Happy Six Year Blogiversary to Life After College! Annual Review & Post Round-up

Jenny Blake — Life After CollegeWhat a whirlwind year it has been! My sixth year of blogging was punctuated by change, travel, healthy habit-forming, yoga, website launching, business-building and the (mostly uncomfortable) roller-coaster of personal evolution. I used to chuckle and kick myself for the original tagline when I first set-up this website (pre-blog) 8 years ago: Life After College: No One Said It Was Easy.

That sounded pretty pessimistic coming from an optimist like myself! And yet, as I wrote in The Long Pause recently (over at JennyBlake.me) and in my earliest days here, there is no manual for the real world. There is no manual that drops down from the sky right alongside your biggest fears, hopes and dreams.

The path to learning is through getting your hands dirty. Taking risks. Balling your eyes out (or maybe punching walls for the fellas). I do believe that our biggest struggles are lovingly served to us by a benevolent universe who intends to help us grow, but that does NOT mean that those lessons will be easy. Quite the contrary.

Change will often bring you to your knees.

Whether you are a freshly-minted grad or a quarterlife crisis'er or someone turning the page of another major life event, change can often knock you flat on your ass until you're willing to really look and listen to it.

Challenging though it may be, it is from THAT point that you can finally hear the call to evolve and have the guts to heed it.

So you will stand-up, and you will try to do one brave thing each day. And soon, you will have a whole new bank of wisdom under your belt that you can draw upon as you embark on the next leg of your journey.

About this post

In these round-ups, I outline my favorite posts of the year, give statistics about blog traffic, and share personal milestones and achievements. It’s the best way to get a view of the entire blog on fast-forward and the full year in review.

I hesitate every year to publish these because it seems a bit self-indulgent, but it feels like the best way to honor all the work that goes into this blog and business. I hope that you learn something new, feel inspired or catch some helpful content you might have missed!

Previous Round-ups:

Year at a Glance

With the help of an incredible team, I launched JennyBlake.me, celebrated two full years of solopreneurship in July and navigated my own uncertainty in-between. Oh! I also turned 30, which I realize might seem ancient to those of you who are in your early twenties, as I was when I decided all the "after college experts" were way too old, so I should start this site :)

It has been an equally big year for LAC too: I brought on two fantastic co-writers, Paul and Melissa, who have really knocked it of the park with their honest, heartfelt writing. I'm beyond grateful to include their wisdom here, and proud of them for their own huge leaps this year:

  • Melissa celebrated one full year of solopreneurship and released her latest venture, Launch Yourself for people who want to shift or grow their career, business or brand.

Personal 2013 Milestones

  • JennyBlake.me — In June, after almost 8 years of running LAC, I launched a website under my own name that helps people build systems to thrive at the intersection of mind, body and business. I am most proud of the Business Ninja Tech Toolkit, and am having fun putting together weekly-ish Weekend Coffee Talk link round-ups.
  • The Book – Last year, Target purchased 15,000 copies of my book for their graduate display across 1,700 stores. This year it lives on after being published in Japan and Korea. Have you grabbed your copy yet? It makes the perfect holiday gift for grads!
  • Speaking – I was honored to deliver two major international keynotes for my Career in the Age of the App speech at Google's Training Summit in Dublin (Ireland) and the University of Calgary's Graduating This Year program. I also had the pleasure of speaking at Yale University, UCLA, and KPMG. At the end of the year, I had a blast developing and delivering my Speak Like a Pro workshop at Google SF and Parsons in NYC. Interested in bringing me to your company? Learn more here.
  • Travel – In an effort to see if I could actually run my business abroad, I took the big leap of living in Ubud, Bali for the month of January and Chiang Mai, Thailand for February and part of March. I'm happy to report it was a big success! I worked from coffee shops most days, and found the pace of life incredibly rejuvenating. I focused on yoga, building a daily meditation habit, and connecting with many of the awesome expats in SE Asia (including my longtime blogging BFF Elisa).

My Favorite LAC Posts


Landing a Gig (from Melissa): 



Big Goals & Building Habits: 


My Favorite JennyBlake.me Posts




LAC Blog Statistics

  • Visits
    • The total visits for 2013 was just over 221,817 uniques (428,500 page views) from 210 countries, up slightly from last year’s 203,210 uniques from 200 countries.
  • Best “Jenny Blake” keywords: 
    • How old was Jenny Blake when she was hired by google? (21 years old), when she graduated from college? (20 years old), when was jenny blake born? (October 9, 1983)
    • Chili soup jenny blake (yes! it's delicious and lasts all week!)
    • Where is Jenny Blake from (born and raised in San Francisco until 7th grade, then Palo Alto for middle school and high school)
    • Free download of life after college by jenny blake (hey now!)
    • How much does Jenny Blake cost (ack! i'm not for sale, but here's where to learn more about coaching or speaking)
    • Jenny blake aerobics (I'm more of a yoga girl, myself)
    • Jenny Blake courage cry (funny how those two often do go together, isn't it?! See also: batshit crazy)
    • Jenny Blake killed bug (hah!! yes, scroll down to see this insane spider from Bali — he lived, though)
    • Jenny Blake Myers Briggs (I'm an ENFJ, but a closet Introvert on most facets of the Extroversion scale)
    • Jenny Blake shark (hmmm, not sure what you were going for, but I'm obsessed with Shark Tank if that counts!)

So what’s next?

I have experienced an interesting pendulum this year on the personal brand front: part of the goal of launching JennyBlake.me was to create an umbrella that I could expand into beyond Life After College to some of my current interest areas at the intersection of mind, body and business.

But ironically, now that I've done that, I am also looking for The Next Big Idea (sounds like an elusive unicorn when I say it that way!) to build more thought-leadership around, which includes speaking, writing, a next book, etc.

I am really interested in agile career design, building highly effective and efficient vision-based systems (at work and in our personal lives), and navigating major career change (either within a company or for those who are self-employed). I love thinking about how to maximize our biggest talents while also moving beyond burnout — making sure that we honor ourselves and build sustainably at the same time that we reach high. I'm having fun behind-the-scenes as I explore these areas and try to get a little bit clearer on an overarching theme that I can really sink my teeth into next.

And alas, that is all part of the journey!

As the current tagline here states: what I want for myself and all of you is to Live Big -- to reach high and take big soul-stirring risks -- and to love the journey, which is sure to rock you senseless from time-to-time too.

As always, thank you so very much for being here, for reading, and making what I do possible.

Your warm notes and comments keep me going, and I am always all-ears as to how I can serve you even better moving forward.

Much love and enormous gratitude, Jenny

When You Lose Inspiration

Written by Paul Angone What do you do when you lose inspiration?

And even worse, when you lose inspiration doing the thing you used to love the most?

For me personally, I just released my debut book 101 Secrets for your Twenties and quit my 8-5 job to pursue speaking and writing full-time, and for the last month it’s never been harder for me to write! I’m living the dream I’ve been working towards for the last decade and now that it’s finally here, the anxiety, pressure, and lack of inspiration has made me want to curl up with Netflix and not let go.

Can you relate?

Whether it’s at your 8-5 job, your own solopreneur-ish, a relationship, a place, etc. have you experienced that moment where the magic has been overrun by the mundane?

What do you do when we lose the motivation and inspiration that used to propel you forward?

As I strive to not fail at my full-time writing and speaking career in the first three months, here are five strategies I’m working through to re-capture the motivation, creativity and continue moving forward.

5 Strategies to Re-Capture Inspiration

1. Refresh Yourself

In 101 Secrets for your Twenties I wrote that you need to “refresh yourself before you wreck yourself. You’ve got big plans, dreams, and goals? Awesome.
 You can’t squeeze water from a dry sponge.”

Then of course, I didn’t take my own advice and have been on a grueling year-long sprint of deadlines, book launches, traveling, and a one-year-old and two-year-old daughters at home who don’t believe in sleep.

I was running at an un-sustainable pace, so why was I surprised when I found myself broke down on the side of the road?

When life becomes non-stop productivity you can’t be surprised when your engine begins to smoke and spurt some nasty gunk.

Exercise. Eating right. Sleep. Prayer. These were all things I thought somehow I’d become better than and no longer needed.

How wrong I was. Coffee can replace sleep for only so long.

In our lives we can’t kept trying to produce fruit from a plant we’re not watering.

I thought I was being responsible and productive, when I was actually cutting my bloodline and then acting surprised when I felt so sick.

Sometimes the most inspired thing you can do is just hit the brakes.

Sometimes you need to get as far away from your passion as you can so that you can come back and see it fresh.

You can’t give anyone a drink of water when your bucket is scrapping along the bottom of a dry well.

Remember, nervous breakdowns are extremely un-productive.

2. Go Back to the Beginning

For me, writing had gone from something I loved and transformed into nothing but deadlines and obsessing over Amazon reviews and sales rank.

I forgot about writing what I felt and became obsessed about writing what I felt would sell.

I needed to simplify. Stop looking for affirmation. And just write.

I needed to get back to the heart of why I was doing what I was doing – to empower twentysomethings with authentic strategies for success by offering overwhelming amounts of truth, hope, and hilarity, as I narrate the unfolding story of my generation, for my generation.

Have you defined the heart of why you do what you do? If so, how do you get back there?

If you’re inspiration tank is on E, how can you simplify and go back to that one thing that started you on this journey to begin with?

3. Scrap the Routine and Get Physical

Sometimes the best way to add a breath of fresh air to a project or relationship is to actually go outside and get some air. Take a walk. A hike. Go on a short-trip. Change the scenery, the routine, the process, scrap the routine and see it from a new angle.

More and more studies are even discovering that aerobic exercise has been found to have powerful effects on the mind, sending scintillating hormones and neuron growth that can motivate the mind much more powerfully than any cup of coffee. If answers seem to come to you out of nowhere when you’re riding your bike or even simply taking a walk, there might be more biology taking place and less mere coincidence.

Schedules, timelines, and plans are great. But sometimes you need to light your timeline on fire, do some Zumba around it, and then start from scratch.

4. Read

If you feel like your mind and heart are turning into a bowl of bland mush, maybe it’s time to add some flavor back in with a few good books. I’ve heard Life After College and 101 Secrets for your Twenties are pretty amazing. Or if you need some more ideas, check out my list of top 21 books for twentysomethings.

Inspiration is just waiting to be discovered and devoured in the middle of a good book. Take the author up on their years of hard work and gracious offer to help you move forward.

5. Keep Showing Up

Sometimes the most inspired thing you can do is to just keep showing up when inspiration is out on a Caribbean cruise and not returning any of your phone calls.

Sometimes inspiration only comes from consistently plugging away and fighting through the wall that blocked your way.

Sometimes you can only find inspiration by continuing to move forward when you’re completely uninspired. The act of doing that only thing that can dislodge the motivation that has been stuck.

