Your Career Forecast: January / February 2018

Your Career Forecast: January / February 2018

I work as a career and business strategist. But my secret passion is… astrology!

About once a month,  I post an overview of what’s happening in the cosmos and how it might influence your career. It’s called: Your Career Forecast.

Whether you’re job-hunting, running your own business, or wondering about the ideal time to ask for a raise or take a vacation, each Career Forecast will reveal the important dates and cosmic shifts that you need to know about.

I am joined by my dear friend, Heidi Rose Robbins, a master astrologer who will provide expert insight into what’s going on in the stars.

Let’s dive in!


What’s going on this month…

HEIDI: The Sun moves into Aquarius on January 19th at 7:10 pm Pacific time. Aquarius is an air sign. Under Aquarius, we are drawn to create together. This is the sign of the group. Aquarius wants us to gather to improve our world. It is innovative, improvisational and rules experimentation.

Aquarius asks us to break rules and color outside the lines. It is objective, clear thinking and service oriented. The phrase for Aquarius is beautiful: “Water of Life am I Poured Forth for Thirsty Men.” This is a month to jam, hold meetings, reinvent and perhaps most importantly, remember the spirit of democracy.

Mars moves into Sagittarius on January 26th. Mars is the warrior and Sagittarius is the risk-taker and adventurer. When Mars works in this sign, he becomes the warrior of freedom, the warrior of the big vision or the warrior of optimism. This is an unstoppable combination. Three words: Go for it.

There is a Lunar Eclipse (and Full Moon) on January 31st at 5:27 am Pacific time. This falls at 11 degrees Leo. If you know your chart well and have any planets in that degree or nearby, that planet will be activated and extra charged over the next 6 months. This eclipse (and Full Moon) may help to continue to break down old paradigms and old corporate structures that have outlived their time. Expect more darkness to come to light and expect group protests and gatherings to grow.

Mercury also moves into Aquarius on January 31st. The group voice is heard. And again, we are being asked to reinvent and think outside the usual paradigms. Mercury in Aquarius loves to solve problems with new and unconventional solutions.

Venus moves into Pisces on February 10th. This will bring a little love and sensitivity to the table. In our individual lives, this may create a need for a bit more solitude. We replenish in quiet ways when Venus is in Pisces. We need the spaciousness of music, poetry, film or meditation.

There is another eclipse—this time a Solar Eclipse—on February 15th. This eclipse falls at 27 degrees Aquarius. Again, if you have a major planet or your Rising Sign near that degree, it will activate that position for 6 months. Major world events occur under Solar Eclipses. It’s a powerful activating energy. This eclipse (and New Moon) is stimulating the group, democracy and the united power of the people.

Finally on February 17th, Mercury moves into Pisces. Again, this is a turn towards the internal. Aquarius brings an electric energy and Pisces brings the power and depth of the ocean. When Mercury is in Pisces, we communicate with feeling and sensitivity. We muse, meditate and imagine. Let’s use this energy to center ourselves so that we can communicate with love and compassion.

It’s a powerful, activating, change-it-up month. If your life needs an overhaul (or even just a boost), this may be just the energy you need to set things in motion.

What does all of this mean for your career? Let’s look closer…


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Mars moves into Sagittarius on January 26th. Mars is the warrior and Sagittarius is the adventurer. This is a “Go get it!” day—the perfect day to go after a new job, especially a job that feels like a bit of a “reach.” Take a risk, throw your hat in the ring, and go for it!

If you worry about “not being qualified enough” or “not having enough experience,” here’s a story to boost your courage…

I know a woman who landed a job at a top radio company. She wasn’t necessarily the most qualified person for the job. She’d never worked in radio before. In fact, she’d never even set foot inside a radio station! However, she’s an adventurous person and—a few years prior—she had gotten her helicopter pilot’s license.

She mentioned “Licensed Pilot” on her résumé—and that’s the one detail that grabbed her future employer’s attention. He thought, “I definitely want to interview this person. I like her spirit!” She ended up getting the job—even though there were plenty of other applicants who were technically much more “qualified” for the position.

Moral of the story: your résumé isn’t just a dry, boring list of credentials. At least, it doesn’t have to be. The details on your résumé should tell a story—a story about the type of person you are. The risks you’ve taken. The things you love most. The experiences that have shaped you.

If you’ve studied yoga for 15 years, mention that on your résumé. If you’ve traveled to 7 countries and taught English overseas, say so. If you volunteer at an animal shelter and you’ve helped over 100 dogs to find loving homes, mention that, too. Often, it’s those kinds of details that will grab a hiring manager’s attention and make them think, “This is somebody I definitely want to meet.”

Lastly, if you’re job-hunting, remember that the sign of Aquarius is all about group dynamics. The energy of many is greater than that of one. Think: “Collaboration.”

Rather than job-hunting all by yourself, meet up with friends. Host a dinner party, cocktail hour, or brunch. Ask questions like: “Do you happen to know anybody who works at {name of company}? Could you make an introduction for me?” “What do you think about your current workplace?” “Would you recommend working there? “Why or why not?”

More often than not, exciting job opportunities arise because of personal connections. To unlock all kinds of surprising doors, don’t isolate yourself. Turn to your community.


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: Mercury moves into Aquarius on January 31st. It’s time to reinvent old systems and think outside the box. At work, be the one to come forth with an unexpected solution. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard.

You could start by asking yourself, “What’s one thing about my job that really doesn’t make sense?” Or… “One thing that’s really inefficient?” Or… “One thing that’s just not working smoothly?” Identify something about your job, department, or company that feels stuffy and outdated. Decide, “I’m going to propose a new way of approaching this.” Your innovative stance will be appreciated—and rewarded.

Venus moves into Pisces on February 10th. This is a loving, dreamy combination of energies. On this day, you might notice that you’re craving some alone-time. Ask your manager if you can work off-site. Even better, take a mental health day and spend your time resting, reading, visiting an art gallery, or connecting with nature. This is an excellent day to surround yourself with beauty and recharge.


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: There’s a Solar Eclipse on February 15th. This particular eclipse brings a feeling of togetherness and activation. Use this powerful day to “rally the troops” and bring people together with a shared goal.

