New Kid in the Boardroom

One of the many wise things my dad told me when I started my first job was to never forget that as the new hire, you are constantly being assessed.

In fact, according to bestselling author Michael D. Watkins, the first 90 days at a new job means everything. So if you’re the new kid in the boardroom, don’t even think about hitting cruise control before the 3-month mark. (In general, don’t hit cruise control ever unless you’re on vacation.) To paraphrase Watkins in his book The First 90 Days:

Research shows that what you do early on during a job transition is what matters most. Your colleagues and your boss form opinions about you based on limited information, and those opinions are sticky—it’s hard to change their minds. So shape their impressions of you to the best of your ability.


So, what exactly should you do to make your first 90 days count?


Because I have been on both sides of the equation—I  have quite a few people working for me in addition to clients that I report to—I’ve found that making sure all parties understand what is wanted/needed from each other is key to favorable first impressions. The best way to achieve this? Put everything in writing. This could mean deciphering your boss’ rambling emails into 3 bullet points of things that you need to achieve by end of this week, sharing a Google spreadsheet with everyone clarifying individual responsibilities or acknowledging a client’s email with a “I read your email below, and will get back to you by next Tuesday” response. Putting things down in writing not only helps eliminate any misunderstandings or vagueness, but it also creates the impression that you have it together. Both things are crucial when forming a great first impression.


I know this sounds like a cliche but just like most cliches, it does have some basis in truth. Besides, since you’re a newbie, there’s a lot you need to catch up on when starting out. Perhaps you’re an ambidextrous speed-reader blessed with photographic memory who can do the job of 3 people. Clock out at 5 sharp later. For now, arrive early and stay back at least until your boss leaves. Use the time to either complete work way before its due date, come up with ideas that will benefit the company (see No. 4 below) or read up on work-related materials that will impress your boss/colleagues when appropriate. Because a “Last week, WSJ did a piece on how a chat-based customer service system is about 40% more efficient and twice as user-friendly compared to a phone-based system. I’ll send you the article if you like” is a million times better than a “Yeah, um, improving our phone customer service sucks. Hope you can figure it out” sympathetic yet empty response.


When it comes to getting to know the people you work with, put in an honest effort to create a strong relationship with your team. You don’t have to make everyone your work BFF, but do remember everyone’s names and listen when they talk about themselves. Getting to know your team members helps you see things from their point of view. When I was first promoted to lead a diverse group of junior investment bankers years ago, knowing my  team’s personalities and understanding office politics helped me immensely when I started to delegate tasks. Getting to know your colleagues can be as easy as going out to lunch with them 2-3 times a week or sending a friend request on Facebook.


Be proactive at work. Just completing the tasks you are assigned on time is fine, but it won’t get you anywhere. To really shine, you need to adopt the mindset of “What can I do to help the company/my boss/the team/the client?” For example, a few months ago, I was hired as a fashion copywriter. It was supposed to be temporary and was a great little side gig where I was paid a good hourly rate to do something I really love and I secretly wanted to do it on a more permanent basis. Immediately after starting the job, I noticed that the company did not have a manual that would explain the Do’s and Don’ts that would help everyone on the team create uniform copy. So I created one without being asked and on my own time. It was 10 pages long and took me about 5 hours. Once I presented this to the client, she was quite pleased and offered me a permanent role as their main copywriter. Constantly think of ways to do things better/easier/cheaper and you’ll soon be considered an asset to the company.


To get promoted/get paid more/evolve you need to constantly improve by trying new things and accepting new challenges. As a fashion blogger, I find that more and more, I’m being asked to host fashion events. At first, I was deathly afraid of public speaking, but I knew I had to conquer this fear if I wanted my blog to evolve. So I joined the local Toastmasters and started inviting 8-10 blogger friends to my apartment to talk about what we do. This was more than a year ago. Since then, I’ve gotten the chance to speak in front of a crowd of 200 people and host high-profile events with dozens of cameras pointed right at me. If I had let my fear of public speaking get the better of me, I’d still be hiding behind my Miu Miu purse.

PS: I still get a bit nervous right before speaking in public.
Photo by Umberto Barone for Vogue

A Soothe App for (Tired) Shoulders

Massages fall into the category of things that sound like a good idea but you never get around to actually doing–like going to the gym (and all those other terribly ambitious new year’s resolutions).

After a long day of furiously typing away at my computer or after an especially long business flight, my shoulders tend to carry all the tension of the last 24 hours. At times, it even hurts to touch them. While I love an excellent massage as much as the next Ambitionista, I never end up making that much-needed appointment. So, when the good folks over at Soothe asked me to review their massage-on-the-go app, it was an easy decision.


The service delivers massages to your door, with the same (if not better) professional experience you’d get at a brick and mortar spa. To schedule an in-home appointment, simply choose the type of massage you’d like–deep tissue, Swedish, sports, couples–and the how long you’d like the massage to be. The times and prices range from 1 hour for $99 to 2 hours for $169.


