Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Come to the Bay Area's version of the Tony Awards. Great event (and I'll be playing piano.)

This Monday, I play solo piano and accompany Leanne Borghesi at the San Francisco Bay Area's equivalent of the Tony Awards: The Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards Gala. 

Leanne ain't no slouch. She's a two-time winner of its award for best performer. She's like Liza Minnelli with a bigger voice. And she's been awesome in rehearsal.

I'm told that only 30 of the 290 tickets are left. So if you'd like to come, this would be the time to buy tickets. (See above for info--Click on it to enlarge it.)  And if you come, please feel free to say hello.

Should You Go Back To School?: Questions to Ask Before Returning to College or Graduate School

My article today asks questions to help a person decide whether it's wise for to go back to college or graduate school. HERE is the link.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Be Smart in a Less Smart World

My article today: How to Be Smart in a Less Smart World.

It will be re-published in the next issue of the Mensa publication, The Intelligencer.

Monday, April 28, 2014

First episode of my soap opera, It's a Living runs today on AOL

Today, AOL begins running my text-only soap opera, It's a Living.

It embeds career and life tips in a soap-operaish continuing saga. 

Like a TV soap, it runs daily, Monday through Friday. HERE's the link to the first episode.

Tips for Worriers: Ways to reduce anxiety about death, dying, public speaking, social anxiety and free-floating anxiety

My article today is Tips for Worriers. 

It's not aimed at people with severe anxiety. It just offers tips for the garden-variety handwringer who worries about death, dying, public speaking, social anxiety or free-floating anxiety

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My on-air conversation today with Robert Reich

HERE is the audio of today's radio show in which I spend an hour in conversation with former U.S. Secretary of Labor to President Clinton and advisor to President Obama, Robert Reich.  

Coping with Type A Behavior

My article today: The angry, intense, rushing person: How to cope if it's you or someone else. HERE is the link.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Marty Nemko's 50 YouTube videos: career advice, education reform, piano playing, and why he likes Christmas

On YouTube, I've posted more than 50 videos. Here are some of the titles:

Lessons From My Failures
How I Write My Columns
Developing Drive
Reinventions: Our Political Campaigns
Reinventions: K-12 Education
Reinventions: Undergraduate education
Reinventions: Climate Change
Six Ways to Meet Bright and Gifted Kids' Needs
An Emotional Plea for Government to Require Colleges to Post a College Report Card
Why We Need a White House Council on Boys and Men
Keys to a Better Talk on Intelligence
Finding Your Career
A Seven-Fingered Pianist
A Very Short Course in How to Play the Piano By Ear
Venus and Iris: A children's story but not really
Big, Black and Shy (the show I co-wrote and piano-accompany)
Why this Jew by birth, atheist by practice, likes Christmas.

 HERE's the link to my YouTube channel.

The Evidence Mounts Against Marijuana: Reasons and Ways to Cut Back or Stop

A spate of new evidence indicates that marijuana is far more dangerous than we thought, yes to memory and motivation but it also makes us more prone to heart attack and stroke. Marijuana is the new tobacco.

My article today summarizes the research and then suggests ways that abusers of any substance might cut down or even stop. HERE is the link.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Case for A Break: Even if you're Job Hunting

Cruise ship dining room. Great networking opp.

My AOL article today: Why job seekers should take a break. Odd for workaholic me to recommend that, but as I hope you'll agree, it makes sense. HERE is the link. 

Regular readers of this blog may note that this is my first AOL article in more than a month. The reason is that they've had me on a special project: the Days of Our Worklives text-based soap opera about work, the first 43 episodes of which I posted on this blog. NBC Universal, the owner of Days of Our Lives won't let AOL use that name, so it will be called It's a Living and the first episode will be published on AOL this Monday. 

Like a TV soap opera, it will run daily, Monday through Friday. I've now written the first 92 episodes but like a TV soap opera, they can discontinue it at any time or renew it depending on whether you like it. Hoping you do, of course. 

My Radio Conversation with Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich

This is an updated version of an earlier post. I've now recorded the conversation with Robert Reich and thought you might like to know what you'll hear when it airs this Sunday.

I rarely promote my NPR-San Francisco radio program (KALW-FM, 91.7 FM,) Work with Marty Nemko, but this coming Sunday's program is special.

