life lessons

The $20 Rule

The $20 Rule

The $20 rule is that you could lose a $20 bill and not even know it, so let yourself be somewhat cavalier when considering a purchase of $20 or less. I learned about this rule about a year ago when I revealed to a friend–we’ll call her Emily–that I was waffling over a skinny tie […]


Top 10 Survival Tips for Introverts at Social Events

Top 10 Survival Tips for Introverts at Social Events

If you like this entry, feel free to check out my Kickstarter campaign for a board game I invented called Viticulture. Board games happen to be perfect social lubricants for introverts. I’m an introvert. Myers-Briggs tells me that I’m a very low introvert, but I think that’s because I’ve learned to cope with some social […]


Leadership Tactic #72: Praise Publicly, Criticize Privately

Leadership Tactic #72: Praise Publicly, Criticize Privately

Praise publicly, criticize privately. It’s a simple rule. And yet many people–among them a number of managers–get it backwards. We criticize our peers in front of others so that we can feel powerful. We may not realize it, but we do. Maybe it’s a know-it-all comment about a friend’s misuse of grammar in a small […]


Leadership Tactic #71: Just Try It

Leadership Tactic #71: Just Try It

A few weeks ago I was kind of a jerk at work. It would be inappropriate for me to go into details, but basically, a coworker and I disagreed about a certain type of publicity we were doing. I thought the existing Option A was the right way to go, and my coworker thought that […]


There Are Two Types of People in the World

There Are Two Types of People in the World

There are two types of people in the world: Those who think the world is out to get them every step of the way, and those who never have that thought cross their mind. Those who like surprises, and those who don’t. Those who laugh at every joke, and those who are selective with their […]


Leadership Tactic #70: How to Ask for Feedback

Leadership Tactic #70: How to Ask for Feedback

I love to give feedback. Love it. I’d wager that this is pretty universal–who doesn’t like to offer advice? Over the past few months, I’ve seen the number of varied requests for my feedback increase significantly. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’m putting the offer out there more often. I’ve given people feedback on […]


Leadership Tactic #68: How to Relieve Yourself of the Stress of a Bad Day at Work

Leadership Tactic #68: How to Relieve Yourself of the Stress of a Bad Day at Work

A friend texted me today to say that she was having a bad day at work, and she wanted some advice on how to make it better (which made my day, because I love giving advice). We all have these days. I don’t care how optimistic and carefree of a person you are–every once in […]


The Seven Pillars of Success: John Donovan

The Seven Pillars of Success: John Donovan

I often read about highly successful people. They’re successful in a myriad of different ways–professionally, financially, physically, and in terms of popularity, family, networks, etc. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to formulate the common traits that successful people seem to embody regardless of the type of success. I think I have them […]


7 Random Road Trip Tips and Thoughts

7 Random Road Trip Tips and Thoughts

Back during a time when I was making many road trips for my first–and last–long-distance relationship, I wrote an entry about how I’d pimp my ride for long trips if I could. Today I have a few follow-up tips and thoughts for long road trips, particularly those for which you’re alone for 10+ hours. Crunchy […]


When Was the Last Time You Asked a Really Good Question?

When Was the Last Time You Asked a Really Good Question?

I think the world is missing people who ask good questions. I’ve been away from the blog the past few days (and last week) at a family reunion and a separate soccer tournament back in Virginia. It was a good trip, one that involved some quality soccer with old teammates (some of whom were much […]


The Breakdance Story

The Breakdance Story

I used to be a breakdancer. Thirteen years ago when I was entering college, I was a terrible dancer. To most people that wouldn’t be an issue. But my perception of college was that dancing would be really important. I envisioned an ongoing series of dance parties–both frat and ballroom–and possibly a number of West-Side-Story-style […]


