Lusting After Letters


When I was younger, I moved around the country a fair bit and I’m grateful. The addiction to curiosity and change serves an entrepreneurs well. Yet, reflecting back I dropped my reading and handwriting skills somewhere between Kansas in first grade and Wyoming in second grade. This secretly happened during the late 80′s but a lady is never supposed to tell her age. (Yeah, 35 and loving it.) At no fault of my parents or me, the midwest simply had different teaching styles. 

Although I had Louis and Clark style intentions, my expedition landed me straight into the “special reading and writing class”, which was code for: “I was slow” at these skills. Later I ended up becoming an author but reading and writing was a rocky road at first.

That said, I learned to fall in LOVE with words, writing and books. Hopefully more people can learn to lust after consonants and vowels like I do. Sometimes it’s an acquired taste much like beer or wine. I’m a huge book club advocate. (Even if you must include wine in the book club. It works well!)

I’m writing because lately, I’ve made reading a priority and it’s been a source of freedom. Previously, I would just read what I thought would get me ahead. Not so much anymore. The words that create photos and videos in my head relax me. It’s a form of release at the end of the day, on a flight or on a weekend morning. Here are a few books I’ve read lately and my thoughts as a self-proclaimed bookworm:

Thrive by Arianna Huffington - I dug this book. Very well-rounded lessons and guidance from someone who has seen a great deal. Appreciated the original thoughts and content. Not just another business book.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Sheryl Strayed – A compilation of many short stories. Very real and raw honest opinions to some of life’s biggest challenging situations. Refreshing read. Definitely recommend this one.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James – I was a few years late to the party on this one. Gave it a whirl but couldn’t get through the book. Felt the story was repetitive and had to put it down after awkwardly hiding the cover while reading it on the plane. However 70 million+ copies have been sold so I’m just one opinion!

Things I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey – Another set of short lessons/stories. I like this format (very conducive to our society’s quick pace and short attention span). This woman has seen a great deal. Reading her words felt like almost getting ahead or cheating because we can learn so much through her experiences.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – The overall concept and message is genius but I felt the book could have been about half the length and still had the same impact. It’s heavy and dense but the takeaways are something I will carry forever. Really makes you think about being Present, the role of the Ego and awareness.

A Virgin Way by Richard Branson – This is Richard’s first book on leadership. I’m in the process of reading this now. Will follow up with feedback but so far, so good!




It’s Simple Really . . .

static.squarespaceHalfway through sixth grade, I moved from conservative Wyoming to my new middle school in edgy Bullhead City, Arizona. Quite a change. In Bullhead, yep that’s the name of the city, the kids used cuss words on the desert playground. I met this girl. Nicole was her name. We became friends.

After school, Nicole headed to LA to pursue per passion for acting. I attended college at ASU. After 24 years, we’ve witnessed many milestones together including our recent launch of SIMPLE Baby Foods.

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 7.00.18 PMNicole grew up in family restaurants; incredible chefs surrounding and influencing her. Cooking is one of her skills and passions. She and her lovely husband also have an adorable little guy named Quinn, now 7. When Quinn was an infant, Nicole studied the actual ingredients in store-bought (mainstream) baby food and decided the only option was cooking “real” food for Quinn, herself. She learned a great deal about the importance of starting a baby off with the proper nutrition when they’re ready to eat food and it became her passion, and purpose, to educate other parents as well. Last week was the announcement of SIMPLE Baby Foods.

SIMPLE is Nicole’s vision and baby (so to speak). For every pouch of baby food we sell, we donate a pouch to a baby in need. That’s where the purpose comes into play.

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I’m along for the ride to support Nicole when it comes to entrepreneurial and marketing lessons I’ve snagged along my way. This is the also the first time I’ve financially invested in another entrepreneur – something I’ve dreamed of doing since I became one, five years ago. Helping other people figure out where their passion, purpose and skill collide happens to be my intersection of passion, purpose and skill. My bliss.

Passions often change, but it’s likely they’ll end up becoming a skill at the very least. For example, Nicole’s passion for acting has shifted but her previous career as an actress helps her with interviews, video blogging and talking about SIMPLE.

5507_10151996561237825_419177900_nI’m a strong believer that where passion, purpose and skill collide, bliss resides. It’s not an intersection to be found. It must be created. So many people have a hard time identifying that special intersection but it’s well worth the search. For Nicole, it was right in front of her. Simple.

