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  • Dr. Sasha Shillcutt: Getting An Upgrade; How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus

    The ability to compartmentalize is huge. I am a mom of four, a busy doctor, an entrepreneur, and an author. There is no way I could do all I do without separating the work that needs to be done and batching it. So, I take time to plan my time, and I honor myself by sticking to my work plan. Another good habit is getting outside each day. Sometimes I cannot get outside, so I find a sunny window to sit in and read something even for 10 minutes. We know this improves your overall mood and releases positive endorphins when you get a little sunshine. Start today! It will change your outlook instantly. And last, show yourself grace. Ask yourself, do you embrace self-compassion? We know self-compassion is far more effective than self-criticism when it comes to achievement. How is your self-talk?

    As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sasha Shillcutt.

    Dr. Sasha Shillcutt is a renowned cardiac anesthesiologist, gender equity researcher, TedX Speaker, author, podcast host and CEO of Brave Enough, where she leads over 20,000 women on living connected and courageous lives.

    Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

    My parents inspired me to become a physician. Growing up, I was the first daughter in my family to graduate from college and pursue a graduate degree. My parents made it very clear that I could achieve whatever I wanted, if I was willing to work hard. Looking back, I see how my parents truly gave me a growth mindset. They definitely valued hard work over “talent.” They didn’t let me wallow long if I failed at something. When I said I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, their response to every setback was, “how are you going to learn from this so you can still move forward?”

    None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

    I have had incredible people along my career path who have both mentored and sponsored me in critical times. One of the most important is Dr. Julie Silver, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Silver mentored me during my pivot from a traditional career as a cardiac anesthesiologist to becoming an activist for gender equity and an entrepreneur. She gave me a great piece of advice, that I have used through many difficult decisions. She told me not to wait for others to invest in my dreams or to give me permission to pursue a new, exciting, yet scary path. She encouraged me to set aside resources, time, and money to invest in my own professional development, regardless of what those around me think. Her wisdom was just what I needed to find the courage to step out of the traditional path in academia, and build my company, Brave Enough.

    Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

    One mistake that comes to mind is how I wrote my book, Between Grit and Grace. I determined I wanted to write a book, and like some fairy tale, I took a week off, sat down and hammered out a few chapters. I was pretty upset at myself that I did not finish the book that week. I reached out to a friend in the publishing business and she said, “I do not know how to tell you this, but this book won’t work. This is not the way you get a book published.” And she was right. Essentially, I didn’t do my homework on publishing a book, and I made the mistake of assuming it was how you publish a research manuscript: you write the entire manuscript and submit it. I wasted an entire week and a hundred hours of work. I was devastated and angry at myself, but I learned a valuable lesson. You need to crowd source and identify your blind spots before you invest yourself into something that is costly. Your time is costly. Think of your time the same as you would think of hiring a consultant or expert, and be wise with how you spend it.

    The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

    I would tell her to take a moment, and exhale. There is a season for everything, and often we compare our current list of accomplishments to someone else’s list who’s 20 years ahead of us. I would also tell him to enjoy the journey, and that every five years, you should probably ask yourself, is this what I am supposed to being doing now? We may find ourselves at low points in our career, and it is normal and healthy to pivot every now and then. Making a career path change does not mean you were on the wrong one to begin with; it means you are open and flexible enough to try new things and own a dynamic career.

    Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

    I am a firm believer on having a mission driven focus. I will work circles around anyone IF I know my purpose in the task and I believe in the overall mission. So, I think it is critical that once a year I think about my personal mission statement and overall vision for the year. I have found Michael Hyatt’s book, The Vision Driven Leader, to be a great workbook to go through once a year and ask myself the hard questions, like ‘what is my purpose this year?’ It allows me to look at what I think I am doing, and where I am actually spending most of my time. If there is a mismatch between the why of my work and the what of my work, I reset.

    Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

    My company is about helping women lead themselves, and through that, live with less guilt and distraction and more power. So, this means I am in many ways, an activist for gender equity and I find myself in rooms often times where I am the only woman. It can be stressful as the only woman to bring up things like the gender pay gap in a room where we are discussing salaries, for example. One quote I always speak to myself when I am scared to use my voice is by Maya Angelou, “I come as one, but I stand as ten thousand.” It reminds me instantly of my ‘why.’ I realize I am negotiating or educating not for myself, but for my daughter, my sisters, and essentially, all women. It gives me courage.

    What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

    I recently created a new group for professional women, called The Table. Essentially, it is a networking group for women to stop in and take what they need to lead in their workspaces and simultaneously, put their wellbeing first. We are just kicking it off, and I am really excited to help women learn how to set work life boundaries and improve their self-advocacy skills. It is not on social media, which is a perk in its own right. Think of it like a virtual women’s club but with encouragement, positivity and of course, style.

    OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

    I am huge on creating habits. We know that we are more likely, as humans, to do healthy things when we automate them. For example, no one tells us to brush our teeth every morning and evening, we just do it. But we had to be taught this when we were young; over and over our parents would say, “did you brush your teeth?” until it became a habit. So, one of the most important habits for me is my time in the morning. I added 30 minutes of self-care to my morning about seven years ago after suffering from career burnout, and it has been life changing. Sometimes I write, sometimes I read, exercise, or listen to a podcast and drink coffee, in the quiet and dark. It is so healthy for me to regroup prior to the day.

    How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

    Another habit I have is what I call my Sunday prep. Each Sunday I take 15–20 minutes and look at the week ahead. I figure out what needs to be changed on my calendar and send emails. I look ahead and find where what I call my ‘white space’ will be, which is critical for me to create, write, walk, or spend time with a friend. If I cannot find white space, I take a step back and see what I need to cancel. I have learned this habit is critical for my internal wellbeing and to be in control of my time.

    Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

    I think accountability helps habits form. If I know there is an area of improvement I need to commit to, say, healthy eating or meal prep, the best thing I can do is tell someone else to hold me accountable. I am more likely to follow through. The same with stopping bad habits. For example, I think a lot of people hide their bad habits because we are taught to hide our imperfections, which is actually dangerous, because most of the time they will come out eventually, especially if we let them grow in silence. Why not tell someone we trust what we are struggling with, so they can offer support? Most of the time when I have come out of dark times in my life, I didn’t recover on my own. 99% of the time, I had help, and I asked someone to help me.

    Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

    Spend time every single day by yourself. Sit in silence. Unplug. This will not fix all of your stress, but it will bring immense clarity to you. I call this taking your wellness pulse. I coach professional women how to do this, and after 12 weeks, they all tell me the same thing: they cannot imagine their life without this protected time now. It is so powerful when you realize how much agency you actually have.

    The best thing you can do to boost your performance, whether in relationships, work, physical or mental, is sleep. Sleep is the most underrated medicine on the planet. Having good sleep hygiene is the basis of any successful career or personal life. As someone who has to work 24 hours in the hospital at times, I can tell you, your sleep is so important. If you miss sleep, immediately find time to rest and create a dark, screen-free environment. Limit your alcohol, and have a bedtime routine so your brain knows, ok, I am getting ready to shut down.

    For focus, this is where I find it critical to have a list of big items that I am working on, for example writing a book, and not let little items, like email, steal my time. You will never accomplish the big items on your list if you spend all your time trying to clear out your small item list. If you have 1–3 hours, use it for the big items. Ignore the small.

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    If you use my Sunday prep planning tip, you can look ahead and plan for when you will — say, check email for the week. I literally do not check my email every day, nor do I respond. I set two days each week that I check email and respond. This teaches people not to expect an instant response from you, and you create a habit where YOU are in control of your inbox, not the other way around.

    Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

    The ability to compartmentalize is huge. I am a mom of four, a busy doctor, an entrepreneur, and an author. There is no way I could do all I do without separating the work that needs to be done and batching it. So, I take time to plan my time, and I honor myself by sticking to my work plan. Another good habit is getting outside each day. Sometimes I cannot get outside, so I find a sunny window to sit in and read something even for 10 minutes. We know this improves your overall mood and releases positive endorphins when you get a little sunshine. Start today! It will change your outlook instantly. And last, show yourself grace. Ask yourself, do you embrace self-compassion? We know self-compassion is far more effective than self-criticism when it comes to achievement. How is your self-talk?

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    Take time to plan your work week, and when you do, plan in fun, rest, and relationships. No one is going to make your life well, only you can. One thing that helps me is I set a daily reminder on my phone, around 11 am, to ask myself if I have seen the sun. It makes me take a moment to breathe and find a sunny window to stand in and break up my work mode for a moment to be mindful. Another habit I would strongly encourage is to write three positive affirmations about yourself somewhere you can see them first thing in the morning, like on a mirror. I read them to reset my internal self-talk.

    Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

    For me, decreasing screen time is a habit that is my most difficult to keep in check, and yet the most important. I am very aware of how many minutes I am spending online a day, as the more screen time, the less focused I become. A great habit is to make sure you are not starting your day online and that you are not ending your day online. So, you can put your phone on a charger outside your bedroom at the same time each night, to assure you are unplugging. Another habit that helps me is to place something next to by bed I can read for a few minutes to help me sleep, which is so important for focus. If for some reason, I cannot fall asleep, I will read a book for 5–10 minutes (not my phone!) and it soothes me.

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    I think the more we unplug, and create boundaries around our devices, the more we see those in our view. One practice is having some ‘rules’ for yourself, say, no phones at the dinner table, or no phones if someone is speaking to me. We are so used to people looking at their phones, that we do not even get offended when we speak to someone and they are looking down. So, I try and put my phone in my pocket or place on my desk when someone is speaking to me, reminding myself of the importance of human interaction.

    As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

    For me, I experience a state of Flow when I am on a stage, teaching a group of people. I never feel as energized or that I am living my purpose as much as I do when I am public speaking, which for me really is public teaching. It doesn’t mean it is not work; in fact, it usually means I have spent hours preparing my talk and teaching points but I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and the crowd and the energy inspires me. I always leave the stage in a total rush, my energy through the roof, with new ideas and talking points. To achieve a state of Flow more, I think you need to start with your mission and your why. What makes you get out of bed in the morning? If you can figure out how to do that with even 10% of your work effort, you will experience Flow.

    Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

    I would like to see women present and involved in all decision making around the world. Women are creators; we are innovators and we are excellent leaders. We tend to think of everyone, not just who is in our view, which is critical to improve our world today. And yet, we are often not invited to the table, so we do not have the opportunity to share our ideas or our talents. We know that companies who have women at every level of leadership and in board rooms have greater financial outcomes and gains. We need to be there, so if I could do one thing, I would love to be the woman who shared the report card with all companies on how they are doing, and then give them a list of women to advance within their view!

