Make Life More Valuable: Part I

In my life, my most treasured moments either stem from family or exploring. I am so thankful to have the ability to travel the world, explore new places and learn different culture. Even if it’s just a little weekend getaway in a cabin with my girlfriends or a ten day adventure to several European cities, I find that the art of travel brings creativity and inspiration to everyday life.

Last Winter, I took ballroom dancing lessons and never imagined it would bring such value to my life. But not even just ballroom dancing — dancing in any form is a beautiful way to express yourself. Have you ever gotten in the car, turned on your music as loud as possible and danced around in the driver’s seat all alone? Well, I tend to do that more often than I’d admit. There’s just something about losing yourself in moves that makes the worries in the world seem so minuscule.

Sometimes I forget to take a break. I run, run, run and then when I finally catch my breath, I am reminded how amazing it feels. I like to just rest…relax…read a book, drink a cup of tea on my balcony and watch the sunrise. Seriously, take time to relax because when you have a chance to actually see the world spinning, it’s a beautiful thing.

A healthy lifestyle makes for a healthy business and a healthy relationship with yourself and others. Fitness and nutrition have  always been an important part of my nature. My personal recipe for healthy living is: juice (once a day, usually breakfast) + cardio (three times per week) + weight lifting (three times per week) and if you’re good, you can build a routine to put them together alternating days on different muscles. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself was hiring a personal trainer. I learned what type of weight lifting I should be doing for my body structure and goals.

Something I’ve struggled with for many years is my fear of loneliness. I’ve always been committed to overcoming that by trying to find things I enjoy doing by myself. That led me to moving into my first apartment by myself and really getting used to the feeling of solitude. In that time, I experienced some of my most creative moments. I painted, wrote poetry, read classic novels, watched foreign films and documentaries, shot some of my most compelling images and even learned how to grow a window garden (OK, so maybe I was still a little unsure of the whole living alone thing during that time.) But that point is, I did it.

Something that has added so much more value to my life of late is actually volunteering in order to improve the life of others. This year, I will be choosing one organization each month to donate my time and efforts to help those in need. After covering twelve different volunteer categories, I hope to find the ones that need the most and build a relationship with them and contribute as often as possible. Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to the community but you can also meet amazing individuals and learn a lot about yourself in the process.

These two simple words can change everything.

What is some of the best advice you’ve heard or given about making life more valuable?

Inspire: Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

Podcasts are a great source for knowledge, startup tips and inspiration. I typically listen to podcasts in the morning while drinking my coffee and sifting through emails or even during my mid-day break while running at the gym. Since I don’t always have the time to open a good business book, podcasts give me the ability to learn more about marketing, business, economics, and education. Sometimes, I like to speed the programs up on my iPhone to 1.5x to get through the programs quickly but still retain information. A list of my favorites include:

1) NPR: From Scratch – Host, Jessica Harris interviews some of the most reputable CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Founders of today’s business world.

2) Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner – A treasure chest for startups, this site had over 2000 free videos and podcasts featuring innovative thought leaders and business profiles.

3) Startups for the Rest of Us – This podcast provides an amazing amount of valuable information about the startup life for developers, designers and entrepreneurs that are launching software products.

4) This American Life – Ira Glass hosts this weekly, hour long podcast that features journalistic nonfiction, essays and compelling short stories. I’ve been listening to this station for many years and find myself crying or laughing along with the author.

5) NPR: Planet Money – The Economy, Explained. Planet Money’s team does a incredible job of taking the complexities of global economy and interpreting it for the average American. After listening to a couple episodes of Planet Money, you’ll feel like you’ve known these guys for years.

6) HBR Ideacast – Harvard Business Review podcast features breakthrough ideas and commentary from leading minds in management. A great way to learn something new!

7) TED Radio Hour: Building a Better Classroom – Although this entire podcast has inspiring lectures, I found this episode with Sir Ken Robinson to be most interesting. He discusses education today and how to bring creativity back into the classroom. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

8) The Lifestyle Business Podcast – This podcast provides tips for living a mobile business lifestyle. They also offer an private membership and host worldwide conferences. If you’ve ever thought about business location independence, this is the program for you.

