Winning the rental game

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Think creatively about the unique value that you bring

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

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

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

3. Address your landlord/roommates concerns

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

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

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

About Davis


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

Skype Interview Mastery

Written by Melissa Anzman skype-interview

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

How to Ace Your Skype Interview

Do a test run.

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

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

Keep your Skype name professional.

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

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

Pay attention to your background setting.

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

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

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

Professional on the top, party on the bottom.

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

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

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

Figure out where to look.

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

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

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

Remember there is a camera on.

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

melissa anzmanAbout Melissa

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

LAC Round-Up: Favorite Articles, Apps & Podcasts

Written by Marisol DahlHappy July, LAC!

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

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

Favorite Reads

Favorite Podcasts

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

Apps We’re Obsessed With

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

Ready for More? Subscribe to the Newsletter!

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

About Marisol Dahl

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

The Biggest Problem Millennials Face in Achieving Their Dreams

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

Millennials want to live on purpose with purpose.

How’s this a bad thing?

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

Yet, there is a problem.

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

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

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

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

As I first wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Growing Your Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

—Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy

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


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

—Penney Peirce, Leap of Perception

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

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


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

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

—Dorie Clark, Stand Out

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

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

About Jenny

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procrastination for the win!

5 Ways to Positively Procrastinate

1. Brainstorm ways to make your task more enjoyable.

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

2. Take a shower.

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

3. Get related work tasks done.

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

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

4. Watch Anything But Netflix

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

5. Go down the rabbit hole.

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

LifeAfterCollege: Now Available On

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

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

About Marisol Dahl

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

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

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

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

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

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

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

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

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

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

2. Problems can be solved with creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. A good solution is better than a perfect solution

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

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

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

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

6. You can find comfort in the uncomfortable

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

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

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

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

7. Don’t be bothered by small stuff

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

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

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

8. Knowledge is indeed power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Be confident with who you are

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

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

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

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

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

About Davis

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

Planning Advice from My Barista

Written by Melissa Anzman pins on map

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

Um... huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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

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

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

An Update from The LAC Team

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

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

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

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

Book Ninja 101

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

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

Here is what we will cover:

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

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

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

Life After College On Audible!

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

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

About Marisol Dahl

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

Turn Mundane Jobs Into Larger Opportunities

Written by Davis Nguyen 

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

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

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

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

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

Take ownership of your responsibilities no matter how small

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

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

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

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

About Davis

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

Late Bloomers in the Wild

Written by Jenna Leah

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

—Jane Fonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of my favorite late bloomer facts:

They take a circuitous path.

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

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

They tend to be experimental, rather than conceptual.

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

They are often misunderstood.

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

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

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

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

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

Why I get super stoked about working with LBs:

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

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

In sum:

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



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

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

Written by Jenny Blake

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

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

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

BOOK NINJA 101: 5 Days of Live Workshops


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

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

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

Here is what we will cover:

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

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

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career Strategist
Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career Strategist

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

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

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

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

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

The Life After College Reading List: Q1 2016

1. Lucent List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Giveaway

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

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

Be Who You Want to Be—Faster

Written by Davis Nguyen 

When I first started playing violin, my teacher would criticize us every time we played even a bit off-key, sat a few centimeters from ideal posture, or lost focus even for a slight second. She was a hard teacher to please, and many students quit.

Each time I played, I was nervous I would be the next one to be corrected in front of the class. But I looked forward to playing for her every day, because I knew she was only harsh to us because she wanted us to be better. Though I disliked being called out in the middle of everyone, the result always led to me being a better player. I knew the moment she stopped caring and calling out my mistakes was the moment my progress would stop.

It has been more than 10 years since I picked up my violin, but the lessons I learned from Ms. Allegood still remain fresh in my mind each time I am working with others, from school projects to business projects.   

Who do you want to be?

None of us are perfect. We have our strengths and weaknesses. And these strengths and weaknesses can be sorted into four categories:

  • Things you know you are good at (known-strengths)
  • Things you know you are not good at (known-weaknesses)
  • Things you don’t know you’re good at (unknown-strengths)
  • Things you don’t know you’re not good at (unknown-weaknesses)

Playing the violin, you quickly learn your knowns – which pieces of music you are good at, which pieces you are not, which positions you are comfortable playing, and which ones you are not. But it is hard to know your unknowns, and that is why a good teacher matters. A good teacher points out your unknowns and challenges you so you can discover your own unknowns. The result is that you become a better player.

