As you may have noticed even if you just pay moderate attention here, I write about a mythical person named "Nell Minow" from time to time to time to time. I do this for many reasons. One is that I just freaking like her. Another is that I always like to have really, really smart people on my side. Another reason is that when I write about her and the smart, good, wise things she has to say, if they're not paying close attention it makes people think I'm smart, good and wise. Lots of other reasons, too. But those are at the top of the list.
There's a reason I mention all this, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First though, it's important to know that one of the pieces of advice I tend to give people is that -- "If Nell Minow gives you advice about something (whether about business, politics, what movies to see, how to pick a good restaurant, the economy, general etiquette, parenting, or pretty much anything), it will serve you well to at the very least consider what she says before taking your next step."
I'm not saying you have to follow every piece of advice Nell Minow gives you. Me, I disagree with her a good six percent of the time. We may agree about almost every movie, down to our favorite scenes, but even I refused to go see Speed Racer. (Side Note: Knowing that Nell Minow is a sci-fi fangirl geek is a good sign post to keep in mind.)
But it's also good to keep in mind that this is a person who in her two main jobs in life -- as a world expert on corporate governance and as the Movie Mom film critic -- she's paid to give her opinion and tell you what to do, and she is really successful at it.
I suspect that at times it must have been hellish growing up as her children. It's one thing to have to always listen to your mother telling you what to do, and telling telling telling you, but to know that she's usually going to be right, and right about pretty much everything, is enough to drive the strongest kid to drinking too many Ovaltines. In the end, though, enough seeped through, because they've turned out seriously well.
(Nell Minow in her natural habitat. Being asked to tell people what to do.)
I bring all this up because that mythical "Nell Minow" wrote a brilliant article here on the Huffington Post, that comes complete with a pure Minowesque title -- "10 Easy Tips to Take You from College to Success in Jobs, Love and Life." And like Most Things Minow, it's blunt, polite, entertaining, and gives actual reasons and stories behind her advice which is what keeps it from becoming inflexible and Know-It-All. A tip that Ms. Minow herself seems to have learned comes from who I assume is her guru, Mary Poppins, that a spoonful of sugar does indeed help the medicine go down (with an assist by the Sherman Brothers).
In the article, she tells you not just to send thank you notes, but explains why -- and what you stand to lose if you don't. She explains why you can learn a lot from that Chinese finger-pulling toy and also from improv theater class and even the Boy Scouts. She tells you why "on time" means something else entirely than what you think. And one of my favorite of its wise thoughts is that "No one is getting paid to teach you any more. You have to seek it out" -- and she goes into how to do just that by understanding the value of being criticized.
There are two things I especially love about this article. One is that, happily, I find that I'm following a bunch of these already and even regularly pass along some of the advice to others (though admittedly "a bunch" and "some" are the operative words, and I clearly have a ways to go). And the other thing I love about it is that, having advised people for years to pay attention to what Nell Minow tells you, this article makes me seem really smart, good and wise for advising that.
So, again -- read her article. Just stop what you're doing so that you don't forget about it, and read it now. Just read it, and again, here is where you can find it, so you have no excuse.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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