All Posts in Brainfood

Brainfood, Tips+Tricks

Best Planners to Keep You Organized in 2017

Anyone who works with me knows that I’m a sucker for to-do lists. They help me stay organized and prioritize my to-dos, and in a fast-paced field like PR, that’s incredibly important. And while sticky notes are great, they pile up and can easily be misplaced. That’s why I’m a big fan of planners...yes, the ones you were given in grade school. Thankfully, there are a ton of really neat planners to choose from. Below are a few of my recommendations on planners to help you stay focused and organized this year:

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Brainfood, Quotes, Random Musings

Creative Challenge: Haikus!

“Brevity is the soul of wit” (Shakespeare). “Less is more” (Robert Browning). “Keep it simple, stupid” (Kelly Johnson). We’ve heard many things about brevity throughout our lives and in business, because sometimes you don’t need to say very much to communicate an idea or observation. That’s what makes haikus so fun to read -- and at the same time, so challenging to write. For last month’s creative challenge, Cutliners were encouraged to use haikus -- three-line poems with a 5-7-5 syllable structure -- to speak their minds. The results:

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Brainfood, Events, People

#Girlboss with Sophia Amoruso

A couple of us Cutliners recently jumped at the chance to hear Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, speak at an event put on by The Commonwealth Club. The session, #Girlboss, was moderated by Alison Pincus, Co-Founder of One Kings Lane. The discussion covered Sophia’s latest book, Nasty Galaxy, and gave us the inside scoop on her unconventional approach to style, philosophy and advice for #Girlbosses everywhere.

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Brainfood, Events, Random Musings

Redefining Design with Tristan Walker

A few of us Cutliners recently had the opportunity to hear Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands, speak at an event put on by The Commonwealth Club. The session, Redefining Design, was moderated by John Maeda, global head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic, and provided a fun and lively discussion around how brands are making products that are both visually appealing and highly effective available to all.

As always, The Commonwealth Club delivered! Tristan and John’s discussion was not only incredibly inspiring, but provided a number of valuable, actionable takeaways. Here is a snapshot of what we learned.

  • This was one of the best talks I’ve attended in recent months -- thank you, Cutline! I think, above all else, my biggest takeaway was related to empathy. More specifically, how critical it is to design empathetic products and hire or partner with truly empathetic people. It’s what makes us human after all. I’m also certain it’s one of the many reasons both Tristan and Walker & Company’s brand are so beloved. It underlines everything they do and stand for -- talk about inspiring!  -- Rachel

  • Tristan said something during his talk that has honestly changed my perspective. He was discussing when he first started Walker & Company, and how he had these ideas for the products he would sell. First, if you’re not familiar with Bevel razors, you NEED to check them out. Life changer. Although his ideas were truly innovative within the beauty market, particularly for people of color, many investors were hesitant to back his vision. Tristan said, “It was at that time that I realized, folks on the other side of the table might not be smarter than me, they just might not have the context I have.” This has made me really believe in myself, and given me a deeper understanding for others’ viewpoints. -- Shaq

  • What really stuck with me was Tristan’s philosophy around the phrase “culture fit” and the role a company’s core values can play in reducing individual bias. One of the first things he did when he started Walker & Company Brands was determine the six values he wanted to guide his company: courage, inspiration, respect, judgement, wellness and loyalty. During interviews, candidates are measured against each value; the same goes for performance reviews. In fact, everything Walker & Company does centers back to the values they have at the company. I love this philosophy and it’s an interesting approach to building and maintaining an inclusive company culture. I also am inspired to create my own list of personal guiding values to live my life by. -- Esther

Missed the event? You can check out the full conversation on YouTube. Enjoy!


Survey Says: Stock Market Investing is for Old, White Men…

...according to more than half of millennial women, as revealed by a new survey from *client plug* Stash and Harris Poll. Stash, a fast-growing investment app for millennials (available for Android today!), conducted a survey to gauge perceptions around investing. The findings revealed that nearly 80% of Americans age 18-34 don’t invest, and confirmed millennials still need -- and want -- education around how to start investing.

Not only do millennial women equate the typical investor to an old, white man (60%), but they find investing as a whole to be confusing (76%) and unrelatable (60%), suggesting they’re still in the dark about how to become an investor.

