Traveling in beauty and style

I have tallied my airlines miles so far this year, and have already crossed the 100,000 mile marker. This much travel can take its toll on anyone and everyone… on mind and soul and skin. Even if you don’t travel regularly, the holiday season which is upon us brings with it the busiest travel days of the year.

I turned to my girlfriend Alyssa Barrie, the brains behind Travel Beauty, “purveyors of the best beauty from around the globe” for her travel beauty favorites, and included some of my own travel tips (most of these learned the hard way) for traveling in beauty and style.

Marilyn Monroe’s quote “A smile is the best makeup a girl could wear” is never truer than while traveling. Not only do I find makeup dehydrating during flights (especially longer ones), but a smile is the best accessory to deal with delays, angry travelers, and request upgrades. Leave your frown at home!

As much as possible, do try to carry on. It will save on luggage fees, and most importantly will save time (and the aggravation of lost or delayed luggage). If you must check, make sure to pack one change of clothes and bathroom essentials in your carry on.

Hydrate. Inside and out. Buy a large bottle of water as soon as you go through security. They still do serve water for free on most flights… but having your own bottle is so much more comfortable. For your skin, the multi-purpose mist Vine Minus Ion Care Water does it all: antibacterial protection for the close quarters of the plane, refreshing face mist and even a hairstyle refresher.

Another “water” must: eye drops. Nothing dries eyes out more than airplane air. Use moisturizing eye drops to soothe my weary eyes and help you look refreshed when you land (no “red-eyes” for you!).

Wash your hands often. This has always been true, but is even more important these days given the various diseases going around… Also pack Purel and wipes with you. Alyssa recommends the Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes, a unisex product that is cleansing and refreshing with an invigorating blend of essential oils. Great for face, hands and anywhere else that needs a wipe down.

Alyssa also loves the Alchimie Forever Dry Skin Balm, so super moisturizing and nourishing, with the lightest of scent so men can use it too. Airplane bonus – it reduces swelling! Says Alyssa: “I’ve thus been known to discreetly push up the leg of whatever J Crew lounge or sweat pant I’m wearing and apply Dry Skin Balm generously from knee to ankle!”

While I am not a fan of makeup during travel, I cannot leave my red lipstick or highlighter pen at home. Red lipstick will add glamour to even a Southwest flight packed with crying infants. Try NARS Cruella for the fall and winter. And highlighter pens are a saving grace in particular when you need to go from landing to a family party without a pitstop. I have my YSL Touche Éclat in my purse at all times. Again, a few strategically-placed swipes and no one can tell that we’ve just spent an entire flight comforting a cranky preschooler.

Finally, nothing helps me relax and tune out the surrounding craziness as my favorite playlist (ranging from dance music to soothing yoga tunes), and a couple of books. A few books on my nightstand right now include The Idea of Him, The 5 Love Languages, and The Paris Apartment. To think of it, I can’t wait to get on the next plane so I can start one of these!

Happy holidays, happy travel!

Happy travels!

Happy travels!

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Questions about retinoids? Here are some answers.

I am always asked questions about retinoids, retinols, vitamin A derivatives, and their role in skin care. After all, they are generally accepted to be a gold standard ingredient in anti-aging skin care. As much interest as there is around this ingredient category, there is even more confusion (and misconceptions, and misinformation which unfortunately skin care companies often contribute to).

I asked my Dad, Dr. Luigi Polla, to clarify a few things.


Vitamin A and its derivatives exist in various forms when used in cosmetic formulations. The most widely used forms include retinol, retinyl esters (such as retinyl acetate, retinyl propionate, and retinyl palmitate), and retinaldehyde. Through various enzymatic reactions in the skin, all of these forms are ultimately converted to all-trans-retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin), which is the active form of vitamin A in the skin.

Retinol and its esters are insoluble in water but soluble in organic oils and solvents. Retinol is in the form of light yellow crystals. Esters such as acetate or palmitate of vitamin A are yellow oils. Hence retinol-based formulations will often have a yellowish tint to them.

