Creativity & finding your cool face

A friend gave me a silver bracelet with the  Cesare Pavese quote, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  Ever since, I’ve tried to pay attention to moments that touch me in some way.   This week, and today especially, I remember the moments that reminded me to lighten up and indulge in the things I typically put off because I have something more “serious, always work-related” to do. Life shouldn’t be such a chore. I think the best way to remember those who’ve passed is to embrace and enjoy every single moment we have in this life.  Especially the little ones….

Here are 11 moments I enjoyed this week:

1. From the book, Journey to the Heart:  “Allow your creativity to blossom. For too long you have held back.  Let yourself play – with life, with work, with projects. When you find your connection to creativity, the entire universe will come alive for you.”

2. Life of an Architect / Blogger, Bob Borson’s first video attempt. Love his humility, humor, that he has a “cool face” and for making me ponder what mine would be…

3. Watching  The Sundance Channel’s The Day Before follow designer, Diane von Furstenburg before her big Fashion Week show.  I could hang with her. Literally. She’s in her 60’s and started off the segment hanging upside down in a yoga pose. Afterward, she said, “I woke up feeling 120. Now I feel liberated.” She’s grateful for every gift she’s been given and uses her life to empower women to, “be proud to be you.”

4. Discovering Let’s Blog Off .  Thank you for cultivating creativity, comraderie and consideration toward thoughtful  topics.  Mark your  calendar so you can participate in the next one, September 21.

5. Lisbeth and Michelle for leading the 31daysblogchallenge.   They’ve taken the time to walk lots of newbie bloggers through ProBlogger’s 31 Days to a Better Blog program. I can only imagine the amount of time it’s taken. Thank you for taking on the challenge, commenting on all of our blogs and answering all of our questions.

6. When a friend asked me what career I would choose if I could do it all over again.  I said a stylist, he said he’d be a children’s heart surgeon. (Jeez, I didn’t know he was talking about that kind of job!) My sister has been raving about Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project (Hollywood’s hottest stylist). I finally watched it this week. Now, I don’t know that I would want her life… but I’d be pretty happy with her coats, hats and boots. Thank you Dena, for introducing me to a whole new level of style and thank you Rachel, for giving me an idea for a”cool face.”

7. As my yoga teacher watched me struggle with incredibly tight shoulders (another reason to take more breaks from the laptop), he said, “It’s okay, it’s a  good thing. These (my shoulders) are a long-term project, it doesn’t have to be done tomorrow.”

8. Watching my friends launch new businesses that really capture who they are.  Shelly’s WholeSum Fitness , Amanda’s Sydney Small Business Centre and Jen’s Inti Yoga Shala.  Now, if we can just figure me out 🙂

9. Marni’s blog for introducing me to so many cool designers like Kelley Moore, (a social worker-turned lifestyle expert), FrankiDurbin, (a corporate branding / style expert) , Tobi Fairley (an interior designer that holds Design Camps for real people).  All of these have reminded me that it’s okay to have fun with this blogging thing.  The beauty of it is its platform for creative expression…

10.I found this look at A Cup of Jo.  Luv the hat, luv the socks, luv the boots.  Style doesn’t have to be about brands or having to have anything. It’s just another way to express yourself. If you have fun with it, go for it.

11. And, a poem a friend posted on Facebook remembering today:

Many lost a loved one
Many lost dear friends
Nine years on all remember
And wonder when hatred ends

Though no justice can ever be exacted
We honor the fallen today
Those innocents callously taken
And heroes lost to the grey

I hope you remember some great moments this week.

If I only had… Stinky Boots

I love boots.  I don”t go too crazy… but I do like to add one or, in a good year, two pair each year.  My favorites are Frye, Uggs and my 20-yr old Justins.


These fancy Uggs are made for walking! They comfortably carried me all over Paris during the city's longest public transportation strike (basically my entire trip). After all of that walking, I thought my sister and I deserved a special souvenir - our first Hermes scarf. This was a happy moment!


