How to Sleep Your Way to the Top and Other Useful Tips

Empty bed.


I recently read the book THRIVE by Arianna Huffington where her tag is that she has finally learned how to sleep her way to the top. Very clever Arianna. Clever indeed. It’s focus is on a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

I had heard about her book a while ago when she was interviewed in a mock store at the Starbucks support center, sipping Oprah Chai with Oprah (cue MASSIVE product placement violation). I thought the talk was interesting, but not inspired enough to read the book.

However, there are moments in time when I become hyper aware of the messages that are being sent my way. Have you ever experienced that? You hear something once and then it shows up again and again and again? I call it putting on my “dog ears” and paying attention.

I was on a flight this spring after an intense engagement with a client. I’d want to relax with a movie. I was exhausted. I was nostalgic for a film I’d seen before, but had forgotten, “Surviving Picasso” with Anthony Hopkins. I am intrigued by his passion and his never-ending desire to remain young and vibrant, to thrive all the way through the end of his life. Then I watched the credits. It was based off the biography of Picasso by ARIANNA HUFFINGTON. Who knew?

And then there were three … I’ve been surrounded by people that simply can’t breath right now. A lot of us 40-something, overwhelmed with life, work and expectations of “success.” Some we created and some imposed. Myself included. To which someone asked me… “have you read THRIVE?”

Okay. I get it. Read the book. And so I did.

It wasn’t new information per se. Eat Right. Sleep More. Get rid of stinkin’ thinkin’. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t we change and slow down?

As humans were not that complicated, motivated by either pleasure or pain. Anything in between can equate inaction.

For Arianna it was pure exhaustion resulting in her collapsing on her desk breaking a cheekbone. She stopped to research what it meant to slow down. In her book, there’s a lot of data to prove the “duh”… why we should slow down:

  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that from 1983 to 2009, there was between a 10 and 30 percent increase in stress levels across all demographic categories.
  • Studies show that U.S. employers spend 200 to 300 percent more on the indirect costs of health care, in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and lower productivity, than they do on actual health care payments.
  • A study published in Science even calculated that for the sleep deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for their daily happiness than a $60,000 raise.
  • One study found that meditation can actually increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain and slow the thinning that occurs there as we age… what else do you need to know to know that it’s worth it?

For you, what will it be? A broken bone? A relationship lost? Pure overwhelm? Or can you just stop right now and ask yourself… am I breathing or running without breath?

I firmly believe that the teacher presents herself when the student is ready to learn. With all the over stimulus in life right now, I am ready to learn. Are you?

Until you read the book, I’ll offer some tips on how to start creating clarity, focus and breath:


CHOOSE the RIGHT WORK:   WHERE are you spending your time?

  • Carve out an hour for this Friday afternoon. Start with the end in mind. What did I say success was going to look like at the end of this year? (And if you haven’t, start there).
  • Write a comprehensive list of all the things you are working on right now.
  • Which work should you continue doing because it is critical for you achieving your Vision? Of that work, what can you delegate?
  • Which work should you delay or stop doing all together? Because if you really think about it, it doesn’t support your measurement of success.
  • Next Friday? Check in again…


FIND time to BREATH:

Here are some great tips from Austin’s Mindfulness Expert, Paige Davis:

  1. Mindfulness Minutes (1 minute exercises you can do anywhere)  
  2. App Recommendations
  3. 5 Mini Meditations You Can Do Anywhere

You can also visit her site Soul Sparks for a ton of inspiration and insight.

Stay light with tips, tools and insights + receive a FREE guided body awareness meditation by signing up for her newsletter.


And finally… HIT the PILLOW:

Sleep your way to the top by clocking in 7-8 hours a night. Arianna joins many other thought leaders in the plea for recognizing sleep as a critical factor in both our well -being and performance. Julia Kirby, an editor at the Harvard Business Review wrote a great blog, “Change the World and Get to Bed by 10:00,” where a chart likens getting drunk to not sleeping enough, both having roughly the same impact on performance.


So where can you start? For me… it’s wine on the weekends, sleep during the week, meditating daily, and challenging where I’m spending my time. Next time, I’ll let you know how it’s working!






Beware… Le Saboteur!


Your company may be getting sabotaged… Think of it this way: your company is like a house. Whether big or small, it’s your dream house. You know it will be amazing and you believe, believe so strongly with all the passion in the world, that this will be something great. Whether it’s a service or a product, the world will benefit greatly and you can’t wait to get it built, maybe even add-on or sell it one day to the highest bidder.

