Life After College - The Book!

Inner Critic Incarnate: 6 Lessons From Negative Reviews (Hint: They Don't Kill You!)

It was early 2009 and I felt like my book was being suffocated by fear. Scratch that -- I was actively suffocating my book WITH my fears. They had the Microsoft Word file in a choke hold for almost six months and they weren't letting up. I remember going for one of my weekly walks with my dad and I told him I thought my book was crap. A pile of meaningless clichés. He swiftly corrected me, saying that even if I didn't finish it -- even if I published it that very day -- it would help people. And that I would be crazy to give up on it. At the time, about five percent of me knew he was right. So I clung to that five percent like my life depended on it.

My fears around putting my ideas out to the world seemed insurmountable. Somehow they ballooned in my mind to an alternate reality universe where as soon as my book hit the shelves, people would start pointing and laughing at me, calling me a motivational hack who didn't know anything and who had no right to write a book.

Inner Critic Incarnate

Much to my amazement and delight, when my book finally did come out in March of last year it was celebrated by friends, family and all of you, and strangers started to hear about it too. Glowing reviews poured in on Amazon, and the next year Target picked up 15,000 copies for their stores.

I'm also proud to report that I am now earning royalties, which many books never do. My first $10 check came in last month and I couldn't be more proud. I had the honor of being the closing keynote at Find Your Passion conference at Pratt this past weekend, and was overjoyed to meet several readers who said the book really helped them through a tough time.

I've had a few throw-tomatoes-at-me reviews, but thankfully not many.

The other day another one-star review came in . . . and it bore an UNCANNY resemblance to the very same negative reviews I was giving myself during the great writer's block of 2009.

Many people would probably advise me not to give it the time of day by airing it out on the blog -- but this one taught me some important lessons that I would be remiss not to share.

First, for your (re)viewing pleasure:

If you've never thought about anything ever this book is for you I got 300 pages of what seemed like listening to a complete moron talk about how stupid they are (my interpretation). Seriously, 90% of the advice this woman gives is completely laughable as I would expect anyone who's made it through college to already know these things. Her advice on dating and relationships are embarrassingly naive; they sound like a self-important 14 year old girl talking to her 8 year old sister about love. Please. What's more, it's shocking someone with so many problems is a life coach. This woman is crazy, like the type of person you just try to have little to nothing to do with because of her stability issues (I wouldn't be surprised if she lies crying on the ground for hours after reading this review).

The idea of a review like this TERRIFIED me back then.

But imagine -- if I had walked away from my book just to avoid a review like this -- nobody would have read it. No one would have benefitted. For every one review like this, there are 20+ emails or interactions that share what a positive impact the book did have in someone's life. And you know what? This reviewer has EVERY right to hate my book! I will be the first to tell you that it's not for everyone.

If I had shut myself down because of fear, I would have given away all of my power. I would have never finished (or even started) my book. I would have caved to cowardice.

I would have said that a future negative reviewer's opinion of me is more important than my own. And I am better than that. We all are.

I'm not here to rip this reviewer apart. I appreciate him more than he probably realizes. Nor am I crying in a ball on the floor (though I will say it stung). I am actually celebrating.

Here's why . . .

6 Things I've Learned From Negative Reviews:

  1. They show that you've DONE something. You've created something. You've pushed through your fear to ship something that matters to you.
  2. Your work has spread to a wide enough audience to get real, honest feedback from people who aren't on your payroll (friends, family, people who love us no matter what).
  3. Negative reviews will come in, but guess what? THEY DON'T KILL YOU! Shocking, right? Our inner critics would have us believe the world will come crashing down, but it doesn't. They might sting, but that's it. It's no gaping wound.
  4. It's an opportunity to re-examine what you DO like about your work AND what you don't. The review can't hurt unless you agree with it on some level. Use that information to make your work better next time. Is there anything you would do differently?
  5. Negative reviews are a sign that you've done something different enough to piss someone off. Points for creativity!
  6. I am LUCKY to have the "champagne problem" of a few negative reviews. Of reviews at all! I am very grateful my work is out there, and that it has garnered as much interest and support as it has.

So, I'd like to say thank you to the people who have taken the time to give me a review at all. To read my work and care about it enough to talk about it to others; out of 108 reviews, 4 one-stars 'aint bad.

If we spend our lives just avoiding criticism, then we're not living much at all.

As one of my former Google colleagues David Kim often reminded me, "Don't let compliments go to your head, or let criticism get to your heart."

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: how do you handle negative reviews? Anything I missed in terms of what we can learn from them?

