Where the Lemon Trees Bloom

To the Editors: In his review of Rüdiger Safranski’s Goethe: Life as a Work of Art [“Super Goethe,” NYR, December 21, 2017], Ferdinand Mount concludes: When [Goethe] finally made his long-dreamed-of trip to Italy, he remained impervious to the Christian art he saw. He was disappointed even by the classical monuments he saw in Rome, […]


I Wish I’d Known This Earlier: John Leland on Happiness and Aging

On the surface, it’s complicated to discern the connective threads that link Happiness Is a Choice You Make with New York Times reporter John Leland’s previous book-length subjects — the history of the concept of “hip” (Hip: The History) and an exegesis of the Ur-Beat writer Jack Kerouac (Why Kerouac Matters). It’s an extension of Leland’s much-remarked-upon Times series, “The Oldest Old,” in which he tracked three men and three women, aged eighty-eight to ninety-two, all New Yorkers, over the course of 2016. The book-length version fleshes out the quotidian experiences of his subjects and attempts to capture and distill the experience Leland cites of learning to “quiet” his instincts — which told him he had nothing to learn about being older — and open himself to what his subjects had to teach him.

A devotee of the Greek and Roman classics as a Columbia undergraduate and a “pretty bad” drummer on New York’s cusp-of-the-’80s “No Wave” scene, Leland — a self-described “recovering rock critic” on Twitter — developed his journalistic chops as a chronicler of rock, punk, and hip-hop at alternative and mainstream music magazines, before reaching the summit of that pyramid with positions as an editor and columnist at Spin magazine and as a music critic at Newsday. From these jobs he leapfrogged to a senior editor’s position at Newsweek and a yearlong tenure as editor-in-chief of Details magazine.

You can trace a line of influence from the Greek and Roman authors Leland studied to the almost, not quite, homiletic quality of portions of the book’s second, “lessons” section. But, to paraphrase the title of a song by bebop tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, “Don’t be too hip,” or you might skim over the wisdom Leland drops throughout the pages of this cliché-free, empathic, glass-half-full treatment of the aging process. —Ted Panken

The Barnes & Noble Review: I searched your archived Times articles, and Happiness Is a Choice You Make seems to be the culmination of about ten years of reporting — I found your first pieces on retirement in 2006; you started reporting on it in earnest in 2008 and 2009.

John Leland: A few years ago, I noticed this little blip, that people over eighty-five are one of the fastest-growing populations. I’d reported on older people in the past and found it rewarding work, because it quickly got to the emotional core of life. Your mother’s old; that’s emotional for you. It’s emotional for her or your father or brother. So this interested me, and I thought: Well, why don’t I do a story about what happens when you lose your mobility? Or what happens when you lose your eyesight? I’d set out to do the challenges of getting older. It was predictable. I could have talked to doctors and written these stories. But I didn’t think it really got at what life would be like for people. Finally, I came up with this idea, and my editor approved it: Why don’t we follow six people for a year and let the stories be whatever they give us? I started casting around for people to be part of it.

BNR: How did you cull your cast of six from the enormous pool of elderly people in New York?

JL: My partner is a former actress, and she says that casting is 90 percent of directing. I wanted a diverse group and figured six would be manageable. I wanted three men, three women, people from different walks of life, different levels of mobility, living in different situations, from nursing home to independent home. I wanted to find a couple.

BNR: You wrote in the Times about a gay male couple in 2013.

JL: Yes. That was before I started this project. I’d written about two men in my mother’s building, Ken Leedom and Peter Cott, who had been together at that point for fifty-five years, I think it was. I wanted them to tell me what gay life was like in New York fifty years ago. They were lovely, fascinating guys, and I think they whetted the appetite within the Times.

BNR: Certainly, the template of the tone and focus of the later articles seems present in that piece.

JL: I think that’s true, although I think I learned to write the series as I went along. The first piece is like, “Boy, it’s tough being eighty-six,” and “Boy, it’s tough being eighty-seven” — for everybody but Jonas Mekas, who is having a wonderful time. I came to the project with a lot of preconceptions, which I think shone through more in the first article than in the second, and more in the second than in the third. I really learned some of the lessons by the time I was through with the series and was closer to thinking about writing the book.

