Fave Five: Deskside beauty essentials

For this week’s Fave Five, I wanted to share some of my favorite essentials to stash in your makeup bag at work. How many times have you needed to touch up your lips, add eyeshadow to go out straight from the office, or add some much-needed oomph to your hair with dry shampoo? These are the lifesavers, and you’ll thank me later the next time your date wants to grab drinks after work and you need a 5-second makeover.

Deskside Beauty

1. Maybelline The City Mini Palette: I love this palette for both its size and the variety of shades that I can work with. It’s $10 so really a no-brainer for the cash-strapped young professional with too much of a social life for their poor wallet. But it’s also my own fault that I live in San Francisco and drink $20 glasses of wine, so don’t feel sorry for me, just feel sorry for my bank account.

2. YSL Lip Balm: Any tinted lip balm really works here, but I tried this at Sephora and it’s got great shades for both the professional environment at work and for happy hour after. It also looks super cute sitting on your desk! I always keep a lip product in my desk that gives both color and moisture, because the last thing you want is chapped, pale lips in a client meeting. Not a great look.

3. Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Cream: I’m all about the skin care these days, and during a long week sometimes my eyes just get so dark that my managers can tell I’m struggling. Enter eye cream. This is the stuff. It is worth every penny knowing I can dab this on and look 10 times more awake and on top of it, even when I’ve just hopped off a red-eye flight and I’m stressed about a project. You really can’t put a price on the skin products that help you put your best game face on.

4. Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter: My hands get dry and office air is THE WORST so I love having this at my desk to keep moisturizing. It also smells gorgeous. Whenever I put this body butter on, I imagine I smell like what a Victoria’s Secret model smells like, and then my confidence grows by like ten million. Just from body butter. And it’s $15. Go buy it now. Gbless these Soap & Glory people for making their bath and body products so affordable.

5. Mario Badescu Lavender Spray: If you’ve ever felt like you need to hit refresh on your whole face (and not just your email), this does the trick. I give myself a spritz whenever I want to smell and feel fresh, without the overwhelming heaviness of perfume. Plus this helps set your makeup if you touch it up during the day.

Honorable Mentions:

Batiste Mini Dry Shampoo: I use the brunette color so I can feel safe knowing there isn’t any white residue in my hair (you can’t always check at work!) and it’s perfect to have on hand for when my hair is falling flat during the day and needs a boost. It’s actually surprising how many times I’ve heard a coworker asking around for dry shampoo!

Dove deodorant: Sometimes you just get the sweats and need some extra help. This is another one I keep hearing my coworkers ask around for.

Bobbi Brown foundation stick: If you have acne spots or just need to touch up your face, it’s super helpful to keep foundation at your desk. This foundation stick from Bobbi Brown comes in really exact shades and blends well, so you don’t have to worry as much about a mirror or tools if you don’t have them available at the office.


Do you have any secret weapons that you keep at your desk to look and feel sharp throughout the day? Spill!!

XO,

CC

 

 

What flying trapeze at circus school taught me about trust

I was looking for a new workout on ClassPass when I saw “Circus Center” on the list of available studios. Circus Center?? After a quick Google search I realized that there was, indeed, a circus school in San Francisco with a full indoor flying trapeze and classes for adult beginners. And then it hit me: I could have my own Carrie Bradshaw moment and fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Best of all, it didn’t involve a gym. Why not run away to the circus for an hour?

It started as a whim (literally me laughing with my roommates about how funny it would be if I actually managed to get on a trapeze) but then I was seriously thinking about it. What if I jolted myself out of my normal routine and did something that terrified me? The concept of flying trapeze seemed as wild as skydiving, except almost scarier, because it involved being physically active (and there’s no one with you in the air when you’re on that swinging bar).

I told my roommates and my coworkers and my friends that I was doing it, because I knew if people knew I was doing it, I would actually follow through with it. I signed up for a new student special (3 classes for $59, which is a pretty insane bargain considering I’ve paid more for yoga classes) and showed up at my first class.

I walked into the gym fully expecting not to make it off the ground in my first class. I was so wrong. They gave me about five minutes of “ground school” instruction where they tell you what you’ll be doing in the air, and then before you know it they’ve got you in the harness and you’re like WHOA WHOA WHOA hold up I’m going up there already? I had been there for FIVE MINUTES.

But then again, are you ever really ready to fly trapeze? Probs not. So up the ladder I went. That’s one thing you don’t realize when you’re watching trapeze videos, is that you have to get up there in the first place, and you do that by climbing a really high ladder without being attached to the safety lines. FML. The instructor reminded us that we’re in earthquake country, so make sure to hold on to the ladder! I was so ready to be done before I even made it up to the platform.

