16 Pieces of Advice From a Career in Progress

The below was written in response to an internal Sprinklr request. The assignment was to outline your career journey. The intent was to demonstrate that non-linear career paths are a) normal and b) there are specific ways to deal with it. It occurred to me after writing it that this is very individual contributor-centric and there’s lots I’ve learned as a manger not included. We’ll save that for another time. Anyway, here’s what I submitted:

I started out as an annoyingly liberal near socialist in college with a passion for European history (I’m not kidding, my major’s emblem is a red star!). Luckily a modest instinct for self preservation prompted me to seek internships in large businesses during the summers and through some shameless favor calling and nepotism I was able to secure internships at Bose and Staples in marketing and corporate strategy respectively.

Lesson 1: Hedge your bets. The revolution may not be coming.

During the summers I was doing corporate market research and during the school year I was researching how to rally the proletariat. The unifying theme? Research. Upon graduation I sought out a job in market research. I was able to talk my way into a 2 year training program at a telecommunications market research firm by doing a report on the aviation industry. Why aviation, if all the company cared about was telecommunications? Simple. Because no one at the company knew anything about airplanes, so I was automatically an expert compared to them.

Lesson 2: You don’t have to be an expert at everything. Just the right things for the context you’re in.

I spent two years at that company. Initially they had me writing reports about network infrastructure and core routing equipment, which I found terribly boring, so when enterprises started asking about this Facebook thing that had opened up to non-college kids and this thing called Twitter which had appeared at SXSW, I jumped at the chance to research social media instead.

Lesson 3: When there’s a lateral opportunity in an area that’s exciting – take it.

It was kind of grueling work writing surveys, sending out surveys, analyzing data and then writing reports, but I learned how to process huge amounts of information looking for insights and how to tell CEOs what to do with their money even though I could barely afford to buy my own lunch. It was hard for me because I wasn’t naturally statistically minded and wasn’t well trained in that area. To be honest, initially I was terrible at it. Truly bad. But it was learn or fail. So I learned.

Lesson 4: You can learn on the job if you’re willing to take some punishment along the way.

I was laid off in 2008 when the economic world collapsed. At first it was shocking to me because I saw many people I felt were less competent than me who got to keep their jobs.

Lesson 5: Competence isn’t the only requirement for security. You also need to invest in your relationships at work and be proactive in adding value to a business. That way when things go bad, you’ll be alright.

Given the economic apocalypse brewing around me I took the first decent job that arose – helping hedge fund guys do market research. I basically had to cold call business executives and get them to consult with hedge fund investors for a nominal consulting fee. It wasn’t remotely my dream job, but you do what you’ve go to do when the Dow is dropping 500 points a day.

Lesson 6: When the world is going to hell all around you and somebody offers you shelter, take it. Don’t ask too many questions.

This job was kind of hard because it wasn’t very intellectually challenging or fun. I’d literally e-mail and call hundreds of executives to get them to do something they were sort of lukewarm to do, then introduce them to ungrateful investors who complained a lot. The plus side what that I learned how to cold call relatively fearlessly. I also learned about the notion of a funnel pretty viscerally. Looking at the world in terms of a funnel would serve me well in my later marketing jobs.

Lesson 7: The funnel. You don’t actually need to be that good at something if you just do it enough times to ensure eventual success.

After about 12 months in this job, the economy was brightening a little bit (at least in Austin). I really didn’t like what I was doing, so when a start up in town started advertising for a consulting role focused on helping businesses embrace social media I knew I had to jump on it. I submitted my resume 3 days before Christmas, interviewed the day before Christmas, agreed to an offer the day after Christmas, and started two weeks later – on a national holiday incidentally. I learned after the fact that part of why they hired me was my willingness to do what it took to interview.

Lesson 8: Keep your eyes open for new opportunities and do inconvenient things to show you’re passionate about them. It also helps to be Jewish on Christian holidays.

Taking this job (at Dachis Group) was the most intense formative business experience I ever had. My first day was a national holiday. I arrived at 8am and left at 9pm. For the next 6 months I rarely left the office before midnight and rarely got in much later than 8am. I broke my hand at one point playing basketball and didn’t see a doctor because I thought it was more important to work. I still can’t do proper pushups. This was stupid. I would much rather be able to play tennis right now than know I edited two more slides in some presentation.

Lesson 9: Take care of yourself.

