Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Blah-Monday Mom on Snack Sensation Graze

Mondays. My least favorite day of the week. The precious weekend is gone and it’s back to the quick-step of the work week. My Monday got off to a sobering start – the 4:30 AM alarm, packing lunches, the carpool lane and Dallas traffic. I arrive at the office (still reminiscing about aforementioned weekend), and learn that there’s a delivery waiting for me at the mail desk. Oh Monday, you’re looking better already.

A few weeks prior, I’d been chatting with a co-worker about a recurring topic – health and weight loss, anyone? We exchanged tips and she shared that she’d signed up for a new healthy snack delivery service called graze. She gave me a coupon for one free box and, since I’m incapable of passing up a good deal, I decided to give it a try.

I signed up for the semi-monthly Nibblebox at $6.99/box. (There are three snack subscription options: once a week, once every two weeks and more than once a week.) My first box arrived at my office on a Monday, which I thought was brilliant because who couldn’t use a lift on a Monday? The box was adorable –Instagram worthy, no doubt – and contained four individually wrapped and sealed snacks. I tried Garden of England first. It was a medley of mini strawberries, black currants and soft apple pieces. Hated it. 

I immediately logged on to and adjusted my settings to remove the snack from future deliveries. A few days later, I opened Summer Berry Flapjack, which graze describes as a “rustic rolled oat flapjack with berry-infused cranberries.” It was delicious. It was similar to a granola bar, but surprisingly fresh! Although I could’ve eaten more, the portion was just right, satisfying and completely guilt-free.  

I’m now three boxes in and plan to maintain my subscription at its current frequency. It’s freed me from snacking guilt, brightened my Mondays (every other week) and there are so many flavor profiles to choose from. If I don’t like a certain flavor, I just remove it from my preferences and graze knows not to send it to me again. However, I’ve labeled the majority of the snacks I’ve tried as either “like” or “love.”

Tan and her daughter
If you’re a busy professional, busy mom or a busy woman mutli-tasking but are looking to make better and healthier snack choices, give graze a try!  

Tan Ward


Tan Ward resides in Dallas, TX. She is a wife, mom of two, and marketing professional for an insurance consulting firm. Tan is passionate about food and enjoys reading, laughing, and collecting life hacks and other interesting knowledge.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Untold Value of Focused Interests

Today, as I watched a "Leading Women" story on CNN, I was reminded about how rewarding it is to have an interest or hobby that you focus on for years.

In college, it was a requirement to read and subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Financial Times, etc if you were a business major like I was.  So at 19, I begrudgingly spent part of my spending money and signed up at the student subscription rate to the WSJ, Fortune and Forbes.

I have known since I was very young that I had a passion for business.  I literally breathe, eat and observe business news like it's candy.  And even though I did not like my internal auditing path in corporate, I stayed longer than I wanted because it was one of the only professions that allowed me the opportunity to know what goes on in the bowels of a publicly traded company from the janitor to the board room...from compliance, to the financials to operations.

Untold Value
When people normally talk about having a passion for an interest or career, it is normally in the vein of an athlete that practices for years before competing in the Olympics (like what Geoff Colvin chronicled in "Talent is Overrated") or it is someone who is a professional motivator who's life calling is motivating the masses.

My example is connected to my 20 year passion reading, following and observing business...trends, highlights, lows, stock crashes, new inventions, game changers, etc.

The value in my business knowledge is that I get the pleasure of seeing the many cycles of how our world is impacted by business....not as just a casual reader, but as someone who studies and practices it as an obsession.

L'Oreal Acquisition and CNN's Leading Ladies
Carol's Daughter 200x200Yesterday a friend tagged me on a Facebook post about L'Oreal's acquisition of Carol's Daughter.  I couldn't be more happier for Founder Lisa Price.  The reason I'm so happy is that I literally remember a small blurb in Essence magazine about a new women's hair care line debuting amongst stiff competition. I have kept up with her over the years through celebrity endorsements, near bankruptcy and yesterday we get the pleasure of seeing the fruit of her 21 years (since she mixed potions in her kitchen) of building and believing.  I am so pleased to say I remember and utilize her story in connecting my own dots as an entrepreneur.

CNN has a 15 minute show on their international channel called "Leading Women".  I love it because it highlights women leaders from all over the world who are normally pioneers and who exhibit great character in leading at such a global level.

Today I saw the recorded story of Jo Malone.  This is another great business story I can say I've had the pleasure of seeing their great evolution.  Jo Malone, as she says, didn't decide to become an entrepreneur.  She didn't have a choice.  It was either create something (especially something where her dyslexia wouldn't be a hinderance) or literally not eat.  She started creating great perfumes in the United Kingdom and after years of selling to luxury boutique retailers, she was able to generate a global following for her perfumes and candles.  Her company was sold to the Estee Lauder companies in 2011.

Focused Interests and the Pleasure of Seeing It Evolve
One of the greatest pleasures of having a focused interest is you not only get to do it and contribute to the dialogue when you become great at it, but you also get to connect the dots that a novice will never be able to do.  I do believe we live in times where it is "normal" to have many interests and participate in activities where you get to use multiple giftings.  But there is something uniquely special about following the thread of an interest that is 20, 30, 40 years in the making.

I really believe that when you see and observe a connective thread over years, it creates a deep sense and satisfaction that makes you feel like you are "touching God".  It's truly indescribable.