Products containing retinoic acid require a medical prescription (think of brands such brand names Aberela, Airol, A-Ret, Atralin, Avita, Retacnyl, Refissa, Renova, Retin-A, Retino-A, ReTrieve, or Stieva-A). The most common strengths are 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%.).

In contrast, products containing retinol, proretinol, retinaldehyde do not (meaning these are the forms typically found in over the counter cosmetic creams and serums). The brands offering products containing such ingredients are too numerous to list – indeed, most skin care brands will have this ingredient in their product portfolio.


Retinoic acid is effective in decreasing acne blemishes – indeed this was its first intended use in dermatology (discovered in 1969 by James Fulton and Albert Kligman).

Retinoic acid ensures an effective turnover of cells within the follicle, with more effective disposal of dead cells. It thereby prevents the formation of “plugs” that block the opening of the follicle, thus preventing the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.

Retinoic acid has also been found effective in the treatment of photoaging and aging skin.

One of its key anti-aging benefits is an increase in the skin’s thickness. While you may not think of “thick skin” as something to strive towards, thicker skin (brought about by increased collagen) is directly correlated to a decrease in fine lines and wrinkles.

Indeed, retinoic acid both inhibits production of collagenase and stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans in the skin. Retinoic acid also stimulates growth of keratinocytes and fibroblasts and stimulated extracellular matrix production by fibroblasts. The conclusion: a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles


There are definite challenges when working with retinoic acid. These include:

Instability especially to oxygen and light.

Look for products packaged in tubes that are opaque and impermeable to oxygen. Tubes are typically preferable to jars (given the smaller opening and thus diminished access to air and light).

Skin irritation

Retinoic acid (and other forms of this ingredient) induces skin irritation, which negatively affects skin barrier properties. Within two weeks of starting to use a retinoid product, the skin may become irritated, meaning red and feeling like there is a constant slight stinging. While high doses of retinoids will increase the beneficial results of the treatment, the associated irritation tends to define the upper concentration limit that a consumer can tolerate. While the skin may have some capacity to tolerate increasing doses of retinoids as it becomes more used to this ingredient, irritation is not completely eliminated even with long-term use.

Of the forms allowed in non-prescription products, retinol is becoming increasingly present in cosmetic formulations. One reason for this is that retinol has been shown to be less irritating topically than retinoic acid.

Dr. Polla’s recommendations

“I recommend retinoids to many of my patients, typically to those who are 40 years old and over. Younger skin types tend to be even more sensitive to potential side effects, so I tend to avoid retinoids until that age. Also, retinoids can be recommended for all skin types, but typically is best tolerated by oilier, thicker skin types. Remember never to recommend products containing any type of retinoid to nursing or pregnant women.”

“Instructing patients to apply their retinoid to dry skin can minimize retinoid dermatitis. Patients should be advised to wait 15 minutes after washing the face to apply a topical retinoid. Wet skin enhances the penetration of the retinoid into the dermis, thus exacerbating irritation.”

“A gradual increase in application frequency can also help to minimize irritation. The patient should apply the retinoid starting every other night or every third evening for the first one to two weeks of treatment. The patient can then gradually increase the frequency to nightly use as tolerated. Tolerance is often achieved in three to four weeks.”

“It is important that the topical retinoid applied at night-time for two reasons. First, patients who use topical retinoids during the daytime notice increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Second, trans-retinoic acid is unstable when exposed to sunlight. When exposed to light, 50% of trans-retinoic acid is degraded in two hours.”

“It is essential be particularly careful with sun protection when using a topical retinoid product. Avoiding the sun and an SPF of 20 or more is key, given the skin’s heightened photo-sensitivity.”

“Retinoids can lead to dryness and flaking. A nourishing moisturizers applied during the daytime is to avoid excessive dryness is key. However, keep in mind that retinoic acid should not be applied at the same time as moisturizers, since this combination may cause adverse effects.”