I was honored that former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich agreed to return for a second long-form conversation. I have now recorded that.

First, I asked about key moments and decisions in Reich's life. It turned out to be an exchange in which we each told tales, some funny, all instructive.

Most of the conversation was about whether it's wise for the government to additionally redistribute income, raise the minimum wage, and about the Obama Administration's increased use of Disparate Impact to abet minority employment. 

I aspired to the journalistic standard--tough but fair--for example, raising the best argument I could against his position and then simply letting him have his say. But I failed regarding Disparate Impact, on which Reich and I had a more extended, spirited exchange. So I was relieved today to receive a one-line but reassuring note from him: "Thanks, Marty. Enjoyed it immensely. Bob." 

After the conversation, I offered post-mortem musings.

The program airs this Sunday, April 27 from 11 AM to noon on KALW 91.7 FM (NPR-San Francisco.) Outside the Bay Area, it can be heard then on
 where it will be permanently archived. It will also be available for free download in  iTunes and on the National Public Radio website.

Finding Hope When it Appears None Exists

My article is on finding hope where it appears none exists. HERE is the link.

Parenting Part IV: Friends, Sex, and Drugs

My article yesterday is the fourth and final part of my parenting series. It discusses the parent's role regarding sex, drugs, and their child's friends. HERE is the link.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parenting Part III: How much freedom to give your child and how to help choose after-school activities

My article today. Part III in my parenting series: On how much freedom to give your child and on how to help choose after-school activities.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Parenting: Part II-- Your child's education: What's worth your time

My article today is Part II in my four-part series on parenting. It presents a time-effective approach to being involved in your child's education. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Parenting: Part I of a 4-Part Series

My article today: Part I of a four-part series on Parenting.

Part I argues that parenting may have less impact on our kids than many believe. It also asserts that invoking guilt in response to a child's misbehavior can be a worthy parenting tool.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Whom Can You Trust? Finding people who are trustworthy even in tough times

My article today on Whom Can You Trust?  It explains how I've become less trusting over the years plus my thoughts on how to decide whom you can trust and with what.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Relationship Summit

My article today on The Relationship Summit.  It describes what my wife and I did when our marriage had turned sour and couples counseling didn't help. It's now 30 years later and, looking back, that was probably the thing that has most helped our marriage. 

Rate Your Life

My article yesterday on Rate Your Life. 

Update: Today, April 26, 2014, this is the #1 most read article of the thousands on

Fun Ways to Beat Procrastination

My article Wednesday on Fun Ways to Beat Procrastination. Sounds like hype. My clients know it's not.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marty Nemko on KGO's Ronn Owens Program on April 17, 2014

Tomorrow, from 11 AM to noon, I make my quarterly appearance on KGO's Ronn Owens Program.

I suspect he'll ask me about core career issues: What are some under-the-radar careers, not-obvious tips on managing time and procrastination, how to be a good manager, etc.  Also, it's a call-in show, so if you'd like some free career advice, you can call in anytime between 11 AM and noon to 415-80-80-810.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Get Interviewed in the Media

Today, both and published my article on how to get interviewed in the media. 

It covers both how to pitch the media and how to do well in an interview.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Want to Give $100 to $500 to Three People

Update, 4/27/14:  I received a total of one application for the money.

I'm wondering whether my charitable donations might do more good if given to worthy individuals than to nonprofits. 

Like most people, I've donated to nonprofits not individuals so I could get the tax deduction. 
But I'm wondering if that's letting the tail wag the dog.

So I'm trying this experiment: If you or someone you care about could benefit from my giving the person between $100 and $500, I invite that person to write me a note explaining why he or she thinks significant good would accrue from it. 

I prefer to fund something that has a ripple effect, something that could indirectly benefit more than just that person. Here are three examples:

  • A recent immigrant is a good scientist but speaks very poor English and so is having a tough time finding a job. He or she could benefit from an English-language tutor or software. If he couldn't financially afford that, I'd feel that helping to fund it would be a good use of my money.
  • A child from a low-income family is intellectually gifted but attends a school that insufficiently meets his or her needs. I'd consider helping fund the child to attend a week-long summer day program or camp for high-ability kids. 
  • A person has an idea for a website that would match mentors with proteges. But he or she doesn't have even a modest amount of money to spare. I could see contributing to that website's development. 
For this experiment, my goal is to fund three people. 