Over time at Dachis Group I became one of our more senior consultants delivering management consulting engagements to very large companies. It was fun helping businesses embrace social, but really difficult. I was on the road 4 days out of 5 for months and months on end. I spent weeks suited up, sitting in random business parks around the midwest teaching people how to tweet and convincing executives to give us money to do stuff in digital. It was hard. But it was also an incredible way to sharpen my business skills on someone else’s dime. I could experiment with new technology and learn as I went while still bringing back a profit to the business.

About 2.5 years into the Dachis Group journey it was clear we were going to be a software oriented company and that services were not going to drive the value of the business going forward. We were venture backed and they wanted to see software type revenue. With that realization I increased my knowledge and involvement with our software business. I learned how it worked, advised the team on what I was hearing from clients, and started to make product collateral, host webinars etc. that marketed the product.

Lesson 11: When your company changes its focus, you should too.

This was kind of hard because suddenly I was doing two jobs that were more than full time instead of just one, but that’s okay… see Lesson 8. After a while I moved formally into the software part of our business and only worked on marketing our products. This was a big change for me, I’d been advising big companies how to do social media marketing for a while, but what about all the other kinds of marketing I had to do?

I had no idea what I was doing…

… back to learning stuff on the job. I read many books, followed lots of blogs, met many of those authors of those blogs, and also just started trying stuff and asking for help as I went. See Lesson 4. It was through this experience that I learned the basics of content marketing, SEO, building websites, marketing automation etc. I wasn’t particularly good at any of them, but I could figure things out in a lot of disciplines and could get a lot done without a lot of resources.

Lesson 12: Sometimes the ability to be modestly effective with very little resource can trump being amazing at something, but requiring lots of money and tools to get the job done.

At about year 4 in the Dachis Group journey it was clear that change was afoot. The business was slimming itself down and there were lots of furrowed brows in the C-Suite and rumors flying. Many of our colleagues left the company because of the lack of certainty and stress. We had multiple layoffs. We divested companies that we had previously acquired. We closed international offices. It wasn’t really fun. I considered quitting also, but I decided to stay. First, I’d invested so much energy in this business that I wanted to see it through. Second, who knew – maybe the company that bought us would be fun/cool. Third, my general living expenses were very much under control relative to my income and I had a decent savings buffer. I could afford to ride it out.

Lesson 13: Risks are easier to take when you have the financial wherewithal to take them. If you’re going to work in a risky industry like startup technology, you should try to be conservative with your finances.

When Sprinklr bought Dachis Group it was an exciting, scary, tricky time. Sprinklr seemed awesome and growing like crazy, but it also had the feel of the early days at Dachis Group. Long hours. Lots of innovation and effort required. Plus, our CEO invented this crazy job title called “Demand Generation” and told me to go ahead and do it. I had a title I didn’t understand, in a business I barely understood, and none of the ‘street cred’ I had built up in my time at Dachis Group. Here we go again… but I tried to keep an open mind and seize the opportunity in front of me. It was clearly a tremendous chance to help build something great. If I could just hack it.

Lesson 14: Be humble and ready to earn your reputation as many times as necessary. Your old accomplishments and reputation don’t transfer. You’ll have to prove yourself again… and again… and again…

This is when I started to seek mentors. I have a few people that I know I can turn to for help when I’m just not sure what to do. Some work at Sprinklr and others are outside the business. But they are a really valuable source of perspective and knowledge when I need help.

Lesson 15: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

In my time here, I’ve had to learn a whole new set of skills as I’ve helped to build teams and grow them. It’s probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done professionally. As soon as I think I’ve solved a problem we outgrow the solution we put in place and have to rethink how we do things. And we honestly don’t know the solution beforehand. Even with mentorship and so much to read out there in the world, typically we have to figure it out as we go. There might be someone out there that could just show up and solve all these problems. If they’re out there, they’re probably better suited to do my job than I am, but so far it’s just all of us trying to build a great business together as best we can.

There isn’t some magical solution or team that shows up when you reach a new milestone or outgrow an old solution. It’s still just you staring at the same people who were there the last time everything went to hell. At least this time you’re a bit smarter and wiser though.

Lesson 16: The cavalry is not coming.

And that’s how I got here. Time to get back to work.

