Mari

Archive for the ‘Create’ Category

Bill: Clarity Brings Energy.

In Brainstorm, Business, Create, Human behavior, Organization on 02/05/2015 at 11:45 pm

I met Bill when I was looking for someone to watch the NFC playoffs with. In spite of the fact that he bleeds green and gold, we’ve remained friends through the past two football seasons. Bill also is a legit, big shot business guy (but you would never know this if you met him).

In one of our many brunches (which we admittedly do mostly for my benefit, but occasionally for his sustenance), we were sorting things out (for me). He asked what clutter I had in my life, and helped me figure out what I needed to eliminate — emotionally, mentally, physically — and then said this:

“Mari! Clarity brings energy, and with energy, you might actually find the motivation to do all of the ambitious things on your to-do list. You’re a quick starter, so stop making excuses.”

These three simple words are on my desk as a constant reminder to cut the noise, focus on intent, and ride the wave of energy that inevitably follows.

FullSizeRender

Now if I could just get some energy to shovel my car out.

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!

Paul: What VCs Look For.

In Business, Create, Networking, Tech on 06/19/2012 at 3:04 pm

I met Paul when we spoke at an entrepreneurship dinner last fall. He’s a partner at Lightbank (which invested in some local coupon company and I guess did okay with that.) When I met him, we joked that we were the Asian invasion. I also told him that I never have and didn’t plan on going after any external funding. He said genuinely, “Okay, but if you ever think differently, you know you can reach out.” So I do, regularly – but just to talk shop and get his feedback.

The last time I lunched with Paul, he said he hears hundreds of pitches on a monthly basis. I asked him how he even starts to figure out what would be a good investment.

“When I’m looking at a business idea, I check to see if it’s relevant, non-obvious, and robust. That’s it.”

As I’m (finally, sort of, timidly) contemplating talking to investors about expanding our current offer, I’m for SURE making sure that it’s

relevant
non-obvious
robust.

Easy enough. Time to get back to work.

Jeff: Done in 10 Years.

In Create, Human behavior, Take action, Tech on 04/18/2012 at 3:36 pm

I met Jeff through a neighbor. He was a blind lunch date. He says he decided he liked me when I told him up-front I didn’t like to bake nor did I care much about cupcakes. I decided I liked him when he didn’t use any frilly business BS with me.

Between the time we met and now, Jeff has taken his superstar status to a whole new level with Insight Labs. He’s worked with a lot of really big names and has gotten the ball rolling with a ton of organizations to make changes for the better. (I participated in a lab discussing how to effectively merge retail with tutoring/education.)

So, at lunch today, I asked him what direction Insight Labs was headed. He gave me a list of “here’s what we’re doing,” and then said this:

“Howell [one of his partners] and I were flying to a lab one day, and decided that we would be done with this in 10 years. It has changed the way we approach everything – since there is now a deadline for everything we want to accomplish.”

If I approached my business with a drop-dead date, would my bucket list of desired business accomplishments be a lot more ambitious? Probably. Would I act more aggressively? Yes. Would I waste as much time as I do now? Definitely not.

Shannon: Teaching Kids “Thank You”

In Create, Human behavior, Parenting on 01/16/2012 at 12:06 pm

My (at-the-time 5 year old) kid went to a friend’s birthday party and was promptly sent a thank-you card in the mail. It was handwritten by the receiving kid (pretty legibly). The brilliance? It was fill-in-the-blank.

Here’s why I loved it: it taught the kid the importance of gratitude without overwhelming the child with a task that, at age 5, would have seemed insurmountable (i.e. writing 20 thank you cards and getting serious hand cramps.)

I want my kid to learn how and why it’s important to be grateful, and I want him to learn how to express it. So I copied Shannon’s idea and made these silhouette cards with my son’s profile.

I’ve uploaded these Kid Thank You notes if you want to download them (4 to a page; just trim).

I printed set of these and put them, along with envelopes, at the kiddo’s desk so he has them handy to send a note whenever someone does something nice for him or sends him a gift. I’m thinking I’ll make some “Just saying hi!” cards next.

