Last-minute Presentation Prep

Do you get instant sweaty palms like we do when you have to give impromptu remarks or a last-minute presentation?

Public speaking can be absolutely terrifying—especially when there’s little or no time to prepare. We’ve found some useful tips for making off-the-cuff remarks a little less daunting at Harvard Business Review’s blog. These should also work well for any occasion where you have to say something and are not sure how to say it. The gist?

  • Jot down a quick structure
  • Start with the punchline
  • Acknowledge your audience
  • Memorize what to say–not how to say it
  • Keep it brief

Remember these and we’re sure you’ll kill it.

Tech Shabbat. Why don’t you switch off

Rewind to one and a half years ago: I had just timidly switched off all my screens for 24 hours for the very first time as I wanted to incorporate “screen free” episodes in my life.

My relationship with technology is best described as obsessive. I never met a screen or an app I didn’t like.  Switching everything off seemed crazy and the mere thought gave me separation anxiety. Yet, I wanted to give it a shot.

I had watched this video where Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards, talked about her Tech Shabbats. A weekly ritual, where Tiffany would turn off her screens from Friday night to Saturday night. She called them her “resets for the soul” and I was scared — and intrigued! It helped that she was a respected figure in tech and not a random person, overwhelmed by the possibilities of today’s technology. What she said carried weight.

It’s been one and a half years and the weekly Tech Shabbats have become a habit. It’s just something I do. Every Friday night at sundown my screens go dark. My smartphone, my laptop, my tablet. No Facebook updates, no Instagram photos, no tweets, no emoji-based conversations on Whatsapp, Threema, Google Hangout.

It’s pretty drastic.

Often really inconvenient. (Have you tried to find an address without Google Maps in the past 8 years?)

Sometimes a bit annoying. (Especially to those around you who are used to changing plans on the fly, with a text message.)

But I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. My weekly disconnect.

I vividly remember the first time. I nearly broke into a sweat. Would I miss something? Would I miss EVERYTHING? I distracted myself with aimless activities. Hair needed to be braided. Makeup brushes needed to be cleaned. By Saturday morning I was convinced that I would die if I didn’t immediately switch everything back on. (You think this sounds like the workings of a teenager’s brain? It felt like it too!)

But I learned to appreciate the weekly habit. Felt refreshed. Gained clarity. If I had hit a wall with a business problem in the previous week, during my Tech Shabbat, the solution often presented itself in those screen free hours. It was a bit spooky at first. Now I practically count on it.

Because it makes perfect sense.

We are rarely in situations anymore where we rely only on ourselves. Moments of reflection, quiet, and, God forbid: boredom are scarce. When do “heavy screen users” like I clearly am (and you probably are) just sit down and stare aimlessly into space? How long can a glimmer of a thought develop before we scare it away with a distraction? When do we allow ourselves to be a little bored without immediately resorting to our routine refresh tour-de-force through all our apps?

Now those moments of reflection and quiet are a normal part of my week.

It’s a bit of an acquired taste — like the taste for oysters. But those 24 hours every week work for me. And maybe they work for you too.

If you’d like to try it and are scared I want to remind you that I was basically beside myself. You can do it too!

And I can promise one thing: It’s worth it even just for the joy of switching everything back on again!

Why don’t you try it once and see how it goes?


– Katja Bartholmess. “It’s my passion to inspire and motivate other ambitious women with my stories and experiences from over a decade of entrepreneurship.”

Balance the “balls of life”

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit — and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

The former CEO of Coca Cola, Brian Dyson, said this.

It rang so true with us that we needed to share it with you. Looking at the things that matter to us with a heightened awareness of their fragility (family, health, friends, and spirit) and resilience (work) might help us make better decisions. We will never have less on our plates and balance is never easy to achieve. But why don’t your try it with us?

Fall on your fingertips

“Pick a polish!” — These three words greet us at every nail salon. If you’re getting a bit bored with your go-to shade and want to mix things up for fall — we have fall trends for your fingertips.

Take a look at this slide show where editors present their favorite polish picks for fall. Some lovely, classy choices. We’re particularly intrigued by this unexpected chocolatey shade:


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Laura Mercier. Nail lacquer in Cocoa Suede. Available here.

For even more choices check out PopSugar’s list of Fall Nail Polish Trends. We will be wearing this golden caramel shade with our knits and layers:

Butter_BrickLaneButter London. Nail lacquer in Brick Lane. Available here.

We hope these choices help you when you find yourself stuck in indecision in front of The Wall of Colors at your nail salon.

Easy Wardrobe Updates for Fall

Fall is firmly upon us and it’s time to add a few new items to our work wardrobe! (Don’t tell anyone but we still feel a little cheated for not getting any “back to school” presents anymore.)

We liked Elle Magazine’s “20 Finds for under $100″ and you might like some of the tops, bags, hats, even sunglasses for those bright fall days.

Our favorites:

A pair of short leather gloves. Perfect if you’re taking your Vespa or your vintage bike to work — or want to look like you did. $45. Available here.

Amato_gloves_shopbopThis felt fedora in wooly grey keeps your hair in place and your head warm. $95. Available here.

whistles-fedoraA black backpack that looks cool and fits our Mac Book, the stack of notepads we like to tote around, and a fully stocked cosmetics bag? Sign us up! $66.65. Available here.


Success, Her Way. Interview with Judita Wignall

We are very excited about our new interview series: Success, Her Way. We are talking with women who are pursuing their own ideas of success. You’ll get personal insights on the paths they’ve chosen, how their definition of success has changed over the years, and what their habits of success these great women have. — Share it with your friends and colleagues if you find yourself inspired by it.

