The Power of 9-Grids

There are 27 days left in 2016 (counting today). 27 days left for me to accomplish what I set out to do in 2016. Beyond New Year’s resolutions, every year I have a list of commitments and goals I make to myself and my business. It’s time to check in with my goals… and time to start planning for 2017.

The best tool I have found to help my thinking, my planning, my strategizing, are 9-Grids, a paper notebook created by Qnity Inc as a tool for stylists to work on their business.

What is a 9-Grid and should one use it?

The simplest answer is that the 9 grid is a pad of paper. Each sheet has 9 blank squares. You write / doodle / draw in (and sometimes around) these squares. You can even stick stickers on these squares.

This video explains it way better than I ever could.

How do I use my 9-Grids?

I am addicted to my 9-Grids. Here is how I use them:

  • I have them with me at all times – the 9-Grids I have filled out, and a pad of blank ones.
  • I keep past 9-Grids – I still have my 9-Grids from 2015 (when I started using this tool). There is power in tracking the evolution of my ideas and priorities.
  • I look at them often, at least weekly. There is power to visualization; looking at my 9-Grids helps calibrate my thinking and serves as a reminder about what I should be spending my time and energy on.
  • I usually have six to ten 9-Grids per year.
    • A personal one – as I start planning for 2017, I write “2017 Ada” in the middle square, and then fill out the surrounding squares with my personal goals. These usually involve my weight, my relationships, my money, my writing. For 2017, my “Ada” 9-Grid also involves Brigadoon… a super exciting conference I have been invited to present at.
    • An overall Alchimie one – I was just reviewing my “Alchimie 2016 initiatives” 9-Grid. I filled this out a year ago, with some high level projects I committed to working on for Alchimie. I have checks, and crosses – I didn’t do them all – and that’s ok.
    • Specific Alchimie ones. I usually have one 9-Grid per key partner, one for our website and online strategy, one for branding and press / social, one for new product development ideas, one for my team.
    • In writing this I realize that I should probably have a 9-Grid for this blog, Adamant About Beauty, with some blog goals. And that I should have one for family, with family members in each of the boxes – helping to remind myself that I should be contributing to each family member’s well being and development.
    • In December, I usually consolidate my annual 9-Grids into one. For this month, I have my “December 2016” 9-Grid – with the key 2016 goals I have not yet achieved that are an absolute priority before the New Year.
    • I also use them for brainstorms when I am stuck on a project. This is a slightly different way of using 9-Grids. It does not have to do with goals, but more with getting “unstuck” in my head.
  • I love to work on these on my own, and I also love to work on these with the people closest to me – my husband and my accountability partners for example. Sharing these goals out loud, in addition to in writing, helps my thinking, and their input is invaluable.

I love 9-Grids so much I have been gifting them – to my accountability partners, to my team, to my sisters. Let me know if you want one! Or email Qnity ( to purchase your own. And may your December be productive and intentional.

Choose Gratitude

Last week, gratitude was high on my, and everyone’s, list. I loved the social media posts highlighting gratitude and love (what a lovely break from political arguments!), I loved sending out gratitude notes to family, friends, colleagues, and I loved receiving similar notes in return. I want to hang on to this feeling well past Thanksgiving. Really, I want gratitude to be #1 on my list every day of the year. Lucky for me, I have Debra Neill Baker in my life, to be an inspiration and remind me of the importance of a daily practice of gratitude.

Here are her tips to ensure a grateful state of mind, beyond Thanksgiving:

1. Write in a journal, write down what you are grateful for. The act of writing it down moves us more into gratitude, training us to capture what is good in our world.
2. Embrace the not-so-good too. Learning to be grateful for the lessons and learning that comes with it. Making our learning greater than our less-than desirable experiences.
3. Express gratitude rather than keeping it to yourself. Not expressing your gratitude can be perceived as ingratitude.
4. Enjoy the small things. This season is perfect for rediscovering your inner child… be childlike, curious, open, and loving!
5. Engage. Be active, be of service. Doing for others always comes back two-fold!
6. Pray, reflect… daily. Spend time with yourself in silence visualizing the life and world you want, overcoming challenges.
7. Replace complaints, criticism, gossip with gratitude. Be mindful and watch yourself and your words, knowing that words are powerful and carry energy.

