September 17 2018

Favorite Fun Stuff

You’ll have to excuse my long absence. Kat (now our Creative Director) and I have been so busy taking care of Skylar Yoo that I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath and blog here. But I’m back! I’ll still share some personal stories but, for now, I thought I’d just show you some fun products popping up on my radar. Some are fashion related while others are just fun things that I’ve bought, received or seen this past month.

Favorite home item: This flower vase comes to life when you put in a leaf! How clever and cute. Not available for sale on Ha’s website. Darn! (Above)

Favorite kitchen item: These adorable cardinal glasses just got back in stock. In love with their design.

Favorite fashion item: I like fashion that’s funky or shiny. This New Balance vest is both “cool” and warm. Wish the zipper zipped all the way down but it’s still a fun staple.

Favorite jewelry: My sister-in-law and brother-in-law bought me this super gorgeous rainbow choker for my birthday! How lucky am I? It’s made of rainbow Swarovski crystals. So stunning. I’m going to pass this down to my niece one day. Every little girl who has seen me wearing it comments on how much she likes it. I LOVE IT!

Favorite purse: You know how much I love Gucci and how much I love rainbows, so it should come as no surprise that I fell in love with this. It’s made for younger girls but I’m going to rock it anyway.

Favorite shoes: Speaking of Gucci, I bought these beauties, justifying it that they’re now my classic, go-to shoes. They’re super comfortable and they go with practically everything. I like how you wouldn’t know it was Gucci unless you knew their colors.

Also loving these new Tom’s glitter flats. Bought a pair for me and my niece.

Favorite art: Recently stumbled across this artsy shop, Tictail. Loved this message.

Favorite drinks: I can’t find the link for this online. You’ll have to visit your nearest Trader Joe’s to find it. (It’ll be worth it!) It’s Trader Joe’s own organic cold pressed fuji apple spiced cider with cinnamon and clove. Delicious and refreshing!

OMG, I’m addicted to this. Thank you Amazon for carrying it, and for the easy one-click shopping button.

Favorite new toys: Because I had a crappy childhood, I decided that I’d recreate it by buying myself some toys. Hence, I’ve ordered or have: This My Little Pony, a Princess tent (that has stars!), Moana Maui’s magical fish hook and this Frozen Elsa doll that sings and lights up.

Favorite books: I’m currently reading The Happiness Advantage and Braving the Wilderness.

Best investment I made recently: Joining Seth Godin’s The Bootstrapper’s Workshop. Fantastic forum for budding entrepreneurs. Everyone is so caring and smart!

Best talks that have changed the way I see life: Rita Pierson’s, Brene Brown’s
and Amy Cuddy’s.

See you soon!

July 26 2018

What’s Next For Skylar Yoo? (Hint: Colors! Lots of Colors!)

So lately I’ve been asking myself the question, “What’s next for Skylar Yoo?” Over the last 8 months or so, our customers have resoundingly favored our feminist graphic tees. Aside from “Grit” which has that cool retro vibe, “Girls to the Front,” “Yes, She Can,” and “Fearless Girl,” have been our top selling tees. I don’t want to pigeonhole us to be just a “feminist” t-shirt company, I have bigger dreams!

So what’s my two year plan? Well, right now I’m taking inspiration from the designer Missoni who created this stunning rainbow fringe dress that Mandy Moore recently wore for her guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (You know I have this thing for rainbows right?! I’m like a five-year-old girl, I know.)

In line with Skylar Yoo’s motto, which is “Be Bold,” I want to create colorful, ultra-stylish clothes that make your heard turn…at affordable prices. Though I love what companies like Everlane and DSTLD are doing with their paired down basics, my heart skips a beat when I see anything in bold colors, color blocked, or in rainbow. If these Gucci sneakers weren’t $980 and this Burberry rainbow puffer jacket wasn’t $1350, I’d snatch them up in a second! Ok, and how pretty is this Oscar de la Renta rainbow choker? I bought this Mara Hoffman rainbow swimsuit last year but my butt is so big I can’t wear it. (Motivation to work out! Goooo Peloton!) Oh, and who can forget Cate Blanchett’s ombre Givenchy gown? I die! I’ve been eyeing these Vans rainbow checkerboard sneakers for myself but they’re sold out everywhere. (Next best thing? I got a pair for Logan.)

