King Cake

Plan V

February 13, 2014

Single? Divorced? Away from your honey (given the weather, I am guessing many couples who travel for work may be in this situation)? Or just over the traditional Valentine's day hype? Here are things to do if on Valentine's Day if you want to take the best of this holiday, and ignore the worst - or if you just want to be your own Valentine. After all, shouldn't we love ourselves first?

1. Sign up to become a mentor or volunteer, what could be a more loving act?
2. Send an anonymous hand-written note as a secret admirer to someone elderly you know, a neighbor or relative.
3. Go to a gallery or museum and see that show you have been meaning to see for ages. 
4. Take the night off and watch favorite movies featuring your favorite heroines. Mine would include The Long Kiss Goodnight  and The Thomas  Crown Affair (Full disclosure: No one has ever lauded me for my movie choices) 
5. Take a last minute trip to visit someone you miss (of the opposite sex or not). 
6. Watch the Olympics. Full of dedication, hard work and drama, these incredible athletes are more exciting than even the best of dates.
7. Invite your BFFs to a mani-pedi party at your favorite spa 
8. Call three people you love just to tell them you love them (don't mention Valentine's Day) 
9. Turn off all electronic devices, and read a book you have been meaning to start.

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Hero (Product) Worship: Beauty’s Most Modern Classics

January 30, 2014

Building a cult beauty brand is what my life is about. I think about it, read about it, dream about it, live it. One of the tenets of a cult beauty brand is that it is supported by a hero product. Musing about this topic last night, I made a list of which products I would consider to be true hero products in beauty. Three things surprised me: first, the range of launch dates represented by this list (over a century); second, how many of these hero products are identified by words such as “pioneer,” “classic,” and “the original;” and third, how many from this list I actually own, use, and adore. Which of these modern classics do you have in your bathroom, vanity, toiletry case, or purse?

Nivea Creme: Launched in 1911, this soothing, rich moisturizer in the iconic blue tin remains a top seller for the brand, despite the controversial endorsement deal with Rihanna which was short-lived, as the star was deemed “too sexy” for a brand whose core values are family, trust, and reliability.

Chanel No. 5: Launched in 1921, immortalized by  Marilyn Monroe (Preview) , this fragrance remains one of the most feminine. What do you wear to bed?

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream: Formulated in 1930, this multi-purpose balm remains a favorite today. I use it on lips, cuticles, and more.

Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid: Introduced in 1951, more than 190 million bottles have been sold, a few of them to my grandmother. I remember seeing this in my granmother’s bathroom growing up; the scent still reminds me of her.

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil: I read somewhere one of these is sold every seconds … I must try this product, which was launched in 1967.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse: Launched in 1991, the brand’s first product and one of the first multi-purpose beauty dry oils on the market, one of these is sold every 6 seconds in the world. I use this on my skin, in my hair, on my face, and love Gold version for a little extra glitter.

Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Cream: I wasn’t able to find the exact launch date of this amazing cream, but I am guessing sometime in the 2000s … Based on Max Huber’s “Miracle Broth,” this product was a first in the ultra-premium segment of our industry. I can’t help but feel extra special when I use this … And love the fact that local DC celebrity dermatologist (and friend and mentor) Dr. Tina Alster also loves the brand (her go-to product is the La Mer Concentrate)!

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum: Launched in 2005, this serums has won Allure Magazine’s prized Best of Beauty Award three times, and is a key part of the brand’s success.

Finally, Kiehl’s Creme de Corps: Beyond a single product, this is really a hero product family. From the classic formulation, the brand has launched a number of limited edition bottles in partnership with various artists, and collections featuring different fragrances (the original is unscented). I kind of want to start collecting these …

I can’t help but wonder which more recent launches will be added to this list.  Time will tell …

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Vital Verbals

January 16, 2014

As I mentioned last week, one of my goals for 2014 is reduce the amount of paper in my life. Given the of paper I have collected over the years, the path to achieving this goal involves sifting through piles and piles of paper. Over the past week, this sifting process has yielded mostly irrelevant articles, outdated tear-sheets, useless records. Tonight, however, I found notes from a class I took a few years ago (I can’t remember where) on how to use positive and effective words to offer excellent customer service. The lessons are worth rereading and remembering, even if I will be throwing away the pieces of paper immediately!

Rewarding words that everyone loves to hear:


Annoying words that, well, annoy everyone:

Must not
The class also focused on “vital verbals” – transforming weak expressions that create poor perceptions into assertive statements that convey positivity.

“I don’t know” becomes “Let me find out for you”

“I just got here” becomes “How may I help you”

“I can’t help you” becomes “If I can’t help you, I’ll find the right person”

“I don’t think I can do that” becomes “I’ll do whatever it takes”

“I don’t have anything to do with your problem” becomes “Here’s what I will do to resolve your problem”

“We have a problem” becomes “To solve the problem …”

And finally, let’s remember who the customer is …

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