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It’s important of focus on who you are becoming – not who you are or who you’ve been.  We all know this, but that’s not as easy as it sounds, right?


Here’s a “mind hack” I like to use to help me focus on who I am becoming instead of the present or past.  It’s two simple words:


“Not yet”


These two words can completely transform your life by changing your view of yourself from who you are or who you’ve been to who you are becoming and who you have the potential to become.


Here’s how it works:


Whenever you reply to a question about a skill you haven’t learned perfectly or a goal you haven’t accomplished, whether that question is asked by another person or by that doubting voice in your own mind, you need to answer by saying, “not yet,” instead of “no.”


For example, if someone asked if you had closed your first deal, instead of saying “no, I haven’t,” which is a very negative answer, you would say, “Not yet, but I’m almost there.”


That answer allows room for reality and possibility. It means that you haven’t succeeded yet, but that you are focusing on your future success.


Here’s a quote to go along with this “mind hack”.  It’s by Matthias Alexander, a very successful Australian actor and innovator in the 19th century:


“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”


Think about that for a minute and then decide to eliminate “no” from your vocabulary and replace it with “Not yet.”



I’m honored.  The Houston Business Journal has featured me in their Career and Workplace section today! The article is titled “Houston Style Guru Writes the Book on Helping Businesswomen Dress for Success”.  I believe my book “Dress Like You Mean Business” was a perfect fit for their reader in today’s challenging business market.  Let me explain.


You know, we often hear “you can’t judge a book by its cover”.  But how ELSE would you judge it?  Publishers know this and spend lots of time and money making sure that the cover is interesting enough to draw you in for the purchase.   What you WEAR is the cover to YOUR book – what are your clothes telling them about you?


As a business professional, we need to dress to express our expertise, experience, and value.  We can’t waste time hoping they’ll get to know us and appreciate us.  We don’t have a man-uniform, never will.  So we need to choose clothes that both complement our bodies (you DO have to be able to function, after all) AND illustrate why we’re there and how we expect to be valued.  You must look relevant.  A pull-together, coordinated look speaks your intention faster than any business card ever will. 


Can this be done?  Yes.  And there are lots of options available you may not know about if you only go to your local mall.  Most of these clothing options are available on the web and are created specifically for working career women or for specialty sizing or for women seeking out uniqueness not offered in mass retailing.  Some are pricier than others.  However, I find that price-points in this genre are most likely to reflect quality.  A little-known tidbit is that about 40-45% of the cost of a garment is in the fabric cost.  And if it’s made in the USA it will cost more – we pay living wages here.  But, a better quality fabric, especially if it’s stretchy, will last much longer so the investment really pays off.  Yes, it's OK to talk about 'investment pieces'!  If I'm paying more than fast-fashion prices, I want to be able to wear a garment for several years.  That's why we look for classic shapes, so they don't date themselves and we can continue wearing.


In future posts, I will continue to give you more information to help you on your career path.  I can help you define your personal brand for business success as well as make your life easier by getting your wardrobe in order.  Wouldn’t you love to walk into your closet every morning and easily pull out a complete outfit that is perfectly coordinated?  If I can help you, please feel free to call me for one-on-one consulting or speaking to your group. 832.707.9339###

career strategies

Taking enough time to recharge your batteries is important – and though I’ve written on the subject before I think it’s important to revisit often. (I’m guilty of letting my self care activities slide a bit when things get “busy”.)

I reached out to some Cleveland business owners to see what they do to stay healthy, and here is what they said. Feel free to take inspiration from their stories!


Kelly Franko, Gossamer & Grace Bras: "I have fallen in love with my essential oils. They are easy to keep with me and apply whenever I need them, and there seems to be an oil for anything I need!"

Marguerite Harness, CPA: "I participated in a Summer Solstice Attunement last evening – very relaxing and energizing at the same time."

Amanda Liptak, Rdn, Ldn, Nutrition Counselor: "When I feel overwhelmed I practice mindfulness, and a couple of ways I like to do that are…

  • Find 10 minutes in my day to be by myself, breathe, stretch, use aromatherapy or practice the positive laws of attraction.
  • Shut down from social media. This can be tough, especially when business depends on interaction. The good news is that no one will go crazy if you don’t engage on social media for 12 hours – set limitations so you give your brain time to shut down.
  • Make appropriate nutrition choices! I like to choose foods to feed my mood and boost energy like healthy fats, blueberries and turmeric tea."

Nicole Domanski, Evanlo, Inc.: "I consider my calendar a to-do list. I schedule time for workouts and any classes I may be taking to de-stress. Lately I have been taking walks in the evening without my phone, since the weather is so nice. I also find peer pressure is a good motivator. What I mean by that is I try to schedule dinners/drinks with friends on specific dates and times as well as outdoor activities or group events like yoga classes, races or backpacking trips, so that other people keep me accountable. If they clear their schedules to do things with me, I am less likely to cancel to avoid disappointing them."

Ellen Sam Scheer, Independent Insurance Agent: "Taking care of me has come to the front and center this year. My workouts are on my calendar and nothing takes their place. I am also in bed by 10:00PM, even if I am there only to read. Getting 8 hours of sleep is important. Making good choices every day for food is just as important. If we don’t take care of us, who does?"

