A few months ago I did an experiment. I usually charge $350 for a coaching session, and at that fee I let people pick the time they want to talk. But then I said that if people booked the session at 7am or 10pm I would discount the cost to $150. Nearly overnight I was booked for three months solid. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. There’s a really dirty underbelly in Silicon Valley.
Asperger hot houses of IQ discrimination, sex slave enthusiasts with one or two startups under their belt, and Luddite / Mormon / Mennonites who work at Google but don’t let their wives leave home without complete body coverage. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this piece in Vanity Fair. If you want to coach the people in these cesspools of intellect, their sweet spot seems to be $150 an hour.
2. Self-administered personality tests yield inaccurate results.
Fortune 500 companies adore personality type tests, because they ensure only leaders get trained to lead. And entrepreneurs love personality type because one bad hire can kill an early-stage startup. So when I am coaching for $350, most people have taken a personality test through work, with some expensive consultant administering the test. And the test results are usually correct.
But at the $150 price point most people do not have the kind of job where your boss hires someone to give you the test. So they just give the test to yourself. This is when personality testing doesn’t...
Business school applications are due at the beginning of January. Now is the time to withdraw your application.
Because you should not go to business school. If you want to start a company, you should start a company. And if you want to climb the corporate ladder you should do that. An MBA does not help you with either of those goals.
An MBA gets you into middle management. If you’re a strong performer you get into middle management faster by working than you can by taking two years off of work to get an MBA.
If you want to be an entrepreneur then go be one. Entrepreneurship is about being scrappy, cutting corners, and figuring out new ways to do things. If you think you need to go to school for that then it’s a sign that you’re not cut out to do it.
This is not controversial stuff I’m saying here about business school. Yet every year people apply. In most cases the people who go to business school are essentially announcing they are failing in their work.
Here are five types of underperformers who go to business school.
1. People who work with morons.
Did you ever hear the expression “A players work with A players?” The other truism is that A players don’t encourage other A players to get MBAs. If you are a high performer then no boss would encourage you to leave and get an MBA. Because they want to keep working with...
This week Melissa is working with clients in New York during the day and sleeping at my apartment in Swarthmore. I wait for her to return each night at 9pm like I am like the cranky wife frustrated by her spouse’s long commute. My kids wait to light Chanukah candles with her like they are the cranky four-year-olds frustrated by the long wait for gifts.
And my older son says, “If you bought me socks for Chanukah then can I have them now? Because all mine are dirty.”
1. Give gifts that affirm what the recipient is doing is ok.
Melissa gets home. With gifts. And we light candles immediately. Most people scold me that my kids don’t like to read. Melissa doesn’t care: She bought both the boys books with no words.
She is particularly good at buying my older son gifts because they’re both INTJs. Tonight she gives him Crap Taxidermy. The botched procedures are disgusting. I am grossed out by the implications of torture. My son doesn’t care. He says, “This book really shows how difficult it is to stuff an animal.”
Melissa gives me a glycolic mask.
I put it on my face right away.
My older son says, “Why are you trying to be young?”
I talk without moving my lips so I don’t crack the mask: “Women who look younger make more money.”
He says, “That’s so great for women. You are really helping to break stereotypes.”
“If I weren’t trying to be younger...
When Squarespace contacted me and asked me to collaborate with them, I said yes. I usually say no to everybody. But, everybody I know uses them for their sites and their sites all look so good. And I thought it would be really good for my brand to be working with Squarespace. So I said yes. Then I did a lot of thinking about the best way to do the partnership with them, because I had a million ideas and you can do anything on Squarespace.
My grandma had a children’s book store. I helped her do the book buying to open the store. I got to pick the books for the kids my age.
I remember thinking this is so fun. And also, why does she get to have a store and I don’t?
Every day after school I went to the bookstore. There were after-school snacks in the fridge and dry shoes if I forgot to wear boots. I loved opening boxes of books and hearing the crack of a new spine.