But then somehow, I made it up the platform. I gripped the bar. I jumped when they told me to jump. And then…I was flying. And I was actually pretty chill about it. It’s shocking how calm it is up there. Because once you’re in the air, all you’re thinking about is being in the air, and nothing else (God knows that even an overthinker like me would not be capable of worrying about work while hanging from my knees 20 feet off the ground).

God knows that even an overthinker like me would not be capable of worrying about work while hanging from my knees 20 feet off the ground.

The hardest part about flying trapeze wasn’t even about the heights. It was more about trust. Because when you step off that platform, you are taking a leap of faith in yourself to hold onto that bar and do what you need to do. You have to trust yourself to be able to hold yourself up, because no one else is going to do it for you. If you panic and let go, it’s on you. The scariest part of each flight, for me personally, was the second before stepping off the platform when you are holding on to the bar and thinking please arms don’t let me down. please abs get my knees up. please legs keep me on the bar when I am upside down. please brain just shut up and focus on the moment.

You also have to trust the person catching you. At the end of class, the last trick they have you try is the catch. This is the classic trapeze move, where the flyer lets go and reaches out to the catcher on another trapeze, and you grab hands with the catcher and fly off your own swing. This is hard for a few reasons- you need to have perfect timing in your swing, jumping off the platform and letting go of the bar at precisely the right moment, to match the catcher’s swing. This means you don’t have an instant to hesitate. You just gotta go. It also means you have to trust the catcher. When you reach out, you are hoping that this person is right there to grab you, and that if you release your legs, they will be able to keep holding you. And this was after only like one hour of my entire trapeze career!

At my class, we only had one chance to attempt the catch. It was super intimidating. But I attempted the catch, and catch we did. See below proof:

Whenever you do something scary, whether it’s jumping on the trapeze or off a cliff or out of a plane, it’s really about trust. If you don’t trust your bungee cord, you won’t bungee jump. If you don’t trust your parachute, you won’t skydive. And when it comes to trapeze, if you don’t trust yourself and the other acrobats holding your safety lines and catching you, you’ll never make it off the platform (or you’ll make it off the platform, but you’ll panic and fall).

I’ll definitely be going back to trapeze class, and not just because I still have 2 classes left in my new student pack. It’s been a while since I’ve felt so challenged both physically and mentally, and so exhilarated and proud of myself for something outside of work. Yoga is great and all, but this is on a whole other level, and I don’t plan on coming down from this high anytime soon.


Have you tried a new form of exercise or activity lately that made you feel alive and showed you something new about yourself? Tell me all the things!

XO,

CC

What it’s like moving to a new city by yourself

When I was deciding where I wanted to apply for jobs during my last year of college, I told myself one thing: I would consider myself a success if I can afford Starbucks and an ocean view.

Somehow I managed to actually make that happen, because I’m a 23-year-old with a window to the Golden Gate Bridge and a Gold Card at Starbucks. I am in walking distance of In-N-Out. WALKING DISTANCE. I am LIVING the ALEX DREAM, people.

(Except what they don’t tell you about living the dream is that getting there can be kind of a nightmare.)

I grew up in San Diego, but left for the Midwest to go to college at the University of Missouri. After spending an awesome 5 years there, I was ready to go back to California, but I wasn’t ready to go back to San Diego where I started. I believe your early adult years are for living wherever you can, and for trying cities you want to try, no matter how far-fetched they seem.

This was a decision that I knew I had to make on my own. I made it independently of where my friends were all going. I even had to make the choice without my boyfriend of almost four years, since he was taking the CPA at the time and it was going to be at least six months before he knew where he would be applying for jobs.

So I made a dream list of my own selfish desires and it was great. The list looked something like this:

  • Walkability
  • Ocean view
  • In-N-Out (deal-breaker)
  • PR job opportunities
  • No icy sidewalks to slip on
  • Bright, down-to-earth people
  • History
  • Coffee

This narrowed it down to pretty much one city: San Francisco. Did I pick one of the most expensive cities in the world? Yes. Did this mean I’d have to start all over in a new place, after just making a ton of great friends in the Midwest? Yup. Was it hard to apply to out of state jobs in a competitive city? Uh huh. Did I still want to go for it? Hell yeah.