The 3 Best Things About Your Job

The 3 Best Things About Your Job

I don’t know anyone who thinks they have the perfect job. Sure, there are plenty of people who love their jobs (and plenty who loathe them), but everyone has something to complain about. I enjoy my job, but it has its frustrations. Sometimes those frustrations overwhelm me a bit. I think it’s okay to vent […]


Leadership Tactic #40: I Am Responsible

Leadership Tactic #40: I Am Responsible

I read an article the other day on how to apologize to someone. The best part was that it’s not a true apology there’s a “but” in there. “I’m sorry I’m late, but traffic was terrible.” Nope. That’s an excuse. For an apology, you remove the second clause. No but. When I was a teenager, […]


Management Tactic #37: Funerals

Management Tactic #37: Funerals

A coworker once gave me some simple advice that I’ll never forget: You may regret not going to a funeral or wake, but you’ll never regret going to one. Remember this advice. You will need it, because you will rarely be eager to attend a funeral. You’ll avoid it. You’ll find excuses not to go. […]


The 3 Things You’d Change About Your College Experience If You Had a Time Machine

The 3 Things You'd Change About Your College Experience If You Had a Time Machine

Knowing what you know now about the real world and college and yourself, what are three things you would do differently if you could redo your undergraduate years of college? My three: I would take only the classes that really interested me. I’m glad I went to Wash U. It’s a great school, the quality […]


Does Having More Friends Make You Happier?

Does Having More Friends Make You Happier?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m fascinated by the idea of happiness. What makes us happy? How can we be happier? What’s really important when it comes to personal happiness? Thus I was rather intrigued to find an article online that listed 10 keys for determining happiness. The […]


Rework Contest and Survey

Rework Contest and Survey

Two things happened to me almost simultaneously a few weeks ago: I had a really interesting idea for a new type of job search website, and I began reading a fantastic book about starting a business and being creative. The book is called Rework, by 37Signals CEO Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and I […]


Prank Wars

Prank Wars

As I’ve written about before, I love a good prank. Some sleight of hand where you have someone thinking one thing while something else is going on. Something that doesn’t offend or inconvenience the target, but it fools them for some amount of time. Thus it’s no surprise that I love College Humor’s Prank Wars. […]


Management Tactic #5: Be. On. Time.

Management Tactic #5: Be. On. Time.

This may be the most important leadership post I’ve written so far. It’s not getting the #1 slot because I’m sure there’s something better for that, and slots 2-4 are already taken. So #5 it is. I’m going to share two things with you in this post: One, why you shouldn’t be late. Two, the […]


Change for the Sake of Change

This past fall, I moved out of my condo for a few months. I gave about a fourth of what I own to Goodwill after I packed all the stuff I really wanted. Then I moved back into my condo two months later, still feeling like I owned too much “stuff,” but lighter and less […]


If I Could Pimp My Ride…

If I could pimp my ride, I’d retrofit it to be the ultimate long-distance vehicle. Prior to last year, I was horrible at long-distance driving. I’d get stiff, bored, and tired after about 2 hours in my Camry. But last year I had a long-distance relationship that resulted in several 8-hour trips to West Virginia. […]


Management Tactic #19: Always Accept the Cake

Have you ever been at a birthday party at work and one person makes a fuss about not eating the cake? I’ve seen this several times in my illustrious career. Someone goes out of their way to make or buy a cake for a birthday, everyone’s really happy about it, and yet one person “isn’t in […]


Management Tactic #23: Too Good to Be True

The year was 2002. I had returned from my junior year abroad in Japan having resisted buying any tiny, fancy Japanese laptops that wouldn’t have worked at all in America. I needed a laptop, though, because I wanted to take typewritten notes in class. (Which, by the way, I never did. How many people actually […]


Management Tactic #6: Say Your Phone Number Like You Just Learned It

I get a lot of voicemails on my office phone. I’m up from my desk a lot, and it seems there is a 100% chance that people will call me when I’m in the bathroom (which is in my office, so I can hear the phone ring). When I listen to voicemails, I always have […]