UNLOCKED Links: October 17, 2014

Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED Links

Once a month, I curate the best links on how to find work that you love, be excellent at what you do, and unlock any door that stands in your way. Here’s your list for today!


Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED LINKS


Allergic to small talk? Tired of asking — and answering — the same old questions at every networking event? Here are 100 alternatives to, “So, what do you do?”

Fantasizing about moving to a new city — but only if you can line up a job, first? Here are some brilliant tips on how to look for jobs remotely.

You finally lined up an interview for your dream job (hooray!) and now, you need to do your homework. Start here: The ultimate guide to researching a company pre-interview.


Want to ditch your boss and go out on your own? You’re not alone. More + more Millennials are becoming their own bosses than ever before.

Making the shift from “employee” to “self-employed” requires a new way of thinking. Check out these smart ideas from the recent 99U conference on re-imagining the way we work.

How does creativity…happen? Is it possible to accelerate your creativity and generate better ideas…faster? James Altucher breaks it down with the ultimate guide to becoming an idea machine.


Got the travel bug? Here’s one of my favorite new hotel booking apps.

Venture capital funding isn’t just for tech gizmos + apps anymore. This woman is writing a VC-backed novel (and changing the way that book publishers generate revenue, too).

At long last! How to win at rock-paper-scissors. (Life will never be the same!)


“I know I need to do things differently … but I just can’t seem to do it!” The problem? It’s called The Backfire Effect. Love this fascinating piece on the psychology behind why it’s so hard to change your mind.

Underwhelmed by the keynote speaker at your college graduation ceremony? Do it over. Here’s a compilation of some of the best graduation speeches. Ever.

Do you live your life based on what will make “other people” feel happy and proud? Writer Anne Lamott talks about the perils of trying to be a people pleaser.


Need a break from ramen soup + cold cereal…again? This makes me want to eat at Chipotle every night!

Plan a “movie night” date for two…or just you! Visit one of these historic Art Deco cinemas. (So gorgeous.)

Got writer’s block? When you need to reboot your creativity and get the juices flowing, here’s a simple solution: go take a walk.
Find great work. Do great work. And have a great weekend!


Images: Paul Strand and Carolyn Allen Photography.

Myra Goodman: Co-Founder of Earthbound Farm Organic

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

Ever wish you could sit down with a super-accomplished person and ask, “What does it take to break into your industry? What’s it like to be you? And when you’re looking to hire someone, what does it take to impress you?”

With Pick My Brain, that’s exactly what we do. Enjoy this week’s installment featuring organic food producer and advisor Myra Goodman.


You’re the co-founder of a highly successful food company called Earthbound Farm Organic, with products sold in stores, worldwide. But it all started on a small farm… right in your backyard! What made you decide to go bigger? And how did it all happen?

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

My husband Drew and I knew virtually nothing about producing food when we moved onto our little raspberry farm in Carmel Valley, thirty years ago.

I was just twenty years old and Drew was twenty-four, and we had both grown up in New York City. Our time on the farm was just supposed to be a short stopover while I prepared to apply to graduate school for international relations.

Pretty soon, though, we both fell in love with living on the farm and we started growing greens and baby lettuces for local chefs — as well as for ourselves!

To save time, we started washing and bagging salad in individual zip-lock bags, so that making dinner each night could happen much faster.

Pre-washed salad in a bag…what a concept!

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

It may seem hard to believe, but back then, when you walked into a grocery store, grabbing a quick “salad in a bag” simply wasn’t an option. You could buy a big head of iceberg lettuce, and… that’s about it.

We were convinced that “salad in a bag” could be a revolutionary product, so off we went — innocently confident that we could tackle the huge challenges of bringing a whole new product to the marketplace. We never, ever guessed that packaged organic salads would eventually become a multi-billion dollar industry.

So, what made us decide to “go bigger?” Well, basically, we didn’t have a choice! We quickly outgrew our little backyard garden. The demand for packaged salads was bigger than we could handle all by ourselves, so we started to buy lettuces from nearby farmers to get the supply that we needed.

We took out no loans for a very long time and grew slowly, by investing our earnings.

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

Many years — and many salads — later, we grew to the next level by selling Earthbound Farm to an amazing organic food company called WhiteWave Foods, which also owns Silk (best known for their non-dairy milks) and Horizon Organic (a full line of organic dairy).

Drew and I are currently advisors to WhiteWave, and it feels like the company we started in our backyard has the perfect home to grow, while preserving its original values — beautiful food, grown by people who care.

