Archive for the ‘Take action’ Category

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.

Ravi: Nobody Ever Got Anywhere By Being Shy.

In Human behavior, Take action on 01/27/2013 at 3:14 pm

I met ABC Chicago news anchor Ravi at an Asian American Institute event at the Mid America Club in 2010. He emceed the event and honored quite a number of Asian Americans who were doing great things in Chicago.

The thing I remember most (aside from his booming broadcast journalism voice) was when an award recipient (I’ll call her Sandy, because I can’t remember her name) wasn’t coming up front to be honored.

After a few moments of awkward “where is she? Is she even here?” thoughts, Ravi’s voice boomed:

“Come on now, Sandy. Nobody ever got anywhere in life by being shy.

Don't Be Shy

I used to be painfully shy – all through elementary and middle school. Somewhere between high school and college, I learned to fight it. It’s still very unnatural to me to be outgoing and a go-getter, but I realized that Ravi’s statement is more than true, and if I want something, it’s up to me to go after it.

(Now tuning into ABC 7 weekend news now to see if Ravi’s booming voice can provide further inspiration for me to get on my 2013 Marketing Plan . . .)

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!

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.

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.


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.

Genevieve: Sales > Marketing.

In Business, Marketing, Take action on 03/29/2011 at 12:06 am

I spoke at an event called Entrepreneurs Unplugg’d a few weeks ago alongside power entrepreneurs like the founder of GrubHub, Crowdspring, and ConstantKarma. (I don’t know why I was invited to speak, but thanks Tim and Stella for thinking I could play with the big dogs.) Genevieve Thiers, founder of, also presented her start-up story.

Her presentation, in addition to being so super informative, high energy and fun (and operatic and theatrical), had one major key takeaway for me:

When starting a business . . . when you’re doing the stuff to get rolling . . . sales are key. Sales are more important than marketing. Because without sales, you can’t continue marketing.

Super easy concept. Super difficult for someone like me to keep in mind, since I think the marketing stuff is so fun (and the sales part is not as fun).

I’m so glad to have Genevieve as an example of someone to look up to. Thanks, lady, for inspiring me!

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.

Fabrizio: Bastardo team!

In Human behavior, Sports, Strategy, Take action on 01/01/2010 at 2:36 pm

En route to Barcelona from Nice in 1999, I shared an overnight train cabin with Fabrizio and his Italian buddy, two South African girls, and a French guy. Kind of like speed dating, we rotated through the cabin to talk and pass the time. Fabrizio and I immediately started talking about the World Cup, which the French had won the previous summer.

“You know why the Italians didn’t win? They should have won. Italians are the BEST (hands in the air) at football, but they still didn’t win. Bastardo team; they didn’t take it one game at a time.

I started laughing, but he was really upset (as any good European soccer fan would be).

What he wanted me to understand: take it one game at a time. Don’t get overconfident. Don’t let one loss mess up your psyche. Regroup after every game. Assess weak spots and work on them until they’re strengths. Don’t set your sights to be World Cup champions until you’ve done all the prep work.

I bet Fabrizio is happy they’re the current FIFA champions.

Bastardos. Hilarious.

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.