Magnetic Personal Projects: What's Yours? Part 1

JBlake1 Written by Jenny Blake

There’s a conversational crutch we lean on in our society called, “So what do you do?”

Not knowing quite how to engage when meeting someone for the first time, people often resort to this familiar question as a default cocktail party kick off. It’s safe, it’s familiar, it’s lazy.

I’m guilty of it too.

How many of you have asked the question, not really caring about the answer? How many of you have been asked, and as you fumble through your own reply, you watch the person in front of you as their eyes glaze over out of boredom or complete cluelessness about what you’re saying?

The only thing worse than the question itself is suffering through an answer from someone who is miserable in their job. It’s as if their answer sucks the oxygen out of both of your lungs.

Which is not to say that people shouldn’t be vulnerable and share what’s really going on! But there’s a certain energy behind this answer that can either be soul-sucking, creating a conversational dead end, or generative, which opens the door for further dialogue.

In general, we just want to connect with each other on a genuine, authentic level, on shared passions or intellectual banter. We want to feel naturally curious and engaged, freed from the shackles of rote networking.

My theory: no one really cares what anyone else does, at least most of the time.

With one caveat; when what you are saying is bubbling with magnetic enthusiasm, that is contagious.

The Importance of Personal Projects

Harvard professor Brian Little says that the way we answer the question, “How are you?” depends on whether we have a compelling “personal project” that excites us—one that is connected to our core values and has meaning and significance.

Now that’s a question worth wracking our brains for.

Here’s a new game plan as holiday party schmoozing approaches: it starts with doing something worth talking about. Something with spice, vigor, excitement and a sprinkling of risk. Something with swagger.

For most of us, “What do you do?” conjures up whatever it is that pays the majority of our bills. But how would you answer if you pretended the question is, “So what are you most excited about right now?”

Flip the Conversation Switch

Below are a few recent experimental intentional conversation swerves of my own (because we can’t expect everyone else to read our minds and ask new questions). They’re still not perfect, but they get me more excited, which hopefully makes for a richer conversation all the way around:

Cocktail party questioner: So what do you do?

  • Before: I’m an author and a speaker. (BOOO-RING!)
  • My new answer: I’m fascinated by the intersection of mind, body and business . . . I love creating systems and templates for all three.

Question: “So you’re a motivational speaker?” Or “So you’re a life coach?” (Often said with a heaping dose of judgment and eyes scanning me up and down.)

  • Before: Yes, I’m a speaker and I do career and business strategy coaching and consulting. (BOOO-RING!)
  • My new answer: Yes, and speaking is what I’m most excited about right now. I love helping people through big transitions, to feel less intimidated by the question “What’s next?” I also see myself as a translator between smart, motivated people and the big technology companies they work for.

Question: So what book did you write?

  • Before: I wrote a book called Life After College; it’s like a portable life coach for twenty-somethings. (A recent reply I received that got my blood boiling: “Oh, how cute!”)
  • My new answer (not wanting to talk about the past so much as the future): Well, I’m really excited about my next book, The Pivot Method, which I’m now writing, on how to navigate change and be more agile within our rapidly-evolvoing economy.

Question: So what do you do?

  • My new answer (depending on who I’m talking to and the type of event I’m at, I pick just one niche project)I’m developing a meditation app called Lucent—it’s a five-minute morning ritual for people who consider themselves “meditation curious.” We just created a free 4-day course that you should check out!

These conversations can be the litmus test for magnetic personal projects:

  • Projects you’re thrilled to talk about, where it feels like you’re letting the person across from you in on a secret
  • Where others (including you!) feel inspired by not just what you’re doing but how you’re talking about it
  • It means you take charge of the conversation, and that starts with having something you’re jazzed to talk about in the first place.

So instead of asking, “What do you do?” as your next conversation-starter, try “What are you most excited about right now?” (Hint: if it feels awkward, you can even explain it first by saying, “Normally I would ask you what you do, but I’m more curious what you’re most looking forward to working on these days?”)

Whether you’re self-employed or you work for someone else, we can all benefit from a compelling project (or two) that we’re stoked to talk about, and more importantly, to spend our precious time and energy on.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where I’ll share four criteria behind choosing successful side projects.

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

What personal project/s are you most excited about right now? 

Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career Strategist

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

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Holiday Party

Written by Melissa Anzman holiday-776x350

It’s officially holiday party season – woot woot! I know we’re knee-deep in reflection and being thankful, but party time is right around the corner.

Holiday parties used to be a big deal. And the bigger the company’s revenue, the bigger the event was. After the crash in 2008, many companies have scaled back their party budget and perks, but still have some sort of year-end celebration. While the ostentatious-ness of the occasion may have been subdued, there is still a right way to party.

I’m not going to point out all of the things you shouldn’t be doing while celebrating, you can read all about how to shake your tail feather and what gift to get your boss here. Instead, I’m going to share three ways to make the most of your holiday party, and how partying can propel your career to the next level.

3 Ways to Leverage Your Holiday Party

Many of us attend several holiday parties – this advice can be applied whether you are going to your office party or a friend’s party. Essentially, these parties are a great informal way to network and learn important things about your performance and career trajectory.

1. Meet People You Want to Know

It’s so easy to stick to the people we know when we arrive at a party – we want to drink, be merry, have fun! But by doing so, you are foregoing the easiest “networking event” out there.

At parties, people are more relaxed, their game faces aren’t as in tact (especially after a drink) – which means it’s prime time for you to easily step outside of your comfort zone and meet influencers that can help you.

Before you attend the party, think about who could influence your career: they can be leaders, higher ups, or connectors. All of the people at work who have a seat at the table when discussing your career – then add them to your list to meet.

When you are at the party, you have so many warm introductions available to you – unlike most networking events. You can ask someone you work with to introduce you; you can mosey on up to the person and make small chat about the company/party/achievements/speeches; you can complement them on a project they completed.

In other words, you have built in reasons to meet the people you want to know. Take advantage of it.

2. Investigate the Gossip

I’m not a huge fan of gossiping at work in general, but when you are at a party, it’s a great opportunity for you to hear about all of the goings on. You don’t have to participate in the gossip, but it is an excellent way for you to understand what people are saying – about you, your team, and so on.

Whether you overhear something or someone makes a seemingly innocuous comment, you can learn a lot by being a listener more than a talker. And since this is likely one of the last opportunities you will get to improve your performance and create a halo effect before year-end, it can be career-boosting information.

3. Getting Your Cheer Back

I remember walking in to a HUGE holiday party I attended several years back – lights, glamour, food galore, and fancy people everywhere. I was beyond done with my job at the time – and I wasn’t able to find one positive thing to help me get through another year in my role.

But a crazy thing happened at the company party – I was smiling, happy, and started to get my cheer back. I think part of it was the holiday rubbing off on me, but it was also reaffirming to see my buttoned up colleagues relaxed, dancing, enjoying their time outside of work (hello, they are apparently human too), that made me see things through a different lens.

