My Q & A with Herminia Ibarra (NYTimes.com)


For today’s Shifting Careers column at NYT.com I got a chance to interview Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity, my all-time favorite book about careers. Ibarra, who has spent the past several years working in France had interesting insights about European vs. Americans attitudes towards work/leisure/unplugging.

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Entrepreneurship, with a twist (NYT.com)


Today, my Shifting Careers column for the New York Times covers three new books on entrepreneurship, each focusing on a different niche. I’m partial to books that describe types of workplace breeds, so it’s not surprising these books — one about “Grindhoppers,” one about “anti 9-to5 women,” and one about “parentpreneurs” — appealed to me.
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Why I like sports writing, even though I don’t like sports.


My single girlfriends in NYC have long been wondering where all the eligible men are lurking. I found it. Happy Ending Lounge on the Lower East Side is home to Varsity Letters, a monthly reading series celebrating sports writing. (If you’re wondering about the name of the venue, the bar’s former life as a certain kind of massage parlor confirms that it was always a popular haunt for men.)

I went to the July 5th event because the beau and I were invited by our friend, Rich Ackerman, a sportscaster and contributor to Being There: 100 Sports Pros Talk About the Best Events They Ever Witnessed Firsthand, by Eric Mirlis. Ackerman’s radio voice turned a “reading” into a live broadcast. The beau, who has spent almost his entire career around sports, also knew one of the other readers, Lee Lowenfish, author of a new biography of Branch Rickey, who is renown as both a jazz writer and a baseball writer (Lowenfish trivia: he sports a perfect slash business card, featuring a baseball in one corner and a musical note in the other.)
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New use for a blog

On Sunday, I spoke on a panel about freelance writing at a journalism conference with my friends and fellow freelancers, Chris Kenneally and Hannah Wallace. Chris’s new book, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, is coming out later this week and during the panel, she mentioned that she is using a private blog (a blog she doesn’t publish) as an organizational tool for her next book. Now that I’ve discovered how easy and useful blogs can be for keeping track of writing thoughts, online links and other stuff you don’t want to lose, I loved this idea.
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Summer Classes in Iowa, with a literary Rock Star!


I was considering limiting the number of times a week I use the Heymarci Blog to promote a friend’s new book, new class/workshop/product, or overall fabulousness. But it’s my blog and that’s one of the beauties of being able to make the rules. So as long as my friends continue to do exceptional things, you’re going to hear about them.

In that vein, here’s the latest offering from one of my exceptional friends, Faith Adiele, whose award-winning memoir Meeting Faith, an account on her experience becoming a Buddhist nun in Thailand, should be on everyone’s summer reading list.

Faith is teaching a few workshops in Iowa this summer and it’s a chance to study with a real star.

For more about Faith, visit her site. Faith is also a regular contributor to O Magazine (you can read her most recent O story on her site.)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Food: Food Writing Weekend Workshop, July 14–15

Politics & Poetics: Writing Yourself Into/Onto The World One-Week Workshop, July 15–20

Travel Tales: Making The Foreign Familiar & The Familiar Foreign

One-Week Workshop, July 22–27

TO REGISTER, AND GET MORE INFORMATION,
VISIT THE IOWA SUMMER WRITING FESTIVAL SITE.

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Time Magazine blogger covers ME!

Last week I had lunch with Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, one of the best workplace bloggers out there. My intention was to talk shop, grouse about being on book tour and how hard it is to self-promote all time — and frankly, get some advice about being a workplace columnist. We never got to that last part because she whipped out a pen and told me she’d like to interview me about my book for her blog. (I had pitched her ages ago, but when she didn’t write about the book, I didn’t want to press.)

Here’s what she wrote.

If you’re the kind of person who reads my column and blog, you’ll definitely want to keep up with Lisa’s blog. Another interesting fact about her is that she wrote an interesting/wacky book on the business and rituals around death and funerals. You can read more about it (and check out some cool photos) here (on yet another book site that reminds me I have to redesign my website/blog once life quiets down.)

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Penelope Trunk’s new book


As I was promoting my book, I approached lots of writers I admired. Sometimes I wanted them to think of me as the expert on slash careers. Sometimes I was looking for advice about how to make that move from journalist to author. In other cases I hoped the writer would say some kind words about about my book in the form of a review, a blog entry, a blurb. Because I limited myself to writers I admired, I was sincere every time I wrote which made this process enjoyable rather than daunting.

Penelope Trunk was one of those writers I approached. I had heard of her, and read her Climb column in the Boston Globe; but after a reference in the Wall Street Journal to her blog, The Brazen Careerist, I started reading the blog, which developed into a daily habit. When I ultimately choose to write to her, I didn’t really know what I wanted to happen. I just wanted to meet her. I wrote on a day when something she posted on her blog had pretty much flattened me. I couldn’t get any work done after reading the post, and I was affected by how she took took a horribly difficult moment in her life as a parent and turned it into a brilliant piece of advice. Penelope immediately wrote back and we struck up both a friendship and a professional relationship that was one of the gifts of writing my book. (In the end, she did say some kind words about my book, and that was a bonus.)

Well, now Penelope’s book The Brazen Careerist is out and it is as smart, unpredictable and bold as she is. Perhaps the best praise I can give her book is that it has completely raised the bar for the rest of us who write about careers. Every time I think about my next article, column or blog post, I now think, “Penelope has probably already said something original, brilliant, and smart on this.” Then I run to her blog and realize that she has. So I have to try harder. And she’s the first person who will tell me this.

Thanks for the kick in the butt Penelope! And since we all need a kick in the butt, I encourage you to buy the book.