Photo to the Left: Nicole and I in middle school, 1990 (top left). At Tony Hsieh’s book launch party (top right), NYE 2013 (bottom left), celebrating 22 years of friendship (bottom right).

More info on Simple: Check out our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Uncovered: Body Image

Body image. A topic I’ve never talked or wrote about yet it’s been something I’ve struggled with every single day as long as I can remember.

I remember learning to count calories and going on my first diet when I was 10 years old. Yep. Circa 1990, the “low fat food” craze was in full effect and I was a follower. From there, the obsession with trying to look a certain way continued on and on. I know I’m not alone here.

As I get older I’ve become a little more in control of the critical monster in my mind but it still floors me that we haven’t talked about this topic openly. Our society continues to romanticize a certain unattainable “look” and the media backs that very notion up. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, it is happening. Now we have social media, which amplifies and accelerates everything.

So let’s start the conversation. Today, my friend Amy Stanton and I, along with our teams, launched a series called Uncovered via a live Google Hangout (full recorded video has bee posted above). With this passion project, we intend to empower women to have those crucial, societal conversations that most people are intimidated to tackle.

The first one is titled Uncovered: Women + Body Image. We’ve rallied several badass women who are kicking open the (virtual) doors and leading the way for others to uncover what is often unsaid. The conversation must start before we can positively shift these taboo topics.

More about Uncovered:

A group of influential women are participating in the first episode of “Uncovered,” a Google Hangout series for women geared towards shedding light and driving a conversation around important, and sometimes taboo women-centric topics.

This compelling Google Hangout will feature a panel of inspiring women from all walks off life including, former professional beach volleyball star and fitness icon Gabby Reece, Equinox president Sarah Robb O’Hagan, #1 female rock climber in the world Sasha DiGiulian, Primal Yoga founder Liz Arch and Psychotherapist and Author Sarah Brokaw. The panel will be moderated by Hall of Fame soccer player and ESPN/ABC Analyst Julie Foudy. These powerful women will speak about body image, how we define “beauty” and how we navigate through these issues that society has presented. Some of the topics that will be touched upon will include: past and present personal body image struggles, media perception, the pressure to look a certain way and advice to young girls on their self-esteem.

To shed light on amazing women and important topics that women often think about but may not discuss openly.

To watch and listen into the Uncovered Google Hangout, you can RSVP here and utilize the Q&A feature during the hangout. Participate in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #UncoveredTalks and following @UncoveredTalks. Join us Wednesday, August 20th from 10:15am – 11am PST to uncover this important taboo topic.

Special thanks to Alana Golob and Megan Porteous for their help with putting on the first Uncovered hangout.

Tales of an Entrepreneur









My company, Digital Royalty, just turned five! In social years, which is like dog years, that’s more like 35 years old. As I approach my 5th anniversary as the company’s founder, I realize there are some things that I wish I knew back then that I (kind of) know now when it comes to entrepreneurship:

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you start your company, there will be a thousand things each day that you’ve never done. That’s okay.

  2. Beware of shiny object syndrome. More companies fail from a lack of focus vs. lack of business.

  3. Your team is everything. Spend a great deal of time making sure the right people are on the bus and in the right seats.

  4. Entrepreneurs tend to wait too long to hire and too long to fire.

  5. Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should. Realize what you’re uniquely qualified to do and delegate or outsource the rest as soon as you can.

  6. Don’t forget why you started your company. Remind yourself daily. (Or hourly if needed!)

  7. Being an entrepreneur is like the Chicago weather. If you don’t like the way something is going, wait 15 mins. It will change.

  8. Your plan is important but accept the fact that it’s going to change and you will need to adapt.

  9. When recruiting and interviewing talent remember this rule as you evaluate candidates: If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

  10. You can’t turn your business off but if you don’t take time to go off the grid every once in awhile your business will suffer.

  11. Focus on the long game. Society has romanticized start-ups that burst over night yet that’s not the norm. Steady as she grows.

  12. A diverse support system is critical. You’re going to need more than just family and lifelong friends. It’s lonely at the top.

  13. You can color outside the lines without crossing the line. Disruption and destruction create two different outcomes.

  14. When we practice humility, our growth is accelerated.

  15. The people you choose to do business and the people you decide not to do business with will be the important decisions you make.

