demand, the more revenue you bring in reflects a certain level of demand—people who are seeking your skills, services, expertise, and specific impact on the world. 

And I know money is certainly not the only measure of impact. There are so many people out there who are making a huge difference in the lives of others without earning large amounts of revenue. 

But here's the thing: maybe they should be making more than what they earn currently. How might we all be playing the small game financially, and not openly valuing our impact for what it's truly worth? 

Making money does not have to conflict with your values. In fact, it's necessary in order to act on your values. If you can't sustainably grow your business or keep yourself afloat, how can you possibly expect to amplify your impact? 

Let's stop getting that "icky" feeling when we talk about revenue and profit. Let's celebrate it as an indicator of success and impact. 

And if you really want to talk numbers, check out this calculator that shows exactly how you can scale your impact and influence the lives of those around you. 

How to Scale Your Impact and Make More Money

What if your impact reached thousands of people? Maybe even millions?

Sounds a bit daunting, right? 

The good news is that the digital world makes it easy to share that knowledge with all those people. Online courses in particular are an increasingly effective way to reach more and more people and scale your impact in a sustainable way. 

If you've ever thought about creating an online course, I highly recommend Danny Iny's flagship program, the Course Builder’s Laboratory

The Course Builder’s Laboratory is the most comprehensive program out there. Inside, you will get eight modules that will teach you the entire system for creating predictably profitable online courses.

From zeroing in on a promising course idea, to validating it with real sales, all the way to building a course people will want, CBL will take you through a proven step-by-step process.

In addition to that, the Course Builder’s Laboratory comes with templates and scripts to help you eliminate guesswork and unnecessary effort – including email scripts, webinar templates, and sales call scripts for reaching out to people in your existing audience or personal network.

The really awesome thing is that you will be getting a lot more than just the core CBL material. As soon as you join the Course Builder’s Laboratory, you will be assigned a personal course-building coach. This is someone who’s been extensively trained in the CBL process, and has worked through it with dozens of entrepreneurs. Your coach will work with you for the entire duration of the program, giving you feedback and helping you if you ever get stuck.

If you’re serious about creating an online course this year, the Course Builder's Laboratory is the best way of making sure you follow through with it and succeed. Click here to learn more! 

We all have a skill to share or something to teach. What is yours? I'd love to hear in the comments below! 


5 Tips for Mastering Post-College Finances

By Marisol Dahl

When you’re catapulted into the post-college world, it’s natural to feel a little ungrounded. You’re moving to new places, exploring new jobs, and facing The Future head-on.

On top of that, we live in an age where our career paths are constantly evolving, and 40% of us will be freelancers by 2020.

There’s a whole new level of uncertainty when it comes to “adulting.” And let’s be real here: financial uncertainty and pressures are at the top of the list.

As someone who has been fully self-employed since graduation, money management is particularly top of mind. I don’t have a paycheck with taxes automatically deducted, or an employer offering retirement benefits. Month to month, I never know exactly what my income will be.

There’s no doubt that there’s a whole bunch of practical benefits that come with really understanding your financial life. But I’ve also found that getting a handle on your finances is a great way to gain a sense of control when everything else seems crazy.

5 Tips for Mastering Post-College Finances

1. Assess your accounts

First thing’s first. Get a bird’s-eye view of your situation by identifying three things: where your money comes from (income), where your money goes (expenses), and where it’s stored.

Write everything down, including the credit cards and bank accounts you have open, any assets (like a car), any debts, and any stock. is a great resource to quickly aggregate all of these aspects of your financial life and see changes in real time.

2. Make a budget

By creating and sticking to a budget you will be able to align your financial reality with your financial ideals. Think about your goals: are you saving for something big? Want to start putting money aside for grad school or a wedding? Want to get ahead on student loan payments? Setting a budget will help you put the systems in place to actually do these things.

To get started, check out Jenny’s Four-step Budget template and Financial Modeling template.

3. Start saving for retirement NOW

I get it. Thinking about retirement seems like the last of your worries when you have student loans breathing down your neck and next month’s rent check due next week. But here’s the thing, if you don’t start saving now—even just a little bit each year—you’re robbing your future self.

So when you land a job, make sure there are good retirement benefits and options. If you’re self-employed start saving on your own (I opened a Roth IRA, but you should investigate your options to find out what’s best for you!).  

4. Refinance your loans

The college debt crisis. Yeah, it’s pretty depressing.

That’s why refinancing my loans was my first order of business when I graduated college. I bundled all my college loans into one, with a lower fixed rate and more manageable monthly payment. It will still be a long time before I’m debt free, but I have peace of mind that I’m doing everything in my power to make the best of the situation. :)

5. Start building credit (if you haven’t started already)

The big (financial) things in life require having good credit, like renting an apartment, buying a car, and even getting your own cell phone line.

So the best thing to do is to start building your credit as early as possible, and understand what factors into credit score calculations. Credit Karma is a great resource to see your score for free and get a breakdown of what’s positively and negatively affecting your score.

Bonus Tip: Call in the professionals

Ok, a quick disclaimer: I am by no means a finance expert. The purpose of this post is to document what I did and learned after a year of diving deep into money management. And after implementing everything I mentioned above, I feel awesome. My relationship with money has never been better.

So while I highly recommend the above tips, it’s always a good idea to have a chat with an accountant or financial advisor to get more personalized and strategic advice.

Marisol Dahl graduated Yale University in 2015 and is now a full-time freelancer in communications, brand strategy, digital marketing, and content development. She loves exploring minimalist blogging and social media practices.

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 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 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 on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

LAC Round-Up: Favorite Articles, Apps & Podcasts

Written by Marisol DahlHappy 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 on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

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.

