Survival of the Kindest

With the holidays now over, we may think it’s time to tuck away our gift-giving efforts for a while. But instead, let’s take the spirit of the holidays — altruism, generosity, empathy, gratitude — and find small, consistent ways to introduce it into our everyday lives.

In the first of our ANNA-LYZE THIS video chat series, I talk with my Sociology of Style cohort, Anna Lownes, about rethinking our competitive natures and promoting the “survival of the kindest.” Check out our conversation, chime in with your own stories of random acts of kindness in the comments, and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in the future.


Every day can be a holiday with the right attitude. And that’s a gift that keeps on giving to you and everyone you touch.

How to Graciously Accept Praise and Positively Self-Promote

Hi there,

I know I’ve been MIA. You haven’t heard from me in a couple of weeks because I’ve been on my book tour for Startup Your Life. As you can imagine, it’s been both exciting and exhausting. But it’s also been challenging in a way I didn’t anticipate and that perhaps you can relate to:

I’ve had to accept praise. But I’m not comfortable with praise. And I’m not the only one. 

Women, in particular, are notoriously bad at accepting compliments (as depicted in this classic [uncensored] Amy Schumer video). And studies show that when the compliment comes from another woman, we almost always reject it. Simply saying ‘thank you’ and enjoying the moment doesn’t come easily to most of us. We feel we must explain away our success or accomplishments rather than feeling proud, and so we attempt to counterbalance the praise by negging ourselves. It’s as sad to witness as it is to experience — and we need to do better by ourselves.

And as if it’s not hard enough to accept praise, it’s even harder to self-promote. Broadcasting your accomplishments — whether they’re professional or personal — can feel narcissistic and self-indulgent. “Hey, look at meeeee! Aren’t I GREAT?!” is what I feel like I’m shouting every time I share anything related to me and my achievements on social media or discuss them in an interview. 

But no matter how big or small the praise-worthy accomplishment, denying its existence or being overly self-deprecating it is not the answer. 

Why?

Because hard work deserves to be recognized. It doesn’t make us better than someone else, but it does distinguish us. So think of it less as a celebration of the thing in itself and more of a badge of honor for everything you endured and learned on the road to that moment. 

Accepting a compliment with grace and self-promoting in a way that communicates genuine gratitude is a skill. It’s also the courteous thing to do: By dismissing the praise or downplaying the depiction of an event or milestone, you deny others their role in the social exchange. 

Think of a time when you’ve complimented or championed someone else. Chances are you were sincere, right? Now imagine how you’d feel if someone dismissed your praise of them out of their own discomfort. Not the greatest feeling, right?

So next time you find yourself in a position where you’re being celebrated or have something celebration-worthy to share, remember: to accept accolades is to honor both the people who helped you get there, as well as the individuals who took the time and energy to recognize you and your work. 

Sometimes a little self-love is the most effective way to show love to others. Give back to your community by allowing them to embrace you. 

That’s not to say narcissism doesn’t exist or isn’t a danger. Nor does it mean that exclusively tooting your own horn without also lifting up those around you will earn you many fans. So how do you find a balance?

Here’s the 3-step guide I created for accepting praise and confidently self-promoting: 

  1. Challenge yourself to accept a compliment as you would want your praise to be received: with genuine gratitude. 
  2. Share your good news as it comes — there will inevitably be plenty of not-so-great news to even it out over time (I promise). 
  3. In the moments in between life’s peaks and valleys, take the time to revere and support those in your network or whom you admire. Our roles evolve and are fluid, and it’s hard to connect with someone who can’t play both giver and receiver. 

Do you struggle with praise and self-promotion? How do you negotiate its place in your life? Please tell me in the comments section!

Yours,

Anna

p.s. Since we’re on the topic of praise, I have a favor to ask you: If you have purchased Startup Your Life — first of all, THANK YOU. I am incredibly grateful for your investment and attention. And if you enjoyed it or it made you think or operate differently, I’d love for you to share your thoughts as a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Real reviews from people like you matter. Thank you in advance for taking a moment to do that (and please consider letting me know that you’ve posted one so I can thank you personally!)

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

Your Formula for Resolutions You'll Actually Keep

It’s likely you are happily bidding “good riddance” to 2016. But merely kicking something — be it a tough year or a bad relationship — to the curb, will not yield the results you’re seeking. 

However low the bar may seem for making 2017 better than the last (and I know, it’s low), it takes more than changing a habit or thinking positively to feel the kind of transformational results most of us seek. 

So what is it you want this year? And what’s your plan for achieving it?

For many of us, it’s hard to offer specifics. We know certain behaviors help or hinder us, but we struggle to identify how that fits into the larger perspective of what matters to us, what we want to achieve, and what makes us happy. 

