Archive for 2009

How I outsourced the Aughts

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The decade begin simply enough, sure I was a little concerned about the Y2K virus but who wasn’t? I spent my days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks with my sleeves rolled up and my suitcase packed, traveling (effortlessly it feels now) from market to market building my business, discovering my path and making my way. By the time the decade (the Century!) began, I was the mother of a young child. The first winter of the decade was marked by icy, bone-chilling cold – but I was insulated with some baby fat and bliss – so happy, happy to be a new mama.

The winter of 2000 feels like a long time ago. An eleven year old has replaced the baby (there are four kids in fact). A second remarkable partner has replaced the first husband. And a strong, confident woman in her forties now stares back at me in the mirror. Yes, a lot has changed.

But what of our collective transformation?  How ever did we manage to get from there to here? As I see it we outsourced it.  

As our top corporations and even or government began to find more cost effective ways to operate so did we. Outsourcing operations seemed  the best way to maximize profits. So off our jobs went and somehow, this big concept tricked very quickly into our national psyche. Outsourcing was not just for call centers – no no, it was for all of us.

We could outsource our sustenance (gourmet food, prepared meals were easy and high quality answers to the pesky question of “what’s for dinner”) our fitness (we trained for nothing but we worked with sergeants or yogis) our beauty (by the end of the decade I no longer blew out my own hair, did my own nails or tweezed my own arches ) our intellect (led book groups became all the rage) and even our entertainment (I had a person to pair wine and dessert for parties and another to teach tie-dye at kid’s birthdays) – why? Well, simply put – because there was someone better qualified to the job for a reasonable cost.

So the cost benefit analysis kept tipping the needle over to outsource. I had a person who did most of what I needed. And yes to some degree this included parenting. In 2005 my dear friend, Hilary Stout wrote a piece for her Family Matters column in the Wall Street Journal about outsourcing parenting. I worked intimately with Hilary on this piece – unearthing experts on potty training, sleep consultancy and even bicycle riding.  The article hit mid-decade to a mix of disgust and intrigue. The experts cited in her article were inundated with new business queries.

In the Aughts, the details of the most intimate aspects of our lives were up for bid. And we eagerly would share the “best” of the options for outsourcing with our friends and co-workers. Being someone in the know, meant knowing where to find the outsourcing resources necessary – and thus a new language, a new stance and a new dialog began. We lost the dirt under our nails (well sure, we were getting manis). We lost control of our national code of ethics (we had Dick Cheney), our economy, our media and our educational system. Basically, our spreadsheet analysis of what could and could not be done more efficiently via outsourcing left us getting the job done on paper – but in a cold, soul-less way that brought us here.

And now I will go short, sweet and simple. It is over, it was fun and let’s please move on. We are kind of out of resources anyway – money is tight and we crave a new consciousness. So why not?

For 2010 – let me be the first ( I am sure I am not the first but on this blog maybe I am) to suggest we bring it back home. OK, not the hair or the nails (I really don’t do that so well…) But how about we all just commit to taking a good deep breath and taking on the whole of it – making the doing part of the experience the real objective.  With confidence and pride – let’s be in the moment and DYI in a way that does not break the balance bank. Seriously, let’s do! You saw it coming – welcome back cooking and baking and small birthday parties and home-brewed coffee and game night and dinner parties and any of the myriad of ways we can live our own moment, our own values and our own lives. If promise some home-baked cookies, will you join me?

Twas the Day Before Christmas – Really!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Twas the day before Christmas, and all though the hood

Things were getting wrapped up, as really,  they should.

My team of amazings were off with their own

Planning celebrations and getting cozy at home.

I was left here to finish a few final tasks

Which gave me the quiet to silently bask

In all the last year has given to me

And all the fine people who’ve helped this to be.

So to all of the old and to all of the new,

Allow me to pen this schmaltzy thank you to you.

I could not imagine a better team

Than the one that surrounds me

So happy, I beam!

I could not dream up better clients or friends

To ones like you – I’ll be devoted to the end.

I wish you great joy,  I wish you fine things

I wish you the love that this season does bring.

May the year ahead be successful and kind -

A wonderful new year, all you beautiful friends of mine!

Chevy Chase, MD: Is it Christmas yet?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Close – but not quite — still eking out a few more pre-holiday hours at my desk. Remind me to tell you about it in the new year!

Frosty the Zygote!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

If you’ve spent any time here on the Back Labor Blog over the past few days you’ve likely noticed a lot of snow, OT musings and did I mention snow (21 + inches here in DC).  Perhaps you’re also wondering “that dog is awfully cute, but is Julia ever going to get back on topic?” -  that is a a fair question.

However dear reader, (I just love when Susan Miller says that – don’t you?) I have been setting you up for a whole different and completely on topic conversation.


Snow storms, blizzards and other acts of G-d only mean one thing – a baby boom. So let’s start here – and you heard it here first – there will be a baby boom reported in September 2010. Let us not be confused – there will not be an actual baby boom. There will a few warm and wonderful anecdotes establishing a baby boom. There will be great b-roll of a couple registering at Giggle in Chevy Chase, Maryland or Schneiders in Chelsea, NYC  followed by a candid interview in the soon-to-be blizzard boomlet’s nursery with two very excited expectant parents confiding in how the 21 inches made them do it (and do it and do it) until finally, Frosty the Zygote was conceived.  WOW!

In all fairness –The Baby Boom story is better than the obligatory toilet paper and milk coverage that we got on Friday (and every other snow day on record).

So as a friend to the universe – reporters, producers, bloggers, readers and the like, I am here to share what I have in my pretty little head.