BNR: How many people did you select from?

JL: Dozens. I don’t know exactly how many dozens.

BNR: How did you meet them?

JL: Some people I met on my own. Jonas Mekas I knew about. And I thought, well, I could use somebody who’s a ringer . . .

BNR: Well, hipsters and artists are part of your beat also.

JL: Jonas certainly runs in hipster circles. I knew him and was interested in him, and I thought at the very least I’ll go into this with one person who is really good at talking to the press. I wanted an immigrant, so I went to a bunch of elder immigrant organizations. I went to Chinese and Korean senior centers, some groups that dealt with Latin seniors. I met with a lawyer who does elder law, to see if there was somebody in a suit with their children over housing — that’s a big issue in New York. I didn’t get anything useful out of that, but as I was leaving, someone from there said: Oh, by the way, I volunteer for this organization that delivers meals-on-wheels to home-bound seniors in Brooklyn. Through them, I met an African-American man named Fred Jones, a military veteran who had his own great story and was very funny. Also, the mother of the woman who ran the organization had just been kicked out of her home in an assisted living center in Brooklyn. I thought: Homeless at ninety; that’s a fascinating story. That was Ruth Willig.

I met a lot of people who didn’t quite make it. One of the first things I did was to interview a bunch of centenarians, and I met a fantastic woman — but she died. “Get me a gin,” she said. Her name was Jean Goldberg, and I think she was 101. She lived on her own until 100, and then she started to fall, and she worried that she was going to become a burden to her son, who would have to come every time she fell. So she checked herself into a nursing home and died a year later.

BNR: After reading your various Times pieces on aging, it seems reasonable to assume that your reporting on Happiness Is a Choice You Make piggybacked on the information you’d assimilated between 2008 and 2015.

JL: A lot of books like this will begin with the data or the experts and look for examples of people to fill in and support the data. I tried to do this the other way around. I wanted the stories of the subjects to drive the direction that I was going in, and then afterward look to see if there was data to support this, or what the psychologists or geriatricians or gerontologists made of what I was seeing. I wanted to make sure that what I was seeing wasn’t wholly anecdotal, but I was never trying just to illustrate the data.

BNR: When did it become apparent that you had a book?

JL: I didn’t really start thinking about a book until about six months after I’d finished the series. It was partly selfish. I loved the story. I missed the people and I wanted to stay in touch with them. These people had a profound effect on me emotionally. They changed my life. I realized that the story was not about what it’s like to be older, which the Times newspaper stories were really about, or what eighty-five looks like to an eighty-five -year-old, or what ninety-two looks like to a ninety-two -year-old. This was more: What did I learn about life from these people that is valuable at any age? I wish I’d known a lot of this stuff earlier.

BNR: You incorporate your personal narrative into the text, and your mother plays a consequential role. Was your experience with her aging process also driving your interest in reporting this subject?

JL: My mother was always a presence in my reporting. I found that dealing with somebody else’s elderly people made me much more . . . I don’t know . . . compassionate with my mother. I didn’t go to those relationships thinking I had to fix anybody. I didn’t have any past experience with them. I no longer thought, Gosh, I wish my mother exercised, because I didn’t wish any of these people exercised — I was just willing to accept them as they were. “I wish they had a better attitude.” No, I didn’t wish they’d have a better attitude. So it really helped me understand, become more patient, and enjoy my time with my mother more. When I’d go to see these people, I didn’t think of myself as doing something for them. I wasn’t performing an obligation. It was something that was of value to me. So then I could think about visiting my mother as: What am I getting out of this? I’m learning from this. I’m getting so much out of it. That instantly warmed up my relationship with my mother, which was never bad, but was always . . . We’re not that super-close a family.

BNR: How many visits on average did you make to each of your protagonists?

JL: I usually visited a couple of times a month for a year. I have to say, it was always fun.

