Interview with The Happiness Project author GRETCHEN RUBIN

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Gretchen Rubin is a blogger and author of many books, including the #1 New York Times and international bestseller The Happiness Project and its bestselling follow-up Happier at Home. After attending Yale Undergrad and Yale Law School, Gretchen originally began her career as a lawyer. She was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Chief Adviser to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. It was while clerking under Sandra Day O’Connor that she realized that she wanted to become a professional writer. Her other books include biographic bestseller Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill and Forty Ways to Look at JFK, as well as Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide.

Gretchen Rubin is truly an inspiration to all of us here at Playing Grown-Ups, and we are honored to have her share her insights in this month’s interview.

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Sherri: When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up? As you grew up, how did your career objectives change?

Gretchen: Weirdly, I don’t think I ever thought about it. I just kept aiming for the next obvious hurdle. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, so I went to law school—that dangerous default decision!


Sherri:  What motivates you both personally and professionally?

Gretchen: I’m motivated by a love of reading and writing. I love to read, to research, to pursue odd obsessions—and when I learn something or read something wonderful, I want to write it down, turn it into my own material, and share it.


Sherri: This month, we have been focusing on how to cope with procrastination.  Do you have any helpful hints for us?

Gretchen: Just about anyone who has ever put off a troublesome task is familiar with one of my Secrets of Adulthood: Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. When there’s some chore you just don’t want to tackle, every other chore seems alluring. As a friend told me, “My apartment is never cleaner than when I have a writing assignment due.” If you want to get yourself to do something, make the alternative to that task to do nothing.

When I want to do the difficult work of original writing, I often work outside my apartment, in a library a few blocks away. This gets me away from the temptations of the internet, and it also forces me to do nothing else but write. I say to myself, “I’ll stay here for two hours,” and then I’m stuck. If I’m not writing, I’m just sitting there. Sure, sometimes I jump up and go look for a book in the stacks, but that doesn’t take long. I end up writing just to pass the time. At home, by contrast, there’s no end to the useful tasks that I can find to occupy myself.

I wrote about this on my blog, and someone commented, “Oh, this strategy wouldn’t work for me! I can spend hours on forums.” He did not understand this strategy. You do nothing. No reading, no tidying, no calling, no errands, no filing, no emailing, no re-formatting of a document.

So if you often find yourself procrastinating by working, try making yourself do nothing.


Sherri: We at Playing Grown-Ups love food! What are some of your favorites? Do you have any simple recipes that you might share with our readers?

Gretchen: I’m no cook, so don’t really have any recipes. I like very plain food, for the most part.  Some of my favorites: Greek salad, quiche Lorraine, scrambled eggs, hamburgers. And can I include coffee?


Sherri: You seem to have so much energy and vitality.  Do you have any advice for us on how to stay youthful?

Gretchen: Thanks! that’s very nice to hear! One quick trick to make yourself feel younger and more energetic: jump. Just jump up and down, do some jumping-jacks, run down the stairs, hop over a puddle. There’s something about getting both feet off the ground that feels child-like and zestful.


Sherri: How do you find the balance between your writing (blog and books), responding to fans and spending time with your family? Is it hard to make time for everything since the blog has become so successful?

Gretchen: So far, I feel incredibly lucky that everything fits together. Blogging is just as fun as writing a book—different, but just as rewarding. Of course, one advantage of writing about happiness is that I feel very justified in taking time to do the things that make me happy—like hanging out with my family! I really enjoy every part of my day and my work. And I’m grateful for that, every day.


Sherri: Who has inspired you (or still does) and how?

Gretchen: Wow, that’s a big question. There are a lot of answers, but one is certainly my sister, Elizabeth Craft. She’s a TV writer, and she became a professional writer before I did, and I know her example helped me take the risk to try to become a writer, myself. Also, I’m the kind of person who worries about what I “should” be like, but my sister never wavers in her acceptance and understanding of herself. I try to emulate that quality.

Thank you, Gretchen, for taking the time to answer our questions! To find out who next month’s interview is, stay ‘tooned to Playing Grown-ups for all the latest info!

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To see last month’s interview with legendary Archies cartoonist Stan Goldberg, click here!