9) Startup Slingshot – Listen to this podcast if you’re a hungry entrepreneur looking for tools, tips and tactics about launching and growing a technology startup.

10) Mixergy – This podcast is a collection of business tips and interviews with well-known proven entrepreneurs. The success stories and passion within them is enough to encourage the startup life for anyone.

and just a few more….

What are your favorite podcasts? Did I miss one that you swear by? Leave a comment!


This > That — My favorite tools for everyday life needs

Ever since my recent career decision, I’ve been doing what I think most new entrepreneurs do… find ways to SIMPLIFY.

I started with a closet clean-out which was a major success. I eliminated all unwanted items in my wardrobe as well as my old mail. From there, I organized all of my business files on my home computer and laptop and decided to store them all on Google Drive so that I can share with my business partner if needed or access from any device (iPad and iPhone included). I also tackled a major project that I’ve been putting off: a collection of over 8,000 songs on my iTunes and 60+ playlists that have been scattered through iCloud, duplicated or missing. Now I have fresh new playlists for every occasion. Finally, I sifted through my emails and unsubscribed to almost everything – seriously. If a smile doesn’t come to my face when it pops up in my inbox… it’s out of here!

So with my new simplify method, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tools, most of which are rising startups.


ApartmentList > Craigslist

No matter how you feel about the latest Craigslist/Padmapper lawsuit, I think we can all agree Craigslist needs a face-lift or a strong competitor. Sadly, no single company has been able to take over the entire industry  but lucky for you, there are alternatives to each section.

Zaarly is my new favorite “ask and you shall receive” tool. Rather than looking around through a bunch of junk on Craigslist, you can just post what you’re looking for (services, items, etc.) and Zaarly users will come to you. Perfect.

As for the rental space, I’ve been moving from apartment to apartment for over 10 years and each time, it’s quite a painful process. I would search on Craigslist for a particular area of town, only to find that section of the site completely saturated by the same junky apartment complex on the wrong side of town.

My favorite new apartment finding tool is ApartmentList. Not only is the site beautifully constructed and easy to use, but Listy, the little robot that finds your apartments for you, adds something to the mix that you just can’t get from Craigslist’s hyperlink branding.


Hipmunk > Expedia

With so much noise in the travel planning industry, it’s hard to stand out but Hipmunk has found a way to do it. Connect Hipmunk with Airbnb and you’ll have a much more unique trip that isn’t completely overwhelming to plan.  While booking through Expedia or Priceline may have more hotels and airlines on board, you usually end up getting a slew of irrelevant results.

My favorite thing about Hipmunk is the flight timeline. It’s nice to take a quick look and see exactly what time each flight departs and how many stops will be included. And again, the branding with the little spunky chipmunk is memorable. I believe businesses should strive to be memorable.

Songza > Pandora

Have you ever had that embarrassing moment when you’re sitting in the office, getting work done and jamming to your “custom” Pandora station when a cute guy walks over to talk and then an obnoxious Christmas song starts playing? You’re all… “Um, it’s April? What is this? My Pandora station doesn’t know me at all.” As an avid playlist-maker, I’ve been anti-Pandora for quite some time. I’ve tried so many other internet radios and have been quite disappointed until I found Songza.

YES! Finally… an app that tells me what music fits with the activity that I’m doing at the specific time I’m doing it! For example… I open the app on Tuesday evening and it suggests a station for cooking dinner or working out.. upbeat or indie.. and then breaks it down even one more time to the style of music. With no vocal ads popping up in the middle of my playlist, I’m able to sift through songs giving them a thumbs up/thumbs down and even follow the users that created the playlist. Music jackpot.

CrashPlan > External Hardrive

Remember that time someone stole my laptop and I lost everything? I thought that having all of my photos stored on an external drive was sufficient but as soon as I plugged in my external drive to my new laptop, I found that the files were corrupt and deleted. That was the day that I signed up for CrashPlan. There have been times when I was missing information and was so thankful that CrashPlan was there to save it. The system is easy to use and the support is extremely helpful.