For example, you could invite your social media followers to join together and sign a pledge. You could encourage your customers to join a 7-day challenge—guide them through a fun, energizing experience, moving towards a specific end-result. You could start a private Facebook group where your clients can chat, brainstorm, and interact. The spirit of this eclipse is: “United we stand, divided we fall.” Bring people together and watch the sparks—and sales—fly!

On February 17th, Mercury moves into Pisces. Mercury rules communication. Pisces is all about emotional depth, imagination, and sensitivity. If you run a business, this is an excellent day to communicate with your clients and customers—especially if you’re sharing a tender, heartfelt message.

If you’re short on time, keep it brief. Think: a 1-minute video expressing your gratitude for every customer who made a purchase in the last year. Or record a 5-minute meditation and share it on your blog. Or send out a newsletter with a touching story about an experience that changed your life. You’ll be surprised by how many people respond to say, “Thank you. That was beautiful. I really needed to hear that today.”

Famous Aquarians:

Ellen DeGeneres. A classic Aquarian. She’s all about community, togetherness, and healing old, divisive wounds of the past—like homophobia. Every day, she’s uniting people through laughter, fun, and fresh ideas.

Oprah Winfrey. Her mission is to heal and serve humanity—and it shows in everything she does. A true Aquarian, she’s not afraid to reinvent herself over and over. TV host. Actress. Magazine creator. Philanthropist. Maybe one day… Politician? President? (Let us pray!)

Ronda Rousey. Aquarians love to innovate. They bring radical ideas to the table. Because of Ronda’s persistence, the UFC/Mixed Martial Arts sport now has a female division. Previously, only men were allowed to compete. Not anymore.


• Thinking outside the box. Radical, disruptive ideas. Fresh solutions.

• Clearing away stuffy, stale energy. The old systems have got to go!

• Group activities. Think: pledges, petitions, marches, rallies, and brainstorming sessions.

• Celebrating the voice of the people. Think: articles, blog posts, performances, and other creative projects that bring many voices together.

• Risk-taking and reinvention. Rather than choosing from Option A or B, consider, “Could there be an Option C?”


January 19th – Sun moves into Aquarius. (The sign of group dynamics. Let’s draw together and create together.)

January 26th – Mars moves into Sagittarius. (Take risks! Begin a new adventure! Don’t hold back.)

January 31st – Mercury moves into Aquarius. (An excellent day for communication and collaboration.)

January 31st – Lunar Eclipse and Full Moon of Aquarius. (Old structures are breaking down. Aquarian powers are at their peak.)

February 10th – Venus moves into Pisces. (Love, imagination, and emotional depth.)

February 15th – Solar Eclipse and New Moon of Aquarius. (Major events tend to happen on and around the Eclipse. Since it’s a New Moon, consider how you want the rest of 2018 to feel. Set new intentions.)

February 17th – Mercury moves into Pisces. (Communicate with love and compassion.)


“We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces toward the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.” —Stephen King

Our world is far from perfect. The time of Aquarius is a time to shed the darkness of the past, create bold new systems, and come into the light.

And of course, we’ll move faster if we work collaboratively. One vote, one donation, one person marching is… just one person on the street. It certainly helps, because every little bit helps. But we need more than just one person—we need hundreds, thousands, millions—in order to tip the scales of history.

May we use the energy of Aquarius to unify, collaborate, and make magic happen—together.

With love,

Ellen & Heidi

Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

An Interview with Linda Mercury

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Linda Mercury

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story” — who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door — the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.


Name: Linda Mercury
Location: Portland, Oregon
Profession: Author

Tell me about yourself. What made you decide to become a writer?

I’m a writer and creator of really unusual fictional worlds. More than anything, I care about compassion, connection, and intimacy. Prior to becoming a writer, I used to be a librarian, historian, and professional clown (but not all at once).

But then, something happened: September 11, 2001. After the attacks, I felt great sadness and even greater determination. I knew there had to be a better way to bring people together, make good times happen, and transmit the values of love and caring.

So I started my research. I read a lot, I wrote a lot. Now, seven books later….here I am.

Today, my life’s work is to share what I know about love, history, and passion with as many people as I possibly can. Sometimes, my work looks like very sexy paranormal romance novels. Other times, it is blog posts on history, feminism, and intercultural understanding.

Ultimately, all of my work is about coming together. Because life is way better when people tell each other the truth of who they are.

For many people, writing a book can feel like a daunting, impossible-feeling project. So many pages. So many details to keep straight in your mind. So overwhelming! But Linda, you’ve written not just one, not just two, but six novels! That’s quite a feat!

I am curious to know… When you’re writing a book, what is your process? Do you do a bunch of research before you start writing? Do you just start typing and see what comes out of your brain? Do you figure out the characters first, and then the plot, or vice versa? Walk us through your process.

I’m so thrilled you asked. My books usually start with a character, usually the heroine. For the Blood Wings series (Dracula’s Secret, Dracula’s Desires, and Dracula Unleashed), I realized that a lot of the myths and legends about Dracula would make perfect sense if this historical character had been born a woman and had to hide her gender her entire life. From this tiny thought, a whole person emerged.

For Curse of the Spider Woman, I thought about a woman who had nothing left to lose. Where would she go from there? How would she handle having someone put demands on her last days of life?

After I get a glimpse of the woman, I wonder what she wants. Who would love her? What kind of world does she live in? What are her secrets?

I usually hand-write while I brainstorm. I research as I go along, seeing what I need to know. I have an academic background in history and librarianship, so research is really second nature at this point. (Side note – if anyone needs tips on how to do research that makes your writing shine, contact me!)

I do write a synopsis to give myself a general idea of what has to happen, but I have learned that the story and the characters will change as I write along.

Every project has the same stages of fear, anxiety, and confusion, but as you write more and more, your process gets more efficient. Instead of worrying for months if what you have to say is worthwhile, you get it over with in a few days.


You’re known for writing sexy, sensual stories with lots of risqué themes. When you say to people, “I write romance novels,” or “I write erotic fiction,” how do people react? Have you ever gotten any negative responses? Raised eyebrows? Shocked gasps? Unfriendly words?

