Archive for the ‘Brainstorm’ 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.


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

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.

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.

Scott: It’s tough to be productive with a guilty conscience.

In Brainstorm, Create, Human behavior, Parenting, Take action on 12/01/2009 at 5:13 pm

Nate introduced me to Matt who introduced me to Scott (@chicagojones), with whom I lunched a few weeks ago. Great conversation, smart guy, runs his own ad agency, lots of prominent clients – in short, he’s brilliant.

A few days ago, a colleague sent a link to Communication Arts magazine (which I hear is pretty prestigious), and I was scrolling through the Insights section. Lo and behold, they featured Scott. So I started to read.

While the interview is charismatic and entertaining (and Scott has great responses to every question, so you should read it regardless), I LOVE this:

Q: What’s your approach to balancing work and life?
A: No matter how many hours you put into work, it’s always going to be there; I have three kids who won’t be young forever. Since it’s tough to be productive with a guilty conscience, I try to knock things out when it matters least to them—before they wake up or after they’re in bed.

I often always feel guilty. But being guilty does nobody any good. I need to move past the self-imposed guilt, be productive when my kid doesn’t care that I’m busy, and be intentional when I do get spend time with him.

Great insight, Scott. Next lunch, I’m going to pick your brain about how you balance it all so well. Here’s to late night/early morning work hours, Diet Coke and brilliance.

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.


Nate: Your brain was designed to think.

In Brainstorm, Human behavior on 10/02/2009 at 10:33 pm

I don’t know how @ItStartsWithUs tracked me down, but he did, and now we’ve become fast friends. And I just noticed this quote on his Facebook page (while we’re making goals for 10/2/10):

“Your brain was not designed to be a storage vault; it was designed to think. You can think and work more productively if you aren’t trying to hold everything in your head.”


Brilliant. And in the meantime, he’s going to change the world. Go check it out.


Josh: Get it all out. Even the bad ideas.

In Brainstorm, Create on 09/30/2009 at 12:54 pm

Josh Mizrachi (@joshmizrachi) is my friend who also happens to be our copywriter. His voice is our brand. In his spare time, he writes commercials for Leo Burnett. He’s really brilliant. I’m constantly astounded by the way his mind thinks and the processes he goes through to create. They’re so different from the way I think, and I admire that.

One time, we were  brainstorming ideas for who-knows-what. A million years ago. And he started writing down some stuff that made me go, “WHAT?! That’s TERRIBLE!” (It’s okay. He gets my sarcasm.)


He said, “What? Sometimes I just have to clear all of the lame, bad, irrelevant, dumb ideas out of my head before I can even start thinking about anything else.”


So basically what he said is – there is such a thing as a dumb idea!