Phone Dump: Sunday 10/19

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(( foliage in the Boston Common ))

My phone storage is running low thanks to the dozens of photos I take on a daily basis. It’s especially a problem now, as I’ve been trying to capture the beauty of New England foliage that’s all around me. Truth is, I have this weird fear of deleting photos and forgetting memories. So I’ve come up with a solution: every week I’m going to collect my favorite photos from my iPhone and post them here. Without further ado, here are my favorite moments from this week.

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(( Turkish manti ))

We had people over on Sunday night to celebrate my roommate Zeynep’s birthday. She’s from Turkey and made us a traditional dish called manti: little dumplings eaten with plain turkish yogurt & butter sauce with spices. Her Turkish friends came in from NYC and said that manti is what they always eat after a night out at home. We indulged before the festivities, but it was still delicious.

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On top of the manti, she also introduced me (and Penny) to Turkish coffee! It was my first time trying it but certainly not the last.

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(( homemade ice cream cake Miranda & I made for the birthday girl ))IMG_6295.JPG(( Miranda & I soaking everything up on our beloved stoop ))IMG_6300.JPG

(( two puppies Sara & I made friends while we were chillin in the commons after class. They were super sweet twin sisters — the owner strolled around with them off the leash, and they ran right up to us! ))

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IMG_6157.JPG (( pretty sights on the walk home from school ))

Brand Love: Gap’s Dress Normal Campaign

Whenever I walked out of the T station near my apartment in the month of September, I was greeted by a gigantic Gap advertisement: a poster of a girl on the beach dressed in a classic outfit & the tagline “dress normal.”

My perception of Gap has always been that it’s boring, plain-jane, and not trendy or fashionable in the least bit. I’ve only shopped there when my mom has coupons & insists that I stock up on some basics. In fact, all the clothes I have were bought by my mom; my own personal collection from the store includes a denim jacket, white vneck, baseball tee, white sundress, and a floral sundress. I actually love these articles of clothing because it’s so easy to throw together an outfit when you keep it simple. Yet I’ve always had a weird aversion to the brand. I think Gap has realized the perception younger people have of it, and is trying to rethink the way we look at its clothes.

Gap doesn’t say it’s classic or plain or timeless or simple– it’s normal. That choice of words was intentional, and I hypothesize that the brand is attempting to position itself as part of the “normcore” fashion trend, which was widely discussed last February/March. A flurry of articles were published defining & attempting to understand normcore. Here’s one take by New York Magazine:

“Normcore— self-aware, stylized blandness… using it in a slightly different sense, not to describe a particular look but a general attitude: embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for “difference” or “authenticity.”

Gap is tapping into this “sameness as cool” fashion philosophy, and goes even further to say that your clothes are not what define you. Instead, you should have a basic uniform that acts as a canvas for your personality and your actions. In this way, dressing normal gives way to authenticity. This is a statement that resonates on an emotional level with consumers. It’s giving people permission to be their true selves & let their personality shine through their actions rather than their clothes.

 

The campaign is over but the message is definitely still part of the brand, and it had a successful impact on my perception of Gap. What do you think about the campaign?

Blake Lively’s Two Babies

Last month, Blake Lively launched her newest entrepreneurial endeavor: a website called Preserve.

Entrepreneur Magazine interviewed the star about her business, and she proved that there are a whole lot of brains paired with her remarkable beauty. Hardcore #girlcrush.

Blake Lively is going through a massive transformation from actress to entrepreneur.

When I saw Malcolm Gladwell speak at Inbound, I Instagrammed something he said that carried a lot of weight for me, and applies to Blake’s journey as well:

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“Be the kind of person who can tune out the naysayers, because there will inevitably be naysayers with any transformation” – Malcolm Gladwell #inbound2014

As Gladwell said, there will inevitably be negative people who are uncomfortable and critical in regards to this change, but Blake has the right attitude for the job; she disregards the haters & continues onward, making her dreams real and proving them wrong. In the interview, she said:

“I know the disparaging critics are the media and the most kind are the consumers. And they’re the ones who make your brand.”

In other words, the people talking shit are just talking to talk and criticize. They have no true relationship with Blake, her brand, or business.  Those that do have a meaningful impact are the consumers; its their interactions that support her endeavors and guide the future of the brand. Blake’s ability to dissect this criticism will benefit her & her company.

She also has focus: Blake is being driven by passion and has tunnel vision in regards to creating this vision.

“It’s less about others’ perception and more about my own. You can’t be an entrepreneur for other people. You can’t start a company for other people. You have to love it more than you ever thought of loving something that wasn’t a human being. The demands will kick you down and rob your life – but yet it is so rewarding.”