Each time I work with others on a team, one of my goals is to further understand my strengths and weaknesses. I want to develop my knowns while discovering my unknowns to make them knowns.

It is easy to go from activity to activity at work, doing enough to get by, and not worrying about your personal development. Doing so would be wasting an opportunity to learn and grow, to be doing the work that you want, to be making the impact you want on the world, and to be paid what you want to be paid. By caring about your personal development, you ensure that every task you do, no matter how meaningless it might seem, will benefit you and help you become the person you want to be. 

Begin each task with a goal of how you want to develop by the end, even if it is just to be better at what you’re already doing.

Supercharge Your Personal Development

One of the fastest ways I’ve learned to develop myself is to ask for feedback from people who see me in action. I’ll ask for feedback as we’re working together as well as at the end.

Getting feedback can be hard since no one likes being told they’re not good at something, but it is the process of being vulnerable and allowing others to be candid with you that helps you develop your knowns and uncover your unknowns.

Over the years, I learned that when people I respect give me feedback, it is because they want me to be better, much like Ms. Allegood 10 years earlier. Over time, I developed three questions I would ask people I worked with.

  1. What should I stop doing?
  2. What should I start doing?
  3. What should I keep doing?

The answer to each helps me become a better leader, a better teammate, and a better person. Each time I ask these questions, I move closer to being the person I want to become.

Making the space safe

When I ask for feedback from people I’ve worked with, people I’ve managed, and people who have managed me, I provide the 3 questions ahead of time so they have time to think about the answer. I make it known that I want to know the answer to these questions so I can better myself as a person to give people the OK to be completely honest with me. 

Depending on the relationship we have and what I know about the person, if they are comfortable, I’ll set up one-one-one time to go over their answers. During this session, all I am doing is listening, taking notes of their answers, and asking for examples when I feel the answer is too vague. This is not the time to uphold my ego; arguing or defending myself would defeat the purpose of why we are having this session.

If the person is not comfortable telling me in person, I will send out a mass anonymous email (usually to at least 5 people I’ve worked with recently) with a survey form with the same questions and get my feedback anonymously.

Putting feedback into actionable steps

No matter how I collect my answers, I aggregate them into themes. Since no one person gets to see me all the time, one person might say I am great at X, while another might say I am not. Unless that person works with me a large amount of the time, I am not looking for specific comments but for themes across different people.

Once I have my themes identified, I highlight the ones that represent strengths and ones that represent areas for improvement so that when I work on my next team I continue to demonstrate my strengths and work on my weaknesses.

Once the project concludes, I ask for more feedback and the cycle of personal improvement continues.

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.

6 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your New Job


Written by Melissa Anzman

We are all questioning our career path and our “job satisfaction” levels to determine how much we want to kick butt during December when we’d rather be spending time laying on a beach or drinking egg nog. But what if instead of just having the year-end blues, you are in a new job or role that you can tell will lead to disaster?

You know, you’ve just been baited and switched. Or perhaps everyone was on their very best behavior during the interview process. Or you made a very bad, desperate decision. It doesn’t really matter why you ended up where you are – you are stuck with a new job that sucks. And you want to quit, like yesterday.

Can I Quit Yet?

I am a proponent of experiencing different jobs – hey, I can’t even count how many I have had throughout my career. But I do think that before you leave a job you need to consider the potential impact on your career trajectory.

{Interruption}: My dear Gen Y’ers – I know that you think that this doesn’t really matter for you. That you can job hop like the best of them without any care or worry on how it will impact your next job. I’ve heard it before – the job market is different for you. There are different rules. Agreed. However,you still have to make strategic career decisions. {end}

6 Things You Need to Consider Before You Leave Your New Job

1. Have you been in the role at least six months?

I know it sounds old-school, but if you haven’t been in your role for at least six months, you haven’t actually experienced enough to make a decision about the position. You may have known that your boss was awful on week two, but other opportunities or long-term solutions will not present itself until you’ve spent some time there learning and growing in the role. Six months also marks inclusion on your resume. Can you stick it out to at least reach this mini-milestone?