Elizabeth Radivoyevitch, Rad Graphics: "I really cut down on my daily coffee intake recently because I started to feel it was taking a toll on me in many ways. My sleep is much more sound now and I’ve been waking up naturally before the alarm goes off. Energy throughout the day is more even too."

No matter what you do to take care of yourself and recharge, make sure you DO IT! Schedule it in your calendar, mark it on your to-do list, and make that time mandatory.

Share! What are your favorite self-care activities?

An aspect of workplace productivity that’s often given the short end of the stick is, ironically enough, the workplace itself.


There are many factors that make up any workspace environment. Desk. Chair. Computer. Filing cabinet. And a variety of other things, from pens and paper to coffee mugs.


Creating a productive workplace environment is vital to your overall focus and work efficiency. Let’s take a look at five ways you can optimize your workspace for productivity:


1. Rearrange your office to help you sit more ergonomically. Isn’t it great that science can tell us the optimal positions for our desk, chair, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to be in to help us sit up straight? I found this chart from to be very helpful.


2. Organize your desk for optimal efficiency. It may be geeky, but I think it’s really nice to organize your desktop and desk drawers in a way that’s easy and efficient to use. You’ll save time if you put the things you know you’ll need to use for work within easy reach. And recent research shows that organized desks may help you to be more persistent and productive at work!


3. Get rid of clutter! A Princeton University study shows that clutter negatively impacts your productivity because it literally takes up space in your mind, decreasing your ability to focus your attention on work.


4. Build the right atmosphere. According to recent research, a little bit of distraction, in the form of background sounds and distant conversation, like the ambient noise you can find in a coffee shop, can actually improve your focus on work! Even if you can’t bring your work to a coffee shop, you can bring the sound of the coffee shop to your work with websites like Coffitivity.


5. Add some plants to your office. You may think I’m crazy, but you can trust me! Science backs up my claim. Having a potted plant in your office can increase your productivity! Just looking at a plant could help you de-stress and refocus your attention.

Business challenges abound today – but there’s one piece of this puzzle that YOU can control – the way you dress for your business.


Your success is directly related to how people connect to you.  What you wear tells the world what kind of work you do, how seriously you take it, and subliminally, what kind of woman you are.  Your clothes define your public ‘self’.  Your workwear signals your authority, experience, and ambition.  Visuals communicate complex ideas into something more digestible and you position yourself to leave a more lasting impression.  It’s the Picture Superiority Effect.   Very simply, people remember pictures better than words.  If we make our image unique and impactful it will trigger the Picture Authority Effect with the viewer.  Help them remember you in the most favorable way.


That’s why developing a clothing strategy for your career makes so much sense.  It offers a way to create your distinctive personal brand – one that gives you a consistent image every day.  Plus, it makes getting dressed for work fast and easy because you don’t have to agonize over ‘making outfits’ every morning.  Why start every day standing exasperated in your closet when you could be in and out with just a few minutes with a completely coordinated look for the day?  This IS possible and doesn’t have to break the bank.

Dress Like You Mean Business

That’s why I wrote Dress Like You Mean Business and that’s why I work with business women to create their most effective business image.  Make it easy for colleagues and peers to remember YOU as the competent, confidential professional you are.  Dress like YOU mean business! 


I will be posting regularly and always happy to take questions.  If you'd like me to work one-on-one with you for an event or a season, I can do that.  OR, if you'd like me to speak to your group, I'd be happy to do that too.  I'm an advocate for all women to succeed in their chosen professional.  I'm at 832.707.9339


I keep getting calls, texts, emails and Pink Petro messages about how you can help Pink Petro.  So here goes.


Help us spread the word about the work we do together and how we are truly different.  

People ask me about the difference between Pink Petro and other organizations.  It's a valid one, really, but I think it's important in my own words I articulate to you what we are and aren't.  And why we know we are different.


We're not an organization.  We're a community.

Communities are very different than organizations.  Organizations have rules and structure and boundaries. They require things and operate with specific mandates.  Communities create and drive movements, not moments. Communities engage and co-create ongoing experiences and connect people and content in meaningful measurable ways.  Communities are borderless and mobile and allow for learning no matter where you are, physically.   Pink Petro is a community and before it launched nothing existed like it.


We're not a charity.  We're a social enterprise.

Pink Petro is a for-profit for purpose company that drives measurable results for our members and clients.  Before we launched, I spoke with a number of our amazing corporate supporters, executives, and professionals. They didn't want another charity or trade association.  They wanted different. I've been different my entire life so I was up for the job. My company has an executive board with seasoned leadership external to and internal to industry, with some of my clients serving.  Besides, would a man make the biggest talent and culture challenges in our industry a charitable endeavor?  And women need private board opportunities to grow their board experience.  Pink Petro is a social enterprise.  


We're digital and totally hybrid.  

We're social, live, and on-demand, and reach people where they are: online. We use relevant technology to drive conversations, create experiences and to measure impact and investment. We create hybrid (in person / online or on demand) experiences you can create your own experience around -- our signature HERWorld Forums and Pink Petro TV convene people and great ideas.   Events and meals aren't our thing.  But ... there are a myriad of awesome organizations who do the breakfast, lunch, and dinner club very well and we love to promote their events and activities, so if you are one, get in touch.  We ❤️ groups and actually help them build presence and profile online too! 


We measure progress and use data to drive impact.

