Blog Posts by Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy

  • Does thinking about happiness make you happier?

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesHappiness is having its moment in the sun. And the darkened economy doesn't seem to have cast much of a shadow over it.

    A few weeks ago, my husband and I joined a packed auditorium at the Hilton New York for a lecture on positive psychology by Shawn Achor, a popular professor at Harvard. (This was part of One-Day University, a cool program that assembles a group of lecturers from top universities for a day of public lectures in major cities.) Achor took the audience through the greatest hits of the science of happiness, covering a wide swath of material in his alotted 70 minutes. He explained how positive psychology developed as a field of study. Instead of focusing exclusively on mental troubles like depression, psychologists like Martin Selgiman started focusing on people who are happy to figure out what we could learn from them.

    Achor took us through a host of nifty experiments, like this one: Pair off into a group of two people, preferably people who don't know one another. Call

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  • Your small business questions answered (and a happy surprise for me)

    I just finished a marathon week answering questions about small business with Kevin Salwen over at the Yahoo! Small Business Center.

    We got a slew of interesting questions ranging from how to use social networking to grow a small business, to how to prevent people from stealing your idea, and how a small business can become more socially responsible. You can read all the questions and answers here, under the "See Expert Answers," tab.

    I always enjoy answering reader questions, but this time I also got a cool work experience out of the deal. Though I'd been aware of Salwen from his days at the Wall Street Journal, I'd only met him briefly before Yahoo! asked us to work together on this project.

    If that match hadn't gone so smoothly this week would have been a disaster. Instead it was one of the smoothest collaborations I've ever had. We figured out a process to do the work, divvying up the questions based on our areas of expertise, using Facebook chat to let each other know when a

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  • Do you have a small-business question?

    This blog is going to be a little quiet this week as I'm spending my time on another area of Yahoo! helping people with their questions about small business. So if you'll excuse this mini-advertisement, I'll tell you what it's all about as it's a pretty nifty way to learn about small business and potentially win some valuable stuff.

    Are you thinking of starting a small business, but stumped as to any aspect of it? Wondering how to write a business plan? How much money you'll need to start up? Whether it's legal to run your business out of your home?

    If so, head over to Yahoo!'s Small Business Answer Center, where Kevin Salwen and I will be answering questions as part of a contest sponsored by Yahoo! and Bank of America. Kevin and I will select and answer 25 questions over the next few days and one of the questions we answer will be chosen as the contest winner. The winning writer will receive a $20,000 Yahoo! marketing credit and a 45-minute telephone consultation. If you have a

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  • Marriage makes for safe conversations at work. But not for everyone.

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesI'm back in business after taking pretty much the whole month of September off for my wedding and honeymoon. And since we returned on the night before Yom Kippur, back-to-work was further delayed by another day.

    I've had quite a few work/life interruptions over the years -- times in which I've said no to almost everything that comes up on both the personal and work front because life is just too busy. Some of them have been for awful reasons like when people have been ill or passed away. In those cases, people usually understand that you're going to be out of commission for an indefinite period of time. And they usually leave it to you to tell them when you're ready to re-engage. When you're lucky, they offer the right kinds of support.

    But few reasons for dropping out of work and life feel as good as taking time off to get married.

    When you announce you're getting married, coupled people tend to tell you about how they fell in love. Single people tend to ask about how you met your

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  • Career advice from you

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesThe best moments on a blog occur when a conversation is sparked and readers engage with one another, or with the blogger, and minds are changed. I'm happy to report that I've had several of those moments while writing this blog over the past few months. Here are a few recent highlights:

    A post asking whether online higher education will replace the bricks-and-mortar kind inspired a flurry of informed comments, including many from people who had worked in online education or taken online courses themselves. Readers pointed out that students need to do their homework before enrolling in online courses to verify whether an online institution is accredited, whether course credits will transfer to other schools, and whether online courses even make sense for a given course of study. Readers who had been students of online education weighed in on the benefits (convenience, affordability) and drawbacks (absence of a physical community, wide disparity in quality of programs) of online

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  • Misery loves company....but does sharing it just breed more misery?

