Genuine Insights

Enjoy My Top 20 Life Lessons in Celebration of My Birthday

20 Words to Inspire

Below are 20 words I’m thinking about right now. They are my gift to you on this special day!

1. Unconditional. No strings, no expectations, and no judgment. It’s also the best way—the only way—to truly love someone.

2. Forgiveness. There is no greater gift you can offer yourself than to forgive. Forgiveness is the cure for pains of the heart.

3. Prosperity. The secret to prosperity is to choose to live happily ever after below your means.

4. Simplicity. Remove five things from your to-do list, your desktop, and your closet today. Then do it again tomorrow. And again the day after. At some point you will discover the beautiful essence of simplicity in your life.

5. Focus. The science to moving forward in life is to focus on exactly where you are right now.

6. Mindfulness. Being fully present, entirely mindful is the most important (and utterly addictive) discovery of my adult life.

7. Happiness. I hold the key to my own happiness. Define what makes you fall to your knees in happiness and prioritize experiencing that joy daily.

8. Family. Cultivate, grow, expand and prioritize the love seeping across your family. Whether it’s the family you created at home, at work or the one you are born into, those relationships at the end of day are what matters most. Cherish them.

9. Resilience. No one teaches you how to be resilient and resourceful, yet survival—and success—depends on these qualities.

10. Play. Play is what human beings do naturally when they allow themselves to be themselves. Do more of this!

11. Smile. Measure the quality of your life in smiles. The more happiness you express with a smile, the more happiness is reflected back at you in others.

12. Do. We devour books, we study, we listen, and then we sit on our asses and do nothing. Wisdom is only attained by doing. Knowing is not enough, we must do.

13. Spirit. Prayer, meditation, faith and spirituality matter more than you think. You want to know yourself? A spiritual practice—any kind at all—is how to look inside.

14. Reboot. When you reach a point where you know you need a change, do not wait—do it now. The paradox of life is beautiful. Reinvention is a purposeful act of progress.

15. Choose. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is simply to choose.

16. Move. Travel, exploration, and just the simple act of moving shape how you see the world and how you see your role within it.

17. Hug. Oxytocin, the warm and fuzzy chemical in our brains, is released with every meaningful hug. Give someone a free fix and you’ll get one right back.

18. Hack. Hack your life, your family, and your work to create a unique culture composed of what matters most to you.

19. Closeness. Every day, we’re on a mission to hide or protect ourselves from others. Getting close to someone else is how you learn more about yourself.

20. Aim. Not all goals are meant to be met. Some goals just help us aim in the right direction.


Posted Aug 15, 2014 Tagged under: uncategorized

How to Positively Disrupt your Organization’s Culture

We spend 50 percent of our waking lives at work and the rest of our lives sleeping, eating, playing, and caring for others. If half of every day is spent at work, why don’t we try harder to make it the best experience we can afford ourselves?

As a self-proclaimed organizational culture hacker who loves to flow in and out of large organizations coaching, problem solving, and instigating change, I’ve learned a lot about how to make an impact on workplace culture.

Workplace culture consists of a group of norms and behavior, which creates underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place. Let’s look at how to bust up the norms a little to enrich the culture for yourself and everyone you work with.

Identify the cultural pain points
The first step to changing your everyday experience within the context of your work environment is first to become an active observer of the behaviors, norms, patterns, expectations, or interactions that are not adding value to your work experience. These may have been unrecognized or invisible to you until you brought them to a conscious level, but they are the pain points of your workplace culture.

If you are stuck in your routines, in order to really understand where you stand, you have to slow down and scrutinize everything about your work experience that drives you crazy-everything that negatively pokes at your mood, productivity, attitude, and quality of work.

