50 Little Guilty Pleasures To Light Up Your Business

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Soapy dramas. Bodice-ripping romance novels. Slap-happy pop music. And of course —pumpkin spice lattes with extra whipped cream.

Guilty pleasures? Everybody’s got ‘em.

They’re the things that give you tingly goose bumps. They’re fun, playful, addictive — an instant jolt of pure happiness.

Most people think guilty pleasures are something to savor once you’ve “earned” them.

A bit of mindless indulgence, once your “hard work” for the day is done.

I used to think that way, too. Until one day, a few years ago, I found myself binge-watching Gossip Girl … at 1 in the afternoon. On a weekday.

Guys? I was in deep. I didn’t want to quit. And at first, I felt totally bad + slacker-ish for indulging in my favorite TV show, instead of being “productive” and “getting things done.”

But then, just as an experiment, I decided to give myself full permission to enjoy every sexy, drama-packed minute, for as long as I wanted.

I savored three episodes in a row — three full hours of Upper East Side sauciness.

Then, when I finally sat back down at my computer at 4pm, I cranked out some of the best work I’d done all year — faster than I’d ever thought possible.

Hmmm … I thought. Could indulging in guilty pleasures actually make me more productive + creative? There might be something to this.

The next day, I repeated the experiment. This time? Three episodes of Gossip Girl with a delicious pot of French Press Coffee … followed by two hours of laser-focused work, plowing through emails with glee, cranking out a new blog post and checking to see how my latest product launch was rolling along … all while channeling my inner Chuck Bass.

I’ve repeated this “guilty pleasure experiment” pretty much every single day, since then.

Business has never been better. And I’ve never been happier. :)

What I’ve learned?

I can accomplish more in two hours when I’m happy (fueled by a big dose of my favorite guilty pleasures!) than I can in twelve hours when I’m bored and miserable.

And I bet — if you do a little experimenting of your own — you’ll discover that you’re wired exactly the same way. (Actually: it’s a proven fact.)

So, try this:

For one full week, I want you to enjoy one of your favorite guilty pleasures in the middle of your workday.

Not the very end of your day — right smack in the middle. That’s the only “rule.” ;)

Your guilty pleasure might be a luxurious mani-pedi on Monday, an hour of totally hysterical Tina Fey clips on Tuesday, a wicked-delicious Devil’s Food cupcake on Wednesday … or, the same guilty pleasure every day! (Nothing wrong with crazy-fun consistency!)

Need some inspiration?

Here are 50 little guilty pleasures to light up your business …

1. Read a trashy, page-turning work of fiction. (A few crowd favorites? Right here.)

2. Binge-watch a scandalous TV drama (have you seen Reign yet? It’s Gossip Girl meets The Tudors. Yep. You’re welcome.)

3. Get pumped watching epic movie trailers.

4. Crack up at hysterical comedy shorts.

5. Master some foxy new dance moves.

6. Blast the top 50 hip hop jams of all time.

7. Take a fun online class that has “nothing to do” with your profession.

8. Enjoy some amazing chocolate … dripping with caramel … and sea salt … slowly.

9. Take a nap on soft sheets. (These? Amazing.)

10. Soak in a bubble bath surrounded by lavender-scented candles.

11. Read a glossy magazine (preferably while sipping your favorite beverage.)

12. Get lost in a super-addicting gossip blog.

13. Bake something delish … then eat it while it’s still warm, fresh from the oven.

14. Give yourself a sparkly mani / pedi (or treat yourself to one.)

15. Write a poem. (Or maybe even … a dirty poem. ;)

16. Get a blow-out from your local salon (BEST $35 you’ll ever spend.)

17. Hit up Kayak Explore + plan a guilty pleasure-packed vacation. (Even if you don’t go right away … planning can be ridiculously fun!)

18. Take an improv or stand-up comedy class. (Or just watch a master at work.)

20. Eat lunch outside on a checkered picnic blanket. Let the sun wash over your face.

21. Choose one person you absolutely freaking LOVE + send them an awesome hand-written note.

22. Sit in a local cafe and eavesdrop on other peoples’ conversations (like a super-sexy spy!)

23. Plop yourself on a park bench and snap photos of cute doggies that pass by. (It’s not creepy…really.)

24. Call a girlfriend for a chat, and make a pact to NOT talk about “work” for twenty minutes.

25. Get ice cream delivered to yourself. Act surprised when it comes to your doorstep.

26. Draw a picture of your favorite celebrity. (Ryan Gosling fan art, anyone?)

27. Swing by a couple of open houses + check out some local real estate … just for fun. (The more opulent + glamorous, the better!)