In Hollywood, it’s all about competing in that world for the movies and the roles. Actresses & actors are competition, not collaborators– unless they’re working on the same film. I feel like the world of entrepreneurship is much more, open, expansive, and unlimited. There is infinite room for great ideas, and so people are welcome because they are only adding to the pot. Entrepreneurship allows you to focus on the dreams, desires, inspirations inside yourself, and the solutions you come up with to problems you’ve experienced in your own immediate world. You don’t have to worry about what everybody else in the industry is doing. Instead, you do your thing, and then look around and see that you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who are also just doing their thing. The common thread is that your making your unique visions a reality. That’s the most beautiful kind of success– one where each person flourishes in their own unique way. Kind of like a field of flowers…

You’re drive comes from your heart– not from the need to compete with your outer surroundings.

In the interview, Blake touches on how the entrepreneurial world is so much accepting than Hollywood. I haven’t experienced that world, but I have entered the world of entrepreneurship, and it’s been warm & welcoming. Entrepreneurs are inspired by great ideas and want to help the people who come up with them. When their ideas succeed, they want to put what they’ve gained from it into helping newbies with ideas so the cycle can continue.

This path that Blake is embarking on is quite honorable because it required her to pump the breaks & turn around to take a different course of action. As she said in the interview, her role in Gossip Girl generated her a brand & fan base that she easily could have tapped into as she became an entrepreneur. Instead, she decided to ditch it to do what feels true to her. She created an entirely new brand that represents her true self more authentically. While she may be losing Gossip Girl fans, I think she’s going to acquire a whole new fan base that’s more sincere & connected with her over her true passions– not somebody else’s imaginary world that she acted in.And now, she’s going through an even greater transformation: motherhood. Last week, Blake subtly announced her pregnancy on her website. It looks like she’s already incorporating her journey through pregnancy into her brand; I’m interested to see how much she will keep private, and how much she will share.

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Can’t wait to see her business bloom & how she raises her company and her child. Brava xx

Surround Yourself With Uplifting People

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Growing up, one of the things my mother was very conscious about as a parent was who I spent my time with. She understood the importance of surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best of you, and so she would always tell me to choose my friends wisely; your friends are a reflection of you & people will inevitably be judge you based on who you hang out with. At this point in my life, I think she was trying to discourage me from hanging out with kids who may be wild in public; or the “bad” rebellious kids who may influence me to do things parents shouldn’t know about.

We’re out of that stage of adolescent and no longer have to worry about yielding to peer pressure & smoking cigarettes in the back of the school when class lets out. But people do still have a profound influence on the way we live our lives and chase our dreams. Gabrielle Bernstein shared a positive affirmation by looking at this concept from a spiritual perspective

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It’s important to surround yourself who allow you to be your authentic self and love you for it, and who support you as you chase your dreams. Life is a long ride with ups and downs, and it’s important to have a support system of people who love you & help you when you’re down, and support you & encourage you to go even farther when you’re up.

Similarly, in an article on how busy moms balance work & family, Sari Davidson (CEO of Booginhead) explains how surrounding herself with a team of the right people is one of her tactics for success:

“You are never really ‘off,’ and the ability to feed your family rests on your shoulders. That can put a lot of pressure on top of an already stressful lifestyle.” Her solution: “I hired people smarter than me, got out of their way and let them do their job.”

It’s important to for CEOs & founders to build their companies paying close attention to the people they’re building the company with. At the end of the day, it’s humans doing work for other humans. If the humans suck, the end product is going to suck.

I saw Guy Kawasaki speak at Inbound on the lessons he learned from his time working with Steve Jobs. One of these lessons was to “hire A+ players,” and he explained how if the people you hire to do a job aren’t smarter or better at it then you are, then you are bringing yourself down. If you hire a B player, then they’ll hire a C player, then a D player, and one day you’ll look around and see that you’re surrounded by Z players. As a result, your business is not going to produce the results you’re capable of, and your vision will never come to fruition.

We can only do so much by ourselves, but surrounding ourselves with supportive people will give us the extra push we need to reach our goals.

5 Ways to Have a Perfect Rainy Day

Rainy days can suck if it’s during the school/work week and you have to slosh through puddles, dodge umbrellas, and try to tame the wild beast that evolves out of your once-tamed hair. But when the clouds decide to drizzle on a weekend, you’re granted total permission to the universe to lock yourself inside your home (ie bed). I don’t love rain but I love a good rainy day. Here are 5 ways to make it amazing:

1)   Love your bed – I’ve been sleeping with a down comforter for almost 10 years now, and I cannot get a proper sleep without it. It transforms my bed into a cloud and is conducive of dreaming. My best friend Sara always says she sleeps amazing & has awesome dreams when she sleeps over. Having a comfortable bed is so crucial for life; we spend 1/3 of our lives asleep! Might as well make sure it’s the best sleep possible. For more tips on creating a cozy bed, check out Cupcakes & Cashmere post, 11 Enlightening Facts You Never Knew About Bedding.