At the moment, I have my eye on black biker boots. I”ll probably buy Frye, but these Jimmy Choo Biker boots caught my eye ( a girl can dream, can”t she?)



Maybe, if it”s a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good year, I can check out the new オンライン カジノ 2010″ target=”_blank”>Ugg & Jimmy Choo collection debuting this season!


Now, what I REALLY need are Stinky Boots… If I had these, Boot Barn would give me a discount.  I wonder if they carry Jimmy Choos?

P.S.  A clever way of engaging their audience, Boot Barn makes us proud of a somewhat smelly problem.  Now, if only Havaianas would have a Broken Flip Flop promo, I could replace the pair that broke just as I was walking into the grocery store!




such a bummer







Spring color trends and boho, sexy must-haves

Pink is my favorite color … But, when contemplating color choices for my ThoughtfulContent logo, I was drawn to turquoise.  I”m sure it has some sub-conscious girlie-affiliation with Tiffany”s.  For whatever reason, to me, the turquoise/black combo exudes grace and simplicity…   It turns out I wasn”t the only one drawn to turquoise last year. Pantone,the global authority on color named it 2010″s Color of the Year.

For 17 years, Pantone has surveyed the designers of New York Fashion Week to determine the most important color trends. Fashion Week kicks off September 8th and with it, the Pantone report previewing the most prominent hues for spring 2011.

Even if you”re not interested in fashion or color… reading about the inspiration behind the colors is insightful:

“Citing exotic destinations like Africa, India, Peru and Turkey as inspiration for spring 2011, designers continue to satisfy consumers” need to casino online escape everyday challenges with intriguing color combinations that transport them to foreign lands.”

If you are into fashion and color… you”ll enjoy each designer”s must-have item for the season. I”m digging Cynthia Steffe by Shaun Kearney”s “modern take on boho – a sexy, silk laser-cut off-the-shoulder dress in a vibrant shade of Pink” (or, Honeysuckle as we”ll soon be calling it….)

P.S. From a marketing perspective, this is a clever e-book. It”s packed with interesting, useful and entertaining info for its target – designers of all kind (I found it via lifestyle expert, Kelley L Moore).  If you scroll to the end, they”re selling Pantone products, Pantone for the iphone… and Pantone credit cards for the truly passionate color-istas.


How about you, what color are you drawn to at the moment?

7 reasons to start soul searching


Faith Popcorn, the "world's most famous trend-spotter" shares the importance of intuition, branding, culture, and the mission behind her BrainReserve Trend Bank.

In this Icon-Toppling culture we’re turning to each other for insight on products, services and life solutions. If our friends say their lives have been enhanced in some way, we believe them, not the companies who made them.  Now that we’re able to by-pass traditional media and tune in to peer-produced commentary, how will brands and business gracefully weave themselves into our conversations?

The answer will be and should be different for everyone. Businesses will need to dig deep within and determine their unique positioning… just what will they stand for and say that will connect with this new Vigilante Consumer? (Have you noticed yourself getting more and more impatient, even angry when a product/service doesn’t perform as it should?)

Here are a few highlights from Faith Popcorn’s IdeaCity presentation on why you might want to start some serious soul searching:

  • Your brand isn’t what you say it is, your brand is whatever Google says it is.
  • Companies not participating in social media will be un-seen, un-heard.
  • In the past, you were what you owned. Now, you are what you share.Your new resume is your Facebook profile, your blog, your Tweets.
  • We’re re-framing our relationship with companies. We’re buying house brands because we don’t see any advantages for name brands.
  • The Save Our Society trend shifts corporate goodness from nice-ness to necessity.  We want our dollars to support society, not products.
  • We’re telling companies how to behave, encouraging them to act as Brand-Aids. If the government won’t fix it, let companies do it.
  • If goodness is the new culture, companies will need a  Chief Cultural Officer. Is someone within your company acting as its conscience, asking questions, ensuring your actions are right?

