Archive for the ‘Be memorable’ Category

Maya: Shoes Always Work.

In Be memorable, Business, Experience, Just plain fun, Shoes on 05/01/2015 at 2:27 pm

Maya is one of my favorite people of all time. She owns Swank Productions, a ridiculously creative and luxurious event planning company based in Chelsea. We met when we were both the only non-industry people speaking at a User Experience conference in Toronto a million years ago. And although our meeting was brief, I have always remembered her passion, straightforwardness, and no-BS way of approaching life — and I try to see her as often as I can, because her energy is so contagious.

Way back when, the Sex and the City movies were coming out, and Maya decided she wanted to produce the launch parties for them. She wasn’t sure how to get her company in front of the producers. In her typical New York hustle fashion, she did some covert research, found out one of the female producer’s shoe sizes, and sent her a single Manolo Blahnik . . . with a note. “Want the other shoe? Meet me for coffee.”


And like that, she won her way to a meeting, followed by a contract, to create the launch party of Sex and the City: the movies. In her presentation: “Shoes always work.” True story.

I ❤ Maya. Happy birthday to you, my sparkle sister from another mister! xo

Jon: DesktimeApp.

In Be memorable, Just plain fun, Networking, Super Helpful Info, Tech on 01/27/2013 at 4:17 pm

I met Jon at an event in town (I think it was 37signals related, which would explain Jon’s techiness). Our conversation went something like this:

Jon: What do you do?
Me: I make cupcakes. What do you do?
Jon: I make apps.
Me: Cool.

Then, I asked more questions and found out that Jon’s app, DesktimeApp, is actually really cool, really pretty, and really useful.

Desktime App Coworking

Whenever I travel, I’ve found it’s much more fun to work in a co-working space and meet new entrepreneurs, than it is to go to a coffee shop and share space with a potentially unstable person and a really loud steam machine.

Solution: DesktimeApp.

I’ve met so many cool people, discovered so many new places, and gotten such great feedback – all because of this tiny little web app that I keep bookmarked on my phone whenever I’m in a new city.

You may enjoy it too.

Jeremy: Say Anything If It’s Funny.

In Be memorable, Just plain fun, Parenting on 01/27/2013 at 3:38 pm

I met Jeremy Piven when Foiled Cupcakes catered an event at the Piven Theatre Workshop. It was 5,000 degrees at the event (a strategic move on the part of the organization to raise money for air conditioning), and everyone was steamy and shiny and just gorgeous, as you can see below.

Jeremy Piven Foiled Cupcakes

During his very pithy (due to the temperature) speech, Mr. Piven acknowledged his mom – a lot. The best part?

“My mom told me I could say anything to her, or to anyone, as long as it was funny. If it wasn’t funny, don’t waste her time.”

I’ve read studies that have shown that kids who exercise their sense of humor early learn to deal with their lives and society in a much more adjusted way. They’re better able to cope with challenges, not to mention smarter and healthier.

A sense of humor was never the first value in my home growing up, but I’d like to figure out how to make it one for my kid. Time to start checking joke books out of the library. Knock knock?

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!

Julie: Chin Down.

In Be memorable, Super Helpful Info on 06/23/2012 at 8:54 am

Julie was my summer camp counselor in, like, 1993. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember how long ago it was. We ended up staying in touch a bit here and there, but like anything back in those days, it took a lot of effort (handwritten letters, long distance phone calls, etc.) So eventually we lost touch.

But the one gem she taught me which has stayed with me for 20-ish years?

“When you take a picture, instead of pointing your nose in the air, bring your chin down and look straight into the camera. You’ll appear more confident and your face will look slimmer.”

It’s true, even for celebrities.

Disclaimer: this automatically slimming effect could also make you look like an evil seductress, so be careful.

Gene: Be a Good Public Speaker.

In Be memorable, Super Helpful Info on 06/20/2012 at 5:46 pm

Gene Honda (PA announcer for the White Sox and Blackhawks) was an honored Asian American community member in Chicago at the AAI’s annual awards night. He was honored not only for being a well-known voice in Chicago, but also for his contributions to the community.

During his acceptance speech, he said:

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten from anyone was from my father. He said, ‘If you’re going to do well in life, you HAVE to know how to be a good public speaker.’ So from that point forward, I buckled down and learned how to be a good public speaker.”

