Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Day Witnessing Excellence Translated to Business

Decor at Museum Tower
A few days ago I attended an invite-only #DrivenbyDesign event hosted by partners Architectural Digest and Cadillac.  I rsvp'ed because I wanted to have an opportunity to take a break from running my strategic advisory firm.  I am also beginning to develop an amateur interest in architecture.  My expectations were not lofty.

However, those expectations were blown out the water as soon as I pulled up to Museum Tower.

We were greeted by a slew of greeters working the event and upon entering the event space on the 42nd floor of Museum Tower with panoramic views of downtown Dallas, I realized this was not going to be a boring, uninspired event!

Breakfast was served on polished silver service platters and we were treated to a great architectural history of Dallas by architect Bob Borson. It was informative and the historical perspective gave me a new appreciation for the commitment to great architecture in Texas!

Our Rides: 2015 Escalades
We then proceeded to tour a beautifully designed apartment on the 38th floor of Museum Tower followed by a tour of the Urban Reserve and a Brookview residence in Preston Hollow. And we were escorted to each property riding in 2015 Cadillac Escalades...it was an inspiring and truly memorable experience.

But my greatest take away from our half day experience went beyond looking at some houses riding in a nice vehicle.  As I spoke with Signe Smith, Principal with Smitharc Architects, for example, as she described the details and thought processes that went into creating the residence, I realized that the methodical, professional and attention to detail was on another level! The owners stated before building that "they wanted to feel like a vacation home every time they walked in" (because they were hard working entrepreneurs)....right then and there I knew that the reason so many of us are inspired by brands like Architectural Digest and Cadillac is because their primary goal is excellence in all they do!

That day is still inspiring me to assess how I can bring even more excellence to what I do, how I do it and when I do it.  Striving for the most impactful business (quality vs quantity) is what separates those organizations that only meet the needs of its customers and those that exceed the expectations of its target customers.
My Favorite: By Smitharc Architects
So today, look at what you do, how you do it and when you do it and create ways to make your own experience one in which you strive for a new level of excellence that will make your product, service, painting, Board, or new creative project the next Cadillac or Architectural Digest that is talked about for decades!


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 graze.com 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.