Don’t wait for inspiration, fight for it.

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

What's one strategy you use to re-gain your inspiration? 

Paul-Angone-101-Secrets-for-your-Twenties-PhotoAbout Paul

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


Launch Yourself to the Next Level

Written by Melissa Anzman Your career and work can be defined by a series of launches. A set of decisions that you make to not accept the status quo. To know there is more out there. That your potential isn’t being fully maximized.

That you can: be better than you are today. ™

For the past year and a half, I have been working with three separate audiences helping them be better in their career, biz or brand. But it was so… discombobulated. To many of you, I focused on helping you build a corporate career; to the solopreneurs out there, you knew me as a launcher and implementer; and finally to new coaches, I was a web designer.

See – it was a bit all over the place.

But I am all of those things, which is why I became an entrepreneur to begin with.

My first question when I was starting out was, “How do all of my talents fit together under one umbrella? What ties it all together?

The answer had been a bit murky for some time. I could explain the connection, but it always felt like a stretch. My answer would vary based on who I was talking to and what their needs were. Not what my umbrella was.

Until recently. I was stuck in place, not being able to move forward with my business. I felt like a freelancer who was perhaps, a fraud, and not at all able to pick a direction to grow and scale.

The more I dug, the more I realized how much of what I do can be captured as a launch. I’m a launcher – I love the creation of an idea, the building of a concept, the take-off and details, and the excitement of starting something new – of taking a leap.

That is the connection that ties all of the people I work with, together. We create a launch – whether it’s in your corporate career, your biz, or your brand; it’s a point of decision to reach for more. To get uncomfortable. To fulfill your potential instead of watching life pass you by.

To Launch Yourself ™.

And so, I have officially reorganized my business and branding under one umbrella – LaunchYourself.co (go on, click on through to see the shiny new design).

What’s Ahead?

To you, pretty much nothing is going to change. If you want to hear about career advice, it’s going to still be there. If you followed me for product/business launch tips, you’ll still get them. And if you have website or branding questions, I’ll still have you covered.

So honestly, not much has changed on your end. Except maybe a bit more clarity. Which is great, right?

But it has significantly changed the way I view my business. It has finally put that last remaining puzzle piece in place, and I feel like I can finally move forward with the big ideas I have for my little biz.

After putting so much time and effort to get things aligned, it has also reignited my passion for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Have to live what I preach, right?

Immediate boundary pushing includes a podcast series, pitching some big-names (writing that made me squirm just a little), a new book project perhaps, and doing more speaking gigs. And most importantly, treating my business like a business.

I look the first step in that direction by finally opening a business banking account last week, making my business an official LLC a few months back, and protecting my assets and collateral through trademarks, etc. It’s a bit later in the “starting a business cycle” than is typically recommended, but it feels awesome.

So help me spread the word, would you? I am giving away two free goodies when you join the launch crew – 5 Rules for High Performers and the Big Launch Checklists. Come check them out, will you?

And I’d love to hear about any ideas, topics or launches that you want to be sure we cover here on Life After College – please share below in the comments section. 

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.


Stuck in a Job Rut? Just Because You’re Good Doesn’t Mean You Should

Written by Ashley Josephine Herzberger

Have you ever felt pressure to pursue your career or business just because you’re good at it? In fact, most people would tell you that you’re nuts if you DON’T apply your natural strengths and talents to your career.

Too many of us painstakingly search for a  job in our designated career field after college out of guilt, however painful it may be to go through the search process and however grim the prospects look. The idea of paying for 4+ years of schooling only to get a job in a completely different field seems a ludicrous waste.

When we do score a gig, we’re so elated and grateful to be making a paycheck that we forget to check in with how we actually feel about the job. A few years later it becomes evident that we are not, in fact, enjoying what we’re good at.

The thing is, being good isn’t good enough.

Beware the Easy Trap

Being the best doesn’t even cut it. Chasing after only what you’re good at — without an equal pursuit of joy, happiness and fulfillment — will just leave you feeling beat up, stressed out, burnt out and sad.

Many of us like to do what we’re good at simply because we’re good at it and it comes easy. But too many of us aren’t fulfilled on a deeper mental, emotional and spiritual level by the things that we’ve learned to become good at.

Being good at something can be learned. Loving must be felt.

Yes, there’s a difference.

Quarter life crises are all too common these days, and I actually think it’s a good thing we’re having them. Mid- and quarter-life crises exist because we wake up one day and tune into how we feel. We realize we feel like crap and decide to do something about it. Better it happens at your quarter life; you just saved yourself from 25 years of zombification.

How to Feel Your Way Through Your Career

Refusing to feel, running away from what you feel, or ignoring what you feel will only increase what and how much you feel when your feelings overflow.

Feeling is scary. I get it. It takes incredible courage.

It takes a lot of balls to realize that after developing and perfecting your skills to meet your “lifelong” dreams of becoming a magazine journalist or a PR goddess, after $100,000 of college education to prepare you for this exact career, you decide to become a yoga instructor.

Believe me, I haven’t just “been” there – I am the yoga instructor with two degrees in English and Journalism. I am the girl who tried my best to love the traditional career options that allowed me to write all day long because that is what I’m good at. But it didn’t fulfill me. In fact, it frustrated me, drove me crazy and led to anxiety attacks and physical stress-induced pain at the age of 21!

At a certain point, I just had to stop believing that the grueling “climb to the top” was “the way” for me. I decided my health and happiness — my life — is more important than getting to the top of a career that I don’t enjoy.

5 Ways to Check in With How You’re Feeling

For those of you who have spent a lot of time, effort, energy and money into being really good at something and yet you’re still not satisfied, consider the following exercises to reacquaint yourself with how you feel.

1. Find Tension — Where are you holding tension in your body? Are you always asking for back rubs from your partner or do you experience chronic pain in a particular area of the body? Without getting too metaphysical on you, just become aware of where you carry all your tension. Then, as you do your work, pay attention to when the tension shows up in your consciousness. This will tell you what activities really stress you out.

2. Breathe — How are you breathing? Are you a deep belly breather or do you keep all your breath up in your chest, restricting the flow of oxygen to your entire body? Once a day, take 10 really deep breaths from the pit of your belly to open up space in the body to feel. Many of us have spent our entire lives moving away from feeling and in the process have cut off our ability to feel in most of our body. Start to retrain yourself by focusing on the breath.

3. Meditate — Meditation doesn’t have to be formal. Take 1-5 minutes a day to sit quietly and notice what you’re thinking about. Is there a particular thought that just won’t go away? Reference #1 above and pay attention to how you feel when you have these thoughts.

4. Write — Write about your dreams and goals. Are you taking the steps necessary to meet them? What are your thought patterns around your dreams and goals? Do you think they’re unreachable? Why? Do they scare you? That’s a good thing. What is one thing you can do today to start making your dreams and goals a reality?

5. Stop doing what you’re good at — Try something new. You don’t have to up and quit your job – it can be as small as taking a painting class or a yoga workshop. You might suck at it. That’s okay. Another reason why we continue to do what we’re good at is because this ensures little chance for failure. No one likes to fail, but it’s the most useful thing that can happen to you in your life if you pick yourself back up, soak up some learning and move on. Stepping away from what you’re good at and opening up yourself to failure will take you far.

We all get stuck in the game of life sometimes. Most of us will turn to what we’re good at to get us through, when in actuality it’s very likely that what you’re good at is what got you stuck in the first place.

If you’re ready to move forward, to get unstuck, to actually feel good, fulfilled and in love with the work you do, start to feel your way through. Get out of your head and into your body. There’s some wisdom in there waiting to be discovered.

Ashley Josephine Herzberger

More About Ashley

Ashley Josephine Herzberger teaches women how to become healthier & wealthier in their busy lives. She integrates her experiences as a yoga instructor, online business owner, social media marketing specialist and Air Force partner to empower women to redefine and rediscover balance in their work and lives. She recently published her first ebook “The Unconventional Beginner’s Guide to Yoga,” available for free download on her website.

Success in Different Shades

Written by Melissa Anzman measuring successSuccess is defined differently for each person. To this day, when I come across someone who uses the word success to describe their career, it makes me pause and try and reverse engineer that person’s definition… and then I compare it to my definition.

And the comparison is what gets me every time.

When I was younger in my career, I used to judge other people’s definition of success. I’d consider their title, the company – both size and prestige, ponder how much money they were probably making, and determine where that landed them on my measuring stick.

Probably not that atypical, but based on where they landed in the comparison game, I would then feel better or worse about myself.

As I have gotten older and worked on who I am as a person, my own definition of success has changed and morphed into something completely unrecognizable by the definition when I was younger – in a good way, I think.  But I still have moments of comparison – twinges of jealously, questions of regrets.

At times, other people’s success has prevented me from moving forward. From taking action towards my own success. In the corporate world, it has sometimes blocked advanced to the next level or the ability to jump ship to a “better” company. In the solopreneur world, it has sometimes meant me not landing a specific client or working on a cool project.

When people give me advice or try to assist with a problem, my gut response is to consider how much I think they know on the topic – and whether or not they are successful enough to be providing that type of insight. And if not, I completely discount everything they say, roll my eyes, and nod my head.

Imagine how many awesome ideas I’ve simply ignored from people who cared enough to share ideas and thoughts with me; simply because I didn’t think they were successful enough – to my standards. I’m not sure if everyone operates this way, but I do know that it’s an easy form of entitlement or betterment – that person isn’t up to my level, so he just doesn’t know.

But what I continue to learn and practice is that success is an internal measurement only. I can’t compare what I’ve done to someone who is a big fish in a small pond, or conversely is a small fish in a big pond. I can only compare where I am with where I have been, and where I want to go.

At work, success isn’t just about your title, salary or company’s prestige. It’s about the relationships you have made, the projects you’ve delivered, the impact you leave in your wake. Now more than ever, those are the things that will propel your career ahead, those are the things that hiring managers care about. Not what you look like on paper, but what you can actually do.

It’s a work in progress for me, but here’s what helps me – and hopefully it can help you shift your success perspective.

  • When I start going into inventory mode, I shift my mindset from what have they done, to how far they must have come. Instead of being critical of their current status, I reflect back on the many things that must have gotten them to where they stand today – amazing.
  • If that trick doesn’t work and I feel that they are more successful than me on my measuring stick, I use it as an opportunity to learn from them – not get depressed or overwhelm with my “failure.” I ask them questions – what brought you there, what was a turning point for you, what influenced your current situation, and so on. Trying to pick up on themes or patterns that I can either see in my own path, or start weaving into my trajectory.
  • The hardest action is if I feel as though they aren’t up to my success standards. I see it as a huge character flaw that I am constantly working on and have improved immensely, but there are still times where that gut reaction comes back to light. If that happens, instead of rolling my eyes or discounting their viewpoint, I use it as an opportunity to learn from them – they essentially shift into the more successful category, as I ask the same questions of them. And since I’ve started doing this, I have learned more from these conversations, than any of the others. We have different perspectives, which adds so much more diversity in thought and problem solving.