The inventory system was all on handwritten index cards. My grandpa taught me calligraphy and we wrote the name of the book and the author and the publisher, and then we sat next to our card, rereading it, while the ink dried. Then we tucked it into the book, significantly slowing down the already-slowest inventory system in the world.
Ask me the publisher of any children’s book published from 1975 – 1990. Really. I know...
First of all, a confession: I think the wage gap is fine. I am paid much less than men with my experience and track record, and I don’t care, because I want to be with my kids.
Still, I know many people are passionate about closing the gap. In this post, I will tell you what you can do to close the wage gap.
First of all, there are more women than men who are qualified to go into STEM but women are not interested.
Second, the gender gap in tenure-track STEM is not any bigger than the one in senior leadership in business. And we know that this gap is not because women don’t have equal opportunity. It’s because men are fine leaving kids home with nannies and women are not.
So men and women have the same choices in life but women want to care for kids more than men do.
And that’s a much bigger problem than a simple wage gap.
The problem starts in school. Teachers constantly reinforce the idea that kids go to school so they can grow up and get important, impressive jobs. They train kids from a young age that they are only as good as their report card. Which means kids lose their natural ability to determine what is valuable and important to them and what is not.
So by the time men and women get through school and get jobs, they have been trained to compete for external validation....
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Melissa will be there, and special guests will be there, and my kids will be there, in the background asking for things I said no to, because parents are so vulnerable when they are on live video.
Melissa and I have a love/hate relationship with INFJs. We hate them because they are so judgy. And we are not judgy because we are too uncaring to be judgy. But actually we spend a lot of time being judgy about the INFJs for being so judgy.
Two days ago I was pacing my living room coaching an INFJ and it went like many coaching sessions with INFJs. I said, “To get started, what’s your personality type and how old are you?”
The person answered, “I’m an INTJ and I’m old.”
I said, “You’re an INFJ. An INTJ wouldn’t summarize their age like that.”
She told me about her divorce. And she was defensive and shut down and I said, “We can’t get anything done if you are defensive and shut down. Why are you like that on this call?”
She said she felt stupid for marrying someone like her husband and she hates having to tell people.
She is having the classic INFJ problem: she judges everyone else so she...
You know you’re in denial when your bio still says you live a thousand miles from where you really live. That’s pretty much where I am right now.
Also I couldn’t do obsessive late-night purchases on Anthropologie because I couldn’t remember that I still had the farm address on my credit card. And then I thought I didn’t have money because my card didn’t work. It’s messed up. I need to just get a grip on reality and update my address.
Try to to guess the one link on my site that gets the most clicks. Well, actually, it’s mailbag, and now that I’m writing this, I’m going to have to put a new question there. I have no idea why it’s so popular, but before I start getting friendly with quick money lenders, I should focus on monetizing that section.
But after mailbag, the most popular link is the Photos of Penelope link. For the five people who read this blog and have never clicked on it, it’s here, but it’s also on the bottom of every page. And I used to really like the page a lot. It’s pictures of me having fun and being thin and feeling in love. And pictures of me using my startup funding to pay people to do my hair and my makeup to get me ready for a fancy photo session.
Now I look at that page and it’s mostly pictures of me on the...
My brothers are always the first people to send an email to say I misinterpreted research that I’m linking to. (Which I accept as a love note to let me know they read my posts.) So last week when my brother sent me a link he thought I’d like, he also sent me a summary:
There are more men in STEM careers than women, which of course you already know. But the real reason we can’t solve the gender gap in STEM careers is shocking. At the time they enter into college, there are actually many more women who are qualified for STEM careers than men. However the majority of qualified women choose to do non-STEM majors in college. While the majority of men who are qualified for STEM careers choose STEM majors. So, it turns out that the researchers have found that the gap between men and women in STEM careers exists because men who are not qualified for STEM careers simply do not go to college.
So, women and men are very similar at STEM, but men not in STEM cannot get into college. Which means the reason we can’t solve the gender gap in STEM careers is not anything people could have ever imagined.
What’s striking about this research is we’ve asked the wrong question. We have been asking why aren’t women going into STEM, but the truth is women don’t want to go into...
