Saturday, December 29, 2018

What to Do on New Year's Day: Alternatives to football

On New Year’s Eve, you watched the ball drop or not, and now it’s New Year’s Day. Many people plant themselves in front of the TV to watch Neanderthals bash into each others for 3 1/2 hours, well, 1 hour plus 2 1/2 hours of commercials, time-outs, and half-time hoo-hah.

But what if that’s not your cup of chamomile, for example, you’re more psychologically than carnage oriented? For at least part of the day, you might invite people over for a New Year’s Circle. I describe it in my article today.

Identifying Your Guiding Principles: 3 questions toward a life well-led

Time management gurus urge that you first write your personal mission statement. I believe there’s an invaluable preceding step: getting clear on your guiding principles.

I hope that the three questions I offer in my article today will help you identify yours.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hats and Horns? Alternatives to New Year's Eve manufactured frivolity

Have you ever gone to one of those big-bucks hats/horns/cheap champagne blowouts? Looking back, was it worth it?

Even if you thought it was less than ideal, maybe you’re thinking about doing it again, perhaps because you can’t think of something better.  Maybe you'll prefer one of the three alternatives I propose in my article today. Or even better, those ideas could trigger your own.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What If You Could Start Over? 8 Questions to Help Trigger Ideas

At this time of year, how-to articles may suggest you make New Year’s resolutions.  But they usually eliminate a preliminary step: How to decide what to resolve? My article today poses eight questions that may help.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Better than a Diet: Mini Tweaks work better

As you may know, Mensa is the organization for high IQ people. Recently I gave a talk at a Mensa convention and noticed that many attendees were overweight. Clearly, they know that broccoli good, Quadruple Bypass Burger bad. And if they’re like me, they have a full bag of tips and tricks for weight control: don’t use food as a reward, picture the benefits of losing weight,

use small plates, eat slowly, stay conscious so you only eat until you’re not hungry, at restaurants put a fraction of your food in a doggie bag as soon as it’s served, blah-blah-blah. Yet they stay fat.

Why? Because such efforts, let alone diets, don’t work well enough. After all, it’s well established that most people who lose weight gain it all back and more. And we all know that yo-yoing is bad for our health. 

So what to do?  I offer simple advice that distills the consensus of authoritative sources in my article today.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Feeling Useless: Remedies for an underdiscussed source of sadness

Children can feel useless, the product of their impotence in the adult-controlled world. Teens can feel even more impotent for they believe that, if they were allowed, they could be potent. 

Young adults, blessed (some would say saddled with) higher-education-inculcated big ideas too often find themselves pulling a beer or barista lever. Even many people who—to use the current argot—launch, by midlife see the dispiriting limitations of their influence, at work, in changing their spouse, even their kids. 

And of course, in old age, the decline in physical and mental capability often leads to the greatest dispiritedness because hope for a better future is gone—Their awareness grows of their ticking ever closer to the end of life’s conveyer belt.

What’s a mere mortal to do?  I offer suggestions in my article today.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Taking Inventory: A look at lessons learned in 2018 can yield a better 2019

In theory, we all agree that we learn from experience. Yet too often, those lessons go unnoticed or unremembered. Answering the questions about your 2018 that I pose in my article today might help.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Silent Night: A short-short story

It’s 4:43 PM. Normally, he’d still be badgering delinquent borrowers for another hour or two but today he couldn’t make himself. After all, it was Christmas Eve. Even at,  which expected long work hours for the cause--microloans to women--this day no one would look askance at him. So he craned his body out of his chair and was about to leave his office when his boss entered and asked if she could sit down.

She rarely came in, usually communicating by email. He thought, “Maybe it's to hand-deliver the usual "Year-End" gift card to Ben & Jerry’s, Seeds of Change, or some such?” But her face was too serious. Her usual workplace-pleasant demeanor was replaced by flatness: "I don't know how to say this but I'm laying you off."