What are you doing to ensure a brighter future for your business, your life?


If only I had a crystal ball…Guess what? You do.




Will meditation mats replace the dusty treadmills in the office gym?

If only I had a crystal ball, my life, my business would be so much better…. What if you had the same crystal ball as the “world’s most famous trend-spotter?” Futurist, Faith Popcorn says you do.

When asked how she has been able to predict future behavior with 95% accuracy, Popcorn tells IdeaCity 2010 that the secret is intuition and observation.

“The way to figure out the future is to pay attention to your instincts. It’s listening to your third eye, your heart, (whatever you prefer to call it).  It’s trusting what you’re feeling, seeing, tasting, listening to.  Our firm simply pays attention and we look for patterns.”

She also warns clients (the world’s biggest brands) against basing decisions on the past.

“The past does not repeat itself.  It’s like a wide tie.  You can’t just save the old one, the new ones are always a bit better.”

I’m not sure…it’s just a hunch, but it sounds like cultivating intuition, or the art of listening within, is as vital to our livelihood  as the art of social media. Maybe meditation, the practice of quieting the mind so we can hear that voice within, will one day be encouraged as much in the workplace as Tweeting, blogging and lunch-time jogging.

While that may be a few years down the road… we can start by paying attention to the 17 trends in BrainReserve’s Trend Bank. The company’s mission is “lifting ourselves and others into our best future.” All we have to do is to look at these and ask ourselves what does this mean to me, my life, my business?

What do you see in your crystal ball?


Confidence, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit – the new management skillset

Business leaders do yoga at The Vine Conference at IDEO. Will this build the skills management needs now?

Understanding mindset is no longer simply a marketing problem solved with a focus group. It’s become a management imperative according to Alan Murray, Wall Street Journal editor and author of a new book, “The End Of Management.”  In his article, he says, “the new model will have to instill in workers the kind of drive, creativity and innovative spirit more commonly found among entrepreneurs.”

So, how will management teach confidence and creativity? I think they”ll need to see it within themselves before they will be able to encourage it in others.

Logically, we know we shouldn’t expect someone or something to give us confidence. That comes from within. From work we do all by ourselves, every single day, because life has a way of shaking things up, keeping us from getting In Rapid Detox , the patient is often only hospitalized for one to two days – sleeping under a light anesthetic, while special medications are administered which facilitate the cleansing of opiate drugs from the patient’s brain receptors. too comfortable and too confident – no matter who we are or what we’ve achieved.

Creativity’s another tough one to teach. It can be supported, space can be allowed for it, but it’s going to come when it’s good and ready, not always on deadline in a PowerPoint presentation. And then, the confidence thing gets in the way because like an artist, you just might have to express a very personal part of you – hopefully the real, authentic you, the one that may have been in hiding since age 10.

Of course, confidence and creativity have always been necessary in the workplace.  But, we’re talking a different level here – this is the confidence to risk not looking as good as the ones following status quo.  It may also present some harsh realities such as the need to start over or go a completely different direction (and that spells C-H-A-N-G-E, and that’s gonna be hard.)

Jim Collins’ article on “How to thrive in crazy times” asks a similar question:  How will we cultivate a skillset of optimism, an ability to navigate uncertainty, and unshakable faith?

We (managers, employees, business owners) need to find tools that help us turn inward and appreciate our own unique-ness so we can encourage it in the people around us.

Throughout my corporate life, I’ve had some great managers – ones who have sincerely boosted my confidence and encouraged my creativity.  However, the tools that have had more powerful results are the ones outside the workplace – things like yoga, running, meditation, baking cupcakes with my niece, etc…

How will managers cultivate these skills in the workplace? Should they have to? What do you think?

17 trends track business opportunity (and personal sanity)

Faith Popcorn”s BrainReserve is basically the bible for lifestyle, mindset and consumer trends. For over 30 years, big-brand marketers have used her company”s expertise in predicting the future to identify ways to connect with the consumer (or, the “consumer turned citizen” as Faith would suggest).