You set out to build the house and slowly start to bring others along, but unknowingly you may be sabotaging the dream. Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t feel like you’re spending the right time in the right place and the people you’ve hired? They’re not happy either. You feel more pressure than ever because you’ve already told the world that this amazing house is being built. In fact, you’ve been working on it for five years and from the outside, everything looks perfect.

There are cracks in the foundation.

You may start to realize you need to make a change and fix what’s being built on the inside, but the question is… what do I need to do and is it too late? And to whom can I possibly confess this?

The greatest saboteur is an undefined culture.

Let’s stop there for a second… culture. Who has time for that? Isn’t that an HR program or something? Or as I heard one executive recently say, “that’s just a buzz word that companies are saying they are working on to gain attention from the street.”

Call it culture, call it whatever you like, but would you be interested in having

  • Revenues increase 4 times faster
  • Job creation rates grow 7 times higher
  • Stock prices increase12 times faster
  • Profits climb 750% higher
  • Net income grow 700%
  • Customer satisfaction-Double

Source: Professor John Kotter, Harvard and Coauther James Heskett

There are four cornerstones to every company that form the cultural blueprint… they will always be there, whether you define them or not.

So the question is… do you want to leave these critical pieces, the pieces which determine whether you are structurally sound and sustainable, up to happenchance?


Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 10.15.01 AM

VISION:  This is your aspirational statement that informs everyone where you are dreaming and daring to go… people want to get behind something bigger than them. A paycheck is only a piece behind why people join and stay with companies.

VALUES:  This is all about behaviors. What do you value most and what will help you achieve the vision? It’s it fortitude? Integrity? Optimism? It starts with the leader. You must define your values, so that you can hire people aligned with them and fire them when they aren’t. It’s that simple.

YOU:  Hey, it’s your dream. You were the one audacious to dream this pig could fly! It’s of utmost importance that you lead with a great deal of self-awareness… where do you play best? Where are your core strengths and what skills do you need to compliment you? Where do you have blind spots or behaviors that may be limiting your ability to lead and inspire others towards the vision.

YOUR PEOPLE:  It’s critical to really determine, based on you, the vision, values and purpose… who do you need and want to join you in building your dream?  Don’t take this lightly… identify the skills, ask questions to determine values fit and organize your company so that you can be most productive.

At the center of it all? Your purpose.. Your “WHY”… if you haven’t seen this video already by Simon Sinek, I highly encourage you to watch it:

At their annual meeting this week, Starbucks executives discussed the company’s $1.4 billion profit for the fiscal year ending last September. When I started with them in 1997, there were over 1400 stores and over 25,000 employees… now there are over 20,000 stores and over 200,000 employees. My last role there was to lead a team to figure out how to hire 8 people an hour and get them to stick. I can tell you it wasn’t because they all knew how to make coffee or foam milk. But, they all resonate with the vision, they live the values, they believe in the why, they are suited for the jobs and the leaders get out of their way. It’s not the buzz of caffeine. It’s the buzz of culture.

Oh, and that company with the executive who thought culture is a “buzz word”… they just reported a 96% drop in profits. Think I’d sign up for the buzz over the saboteur…

Need that confidante to help you with one of your cornerstones or know someone that does? Please email me at for a free consultation.

Pass the Tums… I’m HAVING IT ALL!


You bet you can. Have it all.

Belly on up to the All You Can Eat, YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL Bar.

Go on. I’ll be there. Waiting for you with Tums in hand.

What does that mean ANYWAY? “Having it all?”

And before you think this just a “women’s” issue… please read on… yes, we may be discussing it more, but as my husband likes to say “If mamma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.” This impacts us all. Everyone deserves to define it, no matter your gender.

There is a lot of recent buzz around the discussion of women regarding whether we really can “have it all.” From Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In to Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, the debate has flared again and the conversation is hot.

And as I was reminded after watching The Makers on PBS this week, throughout our history there has always been a group or a person trying to represent what it should look like for women in work. BTW… if you haven’t watched this… it was amazingly well done and reminded me that it wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have a ton of choice when it came to work. Watch here.

I think the best article in response to the debate was this one by Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily:

In this corner there’s Sheryl Sandberg. In this corner there’s Anne-Marie Slaughter. And then there’s reality

The line that resonated with me most is this:

Everyone’s definition of “having it all” varies.

Damn straight, yet how often do we take someone else’s image and definition and think it must be our own?