He couldn’t bring himself to say anything. She waited, then murmured, “I’m so sorry. After all these years here, and especially as an older worker, I know this must be hard. You’ll get severance plus two weeks more pay, whether you leave today or in two weeks, your choice.” And she crept out.

He trudged toward BART vacant, then looked up at the swaddling skyscrapers, buildings he had rarely noticed or had viewed as monolith symbols of Financial America. Now
those buildings felt like symbols that he had been part of something big, appeasing his liberal values with the belief that was one of the few good guys, or should I say, "good gals?"

On BART, he noticed that he was the oldest passenger. “I’m old, face it, I’m old. Oh, what right to I have to keep working when millions of young people can’t find beyond barista work? Good socialist, it’s time to walk my redistributionist talk.”

Trying to savor his last walk from BART to home, he looked a bit longer at the leaves. “Hmpph, Californians fly back east for autumn color, yet just a month later, we too have yellows and reds. Look at that liquidambar—that's a great name--that Japanese maple, that ginkgo, the world’s oldest tree and it's as yellow as if hybridizers spent decades creating it.” 

Then, thoughts about his worklife intruded. “I was maybe eight when dad said, 'Work. That’s what matters. Work.' Odd I remember that. Then my first job: I came in right at 9 and was shocked that people were reading their newspapers—9:15, 9:30, they still hadn’t started?! My first job out of college was managing volunteers. I thought being a boss meant I was supposed to boss people. No wonder I got fired—College was not about job training; it was about liberal arts. Then there was the time I told my boss that I liked New Yorkers because they’re straight shooters. My boss unfortunately was from the tactful Midwest and I soon got laid off. Could that statement have contributed? Then I volunteered at FemLoan. It took months but finally got hired ‘even though you’re a guy.’ Somehow, that statement didn’t bother me; I had drunk the Kool-Aid. That was, let’s see, 23 years ago. Little by little, I lost some of the passion, maybe a lot. Maybe getting dumped is for the best.”

As usual, he passed the doughnut shop but this time, turned around, went in, and asked for a cinnamon roll. The clerk said, “They were made at 4 AM. They’re a little stale.”  He said, "It's okay. I'll take it anyway,."

When he got home, he made himself his usual green tea in a Japanese pot. He sprinkled a little water on the cinnamon roll, put it in the microwave, and it came out as moist as  if it were fresh. He settled into his easy chair and savored that rare treat, cutting the sweetness with the tea. “Now what? Retire? Volunteer for another nonprofit? Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent two decades phoning borrowers who tell me they can’t pay back their loan—Anyone would be burned out after that. Or do I do the standard retiree thing: sleep late, TV, movies, grandkids, doctor's appointments, read? I have this pile of books on my bed where a woman should be. I don’t really care to have a girlfriend but I can’t make myself read the books either. Should I write my memoir? That feels narcissistic. Get into shape? I’m just not motivated, and he took a bigger bite of the cinnamon roll.  I’ll think about this some other time.

He pulled out his laptop. “What should I listen to? There’s this guy Marty Nemko who, every year, on his radio show, which is about jobs, at Christmas plays Silent Night on the piano. I wonder if he ever recorded it? To find out, click HERE

I read this short-short story HERE

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Lesson from the Past Regarding Illegal Aliens?

When Columbus returned to Spain, he had heard that the Pacific Coast had  unlimited gold reserves that could easily be dug up with a shovel. Miscreants,  the unsuccessful, highway robbers, etc fought for a spot on the crew of the ship  that the Crown was sending to find it. On arrival, they found no gold awaiting and robbed and/or murdered the natives. 

I believe there's significant chance this will occur here. Well-meaning but foolish Americans will hand over California, maybe even the whole country (whose wealth and scientific discoveries have benefited the world) to the illegals and their advocates, as in the Columbian example, people who disproportionately were failures or criminals in their home country. 