Once I got SF on the brain, I was hell-bent on getting there. I researched PR agencies there, polished my resume to focus on tech experience (tech PR is, expectedly, a great opportunity in San Francisco), and started telling my friends and family. And before it had even fully hit me, I was starting a new job and living in a new apartment with new roommates in a new city. It has been amazing. But it hasn’t come without its road bumps. Read on:

A few pro tips about picking up and starting your life over:

  • When someone says something negative about the city you want to move to (“Isn’t that expensive? Isn’t there traffic? Isn’t it dangerous? Isn’t it cold?” whatever people might have to say), remember that they’re probably just convincing themselves that your dream city sucks because they don’t have the guts to move there too. In other words, negativity usually comes from jealousy or fear or both. Don’t let it get to you.
  • When you’re figuring out where to live, give yourselves a month of living there before you sign a lease. If you don’t have somewhere to crash for free, stay in an Airbnb (I did this) and take that first few weeks to explore different neighborhoods and tour apartments. It’s so much easier in person, and I found the perfect apartment with awesome roommates within two weeks.
  • Create a routine for yourself, like regular workout classes. Having a consistent schedule can be super calming in the middle of all the craziness of being in a new city.
  • It’ll be tempting to travel to see your old friends in other cities, but try to challenge yourself to spending as much free time in your new area as possible. Believe me, I have come so close to flying down to LA to see my family and boyfriend so many times, but every weekend I’ve spent in SF, I’ve done new things and made new friends, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
  • On that note, explore the city! It doesn’t even matter if you have people to do it with, and sometimes the best days are spent wandering around on your own. Get comfortable spending time with yourself and spending time taking in your surroundings. You never know when you’ll get the chance again to take entire days for yourself.

Now that I’ve been in SF for almost five months, I still feel like I have a ton to do, from neighborhoods I haven’t seen to people I haven’t met, and I can’t wait to keep learning and living. I never know where I’ll be next, but I’m here now, and as long as I have Starbucks I’m stoked.


XO,

CC

Why Being Extra Isn’t a Bad Thing (Especially at Work)

When people use the word “extra” these days, it has such a negative connotation- like “ugh, my Starbucks order is so extra since I ask for almond milk,” or “she’s so extra on Instagram, she .” Extra is kind of the new basic, except it’s accusing someone of doing too much while basic is accusing someone of being too bland. We can’t win!

IMHO, being extra should never be a bad thing. It’s about doing more than what a normal person would do, and since when is going the extra mile a bad thing? So what if someone wants to wear false eyelashes every day instead of mascara, or if they spend an extra hour at work making sure an important project looks amazing instead of just calling it a day and being okay with average?

I could go on and on about being extra in all aspects of your life, but for this post I just want to focus on where you can apply being extra to your career. Adding value where you can add value is such a (for lack of a better word) valuable skill, that it’s almost like you can’t afford not to be extra if you want to get ahead.

When you’re first starting out at a job, it might be hard to imagine doing much to bring more value to your tasks (especially the routine, administrative tasks like filling in a spreadsheet). But it’s easier than you think. It’s not even like you need that much skill to do it. You just need to add a little something. You don’t even have to go the metaphorical extra mile- you can just do like a few extra meters and it will still make a huge difference. So let’s get into some of my favorite ways to be extra, even at the entry level. 

Going the Extra Mile (Or Meter)

  • When you get assigned a boring, routine task, make it the best damn routine task you’ve ever done. If you’re told to make place cards for a dinner party, don’t just slap names on a label; match the color palette to your company logo and pick a cute font with a polished design, and then print it on nice paper. Have a positive attitude about everything you’re told to do, and you’ll be much happier and more creative doing it.
  • Think ahead and start anticipating things before you’re asked to do them. If your job is to schedule meetings, for example, don’t wait until the day of a meeting to realize there’s a conflict- peek ahead on your calendar and your team will be amazed at how ON IT you are when you say “I noticed next week that our regular team meeting conflicts with the holiday- I’ll go ahead and find a new time for us!”
  • Always try to make things visually pleasing. If you’re making a boring PowerPoint, make it un-boring. If you’re putting together a memo or writing a long email, use bullet points (see what I do here in my blog posts?). Even if you just use a fun color on your spreadsheet, that’s something.
  • Learn an annoying skill and become the go-to person in the office for that skill. At my job, we have a really tricky program we use to monitor for news clips on TV, and for some reason no one ever really knows how to use it, so I took an hour one day to sit there and read through the instruction manual. It sucked and I hated it but it was just an hour of my time and now I’m like the TV monitoring whisperer. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’m kind of a big deal. (Not really but I like to feel like it).
  • For more difficult, creative tasks, think of ways you can help your team beyond what you’re told to do. This is kind of a broader concept, but basically whenever you have a project, think of anything else you can add to it that will help the next person who looks at it. If I’m drafting a pitch for an announcement, sometimes if it makes sense I’ll also add in a suggested list of target media outlets to send it to (if I wasn’t already told to make the media list for it).
  • Brainstorm little ways to add to company culture. Arrange a happy hour. Send out a funny newsletter. Bring donuts. The little things that make you “extra” are the big things that make you great.

If you’ve ever been told you’re “extra” for doing something differently, I hope you can relate to this post. Got any other ways to be extra? LMK in the comments!