LifeAfterCollege: Now Available On

We are thrilled to announce that LifeAfterCollege 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 on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

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

Written by Marisol DahlHappy 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 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 on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Life After College's Big Reads of the Season (+ Giveaway!)

books One of my favorite things about being out of school is being able to read whatever I want. Not being beholden to a course syllabus is an amazing thing. I’m no longer rushing night after night to finish hundreds of pages of assigned reading, and I get to let my curiosity lead whatever I read next.

It’s like being a kid at a candy store—happily overwhelmed by all the choices, I  decide to take a sample of them all!

In this new series on Life After College, I’ll be rounding up the team’s latest favorite reads of the last quarter. These books and articles have inspired us in our work—teaching us new things about our fields and pushing us to up-level our game. Enjoy!

The Life After College Reading List: Q1 2016

1. Lucent List

First up, we’ve been loving everything in the Lucent List emails, rounding up all the latest in meditation and mindfulness. They mention some great reads like 99u’s The Power of Creative Cross Training and Time’s The Mindful Revolution. Check out the Lucent List archive here.

2. The Internet to the Inner-Net: Five Ways to Reset Your Connection and Live a Conscious Life by Gopi Kallayil

Speaking of mindfulness and meditation, I just finished reading Gopi Kallayil’s new book The Internet to the Inner-Net. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Entering the workforce in this age often means being glued to your cell phone and laptop, and I’ve been craving some more balance between my inner world and my online world. Here’s a description:

A fast-paced career in the high-tech industry combined with a deep yoga and meditation practice has allowed Gopi Kallayil—Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing and one of the leading voices encouraging yoga and mindfulness in the workplace today—to integrate his inner and outer technologies to a remarkable degree. Wisdom from his yoga mat and meditation cushion guides his professional career, and his work life provides the perfect classroom to deepen his wisdom practice. The Internet to the Inner-Net guides the rest of us to do the same. In some three dozen wide-ranging, sometimes provocative essays, Gopi shares his experiments in conscious living and offers insight, inspiration, and rituals—including yoga, mindful eating, and even napping—to help us access our own inner worlds.

3. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Deep Work  is a favorite of Jenny’s that I’m just now half-way into myself. In an effort to really turn our attention to projects that matter, we’ve been loving Newport’s message.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way. In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

4. Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez

We’re always down to read something by Nancy Duarte, and her latest book Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols does not disappoint.

“As a leader, you have the same potential to not only anticipate the future and invent creative initiatives, but to also inspire those around you to support and execute your vision. In Illuminate, acclaimed author Nancy Duarte and communications expert Patti Sanchez equip you with the same communication tools that great leaders like Jobs, Howard Schultz, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to move people. Duarte and Sanchez lay out a plan to help you lead people through the five stages of transformation using speeches, stories, ceremonies, and symbols.”

5. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

If you listened to Jenny’s recent Pivot Podcast episode with Michael Bungay Stanier, you’ll know his new book The Coaching Habit is a must-read. Questions are the bedrock of great coaching and guidance—start asking them more!

“Coaching is an essential skill for leaders. But for most busy, overworked managers, coaching employees is done badly, or not at all.  They’re just too busy, and it’s too hard to change.

But what if managers could coach their people in 10 minutes or less?

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact.”

6. The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha

I’m still making my way through Pasricha’s The Happiness Equation, but it’s already helped me break through how I think of success and happiness in the pursuit of a great life.

“In The Happiness Equation, Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.

Each secret takes a common ideal, flips it on its head, and casts it in a completely new light. Pasricha then goes a step further by providing step-by-step guidelines and hand-drawn scribbles that illustrate exactly how to apply each secret to live a happier life today.”

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to announce that five lucky Life After College readers will receive a copy of one of the books above! To enter to win, please answer the following questions in the comments by Friday, April 22. We will pick 5 winners via and email to let you know! Good luck!

Comment to Be Entered to Win What books and other reading have been inspiring you lately? If you let curiosity and intuition guide your next reading choice, what would you read about next?

Drifting Away from Your New Year's Resolutions? Here's how to reset.

Written by Marisol Dahl

We’re officially one week into the New Year! How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

If you feel like they’re slipping away, you are not alone. Believe it or not, 25% of us drop our New Year’s resolutions within the first week.

These things happen. The holidays come and we are filled with excitement and hope. We look to the  shiny new year with big plans for greater health, more happiness, big career moves, and stronger relationships. We’ve mind-mapped and reflected for an amazing 2016, and we’ve set some solid resolutions with the best of intentions.

But now that January has hit, it’s all about execution, and this can be hard! It’s natural to feel a little resistance from trying to incorporate a “brand new you” into the normal routine of work, school, and daily responsibilities.

So if the first few days of your new resolution didn’t go as planned, don’t worry. It’s time to hit the reset button.

3 Steps to Reset Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Reflect on why you couldn’t follow through.

As tempting as it is to simply recommit to your resolutions and try again, you likely won’t see much progress unless you make some strategic changes to your approach. Revisit the resolutions and goals you set. Think about why you let them slip, and be specific.

What’s blocking you from jumping in? Are the goals you set truly in line with the changes you want to make? Acknowledge everything that runs through your mind—big and small. To get to the root of the problem, keep asking yourself why.

2. Re-evaluate and simplify your resolution.

Make “alterations” to your resolution, with an eye towards making it more actionable and easier to achieve. Stay true to the heart of your ultimate goal, but do feel free to transform how you go about achieving that goal.

For instance, your objective might be to get more physically fit, and your first (failed) resolution was to go to the gym three times a week. You might shift your resolution to walking around the block every day. This new resolution is much more simple, and a lot harder to say “no” to.

Sure, walking around the block won’t necessarily have the same impact as working out at the gym, but the momentum of sticking to your new, simplified resolution will motivate more intense physical activities. Focus on little wins and on building that small habit—that’s how long-term change occurs.

3. Remind yourself: the year is not over yet.

No matter how far along in the year it is, you can still make it a success. Don’t give in to the mentality that resolutions can only be made at the beginning of the year, or that your track record predicts your future.

