The Blog

You choose the people you work with. That’s easy to forget sometimes, but it’s true. There’s no law that says you have to work in this office and not that one, this restaurant and not the one down the street, whatever.

Are you tickled for the opportunity to be around your colleagues for hours a day, weeks and months and years of your life?

That’s what struck me about Jane and Kacey Klonsky, the mother-daughter team I interviewed on the show recently. Jane says she’s in awe of her daughter: “I’m totally in awe of her. I’m in awe of her as a person, and I’m in awe of her as an artist.” She elaborated with so much gusto I wondered if I’d ever witnessed more love in my life.

You can work with family and have it work. You can work with people who aren’t family but feel like they are. You can do meaningful work in a meaningful way, around people you like or even love. That’s the whole point, right?

“What’s your advice for people who are contemplating working with one of their parents or children?”

It was a question for Kacey Klonsky, a filmmaker and photographer -- toward the end of a recent show with her and her mother, the award-winning photographer Jane Klonsky.

Kacey’s answer was swift: “Don’t contemplate it. Try it.”

Well, then. I have no more questions! Right?

Nothing tells you more than experience. Nothing.

TaylorIf you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression, you’re hanging around the wrong people.

Oh, sure. To Grandma you might always be the smart one, the pretty one -- or the smart aleck, the problem child. Otherwise? I hope you gravitate toward people who are not only busy evolving themselves, but more than willing to give you credit for doing the same.

The gloomies descended on me recently. Doesn’t matter why. What matters is what I remembered to do. I followed a suggestion I’d just heard, to regard them with curiosity. I watched them threaten an otherwise lovely morning. I kind of nodded as they did their thing. And maybe because I didn’t fight them, they faded.

“Well, that was interesting,” I thought.

And that was it.

It's such a simple thing, deciding what to focus on -- or whether to focus on it at all. But can you imagine a more important decision to make, moment by moment?

“You won’t live any longer,” people often tell me when they hear about the way I eat. “It’ll just feel that way.”

I smile. I shrug. Then we talk about whatever they want to talk about. I’m not saying they should live this way, after all. I’m saying they could.

It’s like what I heard about meditation, enlightment, transcendence: “This cannot be taught.” How can you know, after all, what it would feel like without artificial sweeteners and whatever else running through your system -- unless you’ve had them out of your system for a while?

When I gave up junk food it was only going to be for a year. That’s what powered me through two months of it, which was long enough to realize how I felt living that way. Amazing.

It doesn’t matter whether giving up junk food has extended my life. Giving it up has transformed my life. Don’t let anyone tell you it has to be one or the other.

Many years ago I confided in someone I worked with about someone else I worked with at a different company. I was sure the first gentleman was a fine person, a safe person, to talk with about the second.

Ah, youth.

That was a really, really, really bad move. The two men not only knew each other but were good friends.

I wasn’t so invested in either job that I’d risked that much, but it makes me cringe to think of how not classy I’d been. And, yes. I’ve been much classier since.

Isn’t that the way it goes? You forge character out of suffering through your mistakes and atoning for those.

TiffanyIn the early days of the talk show I scripted everything. I rarely followed the script, but I had one just in case. I had dozens of questions ready to ask if there was a lull in the conversation, which there never seemed to be.

Then one day I interviewed a regular on the show who’d become a pal. She’d had a stroke, and she was never going to be the same. She’d started working again, though -- and something told me she wouldn’t mind joining me again for another interview. I was right. She jumped at the chance.

This was one of the few conversations that scared me. How do you talk to someone who’s lost so much? Where do you even start?

I started with, “What happened?” But that was the extent of my notes. My next question was going to depend on her answer to my first.

And you know what? What the conversation lacked in flawless execution it more than made up for in meaning. I knew I’d never be the same after this talk, and I haven’t been.

You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to pay attention.

Many years ago I confided in my brother about my then boss. I had a long list of legitimate complaints, and my brother lived up to the reason I’d called him in the first place. He listened.

Then he asked why I wanted to keep working there.

Well, that’s the end of that story! Right? As to why I needed help seeing the obvious, this expression comes to mind: “Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer but wish you didn’t.”

Extracting myself from the situation wouldn’t be easy. But if you can’t change the people around you, as someone else pointed out, change the people around you.

There’s always a new and better friend around the corner. Ever noticed that?