I’ve always enjoyed speaking, but I remember being told by my high school speech/debate teacher, Mr. Cates, that I use “like” and “so, yeah” way too much – and I talk too quickly, too. The truth is, nobody’s ever as good as they think they are when they’re on stage. So this was a good reminder that I really need to keep practicing and learn from each presentation – and that more opportunities come from being dynamic than being a dud.

Stu: Nice to Meet You

In Be memorable, Networking, Super Helpful Info on 05/08/2012 at 11:09 pm

I met Stu at a 37Signals-new-office-open-house thing last year. When I met him, I had a super tough time remembering his name. So he taught me this trick he learned in an improv class:

“When you meet someone, sandwich “nice to meet you” in between their name. So, I would say, “Mari, nice to meet you, Mari.” The act of saying someone’s name twice cements it in your mind. Try it sometime.”

So guess what? If we meet, I’ll be saying, “Blog reader, nice to meet you, blog reader.”

And I’ll even remember that your name is “blog reader,” thanks to Stu.

Jen: Lost & Found Taxi Cabs.

In Be memorable, Driving, Super Helpful Info, Take action, Travel on 04/27/2011 at 9:16 am

Jen and I met at some networking/party event in River North last year. When I met her, I was like, “OMG! You’re Jen Chicago! You look just like your Twitter avatar!” (Nerdy.)

Fast forward. I got a call Monday night from a friend who left his wallet in a cab. So, as any good friend would do, I googled “LOST WALLET TAXI CHICAGO.”

The first search result? This post by Jen Chicago: Lost & Found Taxi Cabs.

Pictures of every cab +
Phone numbers to each cab company’s lost and found departments =

I do not hesitate to acknowledge that without this blog post, I’m sure that my friend’s wallet would have been lost in cab-land for the rest of time.

Thankfully, we called two of the cab companies, and, 2 1/2 hours later, found the lost wallet. Hooray!

So, Jen, thank you for posting this and for making it so easy to track down every single cab company in Chicago. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever used that post as a resource.


Claire: It’s Totally Blocking the Wind.

In Be memorable, Clothes, Sports on 04/24/2011 at 9:32 am

I went to my first Cubs game of the season last week. Anyone who has been to a Cubs game in April knows that it’s pretty much a 4-inning experience. And this game was no exception: cold, windy, wet, gross, 34 degrees.

A couple of rows in front of me, I saw this:

And I thought it was so genius that I climbed two rows down, tapped this girl on the shoulder, and asked her if it was keeping her warm.

“Yeah, it’s totally blocking the wind! You’d be surprised!”

They didn’t look super cool, but I know they were a lot warmer than I was, even with my 14 layers and Cubs hat.

Nice to meet you, Claire & friends! Next time, I’m bringing my zebra print umbrella and we can all be safari-esque together.

P.S. The Cubs actually did W this game, so Go Cubs Go.

Derek: Chicago.

In Be memorable, Cooking, Dancing, Experience, Sports, Travel on 01/11/2010 at 1:42 am

I met Derek (@dshanahan) a few months ago over lunch, which turned into a four hour discussion of usability and technology under the el tracks. Which turned into a several-month love/hate relationship over who has better dance skills (Mari), a better mustache (Derek), a prettier Google calendar (Mari).

He’s on his way to Vancouver, BC to kick butt on his latest venture, Foodtree, and writing nostalgic Chicago stuff on his blog as a result:

There’s a toughness about this city…a confidence in the experience of being a Chicagoan that doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth.  This city stays sexy all winter.  It’s hard to see unless you train yourself to see through the challenge this time of year puts in front of us.  You look through it and you see smiles and music and art and a camaraderie among total strangers that’s only possible if you’ve walked through our streets and watched them transform themselves over and over and over again as seasons change and years roll by.  We watch our sports and politics with unwavering commitment, dedication, and skepticism.  We pride ourselves on hotdogs, pizza, and Italian beef.  We don’t apologize for that.”

I love this. Everyone knows winters suck here. But we get through it together. We survive it with the best combination of sports, culture and food in anticipation of the most celebrated summers in North America. Chicago is a city connected by deeply rooted relationships, in large part due to the seasons we get to experience together.

To apply this in any group setting, people bond when they go through challenging times together (and have some good food to go with). Brilliant.

If you agree with Derek, say “yeah.”

Mari: “Heck yeah.”

Good luck, Mr. DShan. I’ll miss you – and that’s not really even sarcastic. 🙂