Millennials also believe it takes a lot to start. Seventy percent of millennials think they need at least $100 to start investing in the stock market, while 38 percent think they need at least $1,000, which shows us money continues to be a top barrier.

You might even say millennial men are more invested in growing their biceps than their investments! Sixty-five of millennial men don’t find investing in the stock market to be more fun than going to the gym. The same percentage of male millennials said it would be very important for them to decide which companies or funds to invest their money in, which suggests they crave choice when it comes to where their money goes -- and that automated investing platforms may be a turn-off.

Download the app now if you haven’t already, to see how Stash is finally breaking down the barriers to investing!

Apps, Brainfood, Technology

3 Mindfulness Apps to Keep Your Head Clear this Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Neighborhoods are beautifully lit, holiday parties are in full swing, the malls are packed with shoppers looking to take advantage of the latest sales, and every single flight to anywhere is fully booked. While the excitement is always fun, it can also get pretty stressful. For me, the biggest challenge has been finding activities to help me decompress and remain mindful. I’m a big fan of yoga, but with a busy schedule, it’s hard to find the time to go to a studio. Instead, I’ve found a few apps that have been a great supplement.

Check out my recommendations on the best apps to help you clear your head and avoid burning out this holiday season:

  1. Headspace (iOS and Android): Headspace is the perfect solution for busy people looking to clear their head. Simply create an account, choose a subscription, and gain instant access to a wide selection of mindfulness techniques, ranging from breathing exercises to guided meditation. With Headspace, you can even customize your session based on time limit, mood and lifestyle. Sign up for free, and get access to 10 ten-minute guided exercises to help calm the mind, or choose a subscription that unlocks hundreds of mindfulness techniques to choose from. The best part? You can access Headspace from anywhere: smartphone, tablet or laptop.

  2. Yoga Studio (iOS): Yoga Studio is my favorite app to practice Yoga while traveling or when I don’t have time to go to the studio after work. For $3.99, Yoga Studio offers 65 different classes that vary in level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), duration (15, 20, 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination), so you can easily find one that fits your needs. If you prefer a more customized approach to yoga, you can also create your own class by simply choosing the poses you would like to practice, and Yoga Studio will link them together to create a custom yoga flow and stitch together video clips of the poses (performed by qualified instructors) to create a full, flowing HD video tailored to you. Plus, if you’re in an area with limited internet connectivity, you can download the videos to your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV for quick reference.

  3. SleepCycle (iOS): While yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are key factors in helping to increase mindfulness, perhaps one of the most important factors is sleep. SleepCycle tracks your sleeping habits over time, and uses sleep cycle theory to wake you up at the right time for optimal rest. Just set a window of time for when you’d like to be woken up (rather than an exact time) and the app will wake you up during your lightest sleep phase. It costs $.99, and it’s the only alarm clock I use to wake up in the mornings.

What’s keeping your head clear during the holidays? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear!

Brainfood, Holiday

Wake Up! It’s National Coffee Day

It doesn’t take much to keep the Cutline Crew a happy, productive one -- motivation from the greats, inspiring clients, some snacks, and of course, caffeine to help fuel our engines while we slay the day. In honor of National Coffee Day, we’re celebrating the drinks, spots, and products that keep us going -- and coming back for more.
Alex Bar, Rome, Italy - As a study abroad student, I was in constant need of that java juice to keep me sane and alert between classes, traveling to a different country every weekend, and all other “when in Rome”-influenced shenanigans. Luckily, Alex Bar, right downstairs from our school -- and run by the sweetest old gent, who wore a black vest and bow tie on the daily -- was there for me quando avevo bisogno di un cappuccino and a tasty cornetto di cioccolato to give me a boost before class. Ask for it da portare via, and you’ve got yourself a cappuccino “to go,” i.e. in a clear plastic cup with foil for a lid. I’d give anything to be at Alex Bar right.this.second. -- Sarah

iKettle - Alright, I might not drink coffee, but I’m a mad tea drinker! I’m dreaming of the iKettle, which would let me control my next cup of hot water over wifi. Need to wake up to tea in the morning? Done. Want tea ready when you’re home? Done. The iKettle even knows when there’s traffic and can heat up the water a little earlier to help get you going. That, plus this adorable mana-tea (get it?) infuser, is the recipe for a perfect cup of tea.  -- Nena