You can’t bring your negativity and disappoint in all things company/career, to your holiday party. Make a conscious effort to actually enjoy your time and learn more about the people you work with every day. Drink the cool-aid a bit.

Instead of looking for the doom and gloom, let the holiday party remind you of the upside… even if it feels like you have to stretch a bit to see it (gone are the days of super fancy people everywhere).Celebrate the year you had – the ups and downs, and the things you delivered.

9 Lessons Only Rejection Can Teach You

By Davis Nguyen

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates

I thought the beginning of my senior year was going to be the time of my life. I thought that I’d quickly be able to find a job I love and spend the rest of senior year enjoying it with friends.

Instead of weekends sipping wine or exploring the outdoors, I spent my weekends sending out resumes and exploring the indoors of interview rooms.

I didn’t get an offer from my first, second, or even my sixteenth interview. Almost every day came with a call or letter of rejection.

In fact, I made a wall of my job rejections.

(picture here) -> after Davis gets back to dorm on Monday

After two months of interviews and a miracle, I received my first job offer; ironically from the company I wanted to work for most.

Now that my senior year is ending and I have a job, I’ve had time to reflect on my job search experience and come to appreciate what rejection taught me.

9 Lessons Only Rejection Can Teach You

1. You're not the sh*t

Being rejected teaches us humility. I still remember leaving my first interview thinking that I was going to receive the job automatically. I would have bet my first year's salary on it. It was a rude awakening when I did not receive the congratulation call I was waiting for. The lesson I was forced to learn was there were plenty of more qualified candidates who are willing to work hard to get the same job I wanted.

2. Not all outcomes are in your control

Sometimes my rejection came from factors that I couldn’t easily control or change about myself. With one company, my interviewer’s feedback was that I had the skill set to do great work with them, but felt I wouldn’t fit into the culture. I realized now he was right and that I probably wouldn’t have been as happy working there.

3. It can't kill you

Rejection is never fun. It got to the point that each time I received an email or call from a company I would just cringe. But I lived to send another resume and cover letter.

4. You're in good company

As the job rejections piled on, I googled for other people who had been rejected by companies they wanted to work for. In the state I was in, I just wanted to know that someone else had been where I was and ultimately came out okay. During my search, I read about Brian Acton who was rejected by Facebook. He later co-founded WhatsApp. Facebook bought the app this year for $19 billion. Maybe if it didn’t work out, I could develop an app? Probably not, but it proved that not having a job right out of college wasn’t going to kill me.

5. How to stop being rejected

After each rejection email or call, I learned to ask for feedback on my performance. The feedback I received didn’t prevent me from being rejected from future interviews, but helped me to not be rejected for the same reasons.

6. Not to reject yourself

For many of the interviews where I made the final round, I got to tour the company and meet the staff. I made friends with some of the other students interviewing. Though I didn’t get an offer, I was pretty happy to have enjoyed those weekends meeting pretty awesome people. As a friend of mine said to me, if you don’t try, you are rejecting yourself of potential opportunities.

7. How to be closer to success

With each rejection I felt more determined to work harder. I saw each rejection as a sign that the company I applied to didn’t think I was good enough. Nothing like being told you aren’t good enough to motivate you to prove yourself.

8. To appreciate success when it comes

When my first job offer finally came I couldn’t contain my emotions and weeped as I was receiving the call from one of my interviewers. The job search process was over and I would be working with my dream company. I don’t think I would have been as happy as I was that day had I not been rejected so many times before. I learned to not take the opportunities I was given for granted.

9. Who your true supporters are

During my job search I became closer to two of my friends as we were interviewing for the same companies. We would share our rejections and talk each other out of feeling sorry for ourselves. I am so glad I had my friends to share my low moments with. When we finally all had our job offers, we had a dinner to celebrate.

Rejection isn’t all bad.

We can think of rejection as we do fire (because it does burn). Like fire, rejection can either make us stronger or burn us until there is nothing left. The choice is ours.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments: What would you add as a 10th lesson?

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

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


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.

The Alliance: How to Transform Your Career (+ Giveaway)

By Davis Nguyen the allianceAt first glance, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age seems to be written for managers who want to improve employee retention. What does this have to do with 20somethings looking for a job—the true life after college?

Upon closer look, the book is really about how all of us can be more agile (and honest with each other) in the new world of work. And we have a lot to learn from it.

What if you knew what your employer was thinking when they were hiring people? It is like auditioning for a movie and knowing exactly what type of role the director wanted to cast. This is what The Alliance is: a manual for employers on hiring and keeping the best talent.

The term “alliance” comes from the partnership made between you and your employer. As with any alliance, it needs to be beneficial to both sides and has objectives laid out.

What is Your Tour of Duty?

At the center of the book is the idea that the alliance you form with an employer should depend on your goals: are you looking for a job that will give you broad exposure to different areas? A job that will develop a particular set of skills? A foundation for a career with the same company?

Authors Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn), Ben Casnocha (author of The Start-Up of You), and Chris Yeh (co-founder and General Partner of Wasabi Ventures) call each job or role you take as a “tour of duty.” Similar to serving in the armed services, you have goals that need to be accomplished and a clear vision of the type of person you will be at the end of your tour. At that point, you and your manager can talk about the best next move.

There are three types of tours for you to consider:

The Rotational Tour

This tour of duty allows you to rotate between different roles within a company. Rotational roles are ideal for people are still figuring out what they want to do and don’t want to quite settle for one role yet.

Examples of rotational programs include Google’s People Operations Rotational Program that allows you to try out three different roles in three, nine-month rotations and Box’s Rotational Program Associate that allows you to spend three six-months periods in various business rotations such as marketing, sales, client relations, and business development.

But rotational programs aren’t just limited to big tech companies like Google and Box, even negotiating to rotate roles at your local bookstore is a form of a rotational experience.

A rotational tour benefits the employer because they get to evaluate your fit to their culture, and it benefits you as you develop your skills in various areas and evaluate your fit to the company.

The Transformational Tour

Unlike the rotational tour, a transformational tour is personalized and has a specific outcome for you and the company. During your time in a transformational tour, you will transform yourself as well as your company.

In The Alliance, Reid Hoffman tells the story of Matt Cohler, then a McKinsey & Company Consultant, who wanted to be a Venture Capitalist. Reid convinced Matt that gaining operational experience at a successful startup was a better path to a career in VC than trying to join a firm straight out of consulting. Reid and Matt then created a unique tour of duty for Matt who served as Reid’s right-hand man. Reid got in Matt an ex-consultant who would work on various projects and Matt in exchange gained mentorship from Reid and a broad exposure to various functional and operational areas of LinkedIn.

After his a two year tour of duty Matt eventually left LinkedIn for another tour of duty at Facebook and became a General Partner at Benchmark, a venture capital firm that provided early stage funding for Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, and Instagram, four years later.