To sum up, here are Brian’s 16 Hard-Won Career Lessons, (or at least the ones that I could think of when I wrote this):

  • Lesson 1: Hedge your bets. The revolution may not be coming.
  • Lesson 2: You don’t have to be an expert at everything. Just the right things for the context you’re in.
  • Lesson 3: When there’s a lateral opportunity in an area that’s exciting – take it.
  • Lesson 4: You can learn on the job if you’re willing to take some punishment along the way.
  • Lesson 5: Competence isn’t the only requirement for security.
  • Lesson 6: When the world is going to hell all around you and somebody offers you shelter, take it.
  • Lesson 7: You don’t actually need to be that good at something if you just do it enough times to ensure eventual success.
  • Lesson 8: Keep your eyes open for new opportunities and do inconvenient things to show you’re passionate about them.
  • Lesson 9: Take care of yourself.
  • Lesson 10: If someone else will pay for you to innovate and learn – do it. You’ll keep the knowledge long after the money is spent.
  • Lesson 11: When your company changes its focus, you should too.
  • Lesson 12: Getting shit done without any money or resources is a skill.
  • Lesson 13: Risks are easier to take when you have the financial wherewithal to take them.
  • Lesson 14: Be humble and ready to earn your reputation as many times as necessary.
  • Lesson 15: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Lesson 16: The cavalry is not coming.

How to find a job quickly and easily

A simple guide to executing a systematic job search.

Finding a job in your 20s can be kind of tricky. Especially when you get out of school. This is what has worked for me. I think it will work for you too.

People waste SO much time on their resumes and their cover letters, when those are the LEAST important part of getting a job. The best job you can get is the one where you don’t even submit a resume. First, some overarching advice.

You might want to consider moving.

If you have some geographic flexibility in your job search, that’s very helpful. For example, you’re going to have a much easier time finding a decent job in Houston, Texas than in Detroit, Michigan. There’s nothing wrong with Detroit, but let’s be honest – it’s always going to be easier to find work in the growing oil boomtown than the bankrupt economically unstable ex-metropolis.

Where you are also plays a big role in the kinds of jobs that are available:

Companies will sign away their firstborn for a good software engineer in the Bay Area, but may only be willing to give up a non-vital organ in Kansas. Same goes for mechanical engineers in Houston. Quantitative smarty pantses on Wall Street. Artisanal pickle specialist in Brooklyn etc.

Industry/sector first. Job second.

To understand why this is so important, you should go take a look at my post on How Not To Get Fired or Laid Off.

Even in a growing boomtown or bustling metropolis there are some industries that are going to be thriving and others that won’t.

For example, New York is the center of the publishing universe. If you are a writing type you could work for a book publisher (pretty stable, but in trouble because of ebooks), or a newspaper (totally screwed, pending some imaginative entrepreneurs figuring things out), or a hip high flying new content site (don’t quite know how they’ll make money, but probably the future anyway).

If you had to pick one of the three, which should you pick? If it were me, I’d pick the high flying content site.

Why you ask?

When in doubt always bet on growth.

In a growing company there are options. Even if you start in a job you don’t love, if the place is growing there will be opportunity to prove your ambition and skills in unexpected ways. Before long you can change titles and responsibilities, get a new role or whatever. Plus, other hirers will see that you came from a growing company and want to hire you for their company – even though you probably only had a little bit to do with the growth.

When you are around successful stuff, you acquire the sheen of success – even if you don’t totally deserve it.

Define your archetype.

It rarely pays to set your sites on a single specific company to work at. “Google or bust.” or “Facebook or bust.” or whatever isn’t a great strategy. What if the particular location of that company in your region is struggling or has bad management? Then what? Do you just not get a job? Are you doomed to permanent unemployment?

It makes more sense to define the archetype of company you want to work for and then find companies that fit that description. For example, when I was laid off in 2008 I set a handful of criteria for my Austin-based job search.

1) Had to be involved in some way with technology (that’s my interest area)

2) Had to be located within 1 to 2 miles of downtown austin

3) Had to be a growing company

It made my search SUPER easy to define.

All I had to do was compile a list of every well-regarded technology company in the 7870X area codes of Austin. I knew if I could find a role in any of those companies, at least at a macro level I was going to be in good shape.

Do an honest self evaluation.

What are you actually good at? Don’t kid yourself. Confidence is critical in a job search, but self-delusion is another entirely.

If you don’t have specific job skills yet (maybe this is your first job), think about your aptitude. Do you write well? Do you learn technology quickly? Are you a leader?

Are you NOT any of these things?

Where have you failed? If your new boss asked you to do something, what’s the one thing you’re most scared of?