My goal? To launch the raddest line of bold, colorful clothes, shoes and accessories on Skylar Yoo. More to come…

July 11 2018

12 Stunning Summer Dresses That I Love

Today, I thought I would round up some of the most beautiful, modern dresses currently being sold. As you know, I’m a sucker for rainbows and embroidery so you’ll see plenty of dresses with color and detail. Many of these dresses are quite costly, they’re from designer brands, but a few hover around $100. I hope you enjoy this list! (It was fun making it!)

Starting with the dress above: Just how beautiful, unique and modern does this rainbow dress look? It’s called Twist Front Dégradé Silk Dress by designer Sies Marjan. I hopped on over to his website and found this prismatic shirt and pencil skirt. Love how he plays with color!

You fashionistas out there, I’m sure you guessed this bright, woven dress was made by Missoni. The waves of color can be quite dizzying on this curve-hugging sweater dress.

Not only is this dress flattering (for women with big thighs and booties like me), it’s like a work of art. Notice the cascading flowers! A masterpiece by Carolina Herrera. (Fun fact, she was the designer of my wedding dress!)

This is embroidery at its finest! “Stalks of embroidered blooms decorate the sheer overlay of this A-line frock adorned with wispy puff sleeves for undeniable romance.” It’s so pretty, I want to hang this on my wall! The dress is by Red Valentino.

Self-Portrait can do no wrong! I loved their off the shoulder button down top (in white and black) and this pink lace dress is right in line with that aesthetic. What’s not to love?

I usually don’t like to include two items from the same designer in my lists but this dress is just too pretty to pass up! Self-Portrait’s floral lace tiered dress is crisp, fresh and modern in all white lace with a black belt.

This red dress from Reformation is a mini dress with a sweetheart neckline, ruffle edged hem, and strap ties. Wonder if this 40+ year old can pull this off! (The answer is…of course, right?)

Ok, we’re back to Reformation again! This rainbow striped dress immediately caught my eye. It looks cute and comfortable and it won’t break the bank since it’s under $100. A relaxed fit, the mini dress has a scoop neckline and adjustable straps.

Look closely and you’ll notice that this button up dress is made of embroidered flowers! In fact, it’s made of 100% linen, embroidered by artisans in India! It’s called Maureen Dress by Mara Hoffman.

The abstract design on this mini dress makes it pretty and unique. Created by designer Yumi Kim, the crepe dress is semi sheer.

This Alice + Olivia dress is just too pretty for words! Love the mock neckline with floral and beaded red embellishments. Top it off with cap sleeves and you have perfection!

With long sleeves, this red dress doesn’t quite look like something you’d wear in the summer but I’m guessing you can sport this classic year round. Balmain really outdid themselves with this button detailed dress. “With a blousy surplice bodice and curve-hugging miniskirt, this sharp-shoulder dress is regimented by golden buttons embossed with a vintage house crest.” Love!

P.S. Although I don’t think it’s available in stores, did you see the Givenchy rainbow skirt Cate Blanchett wore for a recent movie premiere? The colors of the hand-painted, pleated organza skirt traveled from dark violet to electric blue with some bright red thrown in. Worn with a knitted silk black top, It was perfection!!!

July 11 2018

How My Peloton Bicycle (and Their Kick Ass Instructors) Completely Changed My Life

Have you ever heard of a keystone habit? It’s one of the most important habits you can have, it has the power to transform your life. A keystone habit sparks a chain reaction that helps you develop other good habits. In my case, it took me getting a Peloton and riding it every day to get me to stop smoking, eat healthier, wake up earlier, meditate, and write in my journal (regular journal + 5 minute gratitude one). In essence, it has changed my life!

So, peeps, I told you we bought a Peloton bicycle awhile back. For months, I’d just get on and off it, taking a class here and there. I was devoted to Cody Rigsby, he’s this awesome instructor that is as hilarious as he is gorgeous! His classes made exercising fun…yes, fun! So everything was just hunky dory, I was happy I had the bike but wasn’t getting anywhere with losing weight. (This is him on his bike.)

BUT THEN! I decided to challenge myself by riding 30 times in 30 days. What sparked it was the All for One ride, Peloton took 11 instructors and had each of them teach a segment of a 45 minute ride (every instructor got to cover one song). I didn’t ride it when it was playing live but apparently, it broke a Peloton record as a 18,488 riders jammed to the beat of the music in the studio or in their homes, all at the same time. Personally, I’ve taken the class (on demand) two times and time just flies by because you’re having so much fun. Best yet is that I discovered a bunch of new instructors like Ally Love and Alex Toussaint. Now, I’ve been a member of LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness in the past and have taken cycling rides by their various instructors but none of them have come close to the ones at Peloton! “How so?,” you might ask!