The Foundational Tour

The Foundational Tour is seen almost as a form of marriage where both you and employer are committed to each other for the long-term.

Because the foundational tour takes commitment, it usually begins with a rotational or transformational tour that evolves into a foundational one.

The authors write of Brad Smith who began his career at Inuit in 2003 as a general manager of the Intuit Developer Network on a transformational tour. Smith eventually chose to stay longer and is today Intuit's CEO.

Giveaway Time!

Want to learn more about tours of duty and how to negotiate with your employers about beginning your tour of duty? We will be giving away three copies of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.

For a chance to win, answer the following question and leave your email in the comments by Friday, October 31. We will pick three winners with and email to let you know!

Comment to be Entered to Win:

What type of “tour of duty” are you most interested in at this point in your career?

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

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


Set Yourself Up for Year-end Career Success - Now

Written by Melissa Anzman gathering

Somehow we’re already in the fourth quarter busy planning our holiday vacations and realizing exactly how much we need to start doing to achieve our annual goals, which of course has us questioning “where did this year go?” The last two months of the year are probably the most important months for your career – it’s you last opportunity to make an impact, achieve milestones that seem light-years away, and continue to tell the story of who you are as an employee.

Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that we are soooo close to wanting to check out – vacation, take a break, slow things down a bit as much as possible. While there is definitely some room for that, you also need to set yourself up for year-end success.

Writing Your Own Story of Success

1. Start Gathering Your Successes

Even though you know at the beginning of each year that you should be accumulating your successes as they happen, work can be too busy to keep that practice up. Now is the time to start compiling and gathering – so you can start crafting your performance story.

Look back at the projects you’ve worked on, the milestones you’ve achieved, the feedback you’ve earned – and make a list. This will be the backbone of your story – think of it as an outline of sorts for your self-assessment or year-end review.

If you find pieces of your story missing, now is the time to reach out to your colleagues to get their feedback and gain their support. If you wait until January when most everyone else will be reaching out for their input, it will get lost in a sea of requests and not be as telling. Now, is better.

2. Review Your Milestones

Most of us have annual goals or milestones that we aim to meet – the goal is obviously to meet and exceed them as often as possible. Take out your goal sheet, ahem – the one buried at the bottom of your desk, and start scoring your progress.

Look at the goals you’ve accomplished and the items outstanding. Where can you add even more value to the goals you’ve achieved (superstar status) and where do you need to push yourself and team members to deliver?

Create a specific and actionable plan to reach these goals. Burying the goal sheet back in your desk doesn’t count… piece it all out so you know exactly the steps you need to achieve to accomplish your goals. If that’s not your thing, check out Make Sh*t Happen – Jenny will be sure you know what needs to happen.

3. Talk to Your Manager

Likely you already are interacting with your manager on a somewhat regular basis – but are you actually learning anything? Remember, your manager holds many of the keys to the kingdom in the valuation and progression of your career – so find out what they’re thinking before you have to read all about it in your review.

When you have your one-on-one meetings with them, come in with a focused agenda. Fill them in on the various things you’re working on, provide status updates on items that may be stalled out and ask them for specific guidance on your performance. Ask questions like:

  • I wanted to check in with you on this project X. How do you think it’s going? What can I do to make it a homerun?
  • Here’s an update on my annual goals – which items should take priority?
  • How do you think my performance is going (enter a specific area of focus here)?

Once your manager knows that you are not only interested in their opinion but also interested in your own career success, he/she will be a lot more inclusive in your overall standing – making it less likely for your year-end review to be a surprise.


Remember that year-end is always going to be a stressful time of year – especially at work. But it is also the most important time of year to create long-lasting “halo effects” of your performance and capabilities.

If you start building in these practices now in an ongoing basis, you will increase your success factors for career success – and help eliminate and manager any type of issues that come up before it’s too late. Getting started now, allows you to tell your own story – not waiting for someone else to write it for you.  

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What’s one thing you will do today to start writing your year-end story of success?

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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

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.

The Most Important Word in the Dictionary

By Davis Nguyen

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."

—C. S. Lewis

Humility isn’t a sexy word.

As recent college graduates, we are so eager to show the world what we have to offer. What we lack in experience, we make up for in our readiness to accept every opportunity coming at us – even if we don’t know what we signed on for. It is no surprise then that embracing humility is so hard; it means accepting our weaknesses. It means showing, instead of hiding, our imperfections. Imperfections we believe will keep us from getting the job we desire, being with the people we want, and living the life we dream of.

But the more we try to mask our imperfections, the more we miss out on the same opportunities we are seeking. We doom ourselves to repeat the same mistakes; we turn away people who want to help us; and we deny ourselves opportunities to grow. The outcome from making a mistake at 26 is not the same as if you make it at 36. The question is, will you learn at 26 or repeat it at 36?

But accepting humility doesn’t come from reading a “how-to” guide or waiting for an epiphany. It comes in gradual acceptances of who you are.

  • It means being proud of your accomplishments without being prideful.
  • It means thinking about how your actions will affect others.
  • It means taking responsibility for your mistakes.
  • It means admitting you don’t know everything.

Humility isn’t sexy, but it makes you more attractive.

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

What trait in a person do you admire the most?

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

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


Changing the Lens on Job Opportunities

Written by Melissa Anzman Camera_Lens

The stories that we grew up hearing, the advice that we listened to whether willingly or not, and the modeling our families showed us – create the fiber of who we are, for better and worse. We start seeing the world through various lens and viewpoints, with some biases and “shoulds.” And for most of us, it gets confusing when we look at our own career.

I was taught to get a good, stable job; make heaps of money so you never have to worry about it; work hard – it gets recognized; climb the ladder; and pick one path and stay on it. You probably have your own story about what your career should be about, where today’s world of work or your own personal work style/preferences, don’t even enter the equation.

That’s why it is so difficult for us to make career changes. It’s why other people sometimes can’t understand our perspective.

But it’s time to shift the lens in which we make career decisions, ever so slightly. Breaking free a little piece of our own stories, will open up opportunities you’ve never knew were possible.

On a daily basis, I hear clients pondering turning down a job offer because they weren’t going to make “enough” money or because it didn’t have the next-level title. And instead, they go back to their job search miserable trying to find their very own purple unicorn.

What if this is the place where we shift our lenses? What if the way we look at opportunities, overt and hidden, change – taking us on a slightly different than originally planned course, but much more satisfying in the long run?

Here are some things to consider when you evaluating your next career move: try these lenses on for size.

1. Determine the skills you can gain in the opportunity

Starting with what you are going to get out of the experience, is a great place to start when evaluating any type of job opportunity. Ignore the money and title for now, and instead focus on the various ways you will grow as an employee and as an individual (or leader) in the role.

Is there a software program that you will get to interact with? A new cutting edge marketing tactic that you will get to employ? Will you be able to lead a small team for the first time?