You can either try to find a job that doesn’t require those things (kind of lame and limiting) or start to work on addressing them.

If you’re taking the time to read this, then you’re probably motivated enough to go to the library, get a book, and get to work addressing those weaknesses.

How to get an interview at any company.

Step 1: Make a spreadsheet.

Get the whole document here.

Now this is where it gets interesting and all your hard work is going to start to pay off a bit.

  • Take your list of companies that fit the archetype and put it in the sheet. Need help making your list of companies? Here are some ideas:
    • Go to Hoover’s and look up competitors to companies you respect and may want to work for.
    • If you want to work in startups, go to VC fund websites in your town and look at companies they’ve invested in. Here’s one for Austin Ventures.
    • Look up people that sponsor networking events and job fairs in your town. They’re probably hiring.
    • Call your local Chamber of Commerce. Yes, you may have to use the phone.
  • Go to the job boards of every company and list out the TYPES of jobs they are hiring for.
  • List out the SPECIFIC jobs they are hiring for.
  • Do an honest matching exercise.  Am I remotely qualified? Yes/No
  • Research the company’s hiring approach. For example, if you wanted to work at Sprinklr where I work, we publicly post our company values and we have all kinds of blog posts from employees describing what it’s like to work here. Here’s one my boss wrote.

Step 2: Do some stalking (it’s fun!).

Now this is where you do some sneaky/fun/stalking stuff.

Stalk CURRENT employees:

– Go on LinkedIn. Do a search for Current employees. See if you have any 1st or 2nd degree connections to people that work there. If not, see if you anyone who currently works there seems accessible and friendly to locals. If you get that vibe or have any connections.

Cut/Paste the links to their profiles into the “Potential Contacts” column in your spreadsheet.

– Go on Facebook. Use their awesome semantic search thing to do the same thing.

Stalk PAST employees:

Do the same thing as above but with a ‘past’ employee filter.

Stalk the Hiring Managers.

If you are looking for marketing jobs. Find the Director of Marketing that works locally. If you are looking for an IT job. Find the CIO that works locally in that region.

Cut/Paste any likely person’s information into the Hiring Manager column.

Step 3: Apply to one company and one job at a time.

A lot of people will whine and moan and say “I spend 4 hours a day sending out resumes and no one calls me back!” well my response is that you’re doing it wrong. If you are executing your job search correctly, well then you should really only have the time and ability to attack ONE. Just ONE. job per day.

Here’s how you do it.

Write your cover letter specifically for the job using keywords and phrases that match the company’s culture and the specific requirements of the position.

Did they say they need a process oriented leader with project management skills to work in a fast-paced high stakes culture?

Well, then describe yourself as an experienced project manager and team leader with a history of success in fast-paced high stakes environments.

Funny how that works, huh?

Don’t lie, but do use their language back to them. It’s called mirroring. It works.

Step 4: DO NOT APPLY TO THE JOB.

Go to the column of your spreadsheet where you stalked individuals that work or worked at the company.

Now, I’m going to have you do something CRAZY. Get out of bed. Take a shower. Brush your hair. Apply deodorant. And go buy some of those people some coffee.

You may actually have to close your laptop and leave the house to get a job.

Ridiculous, huh?

It’s super duper easy to do. Just send them a note that says:

Hi,

You are a great leader in  XYZ industry/company in YOUR TOWN. I really respect your accomplishments.

I’m trying to break into XYZ industry/company in YOUR TOWN also. Do you have any time for a coffee next week?

I’d love to learn more about you and how you got to where you are in your career.

Thanks so much in advance.

Regards,

YOUR NAME

Easy right? This note will almost always net you at least a coffee where you can network closer to the job you want. If not, it will at least net you an e-mail conversation where you can ask a couple questions and maybe get referred to someone that CAN meet you to discuss the job/company/industry you want.

Step 5: Get the referral.

Once you are talking to the person, what you are looking to do three things;

1) Demonstrate your value

Show that you are passionate about the industry, company, and job (in that order) to the person. Explain why you picked them to network with. Show them that you are a superstar potential hire and they’d be lucky to know you and work with you in the future.

2) Explain your objective (to get a job, duh)

3) Ask for a referral either directly o the hiring manager or to HR for the position you want.

This is easier than you think. Most companies will actually PAY their employees thousands of dollars if they refer a qualified candidate into a position at their company. Recruiting is SUPER expensive. It costs $10,000+ to fill a role at a company. Referrals are the cheapest way to get good people.

