The Best Advice From ‘How I Work’ in 2018

Song Exploder host Hrishikesh Hirway

Every week on Lifehacker, we interview a successful person about their career and their work habits, in a column called How I Work. And every week we ask them, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?” Here are the best answers our guests gave us in 2018.

Roxane Gay, author

Photo: Eva Blue

Every time I share this I feel awkward because the advice is so simple and seems trite but it was not offered tritely and I do not offer it here tritely.

When I was going on the academic job market, worrying about the campus interview, my friend Matt Seigel told me to just be myself because otherwise, if I got hired as the person I was pretending to be, I would have to keep up that pretense for the rest of my career.

He was absolutely right about being myself, for better and worse.

Alex Moore, CEO of Boomerang

Rhett & Link, YouTubers

Photo: Courtesy of Rhett & Link

In Steve Martin’s book Born Standing Up, he said he wishes he could have gone back to his younger self and said “Everything is gonna be okay.” We tell that to ourselves a lot.

Patrick Moberg, creator of Dots and Two Dots

Photo: Dots

Morra Aarons-Mele, Author of Hiding in the Bathroom

Photo: Kristen Loken

Sales is problem solving. When you understand that, you don’t need to spend hours networking, schmoozing, or building your personal brand. Understand what your customer needs help with!

Hrishikesh Hirway, host of Song Exploder

Photo: Courtesy of Hrishikesh Hirway

Maurice Cherry, designer

Photo: Li Su

Sherry Huss, co-founder of Maker Faire

Photo: Jeffrey Braverman

Take control of your mornings. You can always determine the time that you start your day, but in the event world, it is hard to control when your day stops.

Brittany Luse, co-host of The Nod

Photo: Gimlet Media

Obey the HALT check: Try not to say, do, or decide anything lasting, permanent, or important if you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. As the great Kathy Tu of Nancy always says, “There is no such thing as a podcast emergency.”

Michelle Woo, parenting editor at Lifehacker

Photo: Sulmo Kim

When little kids are melting down—say, lashing out and generally being terrors—it means that they’re yearning for connection. So even if it goes against your instincts, what you can do is kneel down and give them a big hug. Hold them and just breathe.

I try to apply this advice to others in my life (at least in my head—I won’t randomly hug you), and it also helps me take care of myself. If I’m feeling cranky or overwhelmed or mean, I need to stop what I’m doing, reflect on what I need, and sometimes reach out for help.

Ben Chestnut, co-founder of Mailchimp

Photo: Courtesy of Mailchimp

My mother used to say, “You become your friends.” It’s true—over time, you start to reflect the people you hang around. This has inspired me to pick really good friends who are role models for me and lift me up.

Adrienne Willis, executive and artistic director of the Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts

Photo: Liz Lynch

Bobby Muller (veterans’ rights and peace activist, whose organization, Vietnam Veterans for America, co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize) told me: “The moment you stop questioning your own assumptions, you become irrelevant. And non-profits die when their dedication to mission doesn’t take into account their relevance.” He said leaders need to do the same constantly or they will lose the courage of their own convictions.

Brian Fox, author of the GNU Bash shell

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