Look for possible toolbox growth in all types of skills – interpersonal and job-specific, and evaluate how flexing those muscles will benefit your overall career package in the long-run. Consider the opportunities it could open the door on, five or ten years from now – then decide if it matches where you are today.

2. Understand the level of interaction with others that will be required

That sounds funny, I know. But one of the most critical things in your career, is knowing the right people at all different levels. When looking back at some of my horrible jobs, the only thing I came away from them with was a life-long mentor, one of my best friends, a career advocate, and so on.

I wish I could say I had the foresight to understand this earlier in my career, but I didn’t and probably missed out on opportunities to meet some great people and mentors.

For each new opportunity, determine who you will be working with closely and who will be in your sphere of interaction. You can look at levels or titles, but I would recommend looking at the people themselves. For example, if you interviewed with four different people, it’s safe to assume that they will be people that you will interact with often. Based on your interview interactions: can you learn from them; will you be able to collaborate and partner with them; did they seem like they would take the time to teach you; and so on?

Consider the players in a role and the potential friendships, partnerships and business connections you can create and foster for the rest of your career.

3. Get real about the money

This is the part where I tend to get in my own way, the most. When you get used to continuously making more and more money, your ego around money grows bigger too.

When evaluating an offer, get real about the money – quickly. Maybe the amount isn’t what you were making in your previous role, or perhaps it doesn’t come with a 15% increase over what you are used to, but is the number enough to cover your life expenses?

Not is the money ideal or more, but will it sufficiently cover what you need it to and have the type of life you want?

For some, it means being able to work remotely or having a flexible schedule or not having the kind of stress that comes with an “always on” job. Whatever that lifestyle is for you, do the money tradeoffs make it worthwhile? If the answer is yes, then forget about the number.

Overall, evaluating job opportunities is a difficult process. We think the next choice we make is our forever choice – it’s not. We consider where this choice will lead to for the next opportunity – it’s usually not a linear line. And we think that we can never get back “on track” if we make a choice that creates a detour – you can.

Jobs and roles are more than the money and title – even if the story we grew up with tends to leave that part out. Try putting on a different lens when you are evaluating your next opportunity, and see if you get better results.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What’s one thing you will do today, to change the lens of your career?

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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

The Most Dangerous Job You Can Have in Your Twenties

Written by Paul Angone The most dangerous job you can have in your 20s is a comfortable one. 

Comfortable is a quicksand -- the job you never wanted becoming the job you can’t escape.

Worse than no-job, frustrating job or a demanding job, is a job that demands nothing.

Like taking basket weaving your senior year. Sure you’ll get an easy A, but what did you lose in return? There is a stark cost for time wasted on comfortable.

Because you don’t grow with comfortable. You don’t learn. You don’t refine who you are or what you’re capable of.

No, comfortable is the leading cause for R.E.A.SRapidly Expanding Ass Syndrome. Your body, mind, and soul turning to goo. Because challenges refine. Remove challenges, remove growth.

The crux of your 20s is not how much you make, but how much you learn, grow, and change. Those of us who refuse to change, as Robert Quinn writes in Deep Change, will enter into a "slow death."

Wondering if your job is too comfortable and it's time to escape? Here are three signs it's time to run for your life.

3 Signs Your Job is Too Comfortable (and it’s time to leave)

1. Culture of Complacency

Need to know if your office suffers from complacency? Pretty simple. How are new ideas received? Are they explored or instantly exploded with a shotgun of "that’s not possible." Have you been there for a few years and are still not able to voice an opinion?

Are the unspoken rules of the office to keep your mouth shut and not rock the boat?

Are you allowed to tackle projects outside your "job description?"

Does your boss want to work there? Does your boss’s boss want to be there?

Complacency is a disease. Extremely contagious and easily passed from one employee to another.

If your office permeates with a culture of complacency, especially from the top down – game over. Pack your bags. Time to leave.

I’m serious as a heart attack.

Because you, starry-eyed twentysomething, brimming with energy and ideas will be crushed over and over by tsunami waves of complacency. Until you shut your mouth, settle in, and catch the disease yourself.

In a culture of complacency there is a sick, perverted love affair with status-quo. And honestly, you’re probably not going to change it.

2. You Feel Drained By Doing Nothing

If you come home absolutely drained from work. If you need to watch 2-4 hours of TV a night to escape. Then you think back to your day and realize you really did nothing at work.  You’re really just drained because your mind wasn’t stimulated.

You’re drained because you spread one hour of actual work over a span of eight.

Being drained by comfortable is a scary way to start living. Because it’s incredibly hard to escape. Like a carousel ride that never stops spinning. Jump and roll. Now.

3. “We Want to Promote You” is the Phrase you Fear Most.

If the idea of being promoted makes you more nauseous than the time you ate cotton candy and three churros before jumping on the spinning teacups ride, then why are you freaking working there? I can hear lots of "but Paul you don't understand..."

No, I do understand. Comfortable is your drug. I'm checking you into a clinic.

Comfortable Will Kill You

Comfortable is like smoking -- addictive and killing you with every puff. Quit before it’s too late.

No one who has achieved great things and made a difference in this world has done so while remaining comfortable.

We'd love to hear from you in the comments below:

What do you think -- is a comfortable job as dangerous as I've made it out to be?

Paul-Angone-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul

Paul Angone is the author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of, a place for those asking "what now?" Snag free chapters from his book and follow him at @PaulAngone.

Stuck? Here's How to Pivot Your Career (Video)

Written by Jenny Blake Once just relegated to the mid-life crisis, inexplicable tumult became socially acceptable in one's twenties too; in 2007, Alexandra Robbins coined the term “quarterlife crisis” as a rite of passage at the ripe old age of 25.

In a world filled with economic uncertainty, one in which technology continues to transform our lives at warp speed, this "crisis" state will only become more common. But instead of supporting millennials through this massive shift, for most of this decade the mainstream press has taken to berating us for being “the entitled generation” and for “wanting too much.”

As recently as this past weekend (!!) an op ed writer in The New York Times got my blood boiling with an article that concluded with the following statement:

“It is unlikely we will ever see another generation that is as self-obsessed and feckless as the millennials, yet still feels so undeservedly entitled to the keys to the kingdom.”

By calling these career aspirations a crisis, and even shaming and blaming millennials for being unsure of how to add meaning in a volatile economy, we are missing a huge opportunity to embrace the learning and insight that can result from deliberately shifting our focus and optimizing for growth and greater contribution.

So let's stop seeing it as a crisis, and start seeing these career pivots as part of our new reality, one that we must all embrace moving forward. In the video below, I share my new framework for becoming more agile within your life and career.

