Archive for the ‘Organization’ 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.

Chris: Productivity Apps.

In Organization, Strategy, Super Helpful Info on 03/13/2013 at 10:15 pm

I met Chris when we both were on a social media panel at SES NY a couple of years ago.

On Facebook today, Chris posted a link to “21 Tools for Maximizing Productivity” – which included awesome apps like Boomerang and Rapportive. But I was looking for something that’d keep me from automatically opening Facebook every 30 seconds.

And there it was:

Procrastinator – a Chrome extension, and exactly what I was looking for.

Whenever I (habitually) open a new tab to Facebook during work hours, it shows me this obnoxious screen:

ImageProcrastinator, you are one mean app. I can tell we’re going to get along splendidly.

Geoff: P-Touch Everything.

In Org B, Organization, Super Helpful Info on 01/27/2013 at 4:41 pm

Geoff Alexander, who’s currently the Managing VP of extremely-social-media-savvy Wow Bao, has been an amazing mentor, friend and colleague for the past several years. I met him when we first were on the Twitterbox, talking about Foiled and Wow Bao donating food through a project we put together that year, “Chicago Soup.”

Ever since then, we’ve managed to get together every so often. He inspires me. Geoff is the kind of guy who gets you excited to take action and move your business along. (For this reason alone, I should probably hang out with him every day.)

One afternoon, I was running around and caught him at one of his stores. He took me to the back so I could check out his operations, which always seem so flawless. I asked him how he kept everything organized. He held up a P-Touch Label Maker.

Wow Bao P Touch

“Mari, this will change your life. P-Touch EVERYTHING. We label every single thing.”

And it’s true. Behind the counter, every single thing is labeled, clearly, with a simple P-Touch labeler. So easy. Time to do this at our packaging stations and kitchen.

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!

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!

Jesi: Fold Deep

In Clothes, Organization, Parenting on 01/26/2012 at 4:35 pm

I met Jesi Haack for about two minutes at my lovely friend Iris’ wedding. Jesi was her wedding planner and has a knack for putting together super spectacular events – all the way down to the details.

So of course, now I’m following her on Pinterest. And one of the first things she repinned?

So when you’re going through your stuff in the morning and looking for something in particular, you don’t have to sift down into the depths of your t-shirt drawer, get the piles all messed up, and then crumple everything into a ball when try to re-shut the drawer.

I’ve modified every drawer – all of my thin sweaters and cardigans, the kid’s t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts… even JEANS. And guess what? It all fits into 2/3 of the space that it used to fit in.

I love folding and putting away laundry now. A true miracle!

Jason: JotNot for Receipts

In Money, Organization, Super Helpful Info, Tech on 10/25/2011 at 2:57 pm

Jason is a super talented, smart and very hard-working developer and the owner of Surprise Highway. We share an office, play footsies when his obnoxiously long legs cross the line into my space, and often go to lunch together.

Once at lunch, Jason snapped a picture of his receipt. I asked him what he was going to do with that.

“I scan it using JotNot, and it automatically syncs with Dropbox or Evernote.”

Take a picture of a business expense receipt, save it to the cloud easily, get rid of the receipt. If ever audited, turn over the digital folder. Brilliant.

Other scanning apps don’t make this as easy. I’ve looked. They make you email yourself a PDF version, then download it, then save it manually. At least three extra steps.

So I invested the $0.99 today and am scanning receipts happily, and pitching them.

{And if you’re stuck in 2003, you can also send faxes directly from the app.}

Decluttering is so ahhhhhhh.

Julie: Three Months.

In Cooking, Human behavior, Networking, Organization, Relationships on 04/15/2011 at 2:24 am

Julie is one of my heroines. She’s mom to four amazing grown children, is a power attorney, drives a stick shift Mini Cooper and bakes the world’s best pot roast. Nom.

I was over at her house one Sunday a few years ago for dinner, and we were all chatty and having a good time. In the middle of the conversation, she said, “Hey, Mari – let’s schedule another one of these dinners in three months. When’s good for you?”

I said, “I have no idea. Three months?”

Her reasoning was fourfold:
1 – If we say, “Let’s do dinner sometime soon,” that ‘soon’ turns into a month, turns into six months, turns into 10 years. BAD.
2 – If we say, “Let’s do dinner next month,” there will inevitably be some scheduling conflict and then we’ll say, “Let’s reschedule for another time – sometime soon,” which turns back into #1. BAD.
3 – If we say, “Let’s set a date three months out to do dinner,” there are fewer scheduling conflicts, we can both put it onto our calendars now, and then we have something to look forward to in three months. GOOD!
4 – A lot can change in three months, so conversation will be fresh and fun. GOOD!

Now, I use Julie’s “three months” scenario with those who lead super busy lives, but who I MUST see again.

Julie, just so you know, aside from your pot roast, this is the BEST tip I’ve ever gotten from you. (Get it? Oh, I kill myself.)

Andrew: In-box Zero.

In Organization, Tech on 03/27/2011 at 4:00 pm

I share an office with Andrew, the cuddly, touchy-feely, entrepreneurial web app developer and project manager, husband and dad of two.

A few months ago when we moved in together, I was complaining that I couldn’t keep up with my e-mails and that I was spending all day responding to them.

His solution? In-box zero.

(Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure Andrew didn’t invent in-box zero, but he’s the first to tell me about it, so he gets credit. :))

1 – Choose three or four times during the day that you’ll check your e-mail.
2 – When you go into your e-mail, close all other distractions.
3 – Take 20 minutes or so to reply quickly to any e-mails you can.
4 – If something is a project or will take longer than a couple of minutes to respond to, add it to your to-do or project management list, or delegate it to someone else. Then file it appropriately.
5 – In-box ZERO. Close your in-box and don’t think about it until the next time you check e-mails.

In-box zero has changed my life. Thank you, Andrew. You are brilliant.

Jim: Fold It Lengthwise.

In Organization on 10/18/2010 at 1:19 am

I was invited to do a podcast with the folks at Manifest Digital recently, and we covered a variety of topics, most of which were on social and digital media. (Stuff I really don’t have any expertise in, so I don’t really know why I was there, but it was fun to banter nonetheless.)

Jim handed me a pile of papers, each with an article about something we’d discuss in the podcast. We went through them one by one, deciding in advance which ones we’d take out of the lineup.

“Yes, let’s talk about iPads installed into the kitchen cabinet.”
“No, let’s pass on Philadelphia baking factories.”
“No, I know nothing about Apple’s single-touch advertising campaigns. Pass.”
“Yep, we can talk about Rick Bayless. Sure.”

All of the “No’s” were put into a pile, and Jim meticulously folded them in half, lengthwise. I looked at him, then at his pile. He said, “Oh. I fold it lengthwise so I know it’s garbage.”

So easy. So simple. And so implemented into my life from that moment on.