2011: Calling All Dreamers

I feel like I'm on mile 23 of a marathon with the book coming out in less than three months (!!) and now is the time to turn on the burners -- put every minute that I'm not at Google to strategic use. It's a really exciting, motivating feeling to see the finish line up ahead . . . and much to the chagrin of well-meaning great friends hoping to drag me out of the house, nothing will break my focus at this point. I'm also not big on expensive parties or fighting for taxi cabs, so I planned on spending this New Years Eve alone in my condo, working on projects that energize me and that would help set the tone for an uber-creative 2011. Projects that get me so fired up that they don't even feel like work.

I mentioned this casually to a few friends -- New Years orphans who were ambivalent about their existing plans -- and before I knew it, I had four fabulous women in for the count.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have big plans for us in 2011.

Yes, YOU.

Even if you don't nerd-out on New Years Eve like us, I want you to think about a big dream that you might be tiptoeing around, and I want you to join me in 2011 by setting up your own "creative day of greatness." If our New Years bonanza goes well, I plan on hosting many more throughout the year (even virtually).

But you don't have to wait for me, of course. Pick a date and commit to starting that big, hairy, scary project that is crying out for your love and attention. I know you might be afraid, or self-conscious, or unsure if this is the right time or if you have the right idea or if you're the right person to pursue it.

Do it anyway.

Not that you even need it, but I hearby grant you the permission to start even without perfect conditions or all the pieces in place.

Arranging a creative genius day or night also requires properly setting the stage. What would make it the most fabulous, soul-stirring experience EVER? My friend Julie and I brainstormed for tonight and came up with what we think is a great list.

The "Marathon Day of Creative New Years Genius" will entail:

  • Morning yoga session (delivered by moi) for anyone who's here early -- we're planning on starting the festivities around 11:00 a.m.
  • Writing "sprints" throughout the day on our biggest ideas. We'll try a system where we work for 40 minutes, then chat, share, brainstorm and collaborate for 20 minutes - off and on throughout the day. We'll also set a few goals at the outset about what would be most thrilling to accomplish.
  • Piles of magazines & a flip chart to do vision-boarding
  • Doing other cool things like taking symbolic action on something that scares us; emailing an author we really respect (hi Martha Beck!)
  • Fire in the fireplace, great music playing in the background
  • Favorite foods potluck -- pasta, pizza, chips/salsa, green-bean casserole, cupcakes & macaroons -- to name a few
  • Prosecco for midnight; we may very well also put on fancy dresses and throw a dance party for the countdown. Good times!

How about you - what would your IDEAL Creative Day of Genius entail?

By the way, I'm serious. I want you to pick a dream of yours - even just a corner of it - and commit to it. Schedule your jump-start session alone or with friends, and start bringing your big ideas to life. Then send me an email to let me know how it goes!

No matter what you find yourself doing tonight, have an amazing time. Cheers -- to dreaming, scheming and greatness for all of us in 2011! :)

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1:1 Big Goal Brainstorming / Coaching / Genius Hours:

If you are hoping to take your first steps toward a big dream in 2011 and you want some extra accountability and support, get in touch with me. Right now I'm offering sample coaching sessions at 50% off - $50 for 45 minutes of bringing out your inner genius.

I want us all to dream BIG in 2011, and I would love nothing more than to help you start taking baby steps toward your biggest goals. As your coach, I'll help you do big-picture visioning, uncover your values, set specific goals, knock out limiting beliefs or barriers to action, and brainstorm ways to make substantial progress -- all supported by assignments for you to work on between sessions. Nothing gets me more fired up than working with you on making your biggest dreams a reality. Learn more here.

Looking for another great way to kick-off 2011?

Join me for a free 60-minute career strategy webinar with People On-the-Go during the second week of January (hint: one of my first e-books in the making!). Here's a brief description:

The Ladder is Out -- How to Manage Your Career in the Age of the App The era of climbing the ladder as a method of managing your career is out. We are now in the age of the app - everything you need is at your fingertips, fully customizable to your unique career dreams and aspirations. Rather than follow a linear path, learn how to explore, experiment and build a strong foundation that suits your dynamic talents and goals. [Read more and sign-up]

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Big love and hugs to all of you :)

A Delicious December Hodge-Podge

Grab a cup of coffee, this is a long one! Many of my blogging counterparts have a weekly series where they round-up their work and link to great posts from others: Friday Linky Love, Writing Around the Webb, and Fresh Finding Fridays to name a few. As much as I admire their consistency and commitment, I have fun doing mine completely randomly and giving them a new name every time (Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself, Crock PotsLinks Galore, and Miscellaneous Musings). What I'm really trying to say is that I don't have nearly the self-discipline to post these regularly. And yes, I also have commitment issues.

Change Makers TV Interview - Video Now on YouTube! (~30 minutes)

I was honored to be a guest on Gopi's local TV show -- during which I talk about blogging, the book, career advice, and even my dating life (which led to a guy jumping out from behind a car as I was leaving...alone...at night...to ask me out...after he watched the interview from the sound room...and continued to beg ask as I politely said no at least five times. FML.)

