March 24, 2015

Book Review: Better and Faster

Filed under: Book Review,SXSW,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I experienced Jeremy Gutsche at SXSW this year. I say experienced because he was a performer and I was pleased to have been on the first row of this performance. I walked straight from his session to the SXSW bookstore to purchase his Better and Faster book. I read it cover-to-cover in one day.

Rather than espousing theory and principles for building businesses from ideas, Gutsche provides real examples that are not the overused Apple, Google and Facebook stories of success. Those brands are included, of course. But there are more stories about individuals with a solution to a problem that grew into a business than there are big brands that everyday people can’t identify with as a real opportunity.

The theme throughout the book is that change will happen and spotting trends on the horizon will keep you or your business relevant. The book provides charts, diagrams and steps for identifying business opportunity. I was inspired and making notes as I went along. And Gutsche’s Trend Hunter website is going to be a new regular read for me.

March 23, 2015

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

Filed under: Book Review,Business,Startup & Entrepreneurship — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I started and finished #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso in one sitting on a Saturday morning. Sophia is not only a great storyteller, but has a fascinating story to tell. She is honest, doesn’t try to be something she is not and her writing style makes her feel more like a friend than a CEO of a company she built by herself.

I am not a Nasty Girl customer, but will certainly be shopping there for my next purchases if for no other reason than I want to support a company that I like. The style is pretty awesome, too. At 36 years old, I’m just not always confident I can pull off some of those looks!

Though Sophia didn’t start out with aspirations to be a public figure and role model, she has embraced those roles for entrepreneurs of all types. She literally started selling clothes on eBay because she had a knack for finding vintage pieces and needed to make a rent payment every month. Startup stories like this are the best ones, in my opinion. It seems that the startup community is now too focused on technology, having a quick growth (and exit) plan, and quick frankly, too full of young, arrogant guys. Sophia bucks all these trends, plus many other “requirements” to start a new business, which is what makes her an inspiration.

At the core of the advice she gives throughout the book, the consistent message is work hard. This is so refreshing coming from someone who falls squarely into the “millennial” generation that thinks they should be given rewards rather than earning and seemingly eschews hard work and starting at the bottom to gradually make a way to the top, only if it is deserved.

This book was practical, but entertaining. It was proof that starting with nothing but hunger, a passion, and a willingness to work your ass off can lead to success.

March 22, 2015

Virtual Reality

Filed under: Culture,That's Just Cool,Video — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I am not ashamed to embarrass myself, apparently. At the office on Friday, our digital team came together to experience Google Cardboard’s virtual reality for the first time. I never thought I would enjoy the experience, or really even understand it. I was wrong. Though still not perfect, the experience was pretty cool. And fun. While most of our digital team members were reticent to get too into it for fear of embarrassment (especially since we were livestreaming through Meerkat), I went all in.

Virtual Reality Dance from Emily Reeves on Vimeo.

March 21, 2015

A Small Bag of Perfect Makeup

Filed under: Beauty,Personal,Style — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I am known to carry a lot of luggage because I want to be prepared for any situation. I have recently been working to lighten my load given back pain, shoulder pain and just the general feeling that my “stuff” is more of a burden than a resource.

It is for these reasons that I was so interested in the new makeup line, Stowaway. The tiny tubes are perfect for carrying around, tucking nicely into my bag. There are not too many choices, which makes shopping easy and keeps me from buying more than just what I need. On top of all those positives, the products are affordable. So I bought a kit and took it with me on a seven-day trip to Austin for SXSW.

DSC_0067

 

The Stowaway products did not disappoint. I used them everyday and only added loose powder, an eye shadow base, and a neutral nude-colored eye shadow from my full size makeup collection to complete my daily look. Now back from my trip, I am still using the products as my daily makeup. I feel like I am wearing less makeup and have a fresh and clean look.

DSC_0068

 

The products were created by makeup artists and it is clear they thought about exactly what is really needed, how to keep your skin healthy and creating sizes of products that you could actually use before they expired. I can already tell these are products that I will buy again and again.

March 20, 2015

I Take My Handbags Seriously

Filed under: Photography,Style,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I don’t think I am alone in my search for the perfect travel bag. For the last 15 years, I have traveled for work and have purchased countless bags to hold my personal essentials plus work needs (laptop, cords, notebook, pens, etc.). And I have never been satisfied. I have tried two bags — one for personal, one for business — the right combination of bags can work, but the wrong combination can be disastrous. Putting everything in one bag was too heavy and the bag typically looked bigger than me (I decided if anyone commented on the large size of my bag, it was decidedly too big for me). Then, different types of travel require different needs from bags: business meetings, day trips, conferences, foreign travel, etc. Through all my purchases, travels, trials, sore shoulders, aching back and foul moods, I can confidently say I am an expert on purses and business bags for women’s travel. I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I know a lot about handbags.

