Brigadoon 2019

I am sitting in Salt Lake City airport with a breathtaking view of the snowy mountains, and a heart and head filled with the knowledge, connections, experiences of Brigadoon 2019, which took place over the last three days. When people ask me to describe Brigadoon, I respond with “it’s a conference on thinking.” The speakers are varied and non-industry specific, and the topics range from policy to personal development and everything in between.

As I continue to process everything I learned, here are some of the concepts swirling around in my brain.

From Marc Ross, Founder of Brigadoon.

Replace FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) with JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Meaning, it’s ok to do your thing, to take time off, to disconnect. It’s ok to say “no.”

From Brook Hazelton, Chairman, WineCredit.

The typical laws of supply and demand don’t necessarily apply to art market. An artist needs to be prolific to be able to command high prices at auction. Said another way, a large supply is typically needed for the artist to become famous enough to generate auction-level interest.

From Michael Rivera, Executive Director, Founder Central Marshall School of Business.

The magnetic pole of homophily: the tendency of people to seek out and be attracted to those similar to themselves. Our friends are like us, our business partners are similar to us. This is comfortable, but it is not optimal. Differences in backgrounds, cultures, opinions, education, and more, are additive to strategic thinking.

The magnetic pole of quality: equal is not necessarily always fair. People want fair.

From Kelsey Durkin, Director of Program Management, Personify.

Comfort is the enemy of growth. (Interestingly, this is a different way of saying that homophily is not optimal.)

Leaning into the pain is the only way through the pain.

From Wendy Jones, writer.

Purpose over pleasure. Working your purpose will lead to long-term happiness, whereas living your life with a focus on immediate gratification and short-term pleasure will not.

“Elegance is an attitude.” RIP Karl Lagerfeld.

Today (tomorrow, by the time you read this), I am sad. I never had the pleasure of meeting Karl Lagerfeld. I never had the privilege of working with him. I never had the good fortune of spending time with him. And yet, today I am mourning his passing, and I know I am not alone.

Scrolling through Instagram and the news, I am reminded of everything I associate with his larger than life persona. Luxury. Democracy. European style. Irreverence. “Unf***ablewith-ness.” Handsomeness. Ponytails. Sunglasses. Cats. Black and white.

One day, I promised myself, I would own a Chanel jacket that he designed. When I was “a proper successful adult.” I’m still working on that.

Before then, I would go to H&M to purchase one of his limited-edition designs. I got there too late, too many times, everything was always sold out. I loved how mad he got with H&M for not releasing enough of these designs: “They did not make the clothes in sufficient quantities. I find it embarrassing that H&M let down so many people… I don’t think that is very kind … It is snobbery created by anti-snobbery.” 

One day, I wished to be so cool I would wear big black sunglasses even when it was grey or dark outside, because they would protect me. The only Chanel item I own is a pair of big black sunglasses – I will wear them tomorrow even though snow is coming to DC.

Today, along with so many, I am reminded of his wisdom which have been ever-present in my head – for so many years.  

On everything:

“If you are cheap, nothing helps.”

On self-awareness:

“I am very much down to earth. Just not this earth.”

“I take myself with me everywhere.”

On self-care:

“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give, and nobody will care for you.” 

On work:

“I’m a working-class person, working with class.”

“I get inspired when I’m working, it’s my engine.” 

“It’s up to you to make every day as perfect as possible – it’s a question of will and discipline.” 

“Why should I stop working? If I do, I’ll die, and it’ll all be finished.”

“My thing is to work more than the others to show them how useless they are.”

“Don’t look to the approval of others for your mental stability.” 

On change:

Change is the healthiest way to survive.”

“I like to reinvent myself. It’s part of my job.”

On books:

“Books are a hard-bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am the happy victim of books.” 

On age:

“Youthfulness is about how you live, not when you were born.” 

On beauty:

“Beauty with character ages better than perfection.” 

“Vanity is the healthiest thing in life.”

 On fashion:

“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” 

“Sunglasses are like eyeshadow: They make everything look younger and pretty.”

