The Harsh Truth About Your “Dream” Job


SHOW DATE: MAY 21, 2014

We were inspired by an article we read recently in The New York Times by Gordon Marino, “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’.”

In a nutshell, it discussed the culture shift that has been taking place for the past 20-30 years that created this mentality that you’re a failure or sellout if you’re not following your passions into your professional life.

Example: if you love music, and you were applauded as a child for your musical abilities, you are a failure if you’re not a rockstar, or a sound engineer, or working in digital rights marketing.

We want to blow up this destructive paradigm.

You’re destroying your happiness and your power at work because you’re stuck in this mindset that you’ve failed at life if you aren’t working as a poet, or musician, or writer, or lawyer, or whatever you’ve been applauded for as a kid.

But it’s not all black and white. We understand.

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There’s not a day that goes by where Auntie Evan, whether helping kids get into college as a private guidance counselor or talking smack on the radio, where he doesn’t feel that his current position is maybe an excuse for not becoming the performer he always wanted to be.

It took Auntie Evan many years to get past the “I’m not going to be a famous writer, performer, director” phase. Just the other day, Auntie Evan was in Florida visiting his mom and her friends. One of them went up to him and said, “I always thought you were going to be a famous actor.” She didn’t mean to be hurtful, but ouch.

If you feel this way about your job, we’ve got news for you: you can’t get more money, and you certainly can’t get a promotion if you’re the miserable person who wears her ”failure” on her sleeve.

Would your boss really trust you if he knew that every day you were itching to get out of work and take that audition, or finish that certification?

Good news. We can help you get out of this destructive mentality.

Shift your thoughts from performing for yourself and those around you and start focusing on fulfillment. What fulfills you? What is your true calling? It might surprise you, but this might be something you haven’t paid much attention to because you were wrapped up in performing for others, or what others told you you were good at.

You still have that childhood idea of fulfillment and it’s killing you.

If you’re latched on to that one thing that fulfills you, you’re missing the point. There are many things in life that can be fulfilling.

First, make a list of what you can and cannot live without. Next, pinpoint what fulfills you in your current job, whether it’s creating things, security, money, leading, making an impact or working with your hands.

Consider the possibility that an auto mechanic who loves working with his hands and who has a shop two blocks away from his family can be more fulfilled than a starving ex-optometrist musician doing free gigs at the back of a Chuck-E-Cheese. Just consider it.


When Taking Initiative Bites You in the ***


SHOW DATE: MAY 7, 2014

We were watching the news about Obama’s recent jump on the climate change awareness wagon. The real kicker? Environmentalists are still not pleased.

Yep, Obama got slapped on the wrist by the same people who were supposed to be his allies. He also got slapped by those who weren’t behind the issue, but we all knew that was coming.


We can totally relate.

Job Talk Daily always rants and raves about taking initiative at all times. And that makes sense: if you want to be a leader, if you want to get promoted, you need to take initiative. Plain and simple. But sometimes taking initiative can bite you in the ass.

This can happen just as easily at home as on the job. Uncle David, who has a chronic habit on putting aside household chores, recently decided to take initiative. Instead of passing by a carton of spoiled milk like he usually would, he threw it away and told Auntie Evan about his accomplishment. Auntie Evan, of course, was infuriated. The milk was about to be returned to the store in exchange for cash.


While this example of initiative is on a microcosmic scale, this happens all the time in the work environment.

We’re here you take through initiative the right way. If you’re going to put your foot forward, keep these precautions in mind:

1) Don’t feel like you’re doing someone a favor. You’re not going to get a pat on the back. Just doing something and thinking you’ll get rewarded for it is a dangerous mentality and can do more harm than good. You’re not doing a chore for your mom, you’re being a leader.

2) Always ask the questions you need to ask, don’t make surprises. Initiative and surprise should be mutually exclusive in your vocabulary. Start off by telling people the plan. At least then they have a chance to give you feedback. Part of taking initiative is preparing people for this great change you’re undertaking.

3) Taking initiative may not always come through. You have to be willing to dust yourself off and start over. At the end of the day, you’re taking a gamble. (But you’re taking less of a gamble if you ask questions first.)

Initiative is not ambush. Because that’s what it feels like when you come out of nowhere with unapproved changes. Let the other party participate in the transformation. Being a lone wolf, and saying “look at me, look what I did” makes you look like a brown noser, not a job hero.


