When your boss friends you on Facebook, it’s a dilemma for the ages. Anytime you friend a co-worker or your boss on Facebook, you’re taking on all their co-workers they’ve friended. It’s like an STD: the disease keep proliferating and now they most of the company has access to your racy photos.

So when your boss friends you on Facebook, or you want to friend a co-worker, just send them to LinkedIn. Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for the office. That’s exactly what you say: “I use LinkedIn for the office.”




If you’re planning the holiday party, here are a few valuable things to keep in mind:

  • Get everything set up days in advance. It’s going to be crazy those few hours before the party, so why add to that craziness? Leave only the finishing touches to the day before or the day of.
  • Your boss will probably go crazy. Don’t shut down as he’s turning red and machine-gunning spittle over your blank face: try and see what he’s actually upset about.
  • You want the day of the party to be about taking care of your boss and taking care of any fires, so once again, get everything set up days in advance.
  • Name tags are pretty detestable and cheesy… in principle. But unless it’s a small event where everybody at the party knows everybody else, just put the name tags on. You want people to mingle and get to know each other.
  • If you’re invited to anything—especially if it’s a business event or holiday party where the hosts are paying for the food and drinks—look into the calendar the moment you get the invitation, RSVP right away, put it in your calendar, set a reminder, and show up. If you’re the one setting up the party, keep reminding your guests that it’s happening. People have busy lives—they may forget.




Chad Pregracke is a clean water advocate. He has his own organization called Living Lands and Waters, where he organizes people to clean all the garbage on the riverbanks of the Mississippi River and other big rivers in America.

He’s gotten 70,000 people to pitch in.

What we loved about this guy is what he said on a CNN interview: “The garbage got into the water one piece at a time, and that’s the only way it’s going to come out.”

This is the attitude of a leader. Solutions happen one step at a time—this is how you really take your career by the reins.

Stop being the guy who thinks the problem is too big to handle, and start telling yourself, “You know what, I can fix this. It might take a lot of time and a lot of steps, but I can do it piece by piece.”




Thanksgiving (or, more appropriately, Thanksgivukkah) is the real kickoff of the holiday season, and it’s a time full of obligations.

You’ve got obligations with family and at work; you’ve got Uncle Joe’s party you don’t want to go to, and your boss has this dinner or lunch thing that everybody has to go to. The big question is, should you honor these obligations?

We want to help you figure out where that thin line is—when you should buck up and say “no more,” or when you need to take one for the team and just tell yourself “I got to do this, there’s no way around it.”

Black Friday has turned into Black Thursday, which is making us think about this issue. Suddenly, beyond just the partying obligations and the gift-giving, there’s a new obligation that’s creeping up—Black Thursday.

Black Thursday is this new trend where stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, Macy’s, JC Penny all have decided to open up on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and July 4th are really the only big, secular holidays we have where we don’t have to worry about religion of politics. Now that these stores are opening up on Thanksgiving, the employees that work there can’t really say “no.”

Here’s one side of the issue: times like these are the best opportunities for employees to buck up and get into a leadership role. It’s an opportunity for you to get out there and rally your teammates and co-workers to do a great job, even on a holiday, because it’s going to look amazing to your supervisor and boss. They’re going to remember that you chose to be onboard.

But where’s the line? When should you come in for no extra hours and no extra pay, and when should you finally say “no”? We’re not just talking about Black Thursday. We’re talking about any time of the year where your boss is making you work when you’re not comfortable working.

Here are several points you should consider before deciding that crucial decision whether to come in or stay home:

  • You have to figure out how much leverage you have and how replaceable you are. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to put my job on the line and basically tell management that it will be harder to replace me than to give me what I want?” Don’t undersell yourself; you may have a lot more leverage than you think.
  • Ask yourself: “Am I getting anything from this job? Why am I here?”  When you have a hard time finding a solid answer, it goes beyond simply drawing a line in the sand, it might be a signpost: when you put your all into a job and there is nothing left to be returned, it’s time for you to start looking for a better one.
  • If you still have something to learn, if you need this job to pay the rent, if you don’t have any leverage, the bottom line is that you have to do what management wants. Remember: don’t operate out of fear, just figure out your leverage with the company.

To put it in more coarse terms: you know where the line lies by the grip management has around your throat. If you’re somebody who feels like you’ve learned everything you can at the job and there’s no more promotions for you to get, and they’re still giving you a hard time, it’s time to find another job.

But if you need the job, you go in. Don’t whine and complain—make it an opportunity to thrive and succeed and be a leader. If you can’t pay the rent, and Wal-Mart or whoever is giving you the opportunity to work, clock in and stop complaining.




You’re going to get twice as much work done at your job if you start thinking of your tasks as a set of problems to solve, instead of a list of responsibilities.

This is especially useful for tasks that are not in your immediate job description: think of these responsibilities as ongoing problems that you specifically tackle in your mind’s job description.

Let’s say you’re a counselor who helps low-income youth get into college. Your job is to teach these kids about the college process, but eventually you end up teaching the entire family.