It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, but I appreciate the definition of success so much more today, than I did when I was viewed as “conventionally successful” in the corporate world. Perhaps all I needed was being on the other side of judgment, or maybe it was learning that I had control over the word. Regardless, it’s amazing to learn what it means to other people and how I can keep adding to my own set of rules.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What is your definition of success? 

melissa anzman

About Melissa

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



I can't believe it, but I turn 30 years old today. Me! The founder of a humble little website called Life After College way back in 2005, when I thought that the experts in their 30s who were talking about post-grad life were ancient (#facepalm #karma #lookwho's30now) and therefore I should add my perspective by launching my own website. And yet I'm grateful for that judgey little impulse, because it launched me on an incredibly rewarding 8-year journey since. Jump on over to JennyBlake.me to read my full birthday post, in which I reflect on insights from a growth year — the naked feeling of shedding old skin to grow into new habits for health and happiness. Or click on the animated gif below: an ode to my yoga practice, which pretty much saved my sanity this year :)

Jenny Blake Yoga (Teardrop Forearm Stand) — Inscope Arch at Central Park NYC

4 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 21-Year-Old Self

Written by Paul Angone What if you could have a face-to-face talk with your 21-year-old self?

What would you tell him or her?

Your twenties are about pointing your life a certain direction and one way or another, you’re going to be sailing somewhere. What would you tell yourself to make sure you were on the right course?

I was an idiot at 21. Let’s be honest.

People that knew me back then are probably shaking their heads in full-fledged agreement.

If I could transport back and find myself sleeping on that bottom bunk in a house with five guys, first, I’d tell myself–clean up your room and do some serious scrubbing on that shower because that stuff is just nasty. How the heck do you live like this?

Then I’d say these four things to help myself do my twenties right.

4 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 21-Year-Old Self

1. You’re NOT the Shiz.

Seriously man, you’re not.

And the sooner you stop acting like it, the sooner we can get to work.

Cockiness is insecurity on steroids. Like a 4′ 11″ male driving a lifted truck, no one cares how cool you think you look. Actually it turns most people off.

To succeed in your twenties you need two things: Humility and Grit.

Humility — To be willing to take on some not-so-glamorous jobs and roles.

Grit — To plow through the not-so-glamorous. Learn and do it well, so you start getting opportunities for the semi-glamorous.

Twentysomethings who work with grit and humility are the ones who are going to rock their 30s like Nickelback at the Missouri State Fair.

2. Your Twenties are Not Mainly About Making Money. Your Twenties are About Making Relationships

Money should be the least of your worries throughout your twenties.

I know, not the easiest thing to say when you're struggling to pay college loans, or just pay for food.

However, don’t solely focus on a paycheck. Focus on people.

Build relationships.

Create a network.

Don’t stick to the five comfortable friends who will never challenge you to go further.

I challenge you every week to reach out to someone new, someone older, someone wiser.

Build a relationship portfolio.

Not only is it healthy to live life in community. But I promise–every little bit of success you experience in your twenties will be birthed out of a relationship.

3. Now the Real Learning Begins

College is about learning how to learn.

College is about gathering a bunch of different expensive tools to place them in your shed.

Your twenties are about learning how to use these tools effectively, while continually gathering bigger, more complex tools.

Your tool shed out back is endless. Never think you can fill it to the max. Never stop reading, learning, asking the right questions, and challenging yourself.

You’ll never learn enough.

4. Process, Process, Process, Process

As I write in Secret #19 in my book 101 Secrets for your Twenties –

“I don’t think our big plans and outrageous dreams are the problem. Our krizaaaazzzy timeline of how quickly we want those plans and dreams to be sitting on our doorstep with a big Christmas bow is the problem.”

Don’t worry about “making it.”

Don’t look for that moment you’ve climbed the mountain and can stand at the top victorious.

Your twenties aren’t about conclusion. Your twenties are about the opening paragraph.

You’re outlining your twenty-something story in pencil. It's only natural that your twenties be covered in eraser marks and revisions.

Your twenties aren’t about perfection. Your twenties are about process.

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

What's one piece of advice you would give your 21-year-old self?

What point above did you resonate with the most?


About Paul

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


34 Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet

HP Slate 7 TabletWritten by Jenny Blake Happy Monday everyone! I'm excited to announce that the HP Slate 7 giveaway winner is Jenn B. Congrats! Huge thanks to all of you who shared your favorite up-and-comer apps — below is a round-up of the best of the best.

In case you're looking for more (assuming your phone or tablet isn't already crammed to the gills) be sure to also revisit last year's 90+ Tech Tools to Help Manage Your Life.

34 Up-and-Comer Apps for Your Smart Phone or Tablet

Business & Productivity

One app I’m loving right now is FancyHands (shout-out to Lindsay Gattis) – they’ll complete 15-minute tasks in just a few hours, and the lowest package is very affordable at $25 a month for 5 tasks. After just a few days of testing the service, I’m already hooked!

Diane Pauley recommends Pomodoro Timer: "This app is all about productivity and allows you to stay focused on a specific task by breaking up your day into 25 minute work sprints.”

Dropbox was a fan favorite, with six commenters sharing the love. Rebecca Fraser-Thill says, "It lets me access my files whenever and wherever I am, and it’s great for sharing large files with editors when I’m freelance writing.”

Lyssa Winograd recommends CardMunch."It allows you to take a picture of all the business cards you get to create a contact list, and then it connects your contacts with LinkedIn. It's super helpful for professional contacts and a great way to get people you met to remember you!”

Calendar & Mail

Alex Marcy recommends Mailbox for iOS: “It helps me quickly go through all of my work and personal emails by swiping everything to te correct folder and it allows me to bring emails back to the forefront at a specific time which saves me tons of time.”

Katy recommends Cozi, a calendar app."Its great, because my man and I are able to have a shared calendar and shopping lists. Love it!” From Cozi’s website: “The organizing app for the modern family.”

Vivian Lee recommends Sunrise Calendar: "A gorgeous calendar app that helps me focus on what’s coming up in the day. It displays your schedule only in agenda view. Instead of agonizing about blocking time, staring at what was ahead tomorrow, etc. the unique presentation of Sunrise allows you to focus on what is immediate and requires your attention. The interface is beautiful and easy on the eyes (a soft shade of grey), and it’s a “smart calendar,”which means you can dial conference lines directly from calendar entries, connect it with Facebook to send automated birthday messages, etc.”

Jenn recommends Tempo: "It replaces the iPhone calendar app and is much more robust. It scans through your emails, contact lists, and the web to find all of the data you need for a meeting – it will even dial conference call room numbers!”

Lists, Clocks & Sleep

Shannon and Angel recommend Wunderlist. Shannon says, “Wunderlist is a great to-do list app - particularly because you can share your lists with other people (if you want). Good way to keep track of groceries with a roommate!” From Wunderlist’s website: Your beautiful and simple to-do list.” Angel adds, “Additional bonus of being able to schedule events to repeat itself — useful for weekly tasks like laundry, groceries, etc.”

Jenna amd JR recommend Timely. Jenna says, "It is a fantastic alarm clock app that wakes you up with a gentle tune, increasing in volume over time (you get to choose how long). It is a wonderful way to wake up and definitely preferred over endless beeping or ringing. To top it all off, the app itself is gorgeous and lets you customize the background colors.” JR adds, “It is a really great alarm clock that is beautifully designed. You really don't think much about application design until an app developer comes along and wows you. Timely is one of those apps.” From Timely’s website: “Time Tracking Made Beautifully Simple.”

Beth C. recommends Sunset. "It’s an app that was developed by stargazers so they could use their phone at night without ruining their night vision. It puts a red (or blue, if you prefer) filter over your screen so you can see your screen just fine, but it doesn’t mess with your night vision or the weird things blue glow can do to your brain after dark. It is so great when I want to lie in bed and mess with my phone without re-waking myself up or bugging my partner.”


Joanna recommends Pressgram: "An instagram alternative that gives you more choices on where to publish your photos and full rights to your pictures." From Pressgram's website: "The best way to filter & publish photos to your WordPress-powered site."

Elaya Walker recommends Google Goggles which “lets you use pictures taken on your mobile phone to search the web. It’s really useful in a pinch and when words just don’t cut it.”

Jeremy Johnson recommends YouDoodle: “It allows me to take pictures easily, but the main use is I can write on the pictures and put icons on them. It is great for giving context or putting dates on pictures so I can organize them easier."

Reading, Listening & Watching

Matthew recommends Feedly: “Had to replace Google Reader with something and Feedly has filled the gap pretty well.”

Jake Steinerman recommends Pocket. “Pocket lets you easily save articles and stories you find online so that you can read them later, synced across your devices - find a great article on Facebook while browsing on your phone, but don't have time to read it? Save it to Pocket and read it later on your computer (or better yet, your HP Slate 7 tablet!)”

Erin recommends OverDrive Media. “The app that my local libraries use is OverDrive Media. It is like any other library item, you can borrow it for a certain amount of time and then it comes off your device.”

MG Domville recommends iCatcher. “I've been enjoying the iCatcher app. It collects all my fave podcasts and even syncs them up among my devices.”

Mike A. recommends Spotify. From Spotify’s website: "Let Spotify bring you the right music for every mood and moment. The perfect songs for your workout, your night in, or your journey to work.”

Milen recommends Jukeboss. “It lets you vote for music you like thats playing anywhere. It’s new and was developed by a fellow student..”

RLewis13 recommends Live 140. “I use it while watching TV for extra content, and I'll play around with it while the commercials are on. It has comments from other people on Twitter who are watching the same show, so it's really cool to see how other people react to what you just saw.”


Jeremy Orr recommends Socrative for teachers and for spicing up meetings. "It's a fantastic tool for teachers or anyone running a meeting. You can create quizzes or give end of session pulse checks and anyone can give feedback on any Internet device. I can launch a math quiz on my smartphone and my students can take it on my laptops. It's fantastic.” From Socrative’s website: "Engage the class using any device.”

Mr. Morales recommends Duolingo for language learning. “I'm in French 2 right now, and it's really helpful with building vocabulary and understanding sentence structures. It's so simple too.” From Duolingo’s website: "Free language education for the world.”

Katie recommends LiquidSketch. “It has puzzles in which you use the iPad's orientation to move the liquid in & around surfaces to complete tasks. Also, there's a "sandbox" to free-play in!”

