Saturday, June 25, 2011

Does Your Wellbeing Need a Boost?

Gallup scientists have determined that there are five universal and interdependent elements of wellbeing that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering:
  • Career: liking what you do every day (Tip: Every day, use your strengths.)
  • Social: having strong relationships (Tip: Spend six hours a day socializing—face-to-face, phone, e-mail.)
  • Financial: a well managed economic life (Tip: Spend on others instead of solely on material possessions.)
  • Physical: having good health and the energy to get things done on a daily basis (Tip: Get at least 20 minutes of activity each day and 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.)
  • Community: a sense of engagement with the area where you live (Tip: Identify how you can contribute in your community based on your own values.)
Statistically, while 66% are doing well in at least one area, only 7% are thriving in all five. If we are struggling in any one of these areas, as most of us are, it damages our wellbeing and wears on our daily life.

Ways to measure and improve in each of these areas is provided in Wellbeing by Tom Rath and Jim Harter. (The Wellbeing Finder can be taken online by using the code provided in the book.)

Our wellbeing will not improve if we don’t make a conscious decision to do so. Small changes can have a huge impact. To get started they recommend setting positive defaults.
One of the best ways to create more good days is by setting positive defaults. Any time you help your-short-term self work with your long-term self, you have an opportunity.

You can intentionally choose to spend more time with the people you enjoy most and engage your strengths as much as possible.

You can structure your finances to minimize the worry caused by debt.

You can make exercise a standard part of your routine. You can make healthier decisions in the supermarket so you don’t have to trust yourself when you have a craving a few days later.

And you can make commitments to community, religious, or volunteer groups, knowing that you will follow through once you’ve signed up in advance.

Through these daily choices, you create stronger friendships, families, workplaces, and communities.
Thanks to LeadershipNow / M2 Communications

The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure Is Part Of Learning; We Should Never Give Up The Struggle In Life.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

20 Inconvenient Career Truths

20 Inconvenient Career Truths | CAREEREALISM.comThis post was inspired by Charlie Gilkey’s recent (genius) post “20 Inconvenient Business Truths.” I read it and realized, in career coaching, I share inconvenient truths with my clients on a regular basis. I know it’s sometimes hard to hear these things but, in the end, they make you stronger.
  1. Almost everyone starts at the bottom. Regardless of what you think you deserve, you probably will to.
  2. There are no “right” answers for finding career fulfillment. Every path is different; every destination unique.
  3. It’s not enough to be good at what you do. Talent and skill will only take you so far.
  4. Work is not separate from the rest of your life. Compartmentalization is a myth.
  5. Professional growth requires discomfort.
  6. If you’re unhappy with your career, it’s up to you to change it. No one else controls your situation.
  7. Almost every job has a trade-off. You’ll probably never get everything you want in one place.
  8. Achieving long-term career goals requires sustained effort and deliberate action. It’s no accident or coincidence.
  9. Your career is about YOU.
  10. A successful job search should take anywhere from three to six months. It’s not something that happens overnight.
  11. If you hate your job, it probably won’t get better with time. Sticking around because you’re afraid will only dig you deeper into the rut.
  12. Just as any successful business owner has a business plan, every successful professional should have a career plan.
  13. Money may be the reason you have to work but it’s not the true motivation. People who wake up with joy each day are working for entirely different reasons. Money is simply a byproduct.
  14. Bad career advice is everywhere. If it sounds too simple to be true, it probably is.
  15. If you find yourself job-hopping and nothing ever satisfies you for any period of time, it’s time to look at yourself. Most likely, you’re part of the problem.
  16. Every company has that person who gets away with slacking off, takes all the credit, earns more than she deserves, etc. The good news is that she’s not your problem. Let it go.
  17. If you’re not willing to invest in your career, why would any company be willing to invest in you?
  18. Most people change careers 3 to 7 times in their lives. That doesn’t mean you will.
  19. Layoffs happen. You may get fired. You may be “forced out” for reasons beyond your control. You’ll survive. And you’ll be stronger for it.
  20. No one achieves career success alone. The most successful professionals nurture their networks, show support and give more than they expect to get.
Thanks to Chrissy Scivicque / Careerealism

4 Simple Ways To Overcome The Age Factor In Your Resume

Growing older is something that creeps into the mind of many professionals, especially if they have reached their 50s or 60s and are on the hunt for a new job. Some worry they may not be considered viable candidates in the eyes of employers when compared to younger professionals.

But as a wise, skilled, top-level candidate, there is no reason for you to feel any less qualified. In fact, you are likely more qualified than younger competitors; you just need to prove it. So take time to do so on your resume by utilizing the following four tips:

1. Focus on Recent Jobs

If you’ve had more than a couple of jobs during your career, then it’s a good idea to focus on the more recent ones as you write your resume. A good rule of thumb is to not worry about going back more than 15 years, especially since some of what you learned prior to that may not be relevant to the job you’re applying for anyway.

2. Pinpoint Your Strengths

It’s even more important that you highlight your greatest accomplishments in your career as a seasoned professional. Keep in mind the more recent the accomplishments, the better (i.e. 2009 accomplishments vs. 1979 accomplishments).

Employers are not as interested in what you did at the beginning of your career—when you were still learning your craft—as they are what you have accomplished as a skilled candidate.

3. Keep Up with the Times

One reservation employers could have when considering older workers is a fear that they may not be able to keep up with technological advancements. It’s good for you to show you are not only keeping up, but are right in the fold.

Show you understand the Internet by submitting your resume online. Not only that, discuss your technological aptitudes in your resume, and list your professional online profiles too (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to give yourself a great boost as a candidate.

4. Consider a Functional Resume

One more thing to consider is creating a functional resume that doesn’t list the years of your accomplishments but instead focuses on the accomplishments alone. Some employers see functional resumes as red flags for gaps in employment or other issues, however, so take the time to be thorough if you choose to take this route.

As a seasoned professional with many years of experience under your belt, it’s important you help employers to focus less on your age and more on your talents and capabilities. There’s no doubt you can get the job done. Now, show the employer just how capable you are!

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter.

Thanks to Jessica Holbrook Hernandez / Careerealism

How To Fail At A Job Interview

I've been on more job interviews this year than any other year in my life.

This is a good thing (theoretically, at least) because it forces you to figure out who you are and sell it.

Can't do that? You lose.

TIP #1: Miss the point.