They”ve identified 17 trends to watch for… Take  a look and see if you can find ways your business can solve one of these problems, enhance a life, or improve communication. It”s also kind of interesting to see yourself in these trends… I know I felt a lot better, realizing I wasn”t the only one Anchoring, Cashing Out, Being Alive and  more!

Too fast a pace, too little time, causes societal schizophrenia and forces us to assume multiple roles.

Reaching back to our spiritual roots, taking what was secure from the past in order to be ready for the future.


My journal, meditation mala and a mini Ganesh, a gift from my yoga teacher to help remove life’s obstacles go everywhere I go. Here they’re ready for yoga teacher training in Maya Tulum, Mexico.

My journal, meditation mala and a mini Ganesh, a gift from my yoga teacher to help remove life’s obstacles go everywhere I go. Here they’re ready for yoga teacher training in Maya Tulum, Mexico.



Polluted air, contaminated water and tainted food stir up a storm of consumer doubt and uncertainty.

Awareness that good health extends longevity and leads to a new way of life.


This explains my interest in quinoa, kale, clean eating and restaurants like True Foods Kitchen and The Naked Café.

This explains my interest in quinoa, kale, clean eating and restaurants like True Foods Kitchen and The Naked Café.



Working women and men, questioning personal/career satisfaction and goals, opt for simpler living.


Off the bus in Bali, after leaving 15 years of corporate life. The story’s actually not that dramatic. The yoga retreat had been planned for a year… I wanted to extend my <a href=casino visit a month or two, the job said no, I said, Okay, thank you, I’ll go any way and haven’t looked back since.” width=”300″ height=”250″ />

Off the bus in Bali, after leaving 15 years of corporate life. The story’s actually not that dramatic. The yoga retreat had been planned for a year… I wanted to extend my visit a month or two, the job said no, I said, Okay, thank you, I’ll go any way and haven’t looked back since.


Belonging to a group that represents common feelings, causes or ideals; validating one’s own belief system.

The need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world.

Nostalgic for their carefree childhood, baby boomers find comfort in familiar pursuits and products from their youth.

To offset a depersonalized society, consumers rave recognition of their individuality.

The way women think and behave is impacting business, causing a marketing shift away from a hierarchical model toward a relational one.

Modern age whets our desire for roads untaken.


Hhhmm..hadn’t thought of it in this light. But, I’d guess going to Paris, Costa Rica, Bali, Hong Kong, Cancun and India in the past 3 years would probably qualify as a Fantasy Adventure.

Hhhmm..hadn’t thought of it in this light. But, I’d guess going to Paris, Costa Rica, Bali, Hong Kong, Cancun and India in the past 3 years would probably qualify as a Fantasy Adventure.


Consumers, anxiety-ridden by simultaneous social, economic, political and ethical chaos, find themselves beyond their ability to cope today or imagine tomorrow.

A new socioquake transforms mainstream America and the world as the pillars of society are questioned and rejected.

Consumers are having a secret bacchanal. They’re mad as hell and want to cut loose again.

The country rediscovers a social conscience of ethics, passion and compassion.


I’ve traveled the U.S. to hear the Dalai Lama, Thich Naht Hahn and Lama Surya to learn more about ethics, passion, compassion. (I threw in a few Elizabeth Gilbert lectures for levity and the layman’s guide to balancing it all in the real world).

I’ve traveled the U.S. to hear the Dalai Lama, Thich Naht Hahn and Lama Surya Das discuss ethics, passion, compassion. (I threw in a few Elizabeth Gilbert lectures for levity and the layman’s guide to balancing it all in the real world).


Stressed-out consumers want to indulge in affordable luxuries and seek ways to reward themselves.

The consumer manipulates marketers and the marketplace through pressure, protest and politics.

