Find Your Extraordinary

Author, serial entrepreneur, and founder of Stella& Dot, Jessica DiLullo Herrin, was a friend during undergrad and someone I have long admired. We hit it off when we do see each other, but it is through our mutual friends that I witness her tremendous loyalty and dedication as a friend and mom despite her hectic schedule. Her recent book “Find your Extraordinary” has some wonderful lessons and is a fantastic look at a life lived haphhazardly and then very intentionally. And when she turned her intention on, nothing could stop her. I want to reflect on a few quotes:

“Don’t be afraid to fail”…I know this is stating the obvious, but it seems that parents are so quick to swoop in and fix everything so that really their kids don’t learn to fail. Bebe’s art teacher plasters the wall with Mistakes are Welcome, and Bebe often tells me this when I’m beating myself up. So cheers to the schools and homes that create safe spaces to fail and err so that kids stride boldly into the world knowing they can solve problems, not expecting everything to be perfect. I took plenty of risks, but I could have taken more. I was often afraid to fail. Not a moment should be wasted on that for that is how you forge new paths.
“Ask your younger self what you are capable of”…oh how I love this line, because when I was 7 with long limbs, tight braids, big gaps between my teeth, and my tretorns I thought I was the bomb. I KNEW I was capable of anything. The silly seeds of self doubt hadn’t yet been sown. And what if we treated our bodies the way we would treat our 7yr old selves with love and confidence and compassion.
“What would you do if fear weren’t a factor. Live brave!” Jessica powered through fear. In my proud moments I do the same, but she did it in a way that knocked down all boundaries and made anything possible, forging a new business model, empowering loads of women across the country all while building a family. Fear is such a weight and a source of worry. And yet how often we fret over things that never come to pass. I wanted to be a travel writer and a fashion writer when I was younger. I wrote to the editors of Travel&Leisure and Vogue, but once I landed other summer jobs I just let those dreams slide. I didn’t apply my usual bulldog persistence to following through until dream became reality. I took a great path that afforded me many adventures and privileges, but it didn’t take advantage of my creative side. I liked having a steady paycheck and fear prevented me from risking that. When it comes to cancer and life now, I do live brave. It is the only way to make it.
“Persistence. Following through”….Jessica is very clear that the road to success wasn’t a straight one, but that persistence got her through the dark valleys. My old boss was the queen of follow through. She never left a client meeting without a follow up. She always found a way to add value and to build the dialogue. Sometimes these basics are what get you ahead.
“What is your impact?” I ask myself this question every week now. It wasn’t until I had kids and wanted to use my time most wisely that I asked myself this question at work. If I had asked it at 25 I would have been far more effective. For what is the use in working hard if you don’t know or others don’t know about your impact. And if you aren’t having the impact you want in the world, at home, on your company, on an organization, then what needs to change? What else do you need to learn?
“Ask your future self what matters most”…. This is priceless. Much time is wasted on the mundane, on extremely un-fun tantrums, on petty disputes. So if once in awhile in a moment of stress or frustration we ask ourselves what matters to us when we look back at 80, I think it is much easier to let things go and focus on the essential.
“You don’t have to be perfect to start. No correlation be pedigree and success”. This is brilliant. I think women in particular struggle with the need to feel something is perfect before they raise their hand or launch, when really it is just about taking that first step. Make it happen. Plan, yes, but jump in and make adjustments along the way. Jessica also found that it isn’t about your pedigrees but how you work with whatever you have that allows you to succeed. There is no one formula.  Hard work, innovation, persistence, and some good luck add up.She also cites ..”willingness to learn” with which I agree wholeheartedly. That was one thing I loved at GS. There was always more to learn. And at Exeter I learned to love learning. How invigorating to keep learning…..people, history, products, languages, recipes, dances, songs, how to anything. Just keep your mind hungry.
“Don’t wait for the perfection! but don’t stay wrong for long, pivot “. Smart.
“Don’t let your thoughts bring you down; Banish the negative voices”….so wise. We beat ourselves up.  We talk ourselves out of things before they even get a chance.  I love the scene in Swingers where he leaves 15 voicemails in a row and talks himself into failure. They are just thoughts. You can stop the, and choose a brighter possibility. I will now always remind myself of Bebe’s little voice saying “Mom…don’t be so hard on yourself”. What if we are our own biggest fan, our spouses biggest fan? What a happier way to charge ahead.