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Interview with STAN GOLDBERG

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Stan Goldberg is one of the foremost comic cartoonists of all-time.  In 2012, he was unanimously elected and inducted into the National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame.  His professional career began in 1949 with Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel Comics.  At Marvel, Stan was the artist responsible for the color schemes of some of the greatest and most popular characters of all-time, such as Spider Man, The Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.

Stan established himself as the #1 artist at Archie Comics during his four-decade association with Archie.  In 2009, Stan was the artist for the wildly popular (and controversial) six-part story, Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty mini-series.

We are proud and honored to have Stan Goldberg, the consummate pro, great friend, and outstanding person, as our first monthly interview.

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Sherri: At what age did you realize that you had a talent for drawing?  Did your parents support your decision to make your living in the world of comics?

Stan: As far back as I can remember, there was always a pencil and paper available for me to draw with.  When I was very young, I always had my box of crayons.  I would even sit and draw while I was having my breakfast at the kitchen table.

My parents didn’t support my decision to become an artist at the very beginning.  They felt this was not a field in which you could earn a living. Eventually, they did come around and they lived to see my success.

Sherri: How did you get involved with Archie Comics? What do you think about the recently announced upcoming live-action movie?

Stan:  I was working for Marvel comics for almost 20 years.  They were then moving on to superheroes.  I then went to DC COMICS and drew their teen titles.  When I saw the handwriting on the wall, I called Archie Comics.  They knew of my work and asked me to come on over.  The rest is history.  That was around 1970.  I worked for them for over 40 years.

As for the upcoming movie, I can’t comment, as I know nothing about it.

Sherri: What are some of your biggest career highlights?

Stan: The biggest highlight of my career was being recognized by my peers and winning the GOLD KEY/HALL OF FAME AWARD in 2012.   Then I was lucky enough to always have work and I continue to have work even now with some new and challenging assignments.

Sherri: Who had the greatest influence on your professional career?

Stan: Who was my biggest influence?  No question about that.  My editor/art director and friend, Stan Lee.  I worked with him for the first 20 years of my career and he set the stage for me to never settle for mediocrity.  This has carried me through for the next 40 years.  Although he lives 3000 miles away, I still sometimes send him some of my new work as I value his opinion.

**Editor’s notes**

Stan Lee  (the creator of Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and the Hulk, among others) and Stan Goldberg have been colleagues and friends for more than sixty years.

Stan Lee and his creation, Spider Man (Stan Lee’s on the right): http://www.geeksofdoom.com/GoD/img/2012/12/2012-12-27-stan_lee.jpg

Click on the link below to see the great Stan Lee’s tribute to the great Stan Goldberg:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CteOhLO7lPs&feature=BFa&list=HL1348541343

**End Editor’s notes**

Sherri:  What advice would you give to someone with some sort of talent, whose dream is to be something a bit out of the ordinary, such as an actor, an athlete, a writer, or an artist?

Stan: My advice to an aspiring artist is to keep drawing all the time.  Persevere and never settle for your first drawing.  Do the same one in five different ways.  You’ll know when you get to the one that pleases you the most.

Sherri: Each month we present tips for people who are either young, inexperienced, naive, or just clueless.  This month’s topic is Savings.  Could you suggest a couple of savings ideas that you and your wife, Pauline, have used over the years, but especially when you were first starting out?

Stan:  If you get $1000.00 for a job, and your budget is $900.00, take the $100.00 and bet it on your favorite.  (Just kidding.)  Do put the $100.00 into a saving account, more as your rate increases. The years go by very quickly, so keep improving and making more money so that you can keep building your nest egg.

Sherri: Our readers are very much interested in food and recipes.  What are your favorite foods? 

Stan: My favorite food has always been, and will continue to be, pasta.  I never eat while I’m working.  I’m very disciplined.

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Samples of Stan’s Genius:

http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9781879794511_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG    http://comiczine-fa.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/StanGoldberg.jpg    http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/jughead-with-archie-digest/191-1.jpg

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Thank you to our great friend Stan Goldberg for a wonderful interview! To find out who next month’s interview is, stay ‘tooned to Playing Grown-ups for all the latest info!

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