An enlightened architect on Mad Men & marketing

Jody Brown’s Coffee With an Architect article, “Don Draper can suck it” asks architects,”When the hell did we become Mad Men? Are we selling something?”



via Coffee with an Architect blog

via Coffee with an Architect blog

His lighthearted, yet serious plea to the profession is one any business could stand to ponder – especially, in a marketing environment that thrives on genuinely caring and artfully, authentically not selling anything.  I think Jody nails it – the key is understanding who you’re designing for.  And, you (architects, anyway) already know it.

While I blogged for “Inside The Exterior,” I asked architects what skills they would need to be successful going forward.  They said things like:

Courage, unshakable faith, an entrepreneurial spirit, better business and finance skills, understanding the needs of who they’re designing for and creating a special niche or unique point of differentiation.

They wanted to learn more about the consumer (aka “human”) mindset, lifestyle choices, and lifestyle trends. There’s no doubt in my mind, that taking time up front to really understand who you’re designing, building, creating for will generate more revenue than any Mad Man could ever promise.

Here are a few of my favorite marketing mindset resources… they’re free, they’re futurists and guaranteed, the big brand agencies are looking to them for guidance:

Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve – check out What Sets Us Apart and Trend Bank

– The Shelton Group’s blog – on why people don’t care about green as much as you’d think and what they do care about

– Porter Novelli’s Inteligent Dialogue blog –  there’s a lot of info here, I just picked one for Jody’s sake –  it seems even the editor of Vogue is saying the “consumer” is out, “people” are in. He’s quite the trendsetter.

What are some of your resources ?

Graceful transitions

"Dance" sculpture in Phoenix, Arizona

So, I’m thinking about what’s next… It amazes me how when you have something on your mind, related things, people, messages come into your life. Check it out:

  • Last Wednesday afternoon, I’m at the library, Googling around and discover 3 blogs and 5 articles, all written by architects, all with the same message I’d been trying to convey in Inside The Exterior.  I was so excited and inspired because I had been struggling, wondering if my message was connecting with architects (the intended audience for James Hardie’s blog.)
  • Wednesday night, I stay up until 1 am writing 3 architects + 5 articles = all the answers, tweeted it to all 3 architects, all 3 responded, thanking me for continuing the conversation. I wasn’t sure how we’d collaborate, but thought there was possibility…
  • Thursday afternoon, I received a call from  James Hardie’s marketing department  saying they needed to end the blog.  My only thought was, “Hhhmm, how am I going to continue the discussion with architects?”
  • Friday, I didn’t have time to think about it… I had other deadlines.
  • Saturday, I skipped yoga, went for a hike, then watched my nieces fearlessly dance their hearts out at a recital.
  • Fathers Day started on the back of my dad’s motorcycle, with a ride to Starbucks, followed by the A-Team and In-N-Out burgers. (It was the least I could do after all the girl movies and tofu he’s endured for me.)
  • Monday, I wrote the “Goodbye” article.  I’ve struggled with the timing of this because I have architect interviews scheduled for the blog.  I still want to get their stories out but I’m not sure how to make that happen.
  • I remembered a passage from Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart (a book dedicated to, “people on the path of discovering and trusting their soul… and those involved in creative endeavors, including artists, writers, healers” (and I’d add architects):

“It’s okay not to know what we want, what’s next, or what we think our lives will look like down the road…sometimes the reason we don’t know is that what’s coming is going to be very different from anything we’ve experienced before. Even if we knew, we couldn’t relate to it, it’s that new and that different. It’s a surprise.”

  • Tuesday night,  What is Design?, by Jody Brown of Coffee with an Architect arrived via email.  He compares design with ma” a japanese word for the interval of time between two things. I thought it was interesting that in the West , we don’t even have a word for this. We’re expected to push forward, with a plan in place, an outcome firmly in mind.  Wikipedia calls not having a word for this space, a  “serious omission.” I agree.
  • This morning, I woke up at 3 am with this article and  graceful transitions on  my mind.   In the yoga that I practice, all the poses are connected, we move from one to another, with intention, slowly, not rushing, with smooth, steady breath. It’s the transitions that give the practice its comfort, grace, ease.