Alexandra Franzen put it best: today is not over yet. Each new moment is an opportunity to get it right—so go for it! What can you do right now to honor your New Year’s resolution?

Go on a Momentum Safari

One great way to get back on track with your resolutions is to join the free Momentum Safari. Each week you will get a series of small daily assignments to complete an action, reflection and/or connection to generate focus, freedom and flow in any area you choose. By the end of the three weeks, you will have a renewed sense of clarity and exploration . . . and unstoppable momentum!

Join us for a webinar on Multiple Streams of Solopreneur Income

Looking to expand your business and diversify your income this year? On Thursday, January 14 at 3pm ET Jenny will be sharing how she built up and manages multiple streams of income. Come with questions! Register for the webinar here.

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 on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

The Rise of Online Learning (And Why It's Right For You)

Written by Marisol Dahl

From 2001 to 2011, the number of full-time college students rose 38%. In the same time, the number of people taking online courses rose to over six million. Just ten years ago, only about 13.5% of students were taking at least one online course. Now we’re talking 32%—one third of the college population.

It’s loud and clear: online learning is a force to reckon with. With their accessibility and competitive quality, online courses are allowing more and more people to continue their education and build new skills.

And it isn’t just colleges and universities that are offering online classes—we’re also seeing a rise in the quantity, quality, and affordability of unaffiliated courses, too. Groups like Treehouse and Fizzle offer subscribers tons of classes, support, and training in the fields of web development and business. Thought leaders like Shawn Achor and David Allen have put together entire online platforms to make their knowledge and techniques more accessible.

With more education opportunities at our fingertips, how do you know how or when to dive in? Is it better to go back to school full-time with a backpack and campus ID in hand, or will an online course suffice?

Online learning is here to stay, but how does it fit into your own life?

4 Signs It's Time to Take an Online Course

1. You’ve hit a ceiling with your current job and are ready to move up.

You’re great at your job—fantastic even. But something’s keeping you from jumping to that next level and significantly increasing your earning power. Is it your dexterity in technology? Lack of leadership training? Limited understanding of Facebook marketing?

Learning a new skill might just be your ticket to rev up your workplace performance and position yourself to take on more responsibility and projects. With hundreds of thousands of online courses out there starting at all levels of expertise, you can zero in on the exact skill you want to build without the added nonsense of college major requirements or re-learning the stuff you already know.

2. You’re just not that interested in adding to your student debt.

But then again, who is? With average undergraduate student debt now at $29,400 and average graduate student debt at $57,600, it’s no wonder people look to alternative learning methods. There are thousands of quality online courses out there for a fraction of the cost of a college class credit—many are completely free!

3. You can’t commit to a rigid class schedule.

Let’s be honest. Very few of us have the time, financial ability, or desire to leave our jobs. We want to keep learning, but not at the expense of cutting out time from our families, hobbies and other projects. Online courses are wonderfully flexible. Most are self-paced and location independent, so learning a new skill doesn’t require a complete pause on other things in your life. Also, going to class in your pajamas is pretty awesome.

4. You want to stay competitive in your field.

With a rapidly-changing job market and advances in technology, odds are there’s always going to be something new to master. Keeping up with it all through online courses is a great way to demonstrate competence and dedication to your employers and peers in your field.

Take Learning Into Your Own Hands

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level with online learning, we suggest starting with SkilledUp, an online course discovery platform built to help you gain new skills.

SkilledUp believes anyone can quickly learn something new and become more marketable to employers. SkilledUp curates the world of online learning by comparing courses across different sources and only focusing on the ones with high returns on investment. It has the largest collection of online courses all in one place, so searching for that perfect class is easy.

We’re proud to have a partner so dedicated to a quality online learning experience. SkilledUp allows users to browse course reviews and ratings to find that perfect match. Their new Trends & Insights section offers quality reporting on the trends, challenges, and innovations in education as it relates to workforce development.

SkilledUp’s ultimate vision is to transform education as we know it—how it’s delivered, how much it costs, and how quickly it helps you get to a career you love.

Exclusive Offer for Life After College Readers

SkilledUp is offering 90% off Udemy’s How to Get a Better Job Faster, an online course created to help you find your dream job. With this course you’ll learn how to amp up your resume, ace job interviews and develop a fool-proof job search strategy.

At just $10, you’ll get lifetime access to 28 lectures filled with job hunting facts and hacks. Learn more about this generous offer here.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments:

What new skill would you like the learn this month?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction, and trying out new recipes. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Six Strategies to Play Big (+ Giveaway!)

Written by Marisol Dahl

Did you know that over 70% of people have felt like a fraud at some point in their professional life?

Impostor syndrome is much more common than you think, and it is especially common in high-achievers. This phenomenon occurs when a person is convinced she is a fraud, a fake, able to pass off work that only “seems” good. Despite clear evidence of a job well done and the praise of peers and bosses, she just doesn’t think she deserves such success. It’s inevitable: one day they’ll catch on that she’s an impostor just flying under the radar.

But if you think impostor syndrome is just a matter of confidence, think again. It can have considerable effects on our careers. Studies have shown that when we think we’re fakes, we only apply to safe jobs we think we’re totally qualified for, we’re less likely to show off our good work, and we find it much more difficult to negotiate salaries and work responsibilities. Not to mention the constant anxiety that one day your cubicle mate will turn around and shout, “Aha! Quick Watson, I’ve found the impostor among us!”

There are many classic signs of shying away from your achievements and value:

  • Dismissing your work as “easy”
  • Attributing your success to luck
  • Shrugging off praise from others
  • Thinking your work looks better than it really is

But what if you don’t show the classic symptoms? How can you tell if you are hiding from your true value, strength, and potential?

Hiding Strategies and How to Play Bigger:

In her new book Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, Tara Mohr calls us out when it comes to not stepping up to the plate and playing big.

