24 Days and Counting…

I have been on the road for 10 days straight (3 different cities and states). I am not yet done with my Christmas cards. I am not yet done with my holiday shopping. I am behind on my game plan. I have not exercised in five days. I am tired, I feel frazzled, I am trying very hard not to be grumpy. (And yes, I do realize these are First World problems).

On the bright side of things, Mercury in Retrograde ended yesterday. Also on the bright side, my sister Rachel posted an inspiring blog on our Polla Sisters Blog a couple of weeks ago entitled “Keep calm and drink champagne”, (the name itself is enough to want to read it!). She described the feelings that come with this merriest time of the year, which is also the craziest, busiest, and most frenetic. She shared her strategies on making it through this last month of 2018 – with calm and joy. This morning, upon waking, I read it once again as a reminder to myself. And I spent some time in silence with my coffee and pen and paper, reflecting and making my own list of strategies and resolutions.

  • I will be present, mindful, and grateful.
  • I will sleep no less than 7.5 hours per night.
  • I will “Winter clean” my home. I will declutter and organize and create space.
  • I will make my revenue goal for Alchimie Forever.
  • I will get a pedicure.
  • I will finish sending out my holiday cards with pleasure.
  • I will read 4 books.
  • I will unsubscribe from email newsletters I no longer read (instead of just deleting them) and unclutter my inbox.
  • I will figure out at least one thing that I am currently doing that I should stop doing in 2019.
  • I will enjoy finishing my Christmas shopping and find the perfect gift for everyone on my list (here are some ideas if you are stuck)
  • I will exercise ten times before the end of the year.
  • I will make a list of my favorite 2018 moments and accomplishments, and of the many lessons I learned this year.
  • I will be kind. I will act kinder than I feel, if necessary, towards all – including myself.
  • I will begin to daydream about the new possibilities, the new projects, the continued partnerships, that 2019 will bring.

24 days and counting…

The Email Newsletters That Make Me Smarter

I spend time daily unsubscribing from email newsletters. I also spend time daily (or weekly) relishing email newsletters. Here are the ones that keep me thinking, questioning, learning.

WWD

This is the classis source of news for anyone in beauty or fashion. I enjoy the fashion aspect, but my favorite articles are not surprisingly the beauty pieces by Jenny Fine, Ellen Thomas, and Allison Collins. Also, the print issue of Beauty Inc. is a treasure. And yes, I pay for this content.

Business of Fashion

Imran Amed is a genius. He is on my list of five people I would like to have dinner with. I love everything about the Business of Fashion – the daily emails, the podcasts, the print issues (more treasures), and BOF Professional. And yes, I also pay for that content. The articles by Sarah Brown are just by themselves worth the price.

Retail Dive

I love this daily email because it keeps me updated with overall retail trends – not just beauty. It helps me learn from outside my industry – and influences the stores I visit during my travels to get a feel for the current reality of retail.

Beyond the articles, I love the ‘What We’re Reading” section of every email.

Racked

I love the blend of business and beauty, and Racked does it best. This article on Amazon beauty is an example of why I stay subscribed to their newsletters.

BeautyMatter

Kelly Kovack is my friend, so I am biased. But she does have one of the most beautiful brains in the beauty industry. So, when she started BeautyMatter a couple of years ago, I subscribed from Day 1 and have not missed a day. I love her quarterly beauty M&A recaps, her white papers, and the daily beauty news. Smart, short, on point.

Harvard Management Tip of the Day

I look forward to this email every single day. This is the daily email I forward the most. To my sisters, to my team, to my friends. The tips range from management advice (for example how to delegate), the importance of vacation time, and my all-time favorite, the need to put a “meeting-free day” on your calendar every week. That is top on my goal list!

Marc Ross

Brigadoon is Marc Ross’ brain-child. The best annual conference I have ever attended. He keeps me thinking beyond my “comfort and industry bubble” in between these conferences with his daily emails (Marc Ross Daily), but what I get the most out of are the Brigadoon Weekly emails. The Ross Rant is particularly delicious. Also, his reading lists are inspiring.

Shane Parrish

Weekly brain food. Literally, that is what he calls his Friday emails. I came across him because of a podcast I listened to from The Knowledge Project – an interview with Naval Ravikant. This is possibly my favorite podcast of all times, I have actually already listened to it twice. Shane’s weekly emails include articles, a note on the book he is currently reading, and a quote he is thinking about.

Scott Galloway

I must admit, I only like about one third of his No Mercy / No Malice emails, but I can’t bring myself to unsubscribe because when I like them, I love them. If you don’t know him, he is a Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, and founder of the digital intelligence firm L2 (I also get their emails, but those feel more like homework). Try it.

Thomas Oppong, curator of Postanly

I can’t recall how I found Thomas – but I look forward to his Friday emails every week. I don’t always find the inspiration I crave, but when I do, it is quite amazing. This is one of my favorite articles shared.