Thank you Debra for these gratitude strategies, today and every day.

“Problems are opportunities in work clothes…” and other wisdom from Lynelle Lynch, Owner, Bellus Academy

Lynele Lynch, Owner of Bellus Academy, is a renaissance woman. Our paths crossed at an International Spa Association event, and I was captivated by all of the hats she wears. At Bellus, she started a wellness program for cancer patients; she is also involved with the Professional Beauty Association; and she is President of the foundation Beauty Changes Lives. How does one woman do it all? She shares some of her secrets below.

AP: What city were you born in? LL: Copperous Cove, TX. My father was in the Army and I lived there for 6 months.

AP: What city to do you live in? LL: Rancho Santa Fe, CA – near San Diego.

AP: What is your astrological sign? LL: Taurus.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? LL: My major in college was Chemistry with a minor in Fashion Merchandising – which was my career passion. Also, I was Miss Colorado 1978.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? LL: Having a positive attitude and working out every day.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? LL: Love your fish and vegetables!

AP: What do you do for exercise? LL: Elliptical, Pilates, skiing and weights.

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? LL: Caviar and champagne

AP: Botox or not? LL: Yes!

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? LL: LOVE what you do – both work and charity – and it is never work. Also schedule fun times with friends, like spa days.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? LL: Too many! I probably take 30 trips a year – from short trips to cross country jaunts, and occasionally I travel overseas. In September 2015, I traveled to Paris to accept the Intercoiffure Mondial Best Continental Academy award for Bellus Academy. It was a whirlwind trip completed over the Labor Day weekend.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? LL: First, identify projects you can work on while on while en route to your destination and travel time will fly by. Second, drink lots of water. Finally, use the Uber app – it is much better than taxis internationally and within the US

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? LL: Individuals who do not have passion and will not lead.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial? LL: OH my – I have so many! All of the Beauty Changes Lives Board of directors are on speed-dial for work-related projects. And for personal needs, my Pilates trainer, nail pro hair specialist and favorite spa for massage and facials are all on speed dial.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? LL: 5:30 am – I get about 7 hours to 7.5 hours.

AP: Who is your mentor? LL: My husband who is a brilliant, visionary entrepreneur.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc.)? LL: I try to have a facial / oxygen / microderm every month – I use the Clarisonic daily and as far as products – at Bellus we have a number of brands and I am always trying something new – so I am not very brand addicted.

AP: What do you do to relax? LL: Go to a spa!

AP: Quote to live by? LL: Problems are only opportunities in “work clothes”. I only see the positive in every situation and focus on learning and growing each day. It is important to share your passion and change lives.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today? LL: Always ask questions and be open to learning. Go above and beyond in everything you do and set high aspirations. You will move towards your dreams when you are clear on your goals.

AP: Describe your dream day. LL: Making a difference in the lives of my family and those that I touch.

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? LL: Making a difference and changing lives.

Wisdom from Jacques Courtin

I got away this past weekend – to a magical, beautiful place filled with soul and serenity – Tulum, Mexico. It was the perfect spot to rest my body and resource my mind.

Listening to the waves of the Caribbean Sea, I read a book that I have been carrying around with me for over a year – A Beautiful Success by Jacques Courtin – of Clarins fame. This is his story, his family’s story, his brand’s story. Established on March 15, 1954, Clarins began with a weight-loss device and a body treatment Institute. The first Clarins product was the “Tonic Body Treatment Oil,” a product that is still sold today. From an assortment of body products that complemented the Institute’s treatments, Clarins expanded to a full range of facial products, makeup, and fragrance. Combining the best of nature with the best of science, combining at-home products and treatment centers, Clarins came to represent “serious beauty.” A great example of what I want Alchimie to become!

While this book can’t be reduced to one-liners, there are some great ones, which are relevant beyond the world of beauty, and worth remembering on a daily basis.

“Do more. Do better. Enjoy what you do.”
(His key to success, and to happiness)

“Listening. Thinking. Acting. My company was based on this.”
(How often do we do those three things, but not in that order?)

“Everything starts with the word no.” He continues: “If someone says no you can immediately ask why. It’s pretty certain that with a little persistence you’ll wind up finding out the reason. At that point, you have all you need for adjusting your argument to fit the situation; you’re suddenly armed to win.”
(This reminds me of the most important lesson my sales teacher taught me: “No is just the start of a conversation.”)