One note before you watch: my book is called Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want, not "The Complete Guide to a Perfect Life," which I would not claim to have or advise others to strive for. The real beauty of life is in imperfection, which is also what makes a slight verbal typo perfectly okay with me. :) {RSS/email readers: Click here to watch}

Two interviews with fabulous women: Betty Jean Bell and Tia Singh

Love Your Work Life LogoAudio interview with Betty Jean Bell of Love Your Work Life - It only took five minutes on the phone with Betty Jean for me to feel like I was instantly talking with one of my best friends. Her passion and energy is absolutely contagious! Take a listen to the ~25 minute podcast or click here to download the mp3, where I talk about my blog, the book, the quarter-life crisis, and pursuing big goals. Head on over to Love Your Work Life (and check out her adorable Christmas header!) to learn more about Betty Jean and her network of coaches.

Written interview with Tia Singh for her Live Your Life YOUR Way series - Tia is another coach extraordinaire who I met through Twitter. She literally sparkles (as her Twitter handle suggests), and we have quickly bonded over our emoticon abuse (exclamation mark, anyone?!?!!) and our love for helping others flourish. I was so honored to be featured in her series, and very touched by her wonderful introduction. Read more here.

Both of these ladies are giving a way a free copy of my book, so head on over and comment to enter!

#Reverb10 - I'm participating and have an author prompt on Dec. 21 -- wuhoo!

I'm excited to be participating in the #Reverb10 project with many other bloggers. It's a daily prompt to help people "reflect on this year and manifest what's next." I'm also incredibly honored to contribute an author prompt (author bios here) - look out for me on Dec. 21, baby!

I'll be answering the prompts on my Tumblr so I don't annoy you with daily posts -- here is a sneak preview of my first post:

2011: This next year will be the year of FREEDOM. Freedom from shoulds, cant’s, have-tos and obligations. I want 2011 to be the year of trusting my gut, listening to my intuition, and making decisions that are nothing short of SOUL-STIRRING. {Read more here}

Awesome links elsewhere - most definitely worth checking-out:

A follow-up note to my June post, Serendipity and the Art of Being Alone

Some of you may remember my story earlier this year about spending the weekend alone in New York City after existing plans fell through. While shoe shopping, I met a woman named Ann - an amazing lawyer who had a house built for herself in Italy (with her own hard-earned dream fund).

We ended up going to lunch then dancing on booths together at Bagatelle Bistrot in our new Louboutins -- girl power at its finest! I later dubbed Ann "my NYC angel" and she calls me Jenny From the Rock (as in Alcatraz).

While in NYC this week I'm attending Ann's big 40th birthday bash to help her celebrate in style. Living proof that random meetings can turn into beautiful friendships...and a reminder to get out there, be yourself, keep going when life throws a curve-ball, embrace surprises and be open to the beautiful art of serendipity.

Book off to press!!! Blogger speechless.

Life After College Book Cover I DID IT!!!

WE DID IT!!!

Holy shit. (Yes, I just swore on my blog. No, I don't do it often. Yes, it's because I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor.)

In three years of blogging, I have never posted two days in a row. But yesterday's post is 100% trumped by the fact that Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want went to press yesterday!!! And yes - that is the Amazon link to my book!!!

This is crazy.

It has felt exciting, scary and incredibly vulnerable to have an idea that is 100% my own and defend and build that vision from start to finish, page to page, and from corner to every corner of the cover.

Am I using the right words? Am I sharing enough? Is my vision actually what is best for my readers? Will anyone like it? Am I fighting for the right things to keep or change? With every micro-decision there was a point where I just had to take a shot in the dark, listen to my gut, trust myself and decide. And stand behind it.

Now it just feels surreal.

I cannot believe that the project I have developed...toiled over...loved, danced and fought with...worked and reworked into oblivion over countless nights and weekends - is DONE. The book is done.

My focus for the last two years (at least the content creation and editing part of it) is done. My tiny, shy little seedling of an idea is all grown up, and justlikethat I've closed an open loop in my brain that tells me to get back to work to make this thing the best I possibly can. Above all else it feels like my life dream - my purpose - my desire to inspire as many 20-somethings as I possibly can with practical exercises, tips and quotes - is happening.

cupcake thanks

NONE OF THIS would be happening without you. None of it. I don't even have enough words to thank you properly. If you weren't here reading, supporting Life After College, giving me feedback, showing your support on Ryan's list of Top 10 Gen Y blogs, commenting, sticking around, and celebrating with me on Twitter and Facebook, there would be no book. Period.

I hope you know how important are.

To be honest, it doesn't even feel like my book. It feels like our book. I'm so excited I could cry. In a good way this time.

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