My experience:

After downloading the app, you have to input some basic stuff – your name, address and a valid credit card number. You also will be able to specify your preference in terms of:

1. Masseuse – male or female.

2. Massage lubricant – oil or lotion.

3. Type of massage – swedish, deep tissue, sports or couples, and

4. Once you found a favorite masseuse, you can request to book him or her again.

So after the easy set-up, I requested my massage for 9:40 pm on a Tuesday and right on the dot at 9:30 a pleasant lady called (surprise) Sande shows up.

She set up her portable massage bed, asked me what kind of music I liked ( I think we had Pandora decide for us), played it on her little bluetooth speaker and went to the bathroom to wash her hands (which was cue for me to get onto the massage bed).

Apparently her most frequent clients are moms who have babies and small children – it’s  convenient and they feel more at ease with the little ones in the next room over.

Once the massage was done, all I had to do was wrap myself in a cozy robe, thank her and then prepare myself… to go to sleep.

What’s not to like?
Since then, I’ve used the app several more times, and referred quite a few of my friends.?

At the moment, Soothe is only available in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Miami, but there’s word that they’ll be expanding to San Francisco, Phoenix-Scottsdale and New York. Fingers crossed.

Protip: just make sure you have enough space for the therapist to set up a massage table and move around. You don’t want the poor masseuse stumbling over your Jimmy Choos.

Bonus points:

A Fashion Fit

We’re just a few days in to 2015 and I can’t help but think how the gym will be packed during the first weeks in January which is why you won’t find me there well until the end of the month  (one of my New Year’s resolutions is to not make resolutions I can’t keep).

I am aware that I still need to divulge my clothing sizes to a lot of PR people  stay healthy and get some exercise and so I make it to a point to walk a lot. And keeping track of how much walking I do is part of the ‘ stay healthy’ bit. weekly is a great way to make sure I ca Still, it would be helpful if we all had a little helper to keep track of how much exercise we’re getting in a day.

I mean, let’s face it – if you’re as driven by your career/business as any other Ambitionistas out there – between the early commute to work, the team meetings, the late nights hammering away at the computer, and finally dragging yourself home exhausted back home late at night – walking is probably the only exercise you can really incorporate into your life. By 9pm, the thought of going to the gym is the last thing on your mind and all you want to do is sink into bed while watching Downton Abbey on your iPad. New Year’s resolutions be damned.


I like that the Tory Burch FitBit bracelet looks just like an elegant piece of jewelry.

So back to the walking. Walking to Starbucks for lunch doesn’t count, or at least – it doesn’t count if that’s the only thing you do. You need to cumulatively walk about 10,000 steps a day or 70,000 steps a week to be considered moderately active. Enter the FitBit. I actually got a basic one when David Sedaris (one of my favorite writers BTW)  divulged at a UCLA Speakers event that he used it to maniacally make sure he walked a certain amount every day and eventually lost some weight because of this.

Well, my plain black FitBit was okay but I hated how it clashed with my outfits – like wearing gym clothes at smart cocktail party. So when I found out about Tory Burch for Fitbit  I almost wrote Ms. Burch a big THANK YOU email.  She even had the forethought to make these arm candies in 3 types of metals – gold, rose and classic silver:


Fashionable Fitness. 

With a simple double tap you can peek at your progress against your daily goals and perhaps the most pleasant part of it all — at least for me — is that the Tory Burch x Fitbit keeps monitors your sleep cycle and through silent alarms, helps teach you how to sleep more efficiently. Here’s how it looks like on me with a couple of other outfits:


More details of this outfit coming soon.


My only critique: If you type a lot, you may find yourself removing the bracelet to avoid the persistent click clack of metal against your keyboard and desk. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to slip off the bangle if I am typing furiously at my computer. A more practical option might be the pendant necklace (also in gold and rose) with an  open fretwork design.


PS: Don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself walking to
the Starbucks a whopping five blocks further. Just for kicks.

The Look: 
Tory Burch for Fitbit Metal Hinged Bracelet
Tory Burch for Fitbit Pendant Necklace

Leather & Leopard Prints

There are brief moments during a Southern California winter when it gets cold enough to justify wearing a leather jacket. These occasions are few and far between, the weather momentarily dropping from a pleasant 70 degrees to a foreign 40. On these days, every local news station is compelled to “go nuts” and you might see a spike in pumpkin spice lattes sales.

A moment of silence for all you East Coasters rolling your eyes right now.

Still, I’ll admit that I like to take advantage of these climatic unicorns. While it’s not chilly enough for a fabulous wool or exotic-fur coat, it’s not appropriate for your seersucker shorts either. It is, however, just the right temperature for a smart leather jacket…


I am loving this Ann Taylor A-list leather jacket. Instead of being a full-out motorcycle jacket, it has just the right amount of detailing to be interesting , and yet is streamlined enough that you can style it for work or business.