XO,

CC

8 quotes that will energize you even more than coffee

Sometimes you’ve had your cold brew and feel that familiar caffeine rush, but you still aren’t feeling the inspiration. And sadly, “more coffee” is not always the solution. Sometimes you need to get energized some other way. Enter motivational quotes. They’re the reason we have cheesy classroom posters and Pinterest boards, and somehow they actually work.

Normally I don’t think quotes are helpful at all, but lately I’ve needed them. At work, I keep a list of quotes in a note on my Macbook desktop, for times when I just can’t get myself moving. You just aren’t going to be on fire 100% of the time, even in a job like PR, where it feels like you have to bring your A-game every second of the day. And I myself hate to admit it, but coffee just isn’t great for you when you’re trying to guzzle it down from 2-4 p.m. in desperate hopes that inspiration will strike and you’ll go back to killing it. So here are some of the quotes I keep on file for when I need a boost:

“If you hear a voice within you says, ‘I cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh

Replace “I cannot paint” with “I cannot spreadsheet” and you’ve got the voice inside my head. I also cannot paint, but I don’t think that one can be fixed by a motivational quote.

“To be in the 1%, you have to do what 99% won’t do.”

This is the definition of grit right here. To be the best, you have to act like the best, and the best are the best because they do things most people won’t do. Next time you’re wondering if you should go the extra mile on a project or come up with an original idea, think of this quote and do it (because 99% won’t).

“You don’t succeed by avoiding punches; you succeed by being able to pick yourself back up.” – Unknown

This is a good one for when I’m feeling down- maybe I got some negative feedback from a manager, or I’m not having any luck with my pitches. This quote is about knowing that you’re going to have setbacks, and that they’re a part of putting yourself out there, and that those setbacks are only a problem if you let them get to you.

“If half marathons didn’t suck, we would all be running half marathons.” – Me, to my roommate

My roommate ran a half marathon and I wrote a master’s thesis. Both of these things are hard. I was in my living room bitching about how much it sucks that I’m finishing my master’s thesis while working full time, and then I stopped and realized that you probably feel a similar way when you’re finishing a long race. It really really sucks toward the finish line, and for a moment you wonder why you’re doing it and what would happen if you just quit. But I remembered that if a thesis was easy, everyone would be writing a thesis. If marathons were a breeze, everyone would be running them. Finish what you started and do things that are hard!

“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.” – Sophia Amoruso 

Helpful for when you get stuck scrolling through Instagram for too long.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln

Abe Lincoln was the original hustler and we all know it. And he is so right. You gotta hustle. Next time you see an Instagram post or one of those pink notebooks with some handwritten phrase like “Respect the hustle” on the cover, remember that it came from Honest Abe first.

“Just focus on making the next right move. You don’t need to know where you’ll end up.” – Oprah Winfrey

This is more like big-picture career path stuff than it is about getting through a workday, but that’s the thing: Sometimes you need to remember the big picture when you’re struggling with the little tasks. The next time you just really can’t focus on your grunt work and you’re tempted to daydream about skipping past it and doing something else, think of this quote to remind yourself that you just need to focus on one thing at a time.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

The ultimate “quit slacking and make shit happen” quote. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit. Just get started and it will find you.

If all else fails, you can pop downstairs into Starbucks and grab another cold brew.


XO,

CC

 

 

 

It’s Self-Improvement Month! Here are easy(ish) ways I’m trying to be a better human being

This morning, something made me feel like going on a run. It was a super bizarre feeling, considering I dislike running. I dislike it very much. When I run, all I can think about is not running. But for some reason, this specific morning I woke up and just…felt like running. So I threw on my Nikes and started my playlist and just casually went out the door and did a 5K without even realizing it.

Going on a 30-minute morning run is something that a lot of people do every day without a second thought. But for me, it’s a damn big deal. When I first moved to San Francisco a few months ago, it had probably been at least two years since I had gone on a run- and not like a 20-minute stint on the treadmill before kickboxing class. I mean an honest-to-God run outside where I run with the full intention of doing my best and going as far as I can.

When I moved here, I looked around at the Golden Gate Bridge, at the ocean views, at the beauty of my city, and I knew it would be a crime if I didn’t at least try to become a runner while I can run by the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. So I started by running for 10 minutes (yeah, 10 minutes, I totally sucked, okay? But like, everyone sucks when they start something, right?), and then for 15, and then for 20. I downloaded the Nike run app for motivation and before I knew it, I got into a rhythm of running 3-4 times a week, and I was getting farther and farther. After just one month in, I could run 5 miles and not die. I legitimately felt like an Olympic champion. And today I got up and ran 5K without even noticing it. In the next two months I’ll probably get to 10K, and then within six months of starting to run I’ll be able to run a half marathon. All this because I just wanted to give it a try.

