Strategies for Success Interview

I was recently invited by Irving Middle School in Springfield, Virginia to share my personal and professional strategies for success.

Strategies For Success is a class that specializes in student voice, advocacy, and mindfulness as they navigate academic, social, and job related issues.  As part of the course, students learn strategies to help them organize classwork and daily routine, write e-mails, and complete routine tasks to reach their goals.  

Some of the questions I answered include:

  • What is your highest level of education and where did you get it?
  • What do you do now? What does a typical day look like?
  • What is a perk of your job? What is something that makes your job difficult?
  • How do you organize your tasks that need to be completed?
  • How did you get where you are now?  
  • What are some of your personal strengths? 
  • What are some of your personal weaknesses?
  • What is an obstacle that you overcame?  And how did you overcome it?  
  • What is one piece of advice that you have for a student today?

Watch and enjoy!

Creative Inspiration of the Day: Frustration

What: Frustration
Noun, def: a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.

Creative Exercise: Short Story

She stomped her way through the narrow path, watching the dirt swirl up angrily around her hiking boots. Usually, early morning hikes were a soothing escape. But today’s hike was a rage hike. Her frustration was like wearing a large black hood and cloak, deterring all joy and embracing the fury. 

Usually, the sun and the sweat was welcome on her skin. But today it was balls hot. Usually, the deer peeking around a tree was seen as a curious partner. But today she wanted to scream, “What are you looking at?” to its large eyes and cocked ears. Usually, the flies and the bees were simply a natural part of being on the trail. But today every minor buzz was met with flailing karate chops determined to hit anything in her path. The cloak kept her eyes down and her heart closed.

By mile 2, the cloak’s hood flipped back and revealed her face and hair. She picked her head up and looked to the horizon. By mile 4, the cloak fell down to her waist as she straightened her shoulders, unclenched her fists, and breathed deeply for the first time in days. With each step, the midnight cloak’s angry double-knot loosened and the fabric started drifting away. By mile 6 the cloak was barely holding on with a single tie. But it was still attached, flapping in the wind. Like a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your heel as you head to an important meeting. The deer tried not to laugh.

Creative Exercise: Sketching

A copywriter tries her hand at a silhouette.

Hiking Girl Silhouette Pencil

Hiking Girl Marker Patio


Creative Inspiration of the Day: Meteors

Sleeping under the Perseids meteor shower

Who: Meteors!
Noun, def: an atmospheric phenomenon (such as lightning or a snowfall); or any of the small particles of matter in the solar system that are directly observable only by their incandescence from frictional heating on entry into the atmosphere.

What: Perseid meteor shower

When: Summer nights, between July 14th to August 24th depending on when the earth travels through the trail that year

Where: Best viewing is in the Northern Hemisphere

Why: The Perseids meteor shower appears when Earth passes through the rubble left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

How: When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them. Meteors come from leftover comet trails and from broken asteroids. When the Earth runs into these dusty bits, they will burn up in the atmosphere creating fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.

Source: Perseids. NASA science solar system exploration. December 19, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2020.

Creative Exercise: Sketching

A copywriter tries to sketch a meteor

Creatives Can Become Negotiating Powerhouses

There’s often a negative or even “evil” stigma that comes with negotiating. Especially for creatives.

“You don’t care about the work if you want more money”

“Money is the root of all evil. It crushes your creative juices… and your SOUL.”

To all of this, I say bulls**t.

You have to put yourself and your work first. Always.

And how do you do that? Negotiate for every single penny that you’re worth.

Trust me, it is not easy. It takes work. It takes failed conversations.

I still think about the first conversation in which I tried to negotiate for more money. As a junior copywriter in Chicago, I was finally receiving my promotion to be a regular ol’ copywriter. I still remember sitting in the big meeting room, surrounded by my boss, the executive creative director, and our head of HR.

The conversation went like this:

Executive Creative Director: “We love working with you. We see a lot of potential in your growth. That’s why we’re rewarding you with a promotion and a raise.”

Me: “Oh… uh, I guess I was hoping for more. *big sigh* I’ve done more than other people.”

Are you cringing right now? I’m cringing writing this. Don’t do this.

I remember how excited everyone was at the beginning of the conversation. But after my response? Their faces fell. The mood of the room shifted to one of horror and disappointment and greed.

That conversation didn’t go well.

But wanna know what did go well?

I spoke with our head HR later and asked how I could have improved. She gave me honest feedback: the company offered me a promotion and my boss had fought hard for me, but my response was spoiled and ungrateful.

Dear fellow creatives: NEVER, EVER, EVER appear ungrateful. And don’t compare yourself to your colleagues. Ever. Never ever. Don’t do it. Not in reviews, not in negotiations, and not in your everyday conversations.

So, let’s get to it. How do you become a negotiating powerhouse?


Follow Ramit Sethi.


Negotiate a raise at your current position.
Do everything he says. Everything. Don’t skip steps.


Find your dream job.
Finding your dream job takes time and energy, but this system works. Since going through this course way back in 2013, I found 4 new jobs and negotiated $20K+ raises with each company. 


Manage your new money wisely and keep growing both personally and professionally.
Read Sethi’s book on personal finances. 

Now get to work, my friends.

Comment below if you have any questions. Happy negotiating!

Disclaimer: I don’t know Ramit Sethi. I have never met him. I just found his stuff a long time ago and it works.