Stop Complaining About Your Job – You’re Not Selling Tangerines in China


I’ve been traipsing through Asia over the past month—it’s one of those hybrid trips; a little work, a little play, a lot of airports, security checks, and death-defying taxi rides. For a hybrid trip, it turned out to be a lot more work than I expected. As much as I love meeting potential new clients and creating new business opportunities abroad—I have to say, holding yet another meeting while Beijing’s Forbidden City beckons through the window, unexplored, just sucks. Sometimes, I just hate being on the job.

After two weeks of more work, less play, Uncle David and I made to Yangshuo—a tourist town just south of Guilin, China, where the Li and Yulong Rivers meet.

Arriving in Yangshuo wasn’t as relaxing as we’d hoped. The “Shangri-La” hotel that Uncle David booked turned out to be Shangri-Less-Than-We-Could-Tolerate. This beaten-down hostel with no Wifi would have been charming, even adventurous with its breathtaking view of Yangzhou’s karsts mountains and jade green rice paddies (water buffalo included). But I’m not 25. This began our search for a new hotel as the sun set and the brownout flickered.

Two hours later, I finally found myself sitting in the Imperial Suite in the center of Yangshuo. Trust me, this isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I didn’t feel like an Empress, I felt bedraggled, cheated, beaten-down, and angry at my life.

Then David pulled the curtain back in our air conditioned room to view the hopping nightlife on West Street—and there she was. A 60-year-old woman sitting by herself selling tangerines on a tourist-trap street at 10pm. She was bored out of her mind. Dozens of tourists walked past her without so much as a glance in. Still, she never stopped working. At her feet were two stacks of red plastic take-away bags. To the left, they were crunched up; to the right, they were expertly folded. I watched her carefully and neatly take a minute to fold each as if she were handling an Hermes scarf. She was clearly creating busywork to occupy her mind. Or was it pride of ownership? Whatever it was, anger wasn’t part of it.

hard working wedding ball lady

I watched her on and off until midnight, and I couldn’t take it anymore: Out of respect for her diligence and commitment—not to mention my own OCD appreciation for her folding skills—I ran downstairs, and purchased more tangerines than I could eat in a week. I think I spent about 12 yuan, or $2.

The next night, threading my way through a packed pedestrian street, I saw another woman. She was selling assorted fruit—bananas, oranges, passion fruit—on a woven-bamboo plate. People were pressing past her, annoyed, like she was the car clogging the expressway. But the way she kept the fruit neatly organized on that plate every time someone jostled it struck me again: pride of ownership. I will never know if she loves or hates her life, but one thing was obvious: nothing stopped her, she wasn’t complaining, she was doing her job the best she could. I bought another bundle of fruit I’d never finish.

hard working vegetable seller

The next day, Uncle David and I trekked 800 steps (that felt like 8000) up to the scenic vista called Moon Hill. We’re not in bad shape, but by the time we could get to the top, I was so sweaty and bedraggled I refused to let Uncle David memorialize the climb on his camera. The view was amazing, but my eye went straight for an elderly woman hunched protectively over a Styrofoam cooler filled with cold water bottles and Coca-Cola. I don’t know if I’ve met a happier person in China or anywhere. After I bought a bottle, she shoved a tattered journal into my hand and grinned ear to ear (bless all four of her teeth). The journal was full of notes and blessings from travelers worldwide. “Never thought I’d climb a mountain and find a 70-year-old woman at the top selling water!” said one, dated several years earlier. “Zheng climbs these 800 steps every day! God bless her.”

hard working moon hill lady

I admit—I’m a job complainer. Nobody thanks me enough, nobody appreciates me enough, I don’t get paid enough, I work too hard, my colleagues don’t understand, my mother doesn’t respect what I do…this is just the beginning of my list.

So, encountering these three women blew my mind. I can’t begin to compare what they go through on a daily basis to the ease, support, compensation, and appreciation I receive just for making it to work on a Monday. Not to mention the break I get most nights and weekends. Or the simple fact that I could consider taking a week off in Yangshuo between business trips in Beijing and Shanghai with my husband.

The change was immediate: stop complaining! Sometimes the wifi won’t work. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want—in work and in life. I wanted to scratch my own eyes out the next day when Uncle David, beaming with childlike excitement, grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go to the Chinese Nibble Fish Spa!” Nothing sounded worse to me in that moment than dunking my feet into a nasty aquarium (who knows how many people had been there that day) and let freaky frenzied fish nibble the dead skin from the soles of my feet. I could feel the complaints start to bubble up. I knew the drill: I would agree to go with David and do whatever stupid thing he was excited about today, and then complain the entire time. Misery loves company, and I can sometimes be a bit aggressive making sure those around me are as miserable as I am. But why do that to Uncle David? Why ruin it for him? In fact, why ruin it for myself?