Technology and big data are great things.  With 200,000 views a month and over 500k social impressions and growth on the horizon, we're proud we've built a niche that's hard to reach. We reach millennials, GenX and the public at large in ways no one does.  Everything we do is measured or we don't do it. Clients ❤️ us because we show them their return. 


We don't compete.  We compliment.

We bring together people who care about the future of our industry and we do so, globally.  We are a thought leader in energy talent and culture and are a trusted source and force for social good.  We embrace collaboration, because that's how things get done, in teams.  Our strategic relationships with organizations like Lean In, The World Economic Forum, and the C-Suite network broaden our knowledge and we bring that back to industry to apply it.   No one else approaches this the way we do. 


We are inclusive. And we are leaders.  
We unite, connect, develop and grow women in industry and include men in that process. We help companies in their inclusion journey and are shaping industry's story to make energy a place women want to work.  We are leaders in understanding the talent and culture challenges underway and bring new ideas and solutions to an industry starving for innovation and creativity.  


We're not going to stop until the job is done.

We're on to amazing things I can't wait to share. My dad, an engineer, taught me that if you want something bad enough, you get after it.  I left a comfortable life and chair three years ago to bring this cause to the forefront.  I could have stayed on my previous executive path but chose this one.   I put my money, sweat, blood and plenty of tears into it because I demand a better outcome for my kid and yours. You can take that statement to the bank. 


My plea to you?  

You want to help?  Here's what I need.  Spread the great work we do.   Reach out and sponsor our high impact forums, members app, community, Pink Petro TV, or join / recruit from our careers platform and hiring teams. 


Thank you for believing in the cocktail dream that has becomePink Petro and drinking some pink kool-aid with me. I cannot wait for the weeks and months ahead. 

Everyone’s heard that to be more productive, you should get up earlier, avoid distractions, exercise, and eat a healthy breakfast. All those tips are great ways to boost your productivity at work. But, if you still want to find that extra little way to increase your work productivity, try out these six unusual, science-proven ways you can be more efficient!


1. Turn Up the Heat at Work. Studies show that, if you work in a warmer environment, then you can type faster and more accurately, leading to more words per minutes and faster writing. Now, who doesn’t want that?


2. Smile Like You Mean It. Research shows that, while faking a smile can lead to more stress and anxiety, if you smile like you mean it at work, you could improve your health and your mood, making your tasks at work easier and less stressful to complete!


3. Take a Cold Shower Before Work. I know it’s not the most fun experience, but science shows that taking a cold shower in the morning can actually help boost your productivity at work, as well as improve your health.


4. Decorate Your Office with Red or Blue. Being surrounded by the color red while working can help improve your motivation and help you focus on details, while the color blue can help you focus when you’re working on more creative tasks, as it promotes a calm mindset. Both colors help with work productivity, it just depends what type of task you need to focus on!


5. Stop Multitasking. Multiple studies show that you get less work done if you multitask. Your brain just isn’t able to ignore out distraction and concentrate when you try to work on more than one task at a time. So, do yourself a favor and focus on one thing at a time while at work.


6. Meditate. This isn’t just superstition! Studies show that meditation can improve your mood and make you feel better, leading to a better work day.

Growing up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti—where her parents were missionaries—you could say that Stephanie Sirt’s life and career story are anything but typical.


Now working as a Senior Director of Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) Business for Emerson Automation Solutions in Houston, Texas, we chatted with Sirt to get the lowdown on her journey, her current role, and her very best career advice.

Finding Motivation Early

While Sirt’s early life calls Port-au-Prince home, she moved back to Houston following high school. From there, she pursued an Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering.


After completing her degree, she found herself at a crossroads. “I was a single mom at 20, just out of college with a two-year degree and determined not to be a statistic,” Sirt explains.


It was that very inspiration that pushed her to continue her education—she now has a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology—and grab the reins to advance her own career in the oil and gas industry.


“I have worked in refineries, offshore, in chemical plants,” she says, “I have been in oil and gas my entire career.”

Advancing a Career

With her involvement in the oil and gas industry, Sirt’s career tells a cohesive story. However, she’s held numerous different positions throughout that time.


She has over 12 years of project experience, working as a Project Manager, Instrument and Electrical Designer, Business Development Manager, Contract Manager, Configuration and Graphics Programmer, and Field Designer in the chemical, offshore drilling, and upstream industries.


Most recently before joining Emerson, she worked as the Vice President of Main Automation Contractor (MAC) Programs for Maverick Technologies. When she found herself wanting to try something new in her career, Emerson felt like the perfect opportunity.


“I had been in projects my entire career. I wanted manufacturing exposure,” she says, “I interviewed with John Gardner and really liked his vision. He wanted to build a group that would lead in integrating Emerson and solve customer problems. He was singing my tune.”


So, Sirt joined Emerson in 2010 as the Strategic Account Director for Chevron—a position she held until 2016. In October of 2016, she moved into her current role as Senior Director of EPC business.

Her Current Role

“Currently, I manage the executive level relationships for about 14 of our strategic EPC accounts,” Sirt explains, “I am an escalation point, so I manage a lot of challenging situations.” She’s also responsible for leading and coordinating the global teams assigned to the EPC accounts.


Because of her heavily involved role, Sirt needs to spend a solid chunk of her time in meetings and on the phone solving problems and strategizing with customer teams. And, she loves that her job challenges her to solve complex problems.


“Every day is a new adventure,” she says, “It’s impossible to get bored, and I have been fortunate to work for some fantastic leaders.”

