Thursday, July 17, 2008

Megan Hustad

Jessica Armbruster of City Pages interviewed Megan Hustad, author of How to Be Useful: A Beginner's Guide to Not Hating Work.

The first exchanges of the Q & A:

CP: How did you come up with the idea to distill career advice from sources as old as 200 years?

MH: Basically, I like going to library and checking out books that no one has looked out since 1973, and taking notes. That, for me, is a good time and writing a book was a way to get paid doing that. Also, I was a history major, and I wanted to see know what ideas had withstood the test of time; if there was any continuity, not just from year to year, but generation to generation, and economic cycle to economic cycle.

CP: How does career advice from the 1800s hold up today? Has the workplace really changed so little?

MH: What I like about the early stuff, especially advice from the late 1800s, is that it was so blunt about what you could expect to encounter in an office. At the time, the idea of the office and the businessman was a new concept. I think nowadays we do young people a disservice when we tell them they can have any job they want if they apply themselves; to just "be yourself." Being yourself isn’t always the answer though. Your boss might not give a shit about what you read last weekend, about your sky trip, or your photography habits. When working in an office people need to understand that it’s hierarchical, and people need to be trained to do it properly.
Read the complete interview.

Read an excerpt from How to Be Useful, and learn more about the book and author at Megan Hustad's website.

Writers Read: Megan Hustad.

--Marshal Zeringue