The key to thriving in the new economy is understanding why we do things, not just knowing how to do them.

That was one of the takeaways of a panel last night at the Morrison Hotel Gallery featuring WalletPop contributors Jason Cochran, Zac Bissonnette, and Bruce Watson; Huffington Post senior editor-at-large Russell Bishop; and "The Happiness Project" founder Gretchen Rubin. WalletPop's Andrea Chalupa moderated.

Here's a little clip of what Jason Cochran had to say (for more video clips of the panel, see our Facebook page and become a fan!):


"I can teach people technical skills, but I can't teach them how to be thoughtful," Mr. Bishop said. "That's what I look for in an employee: someone who is responsible. Someone who acknowledges when they've made a mistake and can learn from it."

Self-awareness is, of course, useful beyond the workplace, and has been long before this recession hit: As Ms. Rubin pointed out, 'Know yourself' is one of the core principles of happiness. These days, self-awareness about money is particularly important. So we tested attendees, many of them financial writers, about their own self-awareness when it comes to money. Specifically we asked, what is your money style?

"I'm really frugal," said Anna Vander Broek of Forbes.com. "I took a cab here for $5 and it broke my heart," she said. It was the only money she'd spent all day.

"I'm an aggressive conservative," a business writer and editor, Dan Colarusso, said. Just this weekend, he went to a Hugo Boss sample sale on 33rd Street in the Garment District and bought three ties for $99. The next day he went to the "ghetto Pathmark" in Brooklyn to buy the store's generic Grape Nuts, for $2 less than the real thing.

"I"m the gas and my husband is the breaks," Alison Rogers of MoneyWatch.com, said. "I'm the risk taker. And I count on my husband to stop me if I get really bad. We're buying an apartment tomorrow."

"My money style is, I keep it very close to me," Anastacia Junqueira said.


Bill Wreaks, chief analyst for the Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing, is particularly proud of his low-cost vacation plan, part of his conservative spending style: His wife, two sons, and a daughter will spend five weeks in Ecuador for $10,000, which includes food and a live-in nanny. He'll be joining them for two of the five weeks.

On vacations, Sean O'Neill, an editor at Budget Travel, uses the "envelope method." Each day he decides how much money he's going to spend, and puts that amount in an envelope, and doesn't worry about it for the rest of the day.

Helen Giano, sales director at the Morrison Hotel Gallery on the Bowery, the former site of the legendary music club CBGBs, was amused by the question. "My money style? Are you kidding me? We're artists," she said. "Let's play, 'Can we make $10 last for a week?"

Her gallery colleague Rick Edwards, a photographer, shared his own cost-cutting tip: "I pretend to be a tourist and go to see the free things going on in the city; they're great things," he said.

Speaking of free, it is free to walk into the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which is filled with fine art photographs of famous musicians. Currently the most expensive item on view is a portrait of Kurt Cobain by Jesse Forhman, for $5,000. The least expensive? A photograph for $150.

Which leads us to our favorite answer of the night: "I like my money green," said Alex Twersky, a marketing consultant who also runs Mediabistro's resume revision services.

Walletpop would like to thank our friends at the Morrison Hotel Gallery for their generous support of this event--for giving us a historical venue to get together in to discuss the historical changes taking place right now because of our economy--and to Israeli Wine Direct for their support in providing amazing wines.





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