The Power of Words

I love to read, and I love to talk about books. I look forward to weekends (including music festival weekends!) so I can dive in a book and spend two days reading. If you want to speak my love language, send me a book recommendation you think I will enjoy or ask me about a recent book I read. At home, I have bookshelves full of books I loved, and piles of books I am looking forward to reading.

Yesterday, I added a new book on my list of books to read, thanks to the recommendation of Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation.

She opened our day-long strategy meeting by reminding us of the power of words, and by sharing three sentences we should all incorporate in our conversations more frequently to build connection and love:

  • “Tell me more”: this helps us listen better. I like to “end” a conversation with “what else?” – yet this verbiage is so much more powerful.
  • “I was wrong”: because “I am sorry” is over-used and not powerful enough. This will be a hard one for me to incorporate in my language…  
  • “I don’t know”: because it is ok not to know. As a colleague added, another nice way of saying that is “I haven’t learned that yet.”  

These phrases came from a book Debra read recently, which I immediately ordered: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. This book is about “12 essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.” (I think “No” is on that list and that is certainly a word I need help with!)

Today, I commit to using these three more frequently. And this weekend, I am going to read this book!  

The Podcasts That Make Me Smarter

I started listening to podcasts to make it easier to run on the treadmill, one of my most hated things, yet something necessary if I am going to stay in shape on the road. These days, I listen to them while flying, while driving, and sometimes even while getting ready in the morning.

Here are some of my favorites. Please share yours!

The Knowledge Project by Shane Parrish.

This is the first ever podcast I listened to. The Angel Philosopher episode with Naval Ravikant is still one of my favorites ever, I have now listened to it twice.

Living It by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden.

This is a new podcast, started by my friend Kelly, a project that came out of her book Living the Sutras. I love the theme of “living life on purpose” and particularly enjoyed this week’s episode with Michelle Gielan.

How I Built This with Guy Raz by NPR.

These are interviews of entrepreneurs and how they built their business. I got turned on to this podcast because of an episode featuring Marcia Kilgore and her story about Bliss – and have been addicted ever since. The episode with the two founders of SoulCycle is also amazing.

Freakonomics Radio by Stephen Dubner.

This podcast definitely takes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to topics I don’t typically think about. One of my favorite episodes is How to Catch World Cup Fever, from this past summer.

And here are some podcasts I downloaded but have yet to listen to…

Best of Both Worlds by Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger. I got turned on to this one after reading Laura’s book Off the Clock, which I loved.

The Business of Fashion. This is one of my favorite daily newsletters (I wrote about these here). I just need more hours in the day.

What are your favorite podcasts? And when do you listen to them?

My Rendition of Vanity Fair’s ‘My Stuff’

Clothes

Beauty products

Living & inspiration

“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.

Stop Adding Sugar to Your Diet to Look Younger Longer

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so a post on sweets (aka sugar) seems timely (it was that or a red roses rant).

Summary: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.

Sugar is hidden in almost everything we eat – including fruits and vegetables, yogurt (except plain), processed meats, salad dressings, sauces (yes, the best tomato sauce has added sugar), bread, pasta, crackers, wine, and more. Knowing this, we are all getting our “recommended sugar dosage” by eating and drinking “normal” substances – so no need to add juice, soda, sports or energy drinks, cereal, desert, cookies, muffins, smoothies, or other sugar-forward foods in our diet.

I am not speaking about the correlation between sugar and tooth decay, excess weight, diabetes, heart disease (and those connections are real). I am speaking pure skin here – excess sugar makes you look older sooner. Here is a summary of the pesky process called Glycation.

  • Excess sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins including collagen
  • Said collagen loses its strength and flexibility
  • Skin thus looks slacker, more wrinkled, less plump

Ironically, the culprits in this process are called AGEs – advanced glycation end products (compounds that result from a combination of sugars and proteins). And yes, they age you. For a more in-depth understanding of the impact of glycation on aging, read this article.

Here are easy tips to incorporate in your daily lifestyle today:

  • Stop drinking sugar – fruit juice, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks  
  • Forego pre-made or store-bought salad dressing, at home and at the restaurant; instead, have oil and vinegar on the side
  • If you must have desert, do it the European way and eat fruit and nuts (and cheese!)
  • Put down that piece of chocolate – unless it is dark chocolate (packed with antioxidants), small, and the only one you will enjoy this month.

Conclusion: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.

Seasons… of the Land, and of Business

I have had the privilege of hearing Seth Mattison speak at various industry conferences and have always come away from his presentations feeling inspired, energized, and motivated. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity of hearing him speak once again, in a more intimate setting over breakfast, and what I came away with was inspiration, energy, motivation – and calm and faith (in the process).

Having grown up in a farming family, Mattison spoke of the seasons of the land and drew parallels between the rhythm of farming and that of business. “When you are close to the land,” he reminded us, “you are close to the seasons of the world.” And “seasons,” he continued, “are relevant not only to farming, but also to business and to life.” As I remember working at my great-uncle’s farm harvesting corn when I was a young teenager, the connection between the cycles of the land and the cycles of business resonated particularly strongly with me.

“Winter is a season to rest, reflect, look back, and recharge.” Indeed, this is very much the symbolic of the months of December and January – months governed by analysis and planning.

“Spring is a season to plant and put seeds in the ground. Diligently, faithfully, every year.”

Summer is a season for monitoring growth and making adjustments to changing (weather or industry) conditions.

Fall is a season for harvesting, the season during which the year’s planning, planting, and labor yields fruit.

I have a love-hate relationship with January. I love the “newness” of it – a blank slate, the ability to start fresh. And I hate the “virgin-ness” of it – all (or most) of the business metrics I measure start back at 0. I don’t like 0s.

Mattison helped me understand that January can never be September, as that would just not be natural.

He helped me understand that I should love January (and winter) for what it offers, and work with the rhythm of nature, not against it.

He helped me understand that in business as in farming, there are many things we cannot control (the weather and the markets for example).

And finally, he helped me understand that while we must “surrender the outcome, we simultaneously must diligently work on the controllable.”