2. Did you make connections at the company that will be useful to you during your career?

It’s hard to think long-term when you are so miserable in the short-term. But I can’t tell you the number of people I met along my career journey in crappy jobs that have helped me later down the road. Seriously, some of my favorite people and mentors were added to my circle during my shorter gigs. Think BIG about this – is there an impressive leader who is in the role you want; what about a client that makes you genuinely excited to be working with them; or a coworker that you just know is going places? If you have awesome people to meet and build relationships with, it’s not yet time to leave.

3. Have you fully received the lesson(s) that you need to get?

Warning, I think I just went uncharacteristically woo-woo for a minute. But you are in that job to learn something. Maybe it was the “thing” that attracted you to the position in the first place or perhaps it’s a bigger life lesson. Whatever it may be, have you actually changed because of it yet? Will you be smarter and wiser for the experience in your next job? If you are rolling your eyes at this bullet, you haven’t embraced the lesson.

4. Did you exhaust your internal resources or lateral move options?

Six months tends to be the door-opener at many companies for when they will consider you for an internal position or lateral move. You may think the company is the problem, and it very well may be, but a different position may even out your Balance Scale appropriately. Have you applied for open internal positions? Being able to remain at a company longer, will absolutely help you further your career, so having a new role can feel like you’re starting something new and fun without the hassle of a full-blown job search.

5. Have you truly evaluated what you are going to do next?

I can’t really be a strong proponent for “making sure you have a new job lined up before you quit,” although I do think that’s smart advice, but what are you going to do next Monday morning after you’ve left your job? Are you prepared for the very real possibility of looking for a job for six months or more? Can you pay all of your bills without going into debt for even longer? Will you be able to motivate yourself to continue to look for income sources even when faced with rejection or no response… for months on end? Um, yeah – just make sure you’ve given this a lot of thought.

6. Can your role become a bridge job?

Are you able to shift your mindset from a stop along the career train, to this position being a bridge job? It is always ok to go to work to simply work. Can this awful job be re-framed into something that helps you earn money while you build your empire outside of work? Try it for two weeks and see if it’s something you can do for a longer period of time. No need to set long-term goals about it, but perhaps commit to it being a bridge job one month at a time and reevaluate where you are at with questions 1 – 5 at the end of each chunk of time.

The bottom line is this: Before you quit a new job, you need to consider the long-term impact on not only your career, but also how it can shape your credibility for future employers. It can imply that you are a “quitter” or not loyal – neither of which are good characteristics. But even more than that, it can prevent you from being considered for future positions because the recruiter/hiring manager will see it as a red flag of your poor performance. So if you can stick it out… a little bit longer, do.

What do you think? Is it worth sticking it out, or time to move on? Tell us more in the comments below!

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.

6 Ways You're Making Life Much Harder Than it Has to Be

Written by Paul Angone Life is hard.

So why do we consistently make it harder than it has to be? Life is complex enough without adding a bunch of baggage specifically designed to make it more difficult, more frustrating, and break down more frequently on the side of the road.

Why do we do this? On a daily basis.

How do we lay all the dead weight down to rest?

Well, here are six ways you might be making life more difficult than it has to be. The first one in particular is like grabbing a 1990’s box TV off the side of road, tying it around your ankle, and then trying to run at a full sprint.

6 Ways You're Making Life Much Harder Than it Has to Be

1. You’re hitched up to the gigantic dead-weight called unforgiveness.

Man, being bitter just feels so right sometimes, doesn’t it?

When by all accounts and witnesses you have every right to be utterly furious with someone, yet as you replay all the wrongs like a Spice Girls song stuck in your head, the more you obsess over it, the worse and worse you feel.

You have every right not to forgive, yet holding tight to that anger is like letting that person repeat the offenses over and over—completely tearing you apart while doing nothing to them.  As author Anne Lamott described best:

“In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott

Now hear me, I don’t know your situation. I don’t know the stuff you’ve been subjected too. Yet, forgiveness is more for you than it is for the person you’re forgiving. It allows you to be free and move forward.

