When you lose everything

Five days ago I knew absolutely nothing about Cantor Fitzgerald (CF). When my Professor referred to it in my night class, I thought it was a person’s name. In the past 48 hours, I have been constantly thinking about CF. I am taking a speech writing course for grad school, and one of our assignments was to watch the documentary “Out of the Clear Blue Sky.” It wasn’t OnDemand or Netflix, so I thought about doing what my undergrad-self would do, and just not watch it. But I’m so glad I went the extra step to rent it from Amazon, and stream it. I couldn’t look away from the  2-hour documentary. It tells the story of CF and its CEO Howard Lutnick, who lost 658 employees on 9/11. It was interesting to see 9/11 in the perspective of a company, especially a company who lost nearly everyone.

In our next class, we had a guest speaker — someone from the CF Boston office. Tom (I changed his name as I didn’t ask permission to share his personal story) was just about 30 years old on September 11, 2001. He had been working at CF as a stocks trader since he graduated college. He always knew he wanted to work on Wall Street, and when he made it there — it was everything he hoped it would be. He explained to us that throughout his 20s, he had everything. A great job that paid him LOTS of money, which allowed him all the “fine” (so he thought..) things in life. He spent all of his weekends hanging out with his buddies in Manhattan, spending weekends in the Hamptons, going on vacations, buying whatever he wanted. He got married in 2001. He had it all.

Then 9/11 happened, and he seemingly lost it all. He was in the Boston office when he heard the news. He knew 200 of the over 600 employees that CF lost, including two of his best friends. As a guy being a guy, Tom didn’t know what to do in the days that followed. He was grieving but he didn’t know how. He thought, one of my buddies loved tequila, so I’ll go to the bar and take a shot for him. The other loved Corona so I’ll have one of those too, in remembrance of them. He continued going to the bar — day after day. He became an alcoholic. But that wasn’t enough, he was still hurting. He brought cocaine into his life and became addicted to that as well. After months and months of drinking and drugs, his wife of two years now finally decided she couldn’t take it anymore, and left him. He was glad she left, now there would be no one to nag him about getting his life back together. He could drink more now, and do more drugs. Even though CF was still struggling to get back on its feet after their loss of nearly all of their employees, they noticed Tom’s behavior, gave him a drug test and fired him 2 days before Christmas. Tom’s job was everything to him, it was his identity. Now that he lost his job, he thought he had two options: he could take all of the money he had and go down to the Caribbean and open a bar, or just sit at a bar. Or, he could try to straighten out his life and pick himself back up. Luckily, Tom went with option 2. He went to a bunch of AA meetings, and eventually ended up at a rehab facility for 2-3 months. He got clean, and then went to get help on ways to deal with his sadness, anger, and depression in healthier ways such as breathing, meditating, exercise. CF noticed that Tom was bettering himself. They understood, as they, too, had to deal with grieving over the past years. They called Tom up and offered him his job back.

Tom still works at CF now, got remarried, and is living a healthy, clean life. As he was telling us his story, it was apparent that it was not easy for him. He wore a pin on his jacket of the Twin Towers. His emotions were there. His hands were shaking, he looked vulnerable, and hurt. He isn’t a professional storyteller. He is a man who had everything and lost it and had no idea how to cope with that. He explained to us that if you have the opportunity to see a clear perspective on what is important in life without it coming as a result of a tragedy then that is the best thing you could do for yourself. It’s so important to realize what matters, and what does not, before life tests you on that.

I had to hold back tears listening to Tom’s story. He thinks of his life as two different parts: the one before 9/11, and the one after. Tom explained that his story isn’t more important or special than anyone else’s. He said that we will all have a tragedy in our lives and they are all equally important. We need to learn how to grieve and express sadness and hurt in healthy ways. Putting the things in your life into perspective before life makes you do that, is vital. It’s also a good reminder that you never know what people are going through. My Professor first came in contact with Tom because he noticed Tom sitting by himself all the way in the back of a 9/11 vigil a few years ago in the Boston Common. It was the first 9/11 since Tom had stopped drinking and drugging. He didn’t know what to do with himself that night, and thought he needed to be in a place where other people would be remembering. He found in the newspaper that there was a vigil in the Common, and decided to go. I’m so glad that my Professor connected with him that night, which allowed him to share his story with us all of those years later.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

Condé Nast dreams

Growing up, we change what we want to “be,” sometimes on a daily basis. I definitely was on the veterinarian track from about three to maybe eight-years-old. I would line up my stuffed animals, and stick them with one of those little plastic pop-up turkey timers. I realized quickly though, that pets actually hate going to the vet, so I changed my mind on that one.