How to Pivot Your Career: A Conversation with Kevin Kermes

Free Webinar: Find Your Dream Job

If you're ready to take the next steps in your own career pivot but aren't quite sure where to start, check out Ramit Sethi's Dream Job course. He is hosting a free webinar on August 14 on Cracking the Code: How to land "hidden" jobs and build a career you love. Ramit usually doesn't record his webinars, so definitely make it live if you can!

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

5 Ways to Make Your “Entry Level Job” Better

Written by Melissa Anzman lacpost

No one likes starting at the bottom – and yet, to build your career, you have to start somewhere. Your first real job may seem like a waste of time or a noose holding you back from what you’re supposed to do. But it can be so much more.

My first “real job” out of college was working at a jewelry manufacturing company in account management and sales – also known as doing everything that no one else wanted to do. Including, ahem, putting price tags on the items and stringing pendants. It was as bottom as you can get.

It was miserable, I’m not going to lie. I felt entitled to do more, be more, to not be the grunt person. And that’s where I went wrong. I was so wrapped up in how much better I thought I was than the job, that I missed many important lessons that I had to relearn later in my career.

When you’re in an entry level job, you can make it better than it sounds – and here’s how.

1. Plan your next two steps

I’m a fly-by-the-seat kind of gal for most things, but when you are just starting out in your career, having an idea or hope as to where you want your career to (realistically) be in the next two moves, is critical. It’s too easy to be aimless when you don’t quite have enough experience to be known for something, and are just too recent a grad to know nothing.

When you have your career plan in mind, you can start creating your map to get there and begin learning the tools and lessons you need for each step along the way. Know that your steps will probably change – and that’s ok, it’s about starting with a vision.

2. Create your toolbox checklist

Based on your forward-thinking plan, create a checklist of skills and tools that you will need to get you there. College is great for helping you learn, grow, try things out, and become a functioning human being – but it’s not so great with on-the-job “real life” experience training.

There will be HUGE gaps that will pop-up between your education and what you are expected to do at work. Figure out what those gaps are through research and being an awesome interviewer, and add them to your checklist.

For example, if you want to have a career in publicity, you will learn that the communications courses you took in school didn’t necessarily teach you how to customize pitches for different audiences or people; how to get a call back or an answered phone; how to find the right person; and how to use niche software to find your audience. These are four areas that you can add to your checklist of “tools to learn.”

3. Ask questions and make mistakes

Your entry level job is where you can make mistakes – it’s scary and can be stressful, but it’s sometimes the best way to learn. And I hate to say this, but it’s also where you are expected to make mistakes.

You have lack of knowledge and experience working for you when you are starting out – so leverage that. Ask questions about everything that doesn’t make sense to you and learn the information through other people’s experiences.

Try and ask at least a few big questions a week – and build your toolbox with knowledge and skills. It can be a game, making copy-machine duty not as dull.

4. Everyone started somewhere

I remember thinking in my first job, that that is my “start.” That at some point in the proverbial future when I would retell the story of my career, I would always look back to the jewelry manufacturing position as something I conquered.

Your first few jobs are your starting point. Sometimes the more awful the place or duties, the better the story is later on. The more lessons in skill and personal knowledge will come from it.

Says the girl who didn’t have internet because the company was afraid of... the internet and email – now can you see why I don't prefer the phone?

5. It’s your launch pad

The easiest way to make your entry-level job better than it is, is to use it as your launch pad to what’s ahead. If you are engaged with your work, your boss, your team, your company – you can create the type of job you want it to be.

In other words, you can take your own destiny back through delivering and adding more value. Don’t see your entry level title or job duties as limitations, but as the expectation boundary – then you know everything above and beyond that is more.

When you control your mindset around your entry-level job and to listen to lessons you can learn, your job can be so much more.


We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What was the best lesson you learned from your entry-level job? 

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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

Why I hate the question, "Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?"

Written by Jenny Blake

"That which you can plan is too small for you to live." —Unknown

I cringe — absolutely cringe — every time I hear the question, "So . . . where do you see yourself in five years?" Any of you who have recently graduated or launched a big project are probably already inundated (and completely overwhelmed) by its cousin, "So . . . what's next?!"

We start to think there is something wrong with us if we don't know the answer.

I'm all for taking the long-term view when it comes to saving money, health, and other core values. But when it comes to career, I believe mid-life and quarter-life crises are relics of the past: our generation can expect to pivot every few years.

So let's stop seeing it as a crisis and stop putting so much pressure on ourselves (and others) to know what the future holds! According to Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling On Happiness, our brains are actually terrible at predicting what will make us happy in the future anyway.

Yes, this does mean leaning in to uncertainty and fear — and for those who prefer a cookie-cutter ladder or template, you may want to stop reading. This rally cry is for people who don't want to know exactly where they see themselves in five years.

Friends, family and job interviewers ask this question with the best of intentions, but I think it is absolute nonsense. Who the hell knows?! And those of us who think we know are often in for a rude awakening.

I used to know . . . and you know what happened?

That false sense of certainty bit me in the ass when my plans changed. I had a great job, a condo, and a car paid in full. But instead of continuing right along the train track I had set-up toward the American Dream of a house, kids, dog and husband, I took a little (okay big) detour: I quit my job, moved to New York City and started my own business.

I will hit three crazy years of solopreneurship in July. Five years ago I would have said you were utterly delusional if you told me this would be my new reality! It hasn't been easy, but it has been incredibly rewarding.

Why Five Years is Way Too Far to Plan Details

  • Did you know that every single cell in our body regenerates every seven years? [1]
  • And that the iPhone didn't even EXIST seven years ago? [2]
  • Social Media related jobs hardly existed in the form they do today five years ago
  • Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American president just over five years ago [3]
  • And on a slightly longer timeframe but just as important, here's one of my favorite sayings from a visit to the Wat Umong temple during my time in Bali and Thailand last year:

Wat Umong's Talking Trees: "Cut yourself some slack. Remember, 100 years from now, All new people."

Here's My Workaround . . . What's Yours?

These days when I answer, I either tell people what I'm really excited about at the moment, or I'll tell them how I want to feel in five years (much like Danielle LaPorte's Core Desired Feelings approach): happy, engaged, grateful, healthy, like I am living a life of meaning and making an impact in the lives of others.

Honestly? I will be blessed just to keep doing this work, and to have my health and the health of my family — anything else is icing on the cake.

How about you? What's your answer to the dreaded 5-Year Plan Question?

Video: College Students Scared Straight Prank

On the subject of career pressure hilarity, you have to watch this Buzzfeed video -- discovered by Kelli and her workshop crew at the UC Davis Career Advising conference that I was grateful to keynote for recently!

[youtube id="NWWCpuqV4c0"]

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

Smart People Should Build Things

Written by Davis Nguyen

You’re 26 years old with $100,000 in student loans. Your recent start-up has just collapsed. You have a law degree and your friends and family pressure you to be a lawyer, but what you really want to do is build things.

What do you do?

This was a real dilemma facing Andrew Yang, who is the author of Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, a few years ago.