“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.” 

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.” 

And just for fun because these make me giggle in the most politically incorrect way:

“Yes, some people say to me ‘You’re too skinny,’ but never a skinny person says that to me.”

“Having adult children makes you look 100 years old. I don’t want that.”

“Anyone who is not at least trilingual is a hick.” (Note to self: I’m a hick.)

RIP Karl Lagerfeld.

Morning Rituals

Mornings. I love them. I became a morning person in college when I was introduced to crew at Harvard. The stillness of the city, the sunrise over the Charles, and the camaraderie of 5:30 am meets at the boathouse forever changed me.

I am often asked about my morning routines – beauty and otherwise. I wrote about this a couple of years ago here, some things are the same, some have evolved.

For many years, I woke up at 5 am. For the past year, I have been waking up between 4:30 and 4:50 am on weekdays. Somehow, those minutes before 5 am seem particularly precious. By 6 am, I am working (in the office or on the road), or working out (running or SoulCycle).

What I do:

  • I get out of bed immediately. No snoozing for me.
  • I light a candle. I love Aveda Shampure candles and have them all around the house. Lighting them makes the house smell good and feels like an act of kindness and sophistication that I do just for myself.
  • I make my bed. It looks good, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something, like I have control over my surroundings. (Even Navy SEALS feel this way about this small task)
  • I check my phone (emails, social media). Everything I have read about morning routines says not to do this. For a while, I tried not to do it – but that frustrated me to no end and did not contribute positively to my mornings. So I do it, unapologetically!

What I think about:

  • What am I looking forward to today? This can be a work project, a meeting, a trip, date night… Starting my day with something specific to look forward to helps me get out of bed.
  • What are the three most important things I need to accomplish today. I have an endless to-do list, so prioritizing three daily goals helps me stay on target.

What I eat and drink:

  • A tall glass of water with one Emergen-C Super Orange packet. If the rest of the day goes crazy, at least I will have done something good for myself!
  • I have the same Krups coffee maker I bought during my freshman year in college, and I love it! It makes the best coffee. Milk if I have it in the fridge (which is infrequently!), otherwise black.
  • No breakfast. I stopped eating breakfast a few years ago, when I realized that the Danone vanilla yogurts I was eating every morning were nothing but sugar. I have not missed them (or breakfast) since.

My beauty routine (post workout if I work out that morning): 

One ritual I am trying to add to my routine is to use the free weights I got over a year ago to strengthen my arms and shoulders. So yesterday I took them out of their dark closet and put them by my full-length mirror… let’s see seeing them helps me use them…

 

 

 

Celebrating 2018, Looking Forward to 2019

Growing up, one of my favorite traditions was our family New Year’s Eve dinner. My parents, my three sisters, and I were most often somewhere in the Swiss mountains. The table was nicely decorated, the food lovely, and the atmosphere festive. My favorite part of the evening, however, was a tradition I remember my mother starting. We all (youngest to oldest) were asked to share what we were most proud of having accomplished this year, and what we were looking forward to in the New Year.

Somehow this tradition provided closure and appreciation for the year coming to a close, and also introduced the concept of New Year’s resolutions in a fun and casual way. Often times the conversation led to memories from the same conversation the previous year – and to laughs about what we thought would be our highlights versus what were our highlights. This tradition, as most traditions do, created a sense of continuity and family. For me, it became a ritual.

December 31st has since been a day of reflection, gratitude, closure. It is also a day of excitement, a day of butterflies in the belly. Tomorrow, I start anew.

Thank you 2018. It wasn’t always pretty, yet I am proud of my work accomplishments (teamwork, revenue targets achieved, a new product launched), and of my personal accomplishments (in my marriage, in my friendships, in my relationship with myself).

2019, I can’t wait to meet you. I am looking forward to the books I have not yet read; to the runs, I have not yet run; to the challenges, I have not yet faced.

Wherever you are right now, I hope you take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments this past year. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for thriving, or for surviving. And to set your intentions for 2019.

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?