Peloton instructors are super fit, they have dynamic personalities, they push you to your limit, they’re encouraging and they don’t just want you to get in shape, they want you to be the best person you can be. (As Ally says, “You’re a boss!”) Lately, I’ve been doing two rides a day – one with Cody Rigsby and the other with Ally Love. (See Ally, below.)

So back to the keystone habit. Riding on a Peloton every day makes me want to eat healthier because I don’t want those burned calories to go to waste. Bye bye, late night ramen and and juicy ribeye! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been a smoker on and off for years now but I’m committed to quitting. Why? Because exercising and smoking just don’t go hand in hand! This morning, I woke up at 5:10am and, by the time the family started stirring, at 7:30am, I had meditated, read a few pages of a book (Thinking, Fast and Slow), journaled, gotten breakfast and taken a :45 minute Ally Love class.

So, do I love my Peloton!? You better believe it! I’m on my 10th straight day and I feel great. Can’t wait to hit the “century” mark or the 100th ride and get my free tee! (I’m at 25, quarter of the way there!) In essence, when I’m riding my Peloton I feel like it’s “my time.” I come off the bike sweaty and exhausted but accomplished and exhilarated. I was pushing a size 12 but now I’m a solid size 10. Can’t wait to get my pre-baby weight off and whittle myself down to a healthy and fit size six one day.

For now, I just want to say, I love you Peloton! I love clipping into my bike and just riding, hills and all! And to all the awesome instructors out there, thank you for the “Sorry, not sorry” quips. They crack me up!

April 25 2018

5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned From My A Book A Day Challenge

Well, I lasted about a week. Yesterday, I was reading Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last while my husband was enjoying a late night snack. Suddenly he remarked, “Can we please talk? I’m leaving on a trip, I’ll be gone for a few days, we hardly saw each yesterday and it seems like all you’re doing these days is reading.” Then, it hit me. This 365 day challenge of reading a book a day was not only stressing the f*** out of me, I had neglected other parts of my life. So, even though I feel embarrassed to say it, I am quitting.

My friend Kat always reminds me that can we learn lessons from every experience, especially the ones that don’t go right. So what did this challenge teach me?

1. When you commit to a challenge, make sure it’s something reasonable, attainable. I didn’t give it enough thought before I proclaimed to the world that I could do this. Only once I was knee deep into it, did I realize that it takes a good 3-6 hours to complete one book. I even bought a book on speed reading but who was I kidding? I couldn’t be a speed reader overnight. Why rush through a book? Isn’t reading about enjoying every page? Every word?

2. If your challenge is going to stress you out, it’s not the right challenge for you. Instead of enjoying reading, I instead saw it as “homework.” Throw in the fact that I Instagrammed my favorite quote and wrote a full blog post about each one and you can add a few hours on top of just reading.

3. You can’t let a challenge make you neglect important parts of your life. Reading totally consumed my life, I played less with the kids, I hardly talked to my husband and forget about jumping on my Peloton for an hour of exercise. I miss my Cody Rigsby! (He’s a spinning instructor on Peloton.)

4. Pat yourself on the back for even trying. A lot of my friends, including my husband, were shocked that I even wanted to take on a challenge like this. I honestly believed I could do it. I should be proud of the fact that I even tried.

5. Something good can come out of even a short challenge. Every night I would summarize to Sam the things I learned from each book. When I told him about Thich Nhat Hanh’s philosophy on how our parents didn’t have the opportunity (or even the luxury) to be mindful, that their actions are mostly the result of what they experienced from their parents, it made him understand his parents more. At least something good came out of reading these books!

So, there. I am officially stopping my A Book A Day Challenge. (I hate the words quitting or failing.) I learned a sh** ton, I’m still going to read but I will go back to regular programming here at Adventures of Yoo. What does that mean? Every once in a while I’ll sprinkle in a book review, but mostly I’ll update you on my journey on becoming a better entrepreneur, mom, wife, sister and person. Thanks for sticking with me.