“Always begin a difficult conversation with the magic words ‘You’re right.’ “You’re right’ is a sentence that everyone should be required to learn – human relations would take a huge leap forward.”
(He says this in the context of customer service challenges, but really it is true in general.)

“I sometimes ask people who work with me: ‘Would you like to be the one hearing what you’re saying?’ Sometimes nothing more is needed to help someone see they could maybe express themselves less awkwardly – and to make them want to try again, with different words.”
(We can never do this enough… in all personal and professional conversations.)

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Jillian Wright’s favorite quote, and other words of wisdom

When Melisse Gelula of Well & Good says you need to connect with an amazing woman, you do. Hence Jillian Wright, Owner of her eponymous skin care line and Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) connected recently, in fact right after the August IBE. I was in NYC that day specifically to experience this show, which I had heard great things about from many indie beauty brands (which is rare, tradeshows these days don’t get the best rap). A NYC-based aesthetician and spa owner at heart, Jillian shared her 18-year journey in the beauty industry with me. Successes, pitfalls, relaunches, opening her spa, closing her spa, and her frustration with the tradeshow marketplace, which she deemed “unfair.” I couldn’t agree more – the universal truth of tradeshows is that the big companies with big budgets get good booths, and the bootstrapped indie brands get stuck in the corner. Hence her vision for the Indie Beauty Expo, which only caters to indie brands. Her vision beyond leveling the playing field was to create an event that brought together the three lifelines of any brand: press, buyers, and consumers. So far, she has succeeded beyond her expectations.

AP: What city were you born in? JW: New Haven.

AP: What city to do you live in? JW: Brooklyn.

AP: What is your astrological sign? JW: Sagittarius.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? JW: I play Candy Crush to decompress at night.  It’s my cup of tea.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? JW: Sunscreen and sleep.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? JW: Everything in moderation. Minimal sugar and carbs. Lot’s of plants, whole foods and proteins, barely any cheese. And don’t deny yourself a sweet or savory treat every once in a while.

AP: What do you do for exercise? JW: Core strengthening exercises, jumping jacks and lots of planks at home in between phone meetings and emails.

(Ada’s note to self: start doing planks between conference calls!)

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? JW: Any vegetables and wine!

AP: Botox or not? JW: Sometimes, but not necessary.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? JW: Discipline, sacrifice that leads to reward.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? JW: I just started flying more with IBE, stay tuned…

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? JW: iPhone charger cord in your purse, hyaluronic acid based serum that lasts all day for moisture binding, and a lip balm that can double as an eye hydrator for the plane.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? JW: Strands of hair blowing in my face and spread sheets.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial.JW: Melisse Gelula from Well & Good and Jeannie Jarnot from Beauty Heroes

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? JW: It depends. 6am for the kids and 8am when we can sleep in. Sometimes I wake up brush my teeth, then go back to bed for hours. That happens 2 times year!  It’s heaven.

AP: Who is your mentor? JW: I had one when I was growing named Joy Wulke. She was a very successful visual artist in Connecticut but she passed away recently from a brain tumor. I was devastated, heartbroken. She was so young at 67. Luckily, I am still connected to her family. I was her apprentice growing up. She was everything to me. I could write a book about my experience as an adolescent growing up in her world in Stony Creek CT. Without ever telling me about life, she taught me about life and how to be a strong independent woman. I love Joy. I love and appreciate life because of her.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? JW: I am an Aesthetician and give myself facials all the time. I don’t have time to go to anyone else, but if I did, in New York, I would go to Samantha Roberts. In the UK, I would go to Antonia Burrell and in California, I would go to Marie Veronique. But there are so many talented therapists, like restaurants, in New York, I could go to a new one each month and be very satisfied. I follow a strict day and night regimen and I never touch my face. I cleanse, exfoliate, use a serum, eye cream, night cream and SPF. Every day, not matter what.

AP: What do you do to relax? JW: I go to the beach in the summertime, I get massages and pedicures frequently. I love the human touch. It heals me. I also love going to concerts with my husband. Music is our bond. And I love to feed my friends!

