Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Pieter: React in a complementary way.

In Experience, Human behavior, Music on 10/30/2009 at 4:58 pm

Pieter Schlosser (@schlossax) is an LA-based composer and musician. He’s IMDB-credited for Desperate Housewives, The Sims 3, and Friday the 13th. I LOVE talking with him about the many facets of music composition and performance.


Pieter’s ridiculous studio

We started talking about past professors and influencers while he was in college:

“Abe Laboriel (the bass player) told me that that the highest expression of love is to listen. When you truly listen, you’re able to mesh better with the musician, feed off of what they’re performing, and react in a complementary way.”

I’ve NEVER thought of music in that sense – an experience where it’s my job (as the listener) to feed off of what a musician is performing – and then actually REACT to it. A selfish consumer/listener, I’ve totally missed out on what could have been potentially amazing two-way musical conversations.

Thanks, Pieter, for helping me see another way to experience music. This Marianita is most grateful for the ear-opening words by the one and only Abe Senior. Gracias, amigo.

Marc: Do you know what your market size is?

In Brainstorm, Business, Marketing, Strategy on 10/28/2009 at 8:16 pm

Marc is the Director of Marketing for a Chicago-based coffee joint. He’s a Berkeley MBA grad. But strip away the fancy titles and degrees and he’s still as smart as ever. And although I’ve only met up with him twice, I’m pretty sure that he’s my business soul mate.

We met for lunch yesterday along with his cousin who introduced us. The three of us had the most riveting conversation about business, strategy, operations, and marketing. Luckily, my business and our current growth challenges were the focus of their analysis. In trying to better understand the big picture, Marc asked one very simple, relevant, poignant, totally necessary question which stumped me:

Mari, do you know what your market size is?”


Ugh. Not in 2009, recent, tangible, hard numbers. Not like I should. Ugh. (Lame.)

That comment alone prompted me to revamp the old, dated, original market analysis and start to update it with current information to reevaluate the size (and our share) of the market – and brainstorm new ways to grow that market – so we can better strategize our next move.

Business soul mate, I’m telling you. And lucky me, the three of us have agreed to lunch on a regular basis and talk shop.


Chris: More isn’t always better.

In Business, Experience, Tolerance on 10/27/2009 at 9:44 am

A few months ago, I reached out to Chris (a smarty pants Experience Strategist and Information Architect) because his twitter name is @cb. I asked him how he was able to snag such a short Twitter name. Turns out he has ins with some of the first people over at Twitter who told him, “Hey, this might be big, so grab a user name before it explodes.” Early adopter, that Chris.

We met officially at Idea Conference. It was like meeting a long lost brother (or something – I wouldn’t know since I don’t have any brothers, long or lost). He’s super cool, super intelligent, super nice. Plus, he’s editor-in-chief of an online design magazine. Yeah – literally the guy who does it all.

boxesandarrowsYesterday in his tweets, I caught this tidbit of pure genius:

“Chris is starting to think that Free is a trap that values scale and abundance at the expense of quality and experience. More isn’t always better.

I can add nothing more to make this any better than it is. So I’ll leave it at that.

Melissa: Figure out how to use your closet.

In Clothes, Organization, Shoes on 10/26/2009 at 12:41 am

Melissa was my youth group leader when I was 10. We baked bread, square danced, started a vegetable garden. None of those skills really stuck. But one time, she spoke straight to my heart:

“When you’re old enough to buy your own clothes, make sure you figure out how to use your closet. Organize by color, season, size, type of fabric – whatever works for you. But for heaven’s sake – don’t just throw your clothes in a heap on the floor!”

So from that point on, I took her advice to heart. Here’s my closet today:


Thirty assembled outfits. Dressy on the left, casual on the right. Accessories on the hanger. Yes, the hangers are backwards for a reason – once I wear an outfit, I’ll turn the hanger around so I know it’s already been worn. (Thanks, Stacy and Clinton.)

Not only does this system save me a ton of time (no more frantic piles of clothes on the floor), but it also helps me purge (clothes not on hangers go straight to the donation bag) AND I know exactly which pieces I need when I go shopping. Like right now, I really, really need a navy blue cardigan. Really.

I love organizing. Probably in majority part due to Melissa.

Alyssa: This is just more fun than anything.

In Just plain fun, Shoes on 10/25/2009 at 3:21 pm

I freaking {heart} Alyssa. She’s one of those girls you wish you could hate because she’s everything you want to be: cute, darling, lovely, friendly, happy, stylish, trendy. But you can’t hate her because you can’t help but love her.

She has a blog that’s just so Alyssa. And I was catching up on her fun little findings and found this post, where she writes (and I quote):

“oh THIS is just more fun than anything you can possibly doing on a rainy monday morning (well if youre in chicago its a rainy monday morning)

Look what I made!