28. Research an author, artist or actor on Wikipedia. Let yourself fall deep, deep down the Internet rabbit hole, and learn evvvverything about them. Get obsessed.

29. Decide which superpower you’d want to possess.

30. Channel your inner girl scout and learn some outdoor skills.

31. Bookmark photos of super-stylish celebs + recreate their outfits using pieces from your own closet.

32. Enjoy a mid-day glass of wine, outside, in the sunshine. (How European!)

33. Sneak away to catch a mid-afternoon movie. (Cell phone? Off.)

34. Order a super-fru-fru drink at your favorite coffee shop and savor every sip.

35. Hunt for hidden treasures at a flea market or vintage store. (Or an online boutique!)

36. Put on a gorgeous outfit, do your hair + makeup … then go to the grocery store. (Prepare for appreciative glances + smiles.)

37. Throw a ball, romp around, or cuddle with your pup.

38. Play a totally addictive online game.

39. Be deliciously disruptive + “interrupt” your honey at work with a flurry of racy texts.

40. Put your favorite PJs and blanket in the dryer, then snuggle up inside the warm cozyness.

(Mmmm…)

41. Daydream about your fantasy life + career, and write down the whole scenario.

42. Eat breakfast in the afternoon … fresh squeezed juice, blueberry pancakes, real maple syrup, poached eggs … the works!

43. Buy yourself fresh flowers and arrange them in your workspace.

44. Break a sweat with a playful new sport. (Ultimate Frisbee, anyone?)

45. Write that novel burning inside you.

46. Lie in the grass, dig your hands into soil and inhale the scent of fresh grass. (Ahhh…)

47. Test drive that car you’ve been lusting over. (Tesla Model S … drool.)

48. Google to find out which pop songs were a smash hit when you were in high school. Crank ‘em up + and sing at the top of your lungs. (Then, contemplate how awesome it is … NOT to be in high school, anymore.)

49. Swerve off the highway exit when you see a Krispy Kreme sign.

50. Take photos of things that make you smile, blush or sigh, and create a guilty pleasure gallery. Re-visit it whenever you need a reminder to pause … and just play. :)

What’s YOUR all-time favorite guilty pleasure?

Spill it in the comments below!

 

 

 

My all-time favorite TV characters … and what each one has taught me about sales

Forget the “business” section at Barnes + Noble — some of the best sales lessons you’ll ever learn can be found right in your Netflix queue.

It’s true: if you watch TV like a savvy detective, you’ll notice that most of your favorite characters — those charismatic + confident superstars that keep you glued to the screen, week after week — are masterful at selling, selling, selling.

Since I’m all about indulging in guilty pleasures to boost your business, I’ve cherry-picked a few of my all-time favorite TV characters to highlight the way that they woo, intrigue + seduce their targets (without even trying.)

Permission to binge-watch every single season? With hot buttered popcorn?

And cayenne pepper on top? Hell YES.

Serena van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl

serena

CW

Confession: I’m still severely depressed that Gossip Girl came to an end (currently having major Chuck / Blair — Chair? Bluck? — withdrawal.)

But back to our girl, Serena.

The gorgeous van der Woodsen is the epitome of breezy, effortless cool. In the pilot episode, Serena returns from a year away at boarding school and instantly dethrones Blair as Queen Bee of Constance Billard without doing (or saying) anything at all. She literally just waltzes in, takes a seat … and rules the school.

The lesson? Never let ‘em see you sweat, even when you’re working your bootie off behind-the-scenes.

If you’re freaking out because sales aren’t as stellar as they could be, don’t plunge into instant panic. Your clients will feel the desperation, get totally turned-off … and start looking for another Queen Bee.

Instead, channel your inner Serena: give yourself a classy mani / pedi, put on your hottest dress and approach every sale like it’s an obvious “yes.”
Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

CW

CW

OK: when you look like THIS immortal bad-boy, you don’t need to do much selling. :-)

But Damon isn’t just a pretty face. He’s got a supernatural ability that we can all learn from: heightened senses.

Specifically? Vampire-hearing, which Damon uses to snoop on (just about) everyone in Mystic Falls, gathering down ‘n dirty details that he can use to his advantage.

You might not be a vampire (and if you are: OMG! tell me everything!) but even with ordinary human hearing, you can still collect vital insider info on your clients + customers.