Earlier this month, I hired a young female journalist to write a guest post on this blog for $100. (Expect to see it soon.) As a hirer, I was forced to confront the real reason why people hire you.

Because they like you.

This has been said elsewhere, but it is the single truth people fail to grasp about interviewing. It's not about your skills, it's not about your resume, it's not about if you answered the questions right.

Do they like you? If they like you the best, they will hire you. If they don't, they won't.

People tell themselves their "experience," their successes-filled resume, and their above-par interviewing skills are what will get them the job. That's simply not true. It's what people want to believe because if that were true, they could quantify why one person gets hired and why another does not.

Interviews are like two dogs sniffing one another's butts. Either you click. Or you don't.

I chose the young female journalist I did because I like her. Sure, she's talented. Yes, she's a good writer. Absolutely, I knew she would work hard on this project. But, for the most part, I just liked her.


Because she reminded me of me.

TIP #2: Sell yourself wrong.

Recently, I had dinner with a stripper. The stripper's name is Bubbles. At least, that's her stripper name.

Bubbles has been in the business of stripping a long time. Suffice to say, Bubbles knows her game. And if you've ever known a stripper — a good one — you know that a stripper is nothing but a businesswoman in a thong.

I asked Bubbles how she does what she does. I don't mean to say I asked her: "Oh, my God, how do you take off your clothes in front of a room of men!?" I wanted to know how she hustles. What she does to get her customers to hand over their money. Because if you are applying for a job as a cook at McDonald's, a vice president at an ad agency, or an engineer at Google, you are engaging in the same transaction as the stripper. The other person has money. You want their money. How do you get them to give you their money?

The stripper said — well, it's hard to say what the stripper said. Because when the stripper said it, she sort of cocked her head, and she flicked her wrist, and she half-smiled. And while she was saying stuff like, make them feel like a VIP, and tell them what they can get from you and only you, and figure out exactly what they want and convince them you can give it to them, it was what she was doing, physically, that sells you on her. You see how she does it. She is charming. She reads you like a book she has read a thousand times before. For you, there is sort of a relief in what she is doing. At last, you think, someone understands me.

This is what strippers are good at: it's not taking off their clothes. It's making you believe they know what you need, and if you give them your money, they will give you what you want.

If Bubbles can't read her customer, she will not sell a lap dance. If you can't read your interviewer, you are lost.

TIP #3: Be a sucker.

If you are a woman and want to get depressed, read: "I work for a large multinational tech company, I regularly hire woman for 65% to 75% of what males make. I am sick of it, here is why it happens, and how you can avoid it."

The reason [women] don't keep up, from where I sit, is simple. Often, a woman will enter the salary negotiation phase and I'll tell them a number will be sent to them in a couple days. Usually we start around $45k for an entry level position. 50% to 60% of the women I interview simply take this offer. It's insane, I already know I can get authorization for more if you simply refuse. Inversely, almost 90% of the men I interview immediately ask for more upon getting the offer.

It gets worse from there. When women do counter-offer, they ask for lower sums or name no sum at all. "At the end," the reddit poster says, "most of the women I hire make between 45k and 50k, whereas the men make between 60k and 70k."

There are so many stories about how women get screwed in the workplace. How this is really unfair. How women make less than men. How women have it very hard. How women are victimized by the corporate world's endemic sexism, and women keep hitting their heads into the glass ceiling that men have built to keep them out of the C-suite. But what in this story is the fault of men? It is women who are asking for less. The shocking conclusion? Women are getting less. Whose fault is that?

As long as women continue to see themselves as worth less, they will make less. See yourself as worth more, and maybe you will make more.

Stop pointing the finger, and start taking responsibility. That way, when you succeed, it will be yours. And when you fail, it will be yours. But either way, it will be yours.

Thanks to Susannah Breslin / Blogs Forbes


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4 Ideas For Navigating Organizational Politics

Overheard: "I don't have the stomach for the political games around here."

4 Universal Rules of Organizational Politics:

1. You ignore organizational politics at your own peril.

2. You engage in the politics of your organization at your own peril.

3. All organizations are political.

4. You need to get over #3

Wherever humans are involved, some form of what we reference as politics will emerge and dramatically influence how work gets done, who does what work and how people advance.

Much of the leadership and management writing in books and on blogs tends to ignore the political environment of the organization, yet it is the leader's or manager's ability to understand, adapt to and ultimately guide the political discourse that determines how successful he/she will be.

Taking Some of the Dirty out of Politics:

Much like the notion of "pursuing power," the idea of "playing politics" conjures up dirty images of questionable behind-the-scenes machinations and a vision of toes or faces being stepped on by those engaged in a series of less than noble games.  And while those environments exist, it's been my experience that the political environment in most firms is a bit more collegial than the television-type drama we often associate with organizational politics. Having said that, don't confuse collegial with noble or even nice.

It's important for all of us to tune-in to the political environment of our organizations and learn the unwritten rules of success. The four ideas below were prompted by my observations while running a long-term project inside a very successful and aggressive large company.

4 Ideas for Effectively and Cleanly Engaging in Your Organization's Politics:

1. Study and learn how decisions are really made in your organization. While you might assume that decisions flow from hierarchy, more often than not there's an informal decision-making process that occurs somewhere other than at the highest points on the organizational chart.  Top-level approval might be required somewhere along the way, but most projects, resource decisions and spending decisions occur elsewhere. In the case of my client, no one person typically holds Yea or Nay decision rights.  While this ambiguity is at first a bit disconcerting, once you plug into the culture, you realize that the "Networking" and "Give to Get" approaches described below heavily influence decision-making.

2. Follow the fast-trackers. Assess what's important to the most visible and aggressive climbers, and you gain valuable insight into the political environment.

Whether there's a fast-track or not in your organization, some people are moving faster than others. Pay attention to how these people work and cultivate an understanding of what's important to them in terms of support, visibility, involvement and information.  Your knowledge of who these fast-trackers are and what's important to them will help you engage in the political discourse from an informed perspective.

3. Learn to be a network connector. The importance of cultivating a strong internal network is a major issue in most organizations, and especially so in larger firms. In my client's case, personal network strength equals power, and the pursuit of connecting is part of everyone's daily routine. While my initial reaction was to be concerned over the massive investment in time that goes into this overt bridge building, I learned that the pursuit of being connected to the power-brokers and fast-trackers was a core part of the organization's communication flows.  The talk is typically laser focused on improving the business, although the individual motivation to gain sponsorship and support for an idea (thus potentially gaining resources, visibility and budget) is a visible driver for all to see. To the most persuasive go the spoils of responsibility.   It might not be perfect, but it is perfectly clear.