Like getting over someone you loved and thought was the “The One”, forgiveness doesn’t always happen overnight. In my life, forgiveness has been a process that’s taken a lot of prayer and some counseling. And it’s not easy.

Unhitch that box TV and never look back. Unforgiveness is a weight that is too heavy to carry.

2. You’re trying to solve your big life problems late at night

I’ve realized in my life that late at night isn’t the best time to try and solve problems. Instead of trying to solve life’s big problems late at night as an anxious exhaustion swallows me like a black fog, I should just try something more productive–like going to sleep.

Morning is magnificently redemptive.

3. You’re secretly searching for perfect

The search for perfect is the perfect way to be perfectly miserable.

There is no perfect job. No perfect partner. No perfect friend. No perfect time. No perfect answer.

You’ll never have all the answers. Or enough information. Or the perfectly uninhibited view.

For years, I think much of my angst came because I was subconsciously searching for that perfect path to my future that didn’t exist.

As I write in my new book All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, “after college I expected a dove to fly down and deliver the detailed plans for my life, tipping his hat like a friendly 1950’s milkman, but someone must’ve shot that dove because I haven’t seen him.”

The only thing you’re going to find on your search for perfection is a bunch of imperfections to be depressed about.

4. You don’t utilize an Entrepreneurial Mindset enough

No, I’m not saying becoming an entrepreneur is going to solve all your problems because whether working in a cubicle or for yourself, it’s not going to be perfect (see what I did there).

Yet, I do think you would make life much easier if you became intentional about having an Entrepreneurial Mindset. What do I mean?

In my Finding Your Signature Sauce course, I discuss four different mindsets that I believe would change our lives if we intentionally modeled them–the Entrepreneurial mindset being one of the four.

At the core, I see the power of the Entrepreneurial mindset as the ability to see challenges as opportunities. Entrepreneurs make a living getting excited about problems they see because they can work on creating the solution. Obstacles are opportunities, challenges the trampoline to their purpose.

I just finished reading a great book by my favorite historian David McCullough on The Wright Brothers, who famously made the first successful manned flight with their own homemade airplane, and it was amazing to see their entrepreneurial mindset at work.

While the leading experts around the world with well-funded, never-ending resources at hand were trying (and dramatically failing) to become the first to fly, it was these two brothers, two bicycle mechanics who didn’t have a college education, who saw each new problem standing in their way of flight as one amazing step closer to solving the problem.

The Wright brothers were brilliant, but also doggedly optimistic that each challenge they faced was another key insight into solving the mystery of flight.

Successful entrepreneurs never let their epic failures stop them from possibly failing again.

What if instead of dreading and avoiding the problems in your life, they became your new business ideas, non-profit, invention, way to serve someone, etc. How much easier would life then be?

5. You’re on social media way too much

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, then jumped off and thought, “Wow, that was a great use of my time! Oh, and I feel so much better about my life too.”

I think only Mark Zuckerberg, and that weird guy who sits way too close to you at Starbucks, does that.

People used to go to their 10-year reunion and have to make it appear for one night that their life was amazing beyond belief. Now, we’re trying to pull that appearance off every second of every day. It is an impossible, crazy-making, endeavor.

We consume social media like a two-year-old downing birthday cake–we can’t get enough until we get more than we can handle.

There’s no better way to become depressed about everything you don’t have than by staring at the illusion of what everyone else apparently does.

Like I wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, don’t check Facebook when…

Don't Check Facebook When | Funny Quote Print

Now I’m beginning to think there should be even more stipulations than I originally thought.

6. You're trying to figure all this out on your own

We all need help. Or at least, I know I need a lot of help. From friends, mentors, family, and most importantly from my faith.

If I had to carry life's problems all on my own, I'd have been crushed to death a long time ago. I know enough about me to know that on my own I'm definitely not enough.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments on this article: How do you resonate with the ways we make life more difficult discussed above?

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

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

Land the Gig (Part 3): Expand the Pie

Written by Jenny BlakeThis post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. pie

In Part One of this series we talked about how to prepare to land a gig with your ideal client or company. In Part Two, we covered tips for how to create mutually beneficial conversations and calm nerves while interviewing.