April 24 2018

A Book A Day #6: Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

Girl Power! If there’s one book that’ll make you proud to be a girl it’s this one. I first came across the series, Strong is the New Pretty, when I wrote a blog post about it on My Modern Met back in 2015. Shortly afterwards, in 2017, the photographer and mom behind it, Kate T. Parker, released a book, celebrating the strength and spirit of girls being completely themselves. Parker traveled all over the country, shooting almost 200 girls to capture beautiful, raw and real stories. This picture book is neatly divided into sections like Wild is Strong or Creative is Strong, giving you a sneak peek as to what photos you’ll be viewing next.

Brief Synopsis: Kate T. Parker’s goal in shooting the images for this book was to inspire girls and women to be their best selves, to challenge and test their limits. She wants these images to combat the negative voices that tell us we’re not good enough. “I want these girls to be able to hear their own voices through these images, and to inspire them to use them and continue to use them. Loudly.” Each image is paired with a quote from a strong girl. You’ll be amazed at how wise these girls are! All I could think about when I was turning each page was, “How relevant is this book today?!”

Top 5 Quotes:

“Many girls grew up dreaming of a hero to save them. I grew up dreaming of becoming one.” – Lesley, age 18

“True beauty is the result of the persistence, resilience, and confidence that comes with being a strong woman.” – Sophie, Age 17

“Family and friends may help along the way, but resilience is about harnessing an inner strength to fuel a fierce persistence in the face of hardship.”

“Challenge yourself: Launch an idea and know that your colleagues and peers will support you. Put faith in your legs and climb that mountain, one step after the next. Sign up for a class a subject that terrifies you. Start something new. Fearless girls are able to separate their fear from what they have to do in the moment: learning to fly a plane despite a few of heights, twirling in the air and trusting your teammates to catch you, or believing in your ability to conquer something that no one, even you, thought you could do.”

“I wanted to stop. I never did.” – Michelle, age 9

Story: “Strong is someone who takes hardships life throws at them and never gives up. When my parents died from cancer months apart from each other, I worked really hard in school so that I could make them proud.” – Faith, age 18

“Cancer stole part of my leg but not my joy. I choose happiness. Being happy is my superpower.” – Grace B., age 12

Statistics or Research:

Women earn an estimated average of just 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make.

In sports broadcasting, female athletic competitions represent 5% of the allotted airtime.

In film and tv, female protagonists make up 12& of cinematic roles.

Takeaway Tips:

Don’t be afraid to be completely yourself. Celebrate who you are.

Be fearless, take risks, have courage, that’s the best way to live a life you love.

Find your inner strength. You know it’s in you.

My Biggest Takeaway: It’s never too late to grow, to challenge yourself. When you have that childlike spirit, you believe anything in possible. Harness that energy and put it towards something positive.

Who Is This Book For: Every girl and woman on this planet. (Boys and men, give this book to your daughter, sister, or niece too.)

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: This book reminds me of how, when we believe in ourselves, we’re truly limitless. If I had a daughter, I’d love to read this book to her. Just as captivating as the pictures are the quotes that go along with them. I love the fact that each girl was unabashedly herself!

April 23 2018

A Book A Day #5: The One Thing by Gary Keller

I’m always looking for books that will help me live a simpler but more meaningful life. How can I increase my productivity while minimizing my stress?

Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur, he’s the founder of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count. His books include The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, The Real Estate Investor, and The ONE Thing.

The ONE Thing has been on more than 400 national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today. It has won 12 book awards and has been translated into 30 languages. It’s been voted as one of the Top 100 Business Books of All Time on Goodreads.

Brief Synopsis: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results helps you focus on what matters most in your personal and professional life. It’s a simple lesson, focus on the one thing that is going to help you the most. It asks you to zero in on your most important priority and focus in on that. Then, it gives you tips on how to boost your productivity.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Achievers operate differently. They have an eye for the essential. They pause long enough to decide what matters and then allow what matters to drive their day. Achievers do sooner what others plan to do later and defer, perhaps indefinitely, what others do sooner. The difference isn’t in intent, but in right of way. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.”

“Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list – a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”

“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over. When we know something that needs to be done but isn’t currently getting done, we often say, ‘I just need more discipline.’ Actually, we need the habit of doing it. And we need just enough discipline to build the habit.”

“The surest path to achieving lasting happiness happens when you make your life about something bigger, when you bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions.”

