Sunday, June 30, 2013

What To Do When Your Daughter is Dating a Loser

My friend Jess’s nineteen year-old daughter has been dating this boy for two years. Jess and her husband have never been fond of this boy who they describe as lazy and a loser. They were hoping their smart, beautiful daughter would find a new boyfriend when she was away at college last year, but that didn’t happen. She is now home for the summer and spends all her free time with her boyfriend. This is causing problems at home. When Jess would not allow her daughter to attend an out-of-state family reunion with her boyfriend after their own family vacation was cancelled Jess’s daughter spent the entire weekend sulking in her room. Jess and her husband plan on sitting their daughter down and demanding she break-up with him. They plan on telling her she is too good for him, she’s wasting her time and he’s a loser. Her question for me was when should this conversation take place. Now, before the 4th of July holiday or to wait until right before her daughter returns to school. Her concern is if she has this conversation now it will ruin her family’s summer because her daughter will be impossible to live with, but if she waits she will have to continue watching her daughter be smitten with this boy for the rest of the summer.

My recommendation:

Don’t have this conversation at all. Your daughter is not going to listen to you. You mentioned your daughter’s high school friends held an intervention with her. They told your daughter they didn’t like her boyfriend and suggested she break-up with him. What did your daughter do? She stopped being friends with these girls. She is going to do the same thing with you. She will stop confiding in you and start sneaking around behind your back. She is nineteen, an adult. She could even do something crazy like move out, quit school or get married. She has a promise ring.

I think you should invite your daughter’s boyfriend into your home from time to time. Try to understand what your daughter sees in him. You didn’t mention if he was abusive in any way or controlling. Just that she is too young, this is the first boy she’s dated and that she spends too much time with him. I would play that angle. Encourage her to make new girl friends especially at school, to try everything, even things her boyfriend doesn’t like to do. One of my biggest regrets is not discovering who I was and trying new things when I was younger. She needs to tire or grow out of her boyfriend on her own.

Our other friend suggested Jess make sure her daughter does not get pregnant. Jess said her daughter is on the pill, for cramps though. She is sure her daughter is not having sex.

I came home and told my husband about Jess’s dilemma. Once again he disagrees with me. If this were his daughter, he would sit her down and tell her she is too young to date just one boy. End of story.

Have you ever not approved of someone your child was dating? What did you do? Or from the other angle - Did your parents ever disapprove of someone you were dating? Did they talk to you about it? What did you do?

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strength Interview with Ran Zilca of 'Ride of Your Life'

Last summer, while researching inner-strength for my BE Strong Challenge –  a challenge I created for myself to become a stronger person in my 50th year - I discovered a fantastic article on Building Inner Strength by Ran Zilca on Psychology Today. This article remains the best article I’ve read to-date on inner-strength, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn Ran is writing a book about his journey towards inner peace. I recently had the opportunity to interview Ran for my strength challenge:

What is your book - A coast to Coast Journey to Inner Peace about? And when will it be released?
The book is a guide to inner peace, composed over a 6,000 mile, coast-to-coast solo motorcycle ride I took in 2010. I started in New York and rode to California and then down the California coast line. On my way I interviewed different scientists and authors like Deepak Chopra, Phil Zimbardo, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Byron Katie. The collective wisdom of these experts and of the many people I met on the road, along with the meditative experience of riding in solitude each day, yielded very interesting insights that form the guide.

I am running a Kickstarter Campaign (see below). If it’s successful the book will come out for the new year.

What motivated you to undertake this journey?
I was just turning 40, and being very successful in business and in my personal life, but unsure as to who I really am. I think that many people experience this type of feeling in midlife, where they know what they do and where they live, but not exactly sure who they are. It made me feel restless, so I went out to rediscover my identity, quiet the restlessness, and regain my inner peace.

What makes you feel strong?
When you lift weights you put a strain on your muscles, and in turn that builds muscle mass. Mental strength is built in the exact same way – by facing and meeting challenges, and going outside your comfort zone. I got my motorcycle license only a year before going on the road, and it was very hard for me to learn how to ride, and become good at it. It was also very hard, in many different ways, to go on the road and leave home for 5 weeks. I missed my wife and my kids, and even though my wife was very supportive of the project, it was very hard on her as well. I also did not have much riding experience, and most days were filled with risks. For that very reason though, the pride of actually doing it made me feel much stronger in a very profound way.

What detracts from your strength or what do you see others doing that detract from their strength?
All of us have known energy-drains. It could be the interaction with certain people, being in certain situations, or worries and thoughts. To remain strong, it’s crucial to identify those, so you can keep the drain of strength to a minimum. 

What do you know now that you did not know when you were 18?
At 18 my identity was still forming, and today I know who I am and how to make decisions irrespective of what may be good for others. At the same time, I would never want to lose my perspective at 18, where anything was possible, and everything was starting to happen and materialize. The sense of strength in youth can be tremendous. 

Do you have any lessons that you’ve learned from your journey that may help me in my strength challenge?To do one thing each day that scares you and makes you feel uncomfortable, to live life in service of others, to give others credit before they act, and forgive them when they default on that credit. The biggest hurdle on the way to happiness and inner strength is one’s ego and a sense of self-importance.