Don’t think of this as just another responsibility to add to the myriad tasks you already have lined up, think of it as a problem that needs to be solved: “These families are not educated about the college process their children are going through, and since it’s part of my [mental] job description, it’s up to me to solve it.”

When you start to implement this way of thinking, instead of falling into the role of the generic employee just doing his daily grind, you become a successful problem solver on the job.




Chris Christie, a conservative in the very blue state of New Jersey, got re-elected last week with 60% of the vote.

Fascinating, considering the majority of New Jerseyans don’t see eye to eye on many of his basic issues. He doesn’t, for example, want to raise the minimum wage, and he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. So how did Christie get such a large slice of voters on his side?

It’s simple. Christie knows exactly who he is. There’s no bullshit demarcating him: he’s the same guy on the job, in the public eye, as he is at home. He takes his strengths and weaknesses and leverages them. What can we take away from this?

You are the same person on the job as you are at home. Whatever you do at home—the good, the bad and the ugly—you play out in the office.

The problem is you think you act differently on the job. There is some imaginary “professional mask” you wear at work that you think you take off at home.

Those mannerisms that drive your partner or friend crazy, you’re bringing that into the workplace whether you know it or not.

Let’s say you and your partner sit down and watch an hour of TV, and it takes two hours to get through a one hour show because you keep getting up to do stuff like get a snack, check your phone or computer, or brush your teeth, so you’re constantly pausing the DVR. Your thoughts are scattered and distracted. This is exactly what you take to work, and although you’re more limited in how you sidestep your tasks, you still do it on the job without even realizing it.

The first step to mitigating the problem is becoming aware of the causal factors.

How exactly do you parse out your Achilles heel(s)? Assess yourself. Ask yourself, what are a few things that drive my partner/roommate/friend crazy? What’s that complaint they always have about me? This is what you’re likely taking with you to the job. Better yet, ask them what they think your quirks are.

For example, it’s your turn to take out the trash, walk the dog or clean the dishes, and your response is always the same: “I’ll do it in a minute.” Guess what? At work, you’re likely putting everything off till the last minute, until your tasks accumulate to a point where disaster is imminent.

Here’s how to systematically assess your problems, hone in on them and shoot them down before they manifest into something job-threatening:

1) Grab hold of someone who sees you on daily basis, or has known you for years, and get them to spill the beans on what annoys them the most. They might enjoy it.

2) Take a breath—don’t be stubborn and fold your arms at their response; think about how this may affect your performance at work.

3) Lose the attitude and start observing yourself on the job—catch your quirks before you have a chance act them out.

You don’t always want to hear the truth about yourself. But this is what will get you ahead in your career. Listen to what people are saying. Lose the grand delusion of separate home and work personas. These only serve to distract you from the small, quickly dismissed foibles that affect your job performance. Once you’re honest with yourself, once you drop the bullshit, you’re going to be more liked, more respected and more likely to get promoted.




The Harvard Business Review just came out with a fascinating study that compared those who keep their desks extra neat with those who stick to more haphazard means of organization.

Research showed that those who had papers scattered in organized piles on their table were five times more likely to have a creative idea than those that kept everything neat.

Apparently, a somewhat disorderly environment seems to aid creativity by helping people break out of tradition, order and convention.

Next time you decide to arrange your office supplies in alphabetic order, remember that a bit of chaos in your work area can help jump-start some creative thinking.




We’re not afraid of laying down the truth here at Job Talk, even if it stings. And today’s honest observation is one of the simplest and most painful truths in the job world: you can’t pick and choose your co-workers.

Or, as Auntie Evan had infamously put it, “you can’t choose them and you can’t shoot them.”

You have to make it work, whether you like it or not. We get it, you’re at your wits end. They keep doing everything wrong and you’re always picking up the slack. But if you’re starting to get emotional about it, vowing to shun them and watch as they slowly crumble to their ruin (yep, we all get like that), not only are you being a poor team player, you start looking like the problem yourself.

When you’re unwilling to cooperate, it makes it harder for your other co-workers—you  know, the ones you actually care for—to their jobs.

How do you control your emotions when you despise your co-worker? How do you make it work? You’ve got questions, we have answers:

Sit down with them: Don’t go gossiping and complaining to your boss (yet)—try and have a conversation with your co-worker. Stop avoiding them and sit down and talk with them. Yeah, you’ve got that running tape in your head going, “he’s going to tell me ‘I’m sorry,’ and he’s going to do it again.” But you’re just standing in your own way: you’re creating this conversation in your mind when you don’t even know what they’re going to say. You’re also taking away your co-worker’s opportunity to rise to the occasion. Give them a chance.

Stop focusing on being right: Yeah, you’re right. What does that get you? You still can’t choose your co-workers, it doesn’t buy you lunch and it certainly doesn’t get you promoted. If you really want to find a way to work everything out, you’re going to have to drop the notion that being right will change the situation.

Document your talks: Make sure to record when you sat down and talked with your co-worker. When you email them, mention how great it was talking to them about the problem, and that you’re excited that they’re going to now be more proactive about it. You’re codifying on paper that you’re trying to create a solution. But be forewarned: if you’re not coming into this with the intention of actually helping your co-worker, and you’re just out to be right, it’s not going to work.