That’s when I realized that the decision to have fun or be miserable was all in my head. I white-knuckled it, stuck my feet in the water, and turned around my whole attitude. I ended up having a great time and very soft feet.

We’re still in Yangshuo, and one of the clients we’ll be meeting next week in Shanghai just wrote and asked us to meet him at his favorite bagel restaurant—about an hour out of our way. Oh God. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Didn’t he understand that I didn’t know the Shanghai subway system and would probably get lost? Did he really think that a New Yorker who regularly eats the best bagels in the world would care about some knockoff Shanghai version? Or was this all an ego trip, to see how far out of my way I’d go to get his business?

Wow—I hadn’t even left China and I’d already forgotten the lesson of the three Chinese vendors. I’d forgotten how much fun I ended up having with the nibble fish. So I decided to change my iPhone screensaver to Zheng up on Moon Hill. Now I’m reminded of how to live a complaint-free life every time my phone rings.

I get that your life sucks sometimes. Like me, you are certain that no one respects your work and you’re annoyed that your family wants to go to Six Flags, when all you want to do is kick back. It’s so easy to complain, so easy to ruin the moment. So enjoy the three pictures I posted here. Put one up on your monitor at work. Put another up on your bathroom mirror. Put the final one in your wallet—and next time your spouse is excited to do something you aren’t, or your boss wants you to work overtime, or your mom complains you don’t call her enough—just look at one of these pictures. Remember what an amazing life you have. Be thankful, take pride of ownership—because only you own your life, and only you can sell yourself out to complaints, anger, and regret.

–Auntie Evan

The Secret to Sticking to Life-Changing Resolutions



We just got back from an amazing Asia trip, and it’s helped us get a new look on life and work.

We’re here to help you get a new perspective on yours.

The great thing about cathartic getaways is, whether you’re lying on the beach looking up at the stars or immersed in an entirely different culture, it really shakes up your life perspective.

On the plane from China, Auntie Evan made some serious resolutions (including no more wheat; gluten-free baby!). The decision that really stuck out, however, was his promise to stop complaining on the job.


How did he reach such a drastic resolution?

After the beautiful Dr. Seussian Silver Cave in Yangzhou, Auntie Evan and Uncle David get to their hotel room overlooking the town and nightlife.


Auntie Evan looked out the window and spotted this elderly Chinese woman folding plastic bags, slowly, one after another. From the left she took unfolded bags and laid them out neatly on the right, selling tangerines on the side for 5 cents a dozen.

After two hours, she was still there. After dinner, she was still there. She’s there for 12 hours a day.

And here Auntie Evan is complaining about not enough stamps in the office. In retrospect, his life is amazing, and so he decided to give up complaining about the petty things.

But Uncle David was immediately skeptical, curious how Auntie Evan is going to make this stick.

So we called up Roberto, our office manager at Forster-Thomas, on the show. After a hearty laugh, Roberto told Auntie Evan: “In the last 24 hours I wanted to murder you so many times.”

The latest Auntie Evan complaint? A newly broken lock on the file cabinet.

The lesson? When you overlook the 1000 things your co-workers, employees or interns do for you and focus on the single tiny thing that wasn’t done right, it makes those around you at work (and life) question if they’re actually good at their job, and it makes them question if they really want to work there in the first place.

That’s not the message you want to send people.

We get that creating real change in your life is not easy. But we’ve got a streamlined process for anybody who has a resolution or wants to change their behavior and stick with it:

1) First off, keep that moment that first inspired you to jump into action alive (Auntie Evan took a photo of Folding Bag Woman).

2) Empower someone to keep you on track and call you out when you derail.

3) You can’t make the person you give power regret their role by punishing them every time they tell you what you told them to tell you (read that over).

Have people around you act as a support system and let yourself be helped. That life-changing resolution will stick.

Freaking Out About Work Pre-Vacation? Let Us Soothe Those Nerves



Uncle David and Auntie Evan are getting out of town. Way out of town. All the way to China and Japan.

Ni-how, konichiwa and whatnot.

They’ve been planning for ages. Now that they’re almost there, Uncle David is having a freak-out.

He’s starting to get really nervous. While Auntie Evan is getting excited over oriental liquor and staying in communication with the team overseas, Uncle David is getting worried about not having a vacation at all with all the micromanagement he might have to do out of his hotel bed.

We’ve all been there: setting off for a vacation with a head full of impending job tasks and inevitable call-ins. And, of course, our main topic for today: the nail-biting subject of your stand-in.

Here is Job Talk’s counter-argument: can’t there be a balance between checking in and throwing your feet up and sipping the sake?

Auntie Evan says YES.