Once you both feel like there’s a potential fit, one last piece remains: how to sweeten the pot for both parties. Whether you are closing a deal or enrolling a new client, sweetening the pot isn’t just about the money. Negotiating, at its heart, is about understanding what both parties want to give and receive and how to come to an agreement that is a win for everyone.

Expanding the pie means not just dividing resources—who gets how much—but getting creative about brainstorming beyond obvious metrics, such as money. What are the monetary and non-monetary intangible benefits that you both offer moving forward?

1. Reframe Fears

One of the best things you can do to prepare is recall times you negotiated successfully:

  • What enabled you to have those tough conversations?
  • What gave you the courage to ask for what you want?  
  • How might those experiences translate to this upcoming conversation?
  • On combating the inevitable nerves that may arise, what would you advise a friend to do in your exact situation?
  • What is the worst that can happen? The best?

2. Sweeten the Pie

What are your priorities? Money isn’t everything, but it is one (usually primary) aspect to consider as part of your overall Priorities Pie. You can even draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into the following categories. How big would each slice be in terms of its importance?

  • Flexibility, such as work from home days; the ability to travel
  • Time off, vacation (some even build in precation - extra time off before starting the new gig)
  • Benefits like health insurance, parental leave, transportation, wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, and volunteer days
  • Job Responsibilities: tasks and activities that are most interesting to you

What else is a make-or-break as you consider this gig? What elements are must-haves, what are nice-to-have, and what are deal breakers? Revisit the Plan Your Next Career Move template to help with this assessment.

3. Creative Promotions: Beyond Titles and Money

Similar to the money conversation, if you are currently employed, remember that promotion isn’t everything either. Lateral moves and intangibles are often much more valuable. Things like:

  • Dream Resume Builders: Taking on a ten or twenty percent project with another team, or with a project directly related to your dream career. When I was at Google, I started working on a ten-percent project with my friend Becky to create a drop-in coaching program for Googlers. When a Career Development team formed 1.5 years later, I was perfectly positioned to interview (and land) the open role, even though I was much younger than they were anticipating for the role. I had also bolstered my case by attending coach training on nights and weekends on my own accord. Thanks to my manager and the company, I was allowed to work on a passion project with ten percent of my time, I was able to bolster my resume and create value in my career beyond my paycheck. That ten-percent project has since blossomed into one of my primary sources of income as a solopreneur!
  • Location Pivots: If there isn’t a promotion available on your team, you may be able to move up the life experience ladder by asking to work from another office in a city that excites you. This could be stateside or abroad.
  • Key Mentors: Sometimes a lateral move will expose you to a power mentor or manager within the company. Someone who you can learn immense amounts from through direct coaching and observation. Although I didn’t report directly to her (I was many layers down), I enjoyed working in Sheryl Sandberg’s organization while she was at Google. I learned a tremendous amount through observation alone, and the programs and priorities she shared with us every quarter.

What are some of the non-monetary benefits that you would like to aim for in the next year?

Resources to Plan What’s Next — Your First Few Months:

Now that you’ve successfully come to an agreement, don’t stop there! Envision what a successful first few months looks like with the resources below, accessible via Google Drive on mobile and desktop:

  • Professional Development Strategy: This template has three strategy areas: Your Vision (brainstorm about desired impact, what you want to do & have), The What (skills, knowledge, education, experience), and The How (quarterly benchmarks & resources).
  • Ideal Day Mad Lib: Fill-in-the-blanks in this fun document to articulate what your ideal day looks like. Bonus points: do one version for your WILD AND CRAZY vision, then do another for your ideal average day — what an energizing "regular" work-day might entail.
  • Time Tracker & Schedule Blocker: Especially great for those who are self-employed or have flexible schedules, the time tracker and schedule blocker template will help you analyze where your time is currently going and help put your ideal day plan into tangible weekly terms.

That wraps up our Land the Gig series! I wish you the best of luck with all of your visioning, interviewing, negotiating and ultimately landing the job or client of your wildest dreams. If you try any of these tactics, we’d love to hear how things go!

About Jenny

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

Land the Gig (Part 2): Interviewing

Written by Jenny Blake. This post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.