It’s a bit like this…

I see the model for “Having it All!” She has it all figured out and man does she look satisfied. She has the house, the kids, the career, the dog, the laundry done, a planned vacation, great sex… (pan to Enjoli commercial).

Society has told me that in order to “have it all” I should follow her, do exactly as she does and wear her shoes. And if I can’t or don’t, I have FAILED.

Here is the reality… Her shoes look great. Really great. There are some aspects I think will work for me, like the supportive ankle strap or the forgiving wedge. Only problem, she’s a size 9… I’m a 7… 6 ½ on a good day with no swelling.


Wearing her shoes would make me feel:

  • Inadequate
  • Uncomfortable
  • Inauthentic
  • Unhappy
  • Sore
  • Not to mention, late to everything

I’m tired of the judgment. I’m tired of the victim voice. I’m tired of the one-size fits all when it comes to this debate.

We all have a choice and a responsibility to determine what is right for each of us. We each have our own family dynamics, financial responsibilities, and deepest desires when it comes to living our lives to the fullest and “having it all.”

For me, “having it all” means…

I get to live a peaceful life that includes laughter, love and tons of challenging thinking everyday with people that matter the most to me.

How I do that and what shoes I choose do accomplish this life in… whether I choose to have a “job” while raising children or no children or dedicate to raising children… well that’s up to me. No one else, but me.

If you haven’t sat down and given a long hard thought to what your definition of “having it all” is… stop what you are doing and do it now. Right now. This is your sacred touchstone that will always anchor you when someone tries to force his or her “having it all” shoes on you.

Once defined, put on those damn shoes. Wear them proudly and gloriously with every step you take and enjoy the perfect fit.

I’m curious, if you’re willing to share… how do you define your “having it all?”


Manamana…. do, do, do, do, do…. Manamana… do, do, do, do…


It was not just your regular rainbow and unicorn morning.

This morning I went to a performance at the kids’ school. Truth be told, my son was dreading it and I can sort of get why… two repeat performances of mouthing his handmade puppet to Muppet oldies isn’t really his gig. He muscled through it.

I, on the other hand, immediately started to think what my puppet would have looked like, how I would have arranged the first piece differently to infuse more energy, and wondered if each puppet somehow psychology represented the state of this tween gathering. My poor kid.

The line up:

First…  puppets mouthing “Manamama… do, do, do, do…” to a recording

Second… Well, escapes my memory already, just an hour later

Third… all children singing THE RAINBOW CONNECTION (feel free to pause and watch the original)

As soon as the first notes to The Rainbow Connection began, I started to well up. Seriously?!? Well up? You’re at your kid’s performance… a kid who doesn’t even want to be there btw.

What gives? Was it the nostalgia of it all? Remembering when I was a kid? It was a Billboard Hot 100 in November 1979, when I was just 10 (go ahead, do the math). I was in that special tween time too.

I felt a rush of crazy talk inside my head… what’s wrong with you Linda? Get a grip before one of the normal parents sees you and wonders if you took your meds today.

To divert my emotion, I turned to really listening to the lyrics. I’m not sure I had really paid attention to the lyrics before, besides the chorus…

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell. We know that it’s probably magic.

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

My gift for the morning was embedded in the lyrics.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my business is going through a time of transformation. I realized this morning that it’s really ME that’s going through the transformation.

It’s time to listen to the voice of what I’m truly meant to be and stop listening to the voice of what everyone else thinks I should be. I’VE HEARD IT TOO MANY TIMES TO IGNORE IT. IT’S SOMETHING I’M SUPPOSED TO BE.

It won’t be a huge departure. No, you won’t see me on Project Runway or fulfilling my life long dream of being a professional gymnast.

It will be authentically me. My voice. My contribution.

Until I’m ready to reveal… you can find me with the lovers and dreamers.

FUN FACTOID: Did you know that the Rainbow Connection received a nomination for the 52nd Academy Awards? However, the song lost the Oscar to “It Goes Like It Goes” from Norma Rae, a win that some critics decried. I kinda like the visual… a little Kermit mixed with Norma Rae… suits my style just fine.


Are you coaching a Smart Ass or a Genius? Or both?

I love me some good problem solving.

Throw me at it. How do we do this? What’s the best solution? How creative can we be? Let’s do this!

This morning, I was stumped. Yeah, stumped. Impressed, yet mildly disturbed.

I found this next to the coffee machine left for me by my 11-year-old. Yes, there is water in those glasses turned upside down.