The facts:

*Four-million babies are born in this country each year (give or take) and the give (in this case) may be a tiny, hard to detect (unless you are trying to establish it) up-tick in births in September, 2010.

*Sperm are cool – well at least they like the cold. And  sperm, like their carriers are less than hardy - tending not to make their mission in the warm months. Now, AC  helps – but historically and for physiological reasons more babies are conceived in the cool months than the hot ones.

*According to Babycenter:  More newborns arrive during the late summer and early fall months of July, August and September than any other time of the year (I have a house full of summer babies, making me sadly typical).

*To put it in medical-speak (of which I am not an expert): The Asian Journal of Androogy reports: Increased environmental temperature, (maybe also light exposure) has an additional negative effect on the spermatogenesis.

*Frosty the Zygote is due on September 12, 2010 . In order to have conceived a baby on Sunday, December 20, 2009 you would need to have had your LMP on November 4, 2009 and be on a 30 day cycle. Odds on this one - not fab…

So, segment producers, editors and bloggers alike – now you know. The September Baby Boom story is no longer as pure and alluring as the driven snow…in fact, it kind of looks like day old snow a this point—a little dirty and piled up on the side of the road.

Dig out Day

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Sunny Snow Day, Casa Loco

Sunny Snow Day, Casa Loco

It’s a sun shining, snow piling kind of Sunday…All this snow and it’s not even winter yet (tomorrow)!  Here is the view from Casa Loco:

Lila takes the plunge!

Lila takes the plunge!

Rosie the shoveling Golden

Rosie the shoveling Golden

Let it Snow!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I spent most of my day on Friday with the amazing Beth Feldman. I met some amazing women including:  Jill (ScaryMommy),  Cheryl (Twinsights) and Jessica (A Parent in Silver Spring) among others (I do not mean to exclude). There were a lot of laughs and generally a fantastic day was had here in Bethesda.  Luckily for me I am super organized and was not among the scrambling and sour-faced in the supermarket on Friday afternoon.  In fact, I spent my last snow-free, post Beth hours working out, gathering the real snow storm essentials (books and magazines of  course)  with Bob and picking up a dozen Georgetown Cupcakes for the kinder  (we all ate them).

We were set. I had my game plan – cooking (chicken soup, matzoh balls, red sauce, lots of raw veggies, curry chicken salad), movies (Night at Museum II), sledding (thank you Vicky) and lots of reading by the fire (devouring VF  with Meryl Streep on the cover was a treat!). Add to that a lot of shoveling, a trek to Starbucks with Bob and hanging with the kids (for better or worse) and that was the storm of 2009. Here is what the accumulation looked like as it made it’s way to 22 inches:

16 inches - 1pm

16 inches - 1pm

18 inches - dusk

18 inches - dusk

21 inches - 8pm

21 inches - 8pm

22 inches - Sunday AM (the morning after)

22 inches - Sunday AM (the morning after)

And so now it is December 20, 2009  (happy birthday Steven Cohen) — dig out day — wish me luck and latte!

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Bethesda, MD — I love guests! None other than Beth Feldman brings See Mom Run to  Maryland… celebration at Redwood (with a little bubbly, thank you Jared Rager) and fun-filled brainstorming /swaping tales session to follow.  A Friday well spent!

Today’s Formula for Success

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Can you hear that? It is the click, click, click of twenty fingers on two keyboards bringing the findings from our recent day-long, intensive strategy session with our new fave left coast client Ingrid &  Isabel to life.  Very exciting, to say the least.

So what is our formula for turning out our signature road maps for clients? Is it the years spent in the trenches, the passion we have for what we do or even the super commitment we feel to the success of those who trust us with the growth of there businesses? Maybe…

Today I think the formula is more like this:

One BIG bottle of water on every desk

One brand new Fresh Sake candle on my desk (to scratch and sniff this post click here)

One medium latte from Quatermaines

Sunshine in my window

Cashmere on my back

Clean desk (thank you Alma)

I am going to say that the only thing missing is: beurre d’arachide sur du pain granuleuse  ( peanut butter on grainy bread) but by the time you read this – I am sure I’ll have that too!

Lookey Here — Plum has arrived!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I adore the new Bravado Essential Nursing Tank in plum. Who can argue with seriously saturated color on the most comfortable nursing tank on earth? If I were a headless pregnant mannequin, this is what I would look like wearing it:

OOOOH, the hard-to find Plum is here!

OOOOH, the hard-to find Plum is here!

Back in the Day

Friday, December 11th, 2009

In Style June 2005

In Style June 2005

Oh, nostalgia – how you creep up on me. Here is one of my favorite moments of my career — the final product of what was one of the most powerful projects I’ve been assigned. We were with InStyle magazine shooting for the June 2005 issue (take note, it had a happily single Katie Holmes on the cover) and it was one of greatest days of girl power I’ve ever experienced. Asked to profile the women who had redefined pregnancy and baby – I brought together the best and the brightest of the field. And what followed:  the fun, the conversation, the confessions and even the deals that were made stand out as one of the most singularly exciting and powerful days I’ve had before or since.

 Old friends like Emilia Fabricant, Shannon DiPadova, Amy Coe and  Debbie Ohanian joined with (then) relatively new ones like Ellen Diamant and Skye Hoppus in a star-studded photo shoot. Take a look and tell me it doesn’t warm your heart a bit (though feeling a little sad for those who are pictured but no longer in the industry). Please share your stories about these women and their extraordinary companies/careers….and we can all feel warm and nostalgic together.