    We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

    If I could pick one person it would be Reese Witherspoon. I think she is brilliant, strategic, funny, and also incredibly brave. She is not afraid to be authentic, yet is a woman who lends her platform to advance other women. I would love to pick her brain on how to effect change in healthcare, as I think there are similarities to the gender gaps she has overcome in the world of entertainment, and how to leverage your platform to support others.

    How can our readers further follow your work online?

    You can find me at @becomebraveenough on Facebook and Instagram and on Twitter at @rubraveenough. You can find my work, courses, and the events I lead on becomebraveenough.com.

    External image

    Dr. Sasha Shillcutt: Getting An Upgrade; How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



    source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/dr-sasha-shillcutt-getting-an-upgrade-how-anyone-can-build-habits-for-optimal-wellness-8c604b3f4a25?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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  • If you can find a good consultant that will be able to guide you and help to connect you with the right people and investors, it will save time and energy. But you can also learn from those around you — learn from customers, partners, friends, family. They can also share valuable insight to help improve your product and your process. In the end, people will be the ones using your product so who better to learn from.

    As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rotem Shor, CTO of Medisafe.

    As CTO, Rotem works with major drug manufacturers to help patients manage their treatment journey and medication therapies based on each user’s regimen, condition, demographics, social determinants and specific circumstances. Since its inception, Medisafe has advanced the role of digital companions to become a primary source in driving patient engagement and capturing key data on medication usage and health trends.

    Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

    I was really active as a kid, heavy into sports. I participated in kung fu, and was captain of my basketball team that went on to win the national championship. I grew up with a big family, with three brothers living in a small home in Haifa, Israel. My father was an engineer and my mother was a teacher, with entrepreneur skills of her own that later joined my father in creating their own business.

    Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

    You won’t succeed if you don’t try. I feel like that sums up how I have approached major decisions in my life. It inspires me to never give up, to be willing to make mistakes, and to try new things, because you won’t know unless you try.

    Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

    I love the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Its simplicity helps to make a really complex message accessible to everyone. We all have dreams and ideas, and at times find ourselves wondering whether we should take the risk, book the trip, choose a new path, etc. But with Dr. Seuss, it all seems possible.

    Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

    In 2012, my father suffered a serious health emergency when he accidentally took an extra dose of insulin. As a diabetic it immediately put my father’s life in grave danger. We got him to the hospital and luckily, he was ok, and remains healthy today. But it sparked an idea with me and my brother that there should be some way to track these things to prevent overdose and missed doses for patients. We didn’t know of any such existing solution, so we decided to build that solution. Medisafe was born to help patients manage complex prescription schedules, and to provide information and promote collaboration throughout the healthcare industry. Today we have more than 7MM users on Medisafe helping to manage their health.

    There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

    Start by understanding where you want to go. Don’t focus as much on the invention, but more on the issue you want to solve. In our case, we wanted to solve the issue of medication management and personalized health guidance specific to each patient. Invest in thought mapping of what challenges you want to solve, how you will address these issues, and how a user would navigate through your solution to solve these issues. By focusing on solving these needs, we developed a digital health platform that incorporates each patient’s specific needs.

    Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

    I think it’s important to understand the industry and space in which a new invention is going to operate. There are so many different industries, segments, and niche markets, with customers for each, it’s essential to first understand where the need lies — is it in healthcare, technology, finance, home goods? Is this a US, European, or global issue? Once you understand where your segment lies, then you can home in on whether or not an idea has already been created. Then, if it has, you have a clear call of how your invention will make things better. How will this new invention improve on what currently exists, and further enhance the industry and segment.

    Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

    My mother is my biggest role model. I have seen her serve as the heart of our family my whole life, and no matter the obstacle, she is always full of love and energy to do whatever it takes for our family. Following the tech crash of the early 2000s, as my father was laid off and searching for work, my mother was the unifying spirit that held our family together and enabled us to survive financially. Her spirit of perseverance and positive outlook inspired me throughout any personal or professional challenges, and I hope I have a little bit of that in me.

    For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

    While I was working for an Israeli securities company, I began work on what would become Medisafe. I had an hour commute each day by train, so I spent every commute to and from work on mapping out the idea and how the Medisafe platform would work. Then when I got home, my living room became the war room. I soon met up with a mentor who helped to guide the development and launch. We soon joined a Microsoft accelerator from day one we were able to gain a lot of traction. We relied a lot on user support and feedback in developing iterations and updates to guide the development of the platform. The early support and feedback became invaluable in shaping Medisafe and how we went to market.

    Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

    During the development process, we were testing a new dashboard of our platform. We were set to officially launch Medisafe the next day and I saw there were several other servers operating on the system. To clear up space, I began to delete the servers. As I returned to the work on the new platform, I discovered I had accidentally deleted all servers, including the ones that all of our operations were on. I spent the entire evening rebuilding everything I we had been building for the past year or more.

    The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

    Because of what Medisafe does, helping patients manage their medication therapies with innovative, personalized, and continuous guidance, we were able to capture the trust of patients very early on. From the day we launched, we received tremendous feedback from users, and they helped to make it better and better. That feedback was really rewarding, and I felt it was acknowledgement that we were on to something valuable. But once we got our first paying customer, support from a healthcare system, was when I knew we would be an actual company. We were no longer just an idea.

    What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

    Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

    Start with market research and understand your target market very closely. This includes making sure you complete a competitive analysis to know who you will go up against and what those obstacles will be. But don’t let it keep you from starting. Even if your product isn’t the first of its kind, make sure it offers something different or does it better than your competitors. Understand that the journey to launching a new product is a roller coaster, with ups and downs, but you first

    There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

    If you can find a good consultant that will be able to guide you and help to connect you with the right people and investors, it will save time and energy. But you can also learn from those around you — learn from customers, partners, friends, family. They can also share valuable insight to help improve your product and your process. In the end, people will be the ones using your product so who better to learn from.

    What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

    Like I mentioned before, it’s important to hold true to your vision. If you are working with a venture capital firm, make sure you remain in control of your product and they share the same vision for your company — both where it is now and where you want to take it. Bootstrapping will be more of a challenge and is likely to take longer, but it means you have greater control of your vision and the outcome of the product.

    Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

    I believe we have. We consistently get high ratings from patients within both the Apple and Google App stores, with comments on how we have helped to save their lives. Medication management is a $300B issue across the globe, and our free app for patients takes the guess work out of which medications to take and potential interactions that may cause complications. Numerous patients have said that using Medisafe has helped to make navigating issues like cancer so much easier. It’s those comments that have made all the challenges and struggles to launch a new invention worthwhile.

    You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

    I definitely want to end the stigma of what it means to have a chronic condition, and the shame that can be associated with taking medications to help manage a health issue, whether it’s a physical or mental health issue. I think that pharma companies have helped to reduce the stigma on managing a number of physical health ailments with more widespread advertising and implementing digital health tools to reach patients where they are. If we can increase support for patients of all types managing any condition, we can make the world a more compassionate place.

    We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

    As a fellow inventor and innovator, I would be interested in meeting Elon Musk. I would also add as a fellow basketball player, I would love to meet Michael Jordan and learn how he transformed his remarkable skills on the court to a successful brand empire and philanthropy.

    Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

    External image

    Meet The Inventors: Rotem Shor of Medisafe, On How To Go From Idea To Store Shelf was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



    source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/meet-the-inventors-rotem-shor-of-medisafe-on-how-to-go-from-idea-to-store-shelf-7b39bb0f8608?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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  • Deliver the communication at the right time. Giving negative feedback to someone in front of someone else, especially is group, is not the right time. Be sensitive to your surroundings and other people present when providing feedback.

    As a part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Dinneen.

    Lindsey is an entrepreneur, creator, learner, and dancer. She founded and is the Artistic Director of the professional dance company, VidaDance, the founder and host of the podcast, Artfully Told, and a life and business coach with Actalyst. She is passionate about helping women and men live their most successful, empowered, and inspired lives.

    Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

    Absolutely! Thank you for having me. My career path has been an interesting one, with a lot of different twists and turns. I grew up dancing, and became a professional ballet and modern dancer right after college. I started my own professional company, VidaDance, in 2015, and in 2016, founded a dance studio that I ran for four years. I have been the Business Development Manager of a retail boutique, the Vice President of a business services company, a Managing Innkeeper of a bed and breakfast, an Adjunct Instructor at a community college, a Marketing Consultant for several start-ups, and the Human Resources & Office Manager for a company that owns franchised restaurants. Most recently, I started a podcast sharing people’s stories about meaningful encounters with art, called Artfully Told, and I am in the process of launching my life and business coaching business, Actalyst.

    What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

    I’m biased, but VidaDance is a special place. We have always wanted to produce dance performances that resonate with our audiences, whether they have an interest or background in dance, or not! One of the ways we do this is by creating shows that incorporate a wide variety of dance styles, including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip hop, ballroom, and world dance. If you’re not as interested in ballet, but you like other forms, you’ll see it all during the show. Another way we’re different is that we create entertaining, easy-to-follow storylines, so you don’t have to be a dance aficionado to know what’s going on. Each choreographer writes a short description about his or her piece so that our audiences know the backstory or inspiration behind it. We are a very inclusive group of dancers in everything from race to age to body type, because we know the power of dance to connect and inspire all of us. We highly encourage collaboration and laughter in our company culture so that everyone feels valued. One story that comes to mind is when we performed as part of a collaborative show. Most of the content was abstract and had darker themes, and the piece we performed was a lighthearted, lovely duet to “What a Wonderful World.” After the show, a couple came up to us and told us that they had been feeling discouraged lately about the state of the world, and about some difficult things they were dealing with, but that watching us perform that piece had reminded them that there was still hope, beauty, and joy to be found. That touched my heart so deeply.

    Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

    Oh my. I have so many interesting stories, especially from a backstage perspective, because live theater is always exciting! One memory that stands out is of our “Murphy’s Law” set of shows that occurred about five years ago. It was our second year as a company, and we were performing at the Kansas City Fringe Festival for five nights. One night, a dancer forgot her costumes and was late to the performance, which meant that several other dancers quickly had to come up with creative solutions to fill her spots as needed in the pieces she’d be missing. Another night, a different dancer forgot her shoes at home, so while her husband went back to get them, the rest of us figured out a way to lend her shoes because her husband wasn’t going to make it back before the show started. Yet another night, one of the dancers accidentally entered stage a solid 30 seconds before his entrance was supposed to take place, which meant he had to find a way to get out of the other dancers’ ways, yet not look like it was a mistake. We’ve all had many good laughs about that set of shows, but you know what? It showed me just how incredibly adaptable, innovative, and strong my dancers are, and how kind they are as a group. No one was grumpy about the mistakes. We all make them, and so it was easy for us to simply problem solve instead of complain. And, that was the first year we won Best of Venue for the KC Fringe Festival, so it also showed me that with a bit of tenacity, hard work, and determination, anything can be achieved.

    Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

    I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes over the years! One of the mistakes I made early on as a director and leader of my company was that, when I gave feedback, I didn’t give it specifically. In the world of dance, feedback and corrections are essential so that everyone dances together correctly, and that proper technique is maintained. Because I was working with my peers, I thought that it would be kinder to give generalized corrections to the group as a whole instead of “calling out” specific people who needed a quick tweak here or there. What that led to was a lot of confusion (and some funny moments) because my lack of specificity meant no one quite what to change, or who was the one who needed to change. My dancers were quick to point out they preferred me to be specific, so that they could continue moving forward with excellence. It was through their encouragement that I avoid generalizations and call out someone when needed that greatly improved my style of feedback.

    What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

    Built-in growth and learning opportunities are key in this area. Each position you create should have built-in growth opportunities with positive reinforcement potential for each opportunity. For example, an associate sales manager position might primarily present premade sales material to potential clients. However, that position could also have a built-in opportunity to create customized sales materials after certain performance metrics are reached. Ideally, these opportunities would be elements of the next progression in the corporate structure, as this would be an inherent method of preparing and training for advancing in roles. Positive reinforcement could be a bonus, increased salary, increased autonomy, increased responsibility, increased inclusion in decision-making, etc. I also believe that employers need to encourage their employees to take days off, and that the culture of the company as a whole needs to be one that sets great value on a great work/life balance.

    How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

    Leadership is the art of guiding people to be the best versions of themselves, for themselves, and for the group. It is being in a position of authority that is used to organize, uplift, and carry a team to success. Leadership is not dictatorship; it’s collaboration and cooperation. It’s connecting with others, seeing a different point of view, and then making a choice that elevates the entire group to the next level.

    In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

    It is vital to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing for everyone, but especially as a leader, or you will be depleted and have nothing left with which to lead your team. I use a combination of meditation and visualization before going into any high-stakes situation. In general, every workday, I have a routine where I begin my morning with guided breathing, gratitude, meditation, exercise, and visualization. That immediately puts me into a positive mood, with which anything feels possible to have a positive and successful outcome. For example, I had a situation once where I was needing to have a very difficult conversation with a client. I prepared ahead of time by going over some possible scenarios that might occur during our conversation, and then visualizing the outcome I desired. The morning of the conversation, I meditated, visualized, and got ready for the day. I wore an outfit that made me feel extra confident, and then I embraced the day. The meeting went smoothly, and the outcome was desirable. It was proof to me that this method works.

    Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

    Absolutely. I have managed several teams over the course of my career so far, from leading just one person, to a team of over 30, but I will mostly be drawing illustrations from my experience as the Artistic Director of my professional dance company. With VidaDance, I have organized and led large teams to create professional productions for the past five years. That includes dancers, choreographers, technical crew, designers, and more. Feedback to employees is important in general, but is absolutely crucial when producing a show that includes the coordination of many different individuals coming together for a common goal. Feedback happens multiple times a day, every single day. The experience of having led my core group of dancers over the past five years has provided me the opportunity to learn how to communicate feedback effectively.

    This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

    Of course. There’s no way to be an effective leader if you’re unwilling or uncomfortable with providing feedback. Feedback is the key to growth, both for the individual in question, and also for the organization as a whole. Being honest and direct when giving feedback is important to establish and maintain open communication. Dancing around an issue only promotes confusion, and in the end, does nothing to change the behavior in question. There are many ways to be honest while also being kind. I like to follow the advice I once received. When faced with the decision about how/when to give feedback, you always ask yourself, “Is it true? Is it wise? Is it necessary? Is it kind? And is it at the right time?” If you can answer “yes” to all five checkpoints, proceed. If not, look into that area more before providing the feedback.

    One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

    Based on the five checkpoints I mentioned above, the following framework works well for feedback:

    1. Be truthful. Only say what is true and stick to the facts. Don’t get sidetracked with speculative feedback.
    2. Be wise. Express the feedback thoughtfully and with sage advice for moving forward.
    3. Only communicate when it is necessary. Sometimes we feel compelled to give feedback because it’s “expected” in some way. Not everything needs to be spoken. Ensure the feedback you’re giving is, indeed, necessary to share.
    4. Be kind. This should go without saying. Deliver feedback through the lens of respect and appreciation for the person’s contribution to the company. Imagine how it would feel if it were you receiving your feedback, and phrase your communication accordingly.
    5. Deliver the communication at the right time. Giving negative feedback to someone in front of someone else, especially is group, is not the right time. Be sensitive to your surroundings and other people present when providing feedback.

    Can you address how to give constructive feedback over email? If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

    It is definitely better to give feedback in person whenever possible, or at the very least, via a Zoom call or some other way where you can get real-time responses, including body language. If you are confined to an email for a feedback, it’s important to write each line as if you were getting the feedback yourself. As in, if you were on the receiving end of this feedback, how would it feel for you to read it? Be as kind and considerate as you can be, while being truthful and straightforward. Once you have come up with a first draft, let it simmer for awhile before coming back to reread it. Remember a great piece of advice when giving feedback, especially when it comes to emails, is to sandwich your more negative feedback with positive feedback, because positive reinforcement goes a long way to soften anything.

    In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

    I think that it depends entirely on the situation. If there’s an issue that is grievous enough to warrant immediate feedback, then it’s important to take the time right there and then. If it’s something that is upsetting to you, but doesn’t need to be addressed immediately, taking the time to cool down and first think through what you’re going to say is very helpful. I believe that consistent feedback, especially positive feedback, is better than an annual performance review. Reviews can put both parties on edge, and a once-a-year event means that it is likely a lot of feedback will be given at one time. Spreading out feedback over time allows for more natural conversations to take place.

    How would you define what it is to “be a great boss”? Can you share a story?

    A great boss is someone who brings out the best in each of his or her employees. It is someone who consistently shows appreciation for the work of his or employees, and who demonstrates through his or her words and actions that there is an atmosphere of respect, kindness, and honesty. Personally, I have a very open and democratic style of management. I value input from my employees. I have adopted a “coaching” style of leadership, in that my goal is to help each of my employees be the most successful they can be, and achieve their own goals (even apart from my company), so that the company as a whole can flourish.

    You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

    If I could inspire people to start a movement, it would be a campaign to ignite kindness and empathy towards all humans. I think now, more than ever, this is so needed. The “pay it forward” movement would occur daily. Each of us would have enough confidence in our self-worth to understand that everyone is going through challenges. Instead of being unreasonable, disrespectful, or unkind, we would find daily reasons to pay the love forward. It would promote a lifestyle of empathy, kindness, and compassion. This movement would literally change the world.

    Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

    My favorite life lesson quote is quite straightforward! It’s simply, “Onward and upward. Good things are coming.” It has been the quote I come back to consistently, especially when times are tough, and it seems like nothing is going the way I had hoped. Coming back to “onward and upward” reminds me of several important lessons:

    1. I have the power to choose positivity in this moment
    2. My life’s trajectory is moving forward and higher
    3. Nothing is going to hold me down and back
    4. I will continue to do good things with my life as I grow
    5. I expect that good things will be coming to me

    It is a re-centering motto that serves to lift me up and ensure I look forward to my future.

    How can our readers further follow your work online?

    I’d love to connect with anyone on social media! You can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram with @lindseydinneenofficial.

    Thank you for these great insights! We really appreciate the time you spent with this.

    External image

    Lindsey Dinneen of VidaDance: Giving Feedback; How To Be Honest Without Being Hurtful was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



    source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/lindsey-dinneen-of-vidadance-giving-feedback-how-to-be-honest-without-being-hurtful-e9cc38a042?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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  • PepsiCo Chief Sustainability Officer Jason Blake: Five Strategies Our Company Is Using To Tackle Climate Change & Become More Sustainable

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    My wish is that every single person on this planet recognizes that they have something valuable to contribute, regardless of your race, gender, socioeconomic background, successes you’ve had or mistakes you’ve made. Your contribution matters. I’m proof of this. People invested in me, and made bets on me, that far exceeded what I thought I deserved at the time. I see people who do not get these opportunities because they self-select out. They hesitate to push beyond their comfort zones and limit their opportunities to bring their gifts to the world. Sustainability is a perfect example of this mindset. Everyone can make a difference. Everyone.

    As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Blake, Chief Sustainability Officer at PepsiCo.

    Jason Blake is Senior Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA), where he leads the company’s efforts to help build a more sustainable future. Previously, he held senior positions in corporate strategy and business development, customer management, and sales. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College.

    Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

    Thank you for the opportunity. I’ve been part of the PepsiCo family for most of my career, and in that time, I have been fortunate to touch several areas of our business — from sales and customer strategy, to corporate development and now, sustainability. I think a general manager’s knowledge of the business and operations allows me to bring an informed approach and unique perspective to sustainability. My team and I are not operating as an off-shoot, but as a fully-integrated steward of the business. As companies become more mature in their sustainability journey, integration becomes increasingly important. Our sustainability effort is fully embedded, with reach across the entire enterprise.

    What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

    I’m part of PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA), which includes iconic brands like Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana, MTN Dew and Aquafina, and our vision — as it is at PepsiCo — is to win with purpose.

    For our consumers, “winning with purpose” means creating joyful moments through our delicious and nourishing products and unique brand experiences. For our customers, it means being the best possible partner — driving game-changing innovation and delivering a level of growth unmatched in our industry. For our shareholders, it means delivering returns and embracing best-in-class corporate governance. For our associates and communities, it means creating meaningful opportunities to work, gain new skills and build successful careers, and a diverse and inclusive workplace. And for our planet, “winning with purpose” means conserving nature’s precious resources and fostering a more sustainable planet for our children and grandchildren.