Rarely! I tell people, “I write very sexy paranormal romance”, and they usually respond with a big smile. One time, I did have a gentleman make a crack about how I wrote porn/smut. I looked him right in the eye and politely said, “Nice try, but you can’t shame me.”

Because I refuse to feel shame for my writing, I will reframe comments on how a person prefers something more “substantial”. I ask them what they like to read. This leads to a fun conversation about books, reading, and literary themes. Once they realize I’m not going to call them a prude, they relax and we have a good time. Sometimes, they will then buy my books because they now know me and realize I write smart, feminist fiction.

I don’t take anyone else’s responses personally. Their thoughts about the suitability of romance or sexually honest books are not my responsibility.

Recently, you got invited to be a panelist at a writing conference in Oregon, where you live. There’s a stereotype that writers are quiet, solitary people who don’t enjoy speaking in public. Is that true for you… or not? How did it feel to be on that panel? Would you do it again?

Writers are quiet people- until you get them going on something they love! I was nervous before the presentation, but once I got up there and saw that people wanted to hear what I had to say, I was on fire. I would absolutely do it again.

I gave a presentation called, “From Arousal to Zipper: Writing the Best Sex of Your Life.” Much to my surprise, the room was packed. Everyone had something fabulous to say, especially about how much readers want love scenes that are emotional and integrated into the story. We had so much fun, a number of us ended up talking in the lobby of the hotel for an hour and a half after the lecture.

Do you ever get stuck with your projects? What do you do to bring yourself out of a creative slump?

Oh, boy, do I ever get stuck. It can be very painful, for upon that road lives the squalid houses of Despair, Depression, and Self-Loathing.

I have taken a long time to figure out that getting stuck is part of the process. It’s a sign that I need to go back to the beginning, read my character studies, look over my plot, and see where I have written myself in a corner. In addition, getting bogged down means I need to take a break to feed my imagination.

To get out of the slump, I must get some intellectual stimulation, if by traveling (even just over to the park), looking at art, or listening to different music. A rich life of the mind is not optional if you want to create or problem solve. Everything I take in gives my writing depth and power.

Don’t ever starve yourself of what your soul needs. I do it all too often and I always pay for it.


Have you ever gotten a nasty review about one of your books? What did they say? How did that feel? Do you have any advice for someone who’s terrified of receiving criticism?

I have gotten truly nasty reviews. The very first two reviews on my very first book were mean. The first review left on GoodReads called my romance novel “Nazi Snuff Porn.” The first review on Amazon called it, “The worst book (she) had read that year.”

Those were a shock. My poor little book! Don’t we all want people to love our work and call it genius?

Fortunately, I had already read Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. She had the best advice ever on dealing with rejection and bad reviews. Here’s a tiny taste of her smart, wonderful, compassionate, funny, and genuinely useful book:

It goes without saying that ever since you say your [rejection]…, you’ve been suffering the tortures of the damned. It’s as if every ion of your body has been reversed; as if you’ve literally been struck by lightning, as if your liver has ruptured and your spleen’s been set afire and your vision has blurred – is it just tears or a brain tumor? It’s going to last, this ghastly, terrible, unspeakable rejection, from a period of about two hours for the rest of your life….
There’s a better way. Remember the hypothesis that life (and writing) are like courtship, romance, even sex? Instead of thinking of rejection as a life-blighting event, make it into a dating game. (p. 88-89)

I applied her suggestions to my life and bad reviews don’t bother me much anymore. Also, living well truly is the best revenge. Keep writing, keep doing what you love, and the nasty stuff will be much less important.

How did you select your pen-name, Linda Mercury?

It wasn’t easy! I needed something with more pizzazz than my legal name, something that said fast-paced, sexy, thought-provoking.

My favorite band is Queen. I took Freddie Mercury’s last name for my pseudonym since he has inspired me since I was a young woman. His fearlessness, his willingness to be different, his stage presence, his unique soaring voice – all of his attributes have helped me be brave and honest in my writing.

Has there ever been a period of time where you got really frustrated with writing… or even wanted to quit all together? What happened? What changed your mind and helped you to keep going?

I had two major crises of faith in 2017. In the early part of the year, I got really down on myself because I wasn’t on best-seller lists after writing since 2001 and releasing six books. I had to take myself to the coast for a few days for journaling and re-affirming if writing was really what I wanted to do or if I was fooling myself.

I was fortunate. I was able to find compassion for myself. I had created the goal of being a “Best Seller” without putting together the framework of support that a writer needs to achieve that dream. I remembered that I loved writing; I loved moving people; and finding ways to create a better world. I had to start over with the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and what drove my passion.

Later in the year, my normally manageable chronic pain issues went nuts. I was on a merry-go-round of physical therapy, exercise, and depression. I had to completely rethink the way I worked – not just my physical writing space (I got a sit-stand desk, a new office chair, and other ergonomic fixes), but my emotional needs. I have amazing friends – they willingly gave me good advice and reminded me that I do write well.

So surround yourself with people who love you, want you to be happy, and tell you when you are doing a good job.

I highly recommend joining the Romance Writers of America. RWA is the best of the professional writer organizations out there. They work tirelessly to educate writers on the art, craft, and publishing aspects of writing. Finding a local chapter will go a long way to finding a support group.

Prior to becoming a novelist, you worked as a librarian! What was the best part about that job? What were the parts you didn’t particularly love?

I loved being a librarian! Helping people make their lives better is one of the best things in the world. Information literally is the lifeblood of a society and librarians are the heartbeat that keeps that blood moving. For example, I helped people find resources on landlord/tenant agreements, on life-threatening diseases, and especially on job-hunting.

The hard part? Knowing my career was at the mercy of funding measures. So vote for libraries!

I’ve heard a rumor that your next book will be a different genre than your previous books. You’re working on a YA (Young Adult) book featuring a teenage girl as the heroine. Can you reveal any info about this new project?

This new project is eating my brain! It’s been years since I’ve been either a teenager or a young adult. I am diving into research, learning what young people today care about and need from society.

