Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Office-ing with Style

Recently on Twitter, I found some of the most inspirational and passionate entrepreneurs and people while dialoguing about current events and great ideas.

Photo Credit: UrbanGirl

One inspiring business I discovered is woman-owned small business UrbanGirl, an office supply company with style!

According to their website, "UrbanGirl is the place to buy office supplies that are fashionable and functional.  UrbanGirl opened for business in July of 2013 and are constantly seeking out the most stylish and colorful office supplies. We are the one place where you can buy all the office basics as well as the trendy and stylish.  
Photo Credit: UrbanGirl
When you buy from UrbanGirl, you are supporting a small, woman-owned business, not a large corporation.  When you call us during business hours, a real person (maybe even the owner herself) will answer the phone to help.  We send handwritten notes to our first-time customers.  We strive to offer an online experience that is the equivalent of shopping in a stylish, independent local boutique, while offering the competitive prices and variety usually found only in larger stores."
I love it!  
I purchased some routine office supplies for my company and what showed up was waaaay better than the normal basic black I'd always received when I worked in corporate.  My shipment included the most pretty correction tapes in light green and pink colors.  I think I white out more pages just to use my new correction tapes!
UrbanGirl's cutest office supplies includes the Kate Spade New York line and the Frisco Collection
And although we are already a fan, we also love that UrbanGirl is leading the charge to celebrate a day for everyone to support woman-owned businesses on May 1st with hashtag #buyfromwomen.  
So show your support for UrbanGirl and add some cute, fun and colorful office supplies to your work space.  And look out for our post before May 1st with all our best inspiring recommendations of women business owners!


My Personal Journey Adopting a Simpler Life

Anyone who knows me will likely be surprised at such a title associated with my name.  I am one of those people whereas if I can analyze it and make it complicated, I probably will because I was well paid in corporate to consider all the risks and variables connected to a project, launch, operations or board reporting.  Assessing, analyzing and creating solutions is all I have known to do for the past 17 years of my career.

Although I am/was required to do it for my career, my personal life was being deeply impacted by events that were completely out of my control...something had to give.

The Events that Changed My Complex Life
The Loss of My Things:  Given that I come from a very humble background, I considered it a sign of achievement that as I was promoted in my career, I was able to afford some of the best quality clothes, home decor, and things money could buy.  And then two key events happened:  I had a major house flood and through a mixup at a storage unit, all my possessions were wiped out in a matter of a day.  I was devastated and no insurance check could replace the fact that it had taken me 15 years to accumulate all that I had up to that time.

My Dear College Friend and His Family
The Loss of a Dear Friend:  One day out of the blue, a church friend sent around an email requesting everyone pray for this young family of four who was in a major accident over the Memorial holiday in 2010.  The mother and two children died at the fiery scene.  The husband/father, was dragger from the car and was at a local hospital with burns on 70% of his body. The email included a picture and my legs gave out from under me when I saw my college best friend and his family staring back at me from a family photo that was taken a few months before the accident.

I rushed to find what I could on Google before heading to the hospital and I was angered because all the news media could highlight in their reports was how my friend and his family were "prominent", "lived in a beautiful home in a wealthy neighborhood", "up and coming", etc.  I was angered because how did any of this matter in such a tragedy???

I then rushed to the hospital where I saw my friend laying in an induced coma...the sight of his perfectly healthy 35 year old body laying with all the burns was breath-takingly painful.  My friend recovered after many weeks, found out later that he had missed the funerals of his wife and children due to his coma and then died 14 weeks after the accident (and a few days after his 36th birthday) from a blood clot.

I knew back then that in life, our possessions, positions, wealth, etc doesn't really matter.  Who we are in the face of adversity, triumphs and in the midst of life decisions is all that matters.  And my friend was a blessing of survival, forgiveness and comfort to all until the end...

How These Events Made Me Better in a Simpler Way
I can't say to you that my life was changed overnight by these events, but I can tell you that they set in motion a commitment to live the rest of my life in a way that was focused on what really mattered to me. I would always continue to be thankful for what I do have but keeping the proper perspective of the meaning of stuff in my life was what was changing me in a profound way.

The "simpler life" road started for me several years ago and through struggles, I can say that my life has more peace and more deeply connected relationships that I wouldn't trade for the world!

Highlights of My Simpler Life
This old bestseller is Awesome! Get it here.