I stopped watching the news a long time ago. My husband fills me in on the things I must know, I listen to NPR while driving, and I get The Skimm every day. A girlfriend of mine told me it makes her feel dumb when she reads it – like they are not taking their readers seriously. I have been thinking about this a lot, but I have not unsubscribed yet (also I love their Instagram account).

What I just subscribed to: The Cut. I just couldn’t resist, after the whole “Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t know about The Cut” saga. Also, I love Jane Larkworthy’s articles.

What I am thinking of subscribing to: Glossy. There is now a paid version, which I have committed to signing up for by the end of this month. I love their podcasts, and Jill Manoff, Editor-in-Chief of Glossy who is both smart and sassy.

What I am still trying to figure out: Beauty Independent. I get these emails daily. I enjoy them. I am still trying to understand the background, what the connection to IBE means, the agenda.

What I recently unsubscribed myself from: Tim Ferriss (I just can’t), Total Retail (Retail Dive is so much better).

What are your must-read email newsletters? What am I missing?

Mid-Year Reflections…

I am a planner, a list maker, a goal tracker. I start new years with a list of goals, some new, some left over from the previous year. And usually, sometime in the middle of the year – typically during my vacation in Greece, or around Labor Day weekend – I re look at my goals and set myself up for success for the fall.

This year, my mid-year reflection happened this past Saturday, August 18. I was in Magnano in Riviera (Italy), where my father is from, a place I have not visited in over 20 years. I was there with my husband, my three sisters and their partners and children, and with my father – per his request, to celebrate his 70th year of life, and have our annual Polla Family Council meeting. Such a family gathering, and such a birthday, were conducive to reflection.

So, I reflected.

The first few months of 2018 were challenging, for reasons I still had a hard time processing. I acknowledged this to myself and thanked myself for getting past it. I thought about a note I made for myself at the end 2017 about strengthening my tolerance for tension. I certainly can check that off my list.

I thought about what I am most proud of professionally, namely continuing to grow Alchimie (look for some new distribution this fall), launching our newest product (Advanced retinol serum), continuing to lead Neill Fulfillment.

I reflected on my relationships and the people closest to me. Am I contributing to their happiness, to their growth, to their personal and professional development? These goals are important for the rest of 2018 (and beyond).

I reaffirmed my commitment to my self-care and reminded myself how part of the reason I started feeling better late Spring was more running, more water, more sleep, more reading. I re-commit to ending the year healthy and strong, physically and emotionally.

I thought about some very specific goals I have yet to achieve: redoing our YouTube videos; working on my book idea; reaching 10,000 Instagram followers for Alchimie; reading the books remaining on my “Marie Kondo-ed book pile.”

Finally, I think about what I am looking forward to for the rest of the year. These next few days in Italy, maybe becoming a home owner, lots of productive work travel, my god-daughter Jade’s week-long visit, the holiday season.

So much to be grateful for, so much to do, so much to look forward to…

 

Tinos 2018 Reading List

When people ask me what I do for fun, my answer is “read.” I read fiction, I read non-fiction, I read for book club, and I read beyond book club. Most of all, I read during my summer R&R, in Tinos, Greece. I aim for a new book every two days.

Here is this year’s Tinos reading list – in the order I imagine reading the books…  I probably won’t make it through 11 books in 16 days, but I will try.

Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam. I found this book somehow on my IG feed, recommended by someone I follow. I started my vacation with this one and loved it. Great advice on how time really is elastic and how to be in control of your time, of what you spend your time on.

The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek. I also came across this book on my IG feed. I started it but could not get into it – so I am leaving it be for now, maybe I will pick it up again at the end of my vacation. I have to admit I don’t like WWI (or WWII) books, or sad love stories… maybe this was not the best pick for myself.

Who is Rich by Matthew Klam. My friend Cathy recommended it as our next Book Club read – she always stretches my reading comfort zone, and I am looking forward to this novel, about a cartoonist, set in a lovely New England beach town.

Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. My friend Kassie  gifted me this a while back, and I have never made the time to read it. It is about manifesting and the laws of the Universe – I think. Again, a bit out of my reading comfort zone, but isn’t that what friends are for?

In the Name of Gucci by Patricia Gucci. My Dad gave me this one – apparently a great read if you are in family business.

Silent by David Mellon. Another novel, written by my husband’s step-brother. I am looking forward to discovering it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I figured I would be reading this around my two-week vacation mid-point, and perhaps by then the Tinos air will have worked its magic on my mind and everything I give a F*&^% about.

101 Ways to Open a Speech by Brad Phillips. Melissa May recommended this book when I took her public speaking seminar in December 2017. I have been meaning to read it since. I am hoping it is quick and insightful.

Principles by Ray Dalio. This is the big one for this trip. I am leaving it to the second week of vacation because I am expecting to need a rested brain and open mind to get everything out of this read that I should. Also, it’s pretty thick.

