“Whatever people say to you—good or bad—is always part of THEIR story, their vision of their own lives.” ~Jenny Blake

The Renegade Spotlight feature on DaveUrsillo.com showcases the real-life stories of everyday men and women who are pursuing their dreams while defying  cynicism and risking being misunderstood by others around them.

Today, I’d like you to meet the wonderful Jenny Blake — a talented writer and five-year employee at Google whose popular blog, LifeAfterCollege.org, inspired her brand new book (which comes out tomorrow!), Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want (Running Press).

Jenny’s new book provides simple and practical tips about life, work, money, happiness and personal growth. It’s a resource that I wish I’ve had since graduating college. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Life After College, and I’m so impressed by the depth and detail of Jenny’s work that I want to give you a chance to win the book, right here on DaveUrsillo.com!

I’m giving away a copy of Jenny’s book to one commenter below — simply answer: What is either your (1) biggest question or (2) best piece of advice for life after college?

1.) In your own words, introduce yourself!

Hi there — nice to meet you! I’m Jenny Blake, an author, blogger, yoga teacher, cupcake lover, puppy fanatic, football-loving gadget-obsessed girl from California. I’m 27-years-old, currently on leave from Google (my day job) where I’ve worked for 5+ years in Training and Career Development.

2.) What are some of the short- and long-term dreams you are pursuing?

Short-term: launch my book successfully into the world WHILE allowing myself to just relax and have fun.

  • What is success? Feeling like I gave the promotional efforts my absolute best.
  • Total dream? Making a best-seller list and/or The Today Show. Both would be beyond my wildest dreams — things I would have never DARED to say out loud even a year ago. But now I figure, what the heck?

If I say them out loud and I fail that’s better than selling myself short from the start. I’m also blessed to be taking a three month sabbatical from Google — I want to make sure I soak up my time off and just have fun and learn what life is like on the outside… on my own clock and my own schedule.

Long-term: Develop semi-passive income streams where I’m not always trading time for money. Be able to live from anywhere; arrange a bi-coastal living situation where I can split my time between NYC and CA (and even live abroad). Feel comfortable enough in my work and income to take a break. To cut back on the hours I work every week so that I can learn how to relax and just enjoy my life! I am also trying to start that now of course :)

3.) What effects have these pursuits had on your life?

The book and the blog have truly given me purpose. They have helped me define and greatly expand myself outside of my day job; I’ve learned how to express myself and inspire others in the process, which is incredibly rewarding.

It is an absolute gift to have built a community as supportive as the one at Life After College — I am more and more grateful every day. As hard as it can be sometimes juggling two jobs and putting my deepest fears, thoughts and ideas out there to the world — I’ve learned so much about myself and made so many incredible friendships in the process.

4.) What has pursuing your dreams taught you about yourself? About others? About life?

We all have so much more in common than we realize. When I feel sad and alone, and I post a blog post about challenges I am facing, I am amazed at how many people come out of the woodwork to say they can relate. It reminds me that we are all human, that we all have ups and downs, and that our lowest moments are incredibly rich growth opportunities (as difficult and as painful as they feel at the time).

5.) Do you have any special methods or practices that help you along the way? What are your sources of inspiration?

My sources of inspiration usually come from my biggest challenges — from wrestling with something on my own then figuring out how to express those feelings in service of helping others.

As for when inspiration hits: usually when I’m exercising — running, swimming, riding my bike, doing yoga — that’s when my mind gets clear and I can chew on life’s biggest questions. During a swim session I once asked the lifeguard for a pen and paper (dripping wet) so I could outline a blog post that struck me in the moment. I had 25 minutes left — didn’t want to lose it!

6.) Do cynics, doubters and pessimists affect you and your pursuits? If so, how? If not, do you avoid them, tune them out, use them to your advantage, etc.?

I’m SUPER sensitive and this was one of the things I was most afraid of when I started blogging. I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to handle nasty Internet trolls or haters.

I feel INCREDIBLY fortunate to have built a community that is full of positive, smart, respectful people… no major pessimists or doubters so far (at least in the comments… knock on wood!).

I fight them off with kindness and by remembering the advice from the book The Four Agreements. Whatever people say to you–good or bad–is always part of THEIR story, their vision of their own lives. As one of my co-workers once said, “Don’t let criticism go to your heart, and don’t let compliments go to your head.”

— Jenny

Alright, wanna win Jenny’s book? Simply leave a comment answering: What is either your (1) biggest question or (2) best piece of advice for life after college? You can also buy Life After College at Amazon for a ridiculously affordable sub-$10 price.