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Advice for Students and Jobseekers: When Experience Comes Your Way, Take It

Whatever hands-on experience you can get, take it, and take more than you think you can handle. Don’t limit your writing experience to the typical classroom workshop environment, where egos can be fragile and stakes are low.
In this advice, Jane Friedman is specifically referring to undergrad students who are pursuing a creative writing degree. It’s good advice for them, and there’s more from her here.

I think this lesson applies to beginning careers of all kinds: When you’re starting out or trying to establish yourself in an unfamiliar industry, whatever experience you can get, take it.

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Business Opportunities

“Business opportunities are like buses. There’s always another one coming.” -Richard Branson The outside world is an interstate of business opportunity buses passing you by, waiting to be boarded or ignored. Some buses, though, are going too fast. Those buses left the station a long time ago, and there’s no hope in trying to flag…

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Lessons Learned from 11 Years of Travel

Last weekend I had the honor of speaking to 600 people at Frequent Traveler University, a conference devoted to the world of points and miles.

A longtime friend, Gary Leff, asked me to share a few lessons from the 11-year journey to every country that just wrapped up a few weeks ago in Norway. What have I learned?

Good question. I thought about it for a while and here are some of the highlights I came up with.

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Q&AA on Finding a Valuable Skill

Over the next few weeks, I'll be touring India and then traveling elsewhere in the world. While I'm away, we'll be publishing a new series of Questions and Attempted Answers (Q&AA) from readers. I'll share my answer, and you're invited to share an answer of your own as well.

Today's question comes from Jan, who writes in from Belgium.

“I understand the importance of focusing on a valuable skill, but I'm not sure that I have any such thing. There are a lot of things I like to do, but nothing I feel especially passionate about or think that I do better than anyone else. I went to university and earned a degree, but I didn't have any business training. What do I do?”

Great question. Here's my attempted answer →

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Q&AA: How to Plan for Your First Big Trip

Over the next few weeks, I'll be touring India and then traveling elsewhere in the world. While I'm away, we'll be publishing a new series of Questions and Attempted Answers (Q&AA) from readers. I'll share my answer, and you're invited to share an answer of your own as well.

Today's question comes from Carrie, who writes in from London.

Next summer I'll have the chance to travel for several weeks, but I don't know where to go. Aside from school trips to France and Belgium, I've never been out of the U.K. before. Where should I go?

Great question. Here's my attempted answer →

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Chicago Marathon: Mission Complete

Yesterday I got up early ... and ran 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago! This was my fourth marathon, but I haven't done one in several years and was somewhat worried. I had been apprehensive after not being able to train as much as I should have, and also after feeling some pain in my right leg on the longest run before the race. Thankfully, all was well yesterday. From start to finish, I felt comfortable. Even at the end, I was tired but not as exhausted as I've been for every other long race.

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First Steps to Working for Yourself (Follow-Up)

Last week I presented a scenario from one of our readers. Anna was recently laid off from a middle management job, and rather than look for work, she was hoping to become self-employed for the first time. What are the first steps? she wanted to know. I said that I would share my answer, but first I wanted to hear from the rest of our community. If you're in a similar situation or are just curious, you can read some of the answers and see if any advice serves your needs. I've copied a few of my favorite responses ...

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An Important Thing No One Will Tell You

I talked with someone who was in the process of calling fifteen people to get their opinions on a project. Why was any one of our opinions worth so much effort? I'm not sure, but someone had told her she should seek out as many opinions as possible before deciding what to do. The standard line is: Listen to what other people have done and avoid making the same mistakes.

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If You Love Something, You Have to Protect It

You might have heard this advice before: “If you love something, set it free.” But I'm not so sure about that. It seems to me that if you really love something, setting it free is exactly what you don't want to do. I've been thinking about this idea ever since a friend gave me the opposite advice recently:

“If you love something, you have to protect it.”

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Free Advice

Free advice is often worth less than the price. Much of the time, you already know what you need to do about something—you just need to do it.

Nevertheless, I hear a lot of things being repeated, and I get asked a lot of the same questions... so here's my less-than-$0.02 for anyone who cares. As the saying goes, take it or leave it.

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Unsolicited Advice

When people ask for advice about something, I've learned to be careful about being too honest. Sometimes I'll say first:

“Before I answer, do you want to hear 'that sounds great!' Or do you want to hear what I really think?”

This is because when we ask for advice, sometimes we're really looking for affirmation. We want to hear, Yes! I love it! Proceed! Because we're already married to the idea we want advice on, we'd be disappointed to hear anything less than an enthusiastic endorsement.

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