Life in a Male-Dominated Industry

For 95% of her career, Sirt mentions that she was the only or the first woman on a certain team.


She was the only woman in the detail engineering group offshore. She was the first female Global Strategic Account Executive reporting to John Gardner. She was the First female EPC director at Emerson in North America. The list goes on.


“Most of the first 10 years of my career, I had to share the men’s restroom,” she says.


But, with a go-getter attitude and the support of numerous outstanding mentors, Sirt was still able to build a successful career  in an industry that’s notoriously patriarchal.

Moving Forward

There’s no doubt that Sirt will continue to make her mark on the oil and gas industry. And, she has some sage words of advice for anyone else who’s looking to do the same.


“Charge the hill,” she explains, “It’s evolved a lot in the last 25 years and the sky’s the limit. Figure out what you love to do and the rest will fall into place. Treat everyone with respect, from the CEO to the janitor. Relationships and trust are the currency of the energy industry.”


When it comes to the very best career advice she’s ever received? Sirt concludes by providing some encouraging words for us all.


“You are either part of the problem or the solution. Be part of the solution.”

Our friend Katie posted something on Facebook recently about box-checking and diving into process without thinking through the process, which is a problem in many companies ... so I thought I'd share this, with some solid MIT research on the issue.


Customer insight is an interesting topic in the modern business world. We've got some evidence that customer relationships are now trumping the value of "brand," which totally flips the script that a lot of CEOs and CMOs have been playing from for decades. Then, we've got this other idea of "Nobody asked for Uber." In other words, growth and innovation tend to come from what customers need, not what executives think. This may sound very logical, but a lot of companies still haven't even remotely mastered this idea. It murders their customer insight processes. Here's the final piece of the puzzle: many companies still treat customers as, essentially, "wallets with fingers." Hard to derive customer insight there.


There are two major problems here, I'd argue. The first is how we set up hierarchy. You can make the most money by being furthest from the customer. That makes no sense. So you've got these guys making $225,000 per annum sitting in meetings, right? Most of their week is spent sitting in meetings with other people like them. In many cases, they have no idea who the "end user" is. Maybe they've seen some data -- you'd hope -- but even then, they probably haven't straight-up interacted with a slew of customers. How can they possibly be making customer insight decisions then? In short: they can, but those decisions will be very skewed. The second element of this problem is that all these guys are considered "stakeholders." Further down the chain, where you might have more customer insight, your job is seen as "pleasing these stakeholders."


In short: people with real intel on customer insight often have to run in circles placating those with less insight but bigger salaries. This is where hierarchy is a problem and why stuff like "self-management" has come into the light of late.

The second issue is the role of data. A lot of customers make purchase decisions off emotion, but because data is en vogue now, a lot of organizations are chasing that. Problem: they're chasing it based on outdated success metrics. Problem II: collecting data essentially for the sake of collecting data does nothing but slow down your decision-making. Slow decision-making is the first way established companies get "disrupted."


So here's where we are: customer insight is important, but the pathway that many companies take to customer insight is flawed. What now?

Customer insight: The value of stop and think


The whole time I had office jobs, here's one thing I never understood. Almost no one thinks about anything. People just race from task to task and meeting to meeting. I wrote a post about this once.



Well, some people much smarter than me -- MIT Business School -- also wrote a post recently called "The Lost Art Of Thinking In Large Organizations." Very good, detailed post. Read it if you have time. Right up top, they nail the problem:

How did we arrive in a state where managers do not recognize that thinking is part of their job? The answer reflects a relentless focus on execution in many large companies. A company becomes big by finding a successful business model — and then scaling it massively. This necessitates building a finely tuned system with highly standardized processes. To get promoted in such an environment requires an almost singular focus on execution. In other words, it requires action more than thinking. However, once executives are promoted to a senior level, these new business leaders must be able to think strategically. Ironically, the very skills in execution that led to their promotions often make these executives ill-equipped for their new roles, since their strategy thinking muscles have withered from disuse.


Yep. Here's the real deal. Most supposed "strategic" plans are really operational plans. Why does this happen? Because the guys who create these strategic plans have spent 15+ years being told all that matters is execution. So they outline the details and call that "strategy," when in fact that is logistics or operational elements. As a result, most strategic plans are garbage. Plus: strategy, by definition, has to evolve. If the market shifts or you have turnover or certain stuff happens with a product, the strategy changes. When you put strategy on a document, it usually becomes intractable. That's bad.

What does all this have to do with customer insight?


You need a way to get at customer insight. Most "thought leaders" will come along with a bucket of buzzwords and grab at those. It will be something about "real-time customer analytics" and "resolving pain points." The thing is, a lot of people -- and especially people who run companies -- have no idea what those terms mean. To them, they just heard "I need to hire someone who understands this shit, and STAT!" Remember: concepts around "data" and "insights" are relatively new at a lot of companies. The existing power core is often clueless.


You make money from your customers, whoever they are. So I don't care if you have a "strategic road map" or a "customer-driven mission statement" or whatever else. You need a way to get at customer insight. And the first step of all that is really thinking about the big picture, instead of just sprinting to your next call.

How can we think about customer insight?

