Ladies, never sell yourselves short.
My fledgling money management firm had just landed a big account. It was an arduous process and all that was left was negotiating fees. The client then asked us to sharpen our pencils. We did, responding in both gratitude and desperation with a big haircut to our fees.
Then they wanted another 10% off for being a religious pension fund.
WTF? We’d given it our best shot and negotiated in the spirit of partnership, not gamesmanship. We weren’t expecting to be fleeced in the process. After all, hiring a specialist money management firm takes a…
The dirt path led me to the Women of the Woods.
I was in Chile on a health retreat that included shamanic sessions. All I knew about the women was that one used a bayonet instead of a knife. I didn’t know why weapons were needed in a shamanic treatment, but was about to find out.
The Women of the Woods, Helaine and Antonella, one dark, one fair, were both in their late 20s, charming and friendly.
I sat down and chatted about what was on my mind. After the ritual cleansing by Palo Santo, an invocation to the spirits…
When a prospect I hadn’t seen in years said he thought of me every morning, I just about died. He clarified that he kept the Daruma doll I had given him in his closet, so he saw it every time he got dressed.
Why was I handing out red papier-mâché figures to sales prospects?
Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, was my money management firm’s namesake. He symbolizes what generates good long-term returns: focus, discipline and resiliency.
Daruma dolls are popular in Japan, especially at New Year’s.
Daruma has a red roly-poly body, and when you knock him down he…
On Valentine’s Day, Japanese women give men chocolates.
You can thank a 1960 ad campaign by confectioner Morinaga and Co. for this Japanese twist on a tradition invented by Richard Cadbury in 1861. Cadbury realized he could sell more chocolate in fantasy heart-shaped boxes.
Pioneering business and PR are in Morinaga’s DNA, given its founder’s story.
Taichiro Morinaga was dirt poor and orphaned. He went to America to seek work — hard to come by for an Asian in virulently racist 19th-century California. …
You’d have thought I was judging the Miss Universe Pageant.
As I drove, I took my “job” of appraising front yard magnolia trees seriously. Tall and elegant, magnolias have large, glossy, and evergreen leaves. Their white flowers, the size of dinner plates, unfurl in a slow striptease, as glamorous as a ’30s Hollywood starlet. They’re gorgeous trees.
Nevertheless, I gave them an F for bloom-to-foliage ratio.
In my mind, the perfect magnolia tree should be covered by explosions of white framed by dark green. And then I came to my senses and laughed at myself.
Who was I to judge…
For years I had math anxiety.
Maybe it was because we suddenly switched to the “new math” in 5th grade. We’d been doing long division the French way (where you subtract in your head), and then we’re playing with plastic disks like little kids. Welcome to number theory. The teacher was confused too.
Or maybe it was bombing the SSAT two years later.
The Secondary School Admissions Test is a multiple-choice exam like the SAT. I skipped a line by mistake in the math section, so all my answers were off. I discovered this with five minutes to go, panicked…
My neighbor Suzie and I share a garden bed between our driveways.
I wanted to plant vegetables, but my mother disapproved. She said I should match what Suzie had planted on her side. Since I was skeptical of my mom’s unwritten rules of garden etiquette, I asked Suzie what to plant.
“Whatever brings you joy,” she said.
In that instant, I realized that I could cultivate joy as easily as eggplant or peppers. I went from a limiting, self-negating belief to a generative, expansive, and life-affirming one.
I vowed to study the agronomy of joy.
Joy is not a sparkly…
The sweet bliss of a caramel melting on the tongue.
That was the moment of conception for the Morinaga & Co., the Hershey’s of Japan (~$2B in 2020 revenues). On a day when founder Taichiro Morinaga was struggling to make ends meet and feeling blue, someone gave him a caramel. California was racist and inhospitable to Asian immigrants in the late 1800s, making it all but impossible to find work. That gift of candy brightened his day and gave him hope.
He vowed to bring the same sweet relief to others someday.
You never know when you’ll have an epiphany…
Sunflowers chase the sun, the object of their desire.
When they are young, their heads rotate to soak up as much warmth and light as possible. But as they get older, their stems become too rigid to move and track the sun.
Inflexibility comes with age and maturity.
All sunflowers choose to face East when they can no longer turn their necks, and for the longest time, no one knew why. Wouldn’t they get just as much sun facing West? To find out, scientists took some sunflowers and forced them to face West.
The answer surprised them.
East-facing flowers were…
I woke up one morning with a skinny person’s brain.
Up until then I wouldn’t have said I had a fat person’s brain. I did gain weight gradually after I had children and launched my money management firm, but plateaued at a comfortable weight for years.
I could stand to lose a few pounds, but it was no big deal.
I had way too much going on in my life to obsess over a few pounds, I thought. I was stunned when I woke up one day with someone else’s brain: I would eat when only hungry, lusted after low-carb…