Are there any books that have influenced you or that you find yourself always recommending to others?
Many :) Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want The How of Happiness, and Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life (both authors that I was fortunate to interview) are great positive psychology guides for life. Deepak Chopra’s The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment The Ultimate Happiness Prescription is also a great read that is very practical. When I was on the road I read John’s Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, which is both a great travel story and a thought-provoker. But mostly – I find The Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching to be an executive summary of many texts on human happiness.

As I enter the second year of my challenge what should I focus on? I spent most of my first year gaining a better understanding of who I am.  
Here’s my advice: Make a list of things you want to do but feel uncomfortable doing, and start doing them! It could be small, daily things too. The pride you will feel will be a tremendous source of strength.

Tell me about your Kickstarter Project?
The Kickstarter Campaign allows everyone to pre-order the book, and also participate in its creation (!) by sending questions to the different experts. You can also get signed and dedicated copies, a coaching package, and other special rewards. The funding from the pre-orders will be then used to pay for the book’s production, but only if enough pre-orders are made.  

Is there anything else we should know about you?
Even though there’s some dose of adventure in my life, I live very normatively – house in the suburbs, take the kids to school and activities, etc. I love family life and the daily routine that comes with it.

Ran Zilca can be found at and his Kickstarter Project can be found here.

Please Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I’m Not Giving up on Fiction after all?

I’ve written before about my preference for reading nonfiction:

I switched to nonfiction after becoming disenchanted with fiction while making my way through Oprah's depressing book club selections.  I decided if I was going to read a depressing story it might as well be true. Even today on the rare occasion I read fiction I usually end up being disappointed:

Take Gillian Flynn’s book Gone Girl for instance. This was the book to read in 2012. Lisa Bloom described it as her favorite guilty page-turner. It was so popular that when I put it on hold at my local library I was #462 on the hold list. Unfortunately this book was not for me. I found the characters so unlikeable, I couldn't finish it. I made it a little over half way through, read the ending and slammed the book closed in disgust.  When I returned the book I told my library friends I didn't like it especially the manipulative characters. They snickered saying that was the point of the book - how manipulative people can be.   Sigh! I decided to give up reading fiction for good.

Then while preparing for a recent vacation I packed four nonfiction books and Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan just in case.  I don't know what it is about being on vacation that usually makes me gravitate towards fiction.  Sure enough, Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, Fred Kaplan's1959: The Year Everything Changed, Marilyn Yalom's A History of the Wife and In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall; none of them felt right. Instead, I picked up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and didn't put it down again until I'd finished it.

What I liked about this book?
Lisa See created a beautifully written historical novel that takes place in China's Hunan Provence during the 19th century.  It's about two young girls who are linked as laotongs at the age of seven (a practice bonding two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters). The book explores the oppression of woman valued only for the ability to produce sons, describes the horrific practice of foot binding which I knew little about and explores the relationship of female friendship.

In reviewing my vacation journal, I only made one note from the book: 
I am still learning about love. I thought I understood it - not just mother love but the love for one's parents, for one's husband, and for one's laotong. I've experienced the other types of love - pity love, respectful love, and gratitude love.  But looking at our secret fan with its messages written between Snow Flower and me over many years, I see that I didn't value the most important love - deep-heart love. (Pg. 5)
So I am happy to report I'm not giving up fiction after all.  Perhaps I need to read fiction only when on vacation.  Then stick with my preferred fiction genre - historical fiction or as Tanya form Mom's Small Victories classified this book: World/Cultural Fiction.

Please Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate

Have you read Gone Girl?  What were your thoughts?  Do you agree with my librarian - I gave up on the book too soon and missed the book's point?

Do you have any historical fiction or world/cultural fiction recommendations for my next vacation read? 

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
Memorable Vacation Reads
Nonfiction You Can't Put Down
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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Use a Side Hustle to Stand Out From the Crowd

In the comments of my post Five Effective Ways to Find Your Best Second Career Kita wrote:

Everyone I know has a side hustle of some kind I think it’s needed in this economy I just think you need something that will make you stand out from the rest in a big way.
This is great advice for the marketing graduate mentioned in the above post:
After obtaining her marketing degree the only work this woman was able to find was as a retail clerk. She tells me employers won’t hire her because she‘s too old (over 50) and that her skills aren’t strong enough. She specifically mentioned her computer skills stating she has not been able to pass a computer proficiency exam.
Another commenter wrote:
Marketing can be rough as some positions rely solely on appearance, so unfortunately the younger the better.

This is why it is absolutely imperative for the woman above to do everything possible to improve her computer skills now. 

Before she can even think about standing out from the crowd she needs to become incredibly qualified:
She should become proficient with the software programs companies expect new hires to be familiar with. This may involve taking additional classes then practicing at home. She could track her budget and expenses in excel, develop dummy power point presentations, create website graphics in Photoshop or build her own website. She could use the free version of a program similar to Photoshop called GIMP, if she doesn’t want to pay for Photoshop. Also, some placement firms and temporary agencies offer computer training to their job candidates.

