18 Things You Should Know by Now

Cold-call a client, overcome writer’s block, make a spectacular entrance, minimize your carbon footprint: A cheat sheet for women of experience.

By Rebecca Adler, Marisa Cohen, Lisa Selin Davis, Juliann Garey, Cathy Garrard, and Amanda Robb

How to Get a Passport at the Last Minute

As soon as the State Department announced last year that Americans returning by air from Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Mexico would need passports to reenter the U.S., applications jumped almost 50 percent, overwhelming the already overtaxed system. If you have tickets to travel within two weeks, contact the National Passport Services Center (877-487-2778; travel.state.gov) to make an appointment at one of its 13 regional offices. Bring proof of citizenship, two passport photos, your airline tickets, and payment (a new passport is $97, a renewal is $67; the rush fee is an additional $60 plus the overnight delivery charge). For about $100 more you can hire a private passport expeditor — they are allocated a set number of priority appointments at the regional offices; see the National Association of Passport and Visa Services’ Web site (napvs.org) for more details and a list of expeditors. If it’s truly an emergency — you have to retrieve a sick family member, for example — call an elected official and ask for help. "And if you’re even thinking of travel anywhere within the next year, apply for your passport now," advises Cheryl Hudak, president of the American Society of Travel Agents. "The system will only continue to get more backlogged."

How to Look 10 Years Younger, Guaranteed

Next time someone asks your age, lie up.

How to Finesse Forgetting Someone’s Name

It’s a midlife moment we would rather … forget. So next time you find your mind going blank, meet, greet, and cheat! Jeanne Fitzmaurice, an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Bend, Oregon, who has met with hundreds of clients over the years, offers these tricks for wriggling off the mnemonic hook:

When introducing two people, start with the name of the person you know. "I’ll say, ‘I want you to meet Joan Smith. She’s a dear friend. Joan…?’ Joan will then introduce herself, eliciting a response from the person I’ve forgotten."

If the situation is one-on-one, restate your name and pray the person returns the favor. Or leave the name out: "Use a detail you remember about them instead, such as ‘How are things going with your new health food business?’ If all else fails, say, ‘It’s so nice to see you again. I’m so sorry, would you please tell me your name again?’ Nine times out of 10, they can’t recall your name, either!"

How to Ask Your Parents for Power of Attorney

Talking with the folks about who’ll step in if they become ill or mentally incapacitated involves so many emotional land mines, you may be tempted to steer the conversation to just about anything else. (Sex or politics, anyone?) But asking for the legal authority to make financial decisions on an elderly parent’s behalf — including buying and selling property, accessing bank accounts and paying taxes — is a conversation you need to have, and sooner rather than later, says Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner. "Your parents must sign the form while they are still of sound mind," she says. "If there is no form on file [when you need it], then you have to go into a guardianship hearing, which can be heartbreaking and difficult for everyone."

Each state has its own laws, so start by talking with your lawyer or your state attorney general’s office (get contact info at naag.org). You’ll need to find out what is required and learn the differences between nondurable, durable, and springing powers of attorney.

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