I met Andrew a few month ago at a conference where he delivered our keynote. The conference had nothing to do with business or start-ups, but when Andrew asked “how many of you would want to start your own business or join a start-up?” 80% of the attendees raised their hands.

Andrew followed up by telling us that while the dream of building a company is one most of us have, when it comes time to choose, most of us will defer our dream for security and comfort. He understood that this was a normal reaction.

Bootstrapping Your Life

Andrew graduated from Brown University in 1996 and earned his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1999. After graduation he started working at private firm. Despite the job security and six-figure salary, Andrew couldn’t find much meaning and purpose in his work. Six months into his career as a lawyer, Andrew quit to pursue his passion of building things with no experience in business and $100,000 in student loans. Less than a year later, his first company,, was a victim of the dot-com bubble in 2001 leaving him with no back-up plan.

Despite his parents jeering him, “Didn’t you used to be smart?”, his friends introducing him as a lawyer, and his growing pile of bills, Andrew decided to give entrepreneurship another chance.

Today, thirteen years later, Andrew has had a successful career as an entrepreneur and founded Venture for America, a non-profit helping recent college grads become entrepreneurs by pairing them with early-stage companies to gain experience. He was recently named Champion of Change by the White House and one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” for his work with Venture for America.

While most people in the audience were amazed by Andrew’s successes, I wanted to ask him about the story behind the success: the nights no one will talk about.

Two lessons I learned about being a successful entrepreneur from Andrew Yang

1.     Find Your Yoda (Mentor)

After Andrew’s first start-up failed, he started to work for Manu Capoor, whom he met while networking for Stargiving. Manu was a former doctor and investment banker who had started a healthcare software company, MMF Systems. Andrew had no prior experience in this industry, but working under Manu, Andrew had found his Yoda.

Andrew notes in the book that it was from Manu where he learned the most important lesson about getting things done in business. It comes down to “people, processes, and technology.” Andrew left MMF after three years to work under his friend Zeke Vanderhoek at Manhattan GMAT where he learned to shape company culture, scale a business, and provide unparalleled customer service. Andrew eventually became the CEO in 2006 and ultimately grew the company to employ over one hundred people and had it acquired by The Washington Post Company/Kaplan three years later.

2.     Learn to live within your means

Andrew gave up a six-figure lawyering job to work at start-ups that were paying him just enough to cover food, housing, and other essential needs. Through this process, Andrew learned that what he previously thought he “needed” were really just “wants.”

Besides paying for living costs and his student loans, Andrew never went broke or homeless. As one of my favorite quote about entrepreneurship goes, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

Audio Interview with Andrew Yang

I had a chance to do a 18-minute audio interview Andrew, where I went into more depth about Andrew's decision to quit his six-figure job, managing a start-up with student loans, and how you can take the first steps towards being an entrepreneur today if you wanted. You can listen it below.

[soundcloud url="" params="color=cc0000&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

You can buy your own copy of Smart People Should Build Things here.

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


What is the biggest obstacles facing your entrepreneurial endeavors? 

What is one first small step you can take?


Davis Nguyen

About Davis

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


From Overly Ambitious to Moving Up

Written by Melissa Anzman

reaching for star

Impatience is a virtue… said the overly ambitious employee with their eyes set on their next move. Ambition is a great characteristic to have, especially early on in your career. It will help you stay on track, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and keep you far away from the dreaded work complacency bug.

But while you are busy being ambitious, you tend to miss important lessons and skillsets around you. Ambition changes your focus forward – to what’s next, blurring out what is.

I know the narrowing of focus first-hand. I spent the first seven (that’s generous) years of my career so overly ambitious that I missed critical opportunities that would have propelled my career forward even faster.

I ignored the small things, the lessons, the connections, and the work.

My ambition scared people. My bosses felt threatened; their bosses didn’t know what to do with me; my peers didn’t want to be on the same team as me because I was too intense; and so on.

Only as I look back can I see how the approach I took wasn’t the best one, it wasn’t the most efficient one to move up. Learn from my seven-year ambition cloud.

How to Stop Being Overly Ambitious and Still Move Up

Create a Clear Map of What You Need to Learn in Each Role

For every job you take or create, you need to go into it with a clear set of skills and knowledge that you want to learn from the position. You shouldn’t see a role only as a bump in salary, a higher title, or the next stop on the promotion chain.

Each job can teach you something – usually it’s a lot of somethings. But if you are only worried about what’s next, the same lessons will keep hitting you in the head.

Use the roles that you are given, the projects that are handed to you, the annoying coworkers or boss who just doesn’t “get it,” to create your learning plan. Be specific and think outside of your everyday role. “Hard skills” are great – learning a program, how to process something, etc., but also focus on the “softer skills” – interpersonal communications, how to change perceptions, creating your work persona, and so on.

These skills should absolutely be part of what you will need to be successful at the next level, but here’s the catch: until you have learned each and every one of them, the next level shouldn’t be a second thought. Your map will get you there when you focus on your needed skills while doing the job you are in.

Fully Understand Your Why

I talk about “the why” a lot when it comes to your career – in general and in specifics. Understanding “the why” for you, will help you stay ambitious, but also keep it in check. If you know why moving up, getting promoted, or focusing on ruling the world is so important to you, you will be able to constantly remind yourself and work towards something specific.

One of my own worries when I was overly ambitious was that if I took my eye off the prize, I wouldn’t make it to the next level. It took growing up (ugh – how old-sounding is that?) and realizing that I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow with a personality transplant. I will still be motivated, focused, driven, ambitious, and so on – even if my immediate focus was on the present.

I had no "why" at the time. My ambition was solely focused on moving up, earning more money, and proving the proverbial “someone” wrong. I’m still not sure who that someone is, but I digress.

Create your why. Not your parents why; not your friends why; not the why you think you should have. Be true in why your ambition is so important to you, and that truth will keep you moving in the right direction.

Ambition Isn’t the Same for Everyone

Drive and ambition shows up differently for people. You may be externally ambitious, in that everyone knows what you’re seeking, while your cube-mate may be thinking the same thing but never express that out loud.

Your ambition belongs to you. Don’t judge someone else for “not being as ambitious” as you or for being ok with the position they are in. Maybe they have mastered the above two points and are moving along with their career stealthily; or maybe they are ambitious in a different way.

The point is, like religion and politics, ambition is off-limits in the work environment (ok, maybe that’s my work utopia world, but you get my point). Focus on your own growth, development, learning, and path – not what others are or are not doing to help you get there.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: How has your ambition helped or hurt your career path? 

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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

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.

Order from Chaos: What Tarzan, Steve Martin and SNL Can Teach Us About Change

Written by Jenny BlakeChange Careers Like Tarzan (via Derek Sivers)

My next big life after Life After College research area is something I'm calling The Human Pivot — how to successfully and strategically manage change even when all you feel is chaos.