This look can be worn to a more casual business or work meeting, or in more contemporary/casual office environment.


When choosing a leather jacket (or anything really) pay attention to the details. If you’re more of a gold-metal person like me, look for a jacket with gold zippers/buttons. Likewise if you’re more of a platinum or silver girl, look for a jacket with plain (not gold) metal zippers/buttons.


Wearing classic black pumps brings the look together. Yes, you’re wearing leather and leopard print but add the pumps and everything instantly look more professional.


All Photos By Sabrina Hill of

Style Notes:
Leather Jacket, Leopard Print Top and Blue Cropped Pants – All Ann Taylor.
Shoes – Christian Louboutin.

Modern Office Vs. Mimosa Lunch

Some of the best dresses are elusive shapeshifters or appropriate-in-a-variety-of-situations to be exact (but that didn’t sound as sexy). A dress you can walk into the office with and grab impromptu mimosas with your girlfriends after work is invaluable.

The versatility of an office outfit that doubles as a cocktail dress saves time and the stress of running home to do a last minute change. Our friends at Claire Farwell London do a fabulous job of catering to the on-the-go woman; their collection of reversible dresses feature a smart black option on one side and a bold hue on another.


The designer herself looking elegant in one of her own innovative dresses.

My particular favorite goes to the one-shoulder, blue-black Marbella, a sneaky number that’s board room-ready when paired with a casual blazer and perfect for date night with the right details. Below, I curated 4 looks you can squeeze from the Marbella.


Style Notes

Modern Office Claire Farwell London black modal reverso dress | Balmain structured blazer | Gucci leather briefcase | Christian Louboutin black platform pumps | Nixon kensington rose gold watch

Mimosa Lunch Claire Farwell London blue reverso dress | Sensi Studio lady ibiza straw sunhat | Tom Ford soft calf hair black clutch | Manolo Blahnik suede pointed toe d’Orsay pump


Style Notes

 Black Tie Affair Claire Farwell London black modal reverso dress | Prada bow wristlet | Kenneth Jay Lane waterfall earrings | Pelle Moda embellished suede pumps

 Casual Office Claire Farwell London blue reverso dress | Chloé crepe blazer | Charlotte Olympia kitty flats

7 Uplifting Tips Diane Von Furstenberg Has for the Modern Woman

Lately, we’ve been obsessed with everything DVF here at TA. From her effortless style to her fearless approach to life, she’s proven time and time again that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Her legendary wrap dress cemented her name as a luxury lifestyle brand in fashion and her legacy continues to inspire generations of young women. In honor of DVF, we present to you some words of wisdom from the inimitable Diane herself.

It’s OK to not have the future perfectly planned out, but always know the person you want to be.


Be your own best friend.


Become a legend. Easy enough.


On success.


Tend to the most important relationship in your life: the one you have with yourself.


The power of confidence.


Never underestimate an excellent attitude.


I’m currently in the middle of her new memoir The Woman I Wanted to Be, so stay tuned for a fan girl book review.

How to (Politely) Decline When Someone Asks to ‘Pick Your Brain’

Dear Heidi,
I work in publishing and (I say this in danger of tooting my own horn) in the last year I’ve done really well for myself. As people in my network start to take notice, I’ve been getting a lot of invites to “grab coffee,” which I’ve come to learn is code for “pick your brain.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I love chatting with other creatives and bouncing ideas back and forth. However, when acquaintances I haven’t talked to in years ask me to grab lunch or coffee out of the blue, I hesitate. I don’t want to be rude but at the same time, I don’t like the idea of having my brain picked while I eat my tuna salad. How do I say no without coming off as a schmuck?
Not a schmuck


Hello Schmuckless Darling,
I’ll confess that I cringe every time I hear the phrase “pick your brain.” The entire notion of seeking expertise under the guise of a Starbucks latte is much too contrived for my liking. However, I understand your guilt at turning someone away when at some point in your career, you most likely sought (and maybe still seek) similar advice from those you admire.

If it helps, you’re not alone. Many experts in their fields have even started charging for these so-called “lunches” at a cost that’s much more than your tuna salad.

“I offer free advice, when appropriate, but I feel it should be my call, not theirs,” says Steve Cony, president of Communications Counselors, tells NYP. “When someone asks to pick my brain, I bristle. My brain is how I earn my living — would you ask a plumber to unclog a drain for free?”

So, the next time you encounter an unsolicited brain picker, politely tell them that “I’d love to, but unless it’s for a consultation, I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. My rate is ___, if you’re interested and if so, we can figure out a time that works for both of us.” Don’t know how much to charge? There’s an app for that.

Of course, make sure you make time — free of charge — for old friends, those you want to curry favor from later and your most die-hard fans.  And even for these pro-bono sessions try to go by these 3 rules.

If you have to do any kind of research/study, or really rack your brain to come up with solutions to help, forget it.

By the way, a tuna salad is too messy to eat in public. I’d suggest some portobello mushroom fries.

Photo by ICON