Wednesday, October 17, 2018

One of the best lessons I learned at Microsoft

It was one of the most important emails I was sending out at the beginning of my career at Microsoft. I had spent most of the day drafting a detailed email of the scope of a project including timeline, project owners, external concerns and responses to potential challenges. It was a long, very well laid out report. When I hit send late that afternoon I felt like a weight was lifted. I was proud of the work I had put into this email.

It was late and I was responding to a few last minute emails before I left for the day. Then, no more than five minutes after I had sent the project email, I received a response that simply said


I looked at this for a moment and I had no idea what it meant. This Looks Damn Near Real? I called one of my best friends and asked her if she heard of this and she laughed. "Yeah," she said. "Too Long. Did Not Read. How long was that report you sent out?" I felt shattered. I told her that I fleshed it all out and had included everything that I thought might need to be addressed. My girlfriend, being in HR, gave me one of the most valuable pieces of advice that I carry with me to this day. 

She said: "OK, listen. This is important. Write this down. The most junior person on a team will say the most and send out the longest emails. The most senior person will say the least and send out the shortest emails. Use the least amount of words to get your point across. Don't send out a wall of text. Sure, there will be times that you will need to include a significant amount of information on a project and in that case, state the facts in one or two sentences and include details below. In emails don't provide more than you need to. In fact, keep that in mind in real life relationships as well."

I started to pay attention to what she said. On email threads, I saw that what she said was true. The most senior level executives had the most efficient replies. When I was in meetings with (movie) studios, networks and labels in Los Angeles, it was the same. In partner meetings, the most junior members of a team talked too much. The words were sometimes painfully still hanging in the air as they kept going, not knowing how to wrap their thoughts up. I remember in one of these instances, I glanced over at one of the studio EVP's (Executive Vice President) whose blink and miss you miss it head shake said volumes. 

Even now, over ten years later, I still keep this in mind when I work with partners. Say the least to get my point across.  I realize that my email may be one of hundreds that someone else sees that day. I know that I don't want to get an immediate no or TLDNR because I couldn't state my case efficiently. I keep this in mind too in partner meetings. Sometimes you get one shot. Make it easy to get a yes by being confident, concise and clear in your goal.

That day at Microsoft my ego was bruised but I learned a valuable lesson. Your words are currency. Be efficient in how you spend them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

instagram to follow: @kopernikk

You've seen the Instagram account where the girl leads the guy by his hand in the most iconic places on the planet. Here's a different take on that concept of #followmeto.

@kopernikk is so pure it almost hurts. The story: In 2014, Jan Řeháček was feeling out of sorts and decided to travel around the Czech Replublic, along with his dog, Sitka, who he had adopted a month before. The chronicles of Jan and Sitka are breathtaking and full of joy in their simplicity against the backdrop of nature. When I feel like I need a moment of happiness, I check in on Jan and Sitka and I smile at the amount of love in these pictures. 

It kinda makes you want to put on some hiking boots and take your best friend out for a walk in the wild, doesn't it?

Follow Jan and Sitka on Instagram and their website

Thursday, October 11, 2018

inspiration: bouncing back

I have a girlfriend who, no matter what happens to her, seems to bounce right back from any challenge in her life. Whether it's regarding fitness, career setbacks or personal goals. I admire her. I wish I had that kind of, I don't know, luck? She seems to glide through life. I asked her about this once. After  being let go from a job, she seamlessly moved into a higher paying job with a competing company. Over iced coffees in her new company's cafe, I asked her how she did it. How did she get over being terminated and still have the confidence to go for a higher paying role and then get it. I will forever remember her words. She said, "I don't know. It all just comes pretty easy, I guess."

I didn't know how to respond to that. When something negative happens in my life (job loss, relationship break-ups, failed fitness attempts. . .) I need time to lick my wounds and be small before I can get my confidence back up to even think about going for it again. I can't even imagine picking myself up right away and having the confidence to believe I can do it again immediately successfully.  How incredible it would be to have this skill!