An expert on women’s leadership and well-being, Tara has identified six sneaky “hiding strategies” we use to avoid playing bigger and to trick ourselves into thinking we are making strong progress in our career endeavors when we actually aren't.

Hiding Strategy #1: This then that

What is it? This is the false belief that things must happen in a certain order.

What does it look like? “I want to teach a class, but I need to build a website about my classes first” or “I want to apply to this top-level job, but I need to move up the ladder first.”

Play Big: Know that there is no one right order in which things can happen. What is the most direct action you can take right now to play big and achieve your goal? Go for it. Submit that job application—what's the worst that can happen?

Hiding Strategy #2: Designing at the whiteboard

What is it? Creative work in isolation. It’s safe yet unproductive work that is out-of-touch with reality.

What does it look like? Brainstorming for a project without input from co-workers, building a business without talking to your ideal customers.

Play Big: Get out there and strike up a conversation! People often see advice- and feedback-seekers as smart players in the workplace. They admire you for wanting to up your game and are happy to help.

Hiding Strategy #3: Overcomplicating and endless polishing

What is it? Finding reasons to delay the launch of your finished work, often stemming from a desire to ensure your work is high quality and robust.

What does it look like? Constantly adding new elements and features to your project, finding new parts to revise or write anew, endless researching.

Play Big: Simplify and launch a bold bare-minimum—you can always add to your work later, and publishing an early version of your work allows you to get helpful feedback!

Hiding Strategy #4: Collecting or curating what everyone else has to say

What is it? Leaving out your own opinions and ideas. This is a classic way of presenting great thoughts, but protecting oneself from the vulnerable position of claiming ownership of innovative, sometimes provocative ideas.

What does it look like? Writing a book about people’s perspectives of September 11, but not including your own. Curating other people’s ideas on how to solve the ebola crisis, but not adding your own solution to the mix.

Play Big: Share what you have to say.

Hiding Strategy #5: Omitting your own story

What is it? This is the fallacy that the work you do should stay completely separate of your inner passions, questions, and curiosity.

What does it look like? “If I include my own experiences as a mother in my article on education reform, people will think I’m just another biased, harping parent. My research and ideas will be discredited.”

Play Big: Share why your work matters to you. There is no such thing as pure objectivity in the work we do—own up to how you are approaching your work, and this adds greater nuance, depth and productivity to the conversation.

Hiding Strategy #6: Getting more and more and more education

What is it? Retreating to the comfort of more school, more training, and more instruction, instead of leaping into the next big thing. This is a classic stalling tactic.

What does it look like? “I should get a PhD in education before I get elected to my district’s Board of Education.” “I need an MBA to start my own business.”

Play Big: Share what you already know. Trust that you have enough expertise to make an impact right now.

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to give away a copy of Playing Big by Tara Mohr to one lucky Life After College reader. To enter, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, November 14:

Comment to Be Entered to Win: What hiding strategy do you use most often? What's one action that you could take this week to move past it?

Introducing SkilledUp

This month we’re honored to partner with SkilledUp, an online course discovery platform built to help you gain new skills.  SkilledUp’s ultimate vision is to transform education as we know it—how it’s delivered, how much it costs, and how quickly it helps you get to a career you love.

Exclusive Deal

SkilledUp is offering 90% off "How to Get a Better Job Faster" - an online course created to help you find your dream job! 

Get this exclusive discount just for readers of Life After College.

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction, and trying out new recipes. She can be reached  on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Train Like An Athlete, Speak Like A Pro

Written by Marisol Dahl

In August during the Speak Like A Pro virtual conference, I was struck by something Pamela Slim said in her interview:

“Presenting is a full-contact sport.”


You can know all the rules to the game, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get out there and hit a home run. Giving a speech, much like playing a sport, involves preparation, a sound body, a strong mind, limber muscles, and a full playbook.

You have to exercise, train, and practice.

But as with any athlete or speaking pro out there, nerves can really trip us up and affect our performance. In Fearless Speaking: Beat Your Anxiety. Build Your Confidence. Change Your Life., Gary Genard plays Coach Joe Girardi to our Derek Jeter. This get-up-out-of-your-seat book is all about going on the offensive and getting to the bottom of your speaking fears. Genard certainly knows how to approach speaking with an athlete’s mindset.

The Athlete’s Mindset

  1. Audience members are your fans, not your competitors.

“Most nervousness isn’t visible to others because it’s internal. And if people do see you’re nervous, they’ll most likely have the normal reaction, which is to sympathize with you. Since audience members feel good when you’re succeeding and embarrassed when you’re failing, they’re actually on your side and want you to do well.”

  1. There is no “I” in “team.” Don’t hog the ball.

Genard delivers some tough love when he calls out speech anxiety and self-consciousness for what they truly are—narcissism.

“Hey, what makes you think this audience is here because of you? They’re contributing their valuable time attending this event because they hope to get something out of it. Instead of being concerned about your own feelings, ask yourself if you’re meeting your audience’s needs.”

  1. Hold the dumbbells, focus on your voice.

“Keep in mind that the voice is inherently physical. That fact may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you’re preoccupied with the content of a presentation or consumed by performance anxiety.

Because your voice is physical, it is intimately connected to energy and relaxation, as well as tension and stress. That means that the pressures of a too-hectic lifestyle or work schedule will emerge in one form or another in your vocal expression. Anything you can do to relieve those pressures—yoga, sports, and relaxation exercises—will pay off in a more fluid and powerful vocal instrument.”

  1. Keep your eye on the prize.

“Your fear of public speaking and the measure of your success as a speaker are entirely separate matters. It’s easy to confuse these two issues: thinking that just because you were nervous, your presentation had to have been a failure.

Because speaking anxiety makes you so uncomfortable, it sometimes becomes an all-consuming state of mind. That makes it easy for you to lose sight of a critically important fact: Your goal is not to speak without anxiety it is to positively influence your audience.”