Twix Frappuccino - I definitely don’t drink these anymore because it’s a sugar overload in a cup, but the Twix Frappuccino was my Starbucks go-to in college. Although it satisfied my sweet teeth, my favorite part of the drink was ordering it. Since it’s not on the regular menu, I’d have to state every ingredient in the recipe. The look on the cashier’s face was always priceless when I said, “Hi, can I get a tall, decaf caramel frappuccino with extra caramel, java chips, a pump of hazelnut, a mocha drizzle on the side and a whip cream blend?” Try saying that five times fast.
-- Jordan

My Keurig - I know people either love or hate these machines but, as they say, to each their own, right?! I happen to love mine. It’s a single-serve version so I don’t have to worry about water sitting around in a reservoir getting funky (which can definitely be an issue with these machines). And there are many varieties of eco-friendly pods that can easily be recycled (as well as this handy gadget and this cool program). I’m not a huge coffee drinker but I would definitely be lost without my Keurig. And eggnog lattes in the winter. -- Erin

Oslo Coffee Roasters - This tiny, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop makes the best lattes and cappuccinos in my neighborhood, Upper East Side (New York City), and I love that it’s just two blocks away from my apartment! Tucked away in a quiet street, Oslo is a neighborhood gem that helps me stay caffeinated all weekend. -- Hyeri

Philz - They had me at mint mojito iced coffee. Seriously. It’s the most delicious way to stay caffeinated. I love visiting their truck a few blocks from our San Francisco office and their shop in Palo Alto, which has a cool vibe and is walking distance from our client Pebble’s office. -- Rachel

Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Iced Coffee* - Is seriously a gift from the coffee gods. Basically it’s their cold brew coffee, but it also has roasted chicory and sweetened organic cane sugar. The chicory spice gives it a little kick, and that paired with the caffeine will keep you going all day. Plus they just opened a brand new location a block from the Cutline San Francisco office, which makes it all too convenient to pick up on my way to work. -- Shelby

Starbucks Coconut Latte - Since Starbucks brought coconut milk to their US stores, their coconut latte has been my go-to order. I’m not a big soy milk fan, so I was stoked about their newest dairy alternative  (I sound so San Francisco right now). -- Annie

Four Barrel Coffee - When I moved to San Francisco, my best friend warned me that the city would turn me into the biggest coffee snob. Living in the Mission, there are approximately 20+ coffee shops within eight minute walking distance. Lucky for me, I live RIGHT above the best one, Four Barrel Coffee. With their light roasts, beautiful ceramic mugs and mega hipster-Mission vibe, you will find me many a Saturday in this magical coffee spot. -- Shaq

Dunkin’ Donuts - As we all know, America runs on Dunkin’. And let’s be honest -- who doesn’t love a regular cup of Dunkin’ coffee with cream and sugar and a side of chocolate glazed munchkins? It’s hard being away from my family now that I’m on the west coast, but what’s even harder is not having a Dunkin’ within a mile of me no matter where I am! The good news is, they’re coming to San Francisco and you better believe I’ll be in line for their grand opening. -- Mishri

My House, My Favorite Mug, with Warm Milk and the Newspaper (in print!) - Mornings at my house are pretty insane. Getting three elementary school kids up, fed, dressed, lunches made, and on our bikes to school is a frenzy. Coffee during the week is in a to-go cup. But on the weekends when the kids are entertaining themselves with nowhere to go, there is nothing better than reading the paper with my husband, drinking not-terribly-special home-brewed coffee from my favorite mug on the patio in our backyard. Somehow I married a non-coffee drinker, but I still let him hang around! -- Megan

*Editor’s Note: This is also a favorite for the Cutline NYC Crew! There were cheers all around when Blue Bottle opened in our building earlier this year!


Laughter – It Works!

I am a big fan of laughter in the workplace. Not only does taking some time out for a giggle or full-blown belly laugh help break up the day, I find it refreshes my brain and makes it easier to focus (once I recover). In fact, a study from Loma Linda University School of Medicine found that laughter reduces serum levels of cortisol, dopac, and epinephrine - stress hormones that can block creativity and reduce productivity levels.

Thankfully, everyone who works at Cutline has an amazing - and unique - sense of humor, and no one