This all brings us to the whole point of trying to do things like running, which is that we all want to be our best selves. We’re all looking for ways to improve ourselves, whether we want to be better at our jobs, better at our health and wellness, better partners and friends, better learners. This is why there are so many industries dedicated to self-improvement, and you can probably think of a few things off the top of your head that you’ve spent money on for self-improvement- I know I’ve bought a yoga membership to get better at fitness and mindfulness, pre-made meals at Trader Joe’s to get better at spending less money on takeout, and even a subscription to the New York Times, just to do a better job of staying informed from a credible source.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the little ways I can be a better self- not a better version of myself trying to be like someone else (there is a DIFFERENCE people), but just a better me. A better Alex doesn’t necessarily mean better at sports or better at cooking. A better Alex means I take time to read more. I take care of my mental health. I spend more time on the things that are important to me, like my career and my family.

Here are some of the little steps I’ve taken (and that you can take) toward your better self:

Wellness

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  • Download the Headspace app to practice mindfulness
  • Start journaling, even just in bullets
  • Stop obsessing about things that upset you. Let things go. It’s fine.
  • Pick up all of the clutter in your room. All. of. it. Clutter in your physical space causes clutter in your brain.
  • Call your family.
  • If you have a bad headache, take an Advil instead of just sitting there trying to tough it out. You are accomplishing nothing. Take the Advil.
  • Spend more time just listening to new music and discovering bands you like instead of complaining that “there’s no new music that’s good anymore”
  • Reach out to a friend you’ve lost contact with.
  • Go on more walks during the day, even just a 10-minute walk in the middle of a busy workday

Fitness/Health

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  • Go on a run- even if it’s just a short run, it’s better than if you had never ran at all
  • Show up at the grocery store with a grocery LIST and have meals planned out (I have a bad habit of just running in with no plan and I end up making dumb purchases like frozen mac ‘n cheese bites)
  • Switch afternoon coffee for green tea
  • Drink more water. And then drink more.
  • Put at least one vegetable in every meal. No more popcorn for dinner. Or if it is popcorn, at least eat it with carrots?
  • Eat almonds NOT chocolate covered almonds FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST
  • Try a new fun workout once a month, like aerial yoga or hip hop
  • Laugh more! Watch more funny Netflix shows, go to a comedy night at the neighborhood bar, talk on the phone with your hilarious friend

Learning

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  • Learn a new skill in just one day- there are so many fun, free online classes that only take a few hours. Like this one on graphic design.
  • Stop by Barnes & Noble and buy an actual book. Yeah, books are like $15 but also how much did you spend last night on drinks? Okay? Okay.
  • Subscribe to a newsletter on something you don’t know anything about.
  • Go to a museum. Any museum. It can be the Art Institute or it can be a historic vibrator museum for all I care. You’ll learn something.
  • Watch a documentary or a “Netflix Explained” video instead of another episode of Sex and the City or Gossip Girl
  • Take a tour of something in your city that you’d normally ignore. I recently went to Coit Tower in San Francisco, which is a 20-minute walk away from my apartment, and it turns out the tower is full of these incredible historic murals that I never would have seen if I hadn’t decided to “be touristy.” And it was like $6.
  • Play games on the Peak brain training app.

Career

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  • Tell a coworker you appreciate them. It’s literally as easy as sending a quick “I appreciate you” over Slack or Gchat or IM or whatever you use these days.
  • Don’t do any work the whole weekend. Don’t think about work. Don’t try to work ahead. Just give yourself an actual break. (normal people do this anyways but I’m a workaholic so)
  • Raise your hand for a project that is scary and sounds like a pain in the ass
  • Speak up in a meeting, even if you think you’ll sound stupid. You probably won’t sound stupid, you’ll sound engaged. And anyways, why are you so worried about looking stupid? Stop that nonsense.
  • Spend a solid two hours a week just getting organized and doing administrative stuff. Like filling in spreadsheets or getting to Inbox Zero on your email. The stuff you hate and normally put off. This is the best gift you can give your future self.
  • Volunteer to attend an industry event, like a speaking panel or cocktail networking hour, which might sound like hell but actually could make a huge impact even if you just meet one new person.

Style/Beauty

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  • Read an issue of Vogue just like you used to when you were in middle school and high school, and you were excited about the different trends
  • Keep up with your skincare routine instead of getting mad at yourself when a zit pops up (it’s probably because you didn’t wash your face like you were supposed to)
  • Go to the mall more. Yes, go to the mall more. (Another Alex goal, since I have a habit of never letting myself splurge on my wardrobe. Which sounds great, but in reality I need more clothes and I forget how much I love Topshop). It’s okay to buy nice things sometimes.
  • Your eyelashes don’t have to be perfect every day. They just don’t.
  • Keep dressing up for work, even if you work in tech and you’re allowed to wear a sweatshirt. It feels good to look professional and polished.
  • Do your nails more. Plz.