A lot of this, as with all business, begins with intelligent questions. None of this will be breaking news to you, but questions here might include:


  • Who buys our stuff?
  • Why do they seem to?
  • Where? (In-store, laptop, mobile, tablet, etc.)
  • Who have we talked to?
  • What have they said?
  • Who seems to never buy our stuff?
  • What markets/angles are we missing?
  • In the corners of the Internet where our people reside, what are they bitching about?
  • Could we solve those problems for them?
  • Can we do this without spending tons?


That's just a beginning list. There are dozens more I left off.

Seems reasonable. How do most companies get at customer insight?


In short? They over-emphasize process as opposed to thinking about the real issues. This is where we get mostly-useless user personas from, for example. ("Sally Sales Girl.") It's the origin point of horrible, off-task marketing campaigns that deliver no value too. It's because people want to feel in control of something, anything at work. As a result, they focus on things they can control -- like crafting a persona or designing a campaign. Those concepts are tied to customer insight, but they themselves are not actually customer insight. A stunningly low number of people seem to understand this, however.



Think about it this way. Customer insight is rooted in listening and feedback. Execs screech all the time about how that's impossible and they're so busy driving the ship forward, but it's hardly impossible. Social + digital + mobile make it easier than ever to understand your customers. You may not know their entire bio and sexual past, no, but you can know a hell of a lot about them. But it requires work, listening, and two-way conversations. You know what else requires those things?


Hmmmm, let me think. Oh yea. Management. And 82 percent of managers are train wrecks too.


In sum: a lot of companies would rather have process-driven control over some aspect of work than actually get at customer insight. In the same way, most managers would rather hide behind process-rooted performance reviews than actually grow their employees. It all comes back to laziness and confusion around what "work" even is or should represent. If you gloss over those issues, you'll never solve for the bigger set.


What else might you add on getting at customer insight?


This post originally appeared on Ted's primary blog, The Context of Things.

When it comes to “new ideas” business owners are inundated with them. “Too many ideas and not enough time or help to implement them all!” is a common refrain. A key to success is having a framework for deciding which ideas to pursue and which are just the “next shiny object.”


The Challenge


If you’ve ever thought, “I get all excited and I want to run off and work on the next new idea. I’m a mess with shiny things,” you are not alone.


Often, the next idea seems like the best idea . . . especially because it is new.


The Solution


1) Start at the beginning.

When struggling with which project to do next, I recommend using Stephen Covey’s “Habit: Start with the End in Mind.” Are you clear on the goals for your business and life? What are your priorities and values?


If you aren’t – get clear before continuing. Otherwise, you’ll run in circles doing activities that are loosely related to your goals, but not closely related, which causes a lot of “busy-ness.”


2) Then create a list.


Create a list of projects, those you are currently working on, those you keep putting off, and those that have recently come into your awareness through podcasts and other professional development activities.


3) Evaluate your list.


Evaluate this list of projects in relation to your goals, values, priorities, and dreams. Ask yourself, “Which goal does this project directly support?” (See why it’s important to be clear on your answers to step #1?!) From the projects that directly support your goals, prioritize the top three.


This becomes your new streamlined Project List. Set the remaining projects aside for now. You can revisit this list once you COMPLETE some of your current projects.


4) Create a framework for future decisions.


Imagine – a new “shiny” projects pops into your head. Now what? Do you drop everything else and start working on it?


You need a framework to make a decision based on logic – not the emotion associated with a “new, shiny object”. You want to have this framework in place BEFORE you need to make the decision.

Ask yourself, “What are the characteristics of a new project that would cause me to abandon this one?” Remember, there is a reason you are working on a list with only three projects on it! Adding a fourth will dilute your time, energy and productivity.

Have an idea of what a “better” project could look like while you are excited about your three priorities...NOT when you are excited by the next shiny object!

As each new, exciting, “shiny” object comes into your life, rank that idea against the 3 projects you are already committed to. Would completing this new project get you closer to achieving your goals than what you are currently committed to? If so, consider swapping it out. (Remember, time is finite – you can’t do it all. It’s about choices!)


If not, put this new idea on the project list to evaluate once you finish one of your current three projects.

With these tools in mind, you can create a better productivity plan based on your own vision and needs, without distraction. And as those visions and needs change, your plan can easily adapt!

I'm some what of a digital native.



As a GenXer, I can appreciate the early days of PacMac (go Atari), had the first 8086 IBM computer in our neighborhood, and was the popular nerd in my sorority at LSU with a dot matrix printer. Back then "digital" was mixed tapes and CDs.  


But in my early days as a professional, I was blessed with access to email. It was pretty cool to have email in the 1990s.  It helped to speed up the way we did business.  But even the executives I worked with didn't know how to use it.  Some didn't even have basic typing skills.  At some point when you were given access to more technology, you were considered "moving up".  Imagine how excited I was to be one of the first global workers at Shell in the early 2000s who got access to VPN (do we even have VPN anymore?)


If you fast forward to 2017, we all have more access to technology than we need.  And, I have to say email is THE worst form of communication.  At least, social media is inclusive and communal.  Email isn't communal.  It's top down, and if used the wrong way, it can set the tone for a bad day.  Come on, I know you've received one of those ZINGER emails from a colleague of even a boss where you wanted to pull your hair out and respond?  Or you get on a distribution list that gets spammed by guys in the company arguing over petty things.  I've worked in two behemoth companies where I've been sent things I probably shouldn't have received, more than a few times.   I've seen it all.