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Unleash the power within…

In the last three days I have walked on coals; seen a woman have an orgasm in public (fully clothed); had dance parties at 8:30 am and 8:30 pm on the same day (and 8 times in between); learned what air guitar is; put fingers in my two nostrils simultaneously, while looking at someone doing the same thing; revealed my most intimate fear to a complete stranger; and hugged about 15 random people daily. Why? Because a 6’7 charismatic white man told me to. Yes, I went to Unleash the Power Within to listen to Tony Robbins.

The coals I walked on

The coals I walked on

It is the end of day three, there is one more day to go. Have I loved every minute of it? No. The “ra-ra-ra” piece of it is very challenging for me (I am an introvert after all, and my initial impression could not have been better expressed than in the book Quiet, by Susan Cain). The sales pitch about products and additional classes rubs me the wrong way (although a wise woman said “everyone has to sell something”). The grueling hours (8:30 am to midnight) exhaust me. The hypnosis-like exercises leave me indifferent and un-hypnotized no matter how hard I try.

Have the past three days taken me out of my comfort zone? Absolutely. Perhaps more than most other experiences I have had. What have I learned? I am not sure - my brain is full, stimulated, and perhaps overwhelmed. I need to process all of this information. But even tonight, in my exhausted state, I know I have learned a few things…

  • The quality of your emotions determine the quality of your life

Imagine the richest person, who is miserable, unhappy, unfulfilled. Do they wake up happy for the millions they have? No, they wake up miserable and unhappy. On the contrary, someone who is barely getting by but happy and grateful and content. Do they wake up unhappy because of the millions they do not have in their bank account? No, they wake up grateful. Who has a better quality of life?

  • A change in emotion comes from a change in motion.

Said differently, changing your mental state is predicated on changing your physiology. This is why we are constantly getting up, jumping or dancing around, clapping and cheering.

  • Who you spend time with is who you become.

Said a different way, our lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of our peer group. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and you will better yourself. Find people who will challenge you. Find peers who do whatever you strive to improve better than you do. Why? Because proximity is power.

  • All beliefs carry consequences.

We learn this with a hard, long, mental and emotional exercise involving figuring out our three most limiting beliefs and what the consequences of not changing these beliefs would be in 10, 20, 30 years. This is one of the “hypnosis-like” exercises that I do not respond to, but that does not prevent me from understanding that those three deep, limiting, negative beliefs that have become assumptions are preventing me from reaching my full potential. And now I know they are bullshit, and that my truth is actually the antithesis of those three beliefs.

I am sure I learned a lot more. My brain just can’t figure it out right now.

Purple lighting makes the third 15-hour day look better.

This is what exhausted and inspired looks like

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Family business truths… third – we all need a code of conduct

It is Friday evening and I can’t turn off my brain. After a week at the Insead Family Business Challenge, I feel like I have a sore mind – and a renewed understanding about the importance of communication. We all know about active listening. Respect. Not interrupting each other. Funny how this can be so hard… We were encouraged to develop a code of conduct for our family meetings. In actuality, this code of conduct goes beyond family meetings. It is for all meetings. Indeed, it is for life in general!

Code of conduct

- Show up and be punctual

- Be present

- Show respect to all meeting attendees (no speaking behind other’s back, no private side conversations, every idea contributes to the debate, control emotions, no screaming, no multi-tasking i.e. cell phone or email during the meeting)

- Practice active listening

- Have an open mind

- Show love

- Be positive

- Have goals

- Celebrate successes

- Maintain confidentiality

- Do your homework (read the prep materials)

- Do not fall asleep

Punishment for breaking the code

- Offer a prompt and sincere apology

- Dance in front of everyone for two minutes

Beyond this code of conduct, we learned about tools to help us live it. My favorite, the teddy bear. Have a teddy bear during each meeting. Whoever holds the teddy bead gets to speak without being interrupted until he or she decides to give it to someone else. Might seem silly – but there is Harvard research behind this theory. And if that does not convince you, the below image should!

