I am a pen and paper kind of girl

I am a pen and paper kind of girl. I have always known that about myself, but this week was reminded of that fact by my girlfriend Anne. I started to wonder about why nice notebooks, specific colored pens (of specific thickness of course), and a paper calendar are so important to me. I owe it to Madame Menegay…

When I was in middle school, she was my favorite teacher. She was super strict on everything and on one thing in particular: how we took notes and how we underlined our notes. She taught us the hierarchy of note taking (roman numerals, numerical numbers, capital letters, small letters). For example:

– Football

1. AFC

A. East

a) The Patriots

b) The Miami Dolphins

B. West

2. NFC

– Baseball

I am sure you all see how the hierarchy works… of course, back then she was teaching French, History, and Geography… We had to underline our notes – that was the process to be used to review class material before exams. We had to have different colored pens, underline with a ruler (the Roman numeral categories were underlined twice), and underline particularly important points with a squiggle line.

This might explain my obsession with paper and colored pens. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackberry, but for calendaring, I can’t bring myself to replace my At-A-Glance calendar. I have been using them since 2003 (and of course keep all of the old ones). I love being able to see my week on two pages – it gives me an overview that I can’t get on a screen. I color code my appointments and at the end of every week, I do something I learned from Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta. At the end of every week, she looks at her calendar and color codes various activities retroactively. I have three different colored pens to group the week’s activities and meetings in three categories: the meetings that contributed to your professional development or development of your business, the activities that contributed to your personal enjoyment, and the tasks that I should do less of. That enables me to visually get a sense of how I am spending my time, and if there is too much of the “do this less” and not enough of the “personal enjoyment” then I shift things around the following week. How would all of this visualization and color coding work on an electronic calendar?

I was at a luncheon with Anne a couple of weeks ago, and the subject of paper / pencil versus electronic preferences came up. I told her about my complex calendaring process, and she seemed surprised… yet intrigued. This week, she emailed me and wrote that she had been mulling over my system, and was considering going back to paper, and would I let her know what type of paper calendar I use, and next we get together would I show her my color coding system. Yes and yes!



When I was growing up in Geneva, there was a certain rythm to the week. One of the things I knew for sure, no matter what, was that Sunday night was family dinner night. Spaghetti with home-made tomato sauce, more specifically. My mother would cook the tomatoes on low heat all Sunday long, then peel them, add rosemary, salt, pepper, cook them some more, and then finally boil the water for the spaghetti. Any family member, immediate or less immediate, who was in Geneva on Sunday nights was invited, wordlessly, and would show up. That was our Sunday evening ritual. The sun rises every morning. And spaghetti is served at my Mom’s house every Sunday night.

My summer reading list

A few years ago, I came across the book The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club, by C. David Heymann. I had just graduated from Georgetown McDonough School of Business, and it seemed like an interesting book given that I lived in DC (well, technically, in Arlington, VA). I started it, but could never get into it.

Fast forward 6 years, to a month or so ago. I have since moved my home and my business to Georgetown, and have become fascinated with all things having to do with this neighborhood. I can’t start my day without reading The Georgetown Dish. Finding The Georgetowner in my mailbox makes me feel special. I guess you could call me a Georgetown groupie.

Looking through my bookcase a few weeks ago (reading more is one of my 2010 New Year’s resolutions), I found The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club once again, and a project formed in my mind. I decided this book would be the starting point of my summer reading list, which would focus on all things Georgetown, or at least all things DC.

I shared my summer project with my friend Stephanie Greene; somehow I knew she would have the best book recommendations. Not only was she excited about my project and eager to share her recommendations, she showed up at my office with a bag full of books for me to take on my week-long summer vacation in Greece (where I am writing from; more on that later).

So here is the beginning of my summer reading list (June-July), in the order in which I am reading them. Somehow I get the feeling that this project will last into the fall, possibly the winter, so please suggest additional titles that you would recommend.