Once she meets the basic computer requirements, how can she stand out?

Join local marketing associations:
With a quick internet search I was able to fine three marketing associations in the Milwaukee area: BMA Milwaukee, American Marketing Association, and Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association. This woman should not only join at least one of them, but she should actively participate by attending their meetings and events. Listen to what members are talking about and what their concerns are. She could write blog posts covering these topics on her own blog or the organization’s website. Then link these posts to her linked-in account. Volunteer to work on a committee or the board. By becoming an active member she has a greater opportunity to network, practice skills, learn from others and make mistakes in a non-work related setting.  

Volunteer for a nonprofit organization:
Most non-profit organizations are hurting for volunteers. Offer to write their newsletter, update their social media accounts and website. Or better yet volunteer to evaluate, work with, update or create their marketing program.  

Work for free:
It sounds as if it’s too late for this woman to secure an internship, but she could seek out small employers and offer to provide marketing services for free. Many side-hustlers get their start working for free. You gain experience while building your resume and gaining references.

Start your own marketing company:
Create your own social media, website, blog or marketing company.  Use the references and experience you gleaned from your professional association membership, volunteer work and working for free to create your portfolio.  Then sell yourself as a contract worker.

Gain experience working for a temporary agency:
Working as a temp has always been one of my favorite ways to gain experience, but the woman from above was not a proponent of this idea. She felt this wasn't feasible.  She could not afford to quit her permanent job to work in a temporary position.

What standing out from the crowd does not mean:
After reading Alison Green’s post a job applicant stopped by with a plant and candy, I feel it is worthwhile to mention a couple of things a job candidate should not do to stand out from the crowd. Do not send hiring managers gifts of any kind including candy, wine, gift baskets, fruit baskets, plants, baked goods including dropping off brownies, cookies, cakes or donuts and never ever send them a framed picture of yourself. The only things you should be sending a hiring manager are a well written cover letter and your resume. Also do not call the hiring manager to make sure they received your resume or to tell them you are the perfect candidate for the job. And never ever stop in to see them without a prearranged interview. All of these gimmicks are likely to land your resume directly into the trash can.  

Unfortunately without contacts, experience or stellar grades a degree by itself probably won’t open too many doors. I agree with Kita, if you want to stand out in the job market in this economy you are going to need a side-hustle.

Do you have a side-hustle? Has it helped you stand out from the crowd?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
What to do when you are unhappy with a job offer
How to find work when you don't have experience
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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

5 Effective Ways to Find Your Best Second Career

I recently had a conversation with a former hair stylist who’d been forced to make a career change after developing a severe allergy to hair care products. Once her workman’s compensation ended she returned to school to earn a degree in marketing. Since graduating, the only work this woman has been able to procure is as a retail clerk. She tells me employers won’t hire her because she‘s too old (over 50) and that her skills aren’t strong enough. After rejecting my ideas to improve her skills, I began to wonder if perhaps marketing was not the best choice for this woman. There has to be a more effective way to choose a second career. To answer this question I’ve turned to Ruth Richards a writer for All The Top Bananas.

With the job market being more turbulent than ever before, many people are looking towards ‘second careers’ to bolster their incomes or see them through retirement. A change of direction can be interesting and exciting, though it’s not always easy to know where to start.

Here, we look at five effective ways to find the best second career for you.

Work out your skills and strengths

It should go without saying, but it’s important that you know what you’re good at and make choices accordingly. If you hate talking to large groups of people, for example, you probably shouldn’t be a lecturer. On the other hand, it could be the perfect choice if you’re good at coaching and have a patient manner. Identify what you’re good at and work through your options from there.

Look for something you have a true passion for

We spend an awful lot of time in the workplace, so it makes sense to choose something that you love. If you have a creative streak, you might enjoy a role that deals with the arts. If you enjoy cooking, you may consider a job in catering. Work doesn’t have to be dull and boring, and you can take immense personal satisfaction from it if you choose something you truly care about.

Find out what training is available to you

If you’re looking at a totally new field, you may need some training to get your skills up to scratch. Many local communities offer free or reduced priced courses to their residents, so look out for what’s available close to you. Of course, trainee roles are quite often available, and this could be a viable option for you.

Make a list of what your priorities are

The world of work is sometimes about making sacrifices and working out what you really want. If pay is your main goal, you might have to be willing to work long hours and deal with pressure. On the other hand, if doing something you love is your priority, you may have to travel further to your place of work. Establish what’s important to you and think about how you’ll balance the various aspects.

Can you go it alone?

If you’ve never considered entrepreneurship, now could be the time. After all, what could be better than working for yourself on your own terms? With advances in the World Wide Web, pretty much anyone can start their own venture from the comfort of their own home. Freelancing is a popular route, and you could do anything from writing to web development.

Are you currently considering a change in career direction? Do you think you’ve found the best option for you?

This article was brought to you by Ruth Richards on behalf of All The Top Bananas. All The Top Bananas helps job seekers find new opportunities with their online job search facilities.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
How To Find Work When You Don't Have Experience?
Can Passion Exist Without Mastery?
Job Disillusionment