Once you’ve got the referral, re-write your resume & cover letter again with any new information you gleaned from your coffee shop conversation.

Step 6: Submit your resume.

Now submit your resume to your internal contact, the referred person, and HR. Follow up diligently.

Get your suit steamed and pressed. Wait for your interview.

 

What do you think? Did this work for you?

 

 

Should I shun vegetable bags at the grocery?

This controversy was submitted to the inimitable Beepscast for discussion. I’ll update soon with the thrilling answer.

So, this is a food safety / common courtesy / environmental policy controversy.

Have you ever noticed that when people go to the super market they all put all the vegetables from the veggie aisle in individual plastic bags for each vegetable type?

Well, circa 2007 I decided that was a waste.

I mean you put your tomatoes in a bag for 25 minutes, get home and then remove them from the bag, and throw the bag away (or maybe recycle it if you’re good), but why should you consume a WHOLE plastic bag’s worth of the earth’s resources for just 25 minutes of use?

It makes no sense! So I stopped using those bags. I just put the vegetables directly in the cart. And for years I felt great.

But then this past summer I went to the cape with Chape and he saw me doing that and called me out as being a weirdo. And then I started thinking about it all over again and feel super self conscious.

Things that now bother me:

a) Am I making the cashier/bagger people’s job worse by having my vegetables and fruits rolling free?

b) Am I getting all kinds of weird germs on my veggies and fruits by having them free balling on the conveyor belt? #ebola

c) Because my vegetables are loose, and sometimes they just got sprayed with those sprayer things they are wet sometimes. So then I make the conveyor belt wet with the fruits… which means for the rest of the day am I making everyone else’s fruits and vegetables wet? Is that okay? Am I subtly ruining everyone else’s shopping experience?

d) Is all of the above true, but it’s okay because I’m saving the environment one bag at a time?

Every time I go to the super market my check out experience is kind of ruined by these thoughts.

Should I continue shunning the veggie bags?

How to Not Get Fired or Laid Off in Corporate America

This post is about how not to get fired. It will not teach you how to be great at your job and excel in life. Just how to know if you’re at risk of getting fired and what to do about it. Eventually I’ll write some other posts about being awesome at your job.

How To Not Get Fired or Laid Off

The easiest way to not get fired is to recognize that you might get fired and start interviewing for a better gig instead. Then you can change jobs on your own terms, make more money, and hopefully not get fired from your new company, department, or team. The rest of this post is dedicated to teaching you how to know if you’re about to get fired, and then what to do about it.

A couple things that should be obvious

  • Don’t have sex with the intern (or skintern as one friend terms it) in the office supply area.
  • Don’t have sex with your boss in the bathroom.
  • Don’t vomit on the CEO at the Christmas party.

Basically, don’t be an idiot. If you’re an idiot, the rest of the advice in this post can’t help you.

Lesson 1: It’s not about you.

Not getting laid off or fired is actually fairly straight forward if A) You’re not an idiot (see above) and B) You are situationally aware of your environment. Let me explain:

Most of the time that someone gets laid off  in corporate America it’s not personal, it’s structural. It’s not that your boss doesn’t like you, but rather that the brand new gizmo R&D spent 4 years and billions building is a piece of junk and kills children in third world countries.

If you have a clear-eyed view of the structural environment around you, then you can see whether you are at risk and take steps to fix it. The good news is that it’s easy to figure out what’s going on. Here’s a step by step way to figure out if you’re likely to get fired. Because I like naming things, I call it “The Job Security Pyramid.”

Lesson 2: The Job Security Pyramid

How the pyramid works is simple. You answer the questions to progress up the levels. If at any point you stop progressing up the levels before reaching the top, then your job is at risk and you may be about to get fired. Sorry, that’s just how it works.

Job Security Pyramid

Pyramid Level 1: The Company

This question is first because it’s actually the most important. Companies that are growing and making lots of money can carry a lot of dead weight. Hopefully you aren’t dead weight, but if you are, a good company is actually a pretty good place to hide. Here is how to tell:

  • Is my company in a growing sector or industry?
  • Is my company the top 1 or 2 company in that sector?
  • Does my company have some unique advantage over the competition in our sector?
  • Is my company  participating in the latest and best trends in its space?
  • Is my company run by trustworthy and dependable leaders?
  • Do people pay my company on time?
  • Does my company pay its bills on time?

In short, would Warren Buffett invest in this company?