Those are just some of the small things I’ve been trying to do to be a better me! Happy Self-Improvement Month, and holler if you have your own ideas for becoming a better you!

XO,

CC

How to plug in to the tech industry

There’s definitely a love-hate relationship going on with tech.

“I love technology!” – me when my long-distance boyfriend and I find an app that lets us watch the same Black Mirror episode on Netflix in sync

“I hate technology!” – me after watching said Black Mirror episode

We celebrate technology for making our lives easier, from health care advancements to staying in touch with faraway friends. We love that we can order things from Amazon and listen to whatever songs we want on Spotify. But we also fear it. We hate that social media can make us feel isolated. We hate that robots might be taking over the world. But regardless of how you feel about technology, it’s important to understand what’s going on.

Because love it or hate it, it’s everywhere. And staying informed is staying empowered. Even if we aren’t directly in tech careers, we still need to understand what is happening in the world at large, and these days it’s often tech. And in general…technology really is a good thing. Raise your hand if you’ve taken an Uber/Lyft in the past week, despite all the negative publicity around ride-sharing services. Raise your hand if you listen to Spotify. If you watch Netflix. If you send Snapchats. If you work out with a FitBit. If you have a bank account. If you USE GOOGLE.

As a PR professional in tech, I kind of straddle both the tech and the everyday consumer worlds, so I know what it’s like to feel like WTF is going on, while also having to know what’s going on because it’s my job.

So. Where do we start?

5 tips for keeping up with tech

Start paying attention to the innovations around you in everyday life.

Don’t just go to Sephora and try on makeup virtually and take it for granted. Really pay attention to what you’re doing. How did they figure out how to match your skin tone to the right foundation color? It’s not magic. It’s artificial intelligence and it rocks. AI is not trying to steal your job, okay? It’s just trying to save you from making the mistake of leaving the store with an expensive tube of something that will turn you orange.

Subscribe to newsletters. 

Like any other corporate American living the corporate dream, I start my day by reading the morning news. Except instead of the paper, it’s all my email newsletters. As soon as I knew I was interested in doing tech PR, I subscribed to newsletters like the Fortune Data Sheet and The Hustle (it’s like TheSkimm but more tech-focused).

Read the front pages of technology news outlets like Wired.

If you want to do a deeper dive, there are a ton of news outlets out there just for tech news. And TBH, it’s a refreshing news cycle compared to the Trump train wreck I see on mainstream media outlets. Sometimes it’s nice to just read about innovation and cool things happening and the people trying to move the world forward.

A lot of lifestyle websites cover tech news, like Refinery29 and Brit + Co.

Not really into the tech media? No prob. These days you’ll likely find tech news on the sites you enjoy reading already, because like I said…Tech. Is. Everywhere. It’s in fashion, it’s in music, it’s in beauty, it’s in Starbucks. What do you think powers your mobile-ordered PSL this fall? Again, it’s not magic. It’s your app. And actually in this case, maybe a little bit of magic because those lattes are MAGICAL.

And in case you do none of the above, here’s my personal cheat sheet to general big things happening in the tech world that you should probably know:


Technology isn’t so bad once you know what you’re dealing with, and I hope you’re inspired to be at least a little bit more aware of what’s happening around you. Also, watching Silicon Valley at HBO definitely counts.

XO,

CC

#Trending: 4 of the best ways to stay on top of your industry’s trends

Whether you’re a fashion blogger, a social media specialist, or a publicist like myself, you’ll need to not only keep track of what’s happening, but also stay ahead of it. Read a random job description and you’ll probably find a bullet point along the lines of “keeps up with industry trends,” or in other words, you better know what’s going on.

This might be one of the geekiest posts I’ve ever written, but who cares? I don’t. I’m having a fabulous time knowing everything there is to know, and you should too. Be the person at the meeting (and at the party) who can step in with “Well, I noticed that a lot of people have been talking about the new unicorn Frappucino…” or whatever it is your team might care about.

Constantly staying ahead of trends sounds like a superhuman thing to be able to do, and it totally isn’t…but it will make you look like a superhuman, so let’s just go with it. Just like Batman gets his powers from his gadgets, we can get our trendspotting superpower from ours. Now that I’ve made an actual superhero reference, I’m going to quit while I’m ahead and move on.

Here’s the rundown on my favorite tools for tracking trends:

4 Ways to Keep Track of Industry Trends

Read up on trade publications & subscribe to their daily newsletters.