AP: Quote to live by. JW: This was my high school yearbook quote. I as 17: “For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” ― Kahlil Gibran

This is my quote today from the same author: “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ― Kahlil Gibran

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. JW: Don’t be afraid of hard work. Push yourself. Think outside the box. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Ask for help and advice. Find the Yin to your Yang. Know that your first business partner is the IRS. Be strategic in who you bring in to your business. Always be professional but have an edge. Don’t be afraid to try, but always do your research. Ask the “whys”, the “hows”, and the “who”. Trouble-shoot and don’t be afraid to meet an unmet need. Don’t let anyone get you down but protect yourself. Use common sense and think about the end user, and not yourself. And please, do not say “I created it, because it didn’t exist”. You are not reinventing the wheel. You are just spinning it in a different way. Be frugal, because you either have the money or you don’t. Try not to get yourself into debt unless you have a pay off strategy. Protect yourself with a good lawyer and accountant. Don’t quit your day job for at least 2 years in a start up. You will need the steady income until your start up takes off. This will not happen overnight. You will be working overtime and double shifts for a while. It’s ok. We are right there with you. Don’t put ice in a fresh blended juice, it doesn’t belong there. And take a class to learn how to do a spread sheet and photoshop. You are super woman if you do!

AP: Describe your dream day. JW: My dream day is to sleep in. Exercise. Get a massage. Make a yummy dinner for my family or just my husband and relax. I’m simple. I have simple pleasures, but if you offered me tickets to a Morrissey concert, I’m there!!

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? JW: Anytime of the month I’m not PMSing!!!



The 6 skin care products I cheat on Alchimie Forever with…

Part of my job is to try skin care products from other brands, in order to educate myself about what is on the market, what is trending, what consumers are wanting and using. Most of the time, I try these a couple of times, and then share them with my team. They rarely remain with on my vanity, or become a part of my daily skin care regimen. Except these 6, which I have been “testing” now for a month –about 27 days longer than I usually “test products.” I am guessing that a couple of them will become staples my skin care routine. And yes, I am spending more time in my bathroom these days (don’t forget the numerous Alchimie Forever products I use!) – but as my mother always taught me, every year you grow older you deserve another minute in the bathroom.

Aveda Tulasara Firm Concentrate

This product is part of Aveda’s skin care relaunch, which combines traditional Ayurveda principles and advanced performance actives. There are 3 Tulasara Concentrates, all 3 97% naturally-derived advanced performance treatment products. My favorite one is Firm, which helps firm the skin (obviously!) and stimulate collagen production.

Naturopathica Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum

When Karen from Great Jones Spa tells me I need to try a product, I do as she says. She was insistent on me getting to know Naturopathica, a favorite brand at her spa. I immediately fell in love with this serum formulated to firm, brighten and protect the skin while helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The ingredients include 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, vitamin E and oat beta glucan to correct skin tone and stimulate collagen production, as well as hyaluronic acid for essential moisture. I could never find a product with Vitamin C I could use, due to the smell – until I listened to Karen that is!

Goldfaden MD Brightening Elixir

I have a girl crush on Lisa Goldfaden, so I wanted to try her products. She kindly sent me a care package with her two favorite. First, the Brightening Elixir, the brand’s newest product. It features 9% vitamin C, 3% ferulic acid, 3% vitamin B, and 2% vitamin E, and has a plethora of anti-aging and antioxidant benefits – in a truly light, water-like texture.

Goldfaden MD Fleuressence Native Botanical Cell Oil

She also sent me Fleuressence, which contains oils from jojoba, apricot, hip seed, baobab, marula, sweet almond, and more. It replenishes moisture and perfectly nourishes my skin during the transition to cooler, dryer weather.

Sunday Riley Good Genes

I discovered this brand at the new flagship Sephora store on Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The beauty advisor who I struck up a conversation with, BeAnna, was so knowledgeable and fabulous I left with two products from this brand I had never heard of. While I immediately wanted to learn more, the Sunday Riley website “will be back soon.” So I don’t know much about the brand, but I like this product that contains lactic acid, licorice, and lemongrass to treat hyperpigmentation and spots.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

This dark blue oil of the same brand seemed magical and a bit alchemical (the bottle, the name, the deep blue color that turns clear when massaged into the skin), so I had to try it as well. BeAnna recommended it as a gentle retinoid (I cannot tolerate any retinoids), based on a trans-retinoic acid ester. So far, my skin is not showing any signs of irritation.