2)   Recruit a cuddle buddy – if you’re in a relationship, your significant other will do this job well. But if you’re single like me (or choose to have some therapeutic alone time), allow your cat or dog or body pillow to join you in your super comfy bed. Then, cuddle. If you ask me, kittens do this job best.

3)   Play some tunes – Drizzly days make me crave soft sappy melancholy music. Think along the lines of Jeff Buckley / Norah Jones / Bon Iver. I have a cat nap playlist that I like to play on Spotify if you’re in need of some inspiration:

https://play.spotify.com/user/daniellexpowell/playlist/7CtVYvHXp2ZbHRBWOBWRzL

4)   Drink something steamy – I drink coffee every day, but when it’s raining, I bring the french press upstairs and leave it on my nightstand. Yes, this is me saying you should spoil yourself with a bedside coffee (or tea, or cider, or hot lemon water) station when it rains.

5)   Call people you love – if you’ve completed the above steps, you’ve created a damn good set up and are probably pretty content with life at the moment. Spread that good mood & reach out to the people you love from your place of calmness. It’s nice to catch up & keep in touch with the important people in your life when you’re not in a busy, frazzled, distracted state.

Only the love

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One thing I’ve been trying to work on is the ability to live “lightly.”

This means letting go of things so they don’t weigh us down. Staying open and empty to create room for things that are new and better.

Holding onto negativity only eats away at us & weighs us down; we must truly forgive & release resentment so that we can naturally forget. This is for the sake of 0ur own sanity, happiness, well being, and peace of mind.

As Buddha said,

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When we forgive and let go of all the negative stuff, only the positive remains. We let the light in & can see that at the foundation of everything is love.

Jhene Aiko’s new song touches on this point.

Is is strange for me to say that
If I were to die today
There’s not a thing that I would change-
I’ve lived well.
And the more that I see, the more that I know
I don’t know anything, at all
Like the more that I breathe, and start to go slow
Of all the many things, I can only recall
All of the good things
Only the good, the good, the good

And so did John Stamos’s mom when she was reflecting on her life. She passed away last week, and he posted this photo of him & his mother when he was just a baby. The caption posted with it was touching:

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Loretta Stamos – 1939-2014 The love of my life passed away yesterday in her home surrounded by her children and grandchildren. My mother had enough love to fuel a small country. She was truly one of a kind and will live forever in the hearts of all who knew her. A few weeks ago, I asked my mom if she remembered an inconsequential event – she simply replied, “I only remember the love.” #Brokenhearted #Iloveyouthemost If inclined please donate to the charity, founded by my mother- The Vanguard Cancer Foundation. http://www.vanguardcancerfoundation.org/donate/

Everyone wants to live a life that they would be happy looking back on. To do this, we need to develop the capacity to focus on the good in our lives and not let the bad take up our space, energy, and thoughts; dwelling on that bad stuff will only bring us down. To do this we can’t hold onto it; we need to let it come, and then let it continue going and allow it to pass. letting it pass will make it so that only the love and the good remains.

here’s to living lightly + focusing on the good + looking only at love so love is all we see

think different

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Recently in one of my marketing classes, we watched a video of Steve Jobs introducing Apple’s Think Different campaign. This is a marketing campaign for the books; it helped define Apple as the brand it is today, and I’m still moved by the advertisement (shown in the below video @9:05) every time I watch it.

In this presentation, Steve talked about marketing, and there was one thing he said that struck me:

The dairy industry has tried to convince us that milk was good for us for 20 years and sales have fell. Then they did the “Got Milk” campaign and sales increased.

It got me thinking about the place that milk has in our culture, and how this came to be. This summer I read Kimberly Snyder’s book The Beauty Detox Solution and was enlightened to the negative results of eating animal products. I personally don’t restrict myself from eating anything, but I like to hear people’s opinions about what is & is not healthy, and keep an open mind so I can make educated choices in regard to what I put into my body.

Dairy can have a detrimental effect on our bodies whether that’s from the hormones & antibiotics that make their way into milk as a result of our commercialized food system, the strain that’s put on our body when we digest animal protein, or the allergies associated with lactose. Yet milk is still one of the main staples in our diets! It’s interesting to ask why this is & observe how the ideas around food produced by the media may have caused this norm to be. Food for thought: could a marketing campaign seriously shift a whole culture’s eating habits?