Become an MVP and Train With the Pros

How to Speak Like A Pro: Practical Tips for Your Confidence, Deliver and Impact: On October 27, Jenny will be leading a live workshop at Holstee’s new Learning Lab in Brooklyn, NY. Come connect with creatives, entrepreneurs, and others who want to master the skills of public speaking.

Heroic Public Speaking: Michael Port, One of my biggest influences in business and public speaking, will be leading a four-month interactive virtual program starting October 27. The class will culminate in a live workshop for all participants in February. Click here for details and to get Michael's free Heroic Public Speaking Guide To World Saving Speeches.

Can’t make it? You can still learn how to Speak Like A Pro from home.

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to give away a copy of Fearless Speaking by Gary Genard to one lucky Life After College reader. To enter, answer the following question in the comments by Monday, October 13:

Comment to Be Entered to Win: What do you do to beat public speaking anxiety?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

How To Cash In On Your Skills

Written by Marisol Dahl

It's a little crazy to think that it's only early October and I've already hit midterms season in college. The clock is ticking and in more ways than one. By next May I'll have my cap and gown packed up, a job (haha, maybe), and an onslaught of student loan payments. Out of the college dorm and into the real world.

For those times of life transition, it's time to get serious about money-making. Yes, I went straight to the "m"-word. While money can't buy happiness, it is kind of nice to have when navigating exciting new changes.

And what better way to make money than by doing what you already know how to do? Ramit Sethi is the man when it comes to doing exactly this. Author of the book and blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit is an expert when it comes to doubling down on your skills, turning a profit, and rocking your finances. We're excited to share his insight on freelancing and how anyone—yes, anyone—can cash in on their skills.

Is freelancing right for you? Q&A with Ramit Sethi:

Why should someone consider freelancing?

Ramit: The first thing most personal finance gurus will tell you about money is to cut back—be frugal! Stop wasting your money on lattes! The truth is that you can’t out-frugal your way to rich. While the “experts” focus on cutting costs, that’s only one part of the puzzle to living a Rich life. There’s a limit to how much you can save, but there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

Freelancing (or, taking your skills and turning them into income) is one of the easiest ways to get started earning more money, and it’s something you can do without quitting your day job, meaning very low risk. Most freelancing jobs—no matter how unique you think you are—can be priced easily, and the work-to-income is very clear compared to uncertain income-generating strategies like productization.

What are the typical objections you see people have regarding earning money on the side?

Ramit: Although it’s easy to get excited about earning more money—who doesn’t want to be richer?—we will always run into doubts about why we can’t do it:

  • “I don’t have enough time”
  • “That might work if you have an Ivy League education but I’m just a humble [occupation]…”
  • “Maybe if you live in SF or NYC…”
  • “Maybe if you’re a single guy, but I have a family…”

All of these are reasonable excuses, and some might be legitimate, but the objections to earning more are less about external barriers and more about your mindset.

I’ve seen people earn thousands in extra income as parents who live in Podunkville. I even have a friend who started a side job while working at an extremely demanding and prestigious full-time job. People can earn a great side income with ordinary jobs and incomes all because they took the initiative to do it.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when they try to start a side business on their own?

Ramit: I think the biggest mistake people make is spending too much time in the beginning “playing business.” They do things they think they “should” do but will never pay. They’ll get excited about an idea, and their next step is to launch a website, create a Facebook page, and buy 1,000 business cards. But then what?

After they’ve wasted a lot of time and money, they still don’t have one paying client to show for it and their excitement ends up withering away after a couple months. They end up blaming their failed attempt on others instead of their approach.

So if that doesn’t work, what SHOULD people do?

Ramit: Instead of random tactics that we see fail over and over again, there’s a more effective way to start that changes the entire approach.

The first step is finding a profitable idea.

My team and I have spent over 10 years of extensive research to bring you the exact tools and techniques that can help you identify what you’re already good at. Sometimes, you’re so good at something —it comes so naturally to you—that you don’t even realize it’s a skill. Then, you check to see if it’s a profitable idea before you spend months! Almost nobody realizes that they could “pre-test” an idea for profitability. This sounds simple but is actually a totally different approach than most people take.

The next step is to turn the idea into side income.

This is where a lot of people started doing random things they'd read about, like starting Twitter or Facebook pages. And again, they’d fall back into the same pattern! Launch something—this time, a blog with Google ads—and try and try to somehow turn it into lucrative side income.

What they actually need are less random tactics and “Top 10 Ways to Make Money from Home” lists, and instead, a system for testing your idea for profitability before you commit hundreds of hours. The right system can tell you whether you’re on the right track or not, so if something’s not working, you’ll know exactly what to do to fix it and get back on track. With the right system in place, you can grow that side income as much—or as little—as you want, with your available time.

What advice can you give to people who are ready to start earning more money?

Ramit: Most people reading this can agree that the thought of starting a side business isn’t just about money. It’s about living a life where you can control your income and your time. You could use the extra money to tackle your goals, to pay off debt, save more, or spend on the things you love. And freelancing is one of the easiest ways to get started.

"Cash In" On Your Skills

Want to freelance but don't know where to start? Ramit can help you earn your first $1,000 (and more) with his Earn1k Idea Generator Tool. Nail down a viable, profitable and fun freelance idea—you can afford to make a career change.

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

What's Your Cup of Tea?

life by the cup
life by the cup

Written by Marisol Dahl

A daily dose of love and inspiration can be transformative. 

Love and warmth—that’s what I felt after reading Zhena Muzyka’s Life By The Cup. Just as Sri Lankan tea farmers gently pluck only the best of the tea leaves and buds, Zhena chose her words with great care and esteem. With each chapter she invites you in with a warm cup of tea at hand and confides in you her deeply personal story of struggle and success.

In her early twenties, Zhena was jobless, broke, and unsure of her next step forward. Her baby boy Sage was born with a life-threatening condition, and for years to come they would be in and out of the hospital for dozens of tests, check-ups and operations.

