Are TEDx talks played out?

I was at a party last year that was attended mainly by authors, agents, and PR people. And one of the authors heard that I helped people create their TEDx talks. “Isn’t TED kind of played out,” she said, poking at her gin and tonic with a straw. It wasn’t a question. “Why do you […]

How to get people to pay attention (because they’re not)

It’s hard to get people to listen, for like, longer than two seconds. It really is. Even when it’s their job to pay attention. Ever read Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything?” He made it so clear to me why we miss the mark: It’s because we assume that the moment we pitch (what we think is […]

,

3 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Being on TV

If you’re smart, you’ll learn something new from every job. And given that you’ll switch, not just jobs, but careers several times over your life, your unique advantage comes from the wisdom you pick up along the way. If you worked in customer service, you’ll know how to handle clients when you go into business […]

Knowing things you shouldn’t know

I was on a first date last summer when I decided to play the game again: I asked this man if he had had a dog growing up. All I knew was that he was raised in Missouri, the youngest of three boys. “Yes, I did, actually.” I could almost see the dog in my […]

What makes you stand out (and why it’s worth the risk)

I’ve never had a client who didn’t want to help people. What I say to them (gently, of course) is that while of course I believe them, their good intentions do not constitute a brand. Because everyone in their own way wants to help. It’s truth, but not identity. That we need to get past […]

Getting what you want

There’s nothing more disappointing than getting exactly what you want: the pink bike with the banana seat; a Cabbage Patch Doll; praline ice cream cake. The equation makes no sense: Ask for thing, get thing should equal pure joy. And there was joy, of course. But then, a kind of ache, after. It doesn’t change, […]

How to drive defensively

Every time you step out that door some sonofabitch is shootin at ya. That’s what my grandfather always said. He wasn’t paranoid; he was a state policeman in Hazleton, PA. It’s not a negative worldview, though it may seem that way; it’s realistic, and it doesn’t mean you don’t go out there, but when you […]

How to play when you’re not a sports person

I played on the girls softball league in my town in grade school. It’s not something I wanted to do, or asked to do. My mother simply signed me up and I did it. Why was I doing this? A few other kids from school were doing it, and it would be good to go […]

What a happy person looks like

As a kid, my sister Kim fell into a cactus terrarium we kept on the windowsill (don’t ask why we kept cactus terrarium on the windowsill), and spent hours in the ER where they pulled out one needle at a time. She got a Cocoa Puff up her nose…

Things you think you can't do

Freshman year, I joined an after-school writer’s club, and even had a poem published in the school literary magazine. It wasn't bad. But I told my mother, that year and many to follow, that yes I liked to write, but “I’m not a ‘real’…

How to deal with your ex (Day 14)

In just about every episode of The Golden Girls, someone rings the doorbell. What’s on the other side of the door looks like the opening line of a joke: There may be a priest, a rabbi, a girl scout, a cross-dressing baseball player, a police…

Don't go cheap on your face (Day 13)

When I turned 13, my mother bought me a set of makeup from Clinique: a bottle of flesh-colored foundation; blush that came in a green marbled compact with a tiny brush; a mirrored box that slid out to reveal a tray of neutral eyeshadows in varying…

How to sell yourself on something you don't like (Day 12)

I always loved a good side hustle—even before it was a thing. Having something on the side always made you feel you had stuff going on, especially when you had nothing else going on. For a while I took whatever popped up and was happy to:…

Watch your tone (Day 11)

“If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to me, you wouldn’t have any friends.” My mother is washing and drying the Corningware, sliding it back into its drawer, the lids  making that rattling Corningware sound (a sound unmistakable…