My sister Rachel holding the teddy bear

My sister Rachel holding the teddy bear

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Family business truths… second – it’s all about communication

As my family and I continue along this amazing week, amazing journey that is the INSEAD Family Business Challenge, I am simultaneously more stimulated and more emotionally spent than I have been in quite some time. While yesterday’s focus was learning about birth order and what predispositions, what context, our birth order in the family gives each of us, today was about coaching and active listening. Here is what I learned today – and it sounds easy, but as our group breakouts and exercises indicated, it is much hard than it seems…

If the below seems unclear, head to the nearest bar and observe the bartenders. Indeed, the best coaches are bartenders (more than PhDs in psychology!), because they listen, since that’s how they get big tips. They usually don’t care about the specifics of the stories, they don’t know your obnoxious boss or your arrogant brother – so they don’t judge, instead they just nod and ask clarifying questions… 

What is coaching?

- The essence of good coaching is good listening

Coaching is listening

Listening is harder than it seems…

- Coaching is helping other people hear themselves.

- Coaching is helping someone develop / improve self-awareness.

What is coaching not?

- Coaching is not advice!

Coaching is not giving advice

Coaching is not advice

- Telling others how to do something better

- Sharing your knowledge and skills

3 coaching techniques

1. Build trust

- Show respect for the coacher’s feelings and thinking

- Help coachee explore new behaviors / thinking

- Create positive expectations and a sense of hope

- Commit to trust as the basis for the relationship

2. Use reflective questions and clean language

- Use the words of the person speaking when you answer back to them

- Do not judge or evaluate or approve any emotionally meaning statement

- Use non-violent communication: focus on facts; how it makes you feel (talk about yourself); express your needs to the other person without expecting anything because otherwise it becomes a demand

- Use clean language = neutral words such as:

“tell me more”

“how did that make you feel”

- Such language gives people space

- Realize that feelings are “facts” to the other person

3. Practice deeper listening

The stages of listening are as follows:

- Multitasking listening: not effective in terms of quality, does not help creativity, and destroys deep relationships

- Conversational listening: casual listening, appearing interested

- Confrontational listening: engaged but thinking of rebuttals and of your point of view

- Active listening: very focused on what the other person is saying

- Deep listening: outside of yourself, aware of both content and meaning, seeing and hearing with your 3rd ear

As we go through various exercises, we quickly realize that the trouble with communication is both assumptions, and interpretation.

We make assumptions about what others want; what they feel; what motivates them – we project ourselves on to them. And 99% of the time, we are wrong. Did we bother asking? No…

The danger of assumptions...

The danger of assumptions…

We also assume that the message we wanted to communicate was received accurately. Again, more often than not, that is not the case. There is what you want to say; then there is the way you express it (and sometimes you can’t express what you mean despite your best intentions); and then there is the way the person receives it – this is why it is so important to check assumptions and make sure that what you understood is what the person actually meant. In active listening, this involves rephrasing or asking clarifying/reflective questions. Just to make sure we understand what is being said… (or emailed, or texted…).

Is what you are saying being received the way you mean it?

Is what you are saying being received the way you mean it?

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Family business truths… first – birth order

I am writing from a blah hotel room in an otherwise amazing place, INSEAD, in Fontainbleau, about an hour from Paris. I am here because my sister Cyrille had the inspiration to sign up for a weeklong family business seminar back in March – the INSEAD Family Business Challenge. She kindly invited my sisters and I to attend, invitation which I had to admit we at first politely rebuffed. But that was back in March. My dad loved the idea, and little by little the rest of us were rallied to the cause. I am here wtih two of my three sisters (Roxane is in medical school and could not miss class), my father, and my (new) brother-in-law Guillaume, who celebrated is one-month wedding anniversary yesterday, away from his bride Roxane.
We are officially here!

We are officially here!