Unlike my other books, this book, tentatively titled The Dream Factory, will not be a romance. Instead, it will be fantasy – a coming of age story about a young woman who revitalizes a depressed town with her new job in a costume shop.



Imagine someone out there who dreams about writing a novel, but feels intimidated, or doesn’t know where to begin. Can you give 3 pieces of advice to that person?


Far too many beginning authors never get started because they worry about what other people will think. Start small and write what makes you happy.

• Protect the Work

Too often, beginning writers get all excited about their story and show it too soon to people who have no idea how to give proper feedback. We share our passion with those whose approval we crave, with people who can hurt us like no others.

Second, once we do start writing, we shove it aside for everything else. We start refusing to take the time to do this thing that makes us happier than anything. It brings richness and joy, but we don’t guard the writing. Protect what makes you happy, protect what feeds your mind, protect yourself from unnecessary cruelty.

• Dare to be Average

Don’t be worried about writing deathless prose! I’ve had so many writers tell me they want to write books that will be studied in college for decades. Seriously, just start with writing a book. Write two or three or ten. Have fun with it. Learn. Play. If you don’t agonize, you will get so much more done.

Lower the stakes for yourself. Ease out of perfectionism and enjoy what you do. If you having trouble with perfectionism (and who doesn’t!), check out Chapter Fourteen of Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. I also recommend reading up on imposter syndrome.

I’m darn sure that once you embrace being average, you will find out that your writing is pretty fabulous.

• Feed your head.

Writing needs its writer to be immersed in life. Listen to music, look at both the visual and performance arts, watch a tree drink the water pooling at its base. Your brain takes in so much stimuli during the day – make sure you take in information that stimulates you, which makes you laugh, dance, and feel grateful. You don’t have to go on an expensive trip to experience magnificent food, get near water, or try something new. Read books on writing, hang out with your friends. Live your life zestfully and your writing will sing.

Good luck and keep writing!

If you have any questions for Linda, you can drop her a line at All of her books are available on


Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Linda? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!


An Interview with Melissa Cassera

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Melissa Cassera

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story” — who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door — the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Melissa Cassera

Name: Melissa Cassera
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Business Strategist and Screenwriter

Melissa, you’ve gone through many chapters in your career. In your twenties, you did some acting work for TV commercials and independent films. Then you worked in advertising, marketing, and sales. Then you started your own PR and marketing agency. And today, you’ve come full circle, and you’re back in the TV industry working as a screenwriter. Whoa! It’s quite a journey! I am curious to know… what’s one of the biggest “high points” in your career so far, and what’s one of the lowest “low points”?

One of the biggest high points was seeing my name on screen as a writer for the first time! When my Lifetime Movie Girl Followed premiered earlier this year, all of my family, friends, clients, etc. took photos of their TV screen and texted them to me. It was the BEST feeling! Especially because so many people told me that it would be impossible to begin a screenwriting career in my late 30s, or they said it would take between 7 and 10 years to even sell anything, much less get it made. 

One of my lowest low points was very early on in my business, I took on a marketing client that my gut was screaming not to. Lesson learned. I ended up getting sued, even though I wasn’t at fault for anything, and I learned anyone can sue you if they have enough money and bizarre personal vendettas. I guess everything does come full circle because that situation was like a Lifetime Movie!

Have you always loved writing? What are some of the earliest writing projects you can remember doing–as a kid, or as a teenager?

In elementary school, I was a big fan of soap operas (General Hospital!) and I used to pen these salacious, soap opera-type tales about my classmates. They were pretty naughty for a 5th grade audience (oops!), and eventually a teacher caught me and terrified me enough that I didn’t write fiction again until my mid 30s when I began screenwriting!

I do have a business writing background, and cut my teeth as a publicist and copywriter for years – landing clients on Oprah, The Today Show, etc. I also worked with several ad agencies developing campaigns and writing copy for brands of all sizes. Eventually I moved that experience into consulting and teaching entrepreneurs how to craft their own stories, message & copy.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Melissa Cassera

I’ve heard lots of horror-stories about how it’s so difficult to “make it” in Hollywood. Stories about people getting crappy internships for no money, trying to rise up through the ranks, toiling away for decades before ever getting noticed or getting their “big break.” Is this depiction of the TV industry accurate? Has that been your experience? Or not?

Oh goodness. One of the first pieces of advice I got in LA was: “if you want to be a screenwriter, you have to be an assistant first – for many years. And your biggest responsibility is making sure the cold sodas are moved to the front of the refrigerator so the writers don’t get the warm sodas.”

Warm sodas = death of creativity, I guess?

The answer to your question is: yes and no.

It really depends on your definition of “making it.”

Here’s an example:

Many writers have a very specific goal of getting staffed on an existing TV show.

This is attractive because it’s really the only “guaranteed” paycheck for a writer. If you are “staffed” that means you can expect to have a job for at least one season (often more if the show is picked up for another season.) That means you get paid well to be in the room pitching ideas, you may get to write an episode (or 2) and you hope to move up the ladder to become a Story Editor, Producer, etc. This is a very typical path and the one that’s most common for people to pursue.

It is very difficult to get staffed. The most common paths in are to work your way up from an assistant (sometimes for several years) before getting a shot a staffing job. You could also luck into a network diversity fellowship, which most of the major networks host and accept a handful of people each year (though there’s no guarantee you’ll get a job after your fellowship). Tens of thousands of people enter those fellowships and they are a TON of work to enter, so it can really feel like a very tough uphill battle.

While I’m not opposed to staffing, and would give my left arm to work for Shonda Rhimes or Alan Ball, it’s not my goal. My initial screenwriting goals were 1) to write a Lifetime movie (accomplished!) and 2) sell my TV pilot (accomplished!) and 3) Get representation (I have an awesome literary manager!)

 I’m now writing what I want to write (dark, independent drama films) and shadowing directors, producers and casting directors to see if there are other areas of the business I’d like to pursue.

Another goal I have is to be known as the “punch up” writer for strong, layered female characters – meaning I’m hired by studios to go over an existing script and make suggestions of how the women characters can be stronger/more diverse.