4. Give to get: more lessons from my networking-obsessed client company above. The rules for connecting typically involve bringing something of value to the relationship. Talk is nice, but ideas are the coin of the realm, and actionable big ideas the gold. The most successful networkers are those bringing actionable ideas to solve big problems.  To the firm's credit, there's a huge appetite for consuming big ideas and, those moving ahead and gaining more responsibility (and power) are the ones who are most successful in gaining sponsorship for their ideas.

The big ideas are golden, however, people actively trade in other denominations of political currency, including invitations for involvement, opportunities for visibility and the provision of resources, including budget and gray-matter.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

While the notion of "office politics" is often perceived as less than clean, all four of the ideas above are hygienic and healthy.   Cultivating an understanding the flow of and currency of power in your organization is simply part of learning how to get things done.  Engaging in the process is table-stakes for success.  Of course, we all have the choice to engage above-board and for the right reasons or, we can use the same knowledge and system to assert ourselves by stepping on and over others. Make the right choice in how you will participate and be on the lookout for those who choose the seamy side of the political process.

Thanks to Art Petty and Strategy & Management-Innovations, LLC.


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A Recession For Perks? What Companies Offer And What Employees Want

According to, perks are "privileges granted to employees in addition to their salaries and benefits," and may include such things as "the company car, vacations, reserved parking spaces, spacious offices, private dining and washroom facilities, etc."

It's the "etc." that seems to be changing with the times.

Until recently, most discussions of perks focused on what high-tech companies in Silicon Valley were offering their employees: free gourmet meals, 24-hour gym, yoga classes, on-site nutritionist, massage therapy, concierge service, discounted artwork, auto detailing, even botox injections and bring-a-pet-to-work day. The idea was often two-fold: (a) make the company an attractive place to work, and (b) make it easy for employees to work long hours -- without worrying about leaving to eat, get to the dry cleaners or exercise. Yet the question arises: If the idea is to encourage employees to work harder, then are free meals really perks? As Steven E. Gross, a senior partner at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, notes, "some people would view that not as a perk, but as serfdom."

Clearly, perks are a tricky subject. As companies simultaneously try to shake off the recession, keep costs low, retain valued employees and recruit talented new ones, they need to understand what perks are and what perks are meant to do -- from their own perspective as well as that of their employees.

Perks are different from benefits, which many people consider to be an essential part of a compensation package that includes such things as health and dental coverage and some form of retirement account. Perks are more discretionary, and can be offered to individuals either as a way to entice them to join the company, or as a way to reward them as they move up the ranks.

Wharton management professor Iwan Barankay defines a perk as "what makes a job more enjoyable for an employee. It can be a nicer office, a hard-to-get parking space, a seat next to a window or a new computer. The essential thing is that this perk is scarce, and management has some discretion over how to allocate it." A perk is not offered across the board, Barankay says, although a company may highlight some of its perks when it is looking for new employees. Many perks are secret, given out during private one-on-one yearly reviews. Others are public, such as workplace awards or rankings. In economically healthy times, says Barankay, these awards "may have a bonus or promotion attached to them." In leaner times, it is just the honor.

Interviews with Wharton faculty and HR experts suggest that perks are especially valuable when they "give employees the chance to customize their own employment arrangement," says Wharton management professor Adam Grant. "Perks can help employees feel uniquely supported and valued by their employers. Think about an employment contract as a restaurant menu: An employer offers an employee a set of options he or she can choose from that are of similar cost to the employer.... We will probably be seeing a more concerted effort at this kind of mass customization in the future." Examples of options that give employees more autonomy over how their jobs are structured include the opportunity to telecommute one day a week or to negotiate degrees of scheduling flexibility.

According to Bill Driscoll, northeastern district president for staffing firm Robert Half International, "We now have four generations in the workforce" at the same time -- the Silent Generation (approximate ages: 66 to 85), the baby boomers (ages 47 to 65), Generation X (ages 30 to 46) and Generation Y (also known as millennials; under 30). Combine that with continual advancements in technology, and the choices people have for designing their jobs are increasing. "With a laptop, iPad or cellphone, you could truthfully be working from anywhere," he notes. In addition, technology fosters increasingly creative ways to offer training and education to employees at all levels.

Driscoll points to a Robert Half survey released in January which asked executives to identify perks they plan to offer, or already offer, in 2011. Subsidized training or education came in highest (33%) followed by flexible work hours/telecommuting (27%), mentoring programs (25%), matching gift programs for charitable contributions (15%), on-site perks such as childcare, dry cleaning, fitness centers and cafeterias (11%), subsidized transportation (10%), sabbaticals (8%) and housing or relocation assistance (7%).

As for the issue of generational diversity in today's workplace, Grant points to what he says is a surprising conclusion in a study that came out in March 2010 in the Journal of Management, namely that "the differences between the work values of different generations are very small." The study -- led by Jean M. Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University, and titled, "Generational Differences in Work Values: Leisure and Extrinsic Values Increasing, Social and Intrinsic Values Decreasing" -- "shows that if you rank values by generation, most members of each generation care about the same values in the same order," says Grant.

At a "fundamental level, people want the same things out of work; they just have different ideas about how to get there," Grant adds. At the top of that list are "intrinsic rewards," such as "the opportunity to do enjoyable work, experience personal development and growth, and feel a sense of accomplishment." Valued second highest are extrinsic rewards, "which include status and promotions, and altruistic activity," such as the opportunity to contribute to others and the community. Third on the list are friendships and leisure. "There are trends indicating that intrinsic and friendship values are decreasing, and leisure and extrinsic values are increasing," says Grant. "But overall, members of the baby boomer, Gen X and millennial generations are more similar than different in their work values."

He notes two caveats to Twenge's findings. First, "we know that many members of Gen Y are less willing to delay gratification and like more immediate rewards than their predecessors." Second, Gen Y scores slightly higher in terms of how important leisure time is to them, "which means that if I were interested in attracting Gen Y to my company, I would increase perks that help them carve out more time for their outside interests, such as flextime, or incorporate these interests into the work time, such as employer-sponsored volunteering."