Are you experiencing guilt over leaving your post? What if something goes wrong? Will the vacation be ruined?

Here’s the thing: you’re afraid somebody—whether it’s your stand-in or those under you—is going to screw up without you. And you’re just afraid to admit it because you don’t want to undermine and disempower your team or freak out your co-workers with your nervousness.

Let’s say you do sales at your company. And you know if you step out and your stand-in screws up, it’s going to cost the company thousands, maybe more.

Here’s something you might not want to hear: this is the perfect time for those left in charge of your position to fail up and learn.

You’re groaning.

But if you know they’re great, yeah they might lose some money, but something more important is going to come out of all this: you’ll be establishing a legacy and molding a future leader. Now, unless you’re a narcissist or the jealous type, this is a great thing. This an opportunity for them to rise up and make the company and your position more than just individual parts.

Somebody once told us: “The mark of a great leader is not how well the company runs when she’s there, but how well the company runs when she’s not.”

We can see that you’re expressing doubts. What if somebody asks your stand-in a question they can’t answer during a sales call?

Okay, for this one, we do in fact have an exact response, courtesy of our stand-in, Cousin Tom:

“Well, that’s one of the things we discuss once you begin working with us. The objective of today is to clue you in a little bit how we work and for us to find out a little bit about you, but it would be premature and quite honestly foolish to sit down and nail some of these things down in concrete before digging a little bit deeper.”

That’s our little bone for today. It’s your job to make sure that sort of response is ingrained before you go on vacation, and it’s your responsibility to leave the office a well-oiled machine that needs as few check-ups as possible.


College Students–Don’t Make this Fatal Mistake


Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip.  


College students, start developing relationships with your university’s career services office RIGHT NOW.

The fatal mistake many college students make is getting help their senior years.


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If we were career service staff at a university, we’d be more likely to help someone we knew for a few years.

Start going in your sophomore or junior year. It’s called nurturing relationships and it’s going to help you get a job.

Fire of the Week: Justin Bieber



Bieber’s body guard was recently sued for beating a photographer.

He was called in as a witness, and, of course, his usual disposition garnered some hyena journalism.

This isn’t anything new. The reason why he’s our fire is that his attitude reminds of the countless young employees we’ve seen and worked with over the years.

These are workers in their early-to-late 20s who cross their arms and attempt to make themselves feel better by putting up a cocky front when their actions are being reprimanded.

Young professionals need to grow up (and grow a pair) and take the high road and listen before they get ego-hurt.




Whatever industry you’re in, let your co-workers do their job.

OK, that sounds like pretty humdrum advice, but you wouldn’t believe how many companies stagnate because control-hungry employees won’t let their co-workers do what they specialize in.

Let’s say you’re the computer guy and you did all the tech work necessary to launch a business and attract customers. We can’t tell you how many techies told us their businesses failed because they wouldn’t let their marketing people do their job. They’d hoard responsibilities just to get some control over what they established.

This led only to ruin. This is why you have experts working alongside you: so you can focus on getting done what you do best.

Let go. The more you try to control everything, the more it slips through your fingers. AKA the more you resist, the more it persists.

Just let the experts do their job.

Joke of the Year – I’m in charge!


I’m in charge!

All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge. “I should be in charge”, said the brain, “because I run all the body’s systems, so without me nothing would happen”.

“I should be in charge”, said the blood, “because I circulate oxygen all over, so without me you’d all waste away”.

“I should be in charge”, said the stomach, “because I process food and give all of you energy”.

“I should be in charge”, said the rectum, “because I’m responsible for waste removal”.

All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight.

Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, and the blood was toxic.

Eventually the other organs gave in. They all agreed that the rectum should be the boss.

The moral of the story?

You don’t have to be smart or important to be in charge … just an asshole.




Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.


Our hire and fire of the week is Bengt Holst, Copenhagen Zoo director, who allowed the autopsy of a giraffe in front of a live audience, subsequently feeding the remains to the zoo’s lions.

Naturally, animal rights groups went ballistic and Holt was showered with death threats.

He responded by claiming that if it was a pig, nobody would have lifted an eyebrow.


But it wasn’t a pig. Holst didn’t think through how others would perceive the autopsy, and, as a consequence, his job (and technically his life) is now threatened. You have to consider how others will perceive your actions on the job before you act on them.

Truth be told, Holst is also our hire of the week.

The display was meant to show children the more visceral and non-Disney side of nature. He put real-world education above the threat of controversy.

Sometimes taking risks on the job under the threat of scrutiny will make you stand out from tepid co-workers who always play it safe. But there’s a thin line between smart risks and getting fired.