Since you’ll all ask me, here is the post that made me write to Penelope.

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The Delights of Auto-Googling

By now, we all admit to Googling ourselves from time to time. But if you really want to keep track of how you’re looking online, you should be using Google news alerts. (For authors or entrepreneurs, I’d suggest doing one under your business or book’s name as well.) That way you can keep track of online mentions of yourself and your book as they happen. Each time a new page that mentions your search term is added to the Internet (or updated, or something like that…techies please explain if you know how it works as I can’t figure it out), you’ll get an email with a link to the reference. Obviously, Google news alerts are handy for anything else you want to track. I tend to use them when I’m going to interview someone who’s in the news a lot to make sure that I don’t miss articles mentioning the person before my interview.

If you aren’t familiar with Google news alerts, this FAQ explains how to use them.

Without Google news alerts, I would have never found this blog entry about my new NYT.com column. And I might not have known about this author, Michelle Goodman, who has a new book, “The Anti 9-5 Guide” I will definitely be reading. I’m hoping it’s as smart and funny as her web site/blog.

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Grindhopping

Grindhopping by Laura Vanderkam.
This book is hot off the press. Vanderkam coins the word, “Grindhopping,” to refer to young people who begin their entrepreneurial lives before ever putting serious time in the corporate grind. As someone who gave a good decade to the grind before I had the gumption to follow my own dreams, I’m so pleased to see such a good book on how to avoid that path.

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My reading problem (plus, a couple of reviews)

One of the best things about being a writer is that you end up meeting lots of other writers. And since writers are often quite likable, that’s cool. One of the things no one warns you about is that knowing lots of writers means you’re always feeling guilty about not reading a friend’s book. It’s not like other jobs. When I was a lawyer, I never had to keep up on my lawyer friends’ work product.

This explains why I’ve given up all hope of keeping up with the fiction selections of my book club. They haven’t yet warmed to the idea of just reading books written by writers I know.

My end-of-year project was reading three books by friends that had been sitting on my bedside table for months. I finished one right before my little jaunt to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The other two kept me company on the beach, while the beau was napping. They were all so good that I ended up feeling even more guilty for taking so long to pull them off my to-read pile.

Now, for some quickie reviews. Since I know how important Amazon reviews are for writers, my priority is to review books I like on Amazon before getting to them here. But as a form of discipline — and to share the review with more people, I’m going to make a point of trying to do both. If you happen to notice any of my reviews on Amazon, don’t be shocked if I’ve written the same thing here and there. Sometimes, I’ll add some background or context here. One other policy: I won’t review books I’m not recommending, either here or on Amazon. Writers’ lives have enough disappointment.

Power, Money, Fame, Sex, by Gretchen Rubin.
I was going to start by saying that I don’t usually pick up books like this. But then again, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a book like this, because Rubin seems to have created her very own genre here. It’s at once an “insider’s guide” (a la “The Preppy Handbook”) and a sharp witted parody of such guides. The fun of reading it is that it is loaded with well-researched factoids and quirks about famous and powerful types throughout history. Even if you believe you have no aspirations to the four qualities in the title, Rubin convincingly argues that you “need this book” to be aware of the techniques others will be using against you in their quest for the fabulous four. I met Rubin recently, and her current work, The Happiness Project, (of which I’m an admiring reader), gave me no indication that she had this much snark in her.

The Joy of Funerals, by Alix Strauss.
This is one of those books where the less said the better, because there is some mystery to preserve. I read the collection twice. First, I thought it was a smart and engaging collection of stories, with fully drawn characters and beautiful sentences. The second time around, all the pieces came together and I realized the meanings behind all that I had so lightheartedly enjoyed first time around. I envy those who haven’t yet read this book.

Strauss and I teach together at the JCC of Manhattan (through the New York Writers Workshop) and she is working on more fiction these days. Meantime, I’m thinking of taking her fiction writing class.

The Student Body, by Michael Melcher. Here’s what I said on Amazon.com: Devoured this smarty-pants bodice ripper on my recent trip to Mexico. Racy, torrid shenanigans among the highbrow, multi-culti, elite. A rare and winning combination! {Actually, the book is written by Jane Harvard, which is a pseudonym for Melcher and his three co-authors — all Harvard classmates — who wrote this book collaboratively.}

I met Melcher a few years ago when I interviewed him for a story on lawyers who make career changes. As a JD/MBA who now works as a career coach (in addition to his writing/public speaking), I went back and did a series of interviews of him for my book. He’s so damn smart about careers that my editor told me I had to cut some of those “Melcher” passages. Get to know him, if you’ve got a few hours you don’t mind losing track of, at his blog.

Other recent books I’m highly recommending by authors I’ve met and admire:

I Do But I Don’t, by Kamy Wikoff.
Wikoff’s book – equal parts memoir and social commentary — is a fascinating look at why the way we marry matters, and how even as women have come so far, we seem to fall into some arcane patterns around wedding time.

Anonymous Lawyer, Jeremy Blachman.
Blachman’s book just might be the first novel that began it’s life as a blog. The blog was a little “slash” project he started while a law student at Harvard. “Anonymous Lawyer,” as it was (and is still) called, was written in the voice of a jaded senior partner at an unnamed law firm. The fiction is so compelling and the voice so real, that Blachman has managed to keep up the blog even after he was unmasked in a New York Times article, and even after the book was published. (Blachman, who doesn’t seem to know from blogger’s block, also blogs in his own voice, that blog is another one of those Internet black holes, so be forewarned if you head over there and have some place you have to be any time soon.) I met Blachman a couple of months ago when I moderated a panel on lawyer/writers, organized by Law: The Afterlife.

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