OfferBy.Me > Groupon

Anyone else getting tired of the daily deals that never apply to your life? I finally pulled the plug on all of the internet coupons that were flooding my inbox when I realized that none of them were related to things I actually need. It was like I was walking through the grocery store to get bread but someone was chasing after me with a cart full of discounted croutons, crackers, donuts and English muffins…Then they convince me to think “But they’re on sale so I guess I need them…” NO! Stop buying useless crap just because someone tells you it’s cheaper than it was yesterday.

When I was introduced to OffersBy.Me, it just clicked. This is the type of deal site that I can actually use! The consumer is able to specify exactly what she needs, when she needs it, and how much she’d like to pay for it. In turn, the business is able to retrieve that customer by offering her a discount on that specific criteria. It gives the consumer the ability to get a deal on things she was already going to buy and it gives the business the ability to “win” that customer without degrading perceived brand quality. Win-win!

What apps and tools have you discovered that help simplify your life?


Dreamforce Videos: Tony Robbins Makes The Room Shake

How do you get an entire auditorium of ten-thousand middle-aged suits to jump around like a tee-ball team winning their first game? Let Tony Robbins share his passion for life.

Some of my Tony Robbins takeaways:

People who succeed never lose passion and people that fail never find it.

People say that failure is the results of a lack of resources but this is not true, the real cause of fear is the lack of resourcefulness.

Most successful people have struggled at some point or another. The goal is to turn negatives into positives and find out what the triggers are that shape you.

A breakthrough is that moment when you suddenly decide to change your path and find your ultimate strategy to success in your life. In order to breakthrough, you must change:

  • Strategy: If you are doing things one way and it isn’t working, change it!
  • Story: Think about your personal story and ask yourself if it is empowering. If the answer is no, change it!
  • State: Your state is often triggered from real-world events. When you take control of your state, everything will change. In order to change your state, think about these three decisions.
    • What should I focus on? If you focus on what you can’t control, you’ll be stressed. Change the pattern.
    • What does this mean? If you treat your relationship how you did in the beginning, at the end of your relationship, there will be no end.
    • What should I do? If you want to take the island, burn the boats! Because you’ll never breakthrough if you have a way to go back.
If you want to change your mood, change your body, change your state. Two ways to do this:
  1. Change your physiology. Stand up, jump around, smile, act happy. To be happy, you must act happy.
  2. Change your focus. (focus = feeling) Think of something you can be really proud of, something that makes you feel really grateful, something that makes you excited.

Life conditions = blueprint = happiness

Find your blueprint. (write down your answers)

  1. What’s an area in your life where you are really happy?
  2. Why are you really happy with that area?
  3. What’s an area in your life that you are not happy with?
  4. Why does that area give you pain?
Think about what you need to do to change it. Make sure your expectations are reasonable.
Now write down one professional life goal and one personal life goal.
Think about why you want to achieve it and what excited you about it.
Below is a video that I made about my experience at Dreamforce. It’s motivating, empowering and even if you don’t watch the whole thing, skip to about 4:30 minutes to see the auditorium shake with energy.

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Dreamforce Videos: The Future of Virgin America and Burberry

Richard Branson quotes from the fireside chat with CEO Marc Benioff.

“At Virgin it’s not what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the quickest way to do it. It’s what’s the most amazing way to do it.”

“Give people the freedom to make mistakes.”

“I have always dreamt big and always believed that you can set yourself big challenges and targets and then you just need to catch up and make them become reality.”

Virgin America

Watch as Virgin America CEO shares a vision for the airlines’ future using social and mobile business technologies. As an airline guest, you will be greeted upon seating by your personalized television and by connecting the ability to chatter with other passengers and Virgin team members, your experience will be customized and meaningful.

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Burberry uses to deliver the Store of the Future. Watch as CEO Angela Ahrendts describes how new store that makes you feel like you are stepping into a magazine, changing the retail customer experience of the future.
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If you have the time and need inspiration, be sure to check out all of the Dreamforce Keynotes. Also, don’t forget to check out Beinoff’s incredible Louboutin kicks from the keynote. They were all the rage.