Archive for the ‘Super Helpful Info’ Category

Crister: Eye Cream, People! Eye Cream!

In Beauty, Health, Super Helpful Info on 09/14/2013 at 10:19 pm

I met Crister at a Phonatics Tweetup several years ago. We’re Asian, so we both like pho. Go figure.

The first thing everyone notices about Crister is how beautiful she is. Then, you notice how intelligent and well-spoken and kind she is. The conversation usually goes something like this:

The rest of us: “You are stunningly beautiful. What’s your secret?”

Crister: “I’m ____ years old (insert her age here, which makes no sense since she looks 20, so how could she look 20 years younger than her actual age? Anyhow.) I drink lots of water, and I always, always use eye cream! Now, should we discuss diplomacy efforts with North Korea?”

Well, recently on Facebook, she shared an article put out by Real Simple and was kind enough to add her brand secrets to the mix.


Here’s hoping for the rest of us and our potential fountain of youth!

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.

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.

Matthew: One Week Away = Ready to Scale

In Business, Org B, Strategy, Super Helpful Info, Take action on 01/27/2013 at 4:04 pm

Wayne, one of my SCORE advisors, introduced me to Matthew D’Agostino, retired third-generation owner of La Bonbonniere in central New Jersey. When I was on the east coast to work on a project for Foiled, he was gracious enough to take me to a deli lunch (despite his vegetarian diet) and talk ACTUAL bakery talk for a couple of hours.

I gleaned close to 200 bits and pieces of helpful information, but the most valuable was this:

“If you can figure out how to run your business while you’re away from it for one full week, then you’re ready to scale it out.

Foiled Cupcakes Scale It Out

This really made me think: what are the pain points that my business experiences when I’m gone? I identified four:
– Nobody to do supply deliveries while I’m gone. (I hired one of our drivers to do this.)
– We need a new supplier for foils that we don’t have to pickup from. (I found a new supplier that can ship directly to the kitchen.)
– When deliveries go awry, I step in and fill in the gaps. (I doubled up on drivers.)
– Custom cupcakes are tough to execute. (Setup longer lead times for customization.)

Thanks, Matt, for what is probably the most useful piece of advice I’ve ever worked towards in this entire business.

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.

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!

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.