    Given our size and scale, PepsiCo has both an opportunity and responsibility to help build a more sustainable food system. Accordingly, we are working to minimize waste and plastic, improve the recyclability of our products, minimize the water we use in manufacturing and production, improve water use efficiency in water scarce areas, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

    Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

    We embrace our responsibility to help build a more sustainable future, recognizing that the success of our company and the prosperity of our communities go hand in hand. This work starts by leveraging our scale, reach and expertise across the areas where we can have the greatest impact in our sustainability agenda:

    • Water — We’re using water more efficiently, replenishing water locally, and helping to ensure water security. Our goal is to replenish 100% of the water we use in manufacturing operations in high-water-risk areas by 2025 — and ensure that replenishment takes place in the watershed where the extraction has occurred. Tree planting is one method we are prioritizing, alongside irrigation system upgrades and water quality improvement measures. Just last month, PBNA and PepsiCo Foods North America (PFNA) together provided a $1.5 million grant to the Arbor Day Foundation to support its work to replant 2 million trees in the burn scars of the Carr and Camp Fire wildfires, which devastated Northern California in late 2018. The grant will result in 458 million gallons of water being replenished annually — which will be desperately needed as wildfires continue to ravage California.
    • Climate — We are reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across every part of our value chain. This year, PepsiCo announced a shift to 100% renewable electricity in U.S. direct operations, which builds on global efforts. Climate change demands urgent and accelerated action from everyone, and we are developing a robust strategy for achieving net-zero emissions globally that is in line with the latest science.
    • Packaging — We support a circular economy and a sustainable packaging vision that includes reducing, recycling, and reinventing our packaging. Currently, 88% our packaging is recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable. Our goal is to reach 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025. Last year, we joined forces with beverage industry leaders to launch the Every Bottle initiative, a breakthrough effort to reduce our industry’s plastic footprint and make significant investments to improve collection of our bottles to be made into new bottles. In October, it marked the completion of the first year, and we’re proud that as an industry — and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Closed Loop — we launched projects in Texas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin that will help more than 349,000 households recycle nearly 38 million additional pounds of PET plastic that can be remade into new bottles.
    • Agriculture — We’re striving to make agriculture more intelligent, inclusive, and gentler on the earth. We continue to expand our Sustainable Farming Program (SFP), reaching more than 40,000 farmers around the world with training in sustainable practices like more efficient use of fertilizer and water, plant protection techniques, and respect for workers’ rights. Nearly 80% of our potatoes, whole corn, oats, and oranges are sustainably sourced. At our Bradenton, Florida plant where we process approximately 4 billion oranges annually, we’re proud to say we’re the №1 buyer of Florida fruit. While the exact percentage may vary by crop size, Tropicana purchases about a third of all oranges grown in the state.

    Since we first committed to our sustainability journey in 2006, we’ve made valuable progress. But our work is far from done. Though much of this work centers on targets we set, it’s not just about reaching these milestones and goals. It’s about consistently resetting these ambitions when we get there and continuing our work with partners to devise innovative solutions that help move the needle. When you hear us benchmark against goals set for 2020, 2025, 2030 or whatever it may be, we view that milestone as a launching pad — or a steppingstone — to even more improvement. We strive to be better than we were, always.

    How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

    The urgent environmental challenges before us demand that we operate sustainably, as a responsible corporate citizen and a force for good. Beyond being a responsible citizen, this is about future-proofing our business.

    I talked before about our mission to “win with purpose.” This means being consumer-centric and exceeding their expectations. Companies who don’t share the values of their customers — and who fail to take concrete actions to advance those goals — are quickly going to find themselves irrelevant. This is about more than being profitable, it’s about growing and succeeding along with the consumer. That’s why at PepsiCo, this work doesn’t just reside within our sustainability teams. It’s the work of our plant managers, brand leaders, and partners across the continent and the globe. We all have to be singing from the same song sheet, moving in the same direction, leaning into the same areas of opportunity. This isn’t just a job for me as the sustainability officer — it’s a job for everyone.

    The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

    As a parent, I really love this question.

    First, listen. Listen to young people — not just to your children, but to their generation. They are not becoming activists because they’re confused or misinformed. They’ve done the homework. They’re engaged, and impassioned.

    Help bring the bigger picture into focus. Our children learn about these issues in school, they hear about it online, and they discuss it with their friends. If they haven’t done the homework, or, if you think they’d benefit from more perspective, bring it to them. We can help broaden these horizons by providing resources that help them see the big picture. This might be an academic or scientific journal, a TED Talk, or even inspiring art and music from another generation.

    Engage. Our kids might have the vision and resolve, but they might not have the tools and resources. Support them in their engagement on climate change. Be the catalyst that makes their activism possible.

    Practice sustainability together. In many ways, it’s a lifestyle. Walk and bike together. Make small changes and stick to them. This is about leading by example and creating a ripple effect.

    Follow their lead. On the flip side of setting a good example, it can be equally powerful to respond to a young person’s leadership. As a parent, this might mean doing more than complimenting and encouraging. It likely means following their advice and giving them the chance to experience that feeling of inspiring change.

    What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

    1. The importance of overall well-being for a long career. Fitness, stress management and cultivating interests and hobbies outside of work are all important aspects of self-care that are critical to ensuring I have the energy to perform at my highest level.
    2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s ok to be imperfect. People generally judge persistence and perseverance far more than a singular look at wins or losses.
    3. Lean into strengths and look for opportunities to apply those strengths. This is what makes us all invaluable team members.
    4. Leadership and management, while different things, are both vitally important.
    5. Sustainability is an inspiration and purpose unto itself. It’s a deeply held belief inside of PepsiCo, one that we try to share with our customers, consumers and the communities where we operate.

    None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

    I’d like to share the words of my mom, Linda, who taught me so many life lessons and whose wisdom guides me every day:

    1. Take risks. Be willing to take on challenges — and jump into challenging situations — that others hesitate to take on. With great, calculated risk-taking comes great reward.
    2. Build great relationships. Cultivate relationships not just because they’re beneficial to yourself, but especially because you can help others. Be selfless in these relationships.
    3. Build resilience. Taking risks, and taking on challenges, means that you will face adversity. Expect it. Embrace it. And press forward.

    At the time, as a boy in Yonkers, New York, I didn’t necessarily always realize these were life lessons. Looking back, these were the values mom instilled in me when she encouraged me to run for student government in middle school, when she encouraged me to take mentoring opportunities seriously, and when she helped me through all of the setbacks and difficult times.

    You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

    My wish is that every single person on this planet recognizes that they have something valuable to contribute, regardless of your race, gender, socioeconomic background, successes you’ve had or mistakes you’ve made. Your contribution matters. I’m proof of this. People invested in me, and made bets on me, that far exceeded what I thought I deserved at the time. I see people who do not get these opportunities because they self-select out. They hesitate to push beyond their comfort zones and limit their opportunities to bring their gifts to the world. Sustainability is a perfect example of this mindset. Everyone can make a difference. Everyone.

    Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

    I’m inspired by this Marianne Williamson passage, and I’m paraphrasing: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” It’s such an eloquent summary of the point I’m trying to make above. Regardless of who you are, your contribution matters.

    What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

    You can usually find me on LinkedIn, where I engage and post about our sustainability work and PBNA’s mission generally.

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    PepsiCo Chief Sustainability Officer Jason Blake: Five Strategies Our Company Is Using To Tackle… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



    source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/pepsico-chief-sustainability-officer-jason-blake-five-strategies-our-company-is-using-to-tackle-57c5eb60e66b?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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  • You guys are probably smart enough to realise this, but if a job advert doesn’t list the salary, then 9 times out of 10, the company is planning to underpay you. They hope you’re going to apply, get to the interview stage and then if you’re offered the job it’s going to turn out you’ll be paid like £12K or something. And by that point you’ve spent so long filling out the application, preparing for the interview, doing the interview itself, you might be willing to take the job. Fuck that, email them for the salary, see if they answer, if they don’t then don’t apply! Save your time and effort for other jobs.

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  • You Know Who It Is! @DJ_Immortal94 Canada’s Premier DJ 💪💯 I Love This Hip-Hop Stuff It’s Like A Drug I Can’t Get Enough And I’m Addicted
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    #Rap #hiphop #music #outlawradiolive #90smusic #realshit #Tuneinradio #googlepodcasts #broadcast #LIVEInterview #ApplePodcasts #googleplaymusic #followforfollowback #LikeUsOnFacebook #interviews #tunein #worldwide #spotify #iheartradio #hiphophead #hiphopnation #hiphopculture #hiphopjunkie #followforfollow #follow4follow
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CH9VuOJHsc0/?igshid=al91ld1xwkqs

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  • Tonight November 23rd it’s goin dooooown🔥🔥🔥🔥At 8pm est @FleetDjs Present Celerity Corner Hosted by @MsBoomNyc 🎤 & @dejayxxl with Special Guest @djsns doing A Virtual Q&A on @Zoom 💻 If you have any questions you like to ask @Fleetdjs or 🎯 Email fleetconferencecall@gmail.com to get access code #BoomOnZoom #FleetVsEverbody #fleetnation #fleetlive #newmusic #hiphop #djniaboom #djxxl #interviews #zoom #newyorkcity
    #iamcoloradofleet✊🏿💯
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    Visuals By @djlouiscide 📽 (at North Las Vegas, Nevada)
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CH9KRHzheCV/?igshid=1awkw7g0xaaw7

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  • Dave Ackert of Maple Craft Foods: 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food Line or Specialty Food

    An Interview With Vicky Colas

    Stand out/stand above packaging, branding and marketing design is critical. Do not settle for anything here. If your packaging doesn’t scream out for people to stop, look and pick it up, you may not succeed. Take our Maple Craft Syrup packaging for example. The label says maple syrup, but it looks like a flask that liquor would come in. And the bottles are each hand-dipped in wax, like a fine crafted liquor bottle might have. It’s attractive, different from the competition and causes people to pick it up to take a closer look. Your packaging and branding will make your products taste better…ok, maybe not really, but perception is EVERYTHING!

    As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food Line or Specialty Food”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Ackert, Founder and Chief Maple Officer, Maple Craft Foods.

    Entrepreneurial, well-seasoned product marketing and sales leader with deep understanding of what it takes to build a brand, sales strategy and organization, and to keep customers happy. Described as a tenacious, funny, passionate, creative, and motivated pusher of the proverbial envelope, Dave has always been particularly interested in brands that help families live happier, healthier lives. To-date, Dave has successfully created or grown four innovative brands in the technology and food spaces, leading them to and through successful exits.

    Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

    Sure. Growing up, my parents both worked full time in the insurance industry. They both love to cook and are very good at it, and to a certain extent their passion and skill has trickled down to my younger brother and I. They always let us help, and like many families, much of our quality time was spent in and around the kitchen and food. Whether it was after school while they were still at work, or on weekend mornings before they woke up, we were allowed and encouraged to cook, for ourselves and for the family. Throughout my childhood, our house was the one where my friends would hang out. I was always hosting parties, and cooking for everyone, and starting in middle school, I was also the one who would organize field trips and excursions for school and community clubs and organizations or just for groups of friends. It is clear now, that this was the beginning of my entrepreneurial spirit taking flight. There was lots of strategizing, planning, organization, budgeting, scheduling and executing involved with these projects and events. I certainly never thought about any of it as ‘work’. I enjoyed it, and still do. I’ve always enjoyed the challenges involved with creating and selling products that make people smile and form wonderful memories. Whenever grown-ups would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was either that I wanted to be in advertising, or that I wanted to own a restaurant. As it turned out, I majored in Marketing and Business Administration in College, and while the first half of my career was centered around Advertising, I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve ultimately ended up as an entrepreneur in the food industry.

    Can you share with us the story of the “ah ha” moment that led to the creation of the food brand you are leading?

    Maple Craft Foods was born out of tragedy. It was a couple of years after the unthinkable tragedy here in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Like so many others, I was in a deep funk. It was hard to stay focused, let alone be excited about going to work. The Seattle-based tech start-up that I helped create was just acquired by Time Inc., one of the oldest, stodgiest media companies, based in NYC. It would have been hard for me to get excited about working there in the best of times. I had been working remotely, from a home office for years. Our house was the one in the neighborhood with a swimming pool, so my wife hosted swim lessons for neighbors who also had young children. The kids would learn to swim and the moms would get a little break and commiserate by the pool. It was a necessary form of therapy for all….until the ice cream truck showed up, usually right before dinner, and only stocked with really unhealthy artificially flavored/colored choices. Arguments between kids and their mom ensued, and I witnessed these stressful encounters and the smiles disappear week after week. One day, I was in the kitchen and noticed a half of watermelon on the counter. I decided to liquify and turn it into a frozen treat to offer the kids as a healthy alternative that would make everyone happy. The first time was a complete failure. It turns out that frozen watermelon juice doesn’t taste so good on its own! Undeterred, I tried again, adding some homemade maple syrup, and hit pay dirt! Next thing I knew, kids were knocking on the door asking if I had any more, and two neighborhood dads, a branding & design guru and an attorney, encouraged me to turn it into a business, and offered to help me do it. That’s how Maple Craft Foods was born.

    Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

    This is hard for me because I think I’ve lost my sense of humor when it comes to making mistakes, because mistakes cost money, and when you’re bootstrapping a new/young start-up, you can’t afford mistakes! Our first product was an organic, maple-sweetened frozen treat. It was a great product that got picked up by Wholefoods very quickly. But I severely underestimated the complexity and costs associated with making, storing and distributing a frozen product, especially in New England where we only have about 6–8 months of warm/hot weather. It wasn’t scaleable or profitable and we spent a lot of money and lost a lot of time (and time is money!) learning this lesson and pivoting to other products.

    What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a food line? What can be done to avoid those errors?

    Overhead. Spending precious start-up funds on equipment and facilities is a pretty common mistake. This money often comes from personal savings and/or friends and family, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. A much smarter approach is to contract with co-packers and other service providers. Another common mistake is to not price your products appropriately for the long haul. It’s critical to understand what kind of margins your customers will require, and how much distributors and brokers will cost you down the road, at the onset.

    Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to produce. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

    It’s important to understand the competitive landscape, and figure out where your product can fit in, and what needs it would fulfill. Those that can separate their emotional connection with their product or idea while performing this analysis, will have the best chance at success. Be sure to solicit, and be open to ALL feedback from friends, family and most importantly, prospective consumers and industry experts. Speak with prospective wholesale customers and prospective consumers. Speak with co-packers, suppliers and other entrepreneurs who’ve already been down the road you are about to embark on. You need to know what’s wrong with your product or idea. You need to understand why people will never pay that much for your product, or why you should be charging more. You need to understand all of the regulatory requirements, and other hidden costs and obstacles that will need to be overcome. The more of this that you can figure out before you get too far down the road, the better chance you have at making sound decisions about if/how to move forward.

    Many people have good ideas all the time. But some people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How would you encourage someone to overcome this hurdle?

    Look for mentors and trusted advisors. Listen to their advice in order to make your own informed decisions. Getting started is hard, and can be intimidating. If you have a great product, it should end up speaking for itself. Job 1 is to see if other people will get excited about it enough to want to help you. The most important thing to remember when asking people to help you, is that the worst thing that could happen is that they say ‘no’. You have nothing to lose by asking an acquaintance for their opinion and advice, and maybe for more if they love what you want to do after hearing about it, tasting it, etc. Try to identify people whose expertise compliments your own. This initial team you need to build is critical. You don’t need three idea people, or three social media experts, or three legal experts or three design experts. You need one of each who are really good at what they do, and who are willing to help you.

    There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

    I don’t think an invention development consultant is necessary when it comes to food innovation.

    What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

    There is no one size fits all solution to funding a start-up. Everyone’s financial situation is unique, as is everyone’s appetite for personal risk. Bootstrapping until you’ve achieved not just proof of concept, but significant sales/revenue results is ideal, if you can. It will be easier to raise money, and at much better valuations, if you wait….so long as you have financial proof that you are executing.

    Can you share thoughts from your experience about how to file a patent, how to source good raw ingredients, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer or distributor?

    If I were to file for a patent, I would hire a good patent attorney. Same goes for a trademark. For sourcing, whether ingredients or contractors, there is no substitute for getting to know the supplier, for tasting the ingredients, and for speaking with their current AND past customers. Be sure to understand their capacity for being flexible. As a start up, you will need flexibility from your partners. Ultimately, you need to trust your feelings after you’ve done this leg work, and ask yourself, honestly, do they ‘feel’ like the right partner?

    Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food Line or Specialty Food” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

    1. Does your product fulfill a need? Is there actual demand from people who are ready and wanting to buy it? Our very first product came about as a result of neighbors actually knocking on our door and asking us if we had any more of the prototype we had handed out! Same with our second, and best selling product, our award-winning Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. From the very first test batch, and through the entire first year, we couldn’t make enough of it, fast enough!
    2. Are you all-in? Are you willing and able to take on tasks and play roles that you’ve never performed before, and to learn about things that you may not enjoy learning about? Yes, you will be the CEO of your new venture, but what that really means is that you are the Chief Everything Officer! I’ve been at this for about six years now, and I still get my hands dirty (sticky to be more precise!) in the kitchen, I still fall asleep in front of the computer while catching up on bookkeeping and other mundane tasks, and I do everything else in between!
    3. You need to surround yourself with experts that you trust. Who’s going to help you with legal questions and advice on company structure, trademarks, etc. Who’s going to advise you on financing, banking and accounting stuff? Who are you mentors with relevant experience? Who will be helping you with food regulatory issues? Who is an experienced, amazing branding and design expert that will help you?
    4. Stand out/stand above packaging, branding and marketing design is critical. Do not settle for anything here. If your packaging doesn’t scream out for people to stop, look and pick it up, you may not succeed. Take our Maple Craft Syrup packaging for example. The label says maple syrup, but it looks like a flask that liquor would come in. And the bottles are each hand-dipped in wax, like a fine crafted liquor bottle might have. It’s attractive, different from the competition and causes people to pick it up to take a closer look. Your packaging and branding will make your products taste better…ok, maybe not really, but perception is EVERYTHING!
    5. Focus. It can be really easy to get distracted. You’ll be pulled in a million different directions, often by people, partners, or even customers who have objectives that are different than yours. There will be lots of opportunities that present themselves. I try to always gage opportunities through the ROI lens. And there are two types of ROI that I think about; short term (e.g. sales/cash/revenue); and long term (strategic, branding and other intangible benefits. There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that needs to get done. Try to spend your precious time moving the needle as much as you can.

    Can you share your ideas about how to create a product that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?

    Beyond tasting great, and being available at a fair price, a product has to achieve your stated goals and mission. At Maple Craft Foods, our goals are to make it simple and delicious for people to replace processed and artificial sweeteners and flavors with the good stuff that comes from maple trees, to help people foster healthy relationships with food, where it comes from, and with each other, and last but not least…to make people smile. Our mission is also our tagline: Make Life Sweet. Naturally. Our newest product is Elderberry Maple Craft Syrup. We created this product because we saw demand for immune boosting foods increasing at the beginning of 2020. We’ve been taking shots of other Elderberry syrups for a couple of years, and frankly, they don’t taste that great. It was always a battle to force our kids to drink theirs. So we created an alternative that tastes fantastic and where you can get your daily dose simply by pouring Elderberry Maple Craft Syrup over your waffles, in some coffee, milk or tea, or over some ice cream!

    Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

    I was hoping you would ask this. If your product/company/existence does not make the world a better place, then why bother? As I mentioned earlier, Maple Craft Foods was born out of unthinkable tragedy. Helping victims and survivors of gun violence smile, was and continues to be a core value, and one of the main ways that we give back. We donate a portion of proceeds to victim, survivor and prevention volunteer organizations with a focus on our youth. And with food insecurity surging during the pandemic, we also run various initiatives in support of Food Banks, providing their clients with better, all natural breakfast options. We also launched an entire “Make Life Sweet” fundraising platform, to help school, volunteer and nonprofit groups raise money by selling our organic and natural products. At Maple Craft Foods, our success is not measured by revenue or profit. It is measured by how much we are able to give back.

    You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

    We hope to make it easy for as many people as possible to replace highly processed, artificial sweeteners and flavorings with the good stuff that comes from American maple trees. We are working hard to educate and demonstrate the health benefits of replacing processed sugar with maple syrup, as well as the benefits to family farms. Whether used as an ingredient or a topping, the simple step of replacing cane & corn syrup with maple syrup, would reduce sugar consumption by 33%, and add a bunch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, without sacrificing taste.

    There is much work to do, and many consumers to inspire. Natural & organic and fresh foods should not cost more than highly processed, chemical-laden foods. We’re doing our part and will continue to innovate and offer healthier and better tasting food products. But we know that in order for this to become a significant movement, the big food companies will have to lead the charge and the change. We hope to be able to inspire them to get on board, and do their part.