BNR: You don’t delve too much into their pasts. Had you initially thought to create more fleshed-out biographies of each of these people?

JL: I hadn’t thought about that, because I was most interested in who they were now. Really, it was just: How do you get up every morning and face it? What do you face? And what has that taught you about life? I think to do full bios of them would be fascinating. I love them, and I would love sitting around talking to them about their pasts. But the story I wanted to tell is: You’ve been in this journey so long; you’ve lived so long; you’ve learned so many things — what is it you know now?

BNR: How did you work out the structure? The text is two equal parts. The second half is lessons, in which you elucidate what you learned from each person in one way or another, while the first half is . . . well, also lessons, I guess.

JL: The lessons in this book, I should say, are not terribly complicated. We’re all capable of learning them. You don’t have to be a Mensa person to live a happy life. People who got better SAT scores aren’t happier than people who didn’t. So the lessons are there for us, but we need to be taught them, we need to get them in a way that’s going to be meaningful. These lessons are in our literature. They’re all in the Bible, the Koran, the Torah. They’re all in self-help shelves as well. But to absorb them, you have to get them from the source. So the first half of the book is really introducing you to the characters. You need to know Ruth Willig as a person if you’re going to learn anything from her. Same thing with Jonas Mekas or Ping Wong. So that’s what the first half is; the second half is the things that made my life so much better.

BNR: The Times pieces generated quite a bit of commentary, and the woulda-shoulda remarks in the Comments section were interesting.

JL: I loved the comments on this. It’s one of the great things about writing for the Times. Most comments on websites now are “drop dead, libtard.” But the Times has a thoughtful body of readers, and a lot of people wanted to tell me the story of their grandmother, or their mother, or their own story. Some people said, “You’re missing this point.” All of that was welcome. It did what I hoped it would do. It’s become a large body of people who are having a conversation with one another, and I was a part of it, but I wasn’t necessarily directing it.

BNR: You’ve been working on several other files of activity with the Times over the last couple of years as well — the “Sunday Routine” series, pieces on photographers, more recently, the “Lions of New York” series with people like the late Sam Shepard and Hal Wilner. Do you get to shape your own agenda, or are these subjects happy accidents? You seem to have one of the more enviable beats at the Times.

JL: No doubt about it — I have the best job at the paper. I get to shape it to an extent, but I work with great editors, and they’ll have suggestions, too. Jan Benzel, who was the editor of the Sunday Metropolitan section, suggested “Lions of New York” as a column. It’s people who have been part of the fabric of the city for decades, through its ups and downs — what did they see? Some of the other stuff, “Album” and the “Sunday Routine,” I love doing because they’re fast. The “Oldest Old” series that the book began with . . . those stories take a long time to develop. I might be two months out of the paper with those.

BNR: You started out in music journalism.

JL: I did. There’s people in that realm who come from the journalism side, and people who come from the “Gee, I like music, and what do I do about it?” side. That’s who I was.

BNR: You attended Columbia, but not the journalism school.

JL: No. That’s a graduate program. I was an undergrad. But I was writing for the Columbia Spectator, the school paper, and I just loved music, and there was so much going on. I came to New York in 1977, the early days of punk and hip-hop and the loft jazz scene. It was an incredible time. You never knew what you’d hear next. You’d hear stuff that was just awful, and then go around the corner and hear something that knocked your socks off — like nothing you’d ever heard before. And it was cheap!

I lived on West Ninety-ninth Street. There was a handball court at the end of the block that was big with graffiti writers — and if there were graffiti writers, there were break dancers, and if there were break dancers, there were rappers and DJs. So I remember this scene: One time they were practically in front of our building, and I go out, and there’s guys spinning on their heads, and guys talking about their zodiac signs. It was a shock, like that’s the new thing; that’s what’s going to happen. Not that many people were as interested in it as I was. To me, that was the beginning of my experience of real empathy as a journalist. The people who were making this music were really different from me. They came out of a different world. They lived different lives. I don’t know what it’s like to live like that. I was going to learn from them. I didn’t have anything that I could tell them. I think it became this great training in letting other people tell you about their lives, learning about the world from them.