The amount of information, content, and stimulation that we have all received (we are about 70ish participants, representing 12 families, attending this program that started in 2000) is so intense that this morning the only thing my sisters and I talked about were the most vivid dreams we had last night. We agreed our brains were sore.
This afternoon, the program centered on genograms, and understanding family patterns and birth orders. Here is what we learned (all facts supported by various studies and presented today by our two professors):
Every family member grows up in a different family. This is due to:
     - Changing family demographics
- Evolutions in parents’ parenting style, careers, and relationships
- Family size and expanding or contracting
- Life events
- Larger social, political, or economic contexts
- There is apparently truth to the science of birth orders…
First borns: 
- The oldest children have all of the uncertainties of parents
- At some point each first born is unique
- First borns benefit from the rules of primogeniture and sunk costs and are:
- Assertive, dominant, responsible
- Organized, structured, perfectionists
- First borns have higher IQs because of their parents’ full attention in their early years and thus are:
- Ambitious, achievement-oriented
- Drawn to graduate degrees because they want their parents’ recognition (drawn to professions such as law, accounting, and science)
- The first-born is photographed more often and more naked than a Hollywood starlet
- The first-born is the child with whom you hope not to make the same mistakes your parents did, though, of course, you inevitable will

Only children:
- Are self-sufficient but not independent
- Are not good at sharing toys
- Like adult interaction and attention
- Are the first and the latter born at the same time

Middle born children: 
- Struggle to be needed
- Are independent, mysterious, difficult to understand
- Are peace-makers, mediators, negotiators
- Are empathetic
- Have richer external relationships
- Are drawn to professions such as management, counseling, mediation

Latter born children (the youngest):
- Get by with their personalities
- Are drawn to professions such as sales, advertising, entertainment
- Tend to be entrepreneurs
- Are wilder, more care-free, easy-going, absent-minded
- Are creative, innovative, funny “class clowns”
- Are risk-takers because of a de-identification from older siblings (they only receive 50% of the reward for equaling an older sibling)

Beyond birth order, we discussed the importance of sibling relationships – in all families, but as being particularly important to business families. Siblings are:
- The longest-lasting relationships you have in your life
- Sometimes considered a second-class relationship – because we have two parents, one spouse, and usually many siblings – but this is not the case!
- Essential because our early real time learning about interpersonal relationships and issues such as love, secrets, conflicts, honesty, compromise, avoidance all get learned with and from siblings first

Apparently, siblings fight from a very young age. Consider this:
- Siblings under 6 experience 9.5 fights per hour
- 95% of young children fight about stuff (stuff, toys, space, clothing, attention)
- Even in young children, fights are about control
And guess what older siblings fight about? Control…
And with that, class ended, and we went into our family meetings to discuss out family values and whether or not we alll fit the sibling order genotype. We worked, we laughed, we opened up to each other, and then we went to dinner and laughed some more. Mostly, we laughed about how true this all is…
The Polla sisters in birth order: Ada, Cyrille, Rachel, and Roxane

The Polla sisters in birth order: Ada, Cyrille, Rachel, and Roxane


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BeautyView: Joann Anderson, Buyer, Health & Beauty, Zulily

Joann Anderson

Joann Anderson, Buyer, Health & Beauty, Zulily

I met Joann Anderson, Buyer for Health and Beauty for Zulily, a while after we started to work together. She was always delightful, patient, and kind by email, and this was no different in person. Indeed, how can one not love someone whose diet tip is chocolate, and whose pet peeve is wearing racer back tops without racer back bras… Do not however be fooled by how grounded and down to earth she is – she wields amazing power and say at one of the largest and fastest-growing flash sale websites, Zulilly, and she is quickly and successfully building their beauty offering. After doing my first event with her, I knew I was on to something when a number of my girlfriends (yes, all of them Moms) called to excitedly congratulate me on being featured on the site. And all of that was thanks to Joann.

AP: What city were you born in? JA: North Canton, OH.

AP: What city do you live in? JA: Dublin, OH.

AP: What is your middle name? JA: Marie.

AP: What is your astrological sign? JA: Cancer.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? JA: I was a competitive fencer

AP: What is your most prized possession? JA: She is not mine to possess, but it would be my daughter. My memories are priceless; all the fun we’ve had and pride in the woman she has become…

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? JA: The person I always want to spend time with, dining in or out, is my husband, Tim.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. JA: Classic, Casual, Tailored. (I love equestrian inspired fashion.)