Twenge's study offers a number of additional insights. For example, "contrary to popular press reports, Gen Y does not favor altruistic work values more than previous generations. And social values (e.g., making friends) and intrinsic values (e.g., an interesting, results--oriented job), were rated lower by Gen Y than by boomers," the study says. Twenge at one point also notes that "despite the emergence of a mini-industry built on the assumption of a changing workforce, empirical evidence for generational differences in work values is scant."

Low-cost, No-cost Perks

Given the recent recession and its sluggish recovery, companies are scrutinizing perks more closely than ever, reviewing every expense item and whittling down the perks that are especially costly. "Organizations are increasingly sensitive to a performance-based culture," says Fran Luisi, a principal of Charleston Partners, a Rumson, N.J., firm that focuses on executive recruitment. "They structure compensation to be very incentive-driven. The days of additional perks for perks' sake are disappearing."  Gross agrees that employers today need to be as efficient and lean as possible, adding that perks like telecommuting and flexible hours "don't need to be seen as costs, but as different ways of looking at the workforce.... [In that sense], flexibility is not a perk; it's a quid pro quo."

Most experts agree that perks overall play an important role in the relationship between employee and company, especially in recessionary times. "Perks hold people to an organization," says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based global outplacement firm. "If an employee likes his or her boss and the work is challenging, and if the company has a set of perks that are adapted to what that person needs, then it's hard for the employee to leave. He or she may not" be able to replicate that situation in another organization.

Bill Morin, founder of New York-based leadership consulting firm WJM Associates, suggests that perks can actually offer signposts to new employees, "because wherever the perk is placed -- whether on sales or profitability or new products -- that is where the company wants the employee to concentrate [his or her efforts]. Sometimes when individuals come on board, they don't know what the company is looking for. Perks help these individuals focus."

Companies these days are especially interested in offering low-cost or no-cost perks that increase employee engagement, adds Challenger. One way to do that is to survey employees to find out what they want, and then prioritize those needs. Scaling back perks without eliminating them is one approach. An example, Challenger says, is tuition reimbursement. "In good times, a company might not put restrictions on that perk, but in tough times, the company might say that the training has to be in line with the work an employee does, and [is covered] only if the employee earns a certain grade in the course. Or the company could scale back a rewards program; instead of sending top salespeople to Hawaii, perhaps send them to a place that is not so extravagant."

Driscoll cites working at home -- provided companies set productivity standards -- and mentoring as two cost-free perks that can be offered to employees who "share the company's values and strategy." He advises companies to avoid cutting perks in a recession "because perks are a way to retain their existing talent. Companies can offer subsidized training and education, mentoring or a flexible schedule, and can do that without having to offer more financial compensation, and in some cases, can offer less."

One of Gross's clients is an accounting firm whose young employees often choose to leave and go work for industry. "Why? Because there is more flexibility and the hours are more predictable," says Gross. It can also mean less compensation -- accounting and law firms, among others, have lucrative partner tracks for their top-performing employees -- but that is a tradeoff young people these days seem willing to make.

Firms should also be aware that perks can sometimes backfire. Companies which have used very elaborate perks as a recruiting device to attract talent away from competitors are finding that this approach "works too well," says Grant. "Employees come to the company and take the perks for granted, which results in feelings of entitlement and reduced gratitude, and can contribute to dissatisfaction and turnover." Companies face a similar dilemma trying to figure out "which perks should be offered up front to bring people in the door to provide a cohesive, supportive environment, versus which perks should be offered as rewards for good performance or for seniority down the road," says Grant. He advises increasing perks up front for firms that "are struggling with recruiting, whereas firms that recruit effectively, but face performance challenges, may want to increase performance-based goals."

He also suggests that companies focus on creating at least one perk that connects to core values but differentiates them from competitors. One example he cites is The Virgin Group, "which is offering employees the chance to engage in skills-based volunteering to help people in underprivileged communities and developing countries become successful entrepreneurs. Few other travel and media companies provide such meaningful opportunities for employees to share and hone their own entrepreneurial skills."

Given a seemingly endless array of perks to consider, choosing the most effective ones is related to how well a company understands its workforce, and how well employees "get" what the company is all about. Examples of effective perks, in light of the discussion above, are those offered by online shoe retailer Zappos, suggests Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard. "One way to think about making perks worthwhile is to look at the culture of your company: What are the values, norms and behaviors that reflect its core identity? Then choose perks strategically around that."

In the case of Zappos, headquartered in Henderson, Nev., its approximately 1,500 employees tend to be young and "driven by a culture of fun," as suggested by the presence of "beach balls in the office, very casual dress and frequent parties," says Rothbard, adding that these perks are "designed to keep employees engaged and passionate" about their work. In addition, Zappos -- despite its occasionally goofy videos -- is serious about training its employees, going so far as to offer people $2,000 in cash to leave the company if they feel it won't be a good fit for them. One of their other perks is a full-time life coach. Companies obviously view such perks as a competitive advantage, attracting talent that wants to be associated with an exciting company, Rothbard notes.

Corporate Jets, Country Clubs

Up until the time of the accounting scandals and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, perks for executives existed in rarified -- and non-turbulent -- air. They were status symbols that CEOs came to expect once they had reached the top, says Wharton accounting professor Wayne Guay, and they ranged from corporate jets to country club memberships to $500,000 office renovations.

Several years ago, corporate governance watchdogs and the media started paying attention to these perks, which then came to be seen as "very conspicuous consumption and not very good investor relations," says Guay, adding that one of the main arguments for them was their tax treatment. If a company could argue that country club membership was an important business expense because the CEO did deals while playing golf, then the company could write off that amount on its taxes.

If you move away from the tax issues, "then it's hard to come up with another good reason for offering these perks to senior executives," says Guay. "Why not just give an executive a certain amount of money and let him or her use it how he wants? Many firms are doing that now. The conspicuous perks that were big 15 years ago are gone. And these days, everything needs to be disclosed, including in the proxy statement, where corporate governance groups can see it."

Guay agrees with that approach. "You pay the executive a going rate depending on the company and the position, and if the executive likes to spend lavishly, he can do that on his own time.... If a CEO did not get perks, he would, other things being equal, get paid more. The two are negotiated simultaneously."