    We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

    I would love to spend some quality time with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry). I admire these guys for their focus on and dedication to making the world a better place, and to making people smile. They are pioneers when it comes to corporate commitments to sustainability, fair trade, philanthropy and other forms of corporate responsibility. I would really like to explore ideas on addressing the two biggest food & nutrition challenges we face in America…..food insecurity and obesity. Our most vulnerable and at-risk people do not have access to fresh, healthy, natural foods. Instead, they consume junk food filled with highly processed artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives and colorings. “Pancake Syrup” is perhaps the worst example. Some of the biggest brands of this toxic pancake topping have spent millions of dollars on long overdue branding updates to help address racism. But if they really cared about the health and well being of their consumers, they would also address what’s going on INSIDE of that packaging. Whether its pancake syrup, ice cream, instant oatmeal, or just about anything else, the simple step of replacing cane & corn syrup with maple syrup, would reduce sugar consumption by 33%, and add a bunch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, without sacrificing taste. It makes no sense that natural and organic foods cost more than highly processed foods, and I’d love to tap into Ben & Jerry’s experienced, brilliant minds to explore potential solutions to this dilemma.

    Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. You are welcome. Thank YOU!

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    Dave Ackert of Maple Craft Foods: 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food Line or Specialty… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



    source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/dave-ackert-of-maple-craft-foods-5-things-you-need-to-create-a-successful-food-line-or-specialty-2942d79f2c54?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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  • Edit B Kiss: Getting An Upgrade; How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus

    A positive mindset is very important in every aspect. So, before we start working or exercising just have your why. Why are you doing this, what is the motivation behind your actions? It will make it easier to overcome any challenges. My why for my work is the wellbeing of my clients and the lifestyle I am willing to create for my children and myself. I also would like to have a stronger physical body to feel less vulnerable.

    As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits for Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingEdit B Kiss.

    Edit B Kiss is a powerful spiritual healer, life coach, international speaker, writer and #1 best seller author. She helps people to get cleaned from blockages, healing them from hidden emotional traumas through the use of Karma Healing, Reiki and Sekhem healing.

    She was the subject of a one-hour interview on Deborah Funmi Mupapa’s “Life Assurance” podcast in which she discussed life, marriage and soul. She was also featured on the “On the Edge with April Mahoney” podcast. She was a key presenter and panelist on “Global Hope Conference” in the topic of Covid-19 pandemic, the program will be reachable on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and Roku. “Authority Magazine” published her advice about the 5 Ways to Develop Serenity during Anxious Times. She is a co-author of the “1 Habit for Entrepreneurial Success” with Forbes Riley and others. She is also a co-author of the book “Soul Food” with Amy Elizabeth. She has recently been interviewed in the “Business Innovators Radio” by Mark Pooler. She also helped with healing ideas in the “Tiaras Tears and Triumphs Podcast” by Sandy J from Australia.

    Edit originally was a petroleum engineer, working in the petroleum industry for 15 years before healing full time. During those years she trained to become a Reiki Master, a Sekhem Healer and a Karma Yogi Practitioner; strengthened her extra senses; and worked on several family constellation therapies. She learned life-coaching from the Satori Prime brothers (who base their work on Landmark approaches) and was trained by Bob Proctor, who is known for his appearance as a featured expert in the movie, The Secret. While living in New Zealand, she was a member of Reiki NZ Incorporated.

    Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

    Growing up in a communist country without practising religion I explored the different ways to connect to my higher self and God in my teenage years. I found the different cultures and religions fascinating and I love mythology and history, especially Egyptian Mythology. My father loved traveling and I inherited this passion from him. Those are my favorite memories from my childhood when we visited other countries and cultures. He spent late nights reading travel books and planning the whole trip. We travelled by car and we were able to see the different architectures and landscapes as we crossed several countries in Europe with our 10 years old LADA automobile reaching one capital to the other and enjoy the waves of the smooth Mediterranean or the Black Sea.

    When I was 19, I started to travel the world alone. At age 25 I stopped counting the flights I was taken at number 50. I am a dreamer and I always believed that we can reach our goals. I also believed in the goodness of the people and had no fear to visit new places and meet new people. In my adulthood, I learned several spiritual healing techniques to serve people more profoundly and effectively. I believe in reincarnation and that the places where I am drowned to have been my home in another lifetime.

    What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

    I started as a Petroleum Engineer after University; the oil industry was my passion for a while. Because I experienced health issues, I was looking for solutions and got introduced to Reiki healing. I liked this mystical environment and learning more about the soul and the Universal power. I started to learn the healing itself and whenever I had time, I went on a retreat with my Reiki Master or helped out on family constellation therapies. I was still working as an engineer at that time. I received my Reiki Master certificate in 2016 being 12 years in my spiritual journey. I thought first that it is the top of the healing. Then I got invited to a Karma healing course and I fall in love with it and I realized how much more powerful than Reiki and what possibilities it provides to people with pineal gland activation and source memory healing. I got into a karma vortex after my first Samadhi meditation in the course and my purpose and my path started to be crystallized. I was guided to move to London and start my healing business which was magically supported from the other side.

    None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

    My mother plays a special role in my life. She shaped a lot of my actions. She was hard working and had 3 diplomas and 3 children. She used the building criticism as part of her influence, which sometimes made me feel not enough or unloved causing frustration, but I used this energy to build myself up and prove her wrong. She also always supported my boldest dreams and I wasn’t holding back from any career moves or experiences like my friends whose parents weren’t that open-minded. She is 80 years now and still standing by my side strongly.

    Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

    I am a person who grows wings while flying. I admit that I am a risk-taker and my risk management not always accurate. So lately I try to be more conscious and have a safety net. I also love to experience more things at the same time, which can scatter my energy and drain me. So, time management and self-care are really important. I am a serial entrepreneur and I am involved in more businesses: property management, crypto investment, writing, healing, beauty ambassador. I love all of these things and they keep me exciting and busy what I enjoy.

    The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

    The most important to find what you are passionate about. You cannot operate without passion for long enough to reach success. If you are not passionate about what you do you will lose interest and you just wasted your time. Then have goals, plans, and dreams. Goals, you know how to reach, plans to implement, and dreams to inspire you every day. I consider myself a GAP filler. When I have a goal, I work towards it by filling the gaps. I start to network, analyze the possible best steps, learn from others, acquiring new skills, and position myself close to the goal physically and mentally by moving to the place, getting into a circle, and get the mindset.

    The plans are the objectives I need to reach, for example, to speak a new language, to know a strategy. But the dreams are the most important. They first seem unrealistically far and unreachable. The dreams keep you inspired and empowered. Many people give up early because they got distracted by shiny objects and they do not stay committed. My advice would be to keep the faith that what they hold in their mind is possible with dedication, commitment, and putting the work in it.

    Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

    I have to tell you the truth, I am not the type of person who reads a book from cover to cover. So, I am attracted to books that make sense even just reading chapters randomly. I like topics from spirituality to self-development through science.

    But my current favorite book which I believe will have a huge impact on my life, the book in what I was a contributor and made me a #1 best-selling author. This book is called the 1 Habit for Entrepreneurial Success. I am so grateful for the main authors, Steve Samblis, who established the 1 Habit publishing company and started this mission to share helpful habits and Forbes Riley who is an extremely successful actress and businesswoman. This book includes 300 habits from movie stars, sports celebrities, influencers, and experts. It also helps you how to implement new positive habits into your life with a step by step guide at the beginning. You can read this book by random chapters.

    Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

    My favorite quote is “Always accept the unexpected and whenever you can be the unexpected.”

    I believe it has two messages. One is that we should not react negatively towards situations we have no control over. By accepting the unexpected we become a person with resistance and open for challenges and able to adjust to new situations. On the other hand, being unexpected sends the message that we are unique and worthy, and our present brings value to our environment and able to elevate people to a higher level. By using this quote as an affirmation makes us stronger and more confident.

    What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

    I am a co-author of the book Soul Food by Amy Elizabeth who is just like and Angel with a huge heart. The book gives guidance and information about how to implement healthy eating into our lives, which not only supports our mind and body but our soul as well. For example, in my chapter, I write about what kind of herbs and food support the activation of the pineal gland, the third eye, and support our intuition and using our six-sense. I also tell the fascinating story of how I became vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and teetotaler. There will be also tasty recipes included. I am also starting my Friday Masterminds from now on. I would like to give more information and help to people in this uncertain time for example about how to keep their energy body clean, how to prevent emotional traumas or how to stay hopeful and committed to their purpose.

    OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

    Habits are stored in our subconscious mind. So, our habits are generated through our life as an answer to our environmental effects and to our belief system which is also in the subconscious. We pick habits from friends, parents, siblings, and influencers or we just create our own subconsciously or consciously. Bad habits are the ones that jeopardize our overall wellbeing. So, for our mental and physical health, we should get rid of them. When a son does not see the father do exercise, he will not do it either unless he follows a friend’s habit who does. As parents, we have a big responsibility to form the habits of our children. It is not easy to rewrite a bad habit because it has to be done subconsciously level as well, not just making a conscious decision. You can decide to implement a good habit or get rid of a bad one consciously but to get success in that needs to have constant repetition. Consistency is the key, otherwise, you will fail to implement it. There are more theories about how many days of repetition are needed to implement a new habit. That is why certain programs create a 21-day challenge or 30-day challenge or 90-day challenge. I more resonate with the 90-day one. I just started my 90-day fitness challenge on the 1st of October using the 12 minutes video training of Paul Logan, who is an actor, martial artist, and fitness trainer. I am in the middle of it now and still find myself coming up with excuses sometimes why I do not have time for it. So now to fight against my excuses I do the exercises even during cooking or when I watch a webinar.

    How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

    I do not want to spoil my chapter in the 1 Habit book, but I will give some hints. I am a dreamer and I love challenges. How I overcome challenges is that I learn new skills. The skills which are necessary to reach my goals. So, when I set up a goal I analyze what I am lacking and set objectives on how to feel the gap between the current situation and the desired outcome. This habit brought me far and I was able to create enjoyable and successful outcomes. Many times when I wanted to visit a new country I did not have the resources at the beginning, but I always found a way to eventually make it happen.

    Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

    First, we need to analyze the situation that we want to change in our lives or what goals we want to achieve and see what habits of ours are stopping us from it. When we know which habit, we want to get rid of we need to consciously stop ourselves from doing it again. The best idea to find an accountability partner who stands by us and reminds us or checks on us. You need to have the vision of the outcome either in your mind as a motivation or as a vision board, which reminds you every day why you stopped that bad habit in the first place. What I did with my 90-day challenge for example that I posted about it on social media tagging Paul Logan as well which gives me the inspiration to do the work and not let myself go down under my trainer’s name.

    Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

    The number one habit which I would recommend to everyone is practicing Samadhi meditation, because practicing this kind of mediation will make it much easier to implement all other habits and get rid of the bad ones. During Samadhi meditation one of the outcomes is that we activate the pineal gland which will allow glands to produce more of the necessary hormones such as growth hormone for a healthier body, melatonin for better sleep, serotonin for positive mood, oxytocin for loving bonds. This meditation supports us to be more conscious of our choices and stay focused on our goals. This meditation also raises the vibration of the body to the level where self-healing starts to happen. During the meditation, we are spinning up 8 chakras that clear the blockages and that will allow the connected glands to operate healthier. Our chakras in our body are aligned with our glands and the condition of our chakras affects the chemical production of the glands in our body which affects our overall wellbeing. Couple of years ago, I had pelvic infection syndromes and I booked an appointment with the doctor for the next day. At night I decided to do the Samadhi meditation before falling asleep by laying in bed. After the meditation, I stayed in that vibration all night and when I woke up in the Morning I just realized as I started my day that all my syndromes were gone, so I cancelled the doctor’s appointment. I was so relieved and shocked.

    Another habit could be to eat healthy food, because we are what we eat so it is really affecting our wellness, performance and focus. I would recommend quitting sugar first. I know it is tricky because people put sugar even into bread. But just be conscious not eating sweet bakery products and cakes made with processed sugar. Fortunately, there are more and more places which offer healthier cakes. Not eating milk products made also a huge impact on my life, I was able to lose 20 kgs in 10 months just by quitting milky products, white flour, processed sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

    For gaining more focus a good solution is to manage our activities and have a calendar. Writing your objectives and daily activities into a calendar will make it more possible to get them done. I started to implement it like 1.5 years ago and it is really making my life easier and I am more relaxed than when I was carrying all my duties in my head.

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    You can learn Samadhi meditation from certified Karma Yogi Gurus, teachers or practitioners.

    No wonder this is one of the foundations of my healing programs to teach this technique to my clients.

    To change what you eat needs commitment and determination, although my story was different, and it is in the book of Soul Food. I was spiritually reprogrammed after massive Reiki healing on myself. Practicing spirituality will make it easier to manifest what you want: either a new body or a different lifestyle.

    For time management just buy an appealing calendar that looks good on your desk and makes you feel good to write in it. After the first couple of days you will find it how much better to be organized.

    Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

    Positive mindset is very important in every aspect. So, before we start working or exercising just have your why. Why are you doing this, what is the motivation behind your actions? It will make it easier to overcome any challenges. My why for my work is the wellbeing of my clients and the lifestyle I am willing to create for my children and myself. I also would like to have a stronger physical body to feel less vulnerable.

    The second is to be passionate. Find the work that you are passionate about and practice exercises that you enjoy, in this case, you are less likely to quit. I am passionate about healing and energy works. I am also passionate about music and dancing, so I love to do exercises for music.

    Practicing affirmation is one of the most loved good habits out there. When you are saying positive things about yourself and your present and future it will empower you to perform better.

    For example, saying 10 of them in-front of the mirror in the Morning: I am strong, I am fit, I am smart, I am successful, I am blessed, I am loved, I am safe, I am supported, I am wealthy, I am healthy.

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    Easier to find your why and passion if you are meditating about it because our purpose in this life was already decided before we were born into this body. So, if your connection to the other side is stronger you have more messages and intuitions about what you are supposed to do in this lifetime. And people who find their purpose know their why and work towards it passionately. When I started to practice Karma yogi and Samadhi meditation that is when I started to receive more profound messages about my purpose.

    Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

    I can focus best when I let go of all other worries. When we are spiritually connected, and we believe that we are loved and supported continually we can let go of all our worries and focus on the task we need to complete.

    A relaxing, positive environment has also a great impact on our focus. Creating a sanctuary at home where we feel inspired has a great advantage. My desk is full of my favorite crystals and candles and I always have a white desk, because the white makes me feel purified.

    I believe that physical comfort also helps focus. Being hungry will make it difficult to be focused on me. I also need sufficient sleep to perform better. I make sure before I need to perform work, I am not hungry or tired.

    Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

    The first thing I do in the Morning is I pray. I practice forgiveness and gratitude. I ask for forgiveness for all my sins and for the sins of my ancestors, this could include killing a bug or being disrespectful or angry with someone.

    When we move into a new place, I always make sure that we all have our own sanctuary in the family, so we start with reimagining the new place for our taste.

    I eat lots of nuts, especially walnuts and pecans and drink coconut milk. I always sleep 7–8 hours at night.

    As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

    My Reiki Master used to say: live in the moment, when you are doing your dishes be there, when you are spending time with the kids give them full focus. If your brain is always spinning at high speed and always ticking on the next big idea, or the events next week you grind yourself and never enjoy the present and what you have right now. We can reach this state the most sufficiently by using our 5 senses: listen, taste, smell, watch and feel it on your skin. That will connect you to the present. When you take a shower feel the water drops on your skin, when you look at your child look into her eyes and connect, when you use a cream, smell it, when you taste your food eat it slowly and enjoy it bite by bite.

    You can use it in your work as well. When you find your purpose, you are in the flow while doing your work because it is coming from your heart and you do not wish to be anywhere else.

    One more last advice: “Carpe Diem”, seize the day. Be open to receiving the opportunities, the love, the abundance coming your way. You are open to receive when you believe you are good enough to have it. Gain confidence and believe you are worthy and accept the opportunities and challenges with an open heart. The Universe will not send you duties which you can not complete. When the opportunity arrives that means you are ready.

    Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

    I would implement Samadhi meditation and source memory healing into every people’s life. I have already explained the benefits of this meditation. Source memory healing is another amazing yogi technique to release buried emotional traumas from the unconscious mind. Nearly all of our mental and physical issues are related to emotional traumas which were experienced in our lives or in past lives. By releasing for example grief, guilt, shame, loneliness from the related memories we are literally rewriting the past and we able to create a new future because these emotions will not get triggered anymore.

    We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

    Forbes Riley is a powerful and vibrant individual. She inspires me every day and I am grateful to be in her inner circle. She is not just a celebrated actress but also a business owner and online marketer. I know her only virtually and I wish one day I will have a lunch with her too and have some precious moments in her busy schedule.

    How can our readers further follow your work online?

    My webpage is regularly updated with events and blogs.

    editbkiss.com

    I also have a private FB group with useful posts and live meditations.

    My YouTube channel have weekly uploads on Friday.

    This links are all reachable on my website.

    Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my vision and life learnings.

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    Edit B Kiss: Getting An Upgrade; How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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  • Meghan Trainor Gets QUIZZED by Hilary Duff on The Lizzie McGuire Movie for Billboard - December 5, 2019

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    Saweetie during “artist quarantine” interview with HOT 97
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  • Ooh look, more of Marlene Danielle!

    There’s also some Broadway clips that I haven’t seen before in here.

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  • An Interview With Jerome Knyszewski

    Hire with your heart. I’ll take someone with less experience and a big heart over an expert who cares very little.

    When the employees know YOU care, then they care.

    You absolutely have to know the language of your customers. What are they doing, saying, and thinking. Know those three and you’ll be great.

    As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gianna Miceli, an outspoken champion for women’s health, transforming the stigma attached to menopausal women from fat & frumpy to sexy & fabulous with her revolutionary message that women over 40 are not medically defective — they are eating themselves to it.

    She is abolishing the paradigm that is brainwashing women to believe that a post menopause life will include a plethora of prescriptions and never feeling sexy in their own skin again.

    Fans of her book, “Why American Women Are So Fat, Sick, Tired, & Angry, say, “This book helped me see that there is an easy solution that doesn’t require a prescription”.

    Gianna has been in the beauty business for over 20 years and is a certified holistic detoxing health coach.

    She entered the Fitness Atlantic Bikini classic at age 45 after losing 40 pounds in the middle of menopause, finished the Spartan Race at age 46, and published her book at age 50.

    Gianna has helped women lose an average of 45 pounds, reverse pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, and kick antidepressants & sugar addiction to the curb in her online “Sexy & Fabulous Academy,” and “90 Days To A New You Program”, and is on a mission to end the medical enslavement of women over 40.

    She is a captivating and sought-after speaker whose presentations on Youtube and her five star rated iTunes podcast are opening the eyes of women across America.

    Gianna Miceli speaks for health events, wellness groups, professional business women, weight loss conferences, entrepreneurial associations, boomers, etc.

    Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

    At 53 years old, I’m in the best shape and health of my life and I show other women how they can do it too.

    I do this by showing them how to eat for their over 40 hormone changes.

    When I was 40, I was pretty happy with how I looked, but by the time I was almost 42, I was so tired I could barely get out of bed, and I had put on 40 ugly, debilitating pounds.

    I saw many doctors to figure out what was going on and every one of them had different answers which means they had no answers.

    My parents were both obese and my father had Type 2 diabetes, two liver transplants, and kidney failure, and I had anxiety that I was heading down the same path and there was nothing I could do about it.

    I was so afraid to gain another pound.

    Every single day my mind was worried about this because obviously, I had to eat. What the hell was I supposed to eat to keep from getting even fatter?

    I had no one else who could or would take care of me financially so I absolutely had to figure out how to turn this around.

    My life and income depended on it. I was trapped into a corner and I felt scared and alone.

    Finally when I was 45, a woman came into my life and in the most random conversation, she spoke to me about eating in a way that made my liver & hormones work optimally.

    I had never heard these ideas before, before but she said it would get the weight off me and give me my energy back.

    That same day I threw away the food I had in my refrigerator that she told me to, and bought the delicious foods she told me to eat.

    In a week I lost 7 pounds, and in two weeks I cleared chronic acne I had for nine years.

    I was hooked and felt so amazing!!

    I had so much energy I actually wanted to go for long walks.

    OMG for the first time in four years I had hope that my future was going to be ok!

    I was led down a road that would ensconce me into studying physiology, hormones, menopause, gut health, and food for the next 10 years and write two books, and I put it all together in an easy, online delivery system for you.

    Prevention is the new model.

    I want every woman to feel as amazing as I do and have the confidence that I do, and feel that she is in control of her future and income and that she’ll be more than capable of taking care of herself into her old age.

    Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

    I think everyone can agree, that when you first start your journey, the biggest hurdle is believing in yourself, especially if you have friends and family that are nay-sayers about what you think you can create a

    business about. You will feel very alone and you have to be strong in your conviction and intuition that what you are doing will make a difference and that what you are trying to do, say, and/or teach, people will want to hear.