I can look at a bag and tell you if it will be comfortable on your shoulder for a long period of time – rolled vachetta leather is beautiful, but that stitched seam is going to dig into your shoulder eventually. If it will fit underneath an airline seat comfortably — too structured and it won’t slide under, too loose and everything slides around inside. If it will hold a 13″ laptop and all of your personal essentials without having to unpack the entire purse to get to one thing — getting it in can be a work of art, getting it out gracefully is quite another. If it is stylish and feminine. There are a ton of bags that are great for travel, but they are ugly. There are a ton of bags that are stylish, feminine and functional, but they are terrible for travel. It is surprisingly hard to find one that works for both. Many have tried. All have failed.

At this point, you might think I am leading up to revealing my perfect bag. But sadly, that is not the case. I have yet to find my “perfect for everything” bag. Instead, I have found a series of bags that have dedicated use cases. The perfect travel handbag, however, remains elusive.

The biggest challenge in my search for the perfect travel bag is self-inflicted, of course. I take an “always be prepared” approach to life. Which means that I carry a lot with me on a daily basis, and especially when I travel. Through the years, I have managed to cull the items I carry, and technology and innovation have helped as items have gotten smaller, lighter and have multiple functions now.

I am traveling back from Austin, TX as I write this post, so travel bags are top-of-mind. My carry-on bags surround me as I sit in the airport and they are most definitely less than ideal. I am carrying a slim Tumi black nylon backpack for my computer, notebook and purse essentials (this one isn’t exactly what I have, but close). For work travel when I need a separate bag for my computer, I am a big fan of this backpack. But it does not hold a lot.

The second bag I am carrying-on is a bag inside a bag. This is because the bag I chose as my second carry-on could not hold everything I needed, but I wanted it along as my conference bag (and I love it — the Kelly Moore Saratoga — more on it below). So, I put it inside a large canvas Landsend boat tote (and yes, my name is embroidered on it), then threw all the other miscellaneous items in on top. As much as I love the Landsend boat totes, they are not good for airline travel (in my opinion) and I would normally never have carried it this way. But I was desperate, tired from packing for a seven-day trip and it worked.

My requirements for the perfect travel handbag:

  • Big enough to hold a 13″ computer.
  • Structured enough so that things stay approximately where they are placed in the bag.
  • Internal pockets for easy access to phone and keys. And big enough to hold an iPhone 6+ securely.
  • Comfortable straps to wear over my shoulder like a tote. Optional cross-body strap that can really be used as a cross-body strap – strong, slightly padded, long and adjustable.
  • Zip top.
  • Lightweight, but durable.

Things my travel bag must be big enough to hold:

  • 13″ computer and charger
  • iPhone 6+ and charger
  • Wallet
  • Reusable glass water bottle
  • Notebook and pen
  • Snack (granola bar or small bag of nuts)
  • Sunglasses in hard case
  • Glasses in hard case
  • Make-up bag with: pocket-sized Kleenex pack, chapstick, lipstick x3, small powder compact, hand lotion, small pill box, small brush.
  • Kindle e-reader
  • Keys (3 sets: car, house, office)
  • Headphones
  • Mints
  • Koozie
  • Scarf
  • DSLR camera, sometimes
  • Tech accessories, anything from an iPhone tripod, to phone camera lenses, etc.

I will save myself the embarrassment of showing all the bags I have purchased and tried over the years. There are too many and entirely too much money has been spent on these bags. But for the right bag, I would pay more than a reasonable person should. I want a bag that works and get compliments. Is that too much to ask?

One purchase that accompanied me to SXSW and one that really feel good about is the Kelly Moore Saratoga camera bag in grey. I recently made a serious upgrade to my camera game and bought my first DSLR. I was looking for a bag to carry it in that wasn’t an ugly man-ish camera bag. Kelly Moore makes wonderfully designed, feminine and multi-functional camera bags. I love the Saratoga because it looks like a purse, and can actually be used as a purse when you remove the camera padding. The straps are cushioned and comfortable. It has a padded cross-body strap as a carry option. And when I learned that the company is based out of Ruston, Louisiana, I was sold (I am from Shreveport, LA so it felt like I was supporting my hometown because it is close-ish to Ruston!). While the bag wasn’t big enough to hold all my travel essentials, it was the perfect size for a day bag.

DSC_0079

IMG_5740

I really can’t say enough good things about the Kelly Moore bags and website. They show pictures of the bags from every angle, being carried different ways by different models, with stuff in them and empty. It is an online bag-buyers dream site. I am seriously considering the Kelly Moore Ponder in black as my next purchase in hopes that it can be my ultimate travel bag.

March 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Betty

Filed under: Personal — Emily Reeves @ 9:33 pm

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.24.29 PM

In 2001, I had just moved to Little Rock from Fayetteville and was finally in an apartment that would allow me to have a dog. And I couldn’t wait. Despite the fact that I was starting a new job, learning a new town, planning a wedding and in general trying to become a grown up, I purchased the most adorable black Labrador Retriever puppy. At 12-weeks old, she was 20-pounds. I didn’t know any better, but Betty was going to be a big dog. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway: I was in love at first site. Betty rode home in my lap that day, the last day I functioned on a full night of sleep for many, many months to come.