That’s why I created a framework for upgrading your life in a sustainable, incremental way in the New Year and everyday. Because change doesn’t happen overnight — it takes consistent work. But here’s the upside to that consistent effort: happiness also doesn’t happen at only major milestones and monumental achievements — it’s in the small “in between” stuff that the most sustainable, satisfying seeds of happiness blossom and flourish. 

This year, go beyond the traditional short-lived diet and fitness resolutions and vow to make 2017 the year of ongoing change. How? Take a page from the Silicon Valley playbook and start living your life like a startup. Here’s the secret sauce you need to cash in on this year in small ways, everyday.

5 key ways to enhance happiness and success through resolutions that will stick:

  • Experiment: Approaching your life like a science experiment allows you to test and learn as you go, minimizing large-scale regrettable mistakes and keeping you nimble. Experiment with everything from the way your food makes you feel, to the way you react in confrontations, to the clothes you wear on a date. You’ll get realtime feedback from your audience or your body, which you can then integrate into your behaviors and choices — or use the knowledge to fuel another optimization experiment. Constant learning, constant improvement. 
  • Disrupt your assumptions: Sometimes unlearning is the most important kind of learning. Bucking conventional wisdom helps you identify what you’re taking for granted and avoid groupthink. If you are caught up in “But I’ve always…” or “That’s impossible!” paradigms, you’ll limit your opportunities and never know what might have been. 
  • Embrace failure: Giving yourself permission to fall down can be a win. It cultivates patience, teaches hard lessons, and — if you commit to analyzing what went wrong — makes you exponentially stronger the next time around. Plus, once you make peace with the fact that failure IS coming, it makes it far less disruptive when it finally arrives. We live in transition, so accept the inevitability of failure and enjoy the fluidity that follows.
  • Understand your audience: We are largely at the mercy of our audience, so it’s time to start paying attention. Finding your own personal “product-market fit” allows you to find the sweet spot between what matters to you and what resonates with your audience. At the center of this is rethinking “authenticity” as your most effective (not just most comfortable) form of self-expression in any given context. We are social beings, and it’s how we self-present in both the words we use and the images we give off that fosters the connection we crave. 
  • Hustle: Hustling — not exclusive pedigree — is often the X factor that gives you an edge. Complacency is what we must rail against. Instead of focusing on what we lack, we can be the little startup that could and hustle to maximize what we do have. Because I promise: you’re richer than you think you are. 

I want to hear not just what you’re giving up, but what you’re dreaming up for 2017. Tell me in the comments section and let’s celebrate what’s in the works, in all its terrific imperfection. 

Here’s to a New Year and a NEW YOU —

Anna

p.s. If you’ve already dug into Startup Your Life and want to go deeper, check out the video series I created to work together to maximize the recommendations and start putting them into action today (or get the book and read it while you work through the videos). And if you have a friend who is ready to take the leap and upgrade their life, they’ll thank you for passing it along :)

p.p.s If you've already received your copy, please share your thoughts on Amazon and Goodreads — let us know how the book is helping you to transform how you live, work, and connect. 

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

Quick vacation interruption: Today’s the day!!

I know you’re still mentally checked out for the holidays, so while you’re physically or mentally wandering, I want to steer you toward Startup Your Life, which is on shelves TODAY. I can’t help but nudge you toward it (in part because I’m so excited to finally share it with you and more importantly because I can’t wait for it to start helping people to transform their lives). 

SO If you do grab a copy and dive in this week — first, THANK YOU, and second, please send me your thoughts! I’d love to start a conversation about what resonates with you. 

Ok, now back to your unscheduled programming! :)

Anna

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How to Beat the Holiday Blues ( + Read the Startup Your Life intro for FREE)

Not everyone’s holiday experience is classic Norman Rockwell perfection (which is why I find the above image from him such a welcome, realistic depiction). The holidays can be a difficult time for all of us, for a variety of reasons: perhaps we’re single and feeling a bit empty, or we find being with relatives challenging; hectic holiday travel is enough to frazzle even the most zen amongst us, and financial pressures around gift-giving put a damper on an otherwise uplifting act. Plus, expectations and tensions run unrealistically high this time of year — it’s hard to live up to the picture perfect ideal we’ve created for ourselves, which too often leaves us with a feeling of “not good enough.”  

Fortunately, you can transform your relationship with the holidays and your state of mind with a few savvy, strategic choices. Much of the advice I offer in my new book (which is out next week and available for preorder now) is particularly effective during the holidays.