    Did I ever consider giving up? Yes! Many times! It’s hard. You want every client to be a success, and to fall in love with what you have to offer and that’s just not reality.

    Where did I get the drive? When these doubts come into your mind, to me, it’s like God put someone in your face or into your life that solidifies that the problem you are solving is very needed. When you help someone and change their life, no amount of money can give you the same satisfaction.

    I got the drive to continue even when things were so hard because I just have this very strong vision of what I want to accomplish. I wanted to make a one stop location for women entering menopause to get the best, most honest, and helpful information possible that didn’t involve getting a prescription from a doctor.

    Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

    The funniest mistake I made when I was first starting out was to believe this marketing guru that I would make $50,000 in my eight weeks of working with him. Was it funny? Well it is now, but it wasn’t then. Of course I did not even make back my $10,000 investment in him.

    The lesson I learned was to take advice from real people that you know and to find mentors who can prove that they are living the life you wish to live as well.

    What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

    What makes my company stand out is that I have a real solution, that addresses the root cause of a woman’s misery, that has no risk of cancer.

    I hear from women all the time who have been failed by doctors. I just received this email last night:

    “I have always been in shape all my life. I was diagnosed with thyroid disease at 33. I’m 49 and my waist gets bigger every day even though I eat clean.

    I’m a vegetarian which I became after I couldn’t get rid of my acid reflux disease. I work out. I lift weights and I still can’t lose it.

    My diet is clean and I’ve been working on my digestion. That’s always been a problem.

    I’m definitely going through menopause. I’m scared. And no one will help me.”

    My response to her is too long to print here, but this is a very clear example of how the doctors fail women.

    Just off the top, I guarantee she does not have thyroid disease, she doesn’t have too much stomach acid, she has too little, and her entire digestive process isn’t working right and she’s on the precipice of an autoimmune condition.

    I guarantee she has at least 6 prescriptions she takes daily for all this when what’s really going on is lacking in the right nutrition to make her metabolic processes work.

    There’s nobody doing this in regards to menopause women. Not a soul.

    Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

    To avoid burn-out, you have to eat right, and get sleep. The partying catches up to you and then you think you’re old, but you’re just really toxic and metabolically starving.

    None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

    Most of all I have to thank the people who said my business is silly and only exists in my mind.

    But on a kinder note, we have technology to thank for being able to bring our gifts to the entire world without being in person.

    I have clients in Canada, Australia, UK, Jordan, and South Africa and it’s mind blowing to me when I think about it.

    Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

    I would define a good company as one that has a clear mission and consistent values and message.

    A great company takes care of its employees and gives back to the world, with a greater mission.

    I volunteered at “Thrive, Make Money Matter” with Cole Hatter and that was my first exposure to Gary Vanyerchuck and learning how companies take on a mission for greatness.

    I have a plan in mind for mine but have not set it up yet but it will be helping the women of the world who don’t have easy access to feminine hygiene products. They don’t have a Walgreen’s aisle filled with options like we do in the USA.

    Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

    The five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from good to great are:

    1. Hire with your heart. I’ll take someone with less experience and a big heart over an expert who cares very little.

    2. When the employees know YOU care, then they care.

    3. You’re never finished. There’s always more to learn, better ways to do things, and especially in expanding your marketing.

    4. You absolutely have to know the language of your customers. What are they doing, saying, and thinking. Know those three and you’ll be great.

    5. Come from a place of service and the rest will fall into place.

    Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

    The typical response is to know your why, and many people think that means money, or taking care of their family, but I think it has to be a grander “why”.

    For instance, my “why” is to end the medical enslavement of women over 40. It’s a huge hurdle to deprogram them into believing the cure to what ails them is in nutrition and not prescription bottles.

    Why do I want this? Because my obese mother was probably a very depressed woman strapped with three kids, working full time and by the time she came home from work, she went straight up to her room and was barely involved in her children’s lives.

    I didn’t understand this level of depression until I got fat myself, how consuming it can be when you hate living inside your own body. I want women to be the best women, mothers, and wives they can be.

    What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

    I think if your business reaches a standstill, you’ve lost touch with the customer base. You’ve got to go back to, what are they thinking, doing, and feeling. They will tell you. From nail polish to luxury automobiles, they’ll tell you why they’re no longer buying.

    Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

    The strategies I recently used was to improve my digital experience, so I created something once, and can sell it for any price. It requires no more work on my end, so even lowering the price doesn’t make more work for me, and now I can help more women.

    Then I added a product line. Find more ways to solve your customer’s problems and create more income for yourself.

    In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

    In my experience, the marketing aspect of running a company is underestimated. It’s so easy yet complex today.

    We can use bots to reach out to find our customers but those bots had better be speaking the language of our customers.

    It’s like how the tech is listening to everything we do and say today, how our phones are literally spying on us, and then they deliver exactly what we need.

    For instance, I had a phone conversation with a friend who was coming to visit NYC and I would meet him for lunch on this day at this time at this restaurant..

    Soon after that call, I received a notification from Lyft with a coupon for 10% off my next ride, and it literally told me what time to leave and what train to take so that I would be meeting my friend at the time discussed!

    As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

    This is one of the most overlooked experiences online. You literally have to leave a simple but very direct breadcrumb trail to guide the potential customer to the purchase, always keeping in mind that the customer is always thinking…..”what’s in it for me?”

    Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

    The way to gain trust is to be consistent in your message and to be seen. Video is the best way for the world to gage the essence of your personality and videos make the best 24/7 employees in the world.

    Great customer service and a great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

    The way to impress your customer is to USE THEIR NAME! Respond to their inquiries like human beings and not $3 an hour employees overseas.

    It’s so easy to make someone happy just by acknowledging their needs and giving a little extra and being human.

    For instance, I’ve been with my cell phone service carrier for 25 years so I’ve seen the customer service leave the USA and become almost non-existent and it’s a shame. It would blow me away if someone would acknowledge that I’m a human being that pays them every month for 25 years.

    What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

    This is fascinating because this year, many corporations took risks becoming socially “woke” and that’s a risk.

    I think it’s a very personal decision, for instance, a friend of mine jumped on the Trump Train at the very beginning and that CREATED his brand. He exploded by doing so. His little radio show is now nationally syndicated. His one town newspaper column is now nationally syndicated. He was interviewed by over 1500 media outlets. He’s had three best selling books since then, so you never know. He just took his company to a public IPO for millions.

    What we do know, is that not having a social media presence makes you invisible. It’s the world we live in now. Your customers get to know you via what you say on your social media.

    What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

    My biggest pet peeve, is that people have lost the ability to communicate clearly, and when told, “Hey, I don’t know what you’re communicating”, they throw it back at me, as if I’m not intelligent, which is hilarious. I take all feedback as feedback to assess no matter who it comes from. It’s a perception someone is having about your business and it has to be addressed to some capacity.

    And I’m sorry to say, it’s mostly from women. Women are too timid to speak directly about what problem they actually solve and they create these very odd elevator pitches that don’t communicate a concept. I’m like, “what problem do you solve? I don’t know what you’re saying?” I know from their responses they just blow off that i did not know what they are trying to say.

    What can be done to correct these errors is one has to realize that you’re not selling to yourself. YOU might understand your elevator pitch, but the market does not. The market will always tell you if what you do is valuable or not. Can you solve a problem quickly? Can you save someone time, money, or pain? They you have a business.

    Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

    Wow what a great question!

    If i could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the people, I wish I could completely change the medical system to what it was before the Rockefeller Foundation bought up most of the medical schools back in the 1930’s and changed the curriculum from naturopathy to allopathy and put us on the path of “a pill for an ill”.

    That impact would change the future of the planet. Type 2 Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic illness that barely existed 100 years ago and in the USA, we spend $250 million dollars a year on it and it’s reversible in 16 days by changing one’s menu and doctor’s have known this since the late 1800’s.

    I hosted a fantastic event in Vegas a few years ago called Smart Health and I was super excited to meet and mingle with the top CEO’s in health tech.

    The entire two days, the speakers talked about how to manage type 2 Diabetes around the world, not reverse it. And the whole time I was dumbfounded at how much time, money, and effort was going into this instead of really healing people. We could and should be teaching people how their bodies are creating Type 2 Diabetes. What a shame!

    How can our readers further follow you online?

    My most active social media is Instagram @MsGiannaMiceli but I’m on Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, and Parler.

    This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

    About the interviewer: Jerome Knyszewski (Kenchefski) is the CEO of HeavyShift. Jerome serves as an advisor to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies as well as entrepreneurs who disrupt their industries and therefore tend to be targets of malicious online attacks. His company builds, protects, and repairs the online presence & reputation of many celebrities, products and beloved brands.

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    Gianna Miceli: How To Take Your Company From Good To Great was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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  • Y’know? It’s a good thing I decided to divorce my last husband. He HATED Emma Stone’s voice and I could not relate. He was such a hateful person and I didn’t want anything to do with him by the end. 

    Emma stone is definitely one of my favorite actresses of all time. She’s just so.. Open and relatable to me, so it makes it a lot easier to like her more than all others. Seeing her personality come through in interviews is what I live for. 

    The number one thing I can remember seeing her in, is Easy A. I watched that movie sometime around seventh grade, and absolutely loved it. I don’t know what it was about it, but just seeing her deal with these rumors like the brave girl she was in that movie was astounding, and as someone who was bullied, I guess I found my ways to relate to her. 

    Then, years went by and I got to see her play as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spiderman. I have always been a super nerd when it came to super heroes, so I loved seeing her vibrant atmosphere pop up in a movie like that. 

    But, if we are being honest.. Those aren’t my favorite movies of hers. You know what is? The Help. I am a huge sucker for sad and touching movies (maybe that is the femininity in me) and seeing her try to bring justice and equality to ‘the help’ was a battle I wanted to join in on. 

    And what’s sad.. The issues in that movie are something that America is going through right now. Some things never change… But they need to.

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  • Waking up on Mondays like… 🙄🙄🙄 #timetoplaythegame • @youcan_this All I wanted was to play the game 😒 #skinbone #hottakewrestlingpodcast #wrestling #hottakes #podcast #wwe #nxt #roh #nwa #impactwrestling #tna #allelitewrestling #news #interviews #reviews #recaps #videogames #ppv #wrestlingnews #nmgnetwork #blvdavetv #chicago #anchorfm #soundcloud #itunes #googleplay #stitcherradio #results #explore (at Chicago, Illinois)
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CH7zCZVpd3u/?igshid=pccxg1hswu6i

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