What sucks about culture is that everyone follows the group mindset and group norm and if there is something not working within the norm everyone continues to follow it, and there is a perpetuation of negative behavior. For example, email trumping face-to-face conversations, using decks to communicate through slides, or eating your lunch at your desk instead communing around a meal with others. These are no-value-add behaviors that go unacknowledged and unaddressed until someone calls them out or something bad happens as a result of these behaviors. So here’s the most important question to ask yourself:

What’s the added value?
For example, if you inhabit a culture where there are conference calls and meetings to discuss every little decision, next time you’re getting on one of those calls or stepping into one of those meetings, ask yourself “What is the added value in what we are doing?” Are we meeting because we know we will benefit from constructive diverse or cross-functional perspectives? Or are we doing it because that’s just what we do?

One of the great outcomes in asking “What’s the added value?” is that it can lead to new ideas, new perspectives, and new innovations that can directly impact the quality of everyone’s experience as well as the business.

Now hack your organization’s culture
Once your personal observations are made and your assessment of which particular areas of the culture are negative triggers, it’s time to take action. In order to hack your organization’s culture-to really disrupt the norm-you have to get creative. Being creative is risky business, though, and takes courage and passion. It’s through exercising your creative muscles that you’ll be able to develop alternative approaches to pain points and identify new solutions to old workplace experiences, standards and processes to accomplish your goals.

For example, I have a dear friend, Nilofer Merchant, a true hacker of culture who refuses to take meetings in an office and goes on hike meetings instead. Clients, investors, partners, and vendors all have to go on long walks with her in exchange for her time. This fresh, unlikely approach to meetings often knocks people a little off kilter at first, but invariably opens the door to new relationships and innovative thinking.

Share your vision
My grandmother a woman who never learned to read or write always said, “we are our stories.” Hackers of culture must share their stories, share what they envision for change. Think of it as a campaign. Tell everyone up, across, and down the organization what you are up to as if your intention is to convince them to follow your lead. The more you speak about creative solutions and demonstrate change, the more change will happen.

For example, I have a client who hates weekly reports and started creating short videos instead of writing up his weekly report. He used visuals, sound effects, and personal narrative to share the story of his results, challenges, and opportunities. His boss was shocked at first and a bit resistant, but then found himself looking forward to receiving his weekly video report, and his video recaps have gone viral across the organization.

It’s on you to be the champion for change in your workplace culture. Step away from the groupthink and challenge others to participate with you to improve some aspect of the culture. Remember: some of the most remarkable and meaningful changes come from the bottom. Change from the top is usually how change is imposed upon us, but sustainable change- big and small -starts from the bottom, one person at a time.

To paraphrase the mighty Gandhi, “Be the change, hack the culture.”

Great Reads about Organizational Culture:

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Watch Nilofer Merchant’s TED talk, “Got a meeting? Take a walk,” here.

Posted Jun 29, 2014 Tagged under: uncategorized

Want to start your own business and don’t know where to start?

The nation’s economic future hinges on entrepreneurship. Women all over the country are leaving their corporate cocoons and leveraging their skills and passions to become the entrepreneurs and innovators leading us into that future. An estimated 10 million women in this country own their own companies and the number continues to rise. As women face advancement and wage gap issues they are taking their careers into their own hands and are launching businesses at a faster rate than any time before.

In support of the entrepreneurial success of women, Mattel has released a new Entrepreneur Barbie. It’s Barbie’s 150 career and I am happy to be the chief inspiration officer of this initiative.

In celebration of Entrepreneur Barbie, here are my all-time top-10 tips for moving from vision to venture with your idea.

Tips for Starting a Business

1. Identify the right business for you and listen to your gut—she’s always right.

2. Test your Idea before you quit your day job.

3. Volunteer and pilot a product with your target market.

4. Find a mentor:,, or
Speak with someone who has done something similar. Women contact me all the time with questions and I respond to every time with advice. You would be surprised how many women business owners will help you.

5. Your business idea must fuel both your heart and your mind—it must leverage your skills alongside your passions. Starting a business just for the money is never sustainable. It takes a whole lot of sacrifice and hard work (heart) for a business to succeed and money a) takes a while to materialize and b) is not the best measure of whether your venture is succeeding.