Now that I am finally writing again, I’m so excited to tell you what’s been happening. And I have all these pictures I took, thinking, this will be good for the blog. But then I didn’t write anything.
You can’t get stuff done if you don’t plan an exact time of day you’re going to do it. So I planned to wake up and write before the boys get up.`
When the boys were little I’d try this and they’d use their child radar to wake up the second I was awake. So I gave up writing in the morning. And anyway, I decided it can’t be true be that people who wake up early are higher performers because caretakers of little kids wake up early for years and it kills their career.
But now my kids are older. So I tried again.
And it turns out my son wakes up extra early every day, so he can have time alone before I start bugging him about making sure he a to-do list to meet goals for his day. And to play video games.
It was sobering to watch him. First of all, I realized how important alone time is for him. He’s willing to get up hours before everyone else in order to get it. I also learned that he needs a break from me harping on the idea of always having goals and working toward them.
I wish I had something...
So often in my life I have felt like I’m failing when I’ve actually been taking a break. After college I had various odd jobs and every night I read books. I read a book a night for a while. I used to ignore that part of my story — glossing over it and skipping from college graduation to professional beach volleyball. But the late-afternoon reading that slipped into late-night reading was my break.
I was exhausted from navigating the social life of school. I was dying to read books I chose myself. Maybe most importantly, I needed time to process my nightmare childhood. Because when you are living a nightmare you can’t process. You are just surviving.
The next time I took a break was when I got fired from a high-paying writing job. The break wasn’t then. It was before then. I was sending my editor articles I had already published and telling him they were new. He found out and I felt terrible. I loved the job and I loved the editor. For years I hated myself for being so dishonest.
But I needed a break. I had a child who was failure to thrive, and I had no help from family and I was the sole breadwinner in New York City. It was too much. The pressure was killing me and the only way I knew how to get a break was to lie.
I have more resources now. So...
For a while, when I was pregnant and blogs were still new, I was the top commenter on my blog. And of course, every post I write is sort of an ode to me, or at least an ode to the current diatribe-colored glasses I’m wearing. So there was no need for a shout-out.
Then I wrote a lot on mainstream media sites, and I didn’t need to write an ode to my top commenters because my bosses did. When they fired me. I got fired from Yahoo because a big advertiser commented one too many times that I was terrible for women. I got fired from a newspaper because a guy set up spam bot, or whatever it’s called, to comment that I’m an idiot for saying job hopping is good.
Usually my editor, who is now Melissa, would take out the part where I misuse the word spam bot. She works hard to make sure I don’t look old and outdated. She tells me I should not use Snapchat like it’s email, and then she edits one of my best snaps for the blog to celebrate my coolness. So I’m writing a note here to the editor: don’t delete the part where I misuse spam bot. If I did misuse it. I’m ready to risk sounding old and technically incompetent on my blog. There’s a reason old people sound technically incompetent: They don’t fucking care.
Speaking of Melissa,...
The reason I’m not homeless after basically taking a year off from writing is that I have been doing a lot of coaching. I say career coaching, but honestly, no one over 30 has a career problem. All problems that look like career problems are really something else.
But the only coaching most people can justify spending $350 on is coaching that will lead to making more money. So people hire me to talk about their career and they realize they do not have a career problem. After talking with me for ten minutes. So with the remaining 50 minutes I do career coaching about non-career problems.
I love talking with the people who call. It takes a smart, curious, brave person to set up a coaching session with me. If you read this blog for even just a tiny bit of time you know there will be no beating around the bush. A lot of people cry. And I tell them, “Don’t worry, a lot of people cry. And anyway, I have Aspergers so I can just ignore it.”
Well. If they want me to. Or I can express empathy. But for sure no one is signing up for a coaching session because they heard I’m great with empathy.
I get lonely. I spend all day with my kids. They say interesting things, like, “Mom, why are you so forgiving to everyone in your life? I think you have Stockholm Syndrome.” But in spite of that, or...