When they take over, my intuition is that they'll treat us far less kindly than we've treated them. And a look at all the countries in Central and South America doesn't make me optimistic that a U.S. under the illegals' control will be a better America.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Small Talk For People Bad at It: A step-by-step approach

We’re going to a party, on a date, or to a workplace event. “After, ‘hi’,” what will we say? Silence would be embarrassing.

Some people are naturals at small talk, the usually necessary prerequisite to deeper conversation. My article today is for the rest of us.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Toward a Breakthrough Model of Counseling

If we’re being honest with ourselves, the counseling professions are less effective than we’d want them to be. It's hard to face that because it would cause too much dissonance: how can we continue to work so hard to address our clients’ pain if we faced the uncomfortable truth that our toolkits effectiveness was too-often limited.

But if we care about being helpful, we must face that and that our methods have changed little in decades, some would say a century: We ask questions about a person’s past and present, we listen, we reflect, we ask more questions, ideally leading a client to come up with their own insights and solutions, and if those are inadequate, tactfully proposing our own. We may superimpose a theoretical model but what we do in practice typically is the aforementioned.

So, there's a need for a breakthrough approach, but what? 
I propose one in my article today. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Giving a Persuasive Talk

I’ve written previously on public speaking: Good Public Speaking Without Fear  and interviewed one of the world’s most successful speakers, Tony Robbins, in which he outlined the key to an effective talk.

In my article today, I focus on a specify type of talk: the persuasive speech.  That can be as brief as a two-minute presentation at a staff meeting to a keynote speech at a convention.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Grieve Less: The case for moving on quickly

Conventional wisdom says that, after a significant loss, whether a job or loved one through breakup or death, we must grieve fully before moving forward. So the argument goes, unless we’ve fully processed the loss, the painful feelings are more likely to linger.

But my clients and I have generally found that the longer the grieving, the more top-of-mind the loss remains.  I explain why and offer examples for moving forward in my article today.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Later Relationships: Relationship tips for the 2nd half of your life

You want a relationship but, bearing scars from previous ones, you’re reluctant to sally forth yet again. One or more of the following ideas in my article today may help.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Relationships in 2019 and Beyond

Today, I was pre-interviewed for an hour-long appearance this coming Tuesday on the BBC World Service’s program, The Real Story. The topic is the future of relationships.
The BBC contacted me because I had written a Psychology Today article:  The Future of Relationships. That was written almost three years ago so I thought you might find it helpful if I described my current thinking as I presented it to the BBC today. It's my article today.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Next Generation of In-Vitro Fertilization, Gene Editing: A The Eminents interview with Stephen Hsu.

Today, Psychology Today published the latest of my The Eminents interviews. I interviewed Stephen Hsu, VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU. He is a Founder of Genomic Prediction, a company that provides advanced genetic testing to IVF laboratories and clinics.

Because this is Psychology Today, I asked Steve about IQ, a measure of reasoning and problem-solving skill, commonly termed "intelligence", that is highly correlated with school and life success. But in light of the two gene-edited baby girls in China, I started there, regarding both the ethics and the science.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"S/he's Deadwood!" : Countering fear of being chopped away.

If you’ve been employed at the same place for a long time and especially if you’re looking forward to retirement, you may be perceived as deadwood. That’s dangerous because deadwood often gets chopped away before you’re ready to be cut loose from the mother ship. And if you worry that you are deadwood, it suggests that you’re burned out. Whether your being deadwood is perception or reality, the employee in final years may want to take steps. In my article today, I describe them.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ready-Fire-Aim: Taking a low-risk action is usually wiser than extensive rumination

Many people try to ruminate their way out of a dilemma: where to live, which career to choose, how to go about meeting Mr/Ms Right, etc.

My clients and I find it more helpful to, after modest reflection, jump to a low-risk action. I offer examples in my article today.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

What You Did as a Child: Clues to what to do now?