“3 mini meditations to quiet the mind”…..this is awesome. Sometimes a meditation practice can seem so intimidating, but it is really about taking a few minutes to stop and quiet your body and mind.  It can be anywhere. It can take any form. Just commit to a few minutes 1-3x a day.
“Laugh at yourself”….I have always surrounded myself with good women who know how to have a good laugh. I find much humor in daily life. And I find many many things to laugh at myself about, in a good way. Life is awkward and messy and funny. It deserves a lot of laughs.
“Ask what good can come from something bad”….it is awfully easy to mope or grump around, but there is often a silver lining. I know we can find exceptions with deep evil, but most of the time when you get knocked down, there is something vital to be learned, there is something to appreciate, there is a new perspective, there is a new door to open. Wallow for a moment, mourn, do what it takes to then take a deep breath and see the lesson and to allow the next door to open.
“If you don’t like what you are doing fix it. Go do something you like”. This is so good! It is easy to feel trapped, but really there are always options. They might not be easy, but you can ask what is in your power to change. Maybe it is as simple as your attitude. Maybe it is as big as a new career. Make your life the life you want it to be,
“Be audaciously goal oriented. You only get what you go after so be bold be specific”…so cool and so wise. And why not? Believe.

“Chanel..I’m nothing but flaws stitched together with good intention”….I like this and can relate. I’m flawed at every turn, but I’m trying my best. I know I can be kinder, more patient, more forgiving, more relaxed.
“Not everyone is a winner all the time…kids need to learn resilience”….not everyone deserves a trophy. Resilience comes from picking yourself up not from having things fixed all the time for you.
“Productivity is about giving up the inessential”…this is brilliant. I wrote a bit about this in my entry about when returning to work. People love to talk about how busy they are. Yes, they are busy, but…..when you really strip it down everyone has some wasted time or procrastination or unnecessary overload. I thought hard about this when I had kids and worked and sang and served on boards and stayed fit and cooked and still had a family and friends. But I didn’t watch any tv, I skipped mani/pedis, and I was very lucky to be able to outsource a lot to a wonderful nanny. I melted life down to what mattered to me so that over the course of a month I was fitting it all in. I didn’t nail it everyday, but over a month I fit in a hell of a lot that mattered to me. So take some time to really be honest about what is taking up your time. What can you say no to? What is sacred. Only you can value your time, only you can draw the boundaries.
“Invest in yourself”….so smart. You are worth it and this goes along with never stop learning.
“Giving up the guilt at home and finding the right split”….oh this is hard. Often we women think we can do it all and then we end up either broken or sucking at everything. Having a great partner is half the battle, but even if you have that it is still about good communication and constant communication.

I’m not doing justice to what is a book rich with advice on how to build an incredible business and a full life, but I wanted to leave plenty for you to read on your own. Cheers to Jessica’s book and business. She is the bomb!

As I write this week, my platelets have stayed at 124. After some busy weeks my body begged for more sleep and I embraced being a nap hound again. I spent time with The Nature Conservancy learning about how catastrophic wildfires can be avoided with proactive forest management, and I will learn more tonight hosting some TNC scientists.

STREAMLINING: I have also loved doing a few closet streamlining projects (some paid ones which is my goal) which have entailed editing the closet down to the person’s best items for their current lifestyle and to what feels/looks fabulous, then shopping the closet and organizing it for easy dressing, and only then identifying the holes and helping with some strategic shopping. I love every step of this, and it is different with each personality and body type. So if you find you are needing to streamline… Call!

On books, I enjoyed breezing through “The Knockoff” about how the fashion magazine world has changed, and am halfway through “The Apartment” where Sotheby’s opens a Paris apartment that has been locked for 70 years….such fun after my recent visit. And next up is a friend’s draft of a historical novel based on her Irish grandmother. I’m late in reading it and looking forward!

A few pics to wrap up

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