  16. Celebrate lessons. Lessons + blessings = Blessons. Accelerate the process of learning by sharing mistakes.

  17. Try to learn the difference between when to make things happen vs. letting them happen. Gas vs. breaks.

  18. Always call people back and return emails. Figure out a system for doing so if you’re “too busy”. It’s worth the time and effort.

  19. A five-degree shift changes your entire trajectory.

  20. Read outside the box. Don’t just read your industry trade articles. Explore beyond.

  21. The company can’t love you back. Logos don’t have feelings. Your team and partners have a human capacity but your logo does not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t passionately dive in head-first, just manage your expectations.

  22. There’s a big difference between true business partnerships and vendors. Alignment is key for longevity. Transactions are short-lived.

  23. Find a team of mentors and make sure you’re coachable. Then return the favor and mentor others.

  24. Your hustle factor is often your differentiating factor. Work hard.

  25. Where passion, purpose and skill collide, bliss resides.

Where passion, purpose & skill collide

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What if you took a complete right turn from what you’re doing now in effort to follow what you REALLY want? Where passion, purpose and skill collide, happiness resides.

Awhile back a friend suggested I meet with their friend who was considering moving to downtown Las Vegas. So we met. Cathy Brooks, nice woman, high energy, also in the field of marketing and that was that. She brought her dog to the meeting so I knew instantly that we’d click. Cathy was thinking about bringing her tech/PR/marketing talents to Las Vegas.

Fast forward a few months and I run into Cathy in our community. She made the move! But she decided to do something completely different — to follow her passion. There was a strong need for doggie daycare and a dog park in downtown Las Vegas. (Unfortunately when the mobsters set up shop here many years ago they forgot to add parks and animal amenities. Go figure. ) Cathy to the rescue, her “plan” to move to downtown as a marketing professional was intercepted by her lifelong passion: to work with dogs.

Fast-forward less than a year and I find myself touring The Hydrant Club, Cathy’s creation. To witness someone who has found their perfect spot, no pun intended, is something magical. I get chills thinking about how at home and happy Cathy was when showing me around her park.  She’s created that intersection where purpose, passion and skill collide.

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Cathy’s “plan” was to continue her marketing/PR career in order to eventually someday be able to follow her passion. Then serendipity struck. So many of us live by that same template. Do ________ (insert college degree-centric job) until you can afford to do _______ (insert passion here). But what about now?

I asked Cathy, what advice do you have for others so they can also spend their time doing what they love? Was there a specific moment when you just knew? A sign? She said not really. There wasn’t a white flash or “ah ha” moment. It was more of a series of events, experiences and lessons that consistently pointed toward a new path. What’s unique about Cathy is that she listened to herself, the community and the universe and then took action on what she heard.

I’ve been trying to learn more about how this process happens. Seems one of the misunderstandings is that we can’t look for that intersection where our purpose, passion and skill collide. We have to create the space because it likely doesn’t yet exist.

More about Cathy’s journey here in her TEDx Talk:

Your Guide to Thrive at South by Southwest


After attending the Interactive portion of SXSW in Austin for many years, I’ve developed a bit of a strategy for navigating through the chaos. Some of you may have followed the event virtually, experienced FOMO and plan to go next year and some of you might be exhausted from the past week. Here are a few things that I wish I knew then that I know now:

  • Hold memorable meetings – Reminder, there are hundreds of thousands of people in a small place at one time. Lots of opportunities to meet up with people. In previous years I found myself going from a breakfast meeting to a coffee meeting, lunch meeting, etc. Now I’ve found a secret place to have meetings. There are hammocks, trees for shade, grassy knolls and it overlooks the Colorado River. You can make this your office for an afternoon, bring a blanket, snacks and rotate (schedule) people to meet you there. Works like a charm. I met someone for the first time and we had our meeting sitting on a hammock. Quick way to know if you have a business bond. (Or not.)

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  • Running/Walking meetings – This year, I held a running meeting each morning. (Mid-morning, that is.) They hold you accountable for going to bed and getting up at a decent time, you get your workout in and studies show that you think better while exercising. Also, there’s nothing like bonding over a gorgeous jog. (Check the schedule first to make sure you’re not scheduling the jog during a great panel.) There’s a great running route along the water near downtown along Barton Springs, Town Lake Park and Zilker Metropolitan Park.