Every industry’s got its trade pubs- not just the normal magazines that everyone reads, but the industry experts that know what’s coming. Woman’s Wear Daily and Racked are examples of trade pubs in the beauty and fashion industry. Ad Age and Adweek are both important trade outlets in the advertising industry. The more specialized you get with your reading, the more likely you’ll be on top of what’s happening. For instance, one of my clients does augmented reality and virtual reality, and I got real up close and personal with the video trade media outlets like FierceVideo and Cablefax.

In an unexpected career move, another one of my clients is Eaze, a prominent marijuana delivery company in California, and I did not even know where to begin with the cannabis industry. I never expected to be working in weed. So I did a deep dive into the cannabis trade outlets (High Times, Cannabis Business Times, Ganjapreneur) and it’s given me the knowledge I need to know what will be relevant in the weed world.

Check out Google Trends to see what people are searching

Google Trends is GAME-CHANGING (they did not sponsor this post, btw. I wish). I swear it will make you a trendspotting wizard. It shows you the latest trending searches (today it was Miami Dolphins, National Dog Day, and Beyonce) and lets you search for the most popular trends by geographic region.

This is how you can find out that New Zealand is the country most interested in Fortnite this week, or the month that the most people searched for “summer nail polish colors.” Play around with it and experience the magic.

Twitter: Thank you, Captain Obvious

Yes, Twitter (and Facebook, and Instagram, for that matter) are obvious go-tos for exploring trending topics. But obvious for a reason: They show you what the trending hashtags are, and you can follow specific hashtags to stay updated. For instance, if you want to see what local bloggers are up to, hashtags like #LAblogger and #Chicagoblogger are a good starting point. This is probably the most natural way people keep up with trends, and also why influencers are so impactful, and it’s getting easier and easier to control what you see on your feed.

Do some secondary market research

I went into a lot more detail on this in my post on getting good at research, but I’ll give you a recap here: Dig up the dirt from good sources.

  • News sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Newsweek, BBC, Bloomberg
  • Blogs: Trendspotting.com, Trendwatching.com, or any blogs that a reputable company in your industry publishes.
  • Databases: Factiva, PEW Research Center, Mintel, Gallup, Nielsen, Deloitte, Accenture, U.S. Census data, Experian

Feel like a trend-tracking wizard yet? I hope my tricks of the trade will help you feel like the most informed person in the room. If you have your own secret weapons, share them in the comments!

XO,

CC

Decision fatigue: What it is and how to fight it

 

Every day, we are bombarded with decisions, big or small. If you really think about it, it’s a miracle we don’t go completely insane.

Think about just your morning: You decide whether to get out of bed or hit snooze. You decide what to wear. You decide whether to respond to an email. You decide what bus to catch, or if you want to walk, or drive. You decide what makeup you wear and what hairstyle you feel like putting effort into and then when you get to the office, you decide what task you’re going to tackle first, if you’re not already stuck deciding what to grab for breakfast.

And this is all before 9 a.m.

I am the world’s most indecisive person, no matter what the decision is. I’m such a classic overthinker that I can’t even decide between two colors of a top at Forever 21, and then I end up either buying both, or neither, or I just go with black. So I end up with a lot of black in my closet.

It also means I exhaust myself every day. We all do. We tire ourselves out just from making decisions all day. Judges do it when deciding cases. Quarterbacks do it during games. You just can’t keep deciding and deciding things all day, without it taking a toll. This whole situation is called decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is basically the phenomenon that making decisions all day will eventually exhaust you and deplete your willpower and self-control, so you start making dumb decisions just from being tired of it all. Hence buying Cheetos at the grocery store when you meant to stick to broccoli, or in my case, going with the color black because I can’t pick between blue and pink. We feel overwhelmed because in modern times we’ve got so many choices (as opposed to cavewoman days, when your dinner was what you managed to catch that night, and not one of the million ridiculous concoctions at Trader Joe’s).

The good news is that once you know about it, you can start making your life easier. So, knowing we get tired of decisions, what can we do about it?

How to fight decision fatigue

Never make decisions on an empty stomach.

Research shows that when we’re hangry, we’re more likely to make bad decisions. Glucose levels might actually affect your ability to make decisions (if you’re low on sugar, you’re low on willpower). So grab a Snickers bar the next time you’re not feeling like yourself. Because as Snickers already knows, you’re not you when you’re hungry.

Sleep on it when you’re tired.

If you have a big decision to make and it’s late in the day and you just can’t think anymore…don’t. Just stop and make the decision later. That’s why “sleep on it” is a thing: You wake up each morning with a clearer head and no decision fatigue. And if sleep isn’t an option? Take at least ten minutes for a walk, free of any devices or distracting thoughts. It will give your brain a break.

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Simplify your life where you can.