By the time we’ve reached adulthood, our core selves may have been pruned away by external forces: parents, peers, schools, and an ever-more influential media. To live a life more authentic to your essence, it may be helpful to review your favorite childhood moments and activities. In my article today, I ask you some questions to facilitate that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wiser to Give to the Neediest or to the Higher-Potential? A Debate.

Thanksgiving kicks off “The Season of Giving.” The unspoken next phrase is “to the ‘less fortunate’” or some such. That concept is viewed as non-controversial as apple pie. But it may merit a bit of examination.

An underdiscussed foundational belief is whether it’s wise to increase the amount of resources—our own or society’s—gives to those with the greatest deficit or to those with greater potential to make a difference. There are solid arguments on both sides. I offer them in my article today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

7 Almost-Awesomes: Not-obvious things to be grateful for

The miracle of birth—now that’s awesome. But that’s a high bar, so my article today offers some almost-awesome things worthy of our gratitude as we approach Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fear of Embarrassment

Fear of failure is a widely cited inhibitor of self-actualization. In my experience with clients and myself, that’s often not as villainous as claimed. Irrational fear of failure is a problem: a person is competent to do X and can easily survive failure, indeed learn from it, yet nonetheless, in fear of failure, doesn’t do it. But often, task-avoidance for fear of failure is rational: the person estimates that their time would be better spent on something else.

A less discussed, often more problematic and, fortunately, more ameliorable inhibitor of wise action is fear of embarrassment: that others will think less of them. A few examples:
  • For fear of seeming less-than, being unwilling to ask one’s network for job leads.
  • For fear of sounding awkward, not asking someone for a date.
  • For fear of showing vulnerability, being too withholding.
But what to do? I offer suggestions in my article today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The World's Shortest Course on Money:

Eight months ago, I wrote an article of the same title, but there’s enough that’s new that I wanted to write this: It's my article today.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

On Time: Wringing 15 months from a 12-month year

The current round of time management advice focuses less on hacks and more on, paradoxically, slowing down. That advice reduces to two core exhortations:
  • Take more time to think about complex problems so, per Kahnemann’s Type I and Type 2 thinking, you’re more likely to generate better answers.
  • Emphasize work-life balance so your brain will be fresher and because, it is argued, that the life well-led is more than about contribution.
Those points are often Buddhist-infused: meditate, be mindful.

Predictably, the recommendation to muse more and do less has attracted fans, especially among those not very focused on productivity. And indeed, it’s unarguable that it’s wise to take a little time get clear on your life’s priorities, your foundational goals. 

But in terms of tactics, one size doesn’t fit all. Most of my clients who are making a substantial contribution (as well as good income) actually benefit more from time hacks: ways to wring 15 months from a 12-month year.  I offer them in my article today.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Collateral Material: Key to Landing a Good Job

Many employers view resumes askance, swayed by consistent research findings that a significant percent of resumes contain “creative writing.” 

Even many honest resumes have been crafted by hired-gun resume writers who not only polish accomplishments but write the resume in a style that conveys intelligence and organizational ability that only sometimes reflects the candidate’s.

Unless a resume contains incontrovertible excellence, e.g., a quick set of promotions at an A-list employer, or is a referral from a trusted colleague, the resume, no matter how primped, is unlikely to lift an application to the top of an often thick pile.

Thus, most job applicants are wise to show, not just tell. That means including collateral material with job applications. My article today describes the major types.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What Will Happen to the "Bottom Half?"

Predictions vary as to the percent of jobs that will be lost to automation, offshoring, and gigging but it’s likely to be between 20 and 60 percent within the next decade or two. 

Consensus is that much of the remaining decent-paying employment will demand ever more brainpower, technical chops, and communication skills. And with so many applicants available, employers will be able to insist also on people who are likeable, reliable, enthusiastic and healthy.

