Five Things I Can’t Live Without

Last week my friend Judith wrote about the five things that she can’t live without – specifically, the five things she can’t live without as informed by COVID-19, things which the past six months have either revealed or confirmed (not counting family, friends, pets, or facial coverings).

This inspired me to do the same. Here are my five things I can’t live without right now. 

  • Scented candles. I live by Aveda’s Shampure candles and love the ritual of lighting them first thing in the morning, and lighting them again in the evening. I have them on between 5 am and 8 am, and after 7 pm. Somehow, they have become signs of “this is not work hours” when working from home. 
  • Non-alcoholic beer. I committed early this year to not drink alcohol three days per week. And global pandemic or not, I am sticking to this! It’s hard, perhaps harder because of the current state of the world, so I trick my brain into thinking that my delicious Heineken 0 (my favorite of all of the brands I have tried) is just as magical as a glass of chardonnay. 
  • Fiction. I usually read 75% non-fiction, but have been reading mostly fiction for the past six months. I am still trying to finish the last non-fiction book I started two months ago… I think my brain needs to escape more than usual, and non-fiction is not an escape. I am particularly addicted to anything written by Victoria Hislop, whose historical novels set in Greece take me to my happy place. 
  • My 9-grids. I have planned and replanned 2020 about seven times, and we are only in early September. This planning and brainstorming tool which I love and have been using for years has been particularly useful during these times of constant change, and help me feel in control.
  • Webinars and virtual conferences from leading industry sources. I miss learning about my industry, I miss hearing from other brand founders and beauty subject matter experts. I have particularly enjoyed the events from CEW, Beauty Independent, and Glossy+ – from weekly webinars to day-long conferences (and the beauty of these events is the presenters are on camera, but I am not!).

What are the five things you have (re-)discovered that you can’t live without these days?  

2019 Books

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham. 

As 2019 draws to a close, I realize I have read 31 books this year. Fiction, non-
fiction. Short, long. Great, less great. For book club, not for book club. Here are my favorite, in the order that I read them.

  1. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de St. Exupéry. I started 2019 with this book, which I have read a dozen times at least. There is a reason why this novella of love, loss, friendship, and loneliness is one of the best-selling and most translated books ever published.
  2. On Becoming by Michelle Obama. I miss the Obamas. That is all.
  3. Love you Hard by Abby Maslin. I don’t often cry while reading, but this memoir of love, loss, and marriage is a real tear-jerker (in the best sense of the word).
  4. The Banker’s Wife by Christina Alger. The author is a friend of a friend and a fellow Harvard graduate, and discovering her writing is one of my 2019 highlights.
  5. The Darlings by Christina Alger. I am addicted.
  6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou.The best book I read this year, this Theranos exposé is proof that reality is indeed stranger than fiction.
  7. Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing by George Cloutier. A powerful reminder that profitability enables the mission.
  8. Girls Like Us by Christina Alger. Christina, please write more faster.
  9. The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis. A must read in today’s political climate. (Truly, anything by Michael Lewis is a must read).
  10. The Friends We Keep by Jane Green. A touching book about friendship.
  11. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins. A lovely story about a small town and the power of books.

My goal for 2019 was to read a book per week. I did not quite get there – although I do plan on reading four more books before 2020:

This has been on my reading list since this past summer. It is time.

“Love is the precursor to contribution” and other wisdom from Marcus Buckingham

Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual International Spa Association (ISPA) conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas. There were many highlights, including reconnecting with spa friends, listening to Susan Cain speak about introverts, dinner at Morel’s, and more. Yet what I can’t stop thinking about is the presentation Marcus Buckingham gave on the topic of his latest book, Nine Lies About Work.

Here are the nine workplace misconceptions (aka lies):

  • People care which company they work for (they care which company they join).
  • The best (strategic) plan wins (forget about them, yet planning is a great activity to engage in)
  • The best companies cascade goals (yet alignment is a good thing)
  • The best people are well-rounded
  • People need feedback
  • People can reliably rate other people
  • People have potential (everyone can get better)
  • Work / life balance matters most (balance is stasis and we don’t want stasis)
  • Leadership is a “thing” (there is no such thing as leadership, if you look at great leaders, they are all different)

I am still wrapping my head around these misconceptions and can’t wait to dig deeper with Buckingham’s book. I also jotted down a few other amazing one-liners from his presentation:

  • Average is homogeneous; excellence looks weird quickly
  • Define a job by the outcome not the method
  • Your strengths are your key areas of development (your weaknesses are not)
  • Your future greatness is based on your current goodness
  • Strength replays (stop saying “stop that” but “keep doing that,” not to celebrate but to interrogate)
  • Good job is not the end of the sentence; good job is the start of a sentence (a sentence that includes these questions) what were you thinking? what was going on? what worked?)
  • Love is the precursor to contribution
  • Burnout is the absence of love
  • Don’t do what you love but find love in what you do – a little love goes a long way to fight against the feeling of burnout

Thank you Marcus Buckingham, and thank you ISPA!

