Wisdom from my grandmother

Nana at age 18

Nana at age 18

My Mom once told me that when you cry, you are crying for yourself, never for someone else. I have been reminded of this over the last week as I have shed many tears over the loss of my Mom’s Mom, my Nana, my beloved grandmother. She lived a long, beautiful, abundant life filled with family (many generations of family), art, laughter, music, and joy. She died at home, surrounded by people she loved, in peace. Yet I cry, selfishly, because I will not get to be with her again. I know that wherever she is now, she is happily singing and painting, two things she did throughout her life. And looking down on me (and the rest of her family) and making sure that I don’t forget the many things she taught me throughout our 37 years together.

She taught me to value aesthetics. In her world, everything had to be beautiful or life wasn’t quite right. Surroundings, homes, flowers, and yes, even people. Leaving things improperly put away was never beautiful. Leaving the house without the right shade of lipstick was not either.

She taught me to use my best dishes and silver every day, because that made for a more beautiful day, a more beautiful table. She never believed in saving beautiful things for special occasions, and indeed I now only have one set of dishes, my “good” dishes, dishes which used to be hers.

She taught me manners and propriety. As a teenager, I would spend Monday nights at her home during the school year and we would eat a delicious meal (her specialty was quail stuffed with grapes with Spatzli as a side). And over the years, she taught me how to sit (good posture, elbows close to the body, hands on the table), which fork to eat what with, even how to hold my glass. Bad manners were not beautiful, and she always told me, “you never know who you will be having dinner with, maybe even a queen one day, so always use your best manners.”

She taught me to be a better wife. Throughout the years, she had much to say about my partners, about how I should behave, and how I should not. She only finally fully approved of my choice when I introduced her to my husband, whom she nick-named Wilfried. Ever since meeting him, she reminded me to be gentle and kind for he has a sensitive soul, and to “stop playing cat and mouse games.” And every time she said that, her eyes (one brown, one blue) twinkled with mischief as if she knew exactly everything I didn’t tell her.

She taught me to appreciate the seemingly small things in life. The songs of the birds chirping on her balcony. The sound of the church bells we could hear from her bedroom. The smell of wisteria, which grew in her garden. And a moment of silence shared on her couch, simply enjoying being together, with my head on her bosom and her hand on my cheek. She taught me tranquility.

A tranquil moment with Nana

A tranquil moment with Nana



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Questions about facial oils? Here are some answers

Some of my favorite oils

Some of my favorite oils

Facial oils are on my mind, for a few reasons. The weather is turning colder and dryer, which has me turn to my favorite oils (if you want to know which ones I love, keep reading). Estee Lauder Companies recently acquired Rodin Olio Lusso, a niche brand founded by stylist Linda Rodin in 2007 and known for its flagship oil. And I saw my friend Michael Scholes of The Laboratory of Flowers earlier this week, a Virginia-based company specializing in making beautiful aromatherapy oils.

I also realized that while most of my skin care routine is Alchimie Forever exclusive,  the one area where I stray away from home is indeed oils. Maybe I should remember this next time I delve into our product development pipeline…

With that in mind, at the very least I decided I should educate myself about oils and their benefits for the skin. As usual, I turned to my dad, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, for some wisdom.

What is a facial oil?

Typically, the first ingredient (the base) of a moisturizer or cream is water. Oils differ in that there is no water in the formulation. Rather, the product is oil-based. Facial oils will typically be formulated with either a single oil (think for example of Josie Maran 100% pure argan oil), or a combination of various oils (for example, Rodin’s Olio Lusso mentioned above).

Why are the benefits of this type of product?

The first benefit of any oil is to nourish the skin, replenishing lipids and moisture. However, facial oils will have a number of additional benefits depending on the type of oil used, ranging from antioxidant to anti-inflammatory to sebum regulating. Here are some of the most commonly used oils and their specific benefits:

-       Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil is the go-to oil for oilier skin types. It will nourish the skin but will also help to regulate sebum. Jojoba oil also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which will help to alleviate breakouts.

-       Rose oil: This oil is another oil to consider for combination or acne-prone skin types. Indeed, it is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits, and has astringent properties.

-       Argan oil: Pressed from the nut of the Argan tree, which only grows in Morocco, this oil is packed with vitamin E and fatty acids that give it healing, conditioning and repairing properties.

-       Sweet almond oil: This oil is rich in vitamins A, B, and E, and known for its calming properties. Look for this ingredient to help soothe skin irritation and inflammation and.

-       Grapeseed oil: Grapeseeds are packed with antioxidants including resveratrol, making this oil an anti-aging powerhouse.