Phone Calls

Donna Fontenot recommends Mr. Number. “It blocks and marks as spam whatever phone numbers I want. If a call comes in with a blocked number, it just either hangs up or sends to voicemail depending upon what I previously said to do with it.”

Kim recommends the classic, Skype." I like Skype, it keeps me connected to friends around the world just a call tap away.”


Mary, Paulina and Lauren all recommended Ibotta, which Mary says “offers cash rewards for purchasing certain products at any of a number of grocery stores, plus you can earn cash for completing bonuses! When you've accumulated $10+ you can easily transfer it to your Paypal. It helps me find new products and save on stuff I already love!” From Ibotta website: "Cash, No Coupons.”

Tabitha recommends Retail Me Not. “I use it for saving money when out shopping at different retail stores and haven't had time to look up printable coupons.”

Shaunie W. recommends Zaarly." I'm loving Zaarly, it's an app if you are looking for local food and products that are handmade and homegrown locally. If you can't find any foods/products locally they can have them shipped to you.”

Sarah Austin recommends Realtor.com’s app. “I'm always curious about homes for sale and I like that its well organized with lots of pictures.”

Penemio recommends Dashlane: “Dashlane is the best. Being forgetful as I am and hating to sift through emails, I can keep track of all my online purchases and get easy access to passwords in a super secure way.” From Dashlane’s website: “The worlds best password manager and secure wallet.”


Chelsey Hochmuth recommends Waze for drivers: "Awesome for traveling because it access to real-time traffic info and the GPS offers voice-guided instructions and can update automatically to re-route you so that you don’t get stuck in traffic.” From Waze’s website: "Get the best route, every day, with real-time help from other drivers.”

Suki recommends Disqus' Windows Phone app"Disqus' Windows Phone app - it keeps me in the loop of all the conversations going on around the web.

Akirah Robinson recommends Timehop. “I love Timehop these days! It was pretty fun for me to reminisce through past status updates as my first wedding anniversary came up yesterday.” From Timehop’s website: “A time capsule of you.”

So there you have it . . . did we miss one? Let me know about your favorite up-and-comer app in the comments!

Stop Ruining Your Credibility at Work

measuring credibilityWritten by Melissa Anzman As a solopreneur, I have been constantly told that one of the most important pillars of success is building credibility within your market or niche. Experts say that if you can show you are credible, then people will want to “buy-in” to what you are saying and selling.

But credibility plays an important role in a corporate environment as well – and it’s a component of success that is often overlooked as we climb the ladder.

Your credibility “record” at work starts with your first job application and follows you throughout your career. I remember earlier in my career, being worried that my failures would follow me like a report card to my next job… like your high school grades can haunt you through college. I thought there was an employee record that went with you. It makes me laugh now. And while a folder doesn’t follow you per say, your credibility does.

7 Ways You are Ruining Your Credibility

1. Not being responsive.

With as many emails as we get these days, it’s necessary to prioritize and respond accordingly. There are some emails that simply don’t need a response (think: thank you! emails), but pretty much everything else, particularly from your boss, needs some sort of acknowledgement.

It’s up to you to decide what your typical turnaround time is to set the precedent, but your credibility builds faster when you respond quicker.  If you are able to answer email requests quickly and efficiently and reliably, then people will start to see you as an expert in certain areas. Just be sure that when you do respond, it’s well thought-out, concise, and relevant.

2. Not being a “details” person.

There are definitely jobs that lend itself to more or less detailed tasks on a daily basis, but in every position, being detail-oriented is always part of the job description. Not being meticulous with details because someone else holds the ultimate responsibility or will come behind you and double check, can discredit your reputation extremely fast. 

If you touch it, you need to review it – with a fine tooth comb. It has your name on it and therefore, your credibility is at stake.

For many of us, this takes a lot of practice and diligence. But like any habit, the more you practice it, the better you will become at it. Review your emails for content and conciseness, flow through your projects to ensure details are reflected accurately, and examine your work before submitting it to the next level.

3. Passing the buck.

“That’s not my job” is probably one of the most common phrases I utter in everyday work. However, it’s very rare that I will say that out loud because I learned early on that not only do people look at you as though you’re elitist when you say that, but it also decreases your credibility in being able to deliver and be a team player.

Even if the task you are asked to do isn’t on your official job description, it can still benefit your overall success. Suck it up, do the job, and use it as an opportunity to show your willingness to help out. If you have to whine about it, do it to your friends.

4. Fumbling little details in important events/meetings.

There is nothing worse than having technical difficulties during a conference call or event. Nothing. I know, we’re human, technology is annoying, and so on – but if you are organizing a meeting/event, then the technological aspects of it should run smoothly for participants.

When you can’t dial into the line, the video doesn’t show up properly, there isn’t an agenda, or you start late and repeat everything that the late arrivals missed… you are an amateur. Plain and simple, it will reflect poorly on your overall credibility, even if “technology” is not included in your job description.

Things happen, I get that – but if it’s preventable, do everything in your power to make the details unnoticeable.

5. Your dress/attire and overall put-togetherness.

It pains me to say this as I’m really a jeans and a tee-shirt person, through and through, but how you present yourself to your work audience plays a huge role in overall credibility. The old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” carries weight.

Pull yourself together and make sure that you present a tidy/neat/awesome visual appearance, even if it means you explore expressing your individuality only outside of work. We are visual people – so your appearance makes a huge first impression and can damage your reputation without even trying. Pull it together nicely and present the best side of your style, forward. See also: no shorts, tank tops, flip flops, and so on.

6. Responding with incorrect information.

You know that person in the office – the one who has a response for everything, but they are so quick to reply that they often get it wrong? Don’t be that guy.

Having to clarify the responses of others, or clean up their mistakes, is never fun. Even worse is the damage done to your reputation and credibility if “everything” you say has to be researched and verified. To avoid this, simply do the necessary research before responding to inquiries and requests. Let your words, estimations, and research speak for themselves – don’t allow the doubt to creep in, and you will not be second guessed.

7. Your office hours and availability.

I full-heartedly believe in a flexible work environment, hours, and office structure. But if you are partaking in said freedoms/perks, it’s imperative that you are consistent with your availability and true to your agreement.

For example, if you work from home during the hours of 9am – 4pm, then you should be somewhat available and responsive during those times. If you take a call “from home,” there shouldn’t be excessive (ahem – Starbucks) background noise or screaming kids or barking dogs. It’s still work – so be sure that you are just as vigilant to those expectations as your colleagues are, or your credibility of actually “working from home” will be shattered.

Overall, your credibility is built over time – but can be damaged in an instant. The best way to safeguard it, is to be the best version of yourself that you can be, at work – and deliver, or exceed on agreed upon expectations. This is one area where merit, effort, and output well outweigh “personality.”  

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below: How have you restored your credibility when you've fumbled in the past? 

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.


To Achieve Wealth you MUST Have Big Dreams

Note from Jenny: there are still four days left to enter the HP Slate 7 Tablet giveaway! Enter here by leaving a comment about your favorite up-and-comer app for your smart phone or tablet. The contest runs until Sunday, September 15, and I will announce the winner next week on the blog. 

Today's post is written by Leah Manderson; this is the second in a three-part money series.

I’ll be honest: when I’m just going through the motions in life, I don’t think too much about money.

I know my automated money system is saving and paying bills on my behalf, but I don’t think too critically about my spending. I’ll go out to dinner, order a couple drinks and not look too closely at the check. I’ll fill a lazy Sunday afternoon with a shopping trip to West Elm. Who cares if I overspent my budget by $200? I’m not using it anyway.

But when I dream up an international vacation, a once-in-a-lifetime activity, or a soul-fulfilling purchase, I am Money Maven extraordinaire. You can bet your bottom dollar (ha! I couldn’t resist) that I’m refreshing my Mint.com budget every hour on the hour, allocating leftover dollars toward savings, and cutting back on all purchases that don’t add REAL value toward my dreams.

In fact, this isn’t speculation, but my reality over the past two years.

I’ve been in financial diligence hyperdrive recently--fulfilling my dreams of a hosting a gorgeous Southern wedding, adopting a dog, skydiving, traveling, purchasing a new home and somehow coming out of both of those experiences with more savings than I went in with.

Through all that, I realized this curious (seemingly backward) idea:

To achieve great wealth, you must have big dreams for yourself.

While at first that could be interpreted as a Pinterest-worthy platitude, there is some real science behind it. An neuroscience study at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that people whose brains show added activity when they’re imagining the future also make better financial choices.

Joe Kable, the researcher for the study suspects that people who can deeply imagine their dreams -- and every sensation of what it’s like to achieve those dreams -- have a much easier time saving money for them. On the other hand, people with limited imaginations tend to live more in the present, overspending on things for immediate, rather than delayed gratification.

I want to be wealthy one day and I’m not afraid to admit it. But “wealthy” is such an abstract goal (and so far, far away) that if I’m not constantly focused on it, I’ll whittle away my future wealth on decorative pillows and lazy-cooking-day pizzas. If, however, I’m consistently focused on the next big goal, I have incentives to keep up with my finances, cut costs and save, save, save. That habit leads to wealth.

Without big dreams and goals to fulfill, we fall into the trap of spending to fill our need for novelty and adventure -- our immediate gratification. When you’re either bored with life, absorbed in work, stressed with family or tending to things outside yourself, it’s natural for you to want to buy little jolts of adventure every day -- fro yo, movie tickets, yet another pair of shoes.

None of those are bad, but they could be stopping your money from growing enough to fulfill an ambitious, memorable adventure (or a fuller bank account) instead.

I want the latter for everyone.

Now, the first thing you might be tempted to do is to write down a bucket list of big adventures you want to achieve in the next 5 years, but I’d encourage you not to.

Instead, do this:

  1. Pick one “OMG I can’t believe I’m going to attempt this” dream you want to bring to life within the next year or two.

  2. Tinker with the math on how much you have to save each month to afford it.

  3. Get some accountability -- either from a friend who will join in on the fun or from a program like Jenny’s Make Sh*t Happen course.

  4. Set up monthly automatic transfers to savings in the amount you have to save per month to achieve your goal.

Just like magic, when you’re driven to fulfill your dream, you’ll naturally level up your financial responsibility.

So if you’re finding yourself just going through the motions, spending frivolously, and feeling financially stretched, let yourself start to dream. Summon up your imagination and not only will your motivation to save money come, but you’ll transform your financial life forever.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: What's one of your big dreams at the moment? How much do you need to save in order to make it happen?

Leah Manderson

More About Leah

Leah Manderson is a financial planner in training who has been featured on Forbes.com, LearnVest and The Daily Muse among other sites. In her blog and newsletter, she publishes weekly tips and tricks on earning more, investing wisely, and living richly. Join her free 7-day Money Made Easy mini-program to learn about how to simplify and automate your monthly financial to-do’s.