The Big Question is, what’s going to happen to the many millions of people who don’t get hired for those jobs? I fear that things will be different from previous technological waves in which new technologies, net, created more new jobs. I predict that because so much of the future economy will be based on digital products and services, which can be produced by the millions with a push of a button.
My article today describes what will likely be a problemed existence for the "bottom half" and possible approaches to ameliorating the situation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ShrinkMatch: Like but for psychotherapists and clients.

Dating websites have revolutionized dating. Sure, there’s some lying and deceptive photos but enough truth to enable people to find more and better matches than just with getting set up, singles dances, and bars.

It surprises me that the dating-website paradigm hasn’t been applied more broadly, for example, in pairing psychotherapist with client. After all, client success is so dependent on being well-matched.

I have some thoughts on how might work. I describe them in my article today in hopes that one or more readers decides to make it happen.

What Does Love Have to Do With Finding a Job?

Often, it’s irrational for an employer to hire a career changer. Why hire someone with no experience when a simple online ad can usually, for similar salary, yield someone experienced?

How can a career changer make an employer do the irrational? Make him or her fall in love with you. I’m not talking about romantic love (although that’s been known to work.)  I explain what I am talking about in my article today.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Gratifying Moment

I gotta say it felt pretty good to have a long line of folks wanting to buy and have me autograph my book, Careers for Dummies, after my talk in  a Stanford Distinguished Speaker Series.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What Would You Do? An Ethical Dilemma

Of all places to find a serious ethical dilemma, I wouldn't think it would be in a restaurant. But it was. It occurred yesterday. I describe it in my article today.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Changing Careers: Myths and Best Practices

I’m honored that I’ll be giving a Public Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley on the topic: Changing Careers: Myths and Best Practice. 

As my article today, I share what I'm planning to say.

My New Book, Poems Practical is FREE for the Next 5 Days

For the next five days, my new book, Poems Practical: Clear, oft contrarian musings on love, work, life, Velveeta, etc. is free, in Kindle version. 

The print version is expensive ($53) because the book contains hundreds of full-color illustrations. So if you want the book in print, you might prefer the black-and-white version: $14.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

How to be More Productive

I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with being maximally productive. That’s because my definition of the life well-led is to make the biggest difference possible. Even if my abilities were severely limited, I believe I’d spend as many hours as possible being the best damn tree-hole digger, friend, and parent I could possibly be. 

I don’t expect you to be as committed to maximum productivity as I am but perhaps my lifetime obsession with that puts me in a position to suggest some ideas for you. Perhaps at least one of those I offer in my article today will intrigue you enough to try.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My Favorite Recent Tweets on Work, Procrastination, Learning, and Emotions

Since 2009, I’ve posted 5,116 tweets, which archive my best ideas. Here on Psychology Today, I periodically post the best and most relevant to this blog’s title, How to Do Life. Here’s the best of the current crop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Whjen Your Psychotherapy, Counseling, or Personal Coaching Client Has a Career Problem

Clients of helping professionals often have a career problem: Perhaps they’re unable to figure out what career to pursue, or can’t find a job—or keep one.

Before sending your client to a career counselor, you might try one or more of the tactics I offer in my article today.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Learner-Directed Tutoring: An under-considered way to learn

When deciding to learn something, most people take a course, get a certificate or degree, study on their own. They often overlook tutoring and its potent variant: learner-directed tutoringMy article today describes how it works and its advantages and drawbacks.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

When Your Counseling Clients Don't Do Their Homework

Other career counselors consult with me about how to improve their practice. A common concern they raise is, “What should I do about clients who don’t do their homework?  My article today describes what I tell them and I do with my clients.

