Ashley Awesomeness in the World Uncategorized

5 Things for which I’m Thankful

It’s only fitting that this is the time of year we stop and reflect on the things that make us warm and fuzzy inside and the things that make our days a little brighter. I’ll spare you from the warm and fuzzy (husband, family, my sweet pup — you get the picture) and focus on some of the not-so-glamorous little things that make my days better, brighter, easier.

  1. My new iPhone 6S – It’s a digital world, folks! My iPhone is about a month old now, and I am thrilled with the battery life improvement — no more “oh no! my phone is going to die!” end-of-day stress. I’m also thankful it’s working beautifully (knock on wood), despite being dropped in the toilet for 2 seconds at a dive bar a few weeks ago; of course only after all the wisdom of the internet plus a bag of rice (and a good sanitation session).
  2. – My friend and colleague, Melissa, has been frightened by the number of email notifications my phone displays in that scary red circle. It scares me too, so when she mentioned and the daily roll up, I knew I should probably give it a shot. I finally did this weekend and I’m already sooooo happy my inbox is less frightening.
  3. Sparkling water – I’ve been addicted to sparkling water for awhile, and debated whether or not to just buy a soda stream. I couldn’t justify it so my go-to is the Poland Spring brand from Whole Foods. When I feel like treating myself though, I buy the beautiful, glass bottled Whole Foods Italian Sparkling Mineral Water, preferably strawberry.
  4. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream – My colleague and I have been sharing skin care products and routines recently and this will forever be my favorite daily use product. Unscented, non-oily, no frills really — just straight up moisture. Go get a tub of this stuff right now.
  5. Nylabone Oral Care dog treats – I know what you’re thinking…what in the world? But hear me out. Who wants a snuggly 9lb teddy-bear pup with stinky breath?! My sweet pup is almost five years old and the older he gets, the more his dental health declines. Totally natural, but a challenge nonetheless. We brush his teeth to keep plaque at bay (have you ever seen this process? It’s a sight!), but these dental treats have been knocking it out of the park. They’re like doggy crack, too. He’s obsessed.

So there you have it; some of the tangible, bizarre things I can’t live without and for which I am truly thankful. I hope you, too, will stop to appreciate some of the little things this season. And I hope the warm and fuzzy stuff is making you grin ear to ear, too!

– Ashley Respecki



My apologies, all! I didn’t mean to leave you without any new content last week. I had a few things ready to post from our fantastic contributors, but we all know what happens to the best laid plans. I was on vacation last week and internet access at our resort in Antigua was spotty at best. And while it meant a quiet week on the blog here, what a treat it was.

My last vacation that was anything more than a long weekend was this time last year in Jamaica. My husband and I have started our own tradition of heading to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving, and we go to a new place each year. Though even when we were in Jamaica last year, it rained most of the time and I spent more time on my phone and laptop than I’d planned. So it had been a while since I’d totally unplugged for an actual vacation. This year, we made it a habit of leaving our phones off and only trying to connect to the wifi once a day – over a glass of wine before dinner. We made sure nothing had exploded and all was right in our worlds back here, but other than that, we were pretty much off the grid and focused on where we were.

I didn’t realize until yesterday – our first day back at home filled with running errands, getting caught up and about 18 loads of laundry – how much I had needed to unplug to relax. For the 7 days of our vacation, we did next to nothing. One day of sight-seeing and then six days of laying on the beach, reading, watching the waves come in and grabbing a nap if so moved. It was blissful and so much more necessary than I even knew.

Thanksgiving is always a chance to take stock of all the things for which we’re grateful, and this year was no exception. I’m grateful for the ability to travel to beautiful places, but I’m even more grateful for the reminder to go easy. Work is important, as is making time for friends, family and our communities, but so is taking time to unplug and recharge. I hope you all enjoyed just the Thanksgiving you needed this year, whether it was full of family and friends, quiet and calm, on the road or close to home. Thank you for being part of my world here – I’m grateful for our company and I’m looking forward to plugging back in.

Awesomeness in the World Uncategorized

Caring What Others Think

So often, we’re told not to listen to what others say about us – not to worry about what they think, pay no attention to their opinions. And while that’s good advice for some things, I think we miss out on some valuable intel. Set aside, for a moment, the notion of constructive criticism or looking for the gem of good feedback delivered in a mountain of shit. I’m not talking about those things (at the moment, anyway – I think we can get a lot out of feedback, even if it’s not delivered in the best way. But that’s another blog post from another day.).

What I’m talking about is what our friends and trusted advisers see in us. I wouldn’t have gotten into the type of consulting I do now if it hadn’t been for a friend who had a job and thought I could help her out. She described me as being good with teams and getting buy-in and consensus. These aren’t the primary ways I would have described myself, but she was right. I am good at those things, even if they don’t pop into my mind as the things I’m best at (they are now, thanks to her).

We know we’re usually our harshest critic, but why is it so hard to listen to those around us who have seen what we’re capable of? It’s easy to believe the bad things, but so much harder to believe we have talents we may not even know about or think of as strong skills. You value your friends’ judgment, so why not value it when it’s about you and your amazingness?

I was recently approached about a job opening and I believe I know the perfect person for it, so I connected the employer and the candidate. It’s not quite a job the candidate has done before, but there’s no question in my mind that she would knock it out of the park in this position. She was hesitant as we talked about it. As we talked through the skills and experience I thought she could bring to it, I think I was able to convince her, but it took some doing. From the outside, I don’t even see how that’s possible – this job was made for her. But the job title was making her uneasy. The job title was just the title. It didn’t get to the heart of her skills and passion, which were absolutely what the employer wants and needs. I’m happy to report they’re in discussions now, so we’ll see where it goes.

So the moral of the story – don’t listen to the haters, but listen to the people who have your back. They know your talents and abilities and want the best for you. And you have great taste in friends, so listen to them.

Career Libby Uncategorized

Mindset and Success

My son, who is in second grade, is going to be taking some tests in the next few months; the results will determine whether or not he is eligible to be in a gifted and talented program moving forward. It’s a tremendous opportunity if he gets in, and my husband and I want him to be prepared, but he already is feeling a lot of pressure to succeed. We are trying really hard to put it all in perspective. We’re looking for practice examples so that the types of questions are familiar to him when he takes the test – not to “hothouse” him, but so that he’ll have less anxiety. In looking for those, my husband found a Ted Talk by Eduardo Briceño that expounds on the power of “mindset.” According to Briceño, people fall into one of two categories: fixed mindset or growth mindset. Apparently, if you have a growth mindset, you are better able to deal with losing/failing – you can turn it into a learning event and actually grow and get smarter.

We’re hoping to diffuse the pressure my son is putting on himself to do well by sharing this idea with him. In reviewing it and anticipating our conversation, it occurs to me that I could benefit from a deeper understanding of these concepts myself. In a recent post I talked about how I’m nervous about taking on some new areas at work and how this both frightens and excites me. I have always been a pretty high-achiever in life, but every time I am given a new skill to build or experience to try, I am rife with self-doubt. From a very young age, I have thought of myself as “unable to do math” – this is clearly an example of the “fixed” mindset. My opportunity to work on some new projects in areas less familiar to me is a chance for me to embrace the “growth” mindset. It isn’t fair for me to promote this to my kid without believing it myself. So, I am going to embrace it with abandon…and who knows? If it goes well, there could be a career in the mathematical arts in my future!

– Libby Bingham