Come Out at Work: As a Student [video]

Unless you’re still pursuing your formal education, you’re probably thinking “my student days are over!”

Oh, but they aren’t.

Our student days die only when we do, so you may as well come out at work as a lifelong learner.

President Obama agrees.

In a recent interview with ABC News‘s Diane Sawyer, he spoke about his experience at work:

There’re always things that you’re learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I’m a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience.

He came out at work as a student! We’re all learning as we go along at work–about our selves, our colleagues, our task, the world. That the highest executive in the United States’ government openly owns his learning process on the job might inspire the rest of us to do the same.

Yet we know that hurdles abound. Read more

Come Out at Work: With a Stutter

What do Samuel L. Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Tiger Woods, Winston Churchill and Aristotle have in common?

They’ve all stuttered.

So the subject in the following scenario is in good company:

Tyrone is an analyst in an investment bank, where he meets with healthcare organizations to pitch strategic advisory services. He’s well-liked, produces well-organized pitch books, and when it comes time to present to his clients, he gets anxious and stutters.

Tyrone decided to meet with an executive coach to work through his stutter on the job.  He related that the prospect of stuttering makes him anxious, and his anxiety causes him to stutter, so he gets caught in a frustrating loop of anxiety and stuttering. Lately he’s kept quiet during client meetings, a less than satisfactory resolution.

What can Tyrone do?

Because we’re advocates of revealing your whole self at work, we encourage Tyrone to come out and speak to his stutter. For example, when beginning his presentation, he may find comfort by simply saying, “Just so you know, sometimes I stutter. Thank you for your patience with me.”

Acknowledging what people may already know could help everybody focus on the content of his words, rather than how he’s saying them. And the relief Tyrone would subsequently feel may prevent further stuttering.

Ultimately, demonstrating comfort in his own skin will increase his confidence, which in turn may help sell the services he’s working so hard to pitch.

Coming up: Career advancement, meet Tyrone.

Image of Tiger Woods via

5 New, Must-Have Skills for the Rough and Tumble 2010s

Speaking of makeovers, the definition of human capital is getting a much-needed refashioning by David Brooks, author of the just-published The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.

He describes a “new humanism,” and breaks it down into 5 poetic-sounding terms: attunement, equipoise, metis, sympathy and limerence.  From his op-ed piece of March 8, 2011:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

Trip out, right? These sound like traits of godliness. They also sound somewhat similar to emotional intelligence and social intelligence. The question is, if you’re not the Dalai Lama, how might you develop these skills? Brooks refers to them as “deeper talents,” which suggests that some people have more of a natural ability in these areas than others.

The first step is to identify that these skills are something you wish to develop. Then, considering their complexity, you might benefit from working with a professional guidance counselor like an executive coach or psychologist.

Which is to say, talking about your self relative to acquiring more limerence, metis and equipoise is a helpful way to equip yourself to navigate the world of work in the 2010s, and beyond.

Do you identify as having any combination of these 5 skills? Which ones, and how?

360-degree look at AC

This post was originally published by me on 11/3/09 at It’s reprinted here with minor copy edits.

Our friends at Gawker can’t. stop. talking. about Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani. They’re flabbergasted that AC is associating with such a handsome fellow when he’s yet to make an official statement that he’s gay as Neil Patrick Harris and Wanda Sykes have.

Once upon a time, saying you were “a friend of Dorothy,” a reference to the Wizard of Oz, was code for “I’m a big homosexual.” The CNN anchor has been seen with Kathy Griffin, perhaps today’s equivalent of Dorothy. Does this mean he’s out? Not so fast.

Since this is a blog about what it means to be gay at work, let’s look at two sides of the dilemma. Staying in the closet can ensure that you keep people guessing, and thus, talking about you. That’s good PR. Coming out, however, could mean losing segments of your audience. That’s bad PR. It’s PR nonetheless, and we know the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity.

I think mostly, it’s scary as hell to come out on the job, even when you’re not the high-profile, good-looking son of Gloria Vanderbilt. Sounds like The Coop may fear the unknown in not publicly acknowledging what his relationship with Mr. Maisani means. (Note to Anderson: Certainty is overrated.) That his show’s ratings were down earlier this year is not unrelated.

What would be the benefits of revealing to his audience his true identity? For one, a huge dollop of relief. He would spend no more energy dodging questions or playing with pronouns, and would focus solely on researching news and hosting his show. His newfound openness would influence the nature of his news reporting, and his style on-air may likely become more relaxed, and more watchable. If he made a big declaration in coming out, he’d make headline news, grab the top spots on blogs and land the covers of magazines. How would that be for generating ratings for AC 360?

In an interesting precedent, on the cover of the November 2009 edition of Details, openly gay American Idol Adam Lambert describes how women throw their panties at him during his concerts. The fantasy of bedding him lives on, even after he shared the truth about his sexuality to the world.

While the folks at Gawker behave like your colleagues who won’t shut up about your sexual orientation because you don’t say a word about it, quieting their chatter by coming out with the truth can help all of us think a little more clearly.