When he turns 8 though, it’s time for him to start writing out the whole thank-you note. Just sayin’.

Melissa: 10 minutes.

In Brainstorm, Create, Human behavior, Parenting, Take action, Tech, Web on 04/01/2011 at 10:21 pm

I went to a party last year, which was a total dud. The only good thing to come out of it? My introduction to and friendship with Melissa. (Which made the event totally worth it.)

Melissa is a fierce, bold, action-oriented, passionate entrepreneur/idea girl/supermom/friend. She decided she wanted to make a film, so she did. She decided she wanted to start a company, so she did. She decided she wanted to interview Seth Godin, so she did. Why not.

I admire everything about her.

She joined me and a couple of girlfriends for lunch the other day. I think we were talking about website domains that she bought for fun. And she said, “If an idea is good enough to stick around for 10 minutes, then it’s definitely worth the $5 it costs to buy the domain for it.”

So basically, don’t waste time. Act.

I should do more of that, and less of what I’m good at: procrastinating.

Thanks, lovely – as always.

Chari: Organize Crafts.

In Create, Organization on 02/08/2010 at 5:51 pm

I’m a big craft whore. I love glue guns, ribbons, adhesive, glitter, wire, beads, magnets, calligraphy pens, pretty patterned paper and markers.

But being crafty automatically means you’re crazy disorganized.

I was over at Chari’s house in Seattle several years ago and discovered her organization secret:

Compartments for everything! Clear ones! That you can label! Off the ground/floor/dining table! I still have the one I got as a gift for my 23rd birthday. And I still use it. And I love it.

What’s a revolutionary organization tip you’ve seen and implemented? And how has it changed your life? Share, please!

Debbie: Power Hour

In Brainstorm, Business, Human behavior, Marketing, Org B, Organization, Shoes, Strategy, Take action on 01/26/2010 at 12:59 pm

If you’re like me, you get distracted by phone calls, emails, Facebook notifications, Tweetdeck chirping in the background, a 4 year old who wants yogurt or string cheese or candy or cupcakes, a buzzing dryer, online Sudoku, blogs, Google calendar, the need to shower, etc.

My former business coach Debbie taught me that each distraction actually takes 4 times as long to tend to, which is why she told me to start my Power Hour: focused, non-distracted work time to get through things that are critical for maintaining business. I go to my office and shut the door with a little post-it that says “Working” on it so everyone knows not to interrupt.

I break down my daily Power Hour into four 15-minute segments. (I do 15 because I’m so ADD to begin with; anything longer would require way too much brainpower. :))

1. Reply to e-mails. DO NOT OPEN TWEETDECK, FACEBOOK, OTHER BROWSERS. (SO super challenging.)
2. Make outreach business building, focused phone calls. I hate making phone calls, so often I’ll bribe myself with shoes. (For every 100 phone calls I make, I get to buy a new pair of shoes. :))
3. Strategize. I’ll focus on different areas daily, such as operations, marketing or networking. A 15 minute timeframe makes me think critically and acutely.
4. Learn. I’ll read an article, a chapter out of a business book, blog post, etc.

What are the four areas in your life you need to maintain daily? And what would happen if you could do them without being interrupted?

Debbie, I love you for making me create my own power hour. My life is infinitely more productive, serene, and less cluttered by distractions. LOVE YOU FOR IT.

Bridget: Color Czars decide EVERYTHING.

In Clothes, Create, Shoes, Watch on 12/05/2009 at 6:19 pm

This past Thursday, I was at a Smitten Boutique for an event hosted by Kehoe Designs (an amazing florist/design company in Chicago). I met their Creative Director, Bridget (@BridgetCJohnson), who educated me on upcoming color trends for 2010. Lighter shades of yellow, lavender, and bold blues will be hot next year. (Just watch.)

And then I asked her how designers know what’s going to be in for the coming year. And she told me there’s a forecasting committee called the Color Czars; they’re the end-all, be-all of color palettes. They’re collaborating on 2015 right now.

So basically, a handful of people in the whole world decide what our living rooms, cars, iPods, Gap sweaters, handbags, shoes, lipstick, and hair color are going to be.

That’s a ridiculous amount of power.