But the worst form of email communication is the kind that could easily have been handled with a phone call. Unhappy with someone?  Pick up the phone!  The worst communication is when someone blasts you an email, copies the universe to tell you something that clearly should be spoken. 


Long gone are the days of people picking up the phone to communicate a message, live.  And sure, I'm guilty.  I get busy and sometimes treat communication in a transactional way, but I promise you if you pick up the phone, write a card, or make your communication more personal, people will remember it.  Someone once told me anything and everything you write in an email should be considered material for the front page of the Wall Street Journal, so be careful and courteous in your written communication.


Remember: people remember how you made them feel.  And today, I learned really quickly I wasn't worth a simple phone call.  


So tomorrow, I'll redouble my efforts to make four extra calls before I shoot off an email.


I hope you'll join me.

You may have heard of bullet journaling recently. It’s all over Instagram and Pinterest and has all the interest and reputation of the newest way to express yourself through art and creative calendar planning.


But, according to the inventor, Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal was originally created as an organizational system.


While it may have grown in fame as a creative outlet for people who like doodling and calligraphy, it can be a super useful organizational tool, regardless of whether you’re more creative or if you don’t care about that stuff.


What is a Bullet Journal?


According to the official bullet journal website, a bullet journal could be “your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.”


With different sections for planning out your day, your week, your month, and even your year, a bullet journal can be used as a very specialized tool for productivity. You can use it in its simplest form to create a list of daily, weekly, or monthly work goals. It gives you both a big picture and a small picture view of your work calendar, so you can better plan what needs to be done and in what order.


Because it’s super customizable, you can use a bullet journal for pretty much anything.


How to Use the Bullet Journal to Increase Productivity


The Bullet Journal uses a process of note-taking and thought-writing called “rapid logging.”

It uses bullet points (hence the name) and short-form notation to help you get to the point of what you’re trying to write down faster, so you don’t have to spend too much time on it.


I recommend using the four main “modules” indicated on the website to help you visualize your work: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log. That way, you have multiple, easily-accessible ways to look at your work and plan accordingly so you can be the most productive!


Why It Works


Studies show that the act of writing something down by hand can be much more productive than simply typing it into your phone or computer. It may help you remember things. It also could help you organize your thoughts and to visualize what you need to do.


So, before you dismiss the bullet journal as just another fad, try out the simple structure for yourself and see how customizing it to fit your needs can increase your productivity!

Susan Ellerbusch CEO Air Liquide The women in our industry never cease to amaze me.  


I met Sue Ellerbusch while she was leading BP's Biofuels business unit several years back.  After seven years at Shell, and new to BP as a senior leader in a global group role, it wasn't unusual to make time to connect with leaders across the company. Meeting with Sue and talking through the biofuels value chain was a real learning experience given that the risks in her part of the business were very different than those of Upstream or Downstream.


At BP, Sue's experience was impressive, spanning Chemicals, Refining and Marketing and Biofuels.  She held roles such as director of Strategy and Business Development within Chemicals, VP of Retail Marketing both in the US and Europe, and president of Biofuels North America.  She was also the executive sponsor of BP’s 2,500-member North American Women’s Network.


As life and work would have it, I left in 2014 to start Pink Petro, and Sue moved on and was named president of Air Liquide Large Industries U.S. business unit in September of 2015. In that role, she led a team of over 700 employees in the delivery of the strategy, operations, business development and financial delivery of a gas and energy supply business responsible for 35 manufacturing facilities and over 2,000 miles of pipelines.  


Not too long ago, I ran into her at a board meeting and learned she was about to take on an even bigger role.  As of the beginning of June, she was promoted to CEO of Air Liquide USA.  I took the opportunity to sit down and talk with her about her new role.  Here's an excerpt of that conversation.


What's exciting about your new role?


I'm excited to continue to grow my knowledge of the industrial gas business and have a broader impact on the organization and our future direction.


What do you hope to learn? 


One new element of my role is responsibility for our Electronics business.  Since I don't consider myself a big "techie," it will be great to learn more about the electronics industry and how our unique products contribute to the ever-advancing technologies we all use each day. 


What is your biggest learning to date?


As I've matured as I leader, I've recognized that leading isn't about telling or giving the answer.  Leadership is about listening and understanding and getting people to trust in you so they can feel confident in your vision and their role in successful delivery. 


What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring leaders?


Being a leader isn't about knowing the most or trying to be the smartest person in the room. As a leader, you need to recognize talent, encourage development, and promote your teams and team members. Give them the trust and autonomy to be creative and do excellent work. As the leader, you define the direction and ensure there is a shared purpose amongst the team.


Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in genetics and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, and has been recognized by “Biofuels Digest” as one of the top people in Bioenergy.


Stay tuned.  We hope to have Sue on Pink Petro TV in the near future.  In the meantime, hearty congratulations to her for this well-deserved promotion.


Pictures from my visit: The view from Sue's office overlooking Houston.



What Is Pink Petro TV?

Posted by katie.mehnert Champion Jun 16, 2017

Like  The Birth of Pink Petro happened on a few paper napkins on that 777 from London to Houston, several months back I doodled on a few napkins and Pink Petro TV was born.