  • Less People Pleasing Ego:  I don't know if I was purposefully being ruled by a robust ego in the sense of trying to be "King of the Jungle" like a man but I can say that in order to make everyone happy with what I was doing, I was literally killing myself to keep all the balls in the air so that I could get a pat on the back from everyone who dealt with me.  It wasn't working. Stomach ulcers, hair falling out, etc.  Only now, at age 39, have I shed so much that I can truly say I am only working on what I believe is connected to my life's purpose as a career (it helps that I am an entrepreneur and can create the work that I'm passionate about).
  • More Richness Out of Life:  Instead of being apart of the daily grind of commuting to work, rushing errands on the weekend, rushing to meetings, being constantly anxious, etc.,  I have purposefully (and strategically) positioned my life to where when I "show up" for an event, family gathering, meeting, etc...I REALLY SHOW UP.  No working on my phone, no sneaking in a call to the EVP to resolve a board problem...the people who I have the pleasure of connecting with get all of me.  Period.  It has made me have such a sense of well-being because it is now richer...I can't explain it.  It just is.
Also, surprisingly, I've experienced more success than I ever dreamed or imagined...focus works!

  • Less Stuff, Less Everything:  I have to admit that there are times when I see people post pictures of amazing vacations on social media that it makes me get a ting but then I realize, I am doing me.  Pure and simple.  Of course I love fabulous vacations.  But since I own a startup, my funds are almost exclusively dedicated to my company.  And thus, I have no regrets and I am normally the person commenting on vacation posts with "Get it girl!" or "Nice beautiful scene!".  And I really mean it!  I will get to New Zealand again and guess what...it will be "richer", simpler and on my terms without the rush. (FYI: I also have less relationships I dedicate myself to, less events on my calendar, less volunteer groups I support, less news, less shopping, etc.) And this especially works for me because then I can be obsessively focused on those things that matter the most to me...which leads to my current well-being and positivity!
I hope you are inspired from my personal journey and no matter what you do in your career or the life you choose to live...we all have only one life and shot at making our lives the best we can.  Be proactive in whatever makes you consider your life valuable and unlike me, don't let life tragedies make you have to assess your life before you take action.

My simpler life journey is still evolving but I have come a long way!

Believing for you to live up to your maximum potential...


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What a Marshmallow Can Teach You About Achieving Your Goals

The other day I perused The New York Times online and noticed an article about an old study done by Ivy League professor Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia.   Most know him as "The Marshmallow Man". 


Study to Test Self-Control
He is best known for a study he conducted 50 years ago with preschool children about how well they were able to delay gratification towards eating some marshmallows and candy sat before them.  If they could delay their gratification, they could get even more.  This is interesting and important because Mischel found that the kids who were able to delay gratification in the study ended up being more successful as adults than the children who didn't delay gratification.

The NY Times article was written to highlight Mischel's upcoming book "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" and how our ability to exhibit self-control weighs heavily on our ability to achieve our goals and dreams.

The Marshmallow Test Summary
In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?

The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? 

What This Means to Your Goals Achievement
If I had written the word "self control" in the title of this post, I am sure no one would read it...it's not nearly as sexy as titles like "5 Steps to Achieving All You Want in Life" or "Become a Millionaire in Six Months".  I know and I totally get it!  

But I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't share with you why this article stood out to me:

Long term, B-I-G goals will not be achieved without exhibiting some type of delayed gratification.

Sure, if you have goals that are short term and do-able in 30, 60, 90 days, good for you!  But unfortunately, if you want to lose significant weight (for example) in a short period of time, unless you become a Biggest Loser contestant, you are going to have to go through the tough, day to day experience of saying no  repeatedly to unhealthy food, unhealthy habits, eating out, etc.

What about that big promotion?  What about that big race?  What about patience for that disabled child?

Our society fantasizes the reality show inducing, short segment world of having all you want wrapped in a 30 minutes show but as I strive for bigger goals and have bigger dreams, it takes a lot more strategy, staying open, and dealing with the un-sexy aspect of delayed gratification. And it sucks! LOL! But I believe I am worth it and giving up is not an option no matter how tough it can be sometimes!

Like all our posts, I hope this inspires you to reach further, wider and with more intention and to not feel bad about yourself when you have to say "no" more, decide more proactively and be more focused because a life of your maximum potential is waiting on you...and your ability to delay your gratification.

Que (@QSwerve)
Curva-Lish Team

Friday, September 19, 2014

Makeup Your Destiny with Charlotte Tilbury!

Credit: Charlotte Tilbury
I am constantly inspired by the many ways people in different countries, professions and ages inspire and empower others through their work or causes that are close to heart.  Famous makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury is another great example...