Here’s how to beat the holiday blues and start the New Year stronger — and happier:

  • Be with people: Granted, sometimes it’s people that stress us out the most during the holidays, but isolation is not the answer. Companionship is the single biggest indicator of long-term health and happiness, and we need it more than ever during the holidays. Seek out people who bring you joy, who spark your imagination, and who are great listeners. We often have some downtime during the holidays, so be sure you’re spending it in good company.
  • Give back: Money alone doesn’t make us happy, but strategic spending does. “Giving is receiving” sounds cliche, but it’s an effective mood-booster. And remember time is money, even when it comes to philanthropy — and spending time with people in need can puts things in perspective and make you feel needed, all while improving the lives of others. Simply being present (and distraction-free) with people in your life is one of the greatest gifts you can give this holiday season.
  • Retreat into nature: A little fresh air goes a long way toward clearing the head and lifting the spirits. Whether you’re deep in winter or more of a snowbird at the beach, make time for playing outside and take note of how you feel before and after — the difference will likely be striking. 
  • Reflect on the year: The holidays are a culminating point — the end of one year and the beginning of the next. We are always living in transition, but these annual milestones are important. They offer an opportunity for reflection and for mindfully moving forward. You can pivot your life toward happiness by actively reflecting on the challenges and opportunities of the last year. It’s important to usher in the future through strategic experimentation and by staying nimble to possibilities. The excitement of those possibilities alone will lift your spirits. 

And while you’re shopping for loved ones, give yourself a gift of a life upgrade — one that will actually empower you, beginning today, not someday.  

Want a little taste? Read the first chapter of Startup Your Life completely free(get it here) and see if the approach that’s worked for Silicon Valley startups also resonates with you.

Wherever you are, whatever stage in life you’re at or unique challenges you’re facing, this can be a satisfying holiday season, IF you take back control and mindfully apply the right strategies. Holidays are intense punctuation points in our year, and it’s when we are most challenged that we experience the most profound growth. So seize the moment. 

May you give yourself the gift of reaching beyond your comfort zone, an invitation to play (and fail), and the space to make sense of it all this holiday season.

Happy holidays!

Anna

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

3 ways to hack your image (without spending a penny)

We are fed enough style tips and trend updates, but what often lacks from a conversation about image is attention to the bigger picture. Part of our mission at Sociology of Style is to move the needle on that conversation toward a substantive “why it matters” discussion and push you to think about how your image reflects — and creates — your identity. 

In my new book, I dedicate an entire chapter called “Work It: The Runway of Your Life” to this topic. Here are 3 key takeaways that distill how you can start strategically hacking your image for greater social efficacy and to boost confidence starting today — without spending any money.

1. Redefine Authenticity. Authenticity is a complex word, and one with which we’re generally obsessed. And our closest don’t make it any easier. Let’s get one thing straight: authenticity is a dynamic process — not permanent or static. And the way we’re expected to appear in any given context does not always reflect the self with which we most identify. So we must reconcile these social and professional pressures with what we feel is our “true self.” 

Authenticity is also not dictated exclusively by your biographical realities. Your identity is multi-faceted and can express itself differently in different contexts, and it also evolves over time. 

Bottom line: Projecting authenticity requires both experimentation and reinvention.

2. Play Dress-Up. Mindfully playing with your appearance pushes you out of your comfort zone and highlights what you’re taking for granted, both with regard to your own aesthetic hangups and with how you’re perceived. Our hangups and dependencies are often wrapped up in our appearance, so understanding what they are is empowering. 

Play around with visual variables to test everything from how you’re treated to how it affects the way you carry yourself. You’ll likely find it both surprising and liberating. 

3. Adopt a uniform. Developing a uniform or go-to look for yourself isn’t about looking the same every single day. It’s a sleek, low-maintenance approach to minimalist living and visual precision. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play dress-up and experiment. But once you find a formula that works for you, don’t be afraid to replicate it. 

Routinizing your manner of dress also minimizes choice and saves your mental power for other more important thoughts and actions. And projecting a recognizable visual brand is an effective way to convey a coherent, memorable message to your audience. 

Get more instant image and life hacks here

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

12 Ways to Startup Your Life TODAY (+ FREE sessions with me)

What do the founders of Bulletproof Executive, Learnvest, and DailyWorth all have in common? 

They are all talking about the launch of Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness which is ready to hit shelves later this month, on December 27 (just in time for your New Year’s resolutions — more on those in the weeks to come).

But since we’re already connected, I want to give you some FREE bonuses that aren’t available to anyone else, just for pre-ordering — think of pre-orders like the first weekend a movie is out: it really counts! And I want YOU to be rewarded for helping to make it a success.  

>>> Here’s how it works:

1. Purchase the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

2. Forward your receipt to [email protected]

3. Your exclusive bonuses will be emailed to you!

So what do you get?

And since I know many of you will want to start applying the Startup Your Life principles to your lives in an in-depth way, I’ve also created an online video coursethat takes you through each of the 12 lessons, complete with interactive exercises (all of which you can watch and experience starting TODAY). 