BNR: Were you writing about it for the Spectator?

JL: At the Spectator I mostly wrote about albums that were out. I don’t think I wrote about anything in hip-hop at the time. And I wasn’t that smart at the time. I started to really understand this was important music a little later. You’re talking about, by then, sort of early to mid ’80s.

BNR: How did it become your profession?

JL: Well, I knew I liked to write, and I knew I liked music. One of my editors at the Spectator became the typesetter at Trouser Press magazine, and then editor of a spinoff from Trouser Press, which he asked me to write for. That folded, and I started writing for the regular Trouser Press. Music magazines were unstable. You would get in a music magazine, then it would fold, and the people from that magazine who were good would go to three different magazines, and then suddenly you had an in at three different places, and you could write for them. The money was negligible. I started off writing for about $35 a story, but now you could make that at three outlets instead of just one.

BNR: Your first book, Hip, generated a fair amount of discussion at the time it came out.

JL: It came out of conversations with my editor, who was really interested in the topic of Hip. I was really interested in the ways we process race in America and the fantasies we have about one another — that we love and embrace our popular culture, which is so integrated, and yet we are so segregated as people. So our ideas gelled together to become the Hip book. Where did Hip come from? Well, it seems to come from these West African words, hipi or hepi, “to see” or “to open your eyes.” What does that mean? How does a West African word make it into general parlance? Well, it’s got to go from black people to white people, and there’s got to be some interplay there. John Kouwenhoven writes, “What’s American about America?” What’s as American about America as that path of that word hipi or hepi into our idea of Hip? You can learn almost half of what you need to know about America in that.

BNR: Your second book, Kerouac, would seem a logical follow-up.

JL: Yes. It was the fiftieth anniversary of On the Road. The Beats were such a fascinating part of the Hip narrative. And I loved the idea of delving deep into one work of literature that not everybody has read, but a lot of people have read. And it didn’t have an embodied criticism around it that, say, Moby-Dick has.

BNR: Do you see a connection between the lessons you learned from writing Hip and the elders who are the subject of your new book?

JL: I guess I don’t. The idea of “hip” often glamorizes depression, unhappiness, existential angst, and I think the people in Happiness Is a Choice You Make have learned to cast off that romance.

BNR: Two of your subjects passed away in 2016 — Fred Jones and John Sorenson. Are the others still with us?

JL: Everybody else is still alive. I’m happy to say they’re still doing well.

BNR: You’re fifty-eight. How might you apply these lessons to your own aging process? Is it purely a matter of consciousness? Are there more practical measures that you can draw from your reporting?

JL: Well, there are practical measures you should take. We all believe we’re going to live for a long time. We certainly have that opportunity. For you, it might be eighty-three; for the person at the next table, it might be ninety-two; for the person at the next table, it might be 110. But we have possibilities in front of us in ways that didn’t exist when our ancestors were being chased by saber tooth tigers. Most of us haven’t been doing grueling physical labor all our lives, so our bodies aren’t broken down from that. So we do ourselves a favor if we eat well and take care of ourselves.

More than that, I think what I’ve taken away is not to be afraid of old age. It’s going to be different. There’s going to be changes. I won’t be able to do certain things that I can do now, and I will look differently upon other parts of my life. So I want to recognize that that’s exactly the same as now. I can’t do things I did when I was seventeen. I’m limited by my physical abilities, the money I have, the personal and physical attractiveness or lack of same. I have limitations. But we all have limitations wherever we are in our lives. Limitations don’t start when you’re eighty-five. Before you lost your eyesight, you lost something else. And you made the most of it. Your life is still complete.

So I don’t look at it as a diminishing of my life. Maybe certain things I can’t do. But my life will still be my life. I will still occupy 100 percent of my life.




The post I Wish I’d Known This Earlier: John Leland on Happiness and Aging appeared first on The Barnes & Noble Review.