My preference is that applicants write their note as a comment on this blog post so others can perhaps be inspired by it or even donate to that person. But the person can email me at

I also would like to experiment with a challenge prize. I will give $500 to the first person or group to get a hospital serving a low-income community to make parenting videos available in hospital rooms with moms that have just given birth, for example, on the TV in the room. The videos could have been created by someone else but the award, of course, would be given only if the hospital implemented this because of that person or group's efforts.

Can Anyone Figure Out What Makes Us Tick?

My article Can Anyone Figure Out What Makes Us Tick? is the #1 most popular article on  

It already has 2,100 Facebook Likes, so it might be worth a read.

While I'm at it, I might mention that while I've only been writing for for a month, my 14 articles already have 120,000 page views. Feel free to scan the master list to see if there's an article you might want to read. 

Update: That article is now #3 in popularity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When Can Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD) Be An Asset?

My article is on ADD/ADHD: When Can Attention Deficit Disorder Be an Asset?

While in most cases, attention-deficit disorder's distractibility, inpulsivity, and disorganization are a net negative on one's life, sometimes they're a net positive and don't require intervention. This article profiles a client of mine for whom that is the case. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Best Garden Plants for the San Francisco Bay Area

On my radio show today, I had a conversation with Dustin Strobel, nursery manager at a Sloat Garden Center, about careers with plants. 

In the course of the discussion, I mentioned my favorite garden plants for the San Francisco Bay Area and a listener asked if I'd post them on this blog. So here we go.

Dustin also mentioned his favorite plants but even though he's the professional nurseryman, I think my picks are better so I'll list mine first.

All my comments pertain best to the San Francisco Bay Area's climate, where there's little or no frost.

Bougainvilla,  Spectabilis. 15-20 foot tall, drought-resistant when established, and truly "spectabilis." 

Bougainvillea, James Walker.  More open plant habit than Spectabilis but the color is super--the hottest pink.

Rose, Black Magic. A great garden rose for cutting. This gorgeous flower (and yes, half of them look that good) lasts almost two weeks in a vase. It's mildew-resistant and so in the Bay Area, doesn't need to be sprayed. It is, however, a tall, gawky plant. And if you want long-stemmed single roses, you need to disbud--that is, pinch out the side flower buds as soon as you see them.

Zinnia, Magellan Coral. Available in six-packs for just a few bucks, these are annuals but flower machines, blooming nonstop on compact 12"-tall plants from May through November. The actual color is more coral and less pink than in this picture.  UPDATE: I find Dreamland Pink to be even better: a bit shorter and bushier and a much nicer color--it's like that in this picture. But I've seen it available only in seeds, which you can get from Park Seed. 

Meyer Lemon.  These are a bit sweeter than standard lemons but they're far from oranges. In addition to the good fruit, the 5' tall by 8' wide shrub is ornamental. That picture only mildly overstates how prolific it is. Do remember that all citrus are very heavy feeders--That means that an orange, lemon, or grapefruit tree with a four-foot spread, it needs about three pounds of heavy-nitrogen fertilizer every year, divided into three doses: perhaps April, July, and September. My guest recommended using Maxsea acid plant food.  Other experts recommend using any old high-nitrogen fertilizer, even lawn fertilizer, which is much cheaper.

Poppy, Drama Queen. Surreal 4" flowers on a 4' tall plant. If I were making a movie about a utopian future, this would be part of the landscape. The problem, alas, with poppies is that they bloom for just a few weeks and then look like crap for the rest of the year. So you might want to buy a 4" pot of it and one of Poppy Naughty Nineties mentioned below from Annie's Annuals, let 'em bloom and when seed pods form, harvest the seeds, save 'em in dry place, then plant 'em in 3-4" pots in November or December and come spring, you'll have brand new plants plus plenty to give away.

There are other terrific plants I didn't have time to mention:

Argyranthemum, Comet Pink. These are classic 1 1/2" daisies in clear pink, in profusion, constantly for eight months in a row. Best of all, they completely cover the 2-foot wide symmetrical mound. By December, they get leggy, so take cuttings, dump the plants, and in early spring, plant the rooted cuttings.

