Monday, April 23, 2012


Anna Wintour is the British born editor-in-chief of American Vogue and arguably one of the most influential women in the world-wide fashion industry.  She has held the position of Editor-in-Chief for nearly 25 years and there is one Director that has been with Anna since she started back in 1988:  Grace Coddington. 

The other night a good friend and I decided that we were in need of a movie night after tolerating one of those rare Southern California weekends where the haze never seemed to burn off.  We wanted to be inspired and to watch something that spoke to us as young and modern women, so we popped in The September Issue.  Based on the trailers and buzz from when it first aired a couple of years ago, we were expecting an insightful bio-pic on the life of Anna Wintour.  What we found was a story of passion, tension and brilliance between two women:  Anna and Grace. 

Anna is infamous for her stoic presence and brilliant ability to lead a magazine through multiple generations while keeping it current and influential.  One of the early scenes in the film depicts an annual meeting between the lead editors at Vogue and the top management, including the CEO, of Neiman Marcus.  It is clear that Anna is more than a magazine editor.  She influences a significant portion of the retail economy by driving trends, highlighting designers, and then telling major brands and department stores what will drive their bottom line this year.  Will it be stripes?  Will it be color blocking?  Will it be Thakoon?  She has the answers and the CEO of Neiman Marcus eagerly awaits her insight. 

Another scene flashes to the media frenzy surrounding Thakoon's stint as a guest designer working for The Gap.  His objective was to re-work the plain white shirt so that it maintains its simple elegance, but perhaps with a bit more interesting detail and design.  At the launch party Anna whispers congratulatory remarks about his success and states that she has heard that all of the online supply sold out on the first day.  The entire online supply for shirts by Thakoon sold by The Gap were SOLD OUT.  That equals millions and millions of dollars of sales for a publicly traded company.  Guess who placed Thakoon in that consulting role?  Anna. 

By now you are hopefully realizing the influence and power that this petite fashion icon has on not only the pages that are displayed in her magazine, but on the greater world economy.  And while I found Anna delightfully brilliant in how she runs her business, I was most taken by the role of Grace Coddington.  She is the Creative Director at Vogue and has an incredible ability to bring together the most stunning photographs.  It was more than her glaring talent that stood out in the film; it was the fact that she was the only one who ever talked back to Anna.  At one point she is conversing with a editor wallowing in defeat as he had just come out of a meeting with Anna in which all of his 'looks' were frowned upon, and she says to him:  "You have to be strong, otherwise you could get blamed."  Utter brilliance.  

So often I take to heart the feedback and opinions of others on my work and then second guess my own abilities.  My intentions are not to overlook or brush aside the constructive criticism that helps us learn and grow.  More simply, Grace's quote made me realize that we have to be strong and stand up for what we believe in to be right.  If we fade into the background or worse, we sulk, then if things do not go as planned we could find ourselves victim to the cause of such disaster. 

It is a new week and a fresh start.  I am looking forward to marching ahead with conviction and passion for what I know myself to be capable of and good at if I just put my mind to it.  I encourage you to do the same and keep in mind:  "You have to be strong, otherwise you could get blamed."  After all, didn't Meryl Streep tip her glasses to Anne Hathaway at the end of 'The Devil Wears Prada' in recognition of the girl that stood up for what she believed to be true and right in her heart?

Monday, April 16, 2012


Samantha Brick -- female writer for the Daily Mail and recent internet phenomenon.  Do you recognize the name?  If not, then perhaps if I associate the line "women hate me because I am too beautiful" you will suddenly have your 'aha' moment.  I first heard of her now infamous article through all of the commentary in the media and then decided to read it for myself as I was not prepared to agree with the hateful statements that constituted the public's backlash.  I am going to take the stand right now, despite much of the public scrutiny, that I actually found her article interesting and insightful and not all terribly vein. 

Samantha Brick certainly has uncommonly high self-esteem and notable self awareness -- but are we to punish a woman for voicing such honesty and being unabashedly confident?  The international response to her article, which noted multiple times throughout that she anticipates some backlash for writing in such a direct and honest manner, was to break down and insult this person who simply wrote about her personal experience with women who struggle to get past their own competitive nature and insecurities to support other women.

"If you’re a woman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face — and usually by my own sex."