As for examples of perks for mid-level or lower-level employees, Guay suggests a positive and a negative one. On the positive side, if a company can negotiate lower health club membership fees for a group of employees, then everybody wins: The employees get a cost break, and the company gets healthier employees. The example of a negative perk, he says, goes back a few years to when companies were offering retirement benefit plans to employees that gave them a choice between buying into a mutual fund or buying company stock at a small discount. Because many of the lower level employees were not financially sophisticated, they typically bought the company stock because it was more familiar to them. The employees' decision was, of course, a boon for the company, which used this employee "perk" to raise more capital.

Yet "any investment professional would tell you that if all your capital is tied up in company stock, the last thing you need is more of it," says Guay. After the dot-com blowup, employees at a number of companies that went bankrupt ended up losing not only their jobs, but all their retirement money. 

Regardless of how perks are perceived by either the employer or the employee, if a company decides it has no choice but to cut back on perks, the best strategy is to bring employees in on the process. Employees then feel like they have helped shape the decision. "We know from 30 years of research that when you have to deliver bad news to employees, they are more comfortable accepting a negative outcome if they felt it was determined by a fair process," says Grant. One of the most creative approaches he has seen in these cases is the use of innovation tournaments. Employees compete to come up with suggestions on how to reduce perks in ways that meet the company's objective but leave in place those perks that they consider especially meaningful. The tournaments, Grant says, "are a way to foster transparency and democracy."

Thanks to Knowledge@Wharton


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Writer's Digest (1-Year)

Writer's Digest (1-year)

Writer's Digest (1-year)

List Price: $47.92
Price: $19.96 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
Issues: 8 issues / 12 months

Availability: Your first issue should arrive in 6-10 weeks.

Average customer review:
(41 customer reviews)

Product Description

For the writer at heart. Each issue focuses on the craft of writing, the tools and information for writing, and the markets for writing. Features examine how to write and sell magazine and newspaper articles, books, plays, poetry and scripts.

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  • Amazon Sales Rank: #386 in Magazine Subscriptions
  • Formats: Magazine Subscription, Print
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful.
4A Helpful Magazine about the Craft of Writing (4.5 stars)
By Michael Crane
"Writer's Digest" is a wonderful and informative magazine about the world of writing. It's a very helpful tool for those who are writers or for people who want to know more about the writing process itself. Filled with interviews, publishing markets, tips, pros and cons of the writing world, and much more, this proves to be a very interesting read.

I've been getting the magazine for two years now, and it's very easy for me to say that I am pretty pleased with it. I find the interviews interesting and informative. I also like how they post certain markets that are accepting a variety of writing submissions (and they even list the criteria for them, as well). There are some ads for self publishing organizations for those who are curious about establishing themselves in the self-publishing world. The articles are very well written and straight to the point.

If I could make a suggestion to "Writer's Digest," it'd be to include more writing excersises. I think this would be an extremely helpful addition to the magazine should they ever decide to take it under consideration. Other than that, I don't have too many complaints about this magazine, as I said in the beginning that I am pretty happy with the overall product.

I highly recommend this magazine to those who are looking for tips and ways to improve their writing, as well as people who are curious to learn more about the craft. I assure you that the reading is not wasted time by any means. If you love writing and the world of writing, then this is something that you should really look into. "Writer's Digest" is a great tool filled with numerous sources of information. -Michael Crane

177 of 204 people found the following review helpful.
1So generic it's uesless
By Zach Everson
Writer's Digest puts out a lot of great resources for writers. The magazine ain't one of them, however.

For starters about half of the magazine is ads - mostly for other Writer's Digest products. One you get past paying $19.95 a year for what's essentially a brochure, you'll notice that most of the articles don't apply to you. Most writers stick to one genre, yet the magazine focuses on all aspects of writing - fiction, poetry, business writing, editing, non-fiction, etc. If you're working on a biography of J. Edgar Hoover, do you need to look at an article on poetry in the stlye of ee cummings? I'll take "no" for $600, Alex.

So, now you're down to about 10 pages that might be relevant. Well, let's start chipping away at that:

The letters about grammar questions are a waste: if you have a question about affect versus effect, would you write to a magazine and wait a month or two or would you pick up your style guide and have an answer in less time than it took for you to read this sentence? Thought so. (Furthermore the idea that someone would write to a magazine with a question like that is so incredulous one has to wonder if the questions aren't just submitted by staff members in an attempt to fill space, like I used to do when I was the news editor at my college paper.)

Writer's Digest does review software and other technology that might be useful to writers. My favorite was when it reviewed Microsoft Word. Thanks - I'm sure most readers had no idea about the monopolistic word-processing program. To be fair, some of the reviews are useful, although you can get better information just by looking up the product on and reading the reviews there.

If you're going to Writer's Digest for market information, you'd be better served elsewhere: the annual Writer's Market publication has all the markets and is more thorough, whilst the Writer's Market website has all that information and is up-to-date. Your money would be better spent on those two products.

About the only articles I have found useful are the profiles on authors and how they have succeeded. There you have it: two or three pages an issue that are useful.

If you're trying to get your work published, Writer's Digest has several other products that are a better investment than its magazine: go with the annual Writer's Market book, the website, and pick up a style manual of your choosing (Chicago is the best). Don't waste your money on this magazine.

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful.
4Essential Writer's Tool
By Robert Kall
If you are a new writer, this is one publication well worth the investment.

I started out, back in my college years, reading back issues in the library. then I got my own subscription, and that probably dates back to maybe 1978-79. I may have missed a year here or there, but I've enjoyed Writer's Digest (WD) for 20 plus years. Becoming a writer can be a daunting process with plenty of moments when you are ready to give up.

If you're a subscriber to WD, then every month you get fresh ideas, techniques, tips and inspiration as well as plenty of leads on fresh markets where you can send your freelance writing, both fiction and non-fiction. It helped me to develop to confidence, skills and motivation to go on to sell articles to local Philly publications, then OMNI, Success, Family Health, the National Enquirer (medical and science, no gossip) and eventually, even wrote a cover article for.... you guessed it... Writer's Digest.

Okay, so I have some bias. But it was this publication that gave me so much motivation. If you are getting started, or want to give a gift to someone who has shown potential or interest in being a Writer, this is a great publication.

I don't think that most experienced writers will have read this far into this review because they all know about Writer's Digest. Yes they do have plenty of advertising. That's usually a sign of a strong publication. The one thing I'd like to see more of is openness to more freelance contributions, since recently, they've moved towards depending for a larger percentage of their content being provided by regular columnists. Since freelancing is so much a part of the entry process for writers, it would make sense for a publication for writers to walk the talk and support freelancers. On the other hand, WD has been around a long time and any business has a right to try out different strategies for success. I imagine the columnist approach allows for a more reliable and homogeneous content.