I love writing my own scripts, but I’m equally excited to collaborate with others on existing ideas/scripts and make them the best they can be!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Melissa Cassera

One of your TV writing mentors once said to you, “Good work always gets found.” Tell us more about this statement. What does it mean to you?

I was so lucky to get this advice early on from a working TV Show Creator/Showrunner. It took so much pressure off of me to follow all the other advice out there (like cold sodas) and really focus on my craft.

I learned to focus on my writing and tune out the noise and “advice.” If you have a great script, EVERYONE will want to read it.

You can network, schmooze, grind away as an assistant, etc. – but if you don’t have a good script, none of that matters.

My mentor told me to read tons of scripts. Watch TV and movies. Write. Write some more. Hire a story consultant. Create a “circle of trust” – people in the industry that can read your script and give you amazing notes to move your story forward. So, that’s what I did!

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re having a stressful or discouraging day? What helps to shift your mood?

I love downloading soundtracks or trailer music and going for a long walk. Epic beats almost instantly put me in a better mood! Plus, I start to fantasize about new characters and storylines, so win-win!

Your first movie, Girl Followed, recently premiered on the Lifetime Network. You sold a TV show called Addicted to a production company. And I’ve heard rumors that you’re pitching some movie projects, too. What’s next for you? What can we expect to see from you in 2018, 2019, and beyond? I know that you might be bound by some confidentiality agreements, but is there anything you’re able to share?

Yes! I have a second movie in post-production for Lifetime (can’t say the name, unfortunately)

ADDICTED (my TV show) is in development currently with a studio, which means we are writing all of the first season’s episodes. It’s a really exciting process!

My manager is currently shopping around another feature (movie) script – it’s a dark & sexy psychological thriller!

In 2018, I’d love to sell another feature film script and really amp up my industry connections. I’m aiming to make 100 new connections in 2018!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Melissa Cassera


Can you share 3 pieces of advice for someone who wants to pursue an unusual (or, some might even say, “unrealistic”) career, like becoming a screenwriter?

1. Be careful of the advice you take in.

There are lots of well-meaning people that want to advise you, but no two paths in are the same. Take in less advice and spend that extra time honing your craft.

2.  Find a few mentors, and adjust your expectations for them.

A mentor doesn’t necessarily mean that they are always there at the drop of a hat and will look over your work and give advice constantly. Remember that these folks are BUSY and you want to respect their time. I have a few different mentors, and I probably only see them a few times a year, but their help is so powerful and I completely respect their time and their own projects and dreams.

3. Look for inspiration outside of the career path, or come at your work from a fresh perspective.

For example, most writers are in writing classes or writing groups (which can be amazing and valuable). But, I once had a top literary agent tell me that he requires all of his clients take improv classes so they are better in pitch meetings. I thought that was so smart, and of course enrolled immediately at UCB (and yes, it DID help me in pitch meetings!) I also just finished up a class that was about “directing for actors.” Do I want to be an actor or a director? Not necessarily. But, it was so helpful getting to see things from their perspectives and my writing improved because of it.


Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Melissa? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!


Your Career Forecast: December 2017 / January 2018

Ellen Fondiler | Your Career Forecast: December 2017 / January 2018

I work as a career and business strategist. But my secret passion is… astrology!

About once a month,  I post an overview of what’s happening in the cosmos and how it might influence your career. It’s called: Your Career Forecast.

Whether you’re job-hunting, running your own business, or wondering about the ideal time to ask for a raise or take a vacation, each Career Forecast will reveal the important dates and cosmic shifts that you need to know about.

I am joined by my dear friend, Heidi Rose Robbins, a master astrologer who will provide expert insight into what’s going on in the stars.

Let’s dive in!


What’s going on this month…

HEIDI: The Sun moves into Capricorn on December 21st at 8:29 am Pacific time. Capricorn is an earth sign and carries great weight and responsibility. Under Capricorn we get down to work. We climb. We articulate our purpose and we move resolutely towards the next achievement. Saturn rules Capricorn and Saturn is the planet of discipline, authority and accomplishment. There’s work to be done under Capricorn.

The very next day, December 22nd, Mercury moves direct. This will indicate that communication now moves forward in a clear and direct manner. The reflection period is over and we can act. If your thinking has been a big foggy, Mercury direct will help to clear that fog.

On December 24th, Venus moves to join the Sun in Capricorn. This makes the climb more pleasurable. Venus in Capricorn loves work. It loves hard work. It loves commitment and creating a structure to hold what wants to be created. Venus in Capricorn is committed creativity.

Look for the power to change and shake things up when Mars is conjunct Uranus on December 27th. It’s a shot in the arm and the opportunity to break up old patterns.

January 1st is the Full Moon of Capricorn. What an auspicious day! Welcome the New Year with clarity and purpose. Make plans. Feel your uprightness. Know how capable you are. Feel how you can be your OWN wise parent and take great care of yourself this year.

January 9th brings a profound window for depth and healing. Venus and the Sun line up with Pluto. Pluto rules wealth and power. There is the possibility of shedding anything that obstructs your ability to stand fully in your power and attract the resources you need.

Mercury joins Venus, the Sun and Saturn in Capricorn on January 10th. Now anything is possible. Hard work is the name of the game. We buckle down. We think seriously. We concentrate.  The New Moon on the 16th further adds to the power of this line-up in the heavens. It’s a time to align with purpose. Capricorn in fact rules TIME. So, with this much focus on Capricorn, we feel that the TIME IS NOW.

Venus moves into Aquarius on January 17th giving a little more freedom and flexibility. If Capricorn is a bit more solo, Aquarius loves to be in the group. You might need to share your vision to accomplish it. Bring in your like-minded, like-hearted peers.

All in all, it’s a month of determination and clarity. It’s a great way to start the year. What’s your PLAN? Make one—even if it’s just for today or this week. Then make another. Capricorn says PLAN and EXECUTE that plan. Capricorn says it will feel like such a relief if you finally do what you’ve been wanting to do. So, let’s all finally do it!

What does all of this mean for your career? Let’s look closer…


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: The time of Capricorn (December 21st – January 19th) is excellent for anyone who’s job hunting.

Firstly, Capricorn brings a determined, forceful, climb-up-that-mountain type of energy—you’re likely to feel driven and motivated, not lackadaisical.