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? JA: Not so much anymore.  I like them as accessories more than telling time, but my favorite one is a Movado.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? JA: Diamonds. I love pearls, but they don’t look good on me.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? JA: Sleep.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? JA: I do not usually wear perfume, but right now it’s D&G Light Blue.  I prefer fragrant body oils.

AP: Botox or not? JA: Not for me.

AP: Hair color: natural or not. JA: Not… have to have color.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? JA: Lots of chocolate!

AP: What do you do for exercise? JA: Yoga and walking.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge. JA: Milk, eggs and green olives.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? JA: Anything fruity with an umbrella in it.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? JA: I’ve not accomplished that yet.  It is an ongoing challenge.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? JA: About 6,000-8,000 miles a year.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? JA: 1. Check your luggage. I avoid carrying anything on board that will not fit into my tote bag (which also holds my purse) I always check the BIG bag (whether it is full or not…in case I get to shop) since I always pack enough to have clothing options and be comfortable during my time away. 2. Dress comfortably, but appropriately.  You meet people you don’t expect to see when travelling. 3. Allow plenty of time to get where you are going even if it means you arrive much earlier than needed.  You arrived unstressed and together.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. JA: Its’ hard to believe, but I don’t use an ipod. I have a couple of them but have never used them.

AP: What book are you reading right now? JA: Emily’s Ghost; although one of my favorites was Pope Joan.

AP: Quote to live by: JA: Everything does happen for a reason. Keep trying doors, one of them will open.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? JA: Racer back tops SHOULD be worn with racer back bras.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? JA: I get up at 6:00 am, after about 7-8 hours of sleep.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? JA: I love all the newness and innovation.

AP: Least favorite thing. JA: Nothing… Or maybe that there are so many products, I want to try them all!

AP: Who is your mentor? JA: There have been a lot of good people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with who have taught me many things; but my mother has been the one who gave me inspiration of the type of person I wanted to be.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. JA: A career isn’t just about getting ahead quickly.   It is about developing relationships; professional respect for others. The quality of work you do, and how your treat others is a reflection of the person you really are.

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Teaching, learning, coaching…

I enjoy public speaking, and lucky for me get to do quite a bit of it. While I enjoy it, I still get incredibly nervous before stepping on the podium, walking up to the stage, or just getting up in front of people. Indeed, public speaking is one of our top three fears (right after drowning and dying by fire!). At least I am not alone in my nervousness…

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to learn about effective public speaking by listening to Lance Courtney of easihairpro and Inspiring Champions. More specifically, he focused on how to be an effective trainer – how to effectively teach. To set the stage, he starts by reminding us that “the goal of any training is measurable transformation.”

While my head is still spinning from all of the content he delivered in the span of two days, two of the key takeaways for me were his approach to the steps of teaching and tips on providing (and receiving) feedback.

When teaching someone, I have always been taught the Coaching model of: tell them, show them, show them again, and then let them show you a better way. Similarly, the teaching method that Lance discussed revolves around “tell them, show them, let them.”

-       Tell them: This is the teaching moment. Explain the process you are trying to teach. Remember to always ask for permission to educate. (But always remember, “telling is not teaching.”)

-       Show them: This is the opportunity to role play, to pair up and demonstrate.

-       Let them: We all learn best by doing. Let them experience what you have to teach them. Either bring up volunteers to the center of the classroom to demonstrate, or pair everyone in the audience (this is called “pair share”) so that everyone can perform the task at hand.

The additional steps involved are observation, redirection, and praise.

-       Observation happens both from one student to the next, and from the trainer. Lance reminded us to make this responsibility very important. “Give feedback like you are making commission on the progress your partner will make,” he urges. Alternately, if one person is demonstrating in front of the class, “Give everyone observing a real job to do,” he continues. “Let them know they need to pay attention because they are going to be doing it next.” The doing and the observing are equally important.

-       When observing, if there is a need to correct, or more nicely put, “redirect,” always “ask for permission to coach or redirect,” Lance says. When redirecting, always use the Socratic method and ask the student what he / she is seeing. Don’t say “you are doing this wrong,” rather, get the student to reach his/her own conclusion about what could be done better, and why it matters (never forget the why). Give the student the opportunity to recognize what could be done better himself / herself.