Script Magazine

Script Magazine

Script Magazine

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Issues: 6 issues / 12 months

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(6 customer reviews)

Product Description

Published since 1989, scr(i)pt magazine is a bimonthly publication that examines the film industry through the eyes of the screenwriter. The magazine serves as both a resource for the craft of screenwriting and a source of inspiration from professionals in the field such as Ron Bass, Frank Darabont, Robert Duvall, Randall Wallace, Les and Glen Charles, and Richard LaGravenese. Each issue of scr(i)pt offers writers information about writing, marketing, and selling screenplays throughout the industry, along with interviews with successful screenwriters and specific tools on developing great characters and memorable scenes.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #656 in Magazine Subscriptions
  • Format: Magazine Subscription
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful.
5My favorite magazine
By ferretk4
I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, Premiere, and any magazine with a photo of Johnny Depp or hobbits on the cover, but Scr(i)pt is my favorite magazine.
Every issue of Scr(i)pt has articles by the screenwriters of movies that are just opening, explaining something about how the movie was written and featuring excerpts from the screennplay of that movie. These are triply helpful, as they (1) provide insight into how a successful screenwriter works his craft, (2) supply brief examples of what the movie you just saw (or are about to see) looks like on the page, and (3) are a useful tool in deciding which movie to go see Saturday night.
Each issue also has articles of the more general How To... variety, although these range from How To Write Great Scenes/Characters to How To Pitch To Studios to Why Studio Execs Are Using Your Script To Wrap Fish. For a while there was a series of articles that were simply a compilation of all the genre cliches, written in the hopes that if you knew what they were you could avoid them; they were invariably hilarious. These How To/Writing Advice articles are often extremely funny (this is not meant as an insult--they are meant to be funny as well as helpful).
Finally, every issue has the news on sales, contest winners, and whatnot that is essential for any working screenwriter, with a generous helping of heartwarming success stories to keep your spirits up while you're waiting to hear from the studios.
I highly recommend this magazine. Enjoy!

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
4Great for aspiring and working screenwriters
By Methos
I have subscribed to a few magazines like Creative Screenwriting and Writers Digest. I think this is one of the best magazines because it really looks at the writer and what writers go through in regards to writing a script. It's focus is not just on major movies like Creative Screenwriting. I think the big difference between the two is that Script has a variety of films/television it reviews and critiques. Also, it adds a writers view more than an editorial on a mega blockbuster film. Yes, you need to understand a review of a high concept film, but wouldn't you rather have a magazine like Script that provides information on what is a high concept first? And then break's down the craft and creative process? Sometimes it does it quite well, but capturing the writers perspective. if you are not certain whether to choose Script or Creative Screenwriting, let me help you, Choose SCRIPT! Thanks.

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
5A magazine you will actually READ!
By J. D. Moore
With so many options out there for any field, it is hard to determine which magazines to choose for research, ideas, and so forth. As a filmmaker, we subscribe to a few for our industry. We've only received two issues so far, as a new subscriber, and are so happy to have finally gotten a magazine with CONTENT. I am so sick of advertisements filling 90% of the pages of most magazines, and with SCRIPT there are actually articles you will read and learn from, as well as enjoy.

Any writer should try this magazine!


The Writer

The Writer

The Writer

List Price: $42.00
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Issues: 12 issues / 12 months

Availability: Your first issue should arrive in 6-10 weeks.

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(24 customer reviews)

Product Description

Today's best-selling writers discuss dialogue, plotting, characterization, suspense, romantic fiction; non-fiction writers cover interviewing, research, finding good subjects, how and when to query, turning personal experience into salable articles and books.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #467 in Magazine Subscriptions
  • Format: Magazine Subscription
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81 of 81 people found the following review helpful.
5An Excellent Resource For Writers
By Robert I. Hedges
"The Writer" is the premier magazine for writers of all varieties. Kalmbach is known for publishing a great series of specialty periodicals, and this one is extremely well written and edited, as is appropriate for the subject matter.

The magazine is best for aspiring writers of fiction, with the clear majority of column inches. Poetry is also covered well, and nonfiction (my area of interest), while covered, is definitely in third place. In the end, though, most techniques for fiction also help nonfiction authors and vice-versa: I read every issue cover to cover regardless of area of concentration because I have gleaned some of the best tips from articles that superficially seemed not to pertain to my writing.

The magazine is very good at covering new developments in the publishing world, and features in-depth reporting on subjects like "Print on Demand" (POD) publishing. Many articles concentrate on in-depth technique implementation, while the utilitarian short pieces that cut through grammatical tedium and stylistic methodologies reinforce the basics.

If you are interested in writing as a professional or just for personal satisfaction, "The Writer" is the magazine for you.

107 of 112 people found the following review helpful.
5The Best Magazine for Writers
By Freelancer
I've been a freelance writer since 1996, and every month I look forward to reading the next issue of The Writer. It's a magazine that shows you how to write better, how to get published, and how to stay inspired. The interviews with top writers are great, and I love the reviews of books about writing. The hour or so I spend reading each issue is among the best time I ever spend. If you're a writer, you should subscribe immediately.

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful.
5This Is The One To Buy
By Tom Moser
The Writer is the best of the four magazines on writing I have read over the past couple years. The quality of articles, the focus on the writing craft is superior to others that are available in the market. I look forward to each issue arriving in my mailbox.