Secondly, January is a peak month for recruitment and hiring. Most companies have a new annual budget in place, and new positions that need to be filled, and interviews and hiring meetings go into full swing. It’s a great month to amp up your job search.

On December 24th, Venus joins the Sun in Capricorn. This is a beautiful combination of warm, loving feelings (thanks to Venus) plus a disciplined work ethic (courtesy of Capricorn). The vibe is: work hard, but make it fun!

If you’re updating your résumé, light a candle and treat yourself to some hot cocoa. If you’re putting together a proposal to request a salary increase, work on it while listening to your favorite holiday music. When you’re done, reward yourself with a sappy romantic movie. It’s the last week of the year, after all… so if you intend to do some work, try to make it as pleasurable as possible!

On January 10th, Mercury joins Venus, the Sun and Saturn in Capricorn. With this celestial combination, hard work will be hugely rewarded. It’s time to buckle down, focus, and use your time wisely. This is not the moment to spend your day idly watching videos on YouTube. It’s time to get focused and take actions that can yield big results.

For job hunters: instead of casually surfing the ‘net looking for new job postings, use your time more intentionally. Make a list of 10 people that you like and admire—colleagues, mentors, classmates, friends and family—and send a personal note to each person. Wish them a happy New Year. Ask how they’re doing. Then let them know you’re searching for a new position. Describe your dream job and ask them to keep their ears open for you.

More often than not, it’s the people in your network—genuine friendships and relationships—that lead to a great new job. So, throughout January, spend less time Googling and more time strengthening the relationships in your life. You never know where one text, “thank you” card, or coffee date might lead. You might find yourself with a fantastic job offer much faster than expected!


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: On December 22nd, Mercury moves direct. If your thinking has been a big foggy lately, this shift will help to clear the brain-fog. This would be an excellent time to meditate, take a long walk, or meet a friend for tea and talk about your vision for 2018. If you intend to stay at your current workplace for a while, that’s great—and how could things be even better in the New Year?

For starters, make a list of 3 things you’d love to achieve or experience at work in 2018—plus 3 skills you’d like to improve. Extra credit: write down 3 things you’d love to stop doing at your current job—projects that don’t feel mission-critical, tasks that feel irrelevant or outdated, stuff you could probably delegate. See if you can work with your manager to get these cleared off your plate. Ahhhh! Relief! It’s always great to move into the New Year feeling lighter and clearer, and feeling excited about what’s ahead.

Mars is conjunct Uranus on December 27th. Uranus is all about surprises and unexpected opportunities. You might receive a surprising proposition around this date. Maybe an old boss from a previous chapter of your career will come knocking on your door with a tempting offer, eager to woo you away from your current employer. Maybe a brand new position will open up at your current company, and you’ll realize, “This is my next move!” Keep your eyes and ears open. Who knows what’s coming your way? With Mars in the air, you might feel unusually bold and aggressive. When that surprise offer arrives, you can pounce with courage!

December 27th is also a great time to dust things off and bring in some fresh new energy—new policies, new habits, maybe a fun new workplace outfit—or a whole new wardrobe? Whatever’s been feeling “stale” in your life or career, now’s the moment to shake things up!


Here’s what you need to know…

ELLEN: January 9th is a powerful day for entrepreneurs. Venus and the Sun line up with Pluto. Venus is all about love. Pluto rules wealth and power, and also, the subconscious mind. On this day, the cosmos invites you to shed anything that is obstructing your power—anything that’s impeding you from attracting the clients, customers, and resources that you need. Shed it off. Let it go. Burn it up.

This is a transformative day—an excellent day to shed pessimism, negativity, and fear. A day to ask yourself, “Is there a belief that’s been limiting my success?”

For example, maybe you believe, “My services are worth $80 an hour and that’s it, nothing more.” But is that actually true? Maybe not!

Or, maybe you believe, “Nobody would ever want to read my book.” “Nobody will come to my event.” “I couldn’t possibly teach a class—I’m not qualified.” Are those beliefs actually true? Maybe not. You might be underestimating yourself.

Venus moves into Aquarius on January 17th, bringing an opportunity for loving, flowing creative collaborations. It’s a great to interview someone for your blog, collaborate with a colleague to start a podcast, or bring a new person onto your team. This would also be a great day to start a new writing group or accountability group—perhaps a couple of friends who’d like to meet monthly to share goals and swap ideas. Hang with like-minded people. They’ll open your eyes to new possibilities—and you’ll do the same for them!

But before the 17th, we’ve got… January 1st. It’s always an exciting day of the year, but January 1st, 2018 is especially powerful because we’ve got the Full Moon of Capricorn.

On this day, all the energies of Capricorn—determination, hard work, discipline, and clear-minded planning—are magnified. You may notice yourself feeling especially focused and clear, thinking to yourself: “I know what I want, and I’m ready to make a serious commitment and put in the work.” Regardless of your current job or business situation, this is a TERRIFIC way to start the New Year!


• Buckling down and putting in serious work to reach your goals—and also, using your time wisely and efficiently.

• Burning away old beliefs and patterns, and shaking things up in a big way.

• Clear, focused planning and even better, IMPLEMENTING your plan!

• Dreamy, joyful collaborations with colleagues.

• Unexpected invitations and opportunities.


December 21st – Sun moves into Capricorn. (A month of focused, disciplined effort begins today!)

December 22nd – Mercury moves direct. (Brain fog is lifted. Clarity returns. Communication becomes easier.)

December 24th – Venus moves into Capricorn. (Work hard and play hard, too. A great day to complete a project in a loving, fun, pleasurable way.)

December 27th – Mars conjunct Uranus. (There’s a warrior-like energy in the air, combined with surprises and unexpected invitations. Anything could happen!)

January 1st – Full Moon of Capricorn. (Capricorn’s qualities—determination, effort, making the long climb upward—are intensified on this day.)

January 9th – Venus conjunct Pluto, Sun conjunct Pluto. (Shed whatever is weighing you down in your career or personal life.)

January 10th – Mercury moves into Capricorn. (Time to act! Communicate. Launch. Activate. It’s time to buckle down and kick the New Year into full gear.)

