I talked to Second City! And the Billfold! And it was fun!

I’m interviewed on Second City’s podcast! Host Kelly Leonard is a ridiculously good interviewer (which makes sense — this is Second City, after all). We talked about my own bad bosses, aggressive huggers, and lots more.  I even share a story about marriage. Please listen to it here! (Or in iTunes here.)

Also today, I’m in an advice columnist roundtable at The Billfold, talking with their editor Ester Bloom (and author of The Toast’s Aunt Acid advice column) and BusinessLady (The Toast’s work advice columnist, who now has a new column at The Billfold). We talk about advice columns, the time I ghosted a job, and more. (There’s also a part two coming soon.) You can read it here.

{ 32 comments… read them below }

  1. LQ*

    At this rate one of your posts every week is going to be AWESOME STUFF GOES HERE. And I look forward to every single one!
    Great roundtable and looking forward to the podcast.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have researched a USB microphone and am considering buying it, which would be the first step to doing one myself!

      This Second City one is one of my favorites that I’ve done though — this one and Dear Prudence.

      1. LQ*

        So as someone who has a podcast and likes audio quite a bit, have you considered connecting with any of the companies that produce podcasts? They might be able to help with some of the things that might be less fun for you. (I don’t mind producing my own audio, but if it wasn’t something I already liked, I think it would be too much!) But having someone else take care of the back end might make it easier to come out with episodes. And you’ve already got a fan base so it might make sense.


          1. LQ*

            No. I don’t know that I have any really good advice on this. Personally I’m entirely on my own. My own little world with my tiny little podcast. (I have no pre-built market and I’m happy to do my own production.)

            This is clearly not the whole of the actual podcast universe (it doesn’t even include the kind I do!) so there are lots of options. But you work with a bunch big sites so I’d start with do any of them do podcasts?
            I know the podcasts I listen to in the How Stuff Works universe are all quite good and you totally write about how stuff works! How business and being an adult at the office works. I like the stuff in the Relay.fm universe but I’m not sure how good of a fit you’d be for there content. And I know you mentioned that you liked how the Dear Prudence set up worked so maybe the Slate universe. But I don’t know much of anything about the inner workings and dealings of these organizations.

      2. My 2 Cents*

        I still laugh at the Dear Prudence podcast because it had the best advice ever: “At that point, maybe it’s time to just own it, you may find out that there is a whole subset of people out there who like to get peed on while wearing Spiderman masks.”

      3. hayling*

        Looking forward to listening to the Second City one today! I couldn’t get through the Prudie one though. I have heard Mallory as a guest on other shows and she has been great, but I think the Prudie Podcast needs a lot of work.

      4. TrainerGirl*

        I listened to you on the Prudence podcast…it was so great to hear your voice. I often wondered what you would sound like giving your sage advice.

        Have you seen the Second City show that’s current at the Kennedy Center? It is really fantastic, and so timely given the current political environment.

      5. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        Another idea would be to start with mini podcasts. I like Gretchen Rubin, but my mind wanders listening to her regular podcasts. But I love her “Littles.” Little two minute nuggets that give me something to meditate on, or refocus before a meeting or the like.

  2. Bowserkitty*

    How bad was this tape job of that spreadsheet, I wonder? I remember having to do that at OldJob because we couldn’t get the specs just right (in word-heavy spreadsheets it was difficult to get the font size large enough and still be able to see all information at once) so we’d print off a few columns over a few pages, and then tape them up and review them on a conference room table or on the wall.

    Unless she means printing off a handful of text areas from columns AND rows and printing those together, haha!

    1. Ellie H.*

      I was really curious about this! I guess I’m not seeing understanding what the problem with taping together printouts, assuming it was a good taping-together job. This is of course, assuming that the desired product was a printed-out version of a spreadsheet. I can understand embarrassment if what would have been the right thing to do was to email the file instead of presenting a printed version, or if you could have messed with the margins and stuff to make all the relevant information fit on one page (how much time have I spent doing this . . .) but not if you wanted an actual printed version of it – what else would you be supposed to do?

      1. Businesslady*

        Haha, I love that this has generated so much curiosity! It was more than a decade ago now so I don’t remember the specifics, except that it was a bad call for all the reasons you guys theorized.

        I was indeed supposed to provide a printed copy, but I had basically no experience in Excel and didn’t do any of the reformatting that would’ve made sense (narrowing columns, hiding data that was extraneous to what my boss actually needed, etc.). And I’m pretty sure that I taped several sheets together, end to end, to create a document that was something like 3 feet long. I did put quite a bit of effort into making the tape job itself look as neat as possible, but that only made me feel worse, because it was just wasted time.

        Really, though, the spreadsheet printout itself was kind of beside the point. It was embarrassment about my failure to take a step back–“what am I doing, does this make sense, should I investigate other options before moving forward”–that’s made it stick with me for so long.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          But that’s why it’s so hard to be a new worker — there are so many things that don’t make sense, and that would cause a lot of trouble if you didn’t do them the expected way! But it’s hard to know what’s expected, a lot of the time.

  3. Florida*

    When I was listening to the part about you firing the person without giving him feedback, it made me wonder something… Did you ever learn how to become a good manager with things like giving feedback, firing people, etc.? Not just knowing what should be done, but actually doing it. In other words, are you good at doing most of what you advise everyone else to do? It’s not uncommon for someone to be a good coach, but terrible at playing the game themselves. But there are good coaches who were good players. That’s what I was curious about.
    I hope this isn’t an offensive question. Feel free to ignore it, if it is.
    BTW, I appreciate your candor on the podcast. Your husband sounds like a saint. But that does means you are a horrible person. It’s not either or, he can be a saint and you can be a nice partner at the same time. :)
    If this is an awkward question, just remember that it could a bear hug from a co-worker instead. Seriously, if you aren’t comfortable answering it, feel free to delete it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I hope I’m pretty good at it now, although I’m certainly far from perfect. And I learned through messing up, like most people do, so I have plenty of mistakes in my past as well!

      1. Florida*

        I think everyone has mistakes in their past. I really appreciate you sharing your mistakes because a lot of people aren’t willing to do that. (They were born perfect, you know.)

  4. Allovertheworld*

    Congrats! Just a heads-up that the Second City podcast has your website listed as .com rather than .org.

      1. Allovertheworld*

        Figured you would have it covered :) Really enjoyed the podcast, even took down some notes!

  5. hayling*

    I loved your “yes, and” story! I think it’s actually a great way to approach conversations and ideas in meetings at work. I can come across as a bit too much of a naysayer, and I think reframing it as “yes, and” when someone brings up something would make it sound much less like I’m shooting down their idea. I’m gonna work on this.

  6. zora.dee*

    This is the first podcast I’ve been able to listen to and I love hearing your voice. And it was so fantastic, so many different things to think about and that was a wonderful Yes, And.. story! So happy for all of your success!

  7. Cheryl Becker*

    Alison is human! She once walked away from a job with no notice or anything! Thanks for making me feel better for all the stoopid mistakes I’ve made in my work life! :-)

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