If you pre-order the video series before the book launches you’ll receive:

  • 3 months access to me via the private Startup Your Life forum
  • Lifetime access to 12 interactive video lessons
  • Downloadable PDF exercises
  • Plus, the first 8 people to sign-up receive a FREE private coaching session with me

Startup Your Life is the perfect gift to yourself or the people in your life who are ready for practical, actionable advice and measurable results. 

Thank you so much for your support. The book wouldn’t be happening without you, and I can’t wait to share it and the videos series with you.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. The bonuses and discounts are only available if you click here to pre-order the book or video series. And the 8 free sessions with me are a great way to get personalized attention and truly jumpstart your path to happiness and success. So hurry!

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

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From Pantsuits to Purple: The Symbolic Power of Fashion

Image matters. We know this. And while we know we must maintain it, we often underestimate our power to strategically use it. 

In my research on professional, male-dominated work environments, women and minorities operate on a shorter aesthetic leash. They can get away with far less than their white male counterparts when it comes to visual self-expression. They already look different, which means they are constantly under scrutiny. Every look is measured and analyzed. Every choice is subject to criticism.

And perhaps nowhere is this more pronounced than with female politicians. From their facial expressions to their hemlines, female politicians are too often embraced or rejected on appearance rather than substance. It’s tough out there for our female elected officials, on both sides of the aisle. 

So as this political cycle comes to a close, it’s an appropriate moment to think about the role of appearance and image, particularly with regard to its symbolic potency. Hillary Clinton is, quite possibly, the most visually scrutinized woman of power in our modern era. Putting her policies and partisan politics aside, her strategic use of her image is a reminder to all of us of the power of self-fashioning, far beyond merely looking “good” or “pretty.” 

It all started with the pantsuits, of course. As a nation, women didn’t even start wearing pants until around one hundred years ago. They reached greater social prominence in the 1970s, and eventually made their way into the workplace, largely replacing the standard uniform of the skirt or dress. 

Hillary Clinton, fittingly, was the first woman ever to wear pants in her First Lady portrait, and it wasn’t until 1993 (you read that correctly) that women were permitted to wear pants on the Senate floor. And lest you think we’ve now fully modernized, some more traditional judges still don’t permit women lawyers to wear pants in their courtroom. 

So by the time this election season came into full-swing, so, too, did Clinton’s “Pantsuit Nation,” for whom the embrace of pants is not only a nod to physical comfort, but also a subversive rejection of the old hegemony. (Part of a long lineage that includes Joan of Arc and her scandalous embrace of “male” clothing.)

But the symbolic significance of public appearance and its role as an act of rebellion doesn’t end with trousers. 

Throughout this journey, Clinton also embraced the colors of the suffragette movement. First, white for her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, and now purple in her concession speech. Purple traditionally signifies dignity and loyalty, but some speculate that her use of it last week also symbolizes the coming together of the divided red and blue electorate. 

To gaze at women in politics is not merely to rate their appearance (though certainly many do that, as well), but also to witness sartorial semiotics in action: The physical manifestation of centuries of history, gender norms, and power struggles. 

In an age when we strive for airbrushed perfection and endlessly self-scrutinize, let us celebrate our ability to reclaim appearance and use it as both a self-actualizing and unifying device. Because while voters don’t always get the outcome they fight for, this is a victory onto itself.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. How have you or other women in your life used your image to make a statement? Tell me in the comments section. 

p.p.s. Do you know other women in positions of power who deal with constant public scrutiny around their appearance? Share this with them to help them reframe the way they approach their image. 

Pre-order your copy of Startup Your Life today:

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Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and  

Why Today Is The Perfect Day For a Life Pivot

You made it. You officially survived the longest, most painful election cycle in American history (or at least it seemed that way). 

Chances are you’re likely feeling a bit like this right now:

Or maybe more like: 

Intense, cathartic moments like this are an opportunity to collectively reflect. How did we arrive at this place? And where do we hope to go from here? Regardless of your current mood, this is the perfect time to hit refresh.

A fresh start. A clean slate. How many times have you daydreamed of starting over? If not with your whole life, then some specific aspect of it?

Regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself — either through biographical realities or a national election — you can pivot your life toward happiness. And it all starts with flipping the mental switch that auto-refreshes the browser of your life.

Pivoting is something that startups do all the time when they hit a bump in the road or gather enough data to identify a better path forward. It isn’t about running away from something so much as mindfully moving toward something better.  And sometimes you’re just a pivot away from a major personal or professional breakthrough.

But what is it that most often holds us back from making the changes we desire? From moving forward in new and different ways? Often it is the belief that perfection and success (however we define it) must go hand in hand. When, in fact, perfection — and particularly the desire for it — is often at odds with success.  