Today’s successful lady is Judita Wignall. Besides being a positively radiant person, she’s a health counselor, raw food chef, and cookbook author. She divides her time between LA, New York, and Costa Rica — that alone sounds like a pretty successful life to us. Read below to learn about her 4 habits of success, how great it felt to see her book on the shelves next to her favorite cookbooks and much more.


Tell us a little where you are in your career and how you got there.

Judita Wignall: I’m a former commercial actress/model turned raw food chef and cookbook author. I originally got into raw foods over 7 years ago to look good in front of the camera, but soon it became an obsession and spawned into a full time job. I loved raw food so much I enrolled in culinary school, became a health coach, and got a book deal. I just finished writing my 3rd raw food recipe book, Raw and Simple Detox, which will be out in February next year. It’s been quite a journey. (Her other books are Going Raw and Raw and Simple. They are translated into German and other languages. –ed.)

What about your work and career do you enjoy the most?

I love that my message of health is changing lives. People are losing weight, feeling better, and feeling inspired to be their best selves. It’s so rewarding to get emails from my readers that my books have helped them so much. I also love working for myself. Everything I do is either in my kitchen or on my laptop, which gives me a ton of freedom to travel, but also to have quality time at home.

What is your personal definition of “success”? Has it changed over the years?

Success is doing work you love. Work that gets you bouncing out of bed every morning, that inspires creativity, cultivates happiness and validates your purpose in this world. Its taken me several years to get to the point where I can follow my heart and only work on projects that I’m passionate about. I used to think success was how much I had in the bank, but at the end of the day it’s never enough. It doesn’t satisfy your soul like pouring your heart out into a project, watching your ideas materialize or helping others.

Some people say success is achieved through a series of habits. What are your “habits of success”?

First, always be learning. I’m a total health junkie so I listen and read health podcasts, books and blogs daily. I need to stay on top of cutting edge nutrition for my work, but also for my own personal growth and enjoyment. Learning keeps our brain young and inspires new ideas.

Second, make a plan. Because I have to be my own boss and cheerleader, Every night I write out my schedule of everything I need to do for the next day. This keeps me on task and focused. If I wake up without it, I end up getting distracted by less important things. I also write out a weekly and monthly plan of deadlines and goals to be completed.

Third, don’t be a slave to email. Half of the emails I receive are from people asking me to do something for them. Things like contributing to a website, submitting recipes, reviewing or promoting products are fun, but time consuming. I got to the point where I’d spend my whole day doing things for other people and not have time to focus on my own work. Now I only check email in the morning. I pick the things I really want to do and allow myself permission to pass on the rest.

Last, but not least, be grateful. Along with my evening to do list, I also take time to write down three things I’m grateful for that day. Even if my day was horrible I still try to focus on the good things. Gratitude cultivates a positive mindset, reduces stress and boosts confidence. Smartphone apps like My Gratitude Journal are great for this exercise.

What were the more difficult steps you took on your path? Can you tell us more?

Switching gears from a successful commercial career to an undefined pursuit of holistic diet and lifestyle was tough. I had no idea what I was doing or how I could make money, but I knew in my heart this would be more gratifying. It took some time and effort as I grew into a proficient chef, instructor and coach to get to a place where I’m confident and making a living. Practice makes perfect, but also just putting yourself out there and admitting, “I might fail at this, but who cares!” is part of the process. If you believe in the message and purpose of the work, it will all come together and people will be attracted to what you have to say.

Are there any things you’d never compromise or sacrifice for your career?

Self care, time with my husband, friends and family. The only way I’m productive is if I’m balanced. That means good quality sleep, diet, exercise and strong relationships with those I love. When those things are in line, I can thrive with my career and conquer any challenge.

If you had to choose one moment of success that meant the most to you, which one would it be?

Seeing my book at Barnes and Nobles nestled in between my favorite raw chefs for the first time felt so good. To go from eating microwaved meals every day, to becoming a chef, to a published author was such a journey. It was the best feeling to see all that hard work in concrete form.

What’s the next project you’re looking forward to?

Last year I launched an online store called City & Sea Trading. I carry some of my favorite beauty products, supplements, home goods, and healthy gourmet foods you can’t really find anywhere else. This next year we’re going to start developing our own products, under the City & Sea brand, as well as ramp up the City & Sea Living blog with healthy lifestyle articles, videos, recipes, and interviews. I’m excited to see where things go and where life takes me next.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Judita.

The Path to Email Excellence

We are so far from reaching Inbox Zero that we’re not even going to bother trying.

But we feel strongly about emails. Isn’t achieving email excellence as noble a pursuit as reaching Inbox Zero?

We think so. And were thrilled to find this article in Fast Company that promises to give Templates and Hints for the Perfect Email for Almost Every Situation.

It shares emails that kindly say “no” in a variety of circumstances, gives you magic phrases (“You’re right.” “I’d love to help with this.”) as well as power replies to customer complaints (“You’re right, we could definitely do this better.”  “I know this is a huge disruption to your day and I’m working to get it fixed.”), it alerts you to empty words you should skip and full words you should use liberally.

Why don’t you try some of the recommendations and see whether it takes you closer to email excellence? We sure will.

Office Wear Inspiration: “Suit of the Week”

A great suit is hard to find. And if your schedule between work and play is anything like ours you don’t have the time to do the leg work to find one. has a great “Suit of the Week” series which does some of the recon for you. Check out their weekly reviews of professional yet stylish suits for a variety of budgets and sizes.
We like this one from Boden for fall.
Could you work this at work?