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  • Remember the folks back home - For most companies, it costs anywhere from $5-10K to send one employee to SxSW. Your employer needs to see your ROI and if you can bring back enough relevant knowledge to share with the rest of your team, you’ll be more likely to get the ticket to Austin again next year. While you’re out learning (and partying) share some short real-time notes with the folks back at the office who are suffering from FOMO and following you virtually. If you choose to only share Instagram photos and tweets about parties and nightly outings it will appear you’re only partying to the people back at camp.
  • Prepare prior (not while you’re on the flight there.) What sessions do you REALLY want to go to? Do your research. Do you even need a badge? Can you get the same content later online? Book your hotel room now. (Yes, a year in advance.) Make it downtown or within walking distance from downtown. Worst part about SxSW is trying to get a taxi. You will likely have a cocktail at some point so keep that in mind so driving isn’t an option either. Who do you want to meet? Set up meetings prior to arriving in Austin but know some (or most) will change. It’s important to have the intent and attempt in place prior in order to make meetings stick. Once that’s done, rely on serendipity.
  • A few other anecdotal notes: It rains (downpours) at some point every year. Prepare accordingly. All of the restrooms seem to have Spanish signs, Know the difference between damas and hombre. If you just want to go to party and hear the good music, it’s better, easier and less stressful to take time off and go to the music portion of the festival.

30-Minute Power Sessions

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I have the attention span of a snapchat. It’s become a slight problem and it’s a core reason why I took up knitting. If a meeting goes beyond than 30-45 minutes, there’s no guarantee I’ll mentally “be where my feet are” as the meeting concludes. I bet you can relate.

With my knitting supplies in my purse, I went to my first movie (at a theater) in a few years.  I had anxiety about sitting still for that long, especially knowing that turning my phone on (even if it’s on silent) is not smiled upon. It all worked out, my friend got a scarf out of the deal and I checked the family outing box (and truly enjoyed it).

So, I’ve come up with a recent experiment to limit tasks to 30-minute increments. It’s simple: Focus for 30 minutes on one thing and then do something different. It’s amazing what we can accomplish in 1,800 seconds when we focus, see an end in sight and limit our distractions.

Here’s how I’ve been sprinkling 30-min power sessions into my day, feel free to give them a whirl:

  • Business meetings – very few situations need more than 30-minutes. People just can’t pay attention for much longer. Tips:
    • The person who called the meeting should start the meeting with: “The purpose of this meeting is to ________. “  And they should also be the timekeeper, giving the 5 minutes left warning.
    • If someone asks you if you have a “hard stop”, the answer is yes. Hard stop is code for “Is what you were going to do next more important than this meeting that’s taking longer than it should?”  Nearly everything should be a hard stop unless you’re snowboarding, in my opinion. (I said *nearly. Please don’t get fired over this one.)
    • If you’re a participant and the meeting goes off topic for more than 2 minutes in length, everyone else in the meeting gives you permission to say, “We’re getting a bit off topic here, should this conversation take place in a separate meeting?”
  • Big projects. Tackle them in 30-minute increments. Those heavy, daunting, focus-demanding writing projects, proposals and presentations fall into this bucket. If anything takes much longer than (2-3) 30 minute increments to prepare that it’s probably too long for someone to consume. This will help you avoid Procrastination. We often don’t start on certain projects because we have this myth in our minds that they’re going to take a long time to complete and we don’t have that kind of time to even consider getting started. But! We can find 30 mins.
  • Workouts – Same goes here. I used to slave on the elliptical for an hour plus (captain boring) until I started monitoring my heart rate and learned how to train in intervals. Now I accomplish in 30 mins in what I previously did in 60+ because I’m working smarter not harder. (Duh) And, when I get done with an intense interval and I can still check email on my iPhone after intense intervals while in resting zones.
  • Gamify your day – I am very results-driven, not to mention prize-orientated. For example, if you sit down and work on a big project for 30 mins, reward yourself with (insert prize here). Options could be: go for a walk, check snapchat, have a glass of wine tonight, go on a safari, etc. — whatever pushes your buttons! 

Don’t discount what you can get done in a short amount of time.

Amount of time it took me to write, edit and post this? 24 mins.

The Digital Disappearing Act

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Digital things are disappearing. Literally. Like socks that have been eaten by the dryer. Things are missing, they’re gone. But forever? Will they show up someday? The culprit is Virtual Pixie Dust.

Take Snapchat for example . . . this isn’t news. There’s been a great deal of conversation about that platform and it’s magic ability to share content and make it disappear. But what about other types of disappearing digital data?