In the kick-off post on Landing the Gig we talked about setting clear goals before you engage in conversation with your prospective client or employer:

  • Vision: One year from now, what does smashing success look like?
  • Value: What assets do you bring to the other party and vice versa?
  • Skills: On a related note: no matter what, having a wide and diverse skillset is key; marketable skills that you can combine within and outside of your industry. How will those play a role in this relationship?
  • Conversation: What is your ideal outcome for the conversation itself? How do you want to show up? What is the most important thing you wish to communicate? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Next Up: Nail the Interview

Contrary to the clichéd image of the eager prospect sitting across from a prospective boss getting grilled, interviewing is something that is happening all the time—you just might not realize it.

When you work for yourself, interviews are a natural way to connect with potential clients to see if there is a fit. When you are hoping to land a full-time job or transfer within your company, interviews are the meat of the transition process.

Interviews don’t have to be nerve-wracking, though I know they can be. When I was interviewing at Google, there was a day where I had four interviews back-to-back. I remember the first interviewer, who later became a close friend, saying to me: “You’re great, you just seem really nervous. Try to relax for your next few conversations, they are going to love you.”

Although my cheeks flushed from (even more) nerves and embarrassment, his candor was such a gift! It put me at ease that he cared about me enough to give such honest feedback. I took a few deep breaths and tried to have fun the rest of the day. It must have worked!

Three tips to best set yourself up for success to have a mutually beneficial conversation:

1. Ask about their goals early on. 

That way you can explain your value, ideas, and experiences more directly as it relates to their priorities. People hire someone—a coach, an employee, a freelancer—because there is a gap between how they are currently operating and how they would like to be, and they are hoping you are the solution.

2. Be succinct in conveying value.

Come prepared with three takeaways (your 60-second pitch) and one strong example for each. You might also consider sharing examples that highlight how you uniquely approach and/or solve problems, such as how you have handled inter-department conflicts or managed complex launches. 

3. Remember interviewing is a two-way street. 

What is the most important factor in determining if this opportunity is a fit for you? This might include qualities of the client or the co-workers you will be working with, benefits and/or pay schedule, and other intangible or personal elements that would make this opportunity an exciting and worthwhile one to pursue.

Physiological Tips for Calming Nerves

As I shared in my posts on how to Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence & Delivery and How to Prevent Panic, I used to break out in red hives all over my chest and neck before important presentations. When I am nervous, it shows.

I have had to learn how to calm my system down on a physiological level, which is something you can (and should!) experiment with if you find too much adrenaline surging into your bloodstream during an important interview.

  • BREATHE. This is key! It will help you relax, sending your body back into rest-and-digest mode.
  • Smile! Have fun, be yourself, and trust that the interview will go well, even if you aren’t perfect.
  • Release your attachment to the outcome. Ask for the highest good for all involved, even if that means that you don’t land this gig. Sometimes blessings-in-disguise are the best things to happen to us -- the bullets dodged that allows us to say no to the good so we can say yes to the great, as the John Maxwell saying goes.

Bigger Moves: What to Look for When Changing Industries

  • Informational interviews are a great way to learn about a company’s culture, as is shadowing for an hour or even half a day if you have the opportunity. Could you see yourself working within this type of environment, with these people, in the role/s that are available?
  • Tailor your preparation to the industry you are interviewing in: something as simple as dress code will vary depending on whether you interview for a financial job versus a brand new tech startup.
  • Ultimately, the best approach is to be yourself. If you have to try too hard for the interview, it may be a sign that there is not a culture (or a clothing!) fit.


  • Job-Interview One-Sheeter: This template condenses nine key questions into a one-page “Cliffs Notes.” Quickly articulate your answers to 9 key areas, including: strengths, goals, work-style, ideas, challenges you’ve overcome, questions & an answer to that dreaded “weaknesses” question.
  • Speak Like a Pro Course: Join me for 25 compelling conversations with authors, TED speakers and the world’s leading experts on influence, body language, behavior change, and what it takes to Speak Like a Pro. You’ll walk away with practical tips to improve your confidence, delivery and impact to influence audiences of any size.

Stay tuned for Part Three, where I’ll share my favorite negotiation tips, particularly on how to sweeten the pie instead of dividing it (when it comes to money, perks, and mutually beneficial arrangements).