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To Be, or Not to Be

Thirty-nine years ago my parents took a package of documents to an office in Moscow. This was our application for an exit visa to leave the Soviet Union. More than two years would pass before the visa was granted, but from that day on I have felt a sense of precariousness wherever I have been, along with a sense of opportunity. They are a pair.


The Niobrara Valley in Nebraska is home to Fort Niobrara…

The Niobrara Valley in Nebraska is home to Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and 76 miles of the Niobrara National Scenic River. The valley boasts dramatic bluffs, gorgeous waterfalls, world-class fossil resources, rich forests, wide grasslands and incredible wildlife diversity. Over 350 bison live on the refuge, letting visitors enjoy iconic scenes like this sunset. Photo by Kristen Maxfield, National Park Service.

A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Clean Your Camera

Cameras are incredibly expensive. On top of that, their gear is also expensive. With that, you need to take the necessary steps to make sure that you can keep your camera working for as long as you can. But, do you know how to clean your camera? Now, to ensure longevity, you need to take proper care of your equipment and learn to clean it properly. This post will teach you some of the basics.

Don’t Use Your Shirt to Clean Your Lens

This is one of the most common mistakes made by anyone learning to use a camera. They look through the lens and see a speck of dirt and they wipe it off with their shirt. Yes, it technically gets rid of the smudge, but your sweater absorbs dirt and sweat throughout the day. That gunk transfers over to the lens. Your shirt can even scratch the glass, too. Instead of using your shirt, you need to use a special cloth, like a lens tissue or microfiber material, to clean your glass.

Always Use a Lens Cap

camera lens cap A Lens caps keep your camera and its lenses free of dirt, gunk, and scratches. Whenever your camera is not in use, you should have a lens cap on it. Whenever you take a lens off your body, a lens cap should go on both the body and said lens. You’d think this would be second nature, but tons of photographers forget to do this.

Take Care of Your SD Card

SD cards store all the photos and videos you’ve taken. They’re necessary to transfer that data over to a computer for editing and properly caring for them is essential. Your camera has a blinking light near the SD card slot. When blinking, that means data is being written to the SD card. Too many users rip their SD card right after turning the camera off. This is wrong and it can ruin all the shots you just took. Make sure to wait at least five seconds after turning the camera off to eject the card.

Cleaning the Rear Area of The Lens

This part gets overlooked a lot but it’s a big deal when it comes to keeping your equipment working. The rear area of your lens is the part that attaches to the body of the camera. Any dirt or gunk on it can get into the sensor and ruin the body of the camera. The best way to address that is to use compressed air or a cotton tip with a small amount of alcohol on it.

Cleaning the Camera Body

Take a clean paintbrush and run it through the outer body of your camera. Once done, take some compressed air and puff it around as well. Make sure not to let the dust blow into the body. Cameras such as Nikon or Canon make it simple to clean. Both companies have manuals and videos to guide you.

Camera Sensor

Your camera’s sensor is the most expensive part to replace and an essential piece of your camera. Shooting outside almost always guarantees getting something stuck in the lens. That lens then transfers the dust over to the sensor and those specks of dirt can ruin every single photo. There’s almost no way to clean it when out and about, either. Sensors need special care, though there are a few ways to do it by hand: Auto Clean: Every single DLSR on the market comes with an auto-clean function. This option “shakes” the sensor with the intention of knocking the dust off. However, this only works with very light specks and will do very little to a very dirty sensor. Swabs and Fluid: You can purchase swabs designed to clean your sensor without damaging it. Pairing them with a specific cleaning fluid means you can wipe it clean almost instantaneously. You can even get swabs that are the exact size of your sensor so you can get it done in one swipe. If your sensor is still dirty after all of this, you need to bring the camera body to a cleaning expert. They have the tools and will take the time required to clean your sensor correctly. Also, be careful not to overexpose the sensor whenever you’re switching lenses. When changing lenses, do it as quickly as possible. Remember to face your camera downwards when making the switch.