After hosting the HERWorld Energy Forum in 2016 amidst $26 (gulp) oil, we had an a-ha moment here at Pink Petro. In late 2015 when we realized no one would be able to travel for any kind of education, our community got creative.  Our members and sponsors told us what content we wanted so we pulled it together.  We held a no frills forum and first birthday, brought speakers together, served boxed lunches, assembled 300 in an auditorium at Halliburton, and streamed to a few thousand online on International Women's Day.   We trended on social media for 6 hours engaging outsiders to become a part of the energy conversation, which made us proud.  


This year  HERWorld17 engaged 7500 to participate globally with 25 private sites and six public sites. 


What we learned is you like video.


Who doesn't?  It's visual and engaging.  Sometimes it's CRAZY boring but as humans we like to see and experience others and ourselves.  And in an industry that's redefining itself, why wouldn't we be there to capture the moments?


We also learned you like engaging on your own time.  


You want meaningful high impact experiences not rubber chicken sales events to add to your already packed schedule.  


We also KNOW you like watching and reading and engaging with us which builds your influence.


You share, comment, like, and re-tweet and get social with us.  The relationship economy we live in has changed the way you will live and work forever and we're at the forefront of that together.




Pink Petro TV is broadcasting weekly to bring you live news and insights.  



Two-time Emmy award-winning journalist and former NBC anchor Linda Lorelle  and I have developed a series of six shows.  Each are geared at different topics that debunk, educate, engage, and inspire.   What's Our Take is the first.    Our motive is simple: elevate the industry, companies and people (all of you) that make our world run.  It's so time. 


Pink Petro TV aspires to change hearts and minds. 


If my 6-year old daughter Ally thinks she has a standing chance at becoming "whatever" in industry...she needs to see and experience energy in a different way.  Go google energyand you'll see what I mean.  Go to an industry conference and experience what I'm saying. (I don't have to, many of you have already agreed with me on my Opinion: Beers, Guns and Babes Have No Place in Industry post)   Women and minorities need a seat and a voice at the table with men.  Inclusive workplaces are a must. Like safety, inclusion is a license to operate, not a nice to have and we're helping companies and industry create that new culture where we include and engage others to join us!


So come experience energy with us .... and watch live, on demand or simulcast to Facebook.


Or better yet... be a part of it.  Drop me a line at and we'll get you connected.



David Feldman


Posted by David Feldman Advocate Jun 10, 2017

I’m going to tell you a story…


I’ll start out by saying, I’ve always wanted to start my own business.  I’m not sure what it is, but the reality of working for someone else… working for “the man”, just bothers me.  Every morning I would find myself sitting in traffic… watching the exhaust from the car in front of me billow out into the cold air, and all I could think as I watched it slowly drift away and fade into my front grill was, “What am I doing??!!  Why am I going to this job that I hate?? Why am I going to sit in a grey cubicle for 10 hours?  This can’t be my life.  I have so much more potential than this.  I want more from my life.  I don’t want to look back after 40 years and say that I just sat in a cubicle and made spreadsheets and financial models my entire life, and have NOTHING to show for it.” 


I kid you not… that moment I just described would literally happen to me on a weekly basis.  Sometimes I’d be in such a daze of frustration and daydreaming that it took a honk from the car behind me to jolt me back to reality.  A reality I despised. 


But day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year… I kept doing it.  I complained and wasn’t happy… but for some reason I just kept doing it. 


Well, I guess the reason I kept doing it, is because I didn’t think I had another option; I didn’t have an escape route.  I had lots of ideas, I’m a guy full of ideas… but nothing ever really caught on.  Or I should say, I never really did anything with my ideas.  I was too scared – even if it was subconscious fear – to do anything or act on my ideas.  I knew I hated what I was doing, but at the same time, I didn’t know what I loved to do.  I was searching for the one thing I could latch onto and use as my escape vehicle… but it always eluded me. 


And I’ll be honest… it took a lot of trial and error before I stumbled across something that actually seemed to work for me...  Something I was passionate about and something I could build into a business… but eventually, I did.


So, let me fill you in on the details.


About 4 years ago, my wife and I, and our two kids decided to make what turned out to be one of the best decisions of our life.  On the surface, it wasn’t the most financially sound decision, but that is still to be determined. 


We sold our home, and most everything we owned, packed everything in a storage unit and hopped on a plane to Europe.  I quit my job, we set the kids up with homeschooling, and we set off on an adventure.  I was going to use the time to “figure out” what I wanted to do career wise… and we were going to see the places we’d always wanted to visit, but never did because we were too busy “working”. 


My goal was to figure out what business I would start, but nothing was coming to me.  I couldn’t figure it out.  So, I thought, “in the meantime, I’ll try to figure out a way to make some money online to supplement our savings so we can stay on our trip longer.”  And that’s exactly what I did. 


I started offering my services on freelance platforms.  I thought to myself, “I’m a Sr. Financial Analyst and I’m good at excel and PowerPoint.  I’ll help people create excel models.” 


That was a dud.  Nobody wanted that…. At least not from me.


So, I thought to myself, “Well… what do people want?”  And that thought right there was the turning point.  That single thought was the moment EVERYTHING CHANGED.  Here’s why: 


Before that time… I was always thinking of what I could do.  What services or products do I want to offer.  But you see… that thinking is all wrong.  It’s not about what you want, it’s about finding what the market wants and then filling that need. 


I like chess… I offered chess lessons.  Nobody wanted it.


I like public speaking… I offered public speaking coaching.  Nobody wanted it. 