There is no perfect time. No perfect look. No perfect person. No perfect you. And nothing great was ever founded on perfection. So choose now. And embrace “good enough.”

The poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The pivots that matter most start and end in your mind. They are limited only by your imagination. And it’s up to you to elect to embrace and adopt them. So vote yes.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. Chances are many of the people in your life are still coming down from this monumental event. Share this with them and help them to move forward positively.

Life pivots are part of the Startup Your Life formula. Order your copy today and begin the transformation.

Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

How to Look Good on Video Chat (Pants Optional)

I hate wearing pants. 

Well, most pants, anyway. The minute I arrive home, I take off whatever I’m wearing — be it a dress or jeans — and immediately slip into what I call “apartment pants.” They’re soft, stretchy, and never bind at the waist. I can’t say they are the most flattering garment I own, and they’re definitely not the sexiest. But they feel great — AND I do some of my best work in them.

But I don’t just slip into them after a long day: I also wear them while I write and work from home. And even when I have video sessions with clients or team members, my apartment pants stay loosely hanging from my body for maximum comfort, both physically and mentally. 

But my top half — well, that’s a different story….

Studies show that 64 percent of us are in a video conference weekly — including everything from Facetime to Skype to Google Hangout. And with telecommuting on the rise, a winning digital image has become central to maintaining professionalism. You may think video conferencing doesn’t demand the same level of polish you would bring to an in-person interview or client meeting, but the visual impact remains the same.  

Unlike your social media profiles, video calls can feel like a photo shoot and interview, all rolled into one. We’re more self-conscious on video chats, in part because we can see ourselves while we’re talking (awkward). But it’s not just your own appearance that demands extra attention on these calls. Your immediate space becomes a mini movie set, and you must play both actor and director as you step into the frame.  

To help you master the art of video conferencing, I’ve distilled 5 key areas for men and women to strategically manipulate as you prepare for your close-up, including lighting, clothes and makeup, physical positioning, audio/visual, and background. 

Most of these tactics are quick and free (or very low cost), and none of them demand that you morph into a glamorous movie star to be effective. In fact, you’ll be surprised how a few strategic choices can highlight your best features — and shift the focus where it belongs: to your knowledge and expertise. 

And best of all: pants are always optional. 

It isn’t a matter of choosing style over substance, but rather letting style emphasize your hard-earned substance. Here’s how. 

Yours,

Anna

p.s. I’d love to hear about your online video chat challenges and tactics — let me know in the comments section, and be sure to pass this along to your professional pals. They may need a little video brush-up, as well. 

Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

Pre-order your copy today:

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Wanna Get Lucky?: Why You Should Stop Planning and Start Experimenting

[Quick note: As many of you know there were some….er...technical difficulties with the internet in the last week. I know many of you had trouble accessing the video bundle link for managing your online image, building a capsule wardrobe, and looking better on video chat that I sent out last week, but it should be working now. Here’s the link again for women and men — please let me know if you experience any issues!]

This week I want to talk about a topic I’m very passionate about and discuss in Startup Your LifeLuck. Or rather, what is often dismissed as “luck.” 

If you believe luck is something you’re simply born with (or, more likely, without), science is not on your side. Psychologist Richard Wiseman’s research found that people increase their “luck” by consciously following four basic principles: they notice chance opportunities, make decisions by listening to their intuition, project positive expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies, and exercise resilience. So, in other words: so-called “lucky” people seize the moment, are decisive and positive, and always find a way to bounce back. Most importantly, these are all active choices, meaning “luck” is generally not something that happens to us but something we deliberately create. 

Do you think startups are successful merely because the founders have a “vision” and sit around thinking positive thoughts all day? Yes, positivity is important. Having a vision does matter. 

But a positive vision alone will not deliver results. I promise.

Instead of relying on luck, startups experiment. They formulate hypotheses and test them out. They understand that experimentation is the best path to clarity and sustainability. And experimentation isn’t about chance. Calculated experimentation yields far more valuable results than years of planning. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true.

In other words: Science is better than luck.

And yet, we associate the very word “experimentation” with risk and recklessness. Planning seems like the sounder route. But while planning seems like the responsible choice, it will only get you so far— and can actually be counterproductive. Planning assumes that the variables aren’t changing, that the environment is controlled. 

But let’s face it: that isn’t my life and it very likely isn’t yours. 

So, though it may seem contradictory to the notion of success you’ve embraced until now: I want you to stop planning and start experimenting.

Our reluctance to experiment often stems from the fear of public humiliation. What if I make a wrong move? There’s a sense of security associated with maintaining the status quo, even if it isn’t serving you or has adverse effects (yes, this is the cliché- but- true “devil you know” default response). We all have skin in the game and plenty to lose. But everyone, no matter their stage in life, can experiment toward something better.