January 16th – New Moon in Capricorn. (Set intentions. Plant new seeds. A great day to begin a new project or start a new adventure.)

January 17th – Venus moves into Aquarius. (Hang with like-minded people. Collaborate. Grow stronger, together.)


“Far away therein the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” —Louisa May Alcott

We set all kinds of goals in life. Sometimes we achieve them. Sometimes we do not. Sometimes we come very close, and yet don’t quite reach the pinnacle of the mountain. And yet, making the effort is still worth it. Every step is worth it.

Millions watched as Hillary Clinton set her sights on the highest position in the world—President of the United States. She had a big mountain to climb to receive a nomination from the Democratic party. It took decades of service and hard work before she earned the nomination, and many grueling months and millions of dollars on the campaign trail. And even though she’s not sitting in the White House today, her fierce determination made a lasting impression of millions of women and girls.

Because of the example that she set, more women than ever before are running for office, running their own businesses, and reaching higher than they ever dared before.

Even though Hillary didn’t reach the top of the mountain, her upward climb—her courage, her focus, and disciplined effort—has changed the world.

To me, this is the greatest lesson of Capricorn. It’s not just about the goals you achieve, or the position you attain, or the impressive job title on your business card, or your flashy website. It’s all about your tenacity along the journey—the example you set for others, and the sense of pride you feel in your efforts.

Keep climbing up your own personal mountain, whatever it may be. Do your best. Stay the course. Make yourself proud. No matter what happens in the end, you will know, “I made my absolute best effort. I held nothing back.”

Happy New Year!

Have an amazing month!

With love,

Ellen & Heidi

Learn more about my career & business coaching services here.

Learn more about Heidi and her astrological services here.

An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

Whenever I meet someone who’s got a really cool job, who runs a thriving business, or who has completed an amazing project, I always want to know: “How did you do that?”

I’m always curious to hear the “behind-the-scenes story” — who they emailed, what they said, how they got their first client, how they got their foot in the door — the exact steps that they took to achieve their goal.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? is an interview series where we get to hear the REAL story behind someone’s success—not the polished, neat and tidy version.

To see a complete list of all the interviews that have been completed to date, head over here.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

Name: Heidi Rose Robbins
Location: Los Angeles, California
Profession: Astrologer & Poet

How does someone become an astrologer? Do you have to take classes? Is there an exam you need to pass, or something like that? What’s the pathway?

There are many paths! I was born into the profession. My father is the best astrologer I know. I grew up learning the zodiac with my ABC’s. My training was with my father and then later, I read and studied a great deal on my own.

I studied with Alan Oken along the way and I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with astrologers world wide. I have always loved and been inspired by Caroline Casey as well. Certainly, there are classes and certifications available, but my route was a more organic one. The only exam you need to pass is the test of your clients. If they want to work with you, you’ve passed.

When you say, “I’m an astrologer,” do people ever scoff at you, or raise their eyebrows, or say rude things like, “That’s not a real job”? Has anything like that ever happened to you? Did it upset you?

There is almost always a pause after I say that I’m an astrologer. It halts party conversation. People choose their words carefully after that. I always think it’s funny and assure them that it’s all very grounded and has nothing to do with fortune telling. I am always trying to uplift and redeem the science and art of astrology. It’s had a rocky ride.

Then again, more and more people are open to seeking guidance in new ways. Hamlet said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.” I try to live open to all that wants to grow us. I think within 25 years, astrology will be much more mainstream and many, many more people will be seeking astrological guidance.

In addition to being an astrologer, you’re also a poet. That’s such a beautiful and unusual combination! What does a typical workday look like for you? Walk us through your daily routine.

My astrology business is pretty straightforward. I see several clients each day either in person or via Zoom or Skype. I like to give myself a little time in the morning after dropping the kids at school. But I generally get underway by 9:30 am. I’m best in the sessions if I don’t see more than four people a day and I generally see only three.

My poet self needs a bit more spaciousness so I generally find that I write poems in small spurts. I love to go to Ojai on mini personal retreats and I find that after I’ve been there for about 12 hours, the inspiration starts to come. I wish I could say that I’m great at writing poetry amidst the fray but I need a lot of silent time to let the poems in!

I combine both astrology and poetry in my Radiant Life Retreats which I offer for women 2-3 times a year. So during those retreats, my ‘workday’ becomes a work week, full on, in the most beautiful way.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

You mentioned that you learned astrology from your father. Your father was also the director of an opera house in Fargo, North Dakota, where you grew up. You’ve studied acting. It sounds like theater, music, and the performing arts have always been a big part of your life. How has this influenced your career?

I had a very spiritual upbringing but an artistic one as well. I did in fact grow up in opera houses watching my dad direct. I loved it. And I was also deeply influenced by mother choosing to go back to school to become an architect when I was 10. She was one of the first female architecture students at North Dakota State University.

I studied acting all the way through Graduate School at Southern Methodist University. I remember when I completed my MFA, I thought “Hmmmm. I don’t think I want to act. I think I want to be myself.” I didn’t, however, feel Graduate School was wasted in the least because I learned about presence, connection and creative ensemble. I had remarkable teachers and I formed some of the most beautiful and supportive relationships of my life there too. My artist self was deeply nourished and I think that lay the foundation for my poetry performances and offerings as well.

When I teach astrology, I always teach it in part through embodiment. We feel the energies in our bodies. We enact the energies. This all stems from my artistic path. Even though I’m not acting anymore, I feel that I lead an artistic life.

You just started a new podcast called The Radiance Project. What is it about? What kind of people do you have as your guests? Is this something you have wanted to do for a while? Tell us about this new project.

I love this new offering. Ten years ago, I thought about creating a radio program and I even went so far as to create a demo. Then, it stalled and I worked on other things. A few years ago I began to think about it again and finally, after all these years, I said “Now!”

It’s a podcast of Astrology, Poetry and Good Company. I interview all kinds of people. I feel a little like Mr. Rogers. “These are the people in my neighborhood. I love them and I know you will too.” The people in my Los Angeles neighborhood happen to often be involved in movies or TV, so I’ve definitely gotten to speak to a lot of fabulous actors and actresses. But I also just interviewed a most wonderful fireman.

