A year ago, we began co-hosting “Dear HBR:,” a podcast in which the two of us (with help from an expert guest) answer questions from listeners struggling with workplace problems. After 28 episodes we’ve decided to take a step back and outline the recurring themes and take-aways we’ve seen.

Your relationship with your boss really matters. In the 84 questions we’ve featured on the show, the phrase “my boss” appears 55 times.

Job-crafting can only take you so far. In theory, the solution at work is to find a way to do more of the stuff you enjoy, and less of the stuff you don’t. There’s a word for this — job crafting — and a lot of our answers tend to lean on this strategy. Still, we recognize that it’s not always realistic.

It’s hard to “swim in your lane.” We give this advice often, but we recognize it’s hard to do — and sometimes we aren’t very good at doing it ourselves.

Experts often disagree. Even when we disagree with our guests, and each other, we try to offer value by helping people learn how to think through all aspects of a dilemma.

People are looking for empathy, not just answers. Not every problem has a perfect do-this-and-don’t-do-that solution.


Negative situations really resonate. To date, our most popular episode is “Toxic Workplaces.”

Those who work behind the scenes need more credit. One of life’s greatest frustrations is not feeling appreciated or recognized. And, unfortunately, this seems to happen all the time at work.

New projects run better when you do them with a friend. We couldn’t imagine doing the show with anyone but each other.

Alison Beard and Daniel McGinn are senior editors at Harvard Business Review.