Monday, September 30, 2013

I teach a 3-hour class this Sat. at Berkeley Adult School: How to Do Life

Berkeley Adult School has asked me back to teach another three-hour class this Saturday, Oct. 5 from 10 AM to 1 PM.

This one will be based on my book, How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School.

I'll discuss such topics as how to find and make the most of a mentor, how to negotiate well without having to be too aggressive, how to succeed in difficult conversations, and yes, my thoughts on the meaning of life.

It is free although you're asked to make a $10 to $15 donation to Berkeley Adult School's scholarship fund. No one, however, will be turned away because of lack of funds.

HERE is the info for signing up.

How to Run a Meeting

What's the first word that comes to mind when I say the word "meetings?"

Common answers are "boring" and "waste."

Yet planned and run well, meetings can be valuable, even fun.

How good are or would you be at running a meeting? I offer a quiz in my article today.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Come See Jeffrie Givens and Me in Her One-Woman Show: Big, Black, and Shy

Jeffrie Givens with my doggie, Einstein, who has a role in the show
I'm pleased to announce the seventh performance of the one-woman show I have produced, directed, co-wrote, and piano-accompany: Big, Black and Shy. 

It will be at 2 PM on Sunday, Nov. 17 at my home at 5936 Chabolyn Terrace, Oakland, CA. The first six performances all sold out and all received a standing ovation. And since then, we've changed and improved the show significantly.

Me accompanying Jeffrie in Big, Black & Shy
Big, Black, and Shy is the inspiring story of, and told by, Jeffrie Givens, one of the shyest people ever to come out of East Oakland who additionally struggled because her values were different from the typical kids' in her community.

She tells her story in words and in songs---mainly some of Broadway show's greatest (and most challenging) songs--and truly, she's gone from being a performer who was as stiff as a cadaver to, well, you'll see.

The Rossmoor News review of the show:

 "Wow, what a terrific voice and what an inspiring story. Givens is an extremely talented young woman! After the show, I found myself comparing this experience in some degree to what I felt when I first witnessed Susan Boyle perform on 'Britain's Got Talent.'”

We believe the show is enjoyed best in an intimate setting so we are doing it in the living room of my home, which can seat only 22 people. Starting at 1:30, champagne will be served while I play the piano. The show will begin at 2:00 and end at around 3:30.

As I mentioned, each of the previous six performances sold out, so if you'd like to come, I suggest you buy your tickets now. They are $20 (all goes to Jeffrie) and you can buy them by emailing me your MasterCard or Visa number, expiration date, the zip code on the card's billing address and, of course, the number of tickets you want. My email address is No one has ever emailed me their credit card information and had that information stolen but if you're concerned, you can call it into my office: 510-655-2777.  Also feel free to call if you have any questions about the show.  (Update: only eight seats remain as of this writing.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good Bioscience Careers That Don't Require a Ph.D.

Bioscience careers will likely remain in demand but are there under-the-radar ones that don't require a Ph.D?

I describe three in my latest article. HERE is the link.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Are You Assertive Enough? A Self-Assessment

Are you assertive enough? That's the topic of my today's article.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Excitable Ed: A story for children and adults

I've just drafted my second children's story. Like the previous one, it's as much for adults as for kids.

The text is below as is a video of me reading it aloud. Even as an adult I enjoy being read to.

Feedback welcome.

Excitable Ed
(to be illustrated)

From the day he was born, Ed was excitable. He popped out practically waving pom-pons.

The day his baby sister was born, he tried to dance with her.

When his preschool teacher told the class to slowly melt like ice cream cones, by the time the other kids melted, he had melted, straightened, melted, straightened, and melted again. 

When he started kindergarten, people didn't like that Ed was excitable.

When his teacher, Ms Tidey, asked a question, Ed would blurt out the answer. "Edward, you must wait until you're called on."

When Ms Tidey said it was time for recess, Ed raced to get a ball but the teacher said, "Walk, don't run. Edward!  Now you can't have a ball."

One day at recess, there were pigeons on the top of the roof. Ed kept jumping up to get a better look---until one pooped on his head.  All the kids laughed at Ed.

The kids liked Ed even less than the teacher did. They would imitate Ed zooming around and they didn't even care that he saw them. The teacher once called him "Excitable Ed" and now that's the only thing the kids call him: "Hi Excitable Ed!" "Zoom around for us, Excitable Ed!"