The next desirable career option for most girls was to be a teacher, or a nurse, or maybe even just a princess at that point. But what I wanted to do next never really escaped me. I fell in love with magazines. At the age of about 12, I decided I wanted to work at Condé Nast and write for their magazine. I was intrigued about learning of the different magazines that they owned (Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Brides, Condé Nast Traveler, GQ, Vogue, Golf World, etc etc…) and found myself looking for ways to differentiate them from their mega-brand rival, Hearst (Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Elle, Esquire, Seventeen, etc).

Before I was even in college, I used to sit on the Condé Nast website and read through job descriptions. I’d picture myself there, in their chic New York City office. I bought a new magazine every week, yet never threw any away. I’d go back to old magazines and reread them. I’d compare articles between magazines. I’d wonder how many times they could write the same thing over and over without anyone noticing (I noticed). I’d read the small print in the front of the magazines, where the names are of people who work there. I’d read what their title is, and wonder how they got there. I had hundreds of magazine piled up on my floor. I loved each of them. Before it was time to eventually recycle some, I’d go through them once more and cut out pieces that I couldn’t get rid of. I’d paste them onto a board that I called my dream board. My whole dream board was filled with Condé Nast dreams.

Reality set it, one day that I don’t remember. Print is dead, they said, and it broke my heart. When I got older, I realized that it wasn’t practical to want to work at a company whose medium is on a steady decline…. And not for nothing, but New York City is not for me. And then “The Devil Wears Prada” came out and made that lifestyle look plain miz. Eventually, I threw away all of my magazines, and my Condé Nast dream.

But it really was a dream that never escaped me. I was recently scrolling through Twitter, and saw some news about a new product Condé Nast is using, and found myself deep into the article just a few minutes later. While I still have reality in my hands, hearing about Condé Nast still sets off a little spark in me.

When I got to college, I decided that I didn’t know what I wanted to be. There were so many options, how was I to choose? For all of my class projects, I still chose to focus many of them on Condé Nast, yet, I had closed the door on my own dream. Being in my […late…] 20s now, I’m not done deciding what I want to be when I grow up. I feel that a lot of us find a job, and let it mold us, however it works out (and there is nothing wrong with that!). But, I don’t want to be on autopilot through life. I want to be the one choosing my path.

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you still have something you want to be when you grow up? Really, it is something that only you know, and that only you can take the time to figure out.

I sometimes still wonder if I should follow the dream that 12-year-old me had sitting on my pink-carpeted floor in Cumberland flipping through magazines for hours. There has to be a reason why some things set a spark in us.

I feel that right now, no matter where you’re at in life, is the time to aggressively discover what you seek in terms of your career, family, friends, and all of the things that, in the end, will allow you to look back at your life and know you fulfilled yourself and lived purposefully. I suppose I have followed part of my path, since I do write for my career. A storyteller, is what I like to call it. But my story line is still a work in progress.

Cheers!

IG wants it all

I would classify myself as an Instagram addict. I follow the [unwritten] rules and don’t post unless it is worthwhile, but I am constantly refreshing my screen. My right thumb is jacked (seriously, it’s bigger than my left thumb. But this isn’t only me — look at your thumbs, humans are adapting to our weird mobile environments). I noticed it was an issue about a week ago when IG was down for an ENTIRE DAY. I found myself trying to open the app constantly. Five minutes later, I’d forget it was down again and try to open it again. I got nervous that I was missing what kinds of food people were eating and memes that mean nothing at all. I turned to an old friend, Twitter, to see if everyone else in the world was experiencing this misery — which they were, as “Instagram down” was trending.

If you use Instagram, you noticed that the app had a major update this week, that directly resembles Snapchat. They are calling it Instagram Stories and lets you posts pics and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Pro: Instagram has a much larger audience, so if your story is really your brand, then you should be excited.

Con: People you follow who abuse this, turn out to be super annoying. Can we unfollow people’s stories? Also, people using it as a branding tool — do you now have to create two stories – one on each platform?!

Facebook, who owns IG, tried to buy Snapchat a few years back for $3 billion. Snapchat declined, and is now valued at $20 billion. This could have been the fuel to Mark Zuck’s fire — I get a feeling he doesn’t like being turned down.

Another example of how IG is trying to take over your social world: Last year, Instagram launched a new app called Boomerang, which captures a series of photos and puts them together in a one-second video that plays forward and backward in a never-ending loop. Say goodbye to the GIF.

IG seems to want to be the one-stop-app for all of your visual needs. I still like IG best for its original use. I enjoy scrolling through pictures, rather than watching stories. But I don’t think that stories will be going away any time soon.

Cheers!

All marble everything

I saw a lamp in TJ Maxx a few months ago that had a marble base, and I fell in LOVE, but sadly didn’t buy it. I still think of that lamp, and hope it found a nice home.

Ever since then, I have loved everything marble. EVERYYTHINGGGG.

marble trivet

marble table

marble iphone

marble coaster

marble wall

marble clock

marble lamps

all photos from Pinterest

Cheers!