Marty Nemko Speaks at U.C. Berkeley Extension: Changing Careers: Myths and Best Practices

UC Berkeley extension occasionally opens its doors to the public to hear a talk. I am honored that for the 3rd time, I've been chosen to give this public lecture. The topic: Changing Careers: Myths and Best Practices. Oct 30, 6:30 PM. It's free but you must register: HERE is the link.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Marketing Your Practice

Sometimes, a less competent practitioner gets more clients a more competent one. Often, the answer lies in marketing. My article today offers tips that have helped my clients obtain more clients.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Alleviating Middle-Class Guilt and Shame

Middle-class people (and especially the wealthy) are subject to much guilt and shaming. In my article today, I make the case that it's undeserved.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

When You Have a B.A. but Haven't Chosen a Career

My typical client has a bachelor’s degree but doesn’t know what career to pursue. Often, they’re interested in many things but no one career stands out. Or their abilities aren’t specific enough to suggest a career path. For example, they know they’re intelligent, sociable, detail-oriented, or artistic, but that doesn’t sufficiently narrow the options. Or their interests are shared by so many people—non-profit work, entertainment, the media, fashion, sports, or the arts—that it’s hard to find a decent-paying job in those.

Best practice would be to be thorough, per my book, Careers for Dummies. But I thought you might find it useful to know what such people end up doing. Most of them do one of five things. I describe them in my article today.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Ethical Counselor, Therapist, and Coach

Today, a fellow career coach asked me to troubleshoot her private practice. Our session revealed ethical concerns. While some of these are particular to career coaching/counseling, others are applicable to any helping professional in private practice. In my article today, I describe those ethical lapses and ways around them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Undergraduate Education Reinvented

Undergraduate education is beyond fixing. In my article today, I make that case and propose an alternative for undergraduate education's reinvention.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

'White Male" Shouldn't be an Epithet: A plea for fairness in the gender war.

We’ve come to a place where “white male” is usually used only derogatorily: “White males are the beneficiary of (unearned) privilege, oppressor of women and people of color, perpetrators of havoc, from Hitler to Kavanaugh.

My article today asserts this is unjust and issues a plea for fairness.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Want to See My Talk at Stanford: Career Do's and Don'ts for Stanford Parents?

Tomorrow, Tuesday Oct 9 at 11 AM, I kick-off a Stanford Distinguished Speaker series. The title, "Career Dos and Don'ts for Stanford Parents." I've been given permission to invite some people. If you'd like to come, email me at 

And as my article today, I offer the content I'm planning to present

Sunday, October 7, 2018

why I Often Trust Common Sense Over Data

Many factors restrict the validity of many research findings. In my article today, I point those out and offer lots of examples of where I've prioritized common sense over the research findings du jour.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Come See Marty Nemko in His One-Man Show: Odd Man Out

Come see me in my one-man show, Odd Man Out, this Friday, Oct 5 at 8:30 PM at the Orinda Amphitheatre. Stories, life-lessons, music.  You'll nod, laugh, and maybe cry.

The reviews have been gratifying, for example, 

I'm doing this performance for free as a fundraiser for a wonderful all-volunteer community theatre: Orinda Starlight Village Players.

Discount tickets:

An Interview with CIsco's John Chambers: "America's Best Boss"

ABC’s 20-20 did a feature on  Cisco Systems’ CEO John Chambers called “The Best Boss in America.” And Chambers grew his company from 400 employees to 70,000 including 10,000 who became millionaires. In addition,  he’s been advisor to presidents Clinton and Bush and French President Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, and King Abdullah of Jordan and thus named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world.

He's written a new book: Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World.

I interviewed him on my KALW (NPR-San Francisco) radio program, Work with Marty Nemko. My article today offers edited highlights:

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fired! What to do now.

Fired? Standard advice is to take some time to process it, grieve, reassess.  

My clients have found that poor advice. They’ve found that the longer they “process,” the harder it is to move forward. The bad thoughts stay top-of-mind because of the revisiting and revisiting the “unfairness” of it all.

My clients have found the advice I give in my article today to be more helpful than extended time off to process.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: a job offer, a good one!  It’s tempting to just say yes, maybe gently asking for a bump in the salary Don’t!

Sure, sometimes, negotiating accomplishes nothing or even results in the offer being withdrawn but following my article's advice offers great potential benefit with minimal risk.