Through these years of hardship, Zhena still managed to achieve her dream of starting a tea business. Without any money or assets to her name, she sat down one day and wrote up a business plan, the very beginnings of what is now the multi-million dollar Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

At the grand opening of her tea shop, Zhena had six dollars in her bank account and her only customers were her sympathetic landlords. She came back the next day vowing to sell more.

After finally gaining a few investors, she was asked to cut costs and use conventional, non-organic and artificial ingredients. Zhena took a great risk in saying no, that she would stand by her commitment to fair trade practices and natural ingredients. She lost her investors and struggled to sell this premium-priced tea, but she came out with a renewed mission and passion.

Zhena’s story is one of perseverance and heart. But her story doesn’t have to be extraordinary or one-in-a-million. We certainly don’t have to sing the praises of the “little tea company that could” and then return to our own uninspired, half-fulfilled lives.

Perseverance isn’t a super power, it’s a human habit. Sure, it may be tough to keep going, especially after a long day, rejection after rejection, and stifling limitations. It may seem as if your reserves of perseverance and strength have finally run out.

But this is when you need to whip out your secret weapon, the thing that will restore your reserves and keep you chugging along. No one ever said you need to persevere alone—a little help and inspiration can be enough to get you back on your feet.

For Zhena, it was a teacup brimming with exotic, flavorful, revitalizing tea. This was her sanctuary, where she’d retreat after a rough day to remind herself of her mission and mull over her next move. Zhena’s teacup acts as a gentle push to reach her full potential.

I love a cup I can wrap both hands around as I raise it to my lips. A cup is a touchstone of tranquility, or warmth and nourishment. It is also a measure of capacity, for how much a cup can hold is critical for anchoring our experience. The thinness of a cup’s walls conveys the craftsmanship and mindfulness that went into its making. If you truly notice the cup you drink from, you create a meaningful ritual that infuses your tea drinking and your life.

Keep going. Find that cup of tea, a journal, an old family portrait, a hike in the woods. Take a moment to recognize the things that truly re-energize you and make a commitment to incorporate them into your daily life.

Healing the World Through Business

On September 8-12, Zhena will be hosting a virtual en*theos conference on responsible business. She is featuring 29 responsible business experts who will share their top tools, techniques and ideas on how to make a positive impact on the world no matter what industry you work in.

Get your free ticket, cozy up with a cup of tea and learn how to align your business with your goal to change the world for the better.


To enter to win a copy of Zhena Muzyka’s Life By The Cup, answer the following questions in the comments by Friday, September 12:

Comment to be entered to win: What is your comfort activity when your chips are down?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

How to Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking

We humans can be pretty funny, can’t we? Any species would have to have a sense of humor to evolve the way we did. Because could you actually guess that our number one fear is public speaking? In fact, surveys show that we fear it more than death. And yet public speaking and proper communication skills might just be the most important thing we will learn on this planet.

We fear the very thing that will bring us success. I hate to say it, but I am one of the 75% of people in this world who would rather eat a fistful of worms than get up on stage.

But I don’t want it to be like that. I don’t want my speaking anxiety to keep me from standing up in front of the classroom to share my research, or from asking a question as an audience member, or from walking into a room and confidently introducing myself.

No fear should ever keep us from sharing our ideas and opinions.

And this is why I am so so excited for the Speak Like A Pro virtual conference. Five days with some of the best speakers and thought leaders out there. I can’t wait to hear all their tips on how to calm nerves, practice like a pro, connect with the audience, and still be authentic and, well, real.

I was so eager I decided to do a little interviewing myself with the Life After College crew.

The Life After College Team on how to Speak Like A Pro

Melissa, tell us about your process for structuring and organizing speeches:

"The first thing I do when structuring my speeches is to create a bullet list of the three or four key takeaway items I want the audience to leave with. Whether it's a shift in mindset, new knowledge points, or a big idea - I start with these points as the basis of the talk/or a loose outline.

From there, I fill in the content with a story or anecdote to ensure that the talk is engaging and relatable, and end with placing the transitions, additional explanations and stage actions."

Melissa Anzman

Davis, what is the most important thing you do to practice for a presentation?

"The first time I was asked to give a speech was in 3rd grade for Black History month. I was assigned the role of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,  a great honor. I researched everything I could and even read his MSN Encarta entry (this was before Wikipedia). Up until the day I was suppose to give my report in front of my class, I had done everything except practice. I thought the words would naturally come out of my mouth; after all Dr. King gave great impromptu speeches and even Ms. Britton, my 3rd grade teacher, did not have a script when she taught us.

In short, when it was my time to speak, I had no lines memorized, I didn’t even have a script; I froze, didn’t say a word, and had to be escorted back to my seat. I received an F on the assignment.

That was 12 years ago and since, I have won multiple state public speaking competitions, been a finalist in multiple national competitions, and delivered multiple key notes. My secret? Making time to practice. Everyone from Tony Robbins to my mentor Susan Cain, who have both built careers public speaking, practice their speeches daily, what excuse do I have not to?"

Davis Nguyen

Rebecca, how do you ensure you are connecting with your audience?

When I'm giving a talk, I make sure to actively read my audience throughout: is anyone nodding along, smiling at my ridiculous jokes, glaring, sleeping, running for the exit? This audience read is only worth as much as I'm willing to act on that read and change course, though - and that's the scary part.

So I've worked to get comfortable with being somewhat spontaneous. When I'm working with slides it's hard or impossible to fully alter my path, of course, but what I say with each slide often varies depending on what's happening in front of me. I find that the best way to lose an audience is to have a speech prepared and to hold to it stubbornly, come dirty looks or confused glances.

I'm also a big believer in the use of self-effacing humor. The expert advice on speaking probably holds something like, "act confident and your audience will feel at ease" but I find that personally, the more uncoordinated and self-conscious I act, the more people are right there with me. That's because, at heart, I am uncoordinated and self-conscious.