Listen carefully to praise (and not-so-glowing feedback) to see what your people want + need. Peruse your most-popular blog posts to see what’s resonating with folks (and what’s not). Hang out in Facebook groups, forums and online classes where your victims (um, I mean … “customers”) are chatting away.

The lesson? Stop pitching and start listening.

Really hearing your customers and understanding what they want is THE way to sell without sucking the life out of yourself … and everyone else.
Anne Boleyn from The Tudors

Showtime

Showtime

Not many mistresses can drive a man to sever his religious ties and found an entirely new church, just to make it legal to get a divorce and remarry … you.

But that’s precisely what Anne Boleyn does to King Henry VIII … and morality aside, you’ve got to admit, she’s a pretty fierce saleswoman.

The lesson? You don’t have to be “loved by all” in order to rise to the pinnacle of power — and get what you want. A little controversy can excite + ignite the people you want to woo.

There’s a fatal flaw in this Queen’s sales technique, though …

Ultimately, Anne can’t deliver what she promises to Henry — a male heir to the throne.

Annoyed by her inability to meet his demands, Anne’s “disgruntled customer” grows bored, then frustrated, and then … well, I won’t completely spoil the finale. But let’s just say: it’s off with her head.
Michael Scott from The Office

NBC

NBC

He might be jaw-droppingly inept, at times, but this Dunder Mifflin manager is an exceptional salesman.

With a casual demeanor + an endless supply of one-liners (“That’s what she said!”) he knows how to make an emotional connection with new customers — even when they’re half-cringing, inside.

In one episode, Michael switches the sales meeting from a stuffy hotel to a Chili’s restaurant, cracks inappropriate jokes over baby-back ribs and refuses to talk business … yet still manages to close a huge deal.

The lesson? Skip the pushy sales conversation and get to know your customers as human beings — both in-person and online.

Sharing personal stories (even embarrassing ones!) lets people know that it’s safe to chill out + just be themselves. It’s the best way to form a genuine bond — and like Michael says, “I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
Olivia Pope from Scandal

ABC

ABC

Whether she’s de-tangling a Washington DC hotshot from an ugly sex scandal, or rescuing one of her employees from a top-secret military prison, Olivia doesn’t do anything half-assed.

She’s built up a reputation as the ultimate “fixer” — the ONLY woman to call when you’re in a serious pickle and need your problems to go away. Fast.

By committing 1,000% to her work and getting results, results, results, her clients don’t need to be persuaded or sold. Her reputation precedes her. They literally beg for her to take them on, as clients — and they’ll pay any price.

Olivia is also a master at sleuthing out exactly what her clients actually want, even if they’re not certain, themselves. She begins every conversation with four crucial words: “What’s your end game?” Before long, her clients are spilling their deepest desires — and she can tailor her plan, accordingly.

The lesson? Get crystal clear on what your customers want + what you can do to help — and communicate both with ferocity. You’ll be donning Ms. Pope’s designer power-suits in no time!

OK, spill: who are YOUR all-time favorite TV characters, and what have they taught you about sales, charisma + wooing the people you want to serve? Share in the comments below!

How to make your whole publicity plan feel like a guilty pleasure

Do you ever feel like doing something … anything … else instead of promoting your business?

You’ll puke if you have to pitch one more “influential blogger.”

You’ll throw a hissy fit if you have to write one. more. freaking. tweet.

And forget about crafting a blog post for your “ideal customer,” writing a “compelling newsletter,” schmoozing through that “women’s networking event,” or hosting that “client-attracting teleseminar” … blarf!

The whole thing just makes you want to put on your jammies, curl up under a blanket and eat an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups while binge-watching Gossip Girl on Netflix.

I’m here to tell you: there’s a better way to publicize your biz.

And you can still eat melt-in-your-mouth chocolate treats and indulge in any angsty teen drama you choose.

The secret?

It’s about integrating business + pleasure into one super-swirl (sweeeet!) — instead of keeping all of your to-dos in totally separate buckets (so tedious).

Follow these 6 steps to make sure there’s no separation between your life, your work and your secret pleasures.

Step 1. If it sucks, don’t do it.

If you completely despise Twitter or break out into hives at the thought of attending yet another awkward networking party … just. don’t. do. it. Seriously.

If you’re not having any fun, I guarantee no one will have any fun connecting with you, either — face-to-screen, or face-to-face.

There are a million ‘n one ways to spread the word about your business, so find the channels that feel natural and chillaxing, and stick with those.