How freakin’ stinkin’ fun is that?

Colette: You HAVE to try this stuff.

In Health, Parenting on 10/25/2009 at 12:31 am

Colette and I met and bonded over our hair. I tell her all the time that I’ve never known a white girl who had my hair – coarse, frizzy, thick, and unmanageable. But yet the kind that everyone’s jealous of because it’s “so thick and so beautiful!”

The other day at a playgroup, she said, “My hairstylist just introduced me to Moroccan Oil – and it makes my hair so soft, manageable, and takes out all the frizz. You HAVE to try this stuff, Mari!”


So I bought a bottle.

Oh my goodness.

My hair has never felt so soft.

That is all.

(I love you Colette for many reasons, but sharing this secret with me is a definite list-topper.)

John: Do you want to be Wal-Mart or Tiffany’s?

In Be memorable, Business, Marketing, Strategy on 10/22/2009 at 10:47 am

I hired John as my business coach several years ago to help me grow my last business. My ongoing dilemma at the time: rebranding from “totally-willing-to-bottom-dollar” to “top-quality-and-service, so-you-better-pay-up.” It was an uphill battle, and one in which I was barely profitable.

I fought him on a few things. “If I change to service-oriented, I’ll lose customers. If I charge double for certain items, I’ll lose customers. If I start charging what my time is actually worth, I’ll definitely lose customers.”

Frustrated, John fought back:

“Mari, do you want to be Wal-Mart or Tiffany’s? Both are huge. Both are industry leaders. Neither is bad. But which do you want for you? Remember what your time is worth. You’re in this to make a profit. Don’t lose money just to chase customers who don’t value what you offer.”


Ouch. And he was so right.

I’ve kept this with me in the back of my mind with every decision I’ve made with respect to branding, partnerships, and marketing strategy. It’s amazing how nine words can completely change the way you shape a business.

John, those truly life (and business)-altering words of wisdom have made more of an impact in my life than you’ll probably ever know. So thank you, thank you so very much.

Patrick: Just look at the lines!

In Create on 10/20/2009 at 10:17 pm

I like @smithdidit, the graphic designer. Here’s why.

We met today for lunch (totally impromptu – my favorite, by the way) and caught up on his life, my life, and stuff I need him to do for me (a few big events coming up that need some very specific design work). We finished eating. I told him I’d take him to the train.

On the way there, we drove by my friend Matt‘s office which is in the Hyatt Center.


Apparently, it’s the most secure of all of the buildings in the Loop – guard dogs, double security, metal detectors, etc. I learned this over lunch with Matt a few weeks ago and thought it was cool enough to share with Patrick. And you know what his response was?

“Oh, I know that building. It’s AMAZING. Just look at the lines! They designed it so everything flows and works together. I get so excited about stuff like that.”

I love how I see a building as secure, and he sees the same building as beautiful. Seriously? Swoon.

Jess: Dirty hair works best.

In Create, Dancing on 10/19/2009 at 3:31 pm

Don’t judge me for it, but I was a songgirl in high school – the cheerleaders who dance with poms. When we weren’t cheering at a game, we were competing. (Think: Bring It On, which is a scarily accurate portrayal of the competitive world of cheerleading. And yes, we had a barfer on our squad.) Part of competition was doing our hair – the main part of competing that I absolutely hated.

I have a lot of hair. Getting it up into a ponytail that wouldn’t fall out with triple pirouettes and scissor leaps and hitch kicks and toe touches was quite a challenge. I literally tied my head together with eight heavy-duty rubber bands to secure the ponytail prior to using 100+ pink sponge rollers to get it nice and 90’s permy.

pink rollersIt was all in vain, though, because it never held a curl. Then one night at a curl party, my squadmate Jess G. said in the most epiphonic way, “Mari! Your hair is too clean! Dirty hair works best if you want it to hold any kind of curl.” And then she sprayed 13 different types of goop into my hair before rolling in the pink spongies.

In case you were wondering, yes, we got first place at Mission SJ and qualified for Nationals that day.

I attribute it to my fabulously permy, curly hair, courtesy of Jess. Thanks, lovely!

Stacy: I’m not sure why I never tried this!

In Be memorable, Human behavior, Parenting, Self Defense, Strategy, Take action on 10/17/2009 at 5:40 pm

Stacy and I have known each other for a little over three years. She’s cute. She’s small. She’s concerned about other people’s welfare. She’s friendly. She’s a fire survivor. And to top it all off, she has six kids.


She just posted this on her Facebook wall with the comment, “I’m not sure why I never tried this!”

Stacy, I give you my personal permission to do this whenever, wherever. You’ve earned it. 🙂