The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency As A Commercial Freelancer In Six Months Or Less

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less
By Peter Bowerman

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FACT: Businesses Need Writers, and Will Pay Handsomely For Them... Attention: Aspiring writers, career-changers, at-home Moms, journalists, staff writers, recent college grads, 55+ or anyone else who loves to write, knows they're good at it, and wants to make a GOOD living at it. Here's your roadmap to hourly rates of $50-125+ and a writing lifestyle most can only dream of in the lucrative field of commercial freelancing - writing for companies and creative entities. What sort of writing? Marketing brochures, ad copy, newsletters, direct mail campaigns, web content, sales sheets, case studies, white papers, trade articles and dozens of other project types. In short, any writing project a business would have to execute in the normal operation of their business. This is the updated compilation of the TWO Well-Fed Writer standards you've heard about forever! Why Commercial Freelancing? Writing drives business. In the course of communicating with its customers and employees, an average corporation generates an enormous volume of writing. Yet, in today s downsized business world, the catchword is outsourcing. Many companies are asking: Why pay salaries and benefits when freelancers offering a range of talent and fresh outsider perspectives give us only what we need, and only when we need it? In TWFW, you ll learn what those writing projects are, where they are, how to land them, and how to get hired again and again (even with less-than-brilliant writing ability...). Have an unusual niche? Live in a small town? Need to start part-time? Terrified of sales and marketing? It's all here. Follow this step-by-step blueprint for leveraging your background into a profitable writing practice that moves light years beyond starving writing. The Well-Fed Writer - 2010 Awards: Winner (First Place): Next Generation INDIE Book Awards (Writing/Publishing) Winner (Silver Medal): Axiom Business Book Awards (Reference/How-To) Winner (Silver Medal): IPPY (Independent Publisher) Awards (Writing/Publishing) Winner (Silver Medal): Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards (Writing)

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #28798 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-10-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .90" h x 6.00" w x 8.90" l, 1.35 pounds
  • Binding: Perfect Paperback
  • 368 pages


  • ISBN13: 9780967059877
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
    Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
Editorial Reviews

When it comes to commercial copywriting, I implore you to listen to every word that comes from Peter Bowerman. There is NOBODY I'd recommend more than Peter, and you'll see why the moment you dig into this excellent book. Peter walks the walk, applying his ideas to his everyday business. He cares enormously about helping you live the dream: his books have literally transformed the lives of tens of thousands of writers. Michael A. Stelzner, Author Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged --Michael Stelzner

When the first edition of The Well-Fed Writer first came out, I said it provided the best advice on how to make more money writing for corporate clients I had ever read. This new edition expanded, up-to-date, and with even more sound strategies for freelance success allows me to reaffirm my original opinion. Bob Bly, Copywriting Guru; Author of 75 books, including Secrets of a Freelance Writer --Bob Bly

Peter has more experience helping writers make a good living than just about anyone I know. So I wasn't surprised to find this updated edition of TWFW packed solid with valuable tips and strategies. His chapter on cold calling, particularly, is a must-read. As a 15-year copywriting veteran, I can tell you, there s more practical advice here than in any other book of its kind I've ever read. Steve Slaunwhite, Copywriter, Author Start and Run a Copywriting Business (and other writing titles) --Steve Slaunwhite

About the Author
In 1993, after a 15-year career in sales and marketing, Peter Bowerman turned his sights to freelance commercial writing. With NO industry experience, NO previous paid writing experience and NO writing background or training, he built a commercial freelancing business in Atlanta, Georgia from fantasy to full-time in less than four months. His corporate client list has included The Coca-Cola Company, BellSouth, IBM, UPS, Holiday Inn, Cingular Wireless, DuPont, American Express, Mercedes-Benz, The Discovery Channel, Junior Achievement, Georgia-Pacific, the CDC, and many others. He is the author of the award winning Book-of-the-Month Club selection, The Well-Fed Writer, and its companion volume (and triple award-finalist), TWFW: Back For Seconds, how-to standards in his chosen field of lucrative commercial freelancing. In late 2009, he released the revised edition of the original TWFW, containing the heavily updated and combined content of both original WFW titles. He has published over 250 articles and editorials, leads seminars on writing and is a professional coach on both commercial freelancing business start-up and self-publishing. What many people don't realize is that Bowerman has self-published quite successfully all his books. In 2007, he released The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living, a detailed how-to guide to making your book a commercial success minus the big publisher or hefty marketing budget. The book chronicles his own self-publishing path, which yielded 53,000 copies of his first two books in print, and a full-time living for more than seven years (and counting). Through his wellfedwriter web site, Bowerman offers his commercial freelancing readers a monthly ezine (publishing nonstop since May 2002), a blog, and knowledgebase all at no charge. He is a sought-after speaker at writers conferences, and offers one-on-one coaching services for aspiring (or established) commercial writers and self-publishers.

Customer Reviews

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful.
5Great resource
By L. Bonin
I bought the first edition of TWFW several years ago, and hesitated before buying the new version -- would it really have enough new information to make the purchase worthwhile? Actually, yes -- this time around, Bowerman has inserted plenty of examples from other writers so that, whatever your challenge, you can find a story from someone whose background or experiences are close to your own. Because Bowerman comes from a sales background, I always felt a little overwhelmed by his cold call methods in the first book -- easy for him! But in the second book, there are plenty of examples from people who loathe the idea of picking up the phone to drum up business -- and that's just one example. Lots of tools, lots of ideas, lots of good stuff -- now I have two books that are dogeared from overuse!

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful.
5Not Just a Rehash of the First Edition
By canyongirl
Typically I don't buy "update" editions of books I already have, as they tend to have most of the same information. Not so with "The Well-Fed Writer." Peter Bowerman has included plenty of new information in this edition, much of it based on "lessons learned" from his own business and feedback from readers who have shared their ideas and experiences with him (which he gratefully acknowledges). Bowerman delivers the "nuts and bolts" information you need for starting and running a writing business in an entertaining, reader-friendly way. At the same time, he's honest and upfront about the effort and work required. "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it." Keep this book close to your desk--anytime you're having a procrastination-type day - just read a chapter and it'll motivate you to get off your duff and start making calls.

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful.
3Take it with a grain of salt
By V. Vankooten
I had bought Bowerman's original edition and picked up the newest one last year. It's obvious he missed the "freelance collapse" of 2009, as much of his advice just doesn't pan out now. I've been writing for commercial markets since 2005, and after a fantastic year in 2008, I'm making 1/4 of that the past two years...and I'm commanding money in the top pay bracket. Companies just aren't hiring and are pulling it in-house or cutting advertising/marketing budgets altogether. Not that it's his fault, but do realize that the market right now is different than the one he is writing about.

I also have some credibility issues with a writer who doesn't know the difference between "phase" and "faze" and a few other basic homonym differences. That's freshman college stuff.