-       Always include praise in redirection. The goal is to give feedback in a way that leaves the student bigger. Lance reminded us to “CCC”: compliment (something they are doing correctly), critique (involve the student to identify what can be done better), and compliment again (the process of the student doing the task at hand better).

Lance also reminded us that if we are on the receiving end of CCC (aka critique, redirection, coaching, feedback), there are only three things to say:

  1. Thank you.
  2. Tell me more.
  3. Can you please repeat that.

“Remember,” he adds, “it’s not failure, it’s just feedback.”

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On intention and productivity

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Cadre lunch, during which Derek Coburn discussed intention and productivity. And if you know me, you know productivity is something that fascinates me. While I will not be able to do justice to everything he talked about, here are some highlights and some of the resources he recommended.

On being busy

-       Being busy and bring productive are not the same thing.

-       Try not saying “I am busy” for a week (I commit to doing this this week).

-       “Being busy is often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” Tim Ferriss

-       Try saying “I am not doing anything today” and sticking to it once in a while (not surprisingly, this is one recommendation I have challenges with…).

-       “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Warren Buffet

On reclaiming time

-       Time is our most scarce and sacred resource, and as such Derek recommends seriously pondering how to can reclaim time.

-       Part of reclaiming time involves outsourcing. “Outsource everything possible, in particular what you are neither good nor passionate about,” says Derek.

-       One of the tools he uses is RescueTime. This program helps track your most productive times and how much time you are spending on certain programs (and also lets you block certain websites that may be distracting). I just signed up for this and am excited to see what I can learn!

-       Derek raves about virtual assistants and automation tools. While I have never used this type of service, I am intrigued. Derek recommends Elance and Task Rabbit as two great resources.

-       Use scheduling tools such as Vcita. Indeed, as Derek reminded us, it takes an average of 7 emails to schedule a single meeting.

On managing meetings overload

-       Derek urged us to never take a meeting unless there is a clear agenda.

-       He also mentioned no longer taking “coffee or lunch meetings” but instead scheduling a phone conversation – especially when this is a first meeting. A coffee or lunch meeting can always come as a second step.

On managing email overload

-       I am an emailer. I use my inbox (both of them actually!) as a to-do list. I flag emails, file emails, sometimes I drown in emails. Once per week I usually take my inbox and start at the bottom and go through every email to make sure I have not forgotten something (this takes about 2-3 hours). Yet sometimes things fall through the cracks…

-       Derek recommends Sanebox to help minimize and summarize emails. I have not yet brought myself to try this…

On managing phonecalls and voicemails

-       I hate voicemails. I don’t know why… but I do. I always delay listening to them, which is neither productive nor polite. I wish my phone didn’t allow voicemails, but I can’t quite take that step.

-       I also hate the phone, which I find intrusive. It still surprises me when people call to have a long conversation without having scheduled a phone meeting – although I do the same… And when a call comes in, I have a very hard time not answering. Even from an “unknown number.” Hence I laugh when Derek suggests that answering a phonecall from an “unknown caller” is telling the universe that anyone and anything can interrupt you anytime.

-       Per Derek’s recommendation, I signed up for PhoneTag after this lunch and I love getting voicemails via texts!

On decision-making overload

-       I read once that President Obama wears the same shirt every day (not the same one, but identical-looking ones) in order to remove one decision from all of the decisions he has to make daily. Also, remember how Steve Jobs always wore the same outfit to meetings (jeans, sneakers, a black turtleneck)? Derek mentions this and reminds us that “Cognitive resources are scarce, limited, quickly and easily depleted.”

-       Removing the need to make certain decisions helps to alleviate decision-making fatigue. Try to take decisions off the table every day, remove decisions that are not essential so you can make better decisions on the more important things.

On starting your week one day early

-       Derek starts his week on Saturday because family is most important to him. By starting his week on Saturday he puts time in with family and kids early on in the week and does not feel guilty the rest of the week (week goes Saturday to Friday instead of Monday to Sunday).