I think Jo Malone's husband said it best when she was in the process of making the decision to start a new company, Jo Loves:

  Find the track you run fastest on and run it!

Be great and be obsessed and find your interest...your greatness at it has the potential to change the world.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tips for Creating a Great Vision Board

Picture #1 of My Vision Board (See Below)
Since I am an extremely visual person, I love vision boards.  Some people are more wired to journal because words have more meanings but for me, it's all about the visual (although I do journal periodically).

As I have been consistent in having a Vision Board that inspires me to be my best I thought it would be helpful to share some of the best tips (and ooopsies) of what I have learned over the years.

Tried and True Tips For Creating Vision Boards:
Keep it simple:  I once had a really big office so I thought it made since to have two vision boards side by side...wrong!  Your vision board is meant to be a high level/highlight of what inspires and motivates you...not a laundry list of everything you think is inspiring.  And it is even better when you keep it simple and nailed down to the things that most directly connect to your goals or upcoming important events.  Those two boards were cluttered with things that were all over the place and so I rarely referred to it instead of making it a point of constant inspiration.

Also in keeping it simple, make a separate vision board that's intended for you personally and one that's intended to be for your family, book club, nonprofit team, etc.

Make it an evolving place and expect changes:  I always thought that a vision board was strictly for goals only and that once I achieved the goal, I could take down the item.  While you will have items on your vision board related to a goal (as noted above), not everything on there needs to be some systematic, check list event or thing.  Think of it as something that evolves as you find out more information, as your goals change, as what inspires you change, etc.  It's for you so make it reflect where you are.

No new years resolutions:  I used to only work on my vision board when it was the new year and it was time to make resolutions. I still laugh about most people, goals and inspirations only determined when it is a new year tend to be short winded and not well thought out.  It's okay if it's important to you to add something that is a new year's resolution but put it on a sticky note or connect it to a long term goal that's important to you...just don't make your whole vision board about new years resolutions only.

Keep it someplace where you have to see it frequently:  This by far is something that I wish someone would have told me when I made my first vision board.  My first one was on an 8 1/2 x 12 glass frame and a couple weeks after making it I put it on a bookshelf that was in a corner.  I wouldn't see it again for weeks at a time!  If you spend as much self-love, thought and genuine time creating your vision board, then it's obviously filled with things you care about...make sure you see it daily or weekly!

Picture #2 of My Vision Board (See Below)
I have found that what people end up putting on Vision Boards falls into a few categories:

  • Aspirational: some thing they aspire to get, some event they aspire to attend or someone they aspire to be (characteristics)
  • Inspirational: a celebrity, family member, friend or other key figure that inspires them to want to be a better person in what they say, do, don't do, activities they are involved in, etc.
  • Motivational: someone or something that has been especially motivating to them; it can be a poem (such as the "Our Deepest Fear" poem put in video), a concert ticket, a motivational guru such as Les Brown, Wayne Dyer or Tony Robbins
  • Key Phrases, Words or Quotes: words are very powerful and so if there is word, quote or phrase that you know will be a constant source or reminder to be great, then type it up, write it out or clip it from a magazine! 
  • Visual Reminders: this can be anything that, when you look at it, brings you to a place of hope, courage or just makes you happy.  Color does that for me so whenever I see a pretty ribbon, tie, cord or ornament that makes me smile, I add that to my vision board
  • Visual "Candy":  this can be anything that visually emotes a positive reaction in you.  I know people who will put something from a memorable vacation, an event or anything that causes them to know what is possible in life and to live to the fullest.
  • Goals/Mission Statements: I only put (and would suggest putting) a summarized version of your goals and notes from your Mission Statement.  Depending on how big your vision board is, space is of the essence so use it wisely. Sometimes I will only put short term goals on post-it notes with the longer term goals captured in another way as mentioned above.
  • Reminders of Promises to Yourself:  I especially recommend this when you are someone who needs a reminder or reason why you are saying "no" to an obligation or commitment.  I only started putting this on my vision board as I got older and boy does it work!  For example, if you have a picture of the Eiffel Tower (like I do) on your vision board as a reminder that you are saving up for a five-star Paris experience with our besties, then constantly seeing that picture on your vision board will help you say "no" to invites where you know will require you to spend over your budget.

So what's on my vision board?
I purchased my all black vision board a while back from The Container Store and I love it because you can use tacs to put up photos, clippings, etc.  I found a similar one here.

Picture #3 of My Vision Board (See Below)
Picture #1: the meeting agenda from my life changing White House Business Council visit, a satin bold pink ribbon that I think is gorgeous, a picture of the Eiffel Tower because it is on my bucket list, pictures of two people that I think are elegant and beautiful (my mother and Aerin Lauder), and the fabric ribbon used at Carolina Herrera's CH store that inspires me to strive for quality over quantity.

Picture #2: Two butterflies that remind me to be free and do what honors who I am, a magazine clipping of "New Year, New You" that inspired this blog post, another magazine clipping from the Hermes advertisement that says "Sporting Life" that reminds me to workout!

Picture #3:  The Post Office commemorative gold stamp and holder of Madame CJ Walker, America's first female self-made millionaire that reminds me that there are no limits to what you can do!

So what inspires you and what will your vision board look like after reading these tips?