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – screenwriter Leo Rosten

A Good Story: As an example of a CEO who believed in “going small” or saying no a lot was Steve Jobs. In the two years after his return from Apple, in 1997, he took the company from 350 products to ten. He explained, “When you think about focusing, you think, ‘Well, focusing is saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

Statistics or Research:

Individuals with written goals are 39.5% more likely to succeed. Individuals ho wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends are 76.7% more likely to achieve them.

Takeaway Tips:

Do what matters most first each day, when your willpower is the strongest.

Think BIG, aim high and act bold. “Avoid incremental thinking that simply asks, ‘What do I do next?’..Ask bigger questions. Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.”

Rest and recharge. Take that time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations. “You’ll be more rested, more relaxed, and more productive afterward.”

Find time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go. Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals.

My Biggest Takeaway: Find your purpose in life. For me, that means inspiring and empowering women to be bold as well as helping to erase the stigma of mental illness. “When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions. When you make faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices. And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences.” It’s taught me to write down my goals and keep them close.

Who is This Book For?: Anyone who’s interested in simplifying their life while still achieving a high level of productivity.

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: This book taught me that life comes down to finding your purpose and setting your priorities. “Purpose without priority is powerless.” Work on the one thing that matters most to you. “Tap into your purpose and allow that clarity to dictate your priorities.” It’s all about purpose and priorities!

April 23 2018

A Book A Day #4: Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

Yesterday, I was busy putting together a photo shoot for Mother’s Day so I didn’t have enough time to read a brand new book. Instead, I reread a book that I recently loved. What popped up in my mind? Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss.

I’ve told many friends about this behemoth of a book and I’ve even gifted it to a few of them.

Tim Ferriss is author of self-help books including his breakout hit, The 4-Four Workweek. He’s an angel investor and advisor to startups like StumbleUpon, Evernote, Shopify, and TaskRabbit. The New York Times listed Ferriss among their “Notable Angel Investors” while CNN said he was “one of the planet’s leading angel investors in technology.” The latest book he’s written is Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World.

Brief Synopsis: Tribe of Mentors is the result of Tim asking 100+ brilliant people the very same 11 questions he wanted to answer for himself. Eight of the questions were “rapid-fire” questions from his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, the first business podcast to pass 200 million downloads. The questions included everything from “What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?” to “In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?” The answers that followed were incredibly enlightening!

Top 5 Quotes:

“Courage was more important than confidence. When you are operating out of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want. You are waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive. I now believe that confidence is achieved through repeated success at any any endeavor. The more you practice doing something, the better you will get at it, and your confidence will grow over time.”

Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by? “Hands down it would be ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are, and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything. I’d have a secondary quote too: ‘I’m starting with the man in the mirror’ – Michael Jackson. Same message; different delivery.” – Bozoma Saint John

“Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, it’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”

“In moments when you don’t believe in yourself, you need other people who believe in you. They can hold you up when you falter and keep you from hitting the ground. Other people see you differently from the way you see yourself.”

“Be original. It’s straightforward. It says what it is. Be you. Embrace you. Celebrate you.”

A Good Story: Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest describes how it took him a while before he “struck gold.” He left Google in 2008 to start acompany, the first two or three things didn’t work out. Pinterest launched in 2019 and it didn’t really start growing quickly for another year or two. It really took off around 2012. “That’s a four-year period where thing weren’t going awesome,” he states. “But I thought, ‘That’s not that long. That’s like med school before you go into residency.'”

Takeaway Tips:

Give without expecting anything in return. “Whenever I’ve given purely for giving, for helping, for supporting, for aiding, for encouraging – with zero expectation or interest in any return whatsoever – it’s ben thoroughly fulfilling,” John Rawls stated.

Listen to your inner voice to tell you what to do, be patient. “It is the ability to wait quietly for the right moment, rather than rushing about aimlessly, that can lead even an ambitious success-hunter to capture the biggest game,” said Tim O’Reilly.

The books that, time and time again, were high recommended are: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger.

My Biggest Takeaway:

To take time out of my day to meditate and to be mindful. To spend time with the ones I love. “Be here now,” Ben Stiller states as the quote he lives by. “Because life is short, and we only have the current moment…As I get older, I am trying to live fully in the moments with the people I love and care about.”

Who is This Book For?:

Anyone interested in learning about what goes on inside the minds of extraordinary people. This book is also for those who love to read! (Lots of good book recommendations.)

