Reminders

This week, I am in Tinos, Greece. Not my first visit, but my first visit during the low season. The magic of this island is as strong as ever…

Fewer people make for stronger connections – those of us here really want to be here. The cooler temperatures make for new experiences – walking through the villages and heading to the Chora (town) more frequently. And the lessons of the island are as insightful as ever.

  • Feeding the island cats feels like the day’s most important project. AKA taking care of others, with no expectation in return, makes me happy.
  • Leaving the book I just devoured (The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda) in the unofficial “sidewalk book exchange” of Isternia village, and seeing it gone the next morning makes my whole day. AKA an act of random kindness for an unknown stranger, makes me happy.
  • Going to the bank (inside the building, not the ATM) feels like an enlightening, welcoming, kind, human connection. AKA taking the time to enjoy every human interaction, even in the form of an “errand,” makes me happy.
  • Slowing down and watching the sunset, grateful for nature and her rhythms, no matter the season, is good for the soul.
  • Finally, as the Greeks say, “eteron ekateron.” AKA “it is neither here nor there.” And/or “it is said of two things that can both apply simultaneously, different from one another, without affecting one another.”

WWD Beauty Summit Highlight: Warmth & Competence

Yesterday, I saw a (self-proclaimed) cold-hearted German economist tear up. It was the highlight of the Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Summit!

Organized by the brilliant Jenny B. Fine, this conference brings 400+ beauty executives together to listen to leaders, explore the state of the industry, and network.  

Markus Strobel, President of Global Skin & Personal Care, Procter & Gamble and said cold-hearted German economist, presented a case study on the turnaround of SKII in China.

Any brand, he explained, needs two complementary aspects to be successful:  

  • Warmth. Meaning “what are your intentions?” This is the humanity of the brand.
  • Competence. Meaning “what is your ability to deliver on your promises.” This is the efficacy of the brand.

SKII, he explained, was all competence and no warmth. Indeed, consumers in China perceived the brand’s intentions as “selling us as much products as possible.” Not what the marketing team was going for…  

The team thus set out to bring emotion back into the brand, to relate to the humanity of the consumer, specifically targeting the “leftover woman,” who in China, is a woman over 27 years old and is not married.

The intention of the brand became to give a voice to this “leftover woman,” to see her, to listen to her, to elevate her. And thus, the Change Destiny video campaign was created. With millions of views on YouTube, in China and around the world, this emotional video changed the trajectory of SKII in the Chinese market.  

Yesterday, as the audience watched this video, many teared up in empathy, including said German economist – who admitted: “this one gets me every time… even after watching it 100 times.”

And thus, we were all reminded that we are human, that we crave emotion. Strobel left us with the following insightful question and marketing challenge: “How do you all find the humanity in your brand?”

On The Power of Permission Slips

I have a confession to make. While I love Brené Brown – I heard her speak at Serious Business a few years ago and have appreciated her messages and her Ted Talks ever since – I do not love her books. I struggled through Daring Greatly last year, and I just finally finished struggling through Rising Strong (which I started reading in January).

Yet I am glad I struggled through it – because one of the concepts she mentions really resonated with me: the idea of “Permission slips,” like the ones I used to have to get as a child to be excused from school or gym class…

Per Brown, “permissions slips” are great not just for children, but for adults as well, and are to be used in both personal and professional situations. Permission slips are a great way to establish trust during a group conversation, or if you are using them for yourself, to understand what might get in your way.

Brown mentions for example writing herself a permission slip some time ago: “I wrote my first permission slip on a Post-It note the morning I met Oprah Winfrey for the first time and taped an episode of Super Soul Sunday. It said, ‘Permission to be excited, have fun and be goofy.’” 

I used this concept in a strategic team meeting yesterday, specifically mentioning the following permissions:

  • Permission to engage with emotion
  • Permission to feel both excited and scared
  • Permission to question everything

These set the tone for our meeting, and many questions began with “I need a permission slip…”.

What will you give yourself (or your loved one, your kids, your team members) permission to do and feel today?

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’

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