Having FUN is profoundly attractive — your dream customers will pick up on your tingling energy, they’ll swarm you like E! Entertainment photo-bloggers trailing a celeb at a red carpet movie premiere. Snap, snap!

Step 2. Design your dream workspace.

No, you don’t have to call in the crew from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. All you need to do is make sure your workspace doesn’t feel like a Room of Doom.

Just for kicks, pretend you’re an over-the-top celebrity, and create your own “rider.” What’s on your must-have list, in order to do your best work? Fresh flowers? Chilled sparkling water? Peony-scented candles? A half-pump vanilla latte, served in a ceramic mug —  never a paper cup? A silver bowl of M+Ms — with the green ones removed? (Get some inspiration — or just have a good laugh — by reading the 9 craziest tour riders of all time.)

Whatever you need, you can have. And what you need … usually comes down to a handful of simple pleasures. :)

Step 3. Switch up the scenery.

Feel like gettin’ out of the office — or house? Switch up the scenery by setting up shop outdoors on a red-checkered picnic blanket — or working in an adorable cafe with unlimited cappuccinos at your disposal. Psychology studies prove that travel boosts creativity – even if you’re just “traveling” to a new corner of your own city!

(And psst. Here’s a list of cities around the world that have free public wifi. Just one more reason to hit the town, with your laptop in tow!)

Step 4. Shrinkify your “work” hours.

Most of us think we have to work for 8 solid hours a day — but that’s an outdated mindset left over from 19th century England, when lawmakers decided that children under 13 should only be “allowed” to work in factories for a maximum of 8 hours a day. (Yikes. Even the staff at Downton Abbey had it better!)

Let’s lose the grim, clock-punching worldview, already! As a playful experiment, try working for just 2 hours a day. Yes, really. Pick one day this week, and set the clock for 2 precious hours.

This time constraint will force you to strip your to-do list down to the bare essentials, and focus, focus, focus. I guarantee you’ll double (or maybe triple!) your productivity.

It’s like pushing your body to the limit for 10 minutes of high-intensity circuit training, instead of plodding along on a treadmill at a snail’s pace, for the whole afternoon — maximum impact, minimal time investment.

And when you’re done? Spend the rest of the day enjoying your guilty pleasures, of course!

Step 5. Give yourself what you want — first.

Let’s say you’ve got two things to do this afternoon: 1. Write that blog post called “10 Ways to Lose Weight” (you’ve got zero motivation to write it + you’re completely bored with the topic — but never mind that!) and 2. Go to a hip-hop dance class (which sounds like the most. fun. ever.)

You might think it’s smart + responsible to finish the damn blog post before doing what you really want to do — shake your booty in Zumba class. But in fact, giving yourself a mini-break (especially if it involves moving your body!) is proven to make you more creative, at work.

So, go to Zumba. Get your groove on. Once you’re glowing with sweat + totally refreshed, think about what you really want to share with your audience. Is it a hip-shaking music playlist? Maybe a list of awesome dance classes and where to find them online? Or a story about how indulging in what you love can (actually) help you shed weight + feel better? ;)

You make the rules in your business — and your life. Dessert before dinner? Why not! Zumba before blogging? Totally.

Step 6. Make BFFs.

If your whole body seizes up in a panic at the thought of pitching yourself to the media — there’s a good reason. Typically, pitching yourself to media hotshots feels like a total drag because there’s no existing relationship.

You’re left sending a cold email, which feels icky + impersonal. It’s like loitering outside Ellen + Portia’s Hollywood mansion, praying for a personal invite to the rockin’ house party inside. But if you’re not on the VIP guest list, you’re just going to get booted by the bouncers. Sayonara!

The solution? Focus on creating lasting relationships, rather than transactional situations. For example: if you want to start writing guest posts for high-traffic blogs, start by choosing one blog that you genuinely adore. Leave a couple of thoughtful comments. Help the blogger out by re-tweeting her work. Send a hand-written “you rock my world!” postcard, in the mail. By the time you reach out to pitch a guest post, she’ll already know, like + trust you. You’re in!

Always, always, always work to create genuine, lasting connections with people you think are the bee’s knees. If it helps grow your business — fantastic! (And in many cases, it will.) If it doesn’t help grow your business, you still win karma points because you’ve sent some love + attention towards a kickass human being who deserves it.

(And that’s something worth dancing about.)

TAKE ACTION: What feels totally yucky + un-pleasurable when it comes to publicizing your business? Share it in the comments and I’ll respond with one suggestion to turn that nagging drag into a total guilty pleasure. :)