I've talked about thinking about your career like a caveman and the fight-or-flight response that happens when we threaten our own job security by contemplating change, how to create a safe environment for exploration, and how to pivot (not 180) to build on your existing assets (strengths, experiences, network) to make a strategic leap in a new direction. (Take a full guided tour of these posts here)

With this new lens, I've come across some great material from big thinkers around the web that I'm excited to share with you today!

The key unifying themes are:

  • Do not start from scratch.
  • Strategically draw upon your current environment to build a bridge toward what is next.
  • Just as they say, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" do the same with your skillset: build for the job you want, not just the job you have.
  • Passion is not the aim; it comes as a result of being "so good they can't ignore you" (Cal Newport's fantastic book named after a Steve Martin quote)

Think of Your Career Like Tarzan

The image above is from a great post from Derek Sivers on how he thinks about career change:

"Remember how Tarzan swings through the jungle? He doesn't let go of the previous vine until the next vine is supporting his weight.

So my advice is: Change careers like Tarzan. Don't let go of the old one until the new one is supporting you.

And make sure you don't lose momentum."

—Derek Sivers, Change Careers Like Tarzan

Build a Bridge Toward What's Next

I also loved this related quote from Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels in a recent New York Magazine interview:

What do you say when a cast member comes to you and says she or he wants to leave to do movies?

The advice I give most often is, build a bridge to the next thing. When it’s solid enough, walk across it. Don’t go because somebody promised you this or somebody promised you that. You’re a star on SNL. That does not automatically mean you’ll be a star in everything else you touch. I just saw Ana Gasteyer downstairs. You see her in Wicked—that’s where she wanted to be, and she got there. I think when Will Ferrell left, he’d already had three movies that worked. Kristen did Bridesmaids. It was the biggest hit ever that summer. Then she came back and did another season. That’s Kristen.

Lorne Michaels, New York Magazine

Be So Good They Can't Ignore You

As I mentioned above, Cal Newport has a fantastic MUST-READ book on the subject of why "follow your passion" is terrible advice and how "skills trump passion in finding the work you love."

The book title borrows from Steve Martin's bestselling memoir Born Standing Up. Martin says:

"Nobody ever takes note of [my advice], because it's not the answer they want to hear. What they want to hear is 'Here's how you get an agent, here's how you write a script,' . . . but I always say, 'Be so good they can't ignore you.'"

—Steve Martin, Born Standing Up

What bridges are you building?

Today I want you to think about not just what you want, but the actual stepping stones that you need to build (or the branches you need to grab onto) as you step or swing from Point A to Point B.

How can you become so good they can't ignore you? How can you serve so meaningfully and powerfully that people can't help but ask for more?

This may sound painfully obvious.

But I speak for myself when I say that in the throes of change last year, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ignore what I had already created, what was already working. I had my eyes so far to the mysterious future that I lost sight of the very bridges and branches that were going to carry me there.

It wasn't until I doubled-back and looked at what was already right under my nose — my strengths, assets, network, and community — that I could unlock a clear, compelling path forward.

What about you:

What bridges are you already building? What gaps might you need to fill-in to get where you want to go?

Life After College Coaching

Speaking of making major career change happen and finding meaningful work, a friendly reminder that I've partnered up with an amazing coach and friend, Rebecca Fraser-Thill — a Bates College psychology professor and founder of Working Self — to launch a Spring coaching program for anyone looking to make a major career change (and we've still got a few spots open!).

If you are unsure about what you want to do next, what your strengths and values are, and how to harness them into energizing and meaningful work, then look no further! We're here to help. Even once you do know what you want to do (or at least what industry you want to work in), you may feel lost on the practical next steps of how to actually get there.

Rebecca Fraser-Thill

Together we have over 20 years combined experience working with twenty-somethings. Both of us care deeply about helping clients find meaningful, thrilling work (and lives to match), and work collaboratively on every step of the coaching processes we’ve each refined over the years. When you sign-up to work with one of us, you’re actually getting the shared wisdom and mastermind power of both!

If you are interested, you can learn more about how our coaching works here, and click here to apply.

If we think we might be a fit for working together, one of us will reply to schedule a complimentary 30-minute get-to-know you call to go over your goals, the program details, and answer any questions. No matter what, you'll leave the call with greater clarity and a handful of resources to move you forward.

About Jenny

Jenny Blake - Author, Speaker, CoachJenny Blake is a bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business coach and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

Ignorance is Not Bliss: Resources + Webinar for Aspiring and New Small Business Owners

Earlier this year my good friend Kyle Durand and I put on a joint workshop at WDS called "Ignorance is Not Bliss: 5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back." It stemmed from my own clulessness about what business structures I needed to have in place, embarrassment about not having taken care of them yet, and hesitation (and fear) about draining my bank account to hire a lawyer. Kyle, a long-time entrepreneur who has degrees in both law and accounting, has also seen firsthand many clients who fell into avoidable businesses situations before working with him -- glitches at best, total firestorms at worst.

We're sharing the handout from our workshop below, but even better — I'm really excited to host Kyle for a free overview and Q&A session next Thursday at 3pm ET to explain the material and answer your questions. I'll be facilitating, and Kyle will walk us through the most common mistakes new small business owners make, then we'll open things up for live questions at the end (as specific as you want!). You can enroll for the webinar here -- and no worries if you can't make it -- we'll send out the recording afterward.

Getting ready to set-up your own business? Keep reading after the handout for an amazing program by Jeff Unger (a fellow speaker at Mario Schulze's NYC Idea Mensch event) -- his company e-minutes is on a mission to help form 500 corporations -- for free! 

Ignorance is Not Bliss (Handout)

5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back

This content isn’t nice-to-know -- it’s must-know material that affects everyone who wants to build a business or even just start selling a product. A few key systems around accounting and law can go a long way to keeping more money in your pocket and Uncle Sam off your back.

1. Make it legal: register your business with with the right government agencies

2. For finances, don’t mix business with pleasure: track income and expenses separately

3. A contract will save the day - and your relationships

4. Keep the tax man happy (and more money in your pocket)

5. Stay healthy: get the right health insurance!

6. Bonus: Assemble your business posse to earn more money in less time

More about the eMinutes Mission to Set-up 500 New Businesses

For nearly twenty years, the lawyers at eMinutes have formed corporations for A-list celebrities, musicians, and athletes. Now, eMinutes has embarked on a mission to form 500 free corporations for first-time entrepreneurs. Free means free. eMinutes is even paying the filing fees.

For first-time entrepreneurs who have not yet formed a corporation, eMinutes will form the company. For entrepreneurs who have already formed a corporation, eMinutes lawyers will review the paperwork, determine whether documents need to be “cleaned up”, and take whatever steps are necessary to restructure the company. All of this will be provided at no charge.

Apply now, or read more about Jeff Unger and the eminutes team here.