-       Start your day the night before; take a look at the priorities for the next day the previous evening and do one or two of the things that are absolute musts that previous evening.

A few other tips

-       It takes you 20 minutes to refocus on the task at hand when you get un-focused because of an interruption.

-       Morning rituals are key in terms of setting your day up for success. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is a great book that investigates just that.

-       Create your “Superhero music soundtrack,” songs that inspire you and get you going and motivate you to do your best work.

-       Derek listens to podcasts and books on tape, and talked about adjusting the speed of what he listens to – kind of like the auditory equivalent of speed-reading.

-       When Derek leaves for vacation, he sets his out of office automatic email response showing the departure day one day early, and the return day one day after he is actually back in the office, in order to manage the expectations of people emailing him in terms of his response time.

Most importantly perhaps, Derek ends by urging us to put intention in everything we do. To him, success is “being able to say yes to what he wants to do, and no to what he does not want to do.” In the end, all of these productivity tips and tools are ways to get us there…









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BeautyView: Trisha Gregory, Director of Public Relations, Salvatore Ferragamo

Trisha Gregory, Director of Public Relations, Salvatore Ferragamo

Trisha Gregory, Director of Public Relations, Salvatore Ferragamo

The next best thing to a best friend is a best friend’s best friend. That is how I know Trisha Gregory, Director of Public Relations at Salvatore Ferragamo. Actually, I don’t really know her – but I feel like I do because of all of the amazing things my BFF Catherine says about her. She is gorgeous, smart, a PR whiz at an iconic Italian fashion house. She has Southern roots and is proud of them. And she keeps Alchimie Forever eye cream in her fridge. What more is there to love?!

AP: What city were you born in? TG: Tupelo, Mississippi.

AP: What city to do you live in? TG: New York City.

AP: What is your middle name? TG: Simmons.

AP: What is your astrological sign? TG: Aquarius.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? TG: My Southern upbringing is very important to me. I think it’s difficult to keep track of what’s important in New York, especially as a woman fortifying a career in this industry.

AP: What is your most prized possession? TG: My diamond and sapphire bracelets I inherited from my grandmother.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? TG: Princess Diana.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. TG: Timeless. Smart. Feminine.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? TG: Yes, Ferragamo F-80.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? TG: Pearls.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? TG: Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? TG: Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge.

AP: Botox or not? TG: Not.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? TG: Natural.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? TG: I dont know. Each time I try to start a diet, sweets arrive at the office!

AP: What do you do for exercise? TG: Classes: Body by Simone, CoreFusion at Exhale Spa.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? TG: Arrowhead Farms hellfire club bloody mary mix, Alchimie Forever eye cream given to me by my BFF Catherine, and Melaleuca baked crackers.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? TG: A spicy margarita.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? TG: If I’ve learned anything from the Italians it’s work to live, not live to work. But good ideas come at all times of the day and night… so keep a notepad or email yourself reminders for the next morning.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? TG: 100,000+.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? TG: I travel with a cashmere cardigan, a leather Oliver Peoples eye mask, and my Kate Somerville moisturizer.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. TG: Kiesza – Hideaway; Selfmachine – I Blame Coco; F’ing Problems – Asap Rocky.

AP: What book are you reading right now? TG: The Goldfinch.

AP: Quote to live by. TG: “I look for strong people. I don’t like people who’ll say yes to everything I might bring up. I want people who can argue and disagree and have a point of view. My dad believed in the cult of personality.”- Anna Wintour.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? TG: When people smack their food.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? TG: Around 6/ 7 hours. I’m up by 7AM.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry?  TG: The possibility of transformation and the magical feeling of self-improvement.

AP: Least favorite thing. TG: When the bronzed look goes out of fashion for a season. I like a little tan.

AP: Who is your mentor? TG: My mother… and all three of my bosses I’ve had the privilege of working for in this industry.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. TG: “Ask for more homework!!” is what my father advised us growing up.  Which means…follow your dreams, ask questions, ask for more work and take risks.

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