Waiting for Perfect Alignment

Written by Melissa Anzman ducks

Our fears present themselves in many different ways – procrastination, frustration, anger, excuses, and so on. The easiest way to prolong anything is waiting for perfect alignment. You know, “I can’t do X because Y isn’t in place yet.”

When I was working in the corporate world, it usually looked like:

  • I can’t apply for that job because I don’t match the job posting 100%.
  • I’m not ready for a promotion because I haven’t been at the company long enough.
  • I’m not a leader because I don’t have any experience with people management.

As a solopreneur, my alignment excuses have presented in many ways, recently:

  • I can’t launch my new design because it’s not perfect yet.
  • I am not ready to write a new book because the first two weren’t best sellers.
  • I can’t pursue an exciting opportunity because it does not match my current trajectory.

The funny thing is, I’ve found that we’re all waiting for perfect alignment before we take risks of any kind. Whether we’re using perfection as a comparison tool or as a procrastination method, it’s holding all of us back.

Stop Waiting for Perfection

I wish I had a guaranteed method to walk you through to start bursting through your perfection and alignment ideals, but honestly, it’s hard work – and not a one-size-fits-all solution. But here’s what I know for sure:

  • You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.
  • The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.
  • Perfect alignment will never come.

You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.

Good piece of advice there, no? A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my friends and we were talking about going out on our own and why some people make it “big” while others don’t. Because they actually put themselves out there to try.”

That conversation and our eventual landing place, has never stopped bouncing around in my mind. Sure there are people out there who may be more qualified, or better equipped, or more experienced, or…. (enter any excuse here). But they are doing it while you just continue to ponder all of the things that can go wrong.

There is never going to be a job description that matches your skills 100%. You are never going to be hired for a job you don’t apply to. Your niche market is not going to be completely untapped. Your website isn’t going to be perfect – ever. But if you don’t apply, or pick a market, or publish the site – you won’t be any closer to your goals.

The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.

We’ve all failed – some more than others. And guess what – we’ve lived to tell the story. Sure it isn’t always easy or kind to our egos, but it’s a big part of learning. “Failure” teaches us what not to do again and forces us how to try again.

If you don’t get the job offer – it’s not failure, but a good indication that you weren’t a good fit with the company (or vice versa). And how awesome is it to know that before you spend your time and energy onboarding?

Perfect alignment will never come.

I used to wait for perfection – for a sign of complete alignment. For completing steps 1 – 4 so then step 5 can be PERFECT. I hate to tell you this, but it has never happened. I spent YEARS thinking and pondering and doing the what-if treadmill.

And I missed out on doing while waiting for alignment. I denied myself the joy of writing because I was waiting for a “sign” that people would want to read what I wrote. I didn’t travel because I was waiting for the perfect mate to travel with.

Stop waiting for everything to align perfectly. It’s NEVER going to happen. Perfection or the idea of perfection, does not allow you to pursue. To create. To explore. To achieve. To be you.

Start doing – take little steps if the big ones seem overwhelming. Stop saying one day and start going after the things you want, even if things aren’t “lined up.”

What are you stalling on? How does perfection alignment present itself in your life? Tell us more in the comments below!

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.

Standing Out From a Crowd of 30,000

Written by Davis Nguyen 

I rejected an applicant with a 4.0 GPA from Yale, and I was prepared to reject more.

Last month, my company asked me to help recruit the upcoming class of summer interns. It was my job to screen more than a hundred resumes from Yale (my alma mater), rank the applicants, and decide who my team and I thought should get an interview and who shouldn’t. The call to be part of recruiting at Bain is like being called up for jury duty – it's extra work, but it's considered an honor.

Upon accepting my role, I received a document to read that outlined how Bain & Company thought about applicants, what to look for in a resume, how to evaluate a transcript, and what attributes would indicate someone would contribute positively and have a good time at Bain.

This is not to say that the people we reject are not great applicants. But when each year more than 30,000 people apply for limited positions at Bain & Company, you have to have an objective measure. And over the last forty years, Bain's recruiting must be working, considering the number of future Fortune 500 CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and even Presidential nominees we hire.

