What A Zebra Taught Me About Being A Good Leader

Weeks ago, I was interviewed to teach a night class in product management. During our conversation, one of the interviewers was particularly interested in my current title. “Are you a Project Lead?” “No.” I didn’t elaborate, because there was nothing more to say. The natural follow-up question would enable me to describe my role and contribution to teams. But the interviewer didn’t ask the natural follow-up question. “When will you be a Project Lead?” He asked. “I don’t know,” I responded, “I haven’t even had this conversation with my manager.” He pushed harder.…

How I Learned That It’s Okay To Ask For Help

In my childhood home, my dad’s office den was the most exciting forbidden room of the house. While it wasn’t hard for us to keep away from the expensive machines and important papers that filled a majority of that room, my brother and I found it impossible not to sneak in and play with his (yes, my dad’s) toy collection (he called them “desk props” and “paper weights”). Among them included a small plastic crate with a small hole and square button. Through then hole shown an eye, representative of a creature…

What Happens At The Campsite Shouldn’t Stay There

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One summer when I was eight, my family visited my uncle and aunt in Blacksburg, Virginia. I, a California native, was entirely mystified by the fireflies that guided our nightly walks. “Can you give me a jar?” I asked my aunt one night when we got home. “What do you need it for?” “I want to take it on our walk tomorrow and catch fireflies.” “Catch fireflies! Why?” “They’re going to be my night lamp,” I said, wondering how it had not been obvious. My aunt gave me a jar, and…

In the Pursuit of Personal Goals, BYOF (Bring Your Own Fan)

In January 2012, I decided to write a book. Like a running-lover deciding to train for a marathon, I chose this project as a personal challenge to myself. To keep myself accountable, I declared my goal on Facebook. I’ve never been more nervous to click “Post” on Facebook. I still remember sitting on the couch in my living room, hovering my mouse over that tempting blue button. I expected responses telling me what I already knew: What value can you, a green twenty-four year old, possibly bring to literature? You’re nothing…

The Problem with Confusing Ambition and Happiness

It’s Saturday afternoon and you really want to be doing something relaxing. As you think about lazy activities, you are slowly reminded of all the loose ends you left at work on Friday evening. I really should just work you tell yourself as you open your laptop. And well, that’s the excuse you’d use if a friend called. But the crazy thing is you kind of do want to work because you like what you do. You’re pretty happy with it. It’s not what you tell your friends though. They’re so…