The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Clubby C. David Heymann

All The President’s Menby Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

The Washingtonienneby Jessica Cutler

Farewell Jackie, by Edward Klein

The Other Manby Michael Bergin

The Other Mrs. Kennedy, by Jerry Oppenheimer

Personal History, by Katharine Graham

I could go on, but I must sign off. Books await me…

One burger, two presidents

A few hours ago, just after finishing a fabulous burger with brie at Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, I shook the hands of President Obama and President Medvedev. I don’t get star struck (well, unless I get to brush up against amazing beauty CEOs such as Leslie Blodgett of Bare Escentuals). But I still have goose bumps about it.

About halfway through our burgers, my friend Michael Ortner, Founder and CEO of Capterra and I (and the rest of the restaurant) are told by a very serious looking Secret Service agent that the President is on his way, and that we have to be “wanded” and our belongings checked. Unless of course we prefer to leave. Yeah right. We aren’t done eating!

On the importance of girlfriends

I am the eldest of four daughters. I work in the female-dominated beauty industry. And I am surrounded by girlfriends. I had drinks last night with a few of them, and it reminded me about their importance to me, and their role in my life.

In alphabetical order, please meet some of them (and learn about their favorite Alchimie Forever products).

Heidi. The BFF among all BFFs. She makes me feel like I can do anything, anytime. Including run a ½ marathon on my 31st birthday (that was her gift to me), without any training whatsoever other than my biweekly short runs. She also makes me feel like no matter what kind of trouble I get myself in, she will be there for me if I need it. It is an amazing feeling of safety. She is my get out of jail card. Hopefully she knows I am hers. (Kantic+ intensely nourishing cream)

Jen. We met at a beauty tradeshow in Las Vegas, completely randomly, the two beauty people from the greater DC area. She is the CIBU muse. She is the Fresh Lunch enabler. She has taught me about Youtube, Twitter, and more. We share industry stories and discuss the latest WWD articles (and the men in our lives of course). (Kantic calming evening cream)Jilinda.

We went to business school together, but somehow only became friends at the very end – actually at a rooftop pool in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Her, her husband, and their two children (of which my god-daughter Margot) are like my family away from home. When I crave a home-cooked meal, as well as the routine of playing with toddlers and reading bed-time stories, I invite myself over. (Kantic calming evening cream)

Kassie. We launched our businesses around the same time, we are growing our businesses one along side another, and sometimes I just need to have another woman entrepreneur’s perspective. She always listens, offering encouragement and words of wisdom. She also feeds my shoe addiction. And she has taught me that a fight only makes friendship stronger. (Kantic brightening moisture mask)

Maiya. My freshman year roommate. My early morning sister (5 am alarms throughout most of college!). She got me to watch the X files back in 1995 – our Sunday evening tradition. Even if we don’t see each other more than once a year these days, she always remembers my birthday. She always sends a Christmas gift. We email almost daily. She has been a constant in my life for 16 years now (and not many other people or things have!). (Diode 1 + 2 age defying serums)

Megan. Possibly the most gorgeous of my friends. Heads turn when we have cocktails (and those heads are not turning for me). The thing is, she isn’t just gorgeous. She is smart, professional, kind, a little shy – and not a girlie girl. She reminds me to be kind to myself, to take some time off, to work less hard. (Kantic calming evening cream)

Minal. The perfect example of how a business acquaintance becomes a friend. We met through a common industry connection, and stayed in touch. Over the years, through dinners and cocktails, we became friends. From Minal I have learned to network better, to write better, to be more involved in the community. She is the one who got me involved in NFTE. It was at her table that I had the amazing experience at their recent Dare to Dream gala. (Excimer purifying facial cleanser)

All of my girlfriends are an integral part of my life – the ones I described here, and all the others, Lindsey, Lisa, Vikki, Julie, Jen (other Jen), Severine, the list goes on. They are invaluable to me. Their successes are my successes. Their struggles are my struggles. They make my life richer and more fun. Thank you!