I find that it's all about being comfortable with vulnerability - both my own and that of the people listening to me. When I'm willing to good-naturedly point out my faults - without getting anywhere near self-pity, of course - and perhaps run into a podium or chair while I talk, all the better for the likeability factor, and for my audience's willingness to open up to me in return.

But this last point brings up the most important matter of all: being self-effacing and appearing physically clumsy is my shtick. It's what works for me. If someone else tried it, it might be a total disaster, just as it's a total disaster when I attempt to appear perfectly polished and pulled together, which I've tried more often than I care to admit.

It's like a story a colleague recently told me: days before she had a big speech, her partner encouraged her to "be inspiring - like Obama!" My reserved, thoughtful colleague thought the 180-degree turn from her usual approach might be just what she needed to make her audience enthralled. Long story short, my colleague is no Obama, and the more she tried, the worse the talk went. Her partner was actually in the back of the room covering her eyes by the end.

Above all else, audiences sense authenticity. So being who I truly am - and sizing up the audience as I go to make sure my authentic self is connecting - are the ways I keep an audience in their seats...and their minds in the room, too!"

Rebecca Fraser-Thill

Jenny, do you ever get nervous before a speech? How do you deal with those last-minute anxieties?

"I almost always get hit with a huge wave of nerves before delivering a speech, whether I'm in front of 50 people or 500; but the most helpful thing for me to remember is that it is a wave, not permanent state or a reason to panic.

If I take three deep breaths, pace a little bit (where no one can see me), and open and close my fists a few times, I can usually work out the extra adrenaline in my body before going on stage. Even if I still have a pounding heart when I first start, it will often calm itself down after a few minutes.

Public speaking understandably engages our fight-or-flight response. As author Scott Berkun put it in his book Confessions of a Public Speaker:

  • We are an animal standing alone on an open plane
  • With no weapons and nowhere to hide
  • With dozens (if not hundreds of eyeballs staring at us)

Evolutionarily speaking, this is a scenario in which we were surely about to die! So our bodies produce extra adrenaline to help us high-tail it out of there.

The key when public speaking is to give this adrenaline something to do, so that it doesn't express itself in a shaky voice (or if you're like me, a whole shaky leg). From a post I did earlier this year on Michael Bay's CES freak-out, here are 5 Tips for Handling an In-the-Moment Flood of Nerves:

  1. First and foremost, you must breathe. This is critical. Take a few moments just to collect yourself and breathe. Take in a nice big inahle of air. The audience will hardly notice and it will start to reactivate your relaxation response, letting your brain and body know they are safe.
  2. Second, if you’re in a Bay or Blake Situation (hah) try to laugh! Crack a joke. Which brings me to number 3:
  3. BE YOURSELF! Nobody expects you to be perfect, especially when they can clearly see that things are going haywire.
  4. Acknowledge the issue. Bay did a good job of saying, “The type is all off . . . sorry, I’ll just wing it.” Okay, great! Now breathe and ad lib. Take an improv class if you want to get more comfortable with this.
  5. KEEP GOING! This is critical! The show must go on! Don’t make a fight-or-flight response worse with the internal monologue of, “Well now you’re really fucking it up.” Or, “Screw those tech guys — this should not be happening! My reputation is ruined!” Acknowledge the snafu, but KEEP. GOING. An American Psychological Association study even recently found that Getting Excited Helps with Performance Anxiety More Than Trying to Calm Down. The worst thing you can do is start freaking out about freaking out.

People will love you more for keeping strong and (awkwardly) carrying on.

Jenny Blake

Paul, what inspired you to get into the business of public speaking?

"There is no other work that makes me feel more alive than up on stage doing my best to bring an audience to life. Because as a public speaker I feel like I'm part performer, artist, advocate, comedian, entertainer, teacher, and story-teller -- changing my role from one sentence to the next.

Public speaking requires me not only to fully be myself, but to be more than I thought I was capable of. It requires me to be fully present as I strive to present something that might change someone's life from that moment on."

Paul Angone

More About Speak Like a Pro


The Speak Like A Pro conference is going on now through Friday, August 29.

Conquer your fear and get your free ticket here!

Love Yourself & Catch those Gremlins, for Nothing Changes Until You Do (+Giveaway!)

Written by Marisol Dahl


Today we are so excited to celebrate the official launch of Mike Robbins’s new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way.

A keynote speaker on teamwork, emotional intelligence and the importance and impact of authenticity, Mike Robbins is on a mission to help people better connect to each other and to themselves.

Mike's third book, Nothing Changes Until You Do is a collection of 40 stories and reflections from Robbins’s own life and from the lives of those who have most inspired him. Each essay has its own bit of wisdom to impart, everything from why it is important (and courageous!) to embrace powerlessness to the value of owning up to your accomplishments and letting your light shine.

I was fortunate enough to interview Mike and get a peek into his book-writing process, how to battle the inner gremlin (that nagging inner-critic), and his top tip for recent college grads.

Interview with Mike Robbins

As you mention in the introduction, this is the first book you've written in five years. Your other two books were written within three years, with two new babies, and lots of ups and downs. How has writing Nothing Changes Until You Do been different? What's been the best part?

Writing this book was very different. First of all, I’m a few years older now (and hopefully a little wiser). Second of all, we didn’t have a baby associated with this book directly – when I wrote my first one we had a new baby at home and when I wrote my second one, we had a 2-year old and a baby on the way. My girls are now 8 and 5, which is a very different phase of parenting. And, finally, I decided to write this book in a different way (short essay style), which made it even more fun and easy for me to write. I also used speech recognition software to write much of it, which worked really well for me.

Many of our readers are 20-somethings and recent college grads. We're entering the working world, forging new relationships, navigating unchartered territory. What is one thing we can do right now to better embrace our vulnerabilities?