If your answer is “yes” to all or most of these, then proceed to the next level. You are probably not getting fired.

If the answer to a bunch of these is “no,” then I can pretty much guarantee your company is going to lay people off. It just will. It’ll cut costs and someone (maybe you) is going to get fired.

Pyramid Level 2: The Department

Is my department or function within the organization healthy? How to tell:

  • Does my department generate more money than it costs?
  • Is it integral to the strategic future of the company?
  • Is my department close to the revenue engine for the company? Translation: do we help create cash for the business.
  • Is it led by people who are trusted by executives?
  • Are the leaders directly tied into C-level leadership?
  • Is your department hiring?
  • Has your team been meeting whatever public, numeric performance measures management uses?

If you answer answer is “yes” to all or most of these, then proceed to the next level. You are probably not getting fired.

If the answer to a bunch of these is “no,” then it’s time to update your LinkedIn photo. If you’re in Austin, I know a great photographer.

Pyramid Level 3: The Team

Is my team a high performing team within our department? How to tell:

  • Does your team know accurate gossip and company news before other teams?
  • Is your boss on a path to be promoted?
  • Do other departments say nice things about your team during bullshit sessions?
  • Has your team been entrusted with a special or pet project lately?
  • Has your team been meeting whatever public, numeric performance measures management uses?
  • Does your team make or save more money than it costs?

If you answer answer is “yes” to all or most of these, then proceed to the next level. You are probably not getting fired.

If the answer to a bunch of these is “no,” then it’s time to get a new interview suit. I’ve heard Suit Supply and Knot Standard are nice.

Pyramid Level 4: Your Performance

Am I good at my job? How to tell:

  • If I quit, would it take more than 12 weeks to replace me fully? (Be honest.)
  • Is what I do aligned to the strategy of the company and how it makes money?
  • Am I trusted with special projects on a regular basis?
  • Am I relied upon to hit ‘unmissable’ deadlines when others might be equally qualified?
  • Have I suggested and then taken an initiative to a successful conclusion in the last 3 months?

If your answer answer is “yes” to all or most of these, then proceed to the next level. You are probably not getting fired.

If the answer to a bunch of these is “no,” then it’s time to print up some resumes. Have you tried thick linen paper? It’s nice.

Pyramid Level 5: Your Personality  

Do people like me? How to tell:

  • Do people come to me for help solving tricky problems?
  • Do people confide in me on their work issues and needs?
  • Do I get invited to do stuff outside of work by my coworkers?
  • Do I participate in stuff outside of work with my coworkers?
  • Am I friends on social media with my coworkers?

If your answer answer is “yes” to all or most of these, then you win! You are almost definitely not getting fired. You can probably ask for a raise.

Lesson 3: Things Change

Did you make it to the top of the pyramid? Awesome. Congratulations. Now go ask for more money….

… but not so fast.

First, put a reminder in your phone or something to go through the pyramid in 3 months and then again every 3 months for as long as you work in corporate America. Never forget that things change. Competitors make new moves. Bosses change. Technology changes. You and your performance change. The all star employee in the all star team at the all star company can get fired 6 months later. It happens, and more often than you think.

Conclusion

Hopefully this helps you know where you stand and not get fired.

If you’ve thought real hard and are pretty sure you’re at risk, don’t despair. There’s a lot you can do about it. We’ll discuss all those things in future posts, but for now take some simple advice – if you didn’t make it to the top of the pyramid, start thinking about how to get there, or start looking for a new gig.

Not tomorrow. Today.

First Post – Why this blog exists.

Hi,

My name is Brian Kotlyar. I am completely normal.

By some people’s standards I’m successful (I have a good job, I own a home, I have a positive net worth, I’m reasonably healthy, and for the most part people appear to like me).

By some people’s standards I haven’t done much (I’m not rich, I’m single, I can’t compete at a world class level in any sports or hobbies).

Why do I think I have the right to blog / your attention?

Well, for some reason people keep asking me for advice. I’m going to take that as an indication that what I say is at least somewhat interesting and valuable. Also, this stuff is free, and if you don’t want to read it you don’t have to.

On this blog I will write about how to get out of your 20s in decent financial, psychological, and physical shape.

So that:

A) I can share it with people that might need help.

B) I have some record of things I thought to laugh at and/or appreciate on my death bed.

That’s about it.

If you have anything to tell me you can reach me on twitter @bkotlyar or via e-mail at brian at briankotlyar dot com.

Love and kisses.