Natalie Sisson's $100 Change Project

Speaking of WDS and people I adore, Natalie Sisson has launched a project called $100 Change, with tons of free resources, interviews, product giveaways and mentoring opportunities for aspiring solopreneurs. Click on the image below to learn more.

Imagine if $100 could change your life

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: From existing business-owners, any tips for those just starting out? If you're new to the game, what are your biggest obstacles or questions?

Guest Post: How to Find your Perfect Work + The Work Revolution Book Giveaway

Before we jump in, thank you all for the AWESOME list of 100+ tech tools and counting!! You still have two days to enter to win the HP Envy 4 Laptop giveaway, so share your best tip or tool by Friday, and I'll choose a winner early next week. I'm also giving away THREE (count them, three!) of The Work Revolution, the must-read book featured in today's post, by my roommate and bestie Julie Clow.

The personal scoop on today's post

The Work Revolution BookJulie and I have been friends for almost six years now after first meeting by sharing a cube at Google during her first few months on the job, and both of us made the big leap out to New York at this exact time last year.

I had front-row seats for every step of Julie's book-publishing process (and her for mine), from writing her proposal to getting a book deal through the back-channels at Wiley (and only then landing an agent to close the deal), to the tireless and seemingly non-stop task of bringing the book to life through speaking and social media, aided at every step by the help of fabulous people like Sarah Bloomfield (on writing and research) and Shannyn Allen (on promotion).

Julie has always been an advocate (and often a lone ranger in the blog world) for the notion that you don't have to quit to love your job, and her book beautifully articulates how we can all create a thriving work environment, no matter your state of employment.

The Work Revolution came out in April, and I'm thrilled to hand Julie the floor today to share her brilliant ideas and the book's key concepts, all of which are highly applicable regardless of whether you're an employee, manager or your own boss.

But first . . . a few words from today's sponsor (okay, just me) in this 3-minute video:

[youtube id="GKoq-t0z9iI"]

How to Find Your Perfect Work -- by Julie Clow

I love my job and where I work. I am lucky -- most people don't.

Most people show up feeling like a cog in the machine, churning out work from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night (or worse, far later), with hopes of one day receiving a promotion, a pay increase for acknowledgement of a job well done, or enough money saved to retire.

Sadly, many people live their lives with a sense that something (big) is missing without any idea about what that might be.

Some courageous individuals reject this existence by leaving their corporate jobs, and many do so successfully. But not everyone should feel like opting out of the corporate world is the only answer.

I wrote the book The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All to question the assumptions behind our management practices. It's about changing the world of work to free individuals to solve problems for the company. It's about ditching the rules that creative oppressive work environments and replacing the rules with guiding principles that give people more autonomy and joy in what they do.

Regardless of the choice you make about whether to brave the entrepreneurial world or to make the most of the corporate world, it is fully in your control to find your perfect work, perfectly suited to your passions and strengths.

The five principles below can guide anyone anywhere to search for work that feels more like play, whether within the cubicle walls or out in the wild.

1. Impact, not Activities

Don't think about what you want to be or what you want to do, think about the kind of impact you want to create and for whom!

2. The Right Things, not Everything

Once you choose a direction for your career, you will be overwhelmed with advice about what major to choose, what degrees to get, what internships you should seek, and what experience is "critical" for landing the perfect job.

We get a lot of pressure coming from many directions to do "everything" according to script.

The script said that I should go to the best college I could get in to, and that Google doesn't hire anyone from less-than-top-tier universities. Well, I went off script. I attended the University of Mobile (yes, that's in Alabama, renowned for its world-class education - ha!), but did so on a full scholarship (important to me as I had a two-year old daughter). Sure, it wasn't the most challenging school, but I made the most of it and earned a 4.0 and top honors in my class. And Google hired me.

3. Energy, not Schedules

Follow the energy of the work that excites you, and throw away any time table or schedule that suggests when you "should" hit various milestones in your career.

For example, a career myth I recently heard from recent graduates is to be in a role or company for two years, and then move on, presumably to get varied experience and to not get "stuck" in any role. From my perspective, you can hardly get acquainted with a new role in just one year, so that means you'd only be creating impact for one of those two years! I say ditch any role that's not working for you, even if it's after two weeks. Or conversely, stick to a role or company as long as you are growing, you can find challenges, and you love what you are doing, even if that's 20 years. Let your choices by guided by the energy you get from your work.

4. Strengths, not Job Slots

You might be hired into a narrow job role, but you should think about how you can use your strengths in that role to expand beyond it.

Jim Collins recently delivered the keynote at the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) International Conference, and he spoke about "personal hedgehogs" (any fans of Good to Great will recognize the concept). He translated the organizational-centric notion to something that applies to individuals; it is the intersection of:

    • the things you are passionate about
    • the things you are "genetically coded" to do (i.e., the things that come so easy to you, but seem difficult to everyone else)
    • the things that add value or are valued by society

The convergence of these three things point to your marketable strengths and should serve as your guiding light for how you frame your value to your organization or in your business.

5. Grassroots, not Top-Down

Don't wait for permission or invitation to do the things you are passionate about.

If you see an opportunity to improve your organization, don't just make the suggestion, implement the solution. When you find work that excites you, find ways to do more of it. If you have an idea for a new business or product, test it out quickly and see if it works.

If you learn to be a leader without explicit authority, people will inevitably recognize you as such, and greater opportunities will follow. But if you wait for someone on high to grant you the opportunity to do more, you just might be waiting forever.

These five principles will mean different things to different people, which is why they are simply principles. For each one, think about how it applies to your situation and how you might change one little thing to create more perfect work for yourself. And while the quest to define our personal mission and then deliver on it is a lifetime journey, the journey itself can (and should!) be joyful.

How to Enter to Win a Copy of The Work Revolution

We're giving away three copies of Julie's book today, and you can enter to win by answering the question prompt in the comments below. Leave your reply by Sunday, September 9 at 5pm ET, and we'll announce the winners on the blog next week!

Which of the 5 principles above would make the biggest impact on your overall satisfaction and/or effectiveness at work? What is one action you will commit to taking in the next week?

More About Julie Clow

Julie Clow, author of The Work RevolutionAll my life, I loved learning and school, so I followed an academic path and earned my Ph.D. in behavior analysis in 2000. I spent the first eight years of my career dutifully working in traditional corporate environments developing training programs and implementing organizational initiatives for various clients. Then, I joined Google in 2006 and everything changed. During my initial transition to Google, I felt the magic of freedom and autonomy at work, which inspired me to ask: if Google can create this environment, why can't everyone else? Thus, The Work Revolution was born.

I spent five years at Google focusing on team effectiveness, leadership, and organizational culture, primarily for engineers. I currently serve as the head of learning and development for an awesome, nontraditional mid-size investment management company in New York, NY, also chockful of software engineers and research scientists.You can frequently find me speaking at industry events and conferences. Connect with me on Twitter at @clowjul.