Still, Ed wanted to make friends so when he saw other kids giving little presents to each other, he bought a piece of bubble gum for every one of his classmates. But when he started to give them out, one child said, "That's stupid!" Another tattled to the teacher, "Ed has gum in class!" And Ms. Tidey said, "Give me that gum, Edward. Don't you know there's no gum in class?!" Ed bowed his head and gave her the gum.

Then one day at recess, when someone kicked the soccer ball into the street, Ed, trying to be nice, raced after it....and didn't see the car coming. Splat!

Now Ed had to be in the hospital while they put his body in a whole-body cast.

Ms. Tidey called Ed's mother and said, "I really think Edward should start taking a drug to calm him down."

His mother asked, "But Ed does fine on school tests. Maybe if the work were harder or more interesting? Or maybe if you let him move around some more?"

Ms Tidey murmured, "I think he should be evaluated for Ritalin."

Ed's mom said politely, "I'll think about it."

Ed asked his mother, "If I take that drug, will I still be me?"

Ms. Tidey passed-around a get-well card for Ed's classmates to sign but most of the kids snickered and didn't sign it. One classmate, who already knew how to write, wrote, "Are you still fast in a cast?"

Not one of Ed's classmates came to see him in the hospital.

Ed had to share the hospital room with another child: Ellen too had been in a car accident. Her face was covered with bandages, like a mummy. With Ed's whole body in a cast, they made quite a pair.

For the first time anyone could remember, Ed was quiet--he was exhausted from the accident. Besides, it is hard to zoom around when your whole body is in a cast.

Everyone in the hospital liked the calm Ed--except Ed. He felt like he lost his real self. Now, he was Boring Ed.

But one thing that didn't get put in a cast was his heart.

"Don't worry, Ellen" said Ed. The bandages will come off soon."

"I'm scared of what I'll look like," Ellen replied. The doctor's supposed to come in soon to take off the bandages,"

"Don't worry. You'll look good again fast."

And just then, the doctor walked in and, after a too-quick hello, removed the bandages.

Monsters looked better.

Ed forced himself not to say, "Ugh!." And it was a good thing Ellen couldn't see herself in the mirror.

But then Ellen could. She pulled a small mirror from her bedside drawer and said it, "Ugh! Will I be like this forever?"

The doctor hesitated and then said, "Ellen, you'll look much better,. Um, you're healing well. So good news: you can go home! Your parents will be here in a few minutes." And the doctor walked out.

Ed said, "What counts is what's on your inside."

"That's not what the kids think." Ellen replied.

Ed said, "If you're nice on the inside, your outside shines too. Kids like nice people as much as they like good-looking people."

After Ellen left, Ed laid there thinking: Does it really matter more what's on the inside? Will people like me only when I'm not my real self? Should I take that drug? For me? For the other kids?

And Excitable Ed closed his eyes.

Do you think Ed should take the drug?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take Your Parents to Work Day

Parent power is underutilized at in the workplace. Now, some leading companies are having Take Your Parents to Work Days. I write about that in my today's article.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Venus and Iris: A Children's Story (but not really)

UPDATE: The book is now available on Amazon. Click HERE.

Here it is both in text and video. Even as an adult, I like being read to, so I thought perhaps you might too.


Venus and Iris
 (illustrated by Calista Ward

Deep in the bog, with the cicadas singing, Mama Venus Flytrap no longer looked so scary. Her leaves were yellow and limp.

Even her traps' jaws were limp. And even though a tasty beetle sat in one of them, the trap would not close.

Mama's son, whose name is Venus, looked up at her, worried.

"It's all right, Venus. It's my time to return to the earth. It's your time to grow up from the earth."

"Mama, please don't die," the boy whispered.

But Mama's leaves got so limp, they started to shrivel. "And remember son, I know you love to eat but eat only one insect each day. More and you'll melt into the earth."

And with that, mama melted into the earth.

And the boy was sad. Very sad.

And he was scared. It was his first time alone and he worried he'd always be alone. Sure, there were other flytraps there but they didn't seem to count.

The boy was just old enough to start noticing things. He noticed that he had eight red traps. He thought they were kind of ugly and wished they were green like the rest of him.

He also noticed things outside himself:

He looked to the left. Just some flytraps and some brush.

He looked to the right. Just some flytraps and some peat.

He looked ahead. Just some flytraps and lots of bog.

But then he looked behind. And there was an iris.

And it was beautiful.

It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

It's hard for flytraps to talk, especially young ones, but he summoned all his energy and croaked "Hi."

Iris stared at his traps and even though they were small, those teeth! She got scared and so she looked away.

Embarrassed and sad, he turned away too.