After the World Trade Center fell, those of us who were there were divided into therapy groups. Sorted by trauma. People who lost a parent in one group. People who escaped down a stairwell in another group. I was in the group of people who got hit by flying body parts.
The first thing I noticed in group is that some people told their story over and over again. More and more detail. The sound of the thud. One step short of being crushed. Blood. Fingers.
Other people didn’t have very much to say. They just wanted to get back to work.
Really? I couldn’t believe it.
I mean, I wanted that, too. I wanted to get back to work. I wanted to go back to my normal routine. But everything in my body felt weak and scared and I felt like my body was moving in slow motion so my brain didn’t get hurt.
There was a lot of research that came from those World Trade Center groups. And it’s still coming. But the most interesting information to me is how the most resilient people were among those who just wanted to get back to work. It was right for them. Not everyone needs to process everything. It’s a spectrum. People have a genetic predisposition to resilience.
I know that in my group, I was on the...
In the Mailbag section of my site I answered a question from a woman who is worried about becoming financially dependent on her spouse if she doesn’t work.If you’ve been reading my writing for even a short amount of time, you already know what I told her:
All people who have children are dependent on their partner. Because being a single parent is a million times harder than being a team. No matter who is making the money.
And I will tell her to get married by 30. And I will tell her no one can hold onto a full-time career that is on an upward trajectory and also take care of kids. The only people on an upward trajectory after age 40 are people who are not primary caregivers.
Wendy commented that I always give the same advice.
It’s true. Because I’m right. But I’m sick of being right. It’s time to move on. I have never talked with a parent of fifteen-year-old kids who disagrees with any of my advice. It’s just you have to get there to see that the advice is right.
But now I’m thinking, what is the advice for the parents with a fifteen-year-old kid? I should write that stage of adult life. I don’t actually know what’s true. I’m just learning that now, with my own fifteen-year-old kid. But at least I’d learn something about myself while I wrote the post.
It seems that if I...
This is my son on registration day at Juilliard. We are so excited.
But not surprised.
That’s what happens when you work this hard. You are not surprised.
I am told it’s rare for a kid to get into Juilliard on the first try. Kids audition for three, four, five years before they get in. And that’s what we would have done. So we sort of, in the back of our heads, thought this is just what we are doing. We are excited that he only had to audition one time to get in.
The commitment did not come easily. And each step of the way I’d ask for reassurance. When I was trying to decide if we’d drive 8 hours to take cello lessons with Gilda Barston, I asked the person who first told me my son had talent: Jean Dexter. I said, “Aren’t there other teachers as good as Gilda who are closer?” And she said, “No.”
When Gilda told us we’d have to drive twice a week, I said to her, “I feel crazy doing this for a seven-year-old boy.”
She told me, “Well. If you don’t want to drive here, you could just move here.”
When he was eleven, and I told people we were moving from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to take lessons with Amy Barston, nearly everyone in the cello community said, “That’s a great idea.”
Parents who are cello parents say “we.” Parents who are not cello parents say, “Don’t you mean your child, not...
Last week I announced that I’m discounting my coaching sessions from $350 to $150. I have never discounted sessions in the ten years that I’ve been coaching, but I decided to do it because I need to stick to a sleeping schedule and I thought if I schedule coaching calls to wake up and go to bed then I’ll get a schedule.
I’m so excited that so many of you signed up.
This does not mean that waking up at 7AM has been easy for me. In fact, I can tell I will need to do this for a long time. So I’ve been letting people sign up for $150 coaching sessions after the deadline. And then I thought, I should extend the deadline. Because I’m getting to talk with a much wider range of interesting people — ones who are unlikely to pay the $350 fee but find the $150 fee more manageable.
And then I thought, everyone should use this opportunity to check your type. Because unless you are an INFJ or ENFP, the chances of you typing yourself wrong are huge. For example, ENTJs and INTJs never mistype themselves, but lots of people mistake themselves as one of those two types. And STs frequently mistake themselves for Ns. And Is frequently mistake themselves for Es.
The test is not always all that accurate when you do it yourself. Because we mix up who we want to be and who we actually are....