Category Archives: Business + Entrepreneurship

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough?

So I'm at home on a Saturday night, and I'm watching America's Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it's that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day).

While you can hold your comments about my show preferences, I noticed something about people in competition — and in life — that's critically important.

Three models are competing to book a show. They've got their fierce looks on, they have to show their chops, demonstrate what they've learned, and show their skill in posing and/or walking. Two of them get booked — and one of them doesn't.

Sometimes, after a competition, the TV cuts to a scene of the competitor in a corner, crying. "I don't know what I did wrong," they wail, teary-eyed. "I just don't get it! I thought I was totally going to get this job!"

In two cases, however, I watched as one of the contestants got cut — and she walked up to the judge and asked,

How can I be better?

The judge gave a few remarks about confidence, etc, and the model continued to drill him:

"I'd really love your feedback because I want to get this right. I know it's fiercely competitive, and I'm interested in upping my game."

Both times, the contestants that took the exact moment where they got feedback that told them they weren't as good as their peers, taking that opportunity to learn, grow, and build — the contestants transformed the most week over week.

Granted, this is ANTM. I'm blushing just writing about this.

But I see this happen all the time in real life, too.

My friends who are building programs on the internet, making projects, delivering results, starting companies — the most successful people I know are insanely curious about making things better. They take their project, put it in the world, and ask for feedback.

They know that life is a continuous game of learning, one that started when we were born. As toddlers, we might fall a hundred times while learning to walk, but very few of us sat pouting in a corner after we fell down a couple of times. We wanted to walk.

Not all feedback is the same, however.

Great feedback you can use. Great feedback is specific, clear, and something that you can work on. Negative comments for the sake of being mean should be ignored. (That's called a troll). When someone has something to say that's constructive, file it away. Store it — because it's valuable. We wanted to explore, to move.

The hunger to learn is innate.

When life gets a little rough, we can cry. (I do that sometimes. And it often involves trashy TV and a bowl of popcorn in my bed).

And we can also ask,

How can I be better?

Does money make you crazy? The Money Toolbox: leave debt behind, build your savings, and grow your wealth.

Want money? Money advice often boils down to some basic tenets: spend less than you make, or conversely, make more than you spend. Increase your earnings, then maximize your returns. Sounds simple—in theory. But the difficulty lies in the application. How do you actually do it so that it changes? What do you do whenContinue Reading

The Write Life’s bundle: massive sale for writers!

Writing is powerful stuff. I teach several writing courses as a tool to gain insight into your inner wisdom, access your inner soul, and pen your own stories. If you’ve been itching to write, yesterday I shared several of my favorite resources in the March edition of my behind-the-scenes newsletter. Today, I’m excited to share aContinue Reading

Are you letting the numbers deflate you?

The thing about numbers is, we give them far too much power to make us feel bad. “Only” have 100 people reading your blog? That’s like speaking to a jam-packed coffee shop or on stage at a live speaking event. Alexandra Franzen reframes the expectations we have around blogging (and online writing) and I thinkContinue Reading

Making money as a creative entrepreneur: how I make money, where I spend my time, and what I’ve learned from launching my own ventures.

When I was four weeks old, my mother and father took our then-family-of-four from Germany to Idaho Falls, little baby and tiny toddler in tow. We were standing around in the living room, as my mother recalls (to be be fair, I can’t recall and I certainly wasn’t standing—more likely drooling), talking about the insaneContinue Reading

Are you itching and ready for change? So many beautiful ways to start the new year. Here are a few programs and classes I love.

I have a confession to make. I signed up for three courses this January, and I’ve got so many notebooks and pens and pencils out that I’m doing geeky little dances around my apartment, although my apartment keeps getting messier and messier. Magazines, scissors, glue, crafts? Check. Class on financial awareness and making money as aContinue Reading

Building a space and a voice on the internet: is it time for you to join in?

Where are you telling your stories? This past Monday we kicked off the first Writer’s Workshop with a group of 22 participants from more than a dozen states and countries around the world. I’m so impressed and inspired by the talent and hard work coming from the group already—and we’re just in week one! WritingContinue Reading

Radio Interview: Musings on Design, Environment, Behavior and Sustainability

How do you build a sustainable life, what does psychology have to do with cities, and how do you wield the power of learning how to say both yes and no strategically? Did you design your own job? How do you balance a full-time job with all the side projects you want to do? What happensContinue Reading

Stop With The Bull Shit: Calling BS On “Corporate,” Life, Relationships, Careers.

I met Shane Mac two years ago via Twitter, when serendipitously we both remarked on the strange olfactory sensations of shopping malls (we commented wryly about the stench pouring from Abercrombie and Fitch stores)–and followed it up with a beer (maybe several beers, in fact) in San Francisco. He was one of my first twitter-to-real-life friends, andContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Indianapolis: PowderKeg 2012

I spent the last weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of the inaugural 2012 Powder Keg Conference put on by The Verge celebrating StartUps, Developers, and Innovation in the central hub of Indiana. While I’d been to Indiana before, I’d never made it to Indianapolis, and it was beautiful to see another Midwestern city inContinue ReadingContinue Reading