After reading my share of the thousands of resumes and debating about the candidates, I learned how someone could stand out from a crowd of 30,000 applicants in whatever job they might apply to.

Cover Letter

The cover letter wasn’t really optional.

If my company and I are going to invest time, money, and energy to interview and develop you, we expect you to spend at least an hour writing a cover letter. I rejected more than a dozen applicants with perfect or near perfect GPAs, because they chose not to explain why they were interested in the position. Not writing a cover letter explaining why you are applying is like telling someone you like them and then showing up an hour late for a date. Let your actions match your intents.

Google will save you from rejection.

When I see you describing my company as “caring about results” and “valuing people,” I think, which company would say they don’t care about results or about its people? Find examples. What would have been better was checking out the websites of every company you apply for. What stories do they tell? What examples do they list of what they value and what makes them unique? What do the clients say about the company? Replace platitudes with examples to show you did your research.

Talk to someone who works there.

Want an easy way to write your cover letter? Talk to someone who works there. You can easily find the email of someone who works at the place you want to work at. Reach out. If people repeatedly reject even a short 15 minute call with you, reconsider whether this is the type of culture you even want to work in.

Your cover letter isn’t really about you.

It is about us and what you can do with us. I don’t care if you talk about the company you tried to start in college or the summers you volunteered at a kids’ camp. What matters is how your experience will help you have a successful time at the company. If you don’t tell me, I assume you don’t know if you will be successful and were just trying to fill up space on the cover letter.

Want to tell me about that stain on your resume?

The cover letter is the only chance you have to explain to me any points you think I will miss. This includes why your GPA should higher than it actually is. Did you have a family issue that caused one semester to drop your GPA? Without an explanation, I can’t read your mind. You can’t hide the stains, but you can explain why they are there before I assume the worst.


You have a college degree but so does everyone else. What else do you have to offer?

Today ~30% of Americans have at least a college degree compared to ~10% who had it in 1970’s. Having a college degree now is almost assumed. In the 1970’s if you knew how to operate a computer, it was a skill worth listing. Now you wouldn’t list “computer skills” since it is assumed every recent college grad will know who to use one. But is impressive if you have advanced computer skills that are relevant. When most to all people have the same qualification as you, you have to find other ways to stand out.

You have a degree in business, but an applicant with a degree in biology has started his own pop-up restaurant. Who do you think I will choose?

Just because you lack a degree in business doesn’t mean you can’t land a job in business, and just because you have a degree in business doesn’t mean you have a better chance of landing a job in business. In 2014, a team at Auburn University sent 9,400 fictitious resumes to online job openings in business-related fields such as finance, management, and marketing. Each of these resumes were assigned one of nine different majors ranging from business to biology.

Resumes with business degrees were not any more likely to land an interview than resumes with non-business degrees such as English or biology, but what helped was having internship experience listed – this increased the odds by 14%. As I am reading though your resume, I care less about what you studied in the classroom and more about how you use the skills you learn outside the classroom.

Imagine your resume is the only impression I get of you because it might be.

Considering the vast number of resumes I read, I saw some designs that wasn’t just your typical default Microsoft Word template – these people took the time to format these. While a beautiful resume alone did not guarantee a high-rating by me, it made the overall application more memorable. This was especially true in instances when more applicants are qualified than there are spots, I have nothing more than how nicely formatted the resume is. Your resume is an extension of you.

Google will once again save you.

Find out what we actually do. Your resume is not a time to brag about all the crap you have done. But if the crap you’ve done will help the company, you have my attention. I don’t care that you were a waiter at a Michelin star restaurant, but if your tips were 2x the average, then you have my attention. That signals that you know how to deal with people. Your resume is not about you. How will your experience help your future company?

You have a lower GPA than most other applicants, but we’ll still take you.

A high GPA means you can handle hard work. But will you be able to work with others? Do you have the resolve to be calm under pressure? Do you have the fire in belly to be a problem solver? I can’t tell this from just your GPA, so if a high GPA is the only positive quality you have going for you, you are in trouble.

A great resume and cover letter won’t guarantee you a dream job, but having a bad one will make you lost among the 30,000 other applicants.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments: What is the best job application advice you’ve received?

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.