In Usage

camera usage When using your camera, always make sure to hold it securely. Using a strap helps keep the device safe and holding it with two hands ensures that even more. This prevents it from bouncing around when walking and it also makes for a steady shot when capturing images. If you invest in cameras and extra equipment for them, it is vital that you go the extra mile to take care of them. Spend on cleaning equipment. Read about taking care of the device and make sure to take all the steps necessary to prevent damage. In doing so, you’ll have a camera that stays working for years to come.

See Also: 7 Tips For Amateur Photographers You Need To Know

The post A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Clean Your Camera appeared first on Dumb Little Man.


How I Got Mrs. Right To Walk Into My Life

How to find the right woman? Let me tell you something. I used to settle in relationships because I lacked confidence, self-esteem, leadership, and never felt good about myself. I thought being in a relationship would fix that. So, I dated the first woman who showed up, despite being only ‘kind of’ attracted to her. Big mistake. Don’t get me wrong. The first few weeks and months of being with her were pretty good. But soon enough, the relationship became toxic and I ended up feeling a lot worse. In this post, I want to share with you a couple of things I did to change, including the best tips on how to find the right woman. “Without a Code of Conduct you are a chameleon of a man” – Bruce Bryans. And that’s exactly who I was. I would never admit at the time but I was a man who ‘changed colors’, hoping that people would like me. And I, very rarely, if ever, stood up for myself or spoke my mind. That’s until I stumbled on a book by Bruce Bryans called What Women Want In A Man. This book contains a ton of useful and practical information. What really resonated with me is the part about why a man should have a Code of Conduct to live his life by. what women want in a man bruce bryansWithin six months of writing my Code of Conduct and living it every day, I found myself being the man I always wanted to be. When it came to the women I liked, I stopped putting them on a pedestal and didn’t feel the need to impress them or get them to like me. In fact, it was the complete opposite; women were trying to impress me and often made the first move.

The List

If you don’t define what it is you want by narrowing down your options, you’ll always get what it is you don’t really want. When it comes to attracting the right woman, she’ll never show up on your radar because you’ll have no idea what she really looks like or how she behaves – Bruce Bryans

I dated several very attractive women but none of them was the right fit for me. It was like having a high paying executive job with a swanky office view but never enjoyed it because you’re always in a meeting or buried neck deep in deadlines. I asked myself: What do I really want in a woman and a relationship? I soon figured out that if I was to attract the right woman, I had to know what she looked like, how she behaved, her age, hobbies and interests, values, beliefs, and so on. This is where writing my List helped. writing down list   I drew a line down a sheet of paper. On one side I wrote what I wanted. On the other side, I wrote all the things I didn’t want or that were negotiable. I looked at my list every day until it got to the point where I knew exactly what she looked like and who she was. It might sound corny but I would imagine what it felt like to hang out with her, kiss her, make love to her, and wake up next to her.

Got Out Of My Comfort Zone

I knew having a list was pointless if I won’t be working my ass off, get out of my comfort zone, and do new and exciting things. So, I wrote another list– a list of activities, interests, and hobbies I’ve always wanted to do but had been making excuses not to. Once I did that, I wrote a promise to myself that I’d make time to do these activities and start creating a compelling life and lifestyle for myself. One of those interests was going to the Farmer’s Market every Sunday. I’m a massive fan of ‘Street Food’ and enjoy browsing the many interesting and sometimes quirky stalls. It was at a bookstall that she walked into my life and I’ll never forget it. I completed my purchase of books, turned around to leave, and bumped into her, although I argue to this day, she bumped into me. Anyway, my books went flying everywhere. “Hey, how’s things?” I said to her as if I already knew who she was, which of course I did. Her response was similar, “Not bad, thanks. How are you? By the way, I love Robert Frost.” That night we met up for drinks and have been together ever since.

See Also: Dating Tips for Finding the Right Person

The post How I Got Mrs. Right To Walk Into My Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.