You know how Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit all the time, or how Obama only wore blue and gray suits while president? This eliminated that wardrobe decision and they could spend more energy on important decisions. And while you might not be able to show up to work every day in the same outfit, you can at least pare down your choices (hint: start with a capsule wardrobe). Maybe you can spend a little more time meal prepping on Sundays so you don’t have to decide what to do for lunch every day. Or you can decide on a set morning routine so that you don’t deplete yourself within just a couple hours of being awake.

Get organized.

The fewer things you have on your desk, the better you’ll feel. Even if you aren’t a neat freak, it can often clutter your brain just to have physical clutter in your environment. With to-do lists and notebooks and all kinds of paperwork, your mind will just keep turning to those things and flipping the switch too much. Just get rid of it. Clear your space and you’ll be able to focus more on the decisions that matter.

Take away the fear that your decision is irreversible.

99% of the decisions we make are not permanent. If I end up hating something I bought, I can return it. Even for a bigger choice, like moving to a new city, I can always just move somewhere else. We often get stuck thinking that a decision is the end-all be-all, when it usually isn’t at all. Ask yourself: What’s the worst case scenario? What happens if I make the “wrong” decision? If the answer is something like, “I won’t enjoy my lunch as much as I would have if I’d gone with the other restaurant” then you should probably spend like five minutes on that choice, max.

Limit your choices. 

Can’t decide what to get at Starbucks? Tell yourself you can get either an iced coffee or a vanilla latte. Choosing between two eyeshadow palettes? Pick one factor that’s most important to you- like price- and decide based on that one important factor. Writing a blog post and can’t decide on a topic? Put yourself in a box and limit yourself to a prompt or theme- for example, “Self-Care Sunday.”

Paralyzed at Forever 21? Well, I can’t help you there, the place is a madhouse.


More awesome reading on decision fatigue:


Do you feel like you’re affected by decision fatigue? Tell me more so I feel better about my own overthinking brain!

XO,

CC

Starbucks + Beauty Pairings: Matcha-needed stress relief

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I’m stoked to introduce my newest series, Starbucks + Beauty Pairings! When beverages and beauty products share the same ingredients, I can’t help but put two and two together.

Today we’re sippin’ on the Starbucks matcha green tea latte, while we use the world’s most relaxing green tea sprays and scrubs. Green tea is an antioxidant, which makes it the ultimate natural skincare ingredient. It not only soothes your skin, but it also has anti-aging benefits, so it’s no wonder that beauty brands put it in products like face masks and lotions and Starbucks puts it in a latte. You can have it all!

I’ve been on something of a wellness kick lately, from going on longer runs to eating actual quinoa. San Francisco is changing me, people. I don’t know what’s happening, but I feel better, so I think it’s good? Anyways, part of my new lifestyle involves more matcha green tea. I always loved the matcha green tea smoothie at Jamba Juice (my tried-and-true hangover cure), but never actually drank green tea on a regular basis.

Now that I’m an Adult with a capital A, working a Real Full-Time Job, I haven’t had the time to take care of myself that I did in college. Or so I thought. Then I realized taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean big life changes- it can just mean making little decisions every day that improve your well-being. Like going on a quick walk just to get outside. Or…drinking matcha green tea instead of my usual coffee.

Pair that with incredible skincare, and you’re on your way to Namaste in no time!

 

Starbucks + Beauty Pairings: Matcha-Needed Stress Relief

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Mario Badescu Facial Spray: This does so many things at once, it’s ridiculous. It can work as a primer, setting spray, and even hairspray. The aloe soothes your face while the green tea works its magic.

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MILK Makeup Matcha Cleanser: If your skin gets red, this one’s for you. The Matcha Cleanser exfoliates and calms redness. It also hydrates, a major plus for the drier fall and winter months.

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Green Tea Matcha Mud Mask: Love me a good mud mask, and this one has all the benefits of green tea: anti-aging, antioxidant goodness. I love doing a face mask at least once a week, and since I have acne-prone skin I’ll do an intense clay mask every other week (to exfoliate the crap out of my pores) and then alternate it with a soothing one like this.

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Face Wash: Tea tree oil is known to help clear up skin- whenever I feel a zit coming on, this stuff usually does the trick. It does a deep clean and leaves your skin feeling less shiny and more refreshed.

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Earth Therapeutics Green Tea Konjac Sponge: A beauty sponge with green tea in it?! Yep! Just use it with warm water like you would any other face sponge. It feels amazing and does double duty since it has K-beauty ingredients like charcoal. This one’s also on sale right now!


 

Hope you enjoyed my first installment of Starbucks + Beauty Pairings! Now go get a matcha green tea latte and pick up some green tea products so you can feel like an absolute wellness GURU without even having to run. That’s what I call happiness.

XO,

CC