So start small and begin observing and testing now. Don’t get held up by over-thinking before you act (remember: plan less, experiment more). I’m not suggesting that you should move mindlessly through space, but remember that “lucky” people manufacture good fortune in part by acting on their intuition— not through inaction. 

No matter where you begin or what obstacles you encounter along the way, it’s the strategy you hone and deploy— not luck or expert foresight— that allows for radical self- transformation and perpetual self- optimization. It’s triumph through trial and error, not certainty. 

Your life is an ongoing experiment, but it need not be a constant gamble. So let’s get lucky through experimentation. 

Yours, 

Anna

Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

Digital Makeovers: How to Pimp Your Online Profile

I often say I am a very private person who lives a very public life. And I refuse to completely give up on retaining some semblance of privacy, despite the public nature of my work. I believe the public and private spheres of our lives can coexist, but it takes vigilance and persistent image management.

The average Internet user has over 5 social media accounts. And whether it’s your Facebook profile or your Airbnb account, the image you select to represent you on those accounts sends a variety of both subtle and overt messages about who you are (and how you want to be treated in that space and beyond). It controls the people we attract, the conversations we have, and the outcome of those exchanges.

But if we tend to take the power of our image for granted when it comes to our physical self-presentation, we are even more likely to underestimate the critical role of our digital profiles. When you are face-to-face, you are a 3D entity, complete with vocal variations, energetic wavelengths, and your own unique scent, all of which inform the body on display. But on the screen, your identity is flattened and reduced to pixels that zero in on only one sense: sight. And how that vision is interpreted relies on the words and accompanying images that round out that particular profile.

For some, this limited presentation of self is an opportunity to reinvent themselves — to strategically highlight favorable or preferable elements, while diminishing the emphasis on other less flattering aspects of our identities. But for others, these constraints pose challenges, as it can become difficult to determine which features to highlight to a particular audience, and on which platforms. Juggling multiple online profiles, in addition to your physical persona, is image management on steroids. And it can be exhausting at best, or reputation-damaging at worst.

Confidently selecting and promoting your image on social channels need not be stressful, however, if you approach it thoughtfully, and with a little expert guidance. After years of research, I’ve boiled down online image management to 5 key elements — and based on my analysis of digital identity and social exchange in virtual spaces, those 5 rules will lay the foundation for a positively perceived profile.

The prominence — and consequences — of your virtual image is here to stay, so it’s time to start making savvy online image choices. Check out my video (for men and women) of 5 rules for online profiles and watch your interactions and digital efficacy transform.

What challenges and pitfalls have you faced when constructing and managing your online profiles? What key lessons have you learned? I’d love to hear your personal stories in the comments section.

Yours,

Anna


p.s. Do you know someone who is a super user of social media and might benefit from a little profile refinement? Or perhaps you have a friend or relative who is less tech savvy — they might appreciate knowing about this resource.

Want more style and life upgrade advice? Take the Sociology of Style men’s and women’s quizzes, or check out the Success With Style series for men and women. 

Your Gratitude Archive: Boost Happiness Through Daily Gratitude Mantras and Letter Writing

"Thank you." Two words most of us say everyday. To strangers, loved ones, and hopefully also to ourselves. But polite, habitual responses are different than a meaningful gratitude practice. 

Gratitude. It’s been the darling of self-help for a while now, and for good reason. Scientific research consistently shows that gratitude boosts happiness, supports physical and mental well-being, and strengthens relationships. 

Chances are, I don’t need to convince you of the benefits of gratitude. But how can you sustainably integrate it into your life? 

Gratitude journals have become popular — and it’s something I’ve used off and on over the years, as well. Writing down the things we’re thankful for on a daily basis does have a measurable effect. But for many, while that ritual may excite and engage at first, it often tapers off after weeks or months. 

As an alternative, here are two gratitude practices that give me the most pleasure:

1. An internal daily mantra of gratitude. My grandfather wrote a morning prayer of gratitude that he repeated silently everyday for decades. For him, it was a way of saying thank you for a new day, of cleaning the slate, of recognizing the possibilities, challenges, and choices that awaited him each morning. He knew nothing of the science of gratitude, but taking a moment to say thank you everyday instinctually felt right to him. (He happened to be a man of faith, but religious affiliation is in no way necessary for carving out a moment of gratitude.) Even a simple one-line mantra can suffice. Just something that can float into your mind, receive momentary attention, and circulate back again the next day. 

2. Letter writing — just because. I spent most of this past weekend going through boxes of old stuff. Everything from childhood toys to college class syllabi passed through my hands. But the things that captured my attention the most were the old pieces of correspondence I’ve collected over the years. Beginning with awkwardly scribbled, crayon-drawn greetings in elementary school, to gushing first love letters, to philosophical meanderings from kindred spirits I’ve met along my path, revisiting these writings touched me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Not because I doubt the power of the written word, but because when most of our words are currently expressed to the general masses, nothing makes you feel quite so special as a note intended for your eyes only. 