Enter to Win: HP Slate 7 Tablet Giveaway!

Written by Jenny Blake I always love when I get to give away an awesome product (and I rarely say yes to sponsored posts unless I absolutely love whatever the product is, I know that you will love it, AND I get to give one away). Last year I gave away an HP Laptop and you all came up with a mind-blowing list of 90+ Tech Tools you can't live without.

This week I have the exciting good fortune to give away an HP Slate 7 tablet — I've been playing around with one these last few weeks, and it rocks! Check out the video for more details on how to enter (or keep reading below).

Ultimately, this is a way for me to say THANK YOU for being here, and for being such an incredible community of readers and friends.

Video: Slate 7 Givewaway + How to Enter (~2 minutes)

[youtube id="ff4jtnkBFR4"]

My favorite new up-and-comer app that I mentioned in the video is Songza, which serves up curated music playlists depending on your mood. Thank you Adam for the discovery! 

About the Slate 7

HP Slate 7

  • 13 ounces of stainless-steel performance with 7 inch high-resolution screen (also available in red & silver)
  • Enabled with Beats ™ Audio
  • Long-lasting battery (5 hours video playback)
  • Front-facing video webcam and rear-facing 3mp camera
  • Delivers the full Google experience with services like Google+ Hangouts for multi-person video chat and app access

Additional information about the HP Slate 7 is available at www.hp.com/slate

How to Enter & Givewaway Rules

  1. Leave a comment with your name and email address (your email address won't be shared publicly) to share your favorite up-and-comer app for your smart phone or tablet and a sentence or two about why.
  2. The deadline to enter is Sunday, September 15 at 11:59 p.m.
  3. A winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org, and announced the following week on the blog and via email.
  4. HP will mail the Slate 7 tablet directly to the winner once they receive mailing address and contact information

Alright, have at it in the comments, and I can't wait to hear what you all come up with!

Investing in Your Identity Capital - When is It Worth Going into Debt to Advance Your Career?

Guest post written by Stephanie Halligan

There’s an inspiring (and terrifying) TEDTalk circulating the web. In this video, clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter and How to Make the Most of Them, boldly and fervently proclaims that your 20s are the most important, defining decade of your life. And if you just muddle your way through these crucial years, says Dr. Jay, you’ll set you up for utter failure in your 30s and beyond.

So yeah - no pressure.

Life After College readers already know how dually exciting and frustrating your twenties can be. After graduation is your chance to grow, explore, make mistakes and and shape your career. And, according to Dr. Jay, this is the moment to be focusing on building some serious “identity capital.”

Your identity capital is your career toolbox: a collection of tools, skills, jobs and interests that you accumulate over the years. It’s the patchwork quilt of your career, elements that are pieced together to make your career narrative unique. And, as Dr. Jay argues, your twenties is exactly when you need to be assembling all of these tools.

Even if you’re in your late twenties (or thirties), there’s still time to start investing in who you are (and who you want to become). And the good news? You don’t have to leave your job and go into thousands of dollars in student debt to start shaping the identity you want.

Building Identity Capital vs. Investing in Education

When you think of investing in your career, you may immediately think: grad school. And if your current job is boring and unchallenging, or you’re not quite sure what you want to do with your career, an advanced degree seems like an easy way to invest in your identity capital and add another credential to your resume … right?

Well, not necessarily. While getting a degree would definitely be an investment in your education, graduate school isn’t necessarily always the best investment in your identity capital -- and it’s certainly not a the silver bullet to help you find the career you love. Most importantly, grad school is a major financial investment - one that could actually negatively impact your future if you don’t proceed smartly.

So while investing in identity capital is critical in your 20s, avoiding unnecessary debt is just as important. Before jumping head first into an advanced degree, make sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  1. You love your fiend of work and you’ve hit a “degree ceiling” – If you’re in a field that you love, you may be already looking to take the next step forward – only to find that only having a bachelor’s degree is holding you back. If you keep coming across job descriptions that read “masters degree required,” grad school may be right for you. But ask yourself this: how far could I truly get with my current level of education if I wanted to? You’d be surprised how fungible some job requirements can be.

  1. Your current student loan debt situation is manageable – If you walked away from your undergraduate program relatively unscathed by student debt, congratulations! You’ve got the financial green-light to go to grad school. However, if you’re considering graduate school to buy some time before you have to pay off your existing loans, think again. Sure, you might be able to defer repaying some of your debt until after you earn your advanced degree, but you’ll likely end up worse off by the time you graduate (most of your loans will still be accruing interest while you’re in school).

  1. Your return is worth the cost – There are a lot of variables to consider when applying to grad school: cost of tuition, how much you have to borrow and how much time you have to take off from your career to go back to school. So before jumping head first into a $100,000 MBA program, ask yourself, “What’s my return on investment?” Compared to the costs, will grad school yield a significantly bigger return for your career and identity capital in the long-run? Remember, you’re never guaranteed a high-paid job with an advanced degree. If the math adds up and you do decide that another degree is worth it, be sure the costs (and what you borrow) doesn’t skew the equation.

If you answered an enthusiastic “Hell yes!” to the above, grad school is an awesome solution for you and a great way to add to your career toolbox.

If not, you still have plenty of opportunities to boost your identity capital. In fact, you don’t need to spend money or time earning any credentials to start building the career you want today.

How To Boost Your Identity Capital For Free (and Right Now)

You can do a few simple things today to start accumulating meaningful, career-relevant experiences – all without quitting your job, going to school and taking out a ton of loans.

  1. Start a side hustle – Do you have a natural gift for editing or writing, but have absolutely no experience making money from it? Have you been curious about web development, but not quite sure you’re comfortable leaving your stable, full-time job? A side business (or “side hustle”) is a great way to test the waters in an area of interest and build in-demand skills. Starting a side project is like turbo-charging your resume while keeping the financial stability of your day job – just be sure you don’t burn out while taking on extra work.

  1. Say something online – I started my website The Empowered Dollar because I wanted to establish my personal finance expertise. But more than anything, I wanted to write my own professional narrative and not rely on the title of my current job to do that for me. If you’re looking to establish authority in your field of interest, blogging is a great place to start. Decide how you want to establish your “brand” and start writing blog posts about topics where you want to build your credibility.

  1. Stand up on stage (or in a small group) – Public speaking is an easy way to legitimize your expertise. Not sure you have the public speaking chops to say anything intelligent in front of a group of strangers? You don’t have to be a rockstar motivational speaker to get up in front of a group of people and say something meaningful. Think back to the last time you had a conversation with your friends on a topic you loved – one you felt like you could talk about for hours. You can channel that same passion and energy into a speech, a presentation or even a small group discussion. Start by looking for smaller speaking opportunities or consider hosting your own area Meetup group.

Regardless whether or not you choose to go to grad school or you decide to boost your career one personal project at a time, whatever you do will add another piece to your ever-growing identity capital.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments: How do you invest in your identity capital? What’s one thing you could do by the end of the year to boost your career?

Stephanie Halligan

More About Stephanie Halligan

Stephanie is the creator of The Empowered Dollar, where she helps millennials fix their finances and find their stride in money and life. When she's not blogging, Stephanie is designing online curriculum and games to teach students about smart money management. Follow her @EmpoweredDollar.


You don't have to love your job today

Written by Jenny Blake Yep, I said it. Permission granted! You do not have to love your job today.

It's Friday, the sun is shining, and you just *might* be experiencing a little summer cabin fever, staring wistfully out the window wishing you could be somewhere else. "If only these stupid job shackles weren't tying me down, I could be happy! And free! And FULFILLED!"

I get it. The more awareness we build, the more ambition we have, the more the digital world reshapes our entire economy, the easier it becomes to see the gaps in where we are now and where we want to be.

The mistake is in believing that has to happen RIGHTTHISMINUTE. Or that where you are now isn't serving a very important purpose.

With the exception of a job that is making you physically ill or highly distressed because you KNOW it's time to leave, even the most mediocre jobs can provide value.

Consider these 5 questions:

  • Are you learning at least one new skill? Communication, sales, ninja paper filing, the art of dealing with a fire-breathing-dragon manager?
  • Is it paying your bills? Therefore buying you some comfort and time for you to contemplate what really rings your bells?
  • Are you meeting interesting people? Are you building relationships with co-workers, managers, and people in other parts of the company?
  • Did it provide a catalyst for other big changes or improvements in your life? Such as a big move, or even learning how to budget and save money?
  • Are you giving it your best, regardless of how long you plan to stay? As my dad describes in the Zorba essay of his book, "If work takes your precious time, it is worth enthusiastic effort."

Think of your career like a smart phone, not a ladder

I've given my keynote speech, Career in the Age of the App, almost a dozen times this year — at conferences, universities and even companies like Google and KPMG. I watch as people who are sitting tensely in their chairs relax every time I tell them, "It's okay if you don't feel 100% fulfilled by your work."

What?! It's okay not to PURSUE YOUR PASSION 24/7?! 

Yes! How boring would life be if we knew exactly what we wanted at all times and could make it happen in a flash? Very. Each of our hero's journeys are an evolution, and one that takes a lifetime. So let's ease up on ourselves if we aren't exactly on target just yet.

Just as we learn in self-help books that our romantic partner cannot MAKE us happy (oh wait, I'm not supposed to admit to having read those!), neither can your employer. It is highly unlikely, even if you work for yourself, that you will wake up on the "I LOVE MY JOB!" side of the bed every single day.

Your education and your upbringing are your "out of the box" phone -- now it's up to you to download apps for all the skills, experiences, education, interests, and even side hustles that will help round-out your career and help you feel more fulfilled.

Can you break your current job into component parts to see what apps you are currently "downloading?" That, along with the questions above, will help alleviate a lot of the stress that comes from feeling like you're not quite in the right place (yet).

There is no phone competition about who has better apps; it's really a question of whether your current set works for you, and if not, what you want to do about it.

Hands-On Career Dreaming, Scheming + Strategy Workshop

I care deeply about this topic and because I realize that most of you don't have access to the various places I am hired to speak, I'm going to lead a two-hour online workshop on September 11 at 7pm ET.

In this workshop I will walk you through exactly how to think about your career in a more dynamic, fluid way — and provide plenty of hands-on exercises for you to figure out what works best for you. You'll create a strategy for exactly how to move forward in a way that best supports your short AND long-term career growth and happiness.

By the end of the session you will learn:

  • How to set an "app strategy" by identifying what you are most interested in moving forward
  • How to make progress with a giant goal even when you can’t see the entire path at the outset
  • How to build a strong support network to hold you accountable and keep you motivated
  • How to survive “the dip” — even when all you want to do is quit
  • How to listen to your gut and distinguish between “shoulds” versus “zone of genius” next steps
  • How to clear clutter and re-charge so that you don't crash
  • A clear plan for what exact action/s are required once the workshop ends

We'll also do a short round of Q&A at the end of the call where you can ask me anything. Seriously, anything. I'm an open book: numbers, fears, solopreneurship, insecurities, and even how to not sweat, shake or stutter like a maniac when you're about to give a big speech. I'm all yours :)

Enroll here for just $25 — I look forward to working with those of you who sign-up!