The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide To Freelance Writing Success (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing Series) By Linda Formichelli, Diana Burrell

The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing series)

The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing series)
By Linda Formichelli, Diana Burrell

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Written by two freelancers who broke the rules to win the game, this handbook contains a wealth of information for writers who are frustrated by the seemingly limited ways to operate in the freelance market. It explains that freelancers can negotiate for more money and better terms without risking their careers, shows that editors are not the writer-gobbling monsters many freelancers fear, and explains how to establish and foster work relationships. In this updated second edition there are more ideas, more rules to break, and more resources to get started, including a suite of appendixes covering topics such as contract procedures, getting paid, services for freelancers, generating ideas, and doing research. As inspiration, the book includes examples of real writers who have gone against "expert" advice and flourished. Being shy doesn't pay, and following the rules puts a writer in a long line of other sheep; with this text as a guide, writers can step out of the herd and build a successful business in a crowded market.
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #189749 in Books
  • Published on: 2005-11-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .45" h x 6.06" w x 9.09" l, .66 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 206 pages
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Keep query letters to one page. Never call an editor. Face-to-face interviews take up too much time. According to sassy authors Formichelli and Burrell, such standard rules about freelance writing ought to be tossed in the wastebasket with last year's self-addressed-stamped-envelopes. So why do so many writers stick to the rules? "Bugaboos abound because freelance writers work largely on their own," the authors explain, and such isolation makes it hard to learn about better procedures and ideas. Their own guide aims to set freelance writers straight. Full of great tips and common sense, the book demystifies all the stages of getting a piece published, from "Cranking up the Idea Factory" to "Getting the Green." Their overall advice: "Timely ideas and professional attitude...will take you further than the so-called 'connections' lesser writers gnash their teeth over." Upbeat and exceptionally informative, this book is an excellent choice for both working and would-be writers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A fresh, and dare I say exciting, view of how to run a successful freelance writing business, by writers who know. Recommended reading for every writer who wants to increase sales, get published, and make more money." —Bob Bly, author, Secrets of a Freelance Writer
"What a load off of writers' shoulders: You can break the rules and be successful! The authors are eminent professionals who lead by example. You, too, can be a bold, brazen, renegade writer by learning what really works in the modern publishing world." —Jenna Glatzer, author, The More Than Any Human Being Needs To Know about Freelance Writing Workbook

"The excitement of freelance writing just bristles from the page."  —thecompulsive

About the Author

Linda Formichelli writes for Family Circle, Men's Fitness, Psychology Today, Woman's Day, The Writer, Writer's Digest, and many other publications. She lives in Blackstone, Massachusetts. Diana Burrell freelances for Contract Professional, Parenting, Psychology Today, The Writer, and Walking, among many other magazines and newspapers. She formerly worked in advertising, marketing, and technical writing. She lives in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful.
5If you dream to write for the big magazines, get this book!
By T. Edwards
If I was to listen to many `other' freelance books, I'd have to start at the bottom, write for `Gopher's Monthly' or any other obscure magazine, amass enough clips to start a small recycling plant, be happy to receive any trivial payment offered and only then feel worthy enough to target the big magazines.

No thank-you! The reason I chose to become a freelancer in the first place was to be able to write the articles I was interested in for the magazines I read. But to do so I'd have to break a few `rules'. This is where The Renegade Writer comes in. It teaches you the rules you ARE allowed to break, and better yet HOW to break them.

Filled with tricks and tips for everything from the all important query letter to where to find those ideas editors drool over, this book is a must have for anyone serious about taking their freelance dreams and turning them into a paid reality.

Do yourself (and your career) a favour by buying this book.

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful.
4Rewriting the rules of freelance writing
By Michael Meanwell
According to Linda Formichelli and Dianna Burrell,...Their guide, The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, as the name suggests, is all about exploding myths and breaking rules ~ not for the sake of it, but for the success of it. The authors claim that not only are many of the so-called rules unnecessary, they're costing writers time, money and even business. They claim their earnings have gone from strength to strength by re-writing the rules of freelance writing.

The book redefines a wide range of issues facing freelancers including:

* Being well connected (they offer tips that allow even unknown-writers to get a foot in an editor's door);
* Brimming with ideas (they show you how to kick start your creativity and generate ideas naturally);
* Writing short queries (they show that queries up to three pages not only tell more but sell more);
* Asking for more money (if you think a piece is worth more money, the girls tell you to negotiate ~ and show you the best strategies);
* Turning down work (freelancers aren't beggars, so they can and should choose assignments that are right for them - the girls have built their businesses on this philosophy);
* Quibbling over contracts (you should negotiate a fair contract rather than simply settle for what's initially offered ~ the authors explain what to do and what to avoid before signing).

The Renegade Writer challenges many more rules and also offers plenty of commonsense advice and tips on everything from winning more assignments, earning more money and getting paid faster to 'stealing' other writers' ideas ~ a wonderful way to develop fresh material.

Some of the highlights of the book are chapters, such as:

* 'Signing on the Dotted Line' ~ lots of useful information on contracts, kill fees plus advice on writing for hourly fees or word rates.
* 'Talking the Talk' ~ solid guidelines for interviewing techniques.
* 'Putting Pen to Paper' ~ opinions on deadlines, quotations and fact checking
The Renegade Writer's light, breezing and somewhat witty style makes reading the book easy going and digesting the new 'rules' effortless.

Many writers will not agree with all of the opinions or conclusions, but most freelancers with an open mind will capitalize on the authors' fresh ideas and viewpoints.

The Renegade Writer is better suited to established freelancers rather than new writers. While it contains a new outlook on many areas of the business, it's important to know the rules before you begin breaking them.

-- Michael Meanwell, author of the critically-acclaimed 'The Enterprising Writer' and 'Writers on Writing'. For more book reviews and prescriptive articles for writers, visit

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful.
5Practical, motivating, and fun to read
By J. Herrin
Like many freelancers and those-who-would-be-freelancers-if-they-would-stop-reading-books-about-it-and-just-do-it (I'm in that category), I have a shelf full of books on writing and freelancing. They all contain useful information, but this book is the one that's finally made me realize that if other people can making a living from their articles, so can I. I tend to get bogged down in perfectionism, so, of course, my favorite of the authors' rules-to-break is "Make sure your query letter is perfect before sending it out." The authors don't advocate being careless, of course, but they do point out that perfectionism can paralyze a writing career; they then offer some advice for conquering it and even give some examples of their own goofs.

This book contains many highly practical tips and fun-to-read examples from the "real world," but the aspect that I most appreciate is that neither writer has been freelancing for years and years (Linda went full-time in mid-1997; Diana doesn't give a date, but I get the impression of a similar length of time). However, they've both cracked major markets and are making a decent living, complete with houses, vacations, and retirement plans. Very motivating!