I ask all my guests if they are willing to talk about the Sun, Moon and Rising in their astrological chart. I also choose a poem for each guest and read it to them. Also, with every guest, we discuss a moment when light or love won the day — a radiant moment. It can be tiny. I’m looking for how we all move through our fear or anger and onto lighter, more loving, more generous living towards ourselves and others. This podcast feels like a synthesis of everything I have been working on for the last 20 years. I feel positively joyous about it! Do have a listen!

Looking back over the last 10 years of your career, what’s one of the most discouraging experiences that you can remember? What happened? How did you get through it?

The most challenging part of the last decade was always how to keep in integrity and alignment with my values and still generate income that was commensurate with my output. It’s been a big journey to make a living as an astrologer/poet and there have been many exhausting and yes, discouraging, days. But along the way, I kept creating and offering because it nourished me and I always received the reflection that it was making a difference for my community. I have found that once an authentic community is established, much can be created and the flow of resources grows!

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins

I’m always curious to find out, “How do clients find you?” Where do your clients come from? Do they find you through your website? From word-of-mouth referrals? Somewhere else?

My clients find me through word of mouth. It’s always six degrees of separation. I can trace most of my clients to a previous client. Many have heard about me through referrals on podcasts or many hear about me from a friend. I’ve been practicing for 20 years now, so there’s a certain momentum in the word of mouth.

Many people write poetry in secret, but feel like it’s not “good enough” to share publicly. People feel so much anxiety about putting their work “out there” into public view. Did you ever feel that kind of anxiety? Has it ever felt scary to put your stuff out there?

It’s always scary to press send or give a talk or send the newsletter or publish the book. Always. But it’s also delicious and rewarding and simply what I’ve needed to do. I love poetry so much and I want people to feel like they can understand it and not only understand it but be pierced by it.

Poetry can bypass all our mental chatter and remind us of our very palpable heart and its capacity to love. I am moved each time I watch a new person fall in love with poetry. And of course, I’m doubly moved if one of my poems happens to be the one that opens them. That gives me fuel the next time I have to face my fear.

Ellen Fondiler | An Interview with Heidi Rose Robbins


So many people would love to create an unconventional career, like you have, but they feel scared that there’s no possible way to make a living doing something you love. What are three pieces of advice for someone who’s feeling that way?

1. Keep doing what you love quietly and consistently even if you have to work a day job to do it.

2. Build a community around what you love.

Seek out community or invite people in. Start with three people in your living room. Businesses grow around authentic connection. Build community before you begin to ask for subscribers or customers. Build friendships.

3. Trust that building slowly is still building.

When the moment to dive in completely arrives, you’ll know and you’ll thrive.

Thank you, Heidi! Dear reader, if you’re interested in astrology, be sure to check out The Career Forecast. It’s a free astrological forecast that Heidi and I post each month. Whether you’re job-hunting, running your own business, or wondering about the ideal time to ask for a raise, each Career Forecast reveals the important dates and cosmic shifts that you need to know about. Check it out!


Do you have “one more quick question” that you’d like to ask Heidi? Email me and tell me what you want to know! I might choose your question for my ONE MORE THING… Podcast (Coming soon!!!)


Do you need some encouragement to help you achieve a big, daunting career goal? Would you like to have a career coach/strategist in your corner—feeding you ideas that you’d never considered before, helping you figure out who to contact, and what to say, and checking in to make sure you don’t procrastinate? If so… click here to find out how we can work together. I’d love to coach you!


UNLOCKED Links: November 2017

Ellen Fondiler | Unlocked Links: November 2017

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. Mostly, I gather articles and podcasts that capture my attention because they make me think or laugh. Here is the link round-up for November 2017!

• Fun Fact: The psychic services industry (which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot card reading and palmistry) is now worth $2 billion annually. In these tumultuous times, the 18-30 demographic is reaching for the stars. Here’s why Millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology.

• Actually, fascination with mystical places and things has been happening for thousands of years. Think Avalon and Tintagel and the Knights of the Round Table. Interested in this weird, mystical pull? Visit Southwest England and see the stuff of epic, romantic myth and mystery.

• While you are in the travel mode, pay a visit to the great hiking trails of the world: 80 trails, 75,000 miles, 38 countries and 6 continents. This will keep you busy and in great shape for years to come! Check it out here.

• There is not a lot to celebrate when we think of politics in this country. However, the rise of amazing grassroots organizations that have sprung up is certainly something to give us cheer. The Freya Project is one of them. The Freya Project is a fundraising reading series started in the wake of the 2016 election as a way to try to unify women in our fractured country. Each month, five women share personal essays on topics universal to the modern female’s experience. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to small non-profit organizations.

• The New York Times Modern Love column is something I look forward to each weekend. In the past 13 years, more than 80,000 submissions have poured in. Modern Love is a forum that explores love in all of its messy permutations — romantic love, friendship and family. Long may it continue!

• Fashion, which was once a world defined by exclusivity has, in recent years, undergone a democratic revolution. Clothing designers are answering a growing need for garments that address the disabled and the displaced.

• If you had the ability to speed learn anything, what would you choose? Max Deutsch chose chess. He went through a month of training before he traveled across the ocean, sat down in a regal hotel suite at the appointed hour and waited for the arrival of the world’s greatest chess player, Magnus Carlsen. Here is the story of the game they played.

• Swiping is taking on new frontiers. Bumble, known for its Sadie Hawkins style dating app, has recently launched Bizz, designed for professional networking and mentoring. The feature enables users to swipe and match for on-demand networking with potential connections and mentors in its 20 million user base.

• For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing. A growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods, and are leaving desk jobs and turning to farming. Read more about this fascinating growing trend.

• From Liz Dennery of SheBrand: stories of courage, kindness and grace. So many good people fighting to make a difference.

• Playlist: 6 TED talks: In celebration of being alone, but not lonely.

• And my all-time favorite for this month, the BEST job posting that received 9,000 applications. I can’t wait to see who they pick!

Happy reading and listening,


Photo: Willie Franklin.