Mark Cuban just shared what he sees in his crystal ball for the tech industry. Enter Cyber Dust, an app that lets users send disappearing texts and multimedia.

“Anything that can be misconstrued in any way, shape or form, I’m going to do it on Cyber Dust,” Cuban said. “There’s a digital footprint for everything, and it becomes harder [to own] the playbook of our lives on Facebook or on email or texts. It’s hard to have context that’s right.”

As I process this digital disappearing epidemic, a few questions come to mind:

Is it ever really gone? The content, that is. Where does it go? Can an intern at Snapchat access these short videos that have disintegrated from the publisher’s (my) hands? Does Cyber Dust have an insurance policy?

Is this allowed? Can we really erase everything we do? It’s like having a dry eraser following in our digital footsteps. Yep. This is allowed because there were never any rules against the idea. The folks who write the rules would never imagined the need for a ban against digital pixie dust. It simply wasn’t on the rules roadmap.

Is this ‘freedom’ or ‘lack of accountability’? The i-jury is still out on this one.

What else are we going to be able to delete next? Does this raise “free speech” into question? Imagine: No digital footprints, just virtual pixie dust. What if you could lock your information into a virtual vault and only people whom you gave permission could access your digital data? (Kind of like a credit score.)

Vision vs. Sight








During a recent formal (wink) board meeting, I encountered a moment I’ll never forget.

Each month, I meet with my Board of Directors. We’ve never met at a boardroom table or even in an office. These monthly board meetings are conducted at a local bar, over dinner or during a walking meeting through our downtown Las Vegas neighborhood.

I digress . . . this post isn’t about board meetings, but it was necessary picture to paint for the plot of this post.

One of my fellow board members has this ‘project‘ going on, which I’ve written about and mentioned several times before. It’s a $350 million, privately funded, mission to change a city in a way that’s never been done.

This project is to the local Las Vegas media as a political election is to late night TV and SNL. The daily articles about the project put the efforts in a heroic light during the morning press and then in the afternoon they claim all is evil. The local media, bless their cotton socks, seem confused and exhausting at times. If you don’t live in downtown Las Vegas it can be tough to have a clear lens.

Whether you agree with the Las Vegas “Downtown Project” or not, is not my point.

What happened during our (walking) board meeting the other day explains it all. A homeless gentleman approached one of my board members who happens to be leading the efforts of this project. The man walked up to him, patted him on the back and made eye contact. He said, “Good job, Tony. You’re doing good work down here.”

Tony flashed his famous barely-there-half-embarrassed-of-the-attention humble smile and said, “Thank you.” Then he kept walking and we resumed our board meeting.

Thinking back, the gentleman probably didn’t have a place to sleep that night and he likely doesn’t know where his next meal will come from. However, he showed gratitude and grace because he’s been given hope.

It occurred to me that my board meetings aren’t necessarily about my business. They’re subliminally teaching me about what it means to create and implement a Vision beyond what you can see. Each month guides me. It’s pretty unique to live in an environment where you witness the art of a Visionary every day. It sure does serve as great curriculum. If you “live it”, you will learn it.

Visionaries don’t predict the future. They place bets on their ability to form and create what the future looks like based on their previous experiences and lesson. There’s a difference between betting against the house while gambling blind and placing a steep calculated bet on the belief in yourself and the belief you have in the team you’ve attracted.

Nearly two years ago when Tony Hsieh asked me to move my company to downtown Las Vegas he shared his vision with me. None of his vision yet existed in plain sight. Today is a different story. Nearly 2,000 jobs have been created and our neighborhood looks completely different.

Turns out, it doesn’t matter who believes in the Visionary because they believe in themselves enough to draw the right people around them and create physical proof for others.

TEDx Talk: The Renegade Factor


So much focus is applied to gender inequality. Instead, I suggest we focus on the common denominators among certain women that allow them to experience hockey stick growth in their careers, and better yet, their lives. Together, we can identify how some women have been able to soar and what other women need to know in order to replicate the formula. The Renegade Factor.

Identifying the consistent ingredients that women need to have in order to exceed the baselines that have been established will allow us to replicate the formula, implement it into our society and schools and accelerate the process of women breaking through.

The rise of women is not the downfall of men. Absolutely not. However, women are one of the most valuable resources in the world yet a large majority of these resources aren’t being applied toward discovering solutions and overcoming challenges. This isn’t about doing “good”; it’s about evolving as a society. It’s about global growth and equal contribution.