 

Wisdom from Jacques Courtin

I got away this past weekend – to a magical, beautiful place filled with soul and serenity – Tulum, Mexico. It was the perfect spot to rest my body and resource my mind.

Listening to the waves of the Caribbean Sea, I read a book that I have been carrying around with me for over a year – A Beautiful Success by Jacques Courtin – of Clarins fame. This is his story, his family’s story, his brand’s story. Established on March 15, 1954, Clarins began with a weight-loss device and a body treatment Institute. The first Clarins product was the “Tonic Body Treatment Oil,” a product that is still sold today. From an assortment of body products that complemented the Institute’s treatments, Clarins expanded to a full range of facial products, makeup, and fragrance. Combining the best of nature with the best of science, combining at-home products and treatment centers, Clarins came to represent “serious beauty.” A great example of what I want Alchimie to become!

While this book can’t be reduced to one-liners, there are some great ones, which are relevant beyond the world of beauty, and worth remembering on a daily basis.

“Do more. Do better. Enjoy what you do.”
(His key to success, and to happiness)

“Listening. Thinking. Acting. My company was based on this.”
(How often do we do those three things, but not in that order?)

“Everything starts with the word no.” He continues: “If someone says no you can immediately ask why. It’s pretty certain that with a little persistence you’ll wind up finding out the reason. At that point, you have all you need for adjusting your argument to fit the situation; you’re suddenly armed to win.”
(This reminds me of the most important lesson my sales teacher taught me: “No is just the start of a conversation.”)

“Always begin a difficult conversation with the magic words ‘You’re right.’ “You’re right’ is a sentence that everyone should be required to learn – human relations would take a huge leap forward.”
(He says this in the context of customer service challenges, but really it is true in general.)

“I sometimes ask people who work with me: ‘Would you like to be the one hearing what you’re saying?’ Sometimes nothing more is needed to help someone see they could maybe express themselves less awkwardly – and to make them want to try again, with different words.”
(We can never do this enough… in all personal and professional conversations.)

Summer 2016 Reading List

As for the past few years, I have the privilege to again spend two weeks on the magical island of Tinos, Greece. There are many pleasures that come with this two-week vacation, and one of them is the pleasure of spending endless hours reading. I have shared my summer reading lists in the past (Summer 2012 Reading List and Summer 2013 Reading List), this is the list for this summer.

 

The last two Phillip Margolin Dana Cutler books (I have read the first two already, in the context of book club): Capitol Murder and Sleight of Hand. These take place between DC and Oregon, are true page-turners, and the perfect beach read.

 

Two Mary Higgins Clark books – The Melody Lingers On and As Time Goes By. These are a guilty pleasure, I have read all of her books and realizing there were two “new to me” ones was a wonderful surprise.

 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This novel was recommended to me by my brilliant friend and novelist Karin Tanabe (her book The Gilded Years would be on this list but I read it before leaving). Written by an Italian author, this story of friendship takes place in Naples. I can’t wait to start it.

 

Four business books that have been on my reading list for many months – I am hoping after some binge fiction reading my brain will be ready to take these on:

 

An inspiration book recommended to me by Cindy Feldman, one of my mentors: The Dan Sullivan Question. She has gone to his conferences and can’t speak highly enough of them. Reading his book on the beach might be the next best thing.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. With over 3 million copies sold, this book needs no introduction. In a world that leans towards over-consumption, I am and have always been a minimalist – quality over quantity. I can’t wait to read her perspective on downsizing, tidying up, cleaning, organizing closets, and more.

 

And of course, I had to bring one of my mother’s books. 25 Os + L’astragal. Per the book jacket, this is her 25th published book. I went to her book reading last week (perhaps better called performance, it involved painting a foot blue, and original guitar music and singing), and can’t wait to discover the rest of this text.

 
Let the days on Tinos be long enough for me to get through this reading list…