I’ve long argued that in a distracted, digital age, focus and attention on another individual is the greatest give you can give. 

Some of the letters I’ve accumulated came to me when texting or email were not an option. When the author wasn’t even sure I’d receive the message — and even if I did, they knew it could be months before they’d hear a response. Sometimes the letters spanned many pages. Others scribbled in the margins of post cards. Others were short, but poignant. All of them excited me when I received them then, and they fill me with immense gratitude as I reread them now. 

I invite you to dig into wherever you collect your correspondence and set aside some time to reread a few notes — no need to do it all at once; consider making it a weekly ritual. 

Perhaps, like me, you will discover perceptions of yourself that you never fully realized at the time. Or maybe it will remind you of the value of various relationships at different points in your life. Some words may bring up old, difficult emotions, but that is merely an opportunity to express more gratitude for having moved beyond that place. 

And if you are so inclined, perhaps this exercise will prompt you to write a few letters of your own. Letters to be added to the gratitude archive of other people in your life, that they can revisit over time. 

Words are precious. And when inscribed and shared intentionally, their meaning can reverberate for years. 

Thank you to everyone who has ever shared their words directly with me. I am grateful.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. Have you been meaning to reach out to someone in your life? Forward this to them and use it as an excuse to share some private words just with them. They will thank you for it — now, and far into the future. And I’d love to hear how you build your own gratitude archive in the comments. 

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How to Cultivate Attraction With Your Image

Attraction. It's something we all want more of in our lives, whether we're single or taken. We simply want to be wanted. At work, in the bedroom, socially — desirability is not overrated.

Endless makeover shows and popular monthly magazines capitalize on our insecurities around our personal attractiveness. As a result, we often feel publicly and internally polarized on the subject: "I'm too smart/savvy/empowered to bother with cultivating attraction. I'm more than a pretty face." OR "My aesthetic appeal consumes and defines me. I am addicted to the attention!"

Fortunately, there is a happy medium between complete indifference and superficial obsession. Investing in a mindful appearance and cultivating attraction is powerful, regardless of your relationship status. Studies prove time and again that we privilege attractive people — however, that doesn't mean you're screwed if you're not a model. Demonstrating care and thoughtfulness in the way you consistently construct and present your image resonates with your audience both personally and professionally. It's a tool for advancement, so ignore it at your own peril.

This year I've collaborated with several incredible, diverse dating coaches who are helping men and women find lasting partnerships — and they recognize that self-presentation plays a huge role in how and with whom they're able to spark initial attraction (and sustain it): The dynamic Sarah Jones, founder of Introverted Alpha, helps shy guys find love; Mike Goldstein, founder of EZ Dating Coaching, empowers women to attract the attention they deserve; and Esmée St. James, founder of The Dating Muse, coaches smart, serious men seeking a real connection.

Check out this video series I did with Mike, featuring conversations on how to create a fuss-free look, how to get a man to approach you, how to dress for a first date, and how sexy is too sexy. 

I also recorded a video with Esmée St. James on how to use style to attract women.  

What attracts us to to any given person is diverse and evolves over time — personality quirks, a particular body part, wit, even battle scars or shared experiences. There's no single formula for optimizing attraction. But mindful aesthetics and a commitment to projecting the best version of yourself does open relationship doors and serve as a bridge that allows all your invisible parts to earn their due respect.

Your image IS powerful. So work it.

What aspect of your appearance is your secret attraction tool? How have you consciously constructed an image that earns the work that you do the attention it deserves? What's your biggest challenge when it comes to image and dating/relationships? Tell me in the comments section.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. Do you know someone who is single and seeking? Share this post with them and help them build the confidence they need to develop the relationship they desire. Sometimes a little "mental makeover" and physical refresh is all it takes!

Want to upgrade your image and empower your life? Check out our men's and women's Success With Style program and start your transformation today. 

In Defense of Alone Time: Why Solitude Is Underrated

People often think I’m an extrovert. And I understand why: I love hosting parties and events, I have a rich social life, and I’m very comfortable speaking to large groups. But like a true introvert, I recharge in the quiet, solitary moments. It’s where I do my best thinking. It’s where I gain clarity. Creating ample time for solitude makes me a better person.

But the need to retreat is not exclusively the realm of introverts. Everyone — social butterflies and shy, silent types alike — needs regular time out of time, away from it all.