Give yourself permission to feel scared and own it. One of the scariest times in life is when you graduate from college. Of course it can be fun and exciting, but even the most confident, successful, and focused person gets scared when entering a new phase of life. The rules of life in the “real world” are much different than the rules of life in school and it takes some time to figure it out.

A common mistake that most of us make in our early 20s is we spend and waste a lot of time and energy pretending we know what we’re doing, when oftentimes we don’t. This is true throughout life, but especially in our 20s. Embrace your age and exactly where you are. And, remember that it’s okay to feel scared and, at times, completely overwhelmed – everyone else does, they just pretend that they don’t.

What is the first thing you do when you feel your gremlin sneaking up on you?

First of all, it’s important to recognize the gremlin (that negative voice in our head). The most dangerous aspects of the gremlin are the ones we aren’t aware of (i.e. we think it’s the “truth.”)  Once we recognize that it is our gremlin, not us, who is talking or leading the way, we can gently take back our power by having compassion for ourselves and reminding ourselves that the critical voice in our head does not have the final say.

When my gremlin shows up in an intense way, it’s often important for me to reach out to people I know and trust and to let them know some of the negative thoughts and judgments I am experiencing about myself. Talking about it often helps loosen the grip and helps me take back my power from my gremlin.

In one of your later chapters you mentioned that "being bold, while scary and challenging at times, is essential to living an authentic and fulfilling life" and that it's important to "swing hard, just in case you hit it." Can you tell us about a time when you may not have swung hard enough? What would you have done differently?

I have many examples of “not swinging hard enough.” Most of the times I’ve failed – back when I was playing baseball all of those years and in my business now – it is a function of not swinging hard enough (as opposed to swinging too hard).

One recent example is related to a speech I gave at a big conference for one of my clients. It was a huge event and I had a relatively short time I was scheduled to speak on stage. Instead of doing what I normally do – trust my gut, speak from my heart, and allow myself to create in the moment, I got scared and didn’t want to mess up, so I over prepared, rehearsed my speech, and it ended up falling flat, one of the worst ones I’ve given in a long time. It felt like I missed the moment, got overwhelmed by the situation, and didn’t allow myself to trust and risk in the way I know how…in other words, I didn’t swing hard enough. It was painful, but a great learning experience.

I loved your chapter on gratitude, and I find this to be so true: "The way gratitude works is that the more we focus on feeling grateful, the more we have to feel grateful for." In this moment, right now, what are you grateful for?

Such a great question – thank you for asking it. I don’t think we can ever ask or answer this question enough. Right in this moment, I’m grateful for my wife Michelle and our two amazing girls Samantha and Rosie. I’m grateful to be doing work that I love and to have people (like you) asking for my perspective and advice.

I’m grateful that I had the courage and commitment to write another book, even though it can be scary to put myself out there. I’m grateful for the enormous amount of support I have in my life and with my business. I’m grateful for the ability to express myself authentically and to learn each and every day. And…so much more!


We’re excited to be giving away two copies of Nothing Changes Until You Doby Mike Robbins. To enter to win, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, May 16. We will pick a winner via and email to let you know!

Comment to be Entered to Win: What is one blessing-in-disguise that you are grateful for?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Time to Revolutionize Your Leadership Style (+ Giveaways!)

Written by Marisol Dahl

Time for Leadership
Time for Leadership

As Willy Wonka once said, “Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.” 

But this is so much easier said than done, right? In a world of endless distractions and never-ending to-do lists, how do we harness the time, energy and leadership skills to attain the results we really want?

Pierre Khawand’s new book Time for Leadership: The Accomplishing More in Less Time, Less Effort, and Less Stress Leadership Journey is all about looking at leadership in a totally revolutionized way. Khawand recognizes the recent paradigm shift in the concept of leadership and what that means for you and your career.

Leadership is no longer considered something you are simply born with--your leadership skills can grow and develop with experience and sincere effort. Leadership is also not just for those on top. It is needed at all levels, whether you’re the CEO, a front-line employee, or somewhere in between. Finally, this new age of leadership requires a healthy balance of leading and following, knowing when to step up to the plate or when to back down and let others take the wheel.

Khawand and his company People-OntheGo are devoted to helping people use time efficiently, take control of the technological world and tap into their leadership potential. Time for Leadership compiles all the new game-changing models from some of the top minds in leadership. Khawand’s approach is all about having leadership “broken down into digestible and practical behaviors” that we can implement immediately and effectively in our daily lives.

Some quotes that really got me revved up:

On focusing on strengths:

When we focus on people’s strengths, they gain confidence, they get engaged, and they produce great outcomes, and in doing so, they are more likely to overcome their weaknesses.

On deltas and weak links:

80% of our results come from 20% of our effort.

Most of what we accomplish comes from certain activities that are closely connected to our desired results. The link between these activities and these results is strong. We refer to these activities as Deltas. And many of the other activities that we perform don’t generate much result. The link between these activities and the desired results is weak. We refer to these activities as Weak Links.

Before engaging in any activity, gigantic or minuscule, ask the leadership question: Is this activity a Delta or a Weak Link? This is the leadership mindset.

On creativity, in Daniel Guillory’s chapter:

To be truly creative, be prepared to have a thick skin. The reason for this goes to Picasso’s famous quote, “Creativity is first of all an act of destruction.” A creative act changes the way we do or view something--and by definition, most human beings do not embrace change.

The ability to be truly creative in an area is directly proportional to the extent of your base of knowledge about that area. For example, the creative jump that my seven-year-old son can make in terms of his paintings would not compare to the kind of creative jump that someone like Claude Monet could make, who studied for years and years.


We are so excited to be giving away a copy of Time for Leadership by Pierre Khawand as well as a free seat in People-OntheGo’s upcoming program the Accomplishing More Leadership Program to five lucky Life After College readers!

To enter to win answer the following question in the comments by Friday, April 18th. We will pick winners via and email to let you know!

Comment to be Entered to Win:

How do you demonstrate leadership in your own everyday life?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.