Geranium, Calliope Dark Red. (sold at Home Depot as Big Red.) These are too big for flower pots. They can get to be two feet in diameter in just months. But if you have the room, this is a great geranium. It is a true brilliant red. Not dark as its name suggests, just a solid rich red--no orange tones like the usual geranium.

Impatiens, Xtreme Lavender. (if your area doesn't get downy mildew). There are other good impatiens in the Xtreme and Accent series but I find this color particularly attractive. And the plants are vigorous, quickly growing into a 8"-tall mound. 

Bird of Paradise. This is the quintessential tropical plant but it will grow wonderfully in much of the Bay Area. The six-foot-tall and wider shrub is great under an eave as long as it gets lots of sun. 

Tomato, Early Girl. I've tried every darn tomato that's claimed to be the best-tasting: Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Big Beef, Better Boy, and Park Whopper, and in the end, at least here in Oakland, Early Girl is always the best-tasting. Update: I have a new fave: Despite my not liking orange-colored tomatoes, the best-tasting and most prolific tomato I've ever grown is Orange Paruche, available also from Park Seed.
Kumquat, Fukushu. Whether or not you like the taste of kumquats, this is a most ornamental plant. In China, it's often grown in pots as seen here, but can grow in the ground in the Bay Area.

Viola, Denim. This is my winter savior. (Also viola morpho.)  When everything else is dull, ratty or dead, this is producing flowers like this on a disease-free, 8" plant. Available in six-packs for just a few bucks.

Now, let's turn to the recommendations of the guest on my radio program, Dustin Strober.

Rose, Double Delight. Yeah it's fragrant but it's gawky and mildew-prone.

Poppy, Naughty Nineties. Yes, it's great. Almost as good as Drama Queen.

Alonsoa  Meridionalis (Apricot or Red) I hadn't heard of this one but it sounds like a winner--a three-foot tall plant covered with bloom for a long season. Available at Annie's Annuals. (Update: I bought it. No big deal.)

Blueberry, Bountiful Blue. He was big on it.

Tibouchina. The flower is a gorgeous royal purple, which cover the 6-to-8-foot shrub for months at a time. 

A caller mentioned the wonderful tuberous begonia. A shade lover, many of these trail and so are perfect for a hanging basket--if it doesn't get destroyed by mildew.

And finally, three plants that I think are overrated

Lilac. Blooms a few weeks and then for the rest of the year, it's a gawky shrub.

Iris. Blooms for two weeks and then, yeah, it has, year-round, decent lance-shaped leaves, even variegated, plus it's drought resistant, but nah.

Primrose. There are thousands of types, but I'm talking about the common ones they sell in the supermarket. They bloom for a few weeks in the winter, get damaged by rain or squirrels, and then, it's to the garbage with them. Not worth buying. You want winter blooming on a compact plant? Try the aforementioned Viola Denim and, even better, Viola Morpho.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Title for a Soap Opera

Update. It's now published as It's a Living. HERE is the link to the first episode.

AOL will be publishing my written continuing saga about work that I've posted on this blog. I may need to use a title other than my preferred  Days of Our Work Lives.

Do you like any of these titles?

Our Work Days

Our Days of Work

It's a Living

Trade Secrets

Work Stories

I'd also welcome any other suggestions.

Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Use an Expert in Decision-Making

My article in is about decision-making, particularly how to use experts without overrating their value. HERE is the link.

The Elitist Common Core Standards

The Common Core is the new K-12 curriculum that the Obama Administration is pressuring all states to adopt.

I have a deep concern about it, and it's not the absurd arguments of the Religious Right.

The problem with the Common Core is--in the name of high standards--forcing all students to learn arcana that is utterly useless.  Only the out-of-touch PhD.-riddled committee could have mandated it.

I make this argument more powerfully with specifics in an op-ed published today in The Daily Caller.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What I Know and Don't Know About Career Counseling: One coach's candid reflections.

My latest article is, What I Know and Don't Know About Career Counseling: One coach's candid reflections.

Whether you're interested in your own growth or are a counselor or coach, I hope you'll find it helpful.

On Time: Tips for people who are bad at time management

Today, my article is On Time: Tips for people who are bad at time management.

I'm honored that Psychology Today selected it for inclusion on its list of Essential Reads.