The value of taking time to retreat from the chaos of everyday life is something I talk about in my new book, Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.  There is value in being alone.  “Unbusying” yourself is a great first step, but it goes beyond that: Carving out moments of solitude — particularly when immersed in nature — provides a respite of mind/body/spirit. It also gives us the space to recharge and rejoin the social world stronger and better than before. Quiet retreat and contemplative reflection allows us to go deeper, think bigger, and act with greater consciousness. Sometimes limiting what and to whom we have access delivers the greatest bounty.

This week I am surrounded by the beautiful Idaho mountains. Normally a creature of the sea, I am struck by the marked difference in the energy of the two environments. The hypnotic roar and constant flow of the ocean yields an immense intensity, and it invigorates my body with its negative ions (negative ions, ironically, have a very positive effect on us). The mountains, however, whisper softly in calm stillness. The air is different up there. Serenity envelops you.

And while a week in the wilderness like this one is idyllic, it’s not always feasible. But it need not be all or nothing (so brush aside that excuse!).  Whether it’s a daily walk in a local park or a day trip out of the city, finding a way to escape the clamor of everyday life is worth the effort. Some extreme extroverts may resist — in a hyper-connected world, being alone can feel scary. We’re accustomed to chatter and constant validation of our every thought. So listening exclusively to your own voice, with no immediate external validation, may seem daunting. But you will reap the benefits when you do re-emerge back into the hubbub — carrying a piece of that solitary comfort with you.

“Alone” isn’t a dirty word. So relish in your own company. Luxuriate in solitude. And make alone time a priority.

I’d love to know how you create space for alone time — is it something that comes naturally or do you struggle with it? What does it do for you? Let me know in the comments section.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. If you know someone who values alone time — or someone who finds it challenging, share this with them. It may prompt them to prioritize regular retreats.

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My 4 month Packing Challenge (How to Create A Capsule Wardrobe)

Four months. Three seasons. One suitcase.

This was my challenge several months ago as I stared at my closet. I knew I wouldn’t have access to that closet for four months, so I needed to choose wisely. I was about to embark on a dual-hemisphere trip in which temperatures would vary significantly, as would my anticipated activities and lifestyle -- from hot days to cool nights and stormy conditions, and from professional and buttoned-up to beachy and outdoorsy.

Fortunately (after years of refining, purging, and careful purchasing), I operate with a capsule wardrobe that offers cohesion and simplicity -- and makes this type of packing far less daunting.

Maybe you’ve heard this term (it’s gotten quite a bit of buzz in the last few years, but there’s a lot of confusion around what it actually is and how to create it): A capsule wardrobe is a sleek, low-maintenance approach to creating subtle style variations by mixing and matching a tight, precisely chosen selection of pieces. It’s also a direct path to minimalism and streamlining your life.

All of which probably sounds pretty appealing. (Couldn’t we all use a little more low-fuss simplicity?)

The good news: A capsule wardrobe is available to everyone (both men and women), on any budget -- and you can start today. To make it as simple as possible, I’ve distilled it down to 4 key steps: Purge, Identify, Shop, Integrate. This is a process that recurs over and over (your capsule wardrobe is never complete, BUT it does not need to be updated nearly as often as a traditional wardrobe of individual outfits and one-off trends).

So besides being a Packer’s Paradise, what are the other perks of adopting a capsule wardrobe? I call them the 3 Cs:

  • CONFIDENCE: Increased confidence in daily selections

  • CLARITY: Clarity and speed when dressing

  • CONSISTENCY: Consistency in how you present to your audience

(Not to mention the money and time you’ll save with fewer shopping trips -- since you’re investing exclusively in quality items that you love and can actively use -- and spending less time battling “Nothing To Wear” Syndrome.)

I know when I do return to my closet shortly, I’ll eagerly begin another round of purging -- further refining my look and the sartorial tools I use to create it. But once you start the transition to a capsule, this process is more about subtle tweaks than an exhausting overhaul.

If you’re curious about what all the capsule wardrobe hype is about, are already sold on it, or still need some convincing, check out the videos (for men andwomen) that I’ve created to jumpstart your capsule wardrobe creation. I take you through each of the 4 steps, so you can start transforming your closet, your image, and the way you live today. 

Less really is more when it comes to the items in your closet. And decision fatigue is real -- even when it comes to seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed in the morning. Adopting a capsule wardrobe is about far more than looking good: it’s a dramatic life upgrade.

I want to hear your thoughts on a capsule wardrobe: What appeals? What seems most challenging? Share your triumphs, concerns, and questions in the comments below.

Yours,

Anna

p.s. Already sold on the capsule concept and want to empower other people to transform their lives by upgrading their image? (Or do you know someone who does?) Check out Style School, my new online course, and launch your own smart, savvy, heart-centric career as an image consultant today. (Pass it on to your fashion-minded, entrepreneurial friends! It might be the support and insights they’ve been looking for.) Questions about the course? Just ask!