Days passed and every so often, an insect would fall into his trap and as soon as it touched two of the trap's trigger hairs, the trap slammed shut. Well, a growing boy has to eat. 

And the boy grew bigger.

And every so often, he would look at Iris. But the bigger he got, the scarier he looked and the faster she turned away. So he did too.

Now months passed and now he was big, and one day, there was loud buzzing: Beetles!

He looked at Iris. She was covered with beetles! They were eating her!!

The boy widened his traps and squeezed really hard so lots of the glistening, attractive dew sat on his traps.

And it worked! A beetle jumped off Iris and right onto his trap. Snap! Dinner is served.

But there still were beetles, lots of beetles, all over Iris. He didn't care that she had been scared of him. He loved her. He had to try to save her.

But what could he do? The beetles had chewed big holes in Iris's leaves and were making more holes, faster and faster. She was starting to wilt.

He had to think of something, and fast!

He thought and he thought. And then he noticed the other flytraps. Yes!

Even though flytraps do find it very hard to speak, love makes almost anything possible. So he tried to speak but, alas, all that came out was digested beetle!

He tried again. More digested beetle!

He tried yet again and, finally, words came out: "Please help me save my Iris!"

But the flytraps didn't move.

"Please!," he cried.

Still the flytraps remained still.

He screamed, "I love her more than life itself."

And that moved the flytraps. Suddenly, most of them squeezed as hard as they could. And their traps opened as wide as they could and their traps were covered with that glistening, attractive dew.

And like a magnet,  the beetles jumped into the traps. Well, most of them.

Exhausted, all the other flytraps fell asleep.

But two beetles were still left on Iris. Now what?!

The boy couldn't eat them himself. He had just eaten one and remembered what his mama had warned him: "Eat more than one in a day and you'll die."

But the boy looked at Iris and he knew what he had to do.

He squeezed harder than he ever had in his entire life.

And then he squeezed some more.

And all his traps opened the widest they'd ever been, even wider than you do when the doctor tells you to say "ah!"

And all his traps were completely covered with that glistening, attractive dew.

And just like that, the two beetles jumped from Iris and into his traps. Snap. Snap.

The boy looked at Iris. And he was happy.

And this time, she did not look away. She leaned toward him.

And the boy was very happy.

But then the boy felt sick.

And he wondered, "Should I have eaten those beetles?"

And the boy's red traps turned green, a sickly green.

Would you have eaten the beetles?

(I plan to include three endings so the reader or parent can choose:)

And he melted into the earth and joined his mama.

Iris leaned over the boy, putting her head onto one of his traps so her pollen--some would call it fairy dust, others plant medicine--could drop onto the now not-glistening dew.

Suddenly, the boy started to shake and shake.

And he coughed up the beetles.

Iris continued to lean over the boy. She gently shut his trap and then held it, the way friends hold hands.

And the boy started to look healthier and healthier.

And Iris and Venus looked at each other, knowing they'll be best friends forever.

Iris knew that if she used her body to shield the boy from the sun for two days, he would live, but she--who can live only in shade--would likely die.

If you were Iris, what would you do?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Do You Have What it Takes to Be Self-Employed?

It's hard to land a job, so more people are turning to self-employment. But are you cut out to run your own business?

My article today is a quiz, a self-inventory: Do You Have What it Takes to Be Self-Employed?

Monday, September 9, 2013

What It Takes to be a Great, Even Legendary Manager or Leader

How to become a great, even legendary manager? It all comes down to nine things.That's the topic of my piece today. HERE is the link.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Come to the Free Class I'll be Teaching: How to Land a Good Job in a Bad Market

I'll be teaching a free class, How to Land a Good Job in a Bad Market at Berkeley Adult School this Saturday, Sep. 7 from 10 AM to 1 PM. For information, click HERE.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Doggie Will be in Legally Blonde!

Update: Einstein has been de-casted. They decided they wanted a bulldog--that's the kind of dog that was in the movie.

At the last minute, a professional theatre company needed to replace Rufus the Dog in the show Legally Blonde. Who came to the rescue? My doggie, Einstein.  He'll be making his first theatrical appearance, complete with curtain call.

If you're in the Bay Area, come see Einstein in the adorable show Legally Blonde at the beautiful Woodminster Amphitheatre in the Oakland, CA hills. For information and tickets, click HERE.

Ode to the Not Rich and Not Famous on Labor Day

I admire the brilliant and driven but as we approach Labor Day, I want to pay due homage to the average.

That's what I did in my article today: It's an ode to the not rich and not famous. HERE is the link.