Recent Posts at JennyBlake.me

As many of you already know, I launched a new website under my own name in June that focuses on how to thrive at the intersection of mind, body and business through the lens of soloprenuership. If you're not already subscribed, sign-up here!

A few recent posts in case you missed them:

I'd love to hear from you in the comments:  What are your best strategies for not falling into "grass is greener" syndrome at work? What apps are you most excited about pursuing next?

Responding to Negative Nellies at Work

Written by Melissa Anzman

negative feedbackPeople love giving feedback to others – it’s a way for us to interact, connect, and feel as though we are part of something. But feedback can be a hard pill to swallow, especially when it isn’t as positive as you hoped, or ahem, shall I say “constructive?” I learned that lesson the hard way recently.

When Negative Nellies Attack

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to someone who I have looked up to and admired for a long time. It was a great conversation, until she dropped a feedback bomb on me. I was explaining some of the launch projects I was working on with my clients, and her response, “Oh, so you’re basically a glorified virtual assistant then?”

Gasp. I was beyond horrified. I was crushed. I may have stumbled out a response of “not really,” but honestly, I was so shocked, that I can hardly remember the rest of the conversation.

I’m not someone who has cared much about other’s opinions or feedback in the past. To be fully transparent, there aren’t many people whose feedback I truly value, so it’s usually not very difficult for me to bounce back from any type of negative comments.

But this time was different. I valued her opinion. I cared about what her perception of me was. I wanted her to as positive about it as I was feeling up to that point. And since she was so flippant about it, it paralyzed me for a good week… I was bummed out, unsure of what I was doing, and started questioning everything that I had planned.

4 Steps to Manage Negative Nellies’ Opinions

Sadly, whether you are in business for yourself or work in a corporate job (and everything in between), you are going to run into Negative Nellies in the form of opinions and feedback. Here’s how to work through it and come out the other side stronger than before.

Tell an objective friend.

I was so mortified by the words of one of my “heroes,” that I refused to tell anyone about it. I sat and stewed over it until I literally couldn’t move forward. Hello again my friend, analysis paralysis. Then one of my friends, ahem Jenny, called me to chat about something else – and I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

For the first time I felt better. Not only was I able to get it off my chest, but I was able to gain some perspective for an outsider. Sure your friend has your best interests in mind, but he/she will still be able to tell you if you think it’s something to ponder further, or if it’s feedback that you can ignore altogether.

Figure out why the feedback stuck you so viscerally.

This is the hard part because who really wants to dig deep into their insecurities and fears? But this step is the one of transformation – your mindset needs to acknowledge the hurt behind the words, in order to move forward from a strong state.

I start by writing down the words that hurt me, and my initial and immediate response to them. By clearly seeing the statement that crushed me along with my own reaction to them, it is immediately clear what I need to work on.

Gulp - here's what I wrote after the conversation above:

  • Does the label "VA" undermine my skills and the value I deliver?
  • How can my vision be so different from what she sees as reality?
  • What type of differentiation would I have as a "glorified VA" in the marketplace?
  • How would I be hire-able, particularly at my rates, if I was "just" a VA?
  • Is this truly what I am and what I'm doing? Am I a glorified VA?

Find the truth behind the person’s words.

Just because the words hurt your feelings, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nugget of helpful feedback buried in there. Pick it apart to find the underlying reason why the comment was delivered – and see what you can improve on from there.

Remove the emotional component as much as possible, to peel back the layers for your own self-growth and improvement. It’s no longer about the other person – take the components that carry value to you, and use that as your new baseline.

Counteract the history.

Sure, you have areas of improvement – we all do. And yes, that person’s words may have stung. But after you’ve identified the insecurities behind the hurt and started to dig further into the feedback, it’s time to get back into the driver’s seat.

Create a three point plan to make those words obsolete.

  1. Turn the negative into a positive. For my example above, “glorified VA” was turned into --> an entrepreneur’s right-hand person.
  2. Retell the story. “I had the opportunity to speak with someone I really look up to and admire. It was interesting her perspective of what I do. I definitely need to work on my ‘elevator pitch’ to succinctly explain the fun projects I get to work on.”
  3. Move the heck on. As long as my clients know what I do and value what I deliver (which they do!), than I am doing an awesome job. Onward and upward!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: How have you counteracted Negative Nellies in the past?   

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.


Should I Save, Pay Down Debt or Invest?

Today's post is by Leah Manderson; this is the first in a three-part money series.

It seems like 20-somethings get the short end of the stick when it comes to money. Entry-level salaries. Record student loan debt. Life’s biggest expenses right ahead, like weddings, houses and kids.

In this stage of life, distributing money toward your many financial to-dos can seem like a game of darts. Last month you threw a few extra hundred dollars at your debt. This month, you vow to finally open your Roth IRA. Next month, you’ll start saving to fulfill your dream of traveling.

But you know what’s better than guessing at where the money should go? A framework that you can stick to.

When it comes to whether you should prioritize paying down debt, saving or investing, the easiest and most obvious answer is do all three. However, we all have limited dollars per paycheck, and sometimes, we have to make a choice.

Below, I talk about when to prioritize each of these three money activities, as well as times where I chose one over the other.

When to Prioritize Savings

If you have less than $2,000 in both your checking and banking accounts you should prioritize saving over all other money to-dos. Why? In the event that you have any sort of big expense like a car repair, ER visit, replacing a stolen MacBook (heaven forbid!), you will get yourself into unnecessary, preventable debt.

No matter where you are in life (recent grad or almost-retiree), start by building your savings up to at least one month of living expenses or $2,000 -- whichever is greater. After that, you can start prioritizing debt repayment.

I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was fresh out of college, my much-loved VW Jetta unexpectedly collapsed in the body shop during its 100,000 mile tune up. Being that I lived by myself in a city with virtually no public transportation, I needed a car to get around. I hadn’t been saving up for the car AT ALL, and took out a big chunk of debt in order to finance my “new” (technically used, but new to me at least!) Toyota Corolla.

After that, I learned my lesson and realized how desperately I needed a nice pillowy cushion of savings to prevent me from taking out debt in the future.

Also, given that my car was financed at 0% interest, I was able to prioritize savings for a year and not incur any interest, which leads me to . . .

When to Prioritize Debt Repayment

Let’s say you’ve stashed your one month of expenses (or $2,000). If you have any high-interest debt (over 10%), or have high balances on your lines of credit, your main focus should be on paying down your debt.

Why prioritize high-interest debt repayment?

  1. Interest can add hundreds or thousands of extra dollars in payments over time. In this case, you are working to PAY extra money in interest, when what you really want is to EARN interest on your money.

  2. If your balances are high (meaning your total outstanding balance is 30% or more of your total lines of credit), you are probably doing damage to your credit score.

I thought I had an excellent relationship with debt, until *almost* too late.

Earlier in 2013, I was in the market for a home. At first, I wasn’t at all concerned about my credit history. I am a hyper-diligent about repaying my debt on time and have no high interest debt to my name (in fact, none of my debts carry any interest!). I had never taken the time, however, to calculate my credit utilization.

My total credit utilization was about 40% -- WAY higher than the 30% experts recommend. For that, my credit score was in the tank.

My credit score would determine the kind of interest rate I got on. A better credit score=lower interest rate=$100,000+ of savings in interest over the life of the mortgage.

After learning about my bad credit score, I diverted what would have been my savings and monthly investing contributions and paid down my debt. That brought up my credit score, and my husband and I ended up qualifying for a very low rate on our mortgage.

When to Prioritize Investing

Let’s say you’ve saved one month’s expenses and you feel you have debt under control. Now it’s time to whip out the investing books and get to learning (and soon, investing).

Two of the greatest books ever written on this subject are A Random Walk Down Wall Street and The Intelligent Investor. If these sound stuffy and don’t really tickle your fancy, check out Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? (if you’re a lady), or I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.

While you’re at it, buy an online subscription to The Wall Street Journal, and commit a couple hours per week to reading through the investing and personal finance sections of the site.

Let’s rewind for a minute: What does “having debt under control” mean?

To me, it means that you are comfortable with your balances, and you have a debt-payoff plan you know (like, REALLY know) you will stick to for the long run.

That said, you should NOT wait until you are completely out of debt to start investing. Why? If you waited until you paid off a 15-year student loan and a 30-year mortgage, you might not start investing until your 60’s. In that case, you’d have virtually no chance of saving enough to care for yourself in your old age.

Back to the action -- while you’re educating yourself about investing, take the time to build to your savings account to at least 3 months of expenses (up to 6 if you have a mortgage and/or kids).

After you’ve stocked your savings account, you can confidently start investing. I wrote a comprehensive post on how to start investing in an article published in GoGirl Finance called Invest With Confidence, A Step-by-Step Plan for Newbies.

The easiest way to get started is to ask your employer about getting started in the company 401(k) program. If your company matches any portion of your contributions, you are literally earning free money.

If you decide to go this route, schedule an appointment with your HR rep to learn about your company’s policies on matching, the tax implications based on your state and salary, your investment options, and any other details they’ll want to share with you.

If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k) program, you might benefit from setting up a Roth IRA on your own. In this case, head out to a low-cost brokerage firm like Charles Schwab or T.D. Ameritrade to discuss your options with a pro.

In Conclusion...

In a perfect world, we would all make enormous salaries and be able to allocate the perfect amounts to all of our money to-dos. For better or for worse, however, we have to make choices as to where our money is best used. By using the framework I outlined above, you can start to see the step-by-step path to prioritize saving, debt repayment and investing.

First, set up a savings cushion to prevent your from accruing more debt. Then, start aggressively paying down your high-interest or high balance debts. Once you have your debt under control, ramp up your savings and start investing for your future.

It won’t happen overnight, but by staying the course, you’re setting yourself up for a truly rich life.

Leah Manderson

More About Leah

Leah Manderson is a financial planner in training who has been featured on Forbes.com, LearnVest and The Daily Muse among other sites. In her blog and newsletter, she publishes weekly tips and tricks on earning more, investing wisely, and living richly. Join her free 7-day Money Made Easy mini-program to learn about how to simplify and automate your monthly financial to-do’s.

Watch out for Reality Checkers

Below is Secret #75 from the book 101 Secrets for your Twenties by Paul Angone Reality Checkers are everywhere.

And they love dishing out doses of reality like they’re a doctor and this is the prescription you need.

You know the kind.