Why Do I Recommend This Book?:

I, personally, love this book because after reading it, you can decipher what it takes to become extraordinary. You can make the connections between a whole, long list of interesting people. A lot of them practice some form of meditation. Many keep a gratitude journal. Everyone seems to have gotten through some sort of failure in their life but they all came out stronger in the end.

April 22 2018

A Book A Day #3: Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

I decided that day three would be dedicated to mindfulness. It’s a topic that I’m interested in learning more about, to really live in the present and not worry about the past or future. It sounds so easy to do but I know it takes a tremendous amount of practice.

I was introduced to the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh by my father-in-law, who practices his walking meditation. Nhat Hanh coined the term “Engaged Buddhism” which refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice. When he was just a teenager, he left home to become a Zen monk. He’s taught at Columbia University and was nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. Can you believe how many books this monk has written? Over 100 with more than 40 in English! I could go on and on about Nhat Hanh, he’s established schools, built healthcare clinics, and helped rebuild villages, but it’s time to get down to business.

Brief Synopsis: Peace is Every Step reminds us that we can find peace in any available moment. To him, a ringing bell can be a gentle reminder to call us back to our true selves. He’s a firm believer in practicing mindfulness, truly experiencing the present moment, everywhere we can, in the kitchen, driving a car or even walking in a park. He provides exercises to increase awareness of our own mind through conscious breathing and he shares beautiful poems that you can’t help but want to remember. His thought-provoking, beautiful stories will captivate you and will really make you see how we’re all interconnected.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Breathing in and out is very important, and it is enjoyable. Our breathing is the link between our body and our mind. Sometimes our mind is thinking of one thing and our body is doing another, and mind and body are not unified. By concentrating on our breathing, ‘In’ and ‘Out,’ we bring body and mind back together, and become whole again. Conscious breathing is an important bridge.”

“While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.”

“We usually think that parents have to nourish their children, but sometimes the children can bring enlightenment to the parents and help transform them.”

“One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy. One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile conflict, or open a door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity. One thought can do the same, because thoughts always lead to words and actions. If love is in our heart, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle.”

“The secret to happiness is happiness itself. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can in touch with these things right now.”

A Good Story: Nhat Hanh has a friend who is an artist. Forty years ago, before he left Vietnam, his mother held his hand and told him, “Whenever you miss me, look into your hand, and you will see me immediately.” Over the years, his friend would look into his hand many times. He feels her spirit and her hopes. When he looks into his hand, he sees thousands of generations before him and thousands of generations after him. He never feels lonely.

Takeaway Tips:

We have the ability to transform our lives right now. Practicing mindfulness can be something we incorporate into our daily lives.

When we look at our parents with compassion, we can see that they were only victims who never had a chance to practice mindfulness. They could not transform the suffering in themselves. If we can see them with compassionate eyes, we can forgive them.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the suffering of others and put ourselves in their shoes. We can meditate about a person who is suffering and not just say “I love him very much” but instead “I will do something so that he will suffer less.”

My Biggest Takeaway:

I recently had a fight with my husband Sam and both of us had been stewing over seemingly nothing for a few days. There’s this chapter in the book called Living Together that talks about, how when we live together, happiness is no longer an individual matter. “If the other person is not happy, we will not be happy either.” He suggests saying to your partner, early on, “Darling, I think we’d better discuss a conflict I see growing.” The root cause of most problems is a lack of understanding. If we can stop a fight before it gets worse, and recognize the misunderstanding, we can easily untie the knot.

Who is This Book For?: Anyone who is open to studying mindfulness. If you feel overwhelmed with life and need to find ways to enjoy it more, read this book.

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: I decided that from now on, I’ll only write about books I love. I started reading a book today and had to stop a quarter of the way in because it didn’t speak to me. That’s why I’m changing “Do I Recommend This Book” to “Why Do I Recommend This Book?”

I recommend this book because the simple stories make you smile. It’s light but deep.

April 20 2018

A Book A Day #2: High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

I came across this book from listening to a “girl boss” podcast. Brendon Burchard is a #1 New York Times best-selling author and “the world’s leading high performance coach.” His latest book, High Performance Habits, was a Wall Street Journal best-seller and named by Amazon as one of its top three best business and leadership books of 2017. So was it good? Well, I can tell you that it was long! I actually started reading this a few weeks ago, I was halfway through it so I only had to read the other half in one day. Still that took me a few solid hours. However, because it was so motivational, it felt like the time just flew by.