Images: Myra Goodman.

Angela Tafoya: San Francisco Editor of Refinery 29


Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Angela Tafoya

To do the work you love, you’ve got to unlock a few doors. UNLOCKED Stories are honest conversations with 20 and 30-somethings who chose a path + made it happen.

A note from Ellen: I’m thrilled to spotlight Angela Tafoya, the San Francisco-based editor for Refinery 29.

These days, Angela has a seriously cool + enviable job — but she had to survive 30 job interview rejections to get there! Her story is a lesson in bravery + persistence. I’m totally inspired by her — and I know you will be, too.

Read on, and don’t miss the powerful questions at the very end.

What do you do?

[Angela]: I work as the San Francisco editor for a website called Refinery 29.

Refinery 29 is a website for people who love reading about fashion, beauty and lifestyle trends, and who love discovering the “best of” what their city has to offer. We have about 8 million readers a day — and our readers are mostly, but not exclusively, women.

My work varies from day to day. Right now I am covering just about everything in the San Francisco market. Producing the stories, writing the newsletters, finding freelance writers who can contribute additional articles, attending photo shoots, and of course, looking for the “next big thing” that’s happening in the Bay Area.

Basically: my job is to make sure that every article we publish is totally exciting + intriguing for our San Fran-based readers.

I love that I have a lot of creative freedom, and every day at work feels a little bit different!

Lots of people dream about working for super-hot websites and blogs. How did you get started in this line of work? And how did you land your dream job at Refinery 29?

[Angela]: I’ve always known that I wanted to work in publishing.

Even as a teenager, I was fascinated by how great magazine headlines + stories are crafted. I would study my favorite magazines from the perspective of a journalist, not necessarily as a casual reader.

After I graduated from college, I did a series of internships for small, local magazines… and then eventually worked my way up to a few bigger publications, like Angeleno Magazine.

While working at Angeleno, I got my first taste of what it felt like to create content for the web — not just for print magazines.

Online media was fairly “new” in those days, so “blogging” and writing “online articles” felt innovative and groundbreaking. I loved it, and realized quickly that I wanted to work in the world of online publishing.

A couple years down the line, I got a job as a freelance writer for Refinery 29. That freelance gig eventually turned into a more permanent position as the Editorial Assistant. And after three months, I was promoted to the Editor.

The leaning curve was very steep, but in many ways, it was a great experience to have it all happen so fast! It forced me to grow as a writer, editor and curator, very quickly.

Your current job rocks, but there was a time when you felt really frustrated because you couldn’t land the kind of job that you wanted. Tell us more about that experience — and how you got through it.

[Angela]: After graduating from college, there was a period of time where I applied for so many jobs, I practically lost count. I must have gone on 20 or 30 job interviews, and nothing was panning out.

At one point I thought my dream of working in publishing — as a paid employee, not just an unpaid intern — was never going to happen.

But… I was persistent. I refused to take “no” for an answer.

Even if someone turned me down for a position, I would follow up and politely ask “why?” I kept the conversation going because I wanted to show people I was serious — and also because I wanted to stay on their radar for future positions.

I knew that if I just kept at it — reaching out, following up, keeping the lines of communication open — one day, a door would finally open.

It took time, but my persistence paid off.

What are some of the most exciting things that have been happening for you, lately?

[Angela]: So many awesome things!

Since becoming the San Francisco Editor for Refinery 29, I’ve been able to meet so many local people doing incredible things — folks that I find so inspiring and who are role models for women and entrepreneurs, everywhere.

I got to interview the designer Zac Posen… and I just had an amazing conversation with Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code.

These kinds of conversations have given me a fresh perspective on how to approach my writing, my work… and my life.

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Angela Tafoya

You’ve already unlocked so many doors for yourself — and your hard work has led to great success. What’s next for you?

[Angela]: Back when I was fiercely hunting for my dream job, the job-hunting process took up a lot of my time and energy.

But now that I’ve landed a job that I love, I have a lot more energy to pour in other directions — like wellness and fitness.

For example, last year I was invited to run half marathon. At first I said “no.” But then I realized I spend so much time at my computer and I had not worked out in a year. So I went for it. It was life changing.

Up next? More physical challenges — like that!

It’s been awesome to be able to bring my “non-work” passions into my work — writing articles on health and exercise, based on experiences I’m having in my own life.

It’s pretty fantastic when “life” and “work” can blend together — each side enhancing the other.

Last but not least: What’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to stay motivated, do amazing work and unlock major doors?

[Angela]: Be persistent.