Where you share with them your Everest-Sized Dream and before you can even finish they rattle off the seven reasons your dream won’t work. Reality Checkers lather you in their own fear and insecurities, and call it sound advice.

God bless them, they’re just trying to give you a dose of reality to save you the pain of making a mistake, or so they say.

Well yes, God bless them–because sometimes the only things worth pursuing are the things way beyond what we’re capable of. Where it's 100 percent guaranteed we’ll make Hummer-sized mistakes to make anything happen.

I’m not saying don’t take advice. Sure, sometimes we need some plain good sense. Sometimes we need that wild old sage to get all sage-like on us.

But that’s not Reality Checkers game. No, you’ll know you’ve been Reality Checked when you leave the conversation feeling like you’ve been slammed against the boards by a 250-pound Russian hockey player named Pavel.

Instead of Pavel the Reality Checker, give me the person who’s going to take in all the insurmountable facts of my dream and tell me, “That’s awesome. Heck, I say you go for it! What do you have to lose?”

Nothing. You have nothing to lose. Reality Checkers want you to believe that your plans will fail. And you know what, they’re probably right.

But the point of life is NOT to not fail.

Reality Checkers want you to believe that failure is death, but it's not.

In-action based on fear, the possibility for embarrassment, and the all-encompassing "what if,"  leads to death–a long, slow demise where you make as much of a wake as a dried up leaf falling into a puddle of water.

We must be willing to try for Everest-sized dreams, and we must be careful who we tell about it at first.

Be strategic who you tell about your Everest.

If you tell everyone your big dream in order for them to affirm it, your dream will be crushed way before you reach your Everest.

You need to plant the idea of a big dream in soil where there is room to grow.

Because maybe a dose of someone else's reality is the last thing you need. Maybe you need to take a heaping spoonful of a truer reality based on the dreams and vision inside of you.

Maybe where you’re headed is more important than where you’re at.

Reality is what you decide reality is. If reality is a scarce, dismal place where opportunities go to die, well get ready to spend a lifetime watching sweet opportunities take their last breath.

If reality is this crazy abundant place of opportunities galore where you’re walking through an exotic orchard of hybrid Plum-Mango-Strawberry Trees with this Giant Juicy Fruit just waiting to be picked (even though in reality such a tree doesn’t exist), then by golly, you’re going to be eating opportunities by the mouthful.

Maybe reality is really a choice each of us makes: which reality is going to be more real?

I’m taking bites from plum-mango-strawberry trees on top of Everest.

I’m done getting reality checked to death.

Who's with me?

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

Have you ever felt like you were reality checked to death? What's one big dream you'd like to see come back to life?


About Paul

Paul Angone is the creator of AllGroanUp.com and the author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties. Snag a free sneak peak of 101 Secrets for your Twenties here and buy the book.


Bliss Engine Lessons from Zorba the Greek

Posted by Jenny Blake I'm excited to share one more excerpt of my dad's new book, The Bliss Engine, today — this one is particularly relevant for those of you in a job that you might not love at the moment — and isn't that all of us from time to time?

As a reminder, for the next three days (until July 31) if you forward your receipt of purchase of The Bliss Engine ($2.99 on Kindle) to receipt [at] theblissengine.com, you'll get complimentary access to my two-week course The Acorn Project ($15) to help you dream and scheme for the road ahead. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on today's wisdom from Daddy-O! 

The Bliss Engine Excerpt: Zorba (by Jim Blake)

Zorba the Greek - BookIs your day a series of steppingstones of sensory gratification or is it a series of spiritually infused achievements? Do you alternate all day long between eating junk food and working as if you were a lab rat? What if your work was transformed into something blissful so work itself is your reward? You would no longer be leaping across steppingstones but swimming is a sea of delight.

Consider Zorba the Greek. I read Zorba during my early days of Basic Training at Fort Lewis. Zorba has a great, bliss-nurturing attitude. His mind is a birthplace of bliss and his bliss radiates to all who work with him. He brings enthusiasm to every task. Zorba did not judge some tasks worthy and some beneath his interest. If there was work to be done, it received his passionate effort.

I peeled potatoes and scrubbed pots and pans on k.p. (kitchen patrol) for hours enjoying every minute. My happiness annoyed the drafted attorney, tagged from his internship with his U.S. Senator. It annoyed the disgruntled schoolteacher sitting nearby, leaning over his big tub of spuds. I scrubbed pots and pans as if there was nothing I would rather be doing.

Fellow soldiers rarely gave their all to mundane government work unless it was sucked out of them in battle. I didn't politicize the potatoes. I was savoring each moment like Zorba. Those moments could have been my last. One carries bliss to the task at hand. If one waits for a worthy activity, one may as well be waiting for Godot.

If work takes your precious time, it is worth enthusiastic effort.

Activate bliss to animate “crap” jobs. Every task has its integrity unless it is herding people to a gas chamber. If you keep your bliss rpm at a high level, you will be prepared to apply it to your life work, your art, your science.

If you pick and choose places to do your best, opportunity may elude you.

There are few innately unworthy tasks in the normal course of life. Savor the beauty of a big pot of potatoes, apples of the earth, peel them with vigor and commitment, scrub the grease-encrusted pans with all your heart. Don't fear ending up a pot washer for life because you have directed your precious energy to the ordinary.

Unglamorous effort has a way of enriching rather than trapping you; stay revved.

Bill Spooner, rock and roll mastermind, founder of The Tubes, is an excellent songwriter, arranger and a great guitar player. Bill was the music director-guitar wizard in my band Mr. Gasoline for two years. We played a few dives, but no gig was a throwaway for Bill. He played as masterfully in the basement dives for an audience of ten as he did for 100,000 screaming fans at Knebworth. Bill had the spirit of Zorba.

Don't wait for bliss, track it down and harness it to all of your tasks, allow it to fill your heart wherever you are no matter what you are doing.

Great ideas sneak up on you, be prepared. Mundane tasks are a good time to plan and dream.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: How will you make the most of the mundane this week?

The Bliss Engine: Are you deepening or destroying your bliss?

I have officially declared it Bliss Engine week on my blogs :) As I mentioned yesterday on JennyBlake.me, I'm thrilled to share that my dad recently released his book The Bliss Engine on Kindle for just $2.99. In yesterday's blog post I shared his essays on creative "Return Time" and "Small Stuff" -- today, a wider swath of my favorite quotes. Before we jump in, a little recap . . .

About the Bliss Engine

The Bliss Engine BookHow often do you find yourself in a bliss state? Wondering how to get there faster or more often? Ever experienced the depression of a post-bliss crash? Noticed how the comfort tools we use to (often subconsciously) numb out actually impede our bliss?

My dad explores these questions and more based on years of experience in the arts, the army and his own inner trenches.

Praised by Norman Mailer in a previous edit as "f*cking brilliant," The Bliss Engine is about the relationship of diet to creativity. From the book description: "The Bliss Engine is a recipe for un-blocking personal consciousness, allowing creative thought to flourish, and opening doors to releasing new energy of our national consciousness."

The ideas in this book have been a huge inspiration to me, and the subject of many a long weekly walk that my dad and I used to take back when we both lived in California. He has since recently followed his big dream of moving to Nashville to pursue music, and I'm thrilled to help shepard his ideas into the world in the midst of his latest great leap.

I hope you'll find my dad's thoughts on the relationship between diet and creativity as insightful and as thought-provoking as I do. Today I'm sharing one of my favorite essays from the book (with more to follow) but first . . .

Special Bliss Engine Bundle

I'm doing a little something special for Daddy-O to help The Bliss Engine take off:

If you purchase the book (just $2.99) between now and July 31 and forward your receipt to receipt [at] theblissengine.com, I'll give you a complimentary pass to my two-week course, The Acorn Project (a $15 value).

The Bliss Engine will help you reach your highest state of creativity, and The Acorn Project will help you figure out exactly what to do with it once you're there: you'll reflect, answer questions and explore a variety of big ideas to figure out which of your acorns you want to grow into your next beautiful oak tree.

A Few of My Favorite Bliss Engine Excerpts


Bliss is a state of heart, mind and body wherein one absorbs and radiates the energy of light, of happiness, creativity, joyful spirit and hard work or meditation. Bliss is an answered prayer and bliss answers prayers. Bliss is all around us and it is strong and fragile.

We phase into and out of bliss all our lives. It may last for a few seconds, minutes, hours, days, maybe even months. Some of us spend our first years in a bliss bubble of parental love. Bliss gets more difficult to achieve and to manage as one gets older. As an adult, the zone can be inaccessible for weeks at a time or permanently blocked.

Looking back, it is clear that food and drink were powerful determinants of my bliss. If I'm in the zone, eating meat will terminate bliss. Drinking any alcohol kills bliss; after-dinner bloat is a bliss-killer. Bliss is fragile. It must be cultivated, respected and nourished. Bliss is soulful, sensitive, perceptive life-energy speaking to us and through us.

COMFORT FOOD: Comfort food is deceiving. The comfort is short-lived, fleeting pleasure from a seduction. The sugar, fat, salt and carbo-charged calories lift your spirit for a moment of frosted, phony bliss, then drop you to the cracked pavement of your neglected dream. The empty calories add up. They create a short-circuit in your soul. If you seek this faux-comfort, this shallow respite every day, you will get fat and your dreams will shrivel, hang their heads and walk away from you. All things in moderation.

LESS: You are what you don't eat. God bless less.

SEDUCTION: We are all suckers for seduction. To be seduced is to short-circuit the spirit. To be seduced is to fall victim to ephemeral pleasures of the eye, stomach and crotch, fast cars, pulsing music and pheromones. We are drawn to shiny, tasty, sexy stuff.

EXPLORATION: There will be times when you explore regions so far beyond the established envelope that to receive anything but rejection should worry you. If too many people are comfortable with your work, you are not stretching their imagination or their capacity for wonder.

ISOLATION: Bliss requires courage. Bliss creates courage. Creative people strive to conquer their fear of excellence, fear of being separate. Bliss creates separation from community. It means standing apart, climbing above, exploring below and within.

STARDOM: Bliss isn't for sissies. The zone is for the brave and courageous. Heroes are not afraid of their bliss.

THE WAGES OF BLISS: A person living in bliss radiates charisma, genuine sex appeal and graceful, natural personal power.

Get it while it's hot!

Like what you've read? Click here to purchase your copy on Amazon -- huge thanks to Melissa Anzman for her help getting it Kindle-ready! And don't forget to forward your receipt to receipt [at] theblissengine.com for instant access to The Acorn Project from now until July 31. I can't wait to hear what you think!

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: How does your diet affect your creativity or flow state? What would help you more readily harness your bliss?