Betty did not take well to kennel training. Nothing I did worked. When I took her out of the kennel to sleep with me, her curiosity consistently got the better of her and she explored. Which meant I became a very light sleeper in an effort to not owe money for damages on my apartment (it was already a given that I was not going to be getting my deposit back). I was the walking dead for months, but I didn’t care. I loved that dog.

My fiance at the time (and eventually my first husband), gave me an ultimatum at one point: the dog or him. I had only had Betty for a couple of months by then. The thought of abandoning her so quickly brought me to tears. He gave in eventually. But we were divorced five years later and I still had Betty

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.24.40 PM

Betty has been my constant companion for the last 14 years. Through broken hearts, my mom’s illness and death, my brother’s death, a new marriage, the addition of a step-daughter to the family, and just the general ups and downs of life, Betty always lifted my spirits. And when I needed extra comfort, I was known to curl up in her bed and sleep with her. At 100-pounds full grown, Betty was too big to jump up on my bed.

We would go on walks, but Betty especially loved Pinnacle Mountain. When she could no longer make it up the mountain, we would take the path around its base. Then it became too difficult to get in and out of the car. It was around this time that I adopted Blanche, a yellow lab mix, to be Betty’s backyard companion.

As it turned out, Betty and Blanche just tolerated each other. Betty can best be described as passive and gentle and kind; Blanche as aggressive and dominant (though very sweet and a definite love sponge). But I think they each liked having the company and they did play occasionally.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.23.51 PM

Betty always had a lot to say, barking a lot. A lot. And she had a special way of getting her whole body rubbed by walking between my legs, and the legs of any and all visitors. She would throw herself against me for attention, not realizing how big she really was and sometimes knocking me off balance. I became a master of a dog-avoidance-dance to get out of the house in the mornings without getting my work clothes covered in dog dirt. But I didn’t mind.

She has been gradually greying and slowing down over the last couple of years. But she had a happy spirit, was always hungry and wagged her tail in greeting. Then the last couple of months, she has barely been able to walk, started having accidents regularly in the house and didn’t move a lot. She was still eating and would gobble a treat just as quickly as she did when she was a puppy. The vet said that she had a heart issue, but she could be made comfortable for a few more months.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.24.07 PM

This week I realized it was time to say goodbye to Betty. On Thursday morning, March 12, I took Betty on her last vet visit with uncontrollable tears rolling down my face. She was just shy of her 14th birthday (March 17th). Betty was my first dog, my longtime companion and a good friend. I was devastated to say goodbye.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.24.18 PM

January 2, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014

Filed under: Book Review,Girl Gets Geeky,Personal — Emily Reeves @ 2:28 pm

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 1.56.07 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 1.56.24 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 1.56.40 PM

I read 61 books in 2014. For comparison, in 2013 I read 90 books and in 2012 I read 60 books. But it seems that the books I read in 2014 were longer than books I have read in the past years; the graph below represents number of pages read each year:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 2.00.55 PM

Though I didn’t beat last year or come close to my goal of 120 books, 61 books in a year is a respectable number. I didn’t make great choices in my books this year, so finding the standouts was fairly easy. For some reason, I read too many dystopian future books (seven of the 61 were set in the future). Here are my favorites in each of three categories:

Top Business Books

  1. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmul
  2. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
  3. Show and Tell by Dan Roam
  4. It’s Complicated by danah boyd

Top Other Non-Fiction Books

  1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  2. Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink

Top Fiction Books

  1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  3. The Vacationers by Emma Staub
  4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  5. The Children Act by Ian McEwan

November 18, 2014

My Special Talent: Writing Thank You Notes

Filed under: Personal — Emily Reeves @ 12:01 pm
Stationery from Minted.

Stationery from Minted.

I’ve been told I write a good thank you note. I take pride in the thank you notes that I write. I make them personal and heartfelt. I try to write them in the three days following a the event that deserves a thank you (I don’t always make that deadline, but I try).  I think my secret is that I don’t write a thank you note just to check it off my to-do list and seem polite. I write thank you notes to show appreciation for that person in my life.

Here are my tips for writing a great thank you note:

  • Nice stationery. It doesn’t have to be customized for you, but it should not be on notebook paper. Find something that is meant to be used a mailable note card.
  • Good pen. It could be a fountain pen or a gel ink pen or even a fine tip Sharpie. But avoid pencil, ball points and fat markers.
  • A writing space. Sitting down at a table or desk gives your writing purpose and makes it seem more formal in tone (it is a psychological thing).
  • Readable handwriting. Handwriting is the important thing here. Please don’t type your thank you notes. If you have bad handwriting, simply slow down as you write to help make it more legible.
  • Personal touch. Share a piece of your life and/or acknowledge a piece of his or her life. Go beyond the “thank you for the gift” and show appreciation for the person.

My other special talent: folding my tongue into three parts.

Taken at the Made by Few conference in 2013.

Taken at the Made by Few conference in 2013.