Don’t be afraid to follow up and keep a conversation going — even after someone has said, “No.”

Be brave.

Always introduce yourself at parties and gatherings. Put yourself out there. Be open and talk to lots of people. Share what you’re up to — and what you love.

Ask questions.

When you see someone living your dream — or working at your dream job — say to them, “I like what you do. How did you get there?”

Most of all:

Pay close attention to the things that you love doing — whether it’s reading, running, photography or exploring your city. Whatever you love to do, there’s always a way to turn it into a career.

Believe the expression: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Stories: Angela Tafoya

UNLOCK yourself

Three questions to think about, write about — or talk about with a friend.

1. Even as a kid + teenager, Angela was obsessed with magazines and loved studying great headlines to try to understand why they worked. That was her first clue that she wanted to work in publishing.

: What’s one of your personal obsessions? (Get specific: Not just “watching TV” but “watching TV because of the amazing set designs and costumes.”) What kind of career would allow you to indulge in that obsession, every day?

2. Angela loves the fact that her job feels a little bit different, every day. She’s rarely doing the exact same task, all day long.

: Do you crave a job that’s consistent, where you know exactly what to expect each day? Or would you prefer something with tons of variety? Or something in the middle?

3. After college, Angela felt frustrated after going on 30 job interviews — and getting rejected for each one. But she was persistent and refused to give up.

: Have you ever experienced a “dry spell” where the world just felt like one, big locked door? What did you tell yourself to get through it?


For more UNLOCKED interviews, click over here.

Know somebody that ought to be spotlighted? Write to me here.

See you next time for another inspiring conversation!

Photo: Refinery29 | Maria del Rio.

UNLOCKED Links: September 22, 2014

Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED Links

Every month, I curate the best links on how to find work that you love, be excellent at what you do, and unlock any door that stands in your way. Here’s your list for today!


Ellen Fondiler | UNLOCKED Links


Are you telling yourself a story that keeps you stuck in a job you don’t even like? Here are 5 lies that could be ruining your career … and your life.

Even Leonardo Da Vinci had to apply for jobs! Here’s the “cover letter” that he wrote to the man who eventually commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.

Having a terrible, no good day? Sarah Von Bargen writes about how to re-start a bad, annoying or unproductive day.


As an entrepreneur, you’re often told, “Never take no for an answer!” But sometimes, you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

Fantasizing about opening up an artisanal bakery? (Please invite me to your grand opening … especially if there’s warm, fresh, buttery bread!)

So many emails, calls, tweets, texts … and meetings! Here’s how to organize your day to maximize productivity + happiness.


Need to raise some cash before you can launch your new business or finish designing that prototype? Here’s a terrific funding resource.

There is the World Cup in soccer. And then, there is the World Cup of everything else.

Is the art of handwriting going to be lost, forever? Maybe… not.


Following your dreams might be overrated. How about following your skills?

It’s the oldest art form on the planet ― and it’s the key to success, in any industry. Do you know how to tell a powerful story?

You don’t find time to do things ― you make time. Designer Debbie Millman shares her stance on what it takes to design a good life.


Thinking about getting an MBA? Before you commit to a two-year program, consider a one-day start-up school, first. Classes are offered all over the world…including the mother-ship, Silicon Valley.

Feel like you’re nevvver going to be able to move out of your parents’ house? This one’s for you.

We hear this again and again and again…because it’s true. Exercise is the single best way to get smarter and happier.So, make this the last blog post that you read today, get outside…and go break a sweat!
Find great work. Do great work. And have a great week!


Images: Willie Franklin

Susan Hyatt: Professional Life Coach and Web Series Creator

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

Ever wish you could sit down with a super-accomplished person and ask, “What does it take to break into your industry? What’s it like to be you? And when you’re looking to hire someone, what does it take to impress you?”

With Pick My Brain, that’s exactly what we do. Enjoy this week’s installment featuring life coach and web series creator Susan Hyatt.


You’re a professional life coach, trained by Oprah’s personal coach, Dr. Martha Beck. You also recently launched your own web series, Life Is Delicious TV (which is now being syndicated on MariaShriver.com. Congrats!) Do you have any advice for someone who’s dreaming about creating an online TV series? What’s the very first move?

Creating an online TV show is crazy-fun and very rewarding. But I ain’t gonna lie — it’s a lot of work.

People are often surprised to find out how much time, effort and money goes into creating an itty-bitty fifteen-minute episode. Writing the script, finding the perfect guest, locking down sponsors, booking filming locations, rehearsing my talking points, and of course, the actual filming and editing… there’s a lot going on behind the scenes!