Packaging

I minored in marketing in undergrad, and still remember my 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. There is a P that falls under Product, but I think deserved its own spot on the marketing mix, and that is Packaging. There have been many-a-times that I have bought something solely because it was packaged in a way that I just wanted it.

Well, I recently came across the three products below, and despite what they even WERE, I was in love with their packaging.

Farmacy Sleep Tight

Why I loved this: What a better way to tell your brand’s story than utilizing the space on your packaging? I also love the wooden top to the product itself.

farmacy

Compartes chocolate bars

Why I loved this: Because I got to eat them. Kidding (kind of) — LOOK at their packaging. Could a chocolate bar get any more beautiful?! They have a ton more choices for chocolate too — each with their own beautiful wrapping.

compartes

Even the chocolate bar itself is beautiful. Their chocolate is all hand-made in LA — and it is as delicious as such a beautifully wrapped chocolate bar should be.

compartes2

Royal Apothic Field Poppy Hand Creme

Why I loved this: I really liked the different material of the packaging on the outside box. They definitely keep the theme of their name “royal,” something about their box screams that. And then inside, you’ll find the prettiest tube of hand lotion.

lotion

lotion2

I’m becoming more and more obsessed with packaging. So I’ll be back as I discover more beautiful boxes and wraps.

Cheers!

April showers

April [bridal] showers bring June weddings.

My entire month of April is dedicated to celebrating brides-to-be, all of whom I love so much. I have one of my bests bachelorette parties tomorrow, which I am giving NO surprises about, in case she is here reading this, but we plan to make her have a great time. After that, my next three weekends are bridal shower after bridal shower.

If you’re in my sitch, and looking for some bridalbae gift ideas, here are some that I love. I have yet to buy ANYTHING, so I may be stealing these myself.

Firsts – Several wine/champagne bottles for each first the couple has (first anniversary, first fight, first New Years, etc…)

firsts

Crock-pot, etc. – I love this gift. I do think that presentation is everything, so I would put everything into the crock-pot box, and tell the bride-to-be to open up the box when she’s opening the present so she’ll get everything at once, instead of everything wrapped separately.

crock pot

Picnic Basket – Ah! I love this so much. I actually bought this for my sister-in-law and my brother last year. I love it for two reasons: it’s adorable, and I think that picnics are the sweetest thing ever. Go. On. Picnics. (And of course, add some champagne inside for an extra surprise!) Macy’s has a few cute options.

picnic

Pillowcases – So cute. You can find these on Etsy.

pillowcase

Cheers!

Boomers vs. Millennials

Did you know: 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials by the year 2025? That statistic is shocking, yet inspiring (…for some of us…).

I recently spoke with someone who attended a conference and was explaining the importance of knowing your audience. Since it was a leadership conference, the speaker was in a room jammed packed with the baby-boomer generation; yet, she was going on and on about how millennials are rising to the top. Since the audience was 0% millennials, they weren’t too thrilled, or comfortable, with the message. But — she wasn’t saying this because she didn’t know her audience, she was saying it because she did. She wants to help the Boomer Generation understand that corporate culture may be changing, and that they need to learn to be more accepting of change to allow the diversity that millennials bring to the table to develop.

Millennials are just the ones beginning our careers; while baby-boomers own businesses, created mega-companies and for the most part, are our bosses. But, there are a lot of us (because there are a LOT of baby boomers, who had us as their babies), and we’re coming in HOT. So why is it that millennials are starting to irritate boomers at work?

We are so different, and because there are so many of us, things are a-changin’. Here are some Generational differences, found through research by West Midland Family Center, in Shepherd, MI.

Millennials:

Want Boomers to: Understand that we don’t like to do things “the way it’s always been done,” know the purpose and bigger picture of our work, let us live (sometimes we like to stay up late working, other times we want to be in the office at 7am – either way, we’ll get the job done).

Assets: Good at research and metrics, technologically savvy, positive attitude, ability to multitask, gets things done quickly, consumer mentality, goal oriented

Liabilities: Extremely impatient, doesn’t act well to those who act in an authoritarian manner (want mentors, not managers), lack of experience yet high expectations, distaste for tedious work

Work ethic: Gets things done quickly, multitasks, constantly looks at “what’s next?”

Value: Individuality

What they look for in a job: Expect to be paid well, fulfillment, flexible work arrangements, a challenge, a company with strong, ethical leaders

Baby Boomers:

Want Millennials to: Stop sending smilies in emails, answer the phone when they call & stop sending messages one minute after they call asking what’s up.

Assets: Works hard, wants to please, good team players, will go above & beyond, good at seeing the big picture, mission oriented

Liabilities: Doesn’t like change, judgmental if disagree, expects everyone to be workaholics, peer-loyalty

Work ethic: driven, work long hours

Value: Success

What they look for in a job: ability to shine, make a contribution, fit in with company’s mission, team approach

Let’s all get along! The differences of the habits, characteristics, and strengths between both Generations actually make for a great team.

Cheers!