    RealPissed.comRealPissed.comWhile spending some time at the Jersey Shore, I read about a new local business venture,, founded by three friends in their twenties. The site is a social network where people share rants about what they are pissed about in the form of blog posts and videos. And it's a sign of the times that its founders see opportunities in a communal online kvetch-fest.

    On visiting the site, you're greeted by a jarring black, white and yellow color scheme, along with the sound of video which automatically loads (the next times I've visited, I muted it.) Two of the founders have a background in promoting Atlantic City night clubs and that gives a sense of the site's audio visual vibe.

    The site already has a Facebook fan page with over 1500 friends, a Twitter account with nearly 500 followers, and an active group of contributors complaining in vivid language (much of which is not printable on this blog) about the latest offense the world has delivered to them.

    Doctors say it's healthy

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  • When your man (or woman) gets laid off

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesSince January I've been gobbling up the Love in the Time of Layoffs column by Deborah Siegel on Recessionwire. Siegel is an academic-turned-author/consultant (as well as a friend of mine) and the column was born when her newly wedded husband Marco lost his job as a graphic designer (full disclosure: Marco designed the logo on my personal website.)

    The column is so readable because it talks stuff few people are talking about. Like what happens to a heterosexual relationship when a woman suddenly becomes the sole breadwinner, what happens when someone who's used to office culture suddenly gets used to the rhythms of home life, how two people (one of whom is pregnant with twins) can avoid driving each other batty when suddenly confined to a 650 square foot apartment.

    Like any good serial narrative, Love in the Time of Layoffs had a major plot twist this month: Marco is back to work, albeit in a freelance gig. Questions abound for interested readers. Will he keep the job? Will the couple

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  • Upsides of the downturn: questions for Kurt Andersen

    We've heard the cliches: "That which doesn't kill us makes us strong;" "Something good will come of this;" "A blessing in disguise;" "Find the silver lining." And when it comes to the impact of the current recession, they are the kind of empty words that don't usually make us feel much better. But after reading Kurt Andersen's book, Reset, I started to believe that once we come out what he calls this "economic emergency," we may be living in a culture that is a lot more sane and healthy than the one that brought us down.

    Andersen traces the crisis of the past few years to the excesses that began in the late 1980s -- the increasing size of the average American house, the rise in consumer debt, the ubiquity of state-sanctioned and state-run gambling, even the expanded girth of the average American. He uses the vocabulary of addiction to explain how America needs to get back on track -- "to teach ourselves to buy and sell and borrow in healthier, more moderate ways."

    I had a chat with

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  • 5 reasons women should focus on finances

    At first, I didn't get it. Shouldn't women and men be seeking parity in everything? If so, why do financial advisors like Suze Orman write books called "Women & Money," and why are women opening brokerage houses catering to women? I spoke to financial expert Manisha Thakor, one of the rising voices in the financial-advice-geared-towards-women set to get some answers.

    As Manisha put it to me: In the new economy, where many financial decisions formally made by employers (particularly with regards to pensions and healthcare) are now squarely in our hands, a solid knowledge of personal finance is important for both men and women. That said, financial knowledge is extra important for women -- because the place that women are ending up right now is a financially ugly one. For two thirds of women over age 65, meager Social Security payments are the primary source of income. In plain English this means they are literally choosing between food an essential medicines. Acting on some basic

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  • 5 simple ways to share articles online

    One of the best ways to stay connected to people or to stay on their radar is to send clippings. If you just want to send something to one person, nothing beats old-fashioned snail mail. But if you want to share articles with a wide group of people, there are some fantastic and easy ways to do that online. Each of these lets you easily share articles widely with just a few clicks.

    Delicious: Delicious is a service that lets you bookmark articles you've read, add a description or editorial observation, and tag them by subject matter. That makes it a useful way to keep track of articles and blog posts you don't want to lose, in a addition to a way to share what you're reading with anyone who sees your Delicious tags. Ben Casnocha, one of my favorite bloggers, posts his Delicious Bookmarks and tags on the home page of his blog, creating a public record of what he's recently read and what he's thinking about what he's read. Handy both for him and for anyone who wants to know what's in his

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