The end result is totally worth it. But you’ve got to really, really want it.

If you want to create your own online TV show, I’d recommend asking yourself:

: What’s my highest intention for the viewer?

Your answer to this question will shape everything.

Through your show, do you want to help solve a particular problem (like helping people lose weight)? Do you want to teach people something new (like how to cook vegan food)? Or maybe you just want to be entertaining and make people smile!

Get clear about your highest intention — the effect that you want to have on every viewer. This will give you a focus for the show.

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

: Who is my ideal viewer?

Let’s pretend that we’ve gathered a group of your ideal viewers around the table for a cup of coffee (or a shot of wheatgrass or vodka!).

What do your ideal viewers want? What are they struggling with? What scares them? What makes them happy? Where do they hang out? What do they read, watch, eat, and do for fun?

Get clear about who your ideal viewers are. This will shape your content (what you do + say, during your show) as well as your marketing.

Ellen Fondiler | Pick My Brain: Susan Hyatt

: Why TV?

Let’s face it: there are plenty of wayyyyy easier and cheaper ways to reach an audience than through an online TV show!

You could blog (free!), start a podcast (also free!), hold workshops in your hometown, start up an advice column like Ms. Ellen did… there are so many options.

What is it that appeals to you about TV, specifically?

Does being on camera make you feel like the best version of yourself? Are there certain things you want to do — like creating instructional videos, or doing hilarious comedy skits — that could only be accomplished through the medium of video?

Get clear about why it’s gotta be TV. Then, commit to that vision, completely.

You don’t necessarily need a big budget or a team of stylists to make it happen.

You can start with a simple webcam, set up in your living room.

But whatever you choose to do, make sure that your focus is always on serving your viewers — inspiring, motivating, entertaining and striving to make a positive impact on every single person who’s watching.

Images: Susan Hyatt.

How Do I Write A Jaw-Droppingly Amazing Resume?

Ellen Fondiler | Advice

Dear Ellen,

My question is pretty simple (and I’m sure it’s one that you get ALL the time).

I’m fresh out of college and applying for jobs. I haven’t been able to land any interviews, and I think it’s because my resume kinda sucks. It’s boring and sounds like it was written by a robot. But isn’t that what employers want — a “professional” tone?

There’s so much advice out there about how to write a great resume, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. I just want to present my skills in the best possible way — and get noticed.

Do you have any tips on how to write a jaw-droppingly-amazing resume?

Please help!

Big Dreams, Sucky Resume

Ellen Fondiler | Advice

Dear Big Dreams,

Ask ten people “Do you like writing and updating your resume?” and you’ll hear ten incredibly loud NO’s.

You’re not alone, Big Dreams. Most people hate working on their own resumes, and will do just about anything to procrastinate and avoid the dreaded task!

(That’s why there are people like me — “resume” oddballs who love resume editing + are happy to help!)

I LOVE resume editing because I LOVE stories.

And that’s exactly what your resume needs to do: Tell a great story.

Here are three pieces of advice for you, Big Dreams, and for anyone else who is struggling to craft a really, really good resume:

1. Tell your story so that the reader understands what you get EXCITED about. (Remember: when somebody asks, “What kind of job are you interested in?” what they’re secretly asking is: “What are you PASSIONATE about?”)

2. Be specific. Just don’t say, “I was a columnist for the Daily Californian.” Say something like, “I was a sports editor for our award-winning school newspaper, The Daily Californian, and wrote 50 columns over the course of 2 years.”

3. Make sure your resume is attractive and easy to read. Use a SIMPLE template — no fancy, swirly fonts. Double-triple-quadruple-check for spelling mistakes. You can use Grammarly.com to electronically spell-check and grammar-check your resume. (It’s amazing!)

Want a little more help? Check out my free worksheet: How To Craft A Resume That’s Inspiring To Read (And Inspiring To Write!)

Want even more help? Hire me to do a professional editing job on your resume.

It’s one of my favorite things to do — and over the years, I’ve helped many, many people go from “ignored” to “hired!”

Writing a resume isn’t impossible, Big Dreams, and it doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

If you can fill out an online dating profile…or write a bit of info about yourself on Twitter or Facebook…or have a conversation with a friend about what excites you + what you want to pursue in your career…you can write a resume, too.

Remember: you already know how to tell a good story. You tell stories all the time. At school. At parties. On dates. With friends.

Your resume is just a simple story about someone you happen to know very well…you!



Image: Willie Franklin