After reading this article I admittedly took a moment to acknowledge that I too can fall into the trap of sizing up another woman simply based on her looks -- and it usually isn't a very flattering insta-profiling racing through my mind.  As a recent example, when I first started dating my Ex I learned that he had recently parted ways with a long term girlfriend who was quite pretty.  Facebook, aka 'stalkernet', allowed me to look her up and view pictures of the two of them from over the years.  What I found was a stunning and petite blonde.  I would consider myself to be an attractive young woman and was receiving a great deal of adoration and attention from my then boyfriend, but I could not get past the intimidating beauty of this other girl.  I circled my support system around me, my 'besties', and we immediately came to the conclusion on a few items:  she isn't that pretty, she probably isn't very nice or smart, and I am a much better catch for my then boyfriend.  I am not proud of this moment and now look back realizing how immature our reaction was to the sight of a beautiful woman.  Sadly, this type of behavior is an accepted social norm. 

The exact definition of 'Social Norm' is an expected form of behavior in a given situation.  Sounds pretty spot on, if you ask me.  The story of women breaking down other women is becoming entrenched in our general culture and simply accepted.  The social acceptance of this type of behavior amongst women went so far as to become immortalized and celebrated in a rare LiLo box office smash titled Mean Girls

As we band together in the name of supporting and empowering women we are quick to think that the glass ceiling imposed upon us is being built and enforced by the opposite sex, but what if we were to acknowledge that perhaps our very own female counterparts were the ones breaking each other down and busying themselves playing 'Mean Girls'? 

Monday, April 2, 2012

THE CHALLENGE - DAY 21 - Invest Wisely!

I just returned from a weekend in the wilderness with three of my childhood and life-long friends.  I will set the stage and admit that we were not exactly roughing it in the woods, but as more of a 'Troop Beverly Hills' type, we were lounging in a newly constructed LEED certified cabin owned by a family friend.  The weekend was my real life equivalent of Chicken Soup for the Soul as we all shared the most impactful moments or experiences of the last year or so.  Some stories were full of cheers and laughter and others were followed by some tears and prayers.  What amazed me the most was the bond that we all carry despite our distinctly different personalities and places in life:  married, single, cohabitating with boyfriend, teacher, artist, business mogul (okay, that's a stretch but I'm going to go ahead and put it out into the Universe).

I have been friends with these girls for 23 years and as we age and enter into new chapters in life, the challenges presented by life don't go away -- they simply evolve.  I started seeing a Life Coach two years ago this May (time flies!).  Our conversations in the beginning focused on healing a broken heart and then navigating dating thereafter.  Today, our conversations are a mix of my love life, personal versus work life balance, and overall well being.  I often pass along the advice of my Life Coach to other friends and comment openly about the impact of having such a person in my life.  Now mind you, I also admit that I pay this person more by the hour than you probably pay for your morning latte.  It is no small expense -- but it is one of the best investments I have ever made. 

As the weekend came to a close and we were packing our bags, I was talking with one of the girls who is in a very different place in her personal life than I (she attends baby showers on a regular basis and I attend Happy Hour on a regular basis).  We agreed that as life goes on and gets more complicated it is so important to maintain an open line of communication with someone that can provide insight and stability.  Not a family member, or a spouse, or even a best friend -- a trained counselor or coach that has some version of Masters in 'Emotional Intelligence'.  Committing to a relationship with this Coach is one of the best lifetime investments we can make and if you don't have one in your life than I challenge you to go find one!


Are you investing in your physical well being by eating healthy?  We live in a country that works hard and runs fast through life.  We don't always take the time to nourish our bodies.  Instead, we grab and go -- and sometimes what we grab is processed, fried, or full of additives.  Make a healthy meal this week that you know to be well balanced and nutritious.  If you are feeling really brave then commit to a weekly menu that allows you to efficiently plan and create healthy meals and snacks.

Your challenge for the week has been laid out -- are you willing to accept?  Find a Coach in either your local church, through a friend's recommendation (email me if you want the name of mine), or even The Yellow Pages.  Invest in this relationship -- I promise you will see the dividends pay out for a lifetime.

Tips and Reminders:
  Chickpeas mixed with tuna and hummus can be a great afternoon snack -- full of protein!