-       Rosehip seed oil: This oil (rose canina) is derived from the small fruits that sit behind the rose flower, and contains high levels of vitamins C and A, two ingredients known to help fight and minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

-       Avocado oil: Avocado oil is high in sterolin, an extract that has been shown to facilitate the reduction in the appearance of age spots.

-       Coconut oil: This is one of the most hydrating oils, making it particularly suited to dry skin. Rich in fatty acids, this oil will make dull skin glow.

Will facial oils cause breakouts or pimples?

Lipids dissolve lipids. This means, perhaps counter-intuitively, that oils are actually able to help regulate sebum production, thus mattifying oilier skin types. Well-formulated facial oils will not clog pores, cause whiteheads or blackheads. On the contrary, the oil will bind to excess sebum in the skin and help draw it out.

What about combination and oily skin types?

Not all facial oils are created equal. Indeed, some are lighter (even promoting themselves as “shine-free”) while some will be thicker and heavier. For a younger or  oilier skin type, these lighter versions will be best. My father does suggest avoiding recommending a facial oil to anyone suffering from severe or cystic acne, including adult acne.

And what of cleansing oils?

For someone who is not yet ready to jump on the facial oil bandwagon, a cleansing oil is the prefect way to start. Oils (lipids) break up and dissolve makeup and dirt very efficiently, and as you use them with water, are less likely to leave the skin feeling shiny or oily.

Here are some of my favorite oils.

-       Shu Uemura’s cleansing oil was my first introduction to facial oils. Introduced on the market in 1967, this product made history and continues to be a cult favorite. Packed with jojoba and avocado oil, this cleanser will dissolve makeup and impurities and leave the skin protected and hydrated.

-       Not a facial oil per se (you can use it on face, body, and hair), Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse is another favorite. One is sold every 6 seconds, and there is a reason for that. This oil hydrates and creates a silky dewiness to face, hair, and body, all with an intoxicating fragrance. Recommend the Or (gold) version for a little more sparkle. Thick and rich, this product is a blend of soybean, olive, and safflower oils. It is perfect used as a cleanser, and underneath your moisturizer for additional conditioning and moisture.

-       Beautifying Composition by Aveda is another one of these multi-use oils.

-       Josie Maran 100% pure argan oil, in its original and light versions. The light version has a semi-matte finish that will be particularly suited to combination and oily skin types, and that I personally love during the warmer months.

-       Any facial oil by Darphin. First found in the best French spas, then on the shelves of Parisian pharmacies, Darphin could be credited with inventing the facial oil category. The 8 Flower Nectar is my personal favorite, but any oil from their Aromatic Care collection is beautiful and therapeutic.

-       Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil for dryer, more sensitive skin types; this is like a shield that protects my skin from the wind and cold, I love it during skiing.

-       Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil. This is my go-to for a nourishing, relaxing, calming bath. It leaves my mind soothed and my skin soft.

Finally, a few last tips on beauty oils to share with your customers (adapted from Sephora’s Dare to Oil guide on beauty oils):

  1. Facial oils are best applied with a pressing motion rather than a rubbing motion (like a serum).
  2. Always apply products from thin to thick – meaning start with your serum, move on to your oil, then your moisturizer, and finish with your sunblock.
  3. Mix a drop of oil with your moisturizer or foundation for extra hydration.
  4. Use oil on dry nail polish for extra shine; use oil daily on cuticles for a polished, natural nail look.
  5. Use oil on dry hair to tame flyaways.
  6. Use oils morning and evening.
  7. Throughout the summer, use oils on your body to protect your skin from the drying effects of chlorine, salt, and wind (always with a sunscreen of course!).

Small business saturday: DC and New Orleans

Today is Small Business Saturday, a “national holiday” of sorts, established in 2010 to bring visibility to the fact that small businesses are the fuel of the American economy. In the 5 days that start with Thursday of Thanksgiving sales and end with Cyber Monday, Saturday is dedicated to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

images hug

As those of you who know me know, I prefer to shop small and shop local to malls and chains. From DC and New Orleans, here are some of  my favorites. (And don’t forget Alchimie Forever, and our Friends & Family 30% promotion – use the code FF2014).

DC edition

The Dandelion Patch for notecards and hostess gifts (and advice on how to write the perfect thank you note).

Politics and Prose for books (and conversation, but that is harder to wrap).

Betsy Fisher for boutique fashion brands and style advice.

Soupergirl for healthy soup and Soupscriptions that keep on giving.

Bellacara for everything beauty related.

New Orleans edition

Sucre – it’s so good I can’t even go there; ordering online is much safer!

Jean Therapy for the best jeans and amazingly soft Defend New Orleans t-shirts.

Mignon Faget for jewelry.

Aidan Gill for men’s grooming gifts.

CeCe Shoe for the shoe-obsessed (and to learn about the most amazing shoe closet ever).


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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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