Kilometre Zero by Maud Ankaoua. A book in French made it on this year’s reading list… My friend Severine gave this to me just last week when we got together for champagne in Geneva. I will give it a try… Other than my mother’s books, I can’t remember the last time I read a book in French is.

Building a Stroybrand by Donald Miller. I have been reading this for months, a great recommendation by my friend and graphic designer Kelli. There is so much, and it makes me think so hard about my brand Alchimie Forever, it feels like work – it will be the perfect book to end my vacation on and begin reentering the work world.

Tinos Countdown

In June, I count the days. The days until I am eating a Greek salad and drinking a glass of rosé at my favorite café at the Port of Rafina, in Athens, awaiting the ferry that will take me to my happy place, the island of Tinos. There, for two weeks, I will enjoy the sand, the sun, the sea, I will swim and read and eat and think and write and sleep.

In addition to counting the days, I relish the weeks leading up to that day and the anticipation by preparing for my trip in very specific ways. Here is my vacation preparation routine.

  1. I like to have 5-10 books to read during this two-week period – both fiction and non-fiction, both what one might consider “trash” and business books. On my list so far are The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Who is Rich, In the Name of Gucci, Off the Clock, The Verdun Affair, Principles, and more.
  2. Bathing suits. New year, new bikini. My collection is slowly but surely growing. I love Volcom, VIX, and Roxy.
  3. Even if I have any left from last summer, I purchase new sunscreen every year (it expires and all that). Of course, daily, the Alchimie Forever Daily Defense SPF23. And in addition to that, LaRoche Posay’s Anthelios Nourishing Oil SPF 50+ and Coola Sport Face SPF50 White Tea Organic Sunscreen Lotion.
  4. Beach body. I strive to eat healthy year-round, but in June I pay particular attention. More water, more vegetables, no carbs or sugars (I make an exception for champagne and wine), less cheese. And hopefully a three-day JRINK juice cleanse…
  5. Beauty appointments. The week before I leave, I make sure to get my eyebrows waxed (thank you Erwin and Karma!), have a pedicure (choosing a particularly exotic nail polish shade), and do a full body polish (this, at home, with Aveda Beautifying Radiance Polish).
  6. Every summer has its own playlist, songs to listen to on the road, at the beach, on the balcony. I have not yet started this summer’s playlist… any recommendations?
  7. Goal list. I head to Tinos with a list of goals, usually involving thinking projects, content creation, strategic planning. It’s amazing what happens to my brain when I let go of the daily tasks and activities and make room for the bigger picture.
  8. Don’t bring to Tinos list. I usually get a couple projects done in June that have been on my gameplan for months – because I refuse to “take them” with me to Tinos. Whether it be a project I have been procrastinating on or a random administrative task I have not yet figured out how to delegate and must take care of, it is getting done before I get on that ferry.

Is it June 29 yet?

It Takes 4 of Us to Make Me Feel Whole

When I turned 40 last October, I asked my sisters for a gift – that they all come to visit me in Louisiana for Memorial Day weekend. And Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I can’t quite describe the feeling of having them all here with me, and I know the weekend is just beginning, but last night’s dinner was perfection. I tried to say thank you… with the following words.

First, thank you to you, Edwin. This weekend would not have been possible without you. You know what I want and don’t want. You knew having my sisters in Louisiana was the best gift ever, and you made it happen. You even bought a new boat and renovated your Hammond kitchen to prepare for “their”’arrival. Thank you. Thank you for loving me so well.

Second, to Bernard. You are the one “plus one” here this weekend, and for this I am forever grateful. Thank you for coming to be moral support for Edwin during the Polla sisters weekend takeover. I am so grateful for you and for how you love Rachel.

Thank you, Stern for being with us, for representing the extended Neill family tonight. Thank you for making the special trip from California just to meet my sisters (J).

To Roxane. You were the first of my sisters to fall in love with Louisiana, a number of years ago. You fell in love with New Orleans. With the boat and the river and the alligators. With Debra’s house which you still think is the most beautiful house you have seen in the world. Thank you for understanding why I love it here. Thank you for coming back. Please tell Guillaume he is missed, but here in spirit.

To Rachel. You host me, us, in Geneva every single time we come. You never say no when I send you my travel dates. You make sure there is champagne and gruyere in the fridge. You always make me feel like I am home. Your hospitality is the kindest and most generous there is. This weekend is a small attempt to say thank you.

To Cyrille. You came back to the US of A. I must admit I stopped believing it would happen. Last time you came to this country it was for also for me. It was to help the Alchimie booth at ISPA 2005 at the Dallas Gaylord (our first ever booth). You hated it. Hated the AC (oops sorry), hated not being able to smoke anywhere, hated working the booth and speaking to people, you hated everything. That was the trade show Edwin and I met at. Thank you for coming for me then. Thank you for agreeing to come back for me now.

Thank you for coming here together so we can show The Polla Sisters to The Neill Brothers. They have no idea what is coming…

Je vous aime. Mes sœurs. Merci.