Archive for 2012|Yearly archive page

Shannon: Grant For Good.

In Be memorable, Create, Dancing, Marketing, Networking, Organization, Relationships, Tech on 10/23/2012 at 1:29 am

I met Shannon when we were both on a panel last year in Chicago. She’s the super smart, hard working, inspiring founder of Pivotal Productions. We discovered that we were both tap dancers in a past life (although she won national tap dance competitions and I never even entered them). Here’s a snapshot of us doing a triple time step before our panel:

So, one of the best things she brought up was how she joined forces with a bunch of other small businesses to provide an amazing grant (like, $100K+ in business services) to one non-profit applicant via Grant for Good. Why is this brilliant?

1 – Two heads (or seven companies, in this case) are better than one. Businesses can do more when joining forces than operating solo.

2 – Harnessing requests for donated product or services – which is every small business’ challenge – is much easier if it’s handled in an organized, official way. (Saying, “Apply for our Grant for Good” > reviewing a million scattered requests for donations.)

3 – This gets more press. Let’s face it: we donate “in exchange for free press” all the time, but what does that really get us? A tiny logo on a banner? A quarter page ad in a program that nobody reads anyhow? By collaborating and doing something truly impactful, it’s likely to get more buzz.

I’m excited to apply this concept – and to tap dance again with Shannon. Next time, on stage!


Craig: Change It.

In Be logical, Create, Human behavior, Relationships, Take action on 09/05/2012 at 10:00 am

Craig and I met in an airport. We were both waiting to catch a flight and both remarked how lousy the potato chips were in the Continental lounge. Ever since then, we’ve recognized that we’re pretty much twins from another mother (and country – he’s Canadian) – we’re both ENTPs, we both own food businesses, we have similar outlooks on how to raise our children and we both love talking for the sake of talking.

In an IM conversation this morning, I told Craig that I appreciated his problem-solving ability and quick-on-his-feet nature. He is so good about thinking clearly, being innovative and methodical with his approaches to problems, and offering creative solutions to them on the spot. His ability to apply logic and objectivity to any situation is something I admire in him – greatly.

Then, he said very matter-of-factly, “Well, the way I see things, you either need to find out how to be tolerant of something, or change it.”

Thanks for the chat, Craig!

Lindsay: Make Things Easy to Find.

In Be authentic, Organization, Parenting, Super Helpful Info on 08/03/2012 at 2:08 pm

I love Lindsay. She started a business called Mamaloot (which subsequently sold in pretty much, like, 6 seconds) and is now VP at Sandbox Industries. When we met (we were on a panel together at Northwestern), I immediately decided that we needed to be friends. Thankfully, we have a passion for entrepreneurship, being moms, being risk takers and getting things done – so it was easy for us to like each other.

We try to schedule lunch every few months. We usually discuss our businesses, the stress of juggling kid(s – plural for her), how we can help each other. It’s always productive, inspiring and super fun.

But the last time we went to Bongo Room, I noticed her fabulous green wallet and super blinged out phone case before we talked about anything. Naturally, I commented on both.

She said, “Oh, thanks! You know how it is – you can never find what you need in your purse. I figured I better make the stuff I need all the time easy to find.”

I looked at my brown wallet and boring phone case and decided that I needed to adopt this mentality. And guess what? A bright orange wallet and bright orange-and-turquoise phone case DO make things easier to find. And more fun, too!

Bob: Go With the Greens.

In Strategy, Super Helpful Info on 07/18/2012 at 9:45 am

Bob and I met at church a long time ago – maybe in 2001 or 2002. His wife, Jean, ended up becoming a superhero example of how to be a loving, kind, non-judgmental person. She also referred us to the kid’s pediatrician (she works there) – who we love.

We were having a conversation once about driving and navigating city lights. I probably complained that I managed to hit every red light, to which he said, “Why do you waste your energy? Just go with the greens.”

I drive all the time, all over the place, and every day I hear these words in the back of my mind. Because there are a couple of true hidden gems in Bob’s advice:

1 – You save a ton of stress – the kind that builds up in your arms, neck, back, and legs – if you don’t stop and go all the time. Which also equates to less road rage. #win

2 – If you get in sync with the green lights on a grid system, you rarely have to hit the brakes. (Note – speed racing through this system will inevitably get you a red light every time, so just follow the speed limit.)

Sure, I still get caught at a bunch of red lights. But at least I’ve convinced myself that I’m getting to my destination faster – which is all that really matters, right?

Francesca: Wash Your Hair Like Your Clothes.

In Health, Super Helpful Info on 07/17/2012 at 11:27 am

Francesca (the miracle working hairstylist) can deal with ANY type of hair – including my unruly, coarse, thick, mangled whatever-is-on-top-of-my-head. She gives flattering cuts to complement your face, listens to what you want, and encourages hair risk-taking (like asymmetrical cuts in fuchsia) that somehow always turn out.

I get a 4-hour cut/color with Francesca every few months, and last time I was in there, I asked her how often I should be washing my hair.

“If your hair were a type of fabric, how often would you wash it? You should wash your hair like your clothes. Your hair is coarse and thick and unruly. Like wool. How often do you wash your wool sweaters?”