6. Business planning improves your chances for success. A biz plan will help you gain clarity, stay focused, and create a path that helps you stay on track .

7. Know your target audience before you do a single thing. Who is going to buy your service or product? What is the size of that market? Why do they need you? Do you know them? Do they know you?

8. Always be sure that your product or service answers a pain point or need. People spend money on products or services that answer a need or relieve pain. The greater the pain you are relieving, the greater the chances your business will succeed.

9. All businesses need funding at the start. Figure out how you will raise the funds for your big idea. Look at crowd funding opportunities like Also have a detailed understanding of your finances. Know how much you will need and how much you need to live on.

10. Surround yourself with successful entrepreneurs who can be advisors, partners, and champions. *It takes a tribe to raise an entrepreneur and participating in groups and meet-ups and attending entrepreneurship conferences will help you as you begin your journey.

Posted Jun 23, 2014 Tagged under: business, entrepreneurship, ideas and innovation, lists

Tripping on Mindfulness

Going off the grid for three days is both a challenge and an opportunity. For my eight year old, it seemed impossible. “No internet service for how many days, Mommy?” Leaving his X-box, iPad, DS, and laptop behind meant he couldn’t check on his dragons, watch his favorite Disney shows, or expand his houses in Minecraft. What is a tech-addicted child to do?

What started out as a daunting endeavor ended up being an unforgettable experience of mindfulness for my husband, son, and I..

Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific, we set up camp for our first off-the-grid family experience. Of course, we overpacked and prepared for every possible scenario and upon arrival set up an impressive campsite with stations for washing, cooking, reading, creating. and sleeping.

Unplugging is what I preach to all my clients, but doing it for myself and my family in such a pointed way was an awakening of sorts.. I don’t know if it was the fresh air of the outdoors or the energy transferred from the ocean, but after 24 hours of no electricity, mobile service, or even running water, each of us experienced an openness and presence in our experience that can only be described as mindfulness.

As I write this, I am watching prairie dogs and rabbits play in the grass in front of our picnic table. What a blessing to be writing near a field of purple flowers, to the sound of waves and small animals frolicking about. Did I just write word frolicking? Funny how new words become a part of your vocabulary when you have a new experience.

You slow down, observe, take in, and enjoy. That’s the formula: slow down, observe, take in, and enjoy. Whether it’s appreciating the mint flavor of your toothpaste in the morning or the smell your child’s hair as you hug him off to school in the morning, take time to literally smell, taste, hear, and feel how your day unfolds. Our pleasure-oriented senses are natural gifts from God and it’s a shame how we underutilize these life-enhancing tools.

Tapping into our senses together as a unit, one night we laid on mats outside of the tent to watch for shooting stars, constellations, and aircraft traveling by. “We have our own planetarium, Mommy,” Lucas exclaimed as he realized this was the largest screen he had ever seen. Priceless moments unfolded for each of us that night.

Three days without a ping, tweet, update, text message, or phone call allowed us to reorient ourselves around the essence of our lives rather than the millions of mere activities that seem to propel us forward every day. My son began to journal and to treasure hunt in the woods, My husband created rock art and got his creative on, while I meditated, played with my watercolor set, read, and journaled of our extraordinary experience.

Sitting around the campfire in our beach chairs roasting marshmallows and looking at the stars was heaven on earth. The sound of the crackling fire, my son doing his impromptu dance to the fire gods, and my husband joyfully assembling s’mores made us feel complete—at one with each other and with the universe.

You don’t need to “retreat” to the wilderness to discover how to slow down, observe, take in, and enjoy. Start by giving your technology a bedtime before yours and reclaim the media-free time for yourself and your family to bond in a new multisensory way. Without a glowing computer or smartphone screen or other distractions, you will begin to realize your mindful potential together.

Go for it. You won’t be sorry.

Posted May 3, 2014 Tagged under: balance, inspiration, motivation, places, self-awareness, travel


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