5 Effective Tips to Get the Job You Want Without Experience

You’re reading 5 Effective Tips to Get the Job You Want Without Experience, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

You might think that because you don’t have any experience in a field, the jobs there are out of reach. You’ll be glad to hear that’s not necessarily the case. As plenty of fresh graduates discover every year, there are ways around the no experience barrier. You just have to learn how to play your cards right (and learn what cards to play, of course).

Here we’re going to cover some of the best ways you can still get that job you really want despite your lack of experience. Taken together they will make all the difference.

Get an endorsement

Experience is a way that companies know that you actually know what you’re doing. But that’s not the only thing that matters. As the saying go, ‘hire attitude and train skill’ and that’s a rule that many companies follow. But how can they see you have the right attitude? Well, one great way to do exactly that is for you to get an endorsement from somebody that’s well respected.

Now, there are a lot of ways you can go with this. If you know somebody that’s well respected in the industry then obviously they would make a great choice. Ask them to write you a letter to open up the door. If that’s not possible then look for somebody further afield. You can get somebody like a professor to help you. Otherwise, get somebody famous to do so. Just getting a recommendation from somebody that everybody knows might well be enough for a company to give you an interview – even if it’s just to meet you. From there, your personality can do the rest.

Use your network

You may think that the way people get jobs is by sending out resumes and applying through official channels. And some people do get jobs that way. But it isn’t many. According to one survey, only 15% of people get their job through these channels. The rest? It’s all down to your network.

So use it! Make people aware you’re looking for a job. And when I say ‘make them aware’ I don’t mean ‘put it on Facebook’. I mean, reach out to people on an individual basis and ask them if they might know any leads or anybody.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while. What’s the worst they can do? Say ‘no’?

Apply up and down the ladder

If you want to be a manager at a IT company, say, but you don’t have any experience, then why not start out a little lower down? Perhaps that manager needs an assistant? Or perhaps there are some internships that you can start at. Yes, those positions are much lower down, but once you’ve got your foot in the door of the company and of the industry it suddenly becomes a lot easier to apply somewhere else. After all, now you do have experience.

It doesn’t matter if your manager yelled at you to ‘write my essay for me please’ or if you had to do the photocopying. The next place you’ll apply at won’t know that. All they’ll see is your experience. And that will get you an interview – which is where you really make your personality shine.

Your resume and your cover letter

Even though a lot of jobs are landed through your network, people will still ask to see your resume. So you have to make sure yours is ready. A well-written resume might not get you the job, but a poorly written one will make sure you don’t get it.

What do I mean with a poorly written resume? I mean one where the spelling and grammar aren’t perfect. I mean one where things aren’t aligned properly. I mean one where you use commas in one place and then periods in another.

Do these sound like nitpicky things? Well they are. There can be no doubt about it. The problem is, when people have a job they often get dozens (if not hundreds) of applications for that job. And as they need to narrow down the field, they’ll use whatever criteria they can. A poorly written resume is such a criteria. After all, their reasoning will go, if you aren’t careful enough to write an error free resume, then how can you ever be careful enough to not make mistake while you work for us?


You should always be looking to make new connections. You never know what they’re good for. A big part of being lucky is the people you know. So make sure you know a lot of people. Also, be aware of how you network. People can see straight through a phony. So don’t just network with people because you want to climb up the ranks over their backs.

Also connect with people to see if you can help them. People remember who helped them. And down the line that can pay serious dividends. Because the truth is, when you’ve got this great job, then you’ll find that it’s something else you’ll want next. And that will require more connections and people.

Last words

Experience will come with time. So don’t despair. Just start trying. And don’t be afraid of people that say ‘no’. A lot of people will do that in your life. But they don’t really matter. The only people that will ultimately matter when you’re hunting for a job is those who say ‘yes’. So focus on them.

A good strategy to use if you’re afraid of failure is set out a goal to get this many rejections in the next six months. If that’s your goal, if you set out to get this many rejections every week, then you know you have to push hard to send enough applications out there. And when you’re sending out that many applications, it’s almost inevitable that some of them will come back positively.

That’s a good strategy for getting the job you want. That’s a good strategy to get anything you want.5

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