How To Survive and Thrive In Your Twenties

An interview with Paul Angone from All Groan Up

  • Justin Zoradi
How To Survive and Thrive In Your Twenties

I'm privileged to feature an interview with my longtime friend Paul Angone. Paul and I met in college and it's been incredible to see him grow into a world-class writer, speaker, and thought leader. Paul is the author of the critically acclaimed book, 101 Secrets For Your Twenties and he answers a few questions below.

[In downtown Portland for the '101 Secrets' book tour]

1. Your new book, 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, was born online. Tell us how a humorous blog post filled with insight and advice grew into a book.

"Yeah, on my website (Yes, G-R-O-A-N. I like to say my website is "punderful") I wrote an article called 21 Secrets for your 20s -- kind of a culmination post of what I felt were the true, funny, encouraging, challenging, and honest secrets to truly rocking your 20s.

Three days after posting that article, my website crashed due to tsunami waves of traffic. I didn’t know such a thing was possible.

I called my web host. Pleaded with them to turn my site back on.

Two days later, my website crashed again and lay shipwrecked on an island in the Philippines for five hours.

Then the emails started to flood in about the impact the article was having from readers all over the world. There was something big and important taking place, and it needed it's own room to grow.

Fast-forward to a book deal with Moody Publishers, amazing endorsements from people like Seth Godin, Dan Schwabel, Joy Eggerichs, etc., a five-city book launch tour, and selling out on Amazon in 12 hours upon the book’s release. It all still feels surreal.

It took me seven years of writing and numerous failed attempts of snagging a book deal to finally see it happen, and it was only because of twentysomethings themselves telling enough friends “Hey, you got to check this out.”

2. What would you say is the biggest issue facing twentysomething's today?

"The main issue -- this twentysomething shoot ain’t easy! And that’s not what most twentysomethings expect.

I know I walked into my 20s expecting it to be slightly sitcom-esque when in reality there were very few made for TV moments.

It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts.” So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

As I write about in the book, it took me a long time to realize that being successful in your twenties is about having the courage to write a really, really crappy first draft. Just getting words down on paper that we’ll edit later. To fail over and over, but never call yourself a failure.

Then five rewrites later, we’ll lean back and say, “Wow, that’s actually not too bad.”

So yes, your twenties are going to be harder than you realized, but you can’t have a good story without a good struggle."

3. What is different about being a twenty-something today than generations before?

"I think it’s such a unique period of history where you have millions of twentysomethings trying to find stability and definition, while the world around them is seemingly being shaken and re-defined in every way.

And research is showing that it’s taking twentysomethings today much longer to find that stability and pin the badge of “Adult” on their chest than it did in the past. Things like marriage, family, living on your own, and receiving a sufficient amount of education are being pushed back for many twentysomethings to their late twenties/early thirties.

Take “career” for example. For many twentysomethings the idea of a career is anything but linear or straight-forward as we all still try to recover from this "Great" Recession that was actually quite depressing. Having a successful career won't be as much about climbing the corporate ladder as it was in the past or finding that dream job after college, but learning in, growing through, and surviving what has become the twentysomething rite of passage – lousy jobs."

4. How do parents of twentysomethings support their almost-adult children?

"Be transparent. Open up about your own doubts, fears, frustrations, and questions about what you want to do with your life.

Let your children peak behind the curtain. Let them see the good, the bad, the ugly, the safe, and the risky. Maybe you didn’t struggle to “find meaning and passion” as a 23 year old, but maybe these questions hit you hard at 53 years old. Be honest about that and tell your kids your journey.

The best thing parents of twentysomethings can do - model the process of “figuring it out” when you don’t have a freaking clue."

5. What are the three most important “secrets" from your book that twenty-somethings need to hear?

"Always tough to pick the most important secrets from the book, but these are three “secrets” that I think are important. Snag a FREE excerpt of 101 Secrets for your Twenties or buy the book here."

Paul Angone is the author of the 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of — a place for those asking “what now?” Snag a FREE excerpt of 101 Secrets for your Twenties or buy the book here.

Photo Credit
Micah and Megan Dalhberg

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Comments (2)

  • Dani Kreeft

    Dani Kreeft

    17 September 2013 at 20:39 |
    I want to read this book.
    #99 spoke like an arrow straight and direct. That is EXACTLY how i feel. Oh boy.
    Thanks for sharing this, Justin!
  • Philip


    20 September 2013 at 23:55 |
    one of the links for allgroanup is wrong. Its on the last paragraph.

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