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Offered at the close of one era and the beginning of another.

This past Friday, April 15, was my last day at a job I’d held for 4 1/2 years. Next Monday, April 25, I start a new gig.

One of the main reasons I decided to leave that job is I didn’t have the opportunity there to continue growing my leadership role as much as I want to. The new gig explicitly calls on me for more, and I’m excited.

The occasion of the transition has me thinking. What have I learned, and what can I lean on? There’s a lot to sift through. Some drawn from experience (what to do and, as important, what not to do), some drawn from outside sources. …


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2015 was a rough year.

It tested me personally, and it presented a challenging environment locally (Baltimore), nationally, and globally. I’m glad, as I suspect many are glad, that it’s over.

There’s nothing special about changing the calendar. Nothing automatic that makes January different from December. It allows us, however, something precious: a moment of pause. We can choose renewal any time, but that’s difficult. We need it thrust upon us each year because otherwise we’d forget.

I’ve been thinking about how to take advantage of this year’s transition. …


An alternative reading of the Mad Men finale.

As finales go, Mad Men’s was a good one. Mostly because, like any good closing chapter, it struck a balance. It didn’t just wrap things up, though it did do plenty of that. It also gave us room to think.

In storytelling, a measure of ambiguity is a gift. We think we want to know everything, but we don’t. There’s life in mystery.

From this perspective, the finale was brilliantly structured. Much of the work satisfied the need for closure by delivering characters to places they’d been seeking for seven seasons:

Peggy found a path to both personal satisfaction and professional success. …


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Not long ago, I shuttered a successful blog. Here’s some of what I learned.

Remember “blogs”?

I started blogging in 2003. It was a niche form then, into which I jumped to supplement a nascent career. I did so largely because it was clear, even 10 years ago, that the gatekeepers were losing grip. I wanted in on whatever was coming next.

I struggled at first, dabbling in politics and culture but finding little traction. That changed in 2006 when I launched The Loss Column, a site devoted to covering Baltimore sports (primarily the Orioles). It started slow but eventually found an audience. …


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photo via Flickr user Muy Yum (link below)

It’s actually very simple.

Like a lot of people with (broadly speaking) an arts-based education, I spent a good chunk of my early working life in food service.

I didn’t work at a hip restaurant (it was a chain) but in many ways I loved it. Sometimes, on difficult days, I yearn for the relative directness and simplicity of the restaurant life.

Of course, there’s the problem of tipping.

Too few people seem to fully understand tipping. And while articles like this have been written before, I’ve never seen one that breaks the issue down in simple, clear, and (most importantly) accurate terms. …

About

Neal Shaffer

nealshaffer.com / @slantsixneal

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