So, I started looking at different freelancing sites and seeing what people do want.  That’s when I discovered brainstorming.  There’s a huge market of people out there that are starting businesses, websites, blogs, selling products, writing books and much more… And guess what they want?  They want someone to help them come up with names for their business.  They have the idea, but they don’t know what to call it.  They have the product, but they don’t know what to name it.  They wrote the book, but they don’t know what the title should be.  So, I filled the demand.  I hung up my sign and said, “Hey, if you need name ideas… I can help!”


It started to work, but unfortunately, not soon enough.  Money started getting low, my wife got pneumonia, and my father-in-law had a cancer scare.  All this meant, I we had to come back to the states, and I had to go back to corporate America and jump back into the rat race.  I had lost the battle, but not the war.  And, even though it was a setback compared to where I wanted to be, I had a glimmer of hope and I kept going.


I started working at Micron Technology as a Sr. Financial Analyst.  That was my 9-5 (actually, more like 7-7), but it was always just a temporary stop-loss for me.  Every night I came home had dinner with my family, spent some time with the kids, got them in bed, and then it was WORK time from 8 or 9PM to at least midnight or later.  I was helping people brainstorm names for their companies, but I also started helping people with branding concepts and ideas for their business as well.  It started getting fun, and even though I was up past midnight 7 days a week, and practically falling asleep in my meetings at work – I had never been more excited about a “side hustle”.  It’s like they say…. When you’re doing what you love – it doesn’t seem like work. 


After just a couple months of brainstorming, I started thinking of ways to expand, and once again, I started looking for the demand in the market to lead the way.  This is when I discovered copywriting. 


Think about it… we are in a new digital age.  With websites and social media and blogs… the need for content and information to engage your customers is NEVER ENDING!  Everyone needs it, and the demand isn’t going away anytime soon.  Add all this to the traditional marketing materials such as brochures, advertisements, video and radio scripts… etc… and you can see that the demand for this service is GIGANTIC.  So, I expanded into copywriting, and that’s when things really started to take off. 


Now it wasn’t midnight… it was 2AM in the morning, just to keep up.  So, I hired a writer to help.  And then another, and then another.  And then an account manager to help me keep track of all the jobs, quote customers, manage the writers and deal with things like revisions and client questions.  My wife came on full-time as well, and that’s how 36 Ink was born.  I named it 36 because that’s how old I was when I “officially” started the company, and Ink because… well… because we write! (Among other things)


There was a problem though… I still had a day job.  And it paid pretty well. 


I remember having a discussion with my wife one night.  I was telling her I couldn’t do this anymore… it was just too much to keep up with, and I was killing myself (Literally, taking years off the end of my life) staying up all night, every night trying to build this business.  I said, “I should just pause all of this and go back to working one day job at Micron… it will just be so much easier, and I’ll actually have time for my life (and sleep), instead of working 24/7!” 


Her answer didn’t surprise me because she’s the most supportive wife in the entire world… she believes in me way more than I believe in myself…. But her answer was about as wise as they come.  She said, “WHAT!!!???  Are you crazy!?  You want to quit 36 Ink and go back to Micron??!!  If anything, you should quit Micron and focus 100% of your efforts on 36 Ink!  You’ve been looking for this opportunity and working for this opportunity since the day I met you… and now you’ve finally found it.  You’ve found something you love to do… you’ve built a business from nothing… you can finally be your own boss, and you’re going to stop and go back to working at Micron??  Absolutely NOT!”


My counter was the typical scared and fearful answer that most all of us have… “But how can I just give up a steady income?  What if this doesn’t work?  What if… what if… what if… what if….”


But she stood firm in her belief of what we were creating, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.  “It’s going to work” she said, “You’ve been building this for over two years now, and it continues to grow each and every month.  Why would it stop now?  Especially if you have 100% of your time to work on it?!” 



So, we made plans for me to quit. 


We started getting our ducks in a row, and we started planning how things would work when our income dropped temporarily.  We figured out insurance, we prepared ourselves for a leap of faith. 


Ma 12th was my last day at Micron Technology.  It’s always a little sad to leave a job you’ve been working at for two years… but as I walked out of that building for the last time, it felt like I was walking on clouds.  Was I scared?  Of course.  Am I still scared… yea, a little.  But the future is so exciting it’s hard to make time for fear.  There’s so much to do and so much to accomplish. 


So, now that you know my story, my question is this: 


What will your leap of faith be?  And when will you make it?


I’m betting that many of you out there are just like I was… searching for something more… searching for the key to unlock your true potential… Maybe it’s a business like me, or maybe for you it’s reaching a certain level in your company, or maybe it’s a dream to travel the world as a food connoisseur…  It doesn’t matter what it is, my advice is GO FOR IT!!  Keep going and don’t give up. 


If you’re not doing what you love, then change it!  You have the power to change it and make your life what you want it to be.  It might be scary… And it will probably be a lot of hard work.  It might mean staying up until 2AM every night for two years, it might not.  The thing that you need to know is that you can do it.  You can chase your dreams and realize your potential.  You don’t have to be like everyone else.  You don’t have to work for “the man”.  You don’t have to live inside a box.  Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone, and if you want it, you’ve got to take a leap of faith. 


So, what do you say!  Let’s put fear behind us, and chase some dreams!




A special thanks to Katie Mehnert for giving me the platform to share my story.  She’s given me the opportunity to write for Pink Petro, and I truly appreciate everything she is doing for me and women across the world!