What is makeup your destiny about?

According to Tilbury: "...launching an empowering new social campaign called #MakeupYourDestiny it’s all about transforming people’s confidence and giving them the self-belief to achieve their destiny.  I believe everyone is capable of getting the very best from their life and has the right to create their own destiny – they just need the confidence and self-empowerment to get there.  For me, makeup is my secret weapon to put my best foot forward in life." 

Charlotte Tilbury: Before and After
Who is Charlotte Tilbury? Based out of the United Kingdom, even after 20 years as a make-up artist working in the fashion and beauty industry, Tilbury notes how constantly the incredible transformative power of make-up can be. As a girl Tilbury was fascinated by the effect of a beautiful woman walking into a room, and always wondered how she did it. Then, at 13 Tilbury discovered mascara and had her epiphany moment: through the power of make-up every woman can feel and look beautiful!  She now works with celebrities, everyday women and everyone in between...inspiring others all along the way!

Note: Charlotte Tilbury's new makeup and beauty line just launched in the United States at Nordstrom...the rave reviews could not even be contained in this post but trust us, the enhancing effect of her bestselling sophisticates makeup set, eye-shadow palettes and beauty tools will make you a believer!

I am sure you are aware how great the #ALSIceBucketChallenge was and continues to be.  We are hoping that this post encourages another viral explosion...choosing to #MakeupYourDestiny.
Tilbury continues: "This is something really close to my heart and I would love for you to support it by doing your own #MakeupYourDestiny post on your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I’m sure your words of advice, whether emotional, serious or fun, will be INSPIRING to so many people, they (your words) could help someone change their life for the better."
Isn't this awesome!
To join in the inspirational fun, here's what you need to do...
1. All you have to do is post a split screen image of your younger self and a picture of you now. You can use free apps such as Picstitch to create a before and after photo.
Before and After: Quenita Fagan

2. Underneath your before/after – write a caption in which you give some words of advice that you would tell your younger self.
3. Please tag Tilbury @CTilburymakeup, and use the hash-tags #MakeUpYourDestiny and #IAmCurvalish. (Use our #IAmCurvalish hashtag to be featured on this blog and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/curvalish)
4. And, don’t forget to nominate your friends to do it too, so they can spread the word…
What I would tell my younger self: "You are going to survive.  Live and don't look back.  Don't ever dim your light based on other's opinion."
I will be nominating our current Curva-Lish Ambassadors, some inspiring girlfriends and a few women that I think are rockstars!  Stay tuned as we will be posting their pictures in our right-hand menu!
Even if I don't know you and you are reading this post, please post yours so that Charlotte can know that her concept is reaching women around the world and we will continue to #MakeupYourDestiny.
Que (@QSwerve)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Inspired Way to Do Business: In the Bag Cleaners & L3Cs

As I perused social media during our US Labor Day weekend I was especially struck by a picture shared from a colleague of a dry cleaning business in the Wichita area called "In the Bag Cleaners".

No one really knows who captured the image but the message is inspiring thousands of people: 

"If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free!  When times are tough, we will help you look your best." -Dave Coyle (Owner)

After I saw the message, it made my heart believe again that business can meet social needs while also letting current customers know that In the Bag Cleaners will be there for them if they are ever needed.

How much more would this business get new customers and loyalty from current customers knowing that this business goes above and beyond to those who are unemployed...all those intagible things that drive profits that don't just impact a financial statement.  I love it!

Right before seeing this picture, I was just reading about a new business entity called L3Cs, which is short for "low-profit limited liability corporation".  This new entity is something I'm looking into and what I love about it is that unlike "social entrepreneurship", it is intended to bridge the gap between non-profit and for-profit goals for business owners, investors and shareholders. 

L3Cs are structures that are socially beneficial, for-profit ventures.  The key is that the business must have a stated goal of performing a socially beneficial purpose, not maximizing profit.  And recently, the United States Internal Revenue Service recently ruled that L3Cs could be the recipients of Foundation dollars. (as noted by Wikipedia)

I see a huge future opportunity for business that want to balance profitability with social impact.  They will be increasingly popular amongst those creating businesses because it is a proven model that works...community+business=success!

So for all you women-owned businesses out there, consider how you can use your business for a greater good beyond the immediate profit need and we will all win!  Let the example of great community businesses like In the Bag Cleaners inspire you to extend your products or services for a much greater social benefit!

Curva-Lish Team