Brief Synopsis: High Performance Habits is the culmination of Brendon Burchard’s two decades of studying extraordinary people. “What made them succeed?,” he wondered. He dug deep and decided to write a book about six habits you need to become a high performer. Here it is: you must seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage. (There, now you don’t need to buy the book. Kidding!)

Top 5 Quotes:

“You simply can’t beat the norms if you’ve driven yourself into the ground. As it turns out, high performers’ sustained success is due in large part to their healthy approach to living. It’s not just about achievement in a profession or in just one area of interest. It’a about creating a high performance life, in which you experience an ongoing feeling of full engagement, joy, and confidence that comes from being your best self.”

“High performers love challenges and are more confident that they will achieve their goals despite adversity.”

“Demonstrate courage by expressing your ideas, taking bold action, and standing up for yourself and others, even in the face of fear, uncertainty, threat or changing conditions. Courage is not an occasional act, but a trait of choice and will.”

“Clarity on who you are is associated with overall self-esteem. This means that how positive you feel about yourself is tied to how well you know yourself…That’s why self-awareness is so key to initial success. You have to know who you are, what you value, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and where you want to go. This kind of knowledge makes you feel better about yourself and about life.”

“Next, you need to have unambiguous and challenging goals. Decades of research show that having specific and difficult goals increases performance, whether those goals are created by you or assigned to you. Clear ‘stretch’ goals energize us and lead to great enjoyment, productivity, profitability, and satisfaction in our work.”

Adding a 6th Quote (because it’s just that good):

“The fundamentals of becoming more productive are setting goals, and maintaining energy and focus. No goals, no focus, no energy – and you’re dead in the water.”

A Good Story: Backstage at a conference that gathered 15,000 people, a girl named Aurora, an Olympics medal winner, asked Burchard,” Are you always this on?” She meant energized and happy. He asked, “Why?” She went on, “But aren’t you nervous? I feel like I’m going to be sick. I can’t keep my thoughts in order. You look so relaxed. How do you get so confident?” To which Burchard replied,”I definitely wouldn’t say I’m calm! I feel plenty of nerves, too, but I’m not really thinking about it. I’ll worry about the 15,000 when I get to them. I was just enjoying my conversation with you.” He coaches her, “You’re a champion. Now, how does this champion sitting right here in front of me want to connect with her people today?” She says, “I want to love on them. I want them to know I got a medal because of their support.” Finally, he says, “Then go love on them. Let that be your emotion. Let that be your message.” She kisses him on the cheek. “You’re right, Brendon” she says, “I’m a hundred pounds of love. Let’s go love up on these people.”

Statistics or Research:

People who set goals and regularly self-monitor them are almost two and a half times more likely to attain their goals!

Studies have shows that having a specific plan to your goal can more than double the likelihood of achieving it. (Got to plan, baby!)

We spend over 28% of our workweek managing emails and on other worthless activities, things that have nothing to do with real productivity.

Did you know that the average American watches four to five hours of television a day!?

Takeaway Tips:

Burchard talks about honoring the struggle. He sees struggle as part of growing our character. Struggles will either destroy us or develop us and ultimately that’s our choice. View struggles as stepping-stones to strength and high performance.

Live a life that’s yours. Don’t seek the approval of doubters. Express your own truth and pursue your own dreams.

Slow down, say no often and be more strategic.

Who is This Book For?:

People who are want to be the best person they can be whether that means being an Olympic athlete or a CEO.

Entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out what can make them successful.

My Biggest Takeaway: After having clarity on who you are, you must think about what you want or what your specific goals are. Then, you create a clear plan. As I was eating dinner with a friend and telling her about my business, Skylar Yoo, she asked me, “So, what’s your goal?” I was dumbstruck. Why didn’t I have goals written down? With no goals, I had no plans, which meant I just aimlessly went about my day, answering emails and trying to manage advertising campaigns. This book and that conversation made me realize that it all starts with goals. Write them down, share them with your employees, and then create plans to achieve them. As Burchard writes, “Productivity starts with goals.”

Do I Recommend This Book?: Absolutely! A lot of this book is common sense but the author makes you believe that anyone can be a high performer, you don’t have to be superhuman. You just have to develop strong habits like thinking more before acting and planning everything out, from your workouts and your meetings to your vacation time. If anything, you’ll be inspired to be the best version of yourself!

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