So, I’m not going to worry about what’s next.  Instead, I’m going to slow down and focus on graceful transitions.  I’ll transfer my efforts to my site (the one I’ve been neglecting). I’ll keep writing about creativity and connecting with humans vs “consumers.”   I’ll stay grounded in gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had and everything I’ve learned. I’ll stay open to grace and look forward to the possibilities (and surprises) ahead.

I hope you’ll join me at ;
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Let’s connect on LinkedIn

3 architect blogs + 5 articles = all the answers

Blogging can be lonely. You start off excited, you write, you post, you tweet, you hope for comments… When they don’t come, you start questioning your intent, does anyone care, who am I to do this….and on and on. But today, sitting in the library, I found inspiration in the form of 3 blogs and 5 articles, all by architects, all speaking my language. Suddenly, I don’t feel so lonely anymore. Maybe I’m even on to something.

It started when I found a question posted by Derek Leavitt of Modative Modern Architecture on AIA’s LinkedIn Discussion Group. I checked out his blog and thought, this guy is reading my mind…he even had the same thought process I did when starting (Inside the Exterior) a blog for architects. In his article, Rules for an Architect’s Blog, he says:

“Then there were architecture blogs. The kind by professional writers/bloggers that showcase various architecture projects and use complex language to describe them. That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something different – to educate the general public on what architects do.”

Then he says he hadn’t found any architect blogs he liked but had found direction from a few non-architect blogs such as Seth Godin’s Blog (the only blog I read everyday) and thought,

“Were any architects inspiring people through their blog, rather than just showcasing their work?”

He noted a few like-minded architect blogs have since emerged: Life of an Architect and Coffee with an Architect. I checked them out and found all kinds of resources (and validation for the need) for cultivating the skills architects have been telling me are necessary in today’s market:

  • business/entrepreneurial skills – find a need and fill it, create a unique niche, basic Accounting has even been mentioned
  • the ability to sketch, draw by hand
  • creatively getting your message out
  • clear, engaging communication skills

If architects just read these 5 articles from these 3 architect blogs, they’d find all of the answers for achieving all of the above:

1) Rules for an Architect’s Blog
The story of how Derek Leavitt’s, Modative blog evolved – “over several years, a chance encounter, and a bunch of mediocre posts before our architecture blog became even moderately readable” – could also be titled, “10 Rules for Creative, Clear Communication.”

2) Architects & Creative Professionals, Is it Time to Rethink Your Resume?
Derek minored in Business, and it shows here. This is not your typical “22 tips to a better resume.” These are 22 tips that will become your branding/creating your own niche/marketing bible.

3) How to Start an Architecture Firm
While I’m hearing over and over how important business/entrepreneurial skills are for today’s architect…Derek and Modative have already created the how-to-book.

4) You Should Sketch Everyday
Almost every architect I’ve interviewed says they’re disappointed to see young architects not interested in or able to draw by hand. Some specifically look for this skill before they hire. Jody Brown’s Coffee with an Architect blog inspires sketching, seeking influence outside of architects, avoiding design competitions and more….

5) How to spot a hippie
Bob Borson’s blog, Life of an Architect, is a great example of “seeing the world through the architect eye.” He’s not only AIA’s 2009 Young Architect of the Year, he’s really funny. His hippie article spoke to me personally. While riding my bike to yoga one morning, a little boy pointed to me and said, “Hippie” to his Mom. I wondered what gave it away – the bike, the yoga mat or my messy, curly hair. I also find myself dabbling in a diet w/o meat, dairy, sugar…A friend recently told me, “You need to eat some chicken, you’re getting that drawn, dried-out look…” Exactly what Bob says happens to the hippies of today…

I’m not sure he’ll influence my diet, but I know Bob, Derek and Jody will continue to influence and encourage my passion to help architects embrace possibility!

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