Sunday Fun: Quarterlife Upgrade + Life After College Art Carousel

Happy Sunday everyone! Two cool things to share today:

  • I'm part of another free week-long En*theos video conference next week called The Quarterlife Upgrade -- it is hosted by one of my longtime mentors-from-afar, Christine Hassler, one of the first writers I ever encountered in the "after college" space. We set up a 30-minute "one-off" call (as I described last week) back in 2008 and it was one of the building blocks that gave me the insight and encouragement I needed to finally pursue writing my book. More on her conference below . . .
  • Second, a super fun twist on Life After College: a team of illustrators took on the challenge of interpreting each chapter of my book — consider this our very own Sunday comics-meets-editorial-cartoon-meets-art show -- huge thank you to Caitlin and The Square Carousel for the great submissions!

Quarterlife Upgrade Video Conference

Quarterlife Upgrade ConferenceYou may have bought into the misunderstanding that you are supposed to have your entire life figured out by your 20s or 30s. This is not true! If you are asking questions like, “What do I want to do with my life?” or feeling stuck along your career path or stressing out about money or relationships, and are ready for some relief, solutions and inspiration, then sign-up for The Quarterlife Upgrade Virtual Conference, which will be streaming live from July 22-26.

The Quarterlife Upgrade gathers 30+ of the world's next generation experts to answer the questions: Who Am I, What Do I Want, and How Do I Get It? Listen in for inspiring and actionable real-world advice about careers, relationships, finances, well-being and making a difference.

What you need to know:

Dates: July 22-26th, 2013 (My interview goes live on Friday, July 26 at 1pm ET) Price: Free. What's included: Six interviews per day, each will be available live to stream for 24 hours. Where: Register for free here 

The Square Carousel Takes on Life After College

The Square Carousel Collective was founded in 2011 by 10 talented up-and-coming illustrators. After meeting at Savannah College of Art and Design, the group was formed around shared aesthetics, and now encompasses a eclectic range of styles. Although they all work in different mediums and styles, they share a common drive for professionalism and dedication to the field of illustration.

Their group posts tri-weekly challenges to stay motivated and connected to each other as they pursue freelance illustration careers, with each artist taking a turn selecting a theme. One of their recent challenges was illustrating each chapter of my book, Life After College. Without further ado, here are their submissions!


1. Work by Casey Crisenbery Casey Crisenbery illustrated "Work" — I chose to illustrate finding that balance between work and play -- eventually leading to success, both personally and monetarily.


2. Money by Chris Nickels
Chris Nickels  illustrated "Money" —  Money is a massive aspect of life after college. I know I’m not the only one that has had to deal with the trial and error process of making enough money to pay the bills while pursuing a career you love. This principal feels like it goes double for anyone trying work freelance. As soon as you secure work and complete a project, the whole crazy process starts all over again.


3. Home by Sarah E. Carr
Sarah E. Carr illustrated "Home" — As someone who lived in dorms throughout all of college, I have to say that the prospect of finding my own real home after college was incredible exciting as well as scary. It’s been almost a year since graduation, and what I’ve learned is that finding home after college isn’t an easy task. It’s something that takes a lot of time and effort, which is where I got the idea for this piece. A home has to be grown, it doesn’t pop up automatically out of thin air. It takes a while to get there, but once you do it feels preeeetty nice.


4. Organization by Marc Osborne
Marc Osborne illustrated "Organization" —  A clean space invites mess, but a messy space invites no-one. My grandfather always used to tell me that being clean and organized is something you do to allow yourself the time to make a mess and live. He said if you always live in a mess, that’s all you know and you won’t be able to enjoy life since you’ll be stressing about all the chaos around you.  So, make a mess!  Then clean it up.

Friends and Family

5. Friends and Family by Elizabeth Beals
Elizabeth Beals illustrated "Friends and Family" — Truth be told I don’t get to see my family or friends all that much. If I’m lucky I get to see my friends every month or two, and my family maybe once a year. So I’ve come to rely on the powers of Facebook to be able to interact with them on nearly a daily basis. It allows me to share stories, photo’s, laughs, and <3 with all of them and keep a smile on my face.

Dating and Relationships

6. Dating and Relationships by Courtney Wirth
Courtney Wirth illustrated "Dating and Relationships" — I continually remind myself that I’m too busy to be distracted by boys and dating, but at times I wonder if it’s just an excuse. I honestly want to just focus on my career and my life goals, but some times it wouldn’t be so bad to share that with someone. For now, I’ll just stick to what I know and I guess things will happen when they happen.


7. Health by Molly Wilson
Molly Wilson illustrated "Health" — I love working out with my dog. We go running, and play at dog parks. I found out about a version of yoga that you can do with your dog. It’s called doga (doe-ga). My dog, Bruno, always tries to help me or participate in stretches or workouts I do at home, so this will be a great way for us both to keep in shape and stay healthy.

Fun and Relaxation

8. Fun and Relaxation by Charlotte Jackson
Charlotte Jackson illustrated "Fun and Relaxation" —  For fun I enjoy spending time out with friends, like going out to lunch or dinner once a week for a break. For relaxation I think that it’s easiest to do so when doing relatively monotonous but fun things that are just for yourself - I’m not one to relax by doing nothing.  As a creative person, I like to do things that aren’t necessarily a part of my normal job, like illustration, but painting and other crafts.

Personal Growth

9. Personal Growth by Caitlin B. Alexander

Caitlin B. Alexander illustrated "Personal Growth" — Personal growth and self-reflection have always been very challenging interests of mine (maybe in another life I could have studied psychology), so I knew when I chose this topic, I had to do it justice. In “Life After College,” within the section about personal growth, author Jenny Blake touches on the struggle with loneliness. Personally, this has always been one of my bigger battles, and for different reasons throughout my life, as I matured and my surroundings changed. Slowly conquering parts of my greatest fear has allowed me to nurture new aspects of my identity to grow.

There are still lots of empty places where that garden has yet to intertwine, and sometimes I wonder, will I ever feel complete? It helps a lot to know how many holes have already filled, though, and gives me encouragement to keep going.  Life after college has presented a whole new set of struggles, and of course, loneliness loves to rear it’s ugly head, but I know in time I’ll find things that are as rewarding as my student lifestyle once was.

Life's Big Picture

10. Life's Big Picture by James Harling

James Harling illustrated "Life's Big Picture" — Right now, I'm stuck in a full time job making lattes, needing to pay crazy bills, and it has really diminished my productivity, and worse, kept me away from the girl of my dreams.  The big picture, for me, is to go ahead with this crazy new illustration portfolio and just go for it: freelance and move closer to the girl...I handed in my notice…two weeks, guys...two weeks.

Let's give a big round of applause to The Square Carousel for their awesome work! Ready for your own after college inspiration and interpretation? Grab a copy of my book -- a workbook-like portable coach, with tips, quotes and coaching exercises for every area of your life :)

Side Hustles, Solopreneurship and Starting Out

Written by Melissa Anzman lac_post

Long before I ended up quitting my corporate job, I had dreams of venturing out on my own. I looked everywhere for advice of how to make it happen.

When I was planning my (second) exit out of the corporate world to become a solopreneur, I had dreams of grandeur. Thoughts of what being an entrepreneur meant. What my daily life would consist of. All of the money that would be rolling in the door and the clients I’d be helping.

I sucked at balancing the side hustle thing. I’m an “all-in” or “all-out” kind of gal, so sticking it out to do my corporate job and my passion project at the same time, wasn’t ideal. I was ready to launch – and be a solopreneur.

After a lot of thought and debate, I settled on what my company would be and who I would be serving. Put my shingle out on the web, and sat back waiting for one narrow niche demographic to find me. My first mission statement was, "I work with working professionals age 25–45 who are looking to redefine their career path."

In my mind, being a solopreneur meant that I could only do one thing – I had to be known for one thing, or I would never earn a living or have paying clients. The people around me, the bloggers and online business owners I followed, the coaches and writers, and everyone in between… seemed to have just one business. One income stream. One “passion.” And as restrictive as that felt to me, I figured they knew much more that I did.

So I followed the formula to the best I could. Pick your niche, market, spread the word, make connections, guest post, and so on . . . only to land a handful of clients. Enough to keep me afloat, but not nearly enough to survive on.

Then August 2012 happened. I recently alluded to my fear of August because I didn’t earn a single penny that month. Yes, the entire month was a big fat zero. As Jenny would say, my Inner CFO was five minutes away from a nervous breakdown.

To be a successful entrepreneur meant that I had to be a career coach, or nothing.

Until I found out a little dirty secret in a fit of panic. Many of the solopreneur’s I knew and followed, actually did other things on the side. They worked as a freelancer for another company. They managed someone else’s website. They were  contractors/consultants at a similar company to the ones they were trying to launch.

It was astounding. Even in trying to escape the traditional career path norm, I was instituting another structured definition of what being your own boss meant. I know, apparently I am that structured of a person.

Then September rolled around and I had a plan. Thankfully I landed some new clients at the beginning of the month that lessened my panic, but I also realized that I needed to build my own type of business. My own way to define what being a solopreneur meant.

I started researching some alternative jobs that I could do that would provide a somewhat stable income, take up some of my extensive free time, and also help me learn more about my own business. I stumbled upon a job board that promoted flexible positions – part time, telecommuting, flexible hours, and so on.

Through that site, I found two options that fit the bill. Submitted my resume for both and got calls back immediately. Both were telecommuting positions with flexible part-time hours. I could decide how much I would work and it would be consistent with my location independent business. One of them was a perfect fit – and I eventually signed on to consult with them on an ongoing basis.

I was ashamed about it. I may have told two people, total. I thought I’d be found out as a fraud . . . or lying about owning my own business, or that I was cheating. It didn’t feel like I was making it on my own.

But the thing is, so many people view solopreneurship as exactly that – creating your own definition of a career path. I wasn’t as “successful” as a full-time career coach on day one, but I also was kind of bored. Once I shifted my own perspective about working for myself, I started being open to new opportunities that didn’t fit neatly inside of the “career coach” box. I started helping other coaches with their websites; other online entrepreneurs launch their products and services; and continued working my steady consulting gig.

I now have various different income sources that help me not only pay the bills, even though my career coaching business is now profitable and able to cover everything 100%!, but also helps me feed my various interests and fills my schedule.

Perhaps creating various side hustles when you are already a solopreneur is not the traditional path of entrepreneurship, but it’s all about how you define “being out on your own.” I would not have met some great people along my journey, had the opportunity to try out different business models, succeed and fail, and so on – had I simply labeled myself a career coach, and nothing more.

Success for me is about making it on your own terms. When in doubt, I refer back to an official definition of entrepreneur: 1. A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. 2. An employer of productive labor; contractor. Not exactly the same definition we always think of first!

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below: Have you created your own definition of entrepreneurship? Have you continued your side hustle when you're already out on your own? 

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.