Some people have wash-and-wear hair (cotton) or super fine hair (silk), but I get to deal with wool hair. Which means washing every 2-3 days and lots and LOTS of Moroccan Oil.

Three days in between washes may sound gross, but honestly, my hair does behave a lot better on day 2 or 3 after a wash.

Sue: Don’t Sneeze.

In Health, Just plain fun on 07/08/2012 at 12:39 pm

Ms. Aldridge was my history teacher for both 10th and 11th grade. She was probably my favorite teacher through all of high school, not just because she was young and fun, but also because she made history about a billion times less boring than it could have been.

Aside from Louis XIV and trench warfare, one of the best lessons she taught me was outside of class, between Trig (Mr. Powers, ew) and Physiology (mink dissection, ew). I was probably complaining to her that I would never use mink physiology in my adult life (true statement) and that Mr. Powers creeped me out (truer statement).

In the middle of my diatribe, I almost sneezed all over her.

But before I could, Ms. Aldridge brushed her finger on the bridge of my nose, and guess what? My urge to sneeze totally vanished.

So whenever I’m in a meeting or in front of a group of people or just plain don’t want to sneeze, I use her trick.

I really have no clue what Sue is doing now, but if for any reason she ends up reading this, I’d love to catch up over brunch at Hobees!

Jocelyn: Conceal Your Mistakes.

In Cooking, Strategy, Super Helpful Info on 07/06/2012 at 11:02 am

Jocelyn and I were best friends in high school – a given since we had 6 out of 7 classes together. Our teachers must have hated us, not just because we were chatty, but because we were ALWAYS together (and usually being dorks).

As one of the best students at our school and probably the most Type-A person I knew, it came as no surprise when she, as a grown-up Pastry Chef, was the first to come to mind when asking myself, “Who should create some recipes for this cupcake business I have no recipes for?” (Side note: we still use some of her cake recipes today, because they’re just that good.)

When I was in CA for our first photo shoot, Jocelyn started piping cupcakes for the camera. She told me to garnish the cupcakes that were sitting on the side and to use the garnishes to conceal any mistakes. So I did.

Once back in Chicago, as we hustled through our first year of running Foiled, I quickly realized that garnishes were going to be our saving grace. Without the chocolate curls, toasted coconut, crushed peanuts or Oreo crumbs, we’d have sent out lopsided, air-bubbly cupcakes. But with the garnishes, nobody noticed anything except how good the cupcakes tasted (thanks to Jocelyn and her Type-A-ness, I promise).

We have a rockstar Chicago-based pastry team that knows what they’re doing, but just in case, we’ll always keep our garnish stock full.

P.S. Go 49ers!

Adam: Row 8 or 16.

In Travel on 06/28/2012 at 5:01 pm

I’ve known Adam for a couple of years. I think he’s the only attorney I know who actually litigates. Every time I see him, I tell him, “You can’t handle the truth!” and I slam whatever I have down on the ground. (Just kidding.)

Adam used to travel between Chicago and Kansas City on, like, a weekly basis for work. He always flew Southwest and realized that if he sat in row 8 or row 16, he’d be first in line to get his drink.

“I’d get on the plane and see if there were any open seats in row 8. If not . . . I cruise all the way to row 16.”

I confirmed this theory with a Southwest flight attendant and learned that eastbound planes tend to be row 9 and 17.

Good tip if you’re feeling particularly thirsty on your day of travel, right?

Gerry: Claim the Sales Tax.

In Driving, Money, Super Helpful Info on 06/27/2012 at 5:24 pm

My car was totalled in May 2011. The party who crashed into me, their insurance company was going to write me a check for the KBB value of my car. So I decided to go look for a new car.

When I walked into the dealership and explained my situation, Gerry (who was the salesperson helping me) gave me some pretty useful information:

“When you get that cash-out check from their insurance company, make sure you also claim the sales tax. That’s something that you have to pay when you get your new car, and since they’re buying your totalled car from you, they should pay you too.”

I’m not sure if this is a State of Illinois thing, or a by-insurance-company thing, but when they wrote out a check, I casually asked about it. And guess what they did?

The wrote me another check for the sales tax.

Hey, it never hurts to ask.

Dan: Everything Is Relative.

In Be logical, Business, Human behavior, Marketing, Strategy on 06/26/2012 at 6:06 pm

I met Dan Ariely at The Market Research Technology Event in Las Vegas. I spoke on the last day at the last possible time slot. Dan spoke on the best day at the best time slot. So basically, he is seriously legit. He’s also a behavioral economics professor at Duke and has a ton of fascinating studies on human behavior and consumer habits.

In part of his presentation, he discussed relative pricing.

Which subscription plan would you choose?

You (and 68% of people) would probably pick the $59 subscription, because it’s cheaper and gives you what you think you need. Right?

Okay. Now imagine that you had seen this offer instead of the first one:

With this scenario, you (and 84% of people) are probably thinking, “Oh, MAN. I could get Print + Web for $125, when print on its own is $125? What a deal! I’m totally going with the $125 option.”

And just like that, the Economist just doubled their revenue, just by throwing in a martyr price point.

From Dan’s book:

“Most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context . . . We don’t know what kind of speaker system we like – until we hear a set of speakers that sounds better than the previous one . . . Everything is relative, and that’s the point.”

Frickin’ brilliant.