They get three strikes: You’ve talked to them three times—or more—and nothing’s getting through. It’s high time to take it to the boss. Ask your boss for help; explain that you’ve tried on three separate occasions to talk to them. Remember when we said document your conversations? You now have a written record of when and what you told them. You’re not tattling on them—you’ve already taken the measures to correct the situation.

You can’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow: things can go wrong and you have to be prepared. But what you can do is put your heart into the matter and really try to help your co-worker. You come out a better teammate and better leader in the end.




Michael, a customer service rep at Netflix, with just one online chat conversation, has made a Netflix fan for life.

A man identifying himself as Lt. Norm contacted Michael with a technical issue. Michael kicked off the conversation with, “This is Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?”

Lt. Norm went along with it brilliantly, and what ensued was a hilarious ship-themed dialogue regarding the issue. A customer service rep actually had fun with a customer.
Instead of sticking to the script and letting his job dictate who he was, Michael let the script work for him. This is the kind of connection you need to make at your office. No matter what you do, don’t just be the script, don’t just be the job: be something more.

Making that connection and having that kick in your step will make you happier and will get you noticed.




Sometimes we turn our heads and ignore one simple universal truth: that things go wrong. Equipment breaks down, people don’t keep their agreements and new systems don’t work the way you wanted them to.

What’s worse, you believe everything will be fine if you just turn the other way and wait for the problem to dissipate. We call this magical thinking. It’s believing the situation will magically solve itself.

This magical thinking is not only destroying your reputation, it’s also robbing you of opportunities to be the office troubleshooter. It’s preventing you from being a leader.

But today we’re not going to teach you how to act in times of distress, we’re going to teach you how to pre­-act.

There’s a great example of magical thinking going on in the news right now. As of August 1st, the Common Application—what high school seniors nationwide have been using for years to apply to colleges—was reincarnated in online form. Since its release, there’s been nothing but problems. The executive director of the form, Rob Killion, has expressed how everything’s going to work out and how they’re going to fix the glitchy system. October has rolled around and the online Common Application form is still experiencing major issues, causing schools to push back their early decision deadlines.

Instead of riddling high school seniors and counselors across the nation with anxiety, Killion could have reached out to colleges early on and asked them to defer their deadline, or he could of created a contingency plan before everything went so awry. But all Killion did was keep iterating how everything was going to work out: now that’s magical thinking.

You’re doing the exact same thing in your office: you pile on projects, event preparation and promises to clients and coworkers, and when the deadline rolls around and you’re running out of time, you cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Pre-acting isn’t about living in constant worry and perpetual paranoia that things will go wrong—it’s about being prepared. It’s about starting things a little sooner, checking if the printer’s working before you have to use it, making sure people are on top of things.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a worrywart all the time; you’ll probably get an ulcer from the stress. Simply acknowledge the possibility that things will go wrong if you don’t pre-act.

Here are several things you can do in advance to effectively pre-act in the office:

Catch yourself in the act of magical thinking: If you catch yourself in the act of asking “what’s the chance that’s going to happen?” it’s time to pre-act. Don’t be a gambler on the job. If the only thing you need for your meeting is the printer, check the ink, or get somebody to check the ink and check up on them to make sure they handled it.

Don’t be afraid to get up in people’s face: Yes, constantly checking in on people means you might get a little annoying. But that’s what leaders do—they get up in people’s face and make sure disaster doesn’t strike because everything was put off till the very last minute.

Do a run-through: This is exactly what Killion didn’t do. If you have a meeting the same day, do a mock meeting beforehand. Set up the chairs, refreshments, pens, paper and meeting material. It’s when you do a run-through that you notice that one thing you missed, the one thing that you would have never realized until the actual meeting.

Always be consistent: When you are arranging for people to be at an event, you will always send an email out, you will always follow up two days later and you will always make sure they’re responding to you. When you’re setting up for a meeting, you will always make sure that the pens and pads are exactly in front of the chairs and you will always check the ink in the printer. When you are this consistent, there’s no need for magical thinking: you are effectively pre-acting.

Make it fun: Pre-acting doesn’t need to be soul-draining. When you’re done setting up for an event or meeting much earlier in advance than you normally do, admire what you have done, soak in how calming it feels to have everything done beforehand, how less stressful it is to be on top of things.

Stop craving that last-minute rush: You know the feeling. You get that adrenaline rush when you do everything last minute. But this drives everybody around you crazy. Don’t drag everyone down into your last-minute fix—instead, get the rush from doing everything in advance.

Killion and his team constantly worked backwards. they didn’t prep, they didn’t do a run-through, they didn’t do anything to insure the system won’t act the way it did. Some colleges have even switched over to a competitor now. When you’re in a position where you run the show (or when you want to get to that position), you have to stop thinking magically and start pre-acting for what’s coming up.

And when you do pre-act, when you are on top of things, you become someone dependable, you become someone people can rely on, and the amazing results seem almost… magical.