What happened? He used to be such a sweet, charming little boy. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, he’s always been a bit clever, a bit conniving, and a bit out to get me. And I love him dearly.

So, not able to immediately draw a conclusion, I pasted to the world of Facebook for a solution. I could have stared at it for a while, but why when I know there is a dearth of talent in the people with whom I keep company?

Here are some of the comments:

  1. Surround with sponges and lift
  2. Make him clean it up when he gets home and if he spills any, ground him, or make him write a poem about water.
  3. Drag the glasses to the edge of the counter, put a pan next to the counter and slide glasses off quickly.
  4. Drag them over plastic wrap!!!
  5. He created it. He can clean it up and maybe even lose an evening’s privilege or have to clean out the cat box. Some sort of consequence.
  6. Love it.
  7. I would write “funny” on the same paper and leave it for him to clean up
  8. Clever boy.

I gotta say, this kid has a lot of consequences for things that are real issues… like beating the life out of his brother. Should I really punish the kid or applaud his ingenuity?

I mean, what if I really did give birth to a genius? And what it the next ingenious thing he puts on the counter is a solution to world hunger, albeit it in a mocking “I got you” sort of way?

Would the way I handle this impact his future contributions?

Is it possible to separate out the feedback on being a smartass with positive feedback on his cleverness?

People we live with or work with do things all the time that might irritate us. We REACT and don’t step back. Are we throwing out the next best idea or great work because of the irritating delivery? Can we applaud one while coaching on the other? What do you think?

I think I’ll work with him on the solution and save the feedback for the next issue. And be thankful I’m not the kid of some of my FB friends… I’d be in perpetual time out!

Ultimately, though, I have to agree with my FB friend #6… I kinda love it.

Staying Inside the Lines

I was at my son’s school this morning for a special celebration breakfast. For once, my schedule was clear and no plane was in sight. I was able to make it. (For those of you working parents out there, you realize that this can be an accomplishment likened to the building of the Parthenon.)

I arrived early and took a spin around the classroom. What is going on in 1st grade?

I happened upon a wall where they had clearly illustrated a story they had heard, I’m assuming of two friends. The outlines of the friends were made, but it was up to each child to fill in the blanks.

Kid #1 Picture

The first one I saw was delightful… what one would expect to see… simple happy faces, two friends joined hand in hand. Lovely.

Fin's Picture

Then, I shifted over to the right. The kid drew inside the lines, but what in the world was going on here? Who were his parents and what is going on in that household?  They must be happy, maybe reggae Rastafarians? Oh, wait, that’s my kid’s drawing.

I started to wonder how many of my clients were like my son when they were kids. Working with so many entrepreneurs, surely there was a desire to draw outside the lines. And if they couldn’t, they sure as hell were going to do everything but.

The world of business has a lot of “should’s” and “this is the way it works.” However, the last couple of years has truly challenged the “norm.” It has inspired the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. We know there are some “basic lines” in business, but where can we innovate, do it differently, challenge the “should”?

I’m going to hang this picture in my office as a reminder that when I’m drawing inside the lines, maybe I don’t need to. Thanks for the reminder, Fin.

When was the last time you drew outside the lines?


Being a Leader is Just Like Riding a Bike

Last week I told you about my amazing opportunity to work with some other growing entrepreneurs. I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Sam Schulte… founder and owner of Tree Bicycle Company. If you’re into BMX, he’s the man to support.

He is a shy, unassuming leader that has pretty audacious goals when it comes to BMX biking and leadership. Pretty damn impressive with a great, understated sense of humor (

Sam was in Austin last week and after some business chat, we wandered over to this exclusive BMX park… a park I was told that no one, unless you’re the real deal, gets to explore. I earned some serious “mom points” by taking my boys and my husband to watch.

Sam and Linda

Some might describe Sam as quiet, maybe even an “introvert.” As someone who is definitely not described as such, I find myself drawn to his style of leadership. I stand to learn a lot from him.

I believe Sam’s leadership style stems from this community of riders… thoughtful, curious, risk-taking, and challenging. I watched these riders take the time to visualize the course, glide through the up’s and down’s, support each other with a fall and cheer with the accomplishment. Check it out!

Thanks for the lesson in leadership Sam.

Where do you draw your leadership inspiration?  Let me know in the comment section.

Also… this week I was lucky enough to get to write for Blogher.  Check out my post, 4 Steps to Identifying Your True Calling, here if you haven’t already!  Thanks for reading!