I've been thinking about her a lot this week as I gear up to start a new fitness regimen. I've had to psych myself up, write out a plan, find the right team of people to help me achieve my goals and set a date to start. When I think about my friend, I know that she would have started immediately and just dove in headfirst, knowing she would excel.  My anxiety keeps me from doing that. I get paralyzed by the minutiae of things.

My girlfriend's plan would go like this:

Starting now, I will choose to be healthy. I'll meal prep on Sundays, I will walk 30 minutes every day at lunch and lay off the after work drinks until I reach my goal, which I will.

Here's how my train of thought for a fitness plan goes: 

So, I need to get in shape. I'll get a trainer and a nutritionist in place. Which plan should I follow? Why am I starting in October? The holidays are coming. I should start in January. I'm traveling a lot this fall so it will be hard to follow a plan traveling cross country. I have a baby. How will I fit in exercise? Why is healthy food so much more expensive than a bag of chips? I like coffee. How can I still enjoy coffee with cream? If I don't have coffee, I'll get headaches and be grumpy and then go off the plan. Should I go paleo? Detox? Should I kickbox (which I love) or walk an hour a day but it rains a lot here in the fall. What if  don't succeed?

And this is why it takes so long for me to move forward after challenges.

I think a lot of trepidation comes from fear. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment if you don't do it, fear that achieving your goal will be hard work. I think back to the times that I lost weight and exercised and how incredible I felt. Sure, I felt better in my body but I felt so strong emotionally that this confidence affected the rest of my life and made me stronger in other parts of my life. I felt confident at work and in my ability to problem solve. I didn't accept being treated poorly by people who weren't nice. When I feel small (doubtful of myself, quiet), I often accept being treated unkindly because I don't think I deserve better. When I am confident in my body, I protect it and this makes me feel like I can do anything I set mind to and time after time, those in my life who didn't respect my boundaries suddenly did. They didn't change. I did.

Do I wish I was more like my girlfriend? Yes, absolutely! May someday I'll have that confidence to expect that everything will go my way just because that it the way things are in my universe.  Until then, I know there is a space that exists between anxiety and confidence. It's about just making that plan and going forward without thinking about what will happen if you fail.  It's a place where happy exists and I plan on embracing that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

the happygirl essentials: cocofloss

"So, have you been flossing?"

"Yes," said every person to their dentist.

I haven't always been honest with my dentist when he asks me if I floss. I've never liked the texture of the flosses I've tried and it always hurt. Maybe I was doing it too aggressively (because more pressure means shinier, clean teeth, right?!) but every time I flossed, my gums would bleed a little. So, I tried different brands including the floss pick but it was so uncomfortable that it wasn't worth the extra effort. Plus, I brush three times a day (really, I do) with a sonic toothbrush so that should cover it, right? It doesn't actually. Those tight spaces between your teeth are where bacteria and food can hide which can cause serious dental issues down the road. Bonus: cleaner teeth and less bacteria mean better breath too!

Every time I think about cavities! gingivitis! gum disease!  I decide, "I should floss! Today I start!" Then I pick some up, I try flossing,  it hurts and I quickly abandon the the whole thing except for the morning of my next dentist visit. 

Last week, knowing I had a teeth cleaning appointment coming up, I decided to try Cocofloss in Mint (other flavors include Coconut, Strawberry and Cara Cara Orange.) I didn't expect it to be much different than the supermarket brands but on the first try, I was hooked. Not only does the floss scrub the space between your teeth clean (due to 500+ strong filaments) but thanks to a vegan wax coating, the floss glides between your teeth, leaving just a hint of mint. After brushing and flossing with Cocofloss, my teeth felt clean any my gums were happy!* No bleeding! (It's also weirdly rewarding to see the bits come out between your teeth even after you finish brushing.)

Cocofloss has made me a happy flosser. Now, I can look my dentist right in the eyes, smile and say "Yes, I floss. See!"

Cocofloss is available at, Amazon and other retailers. 

*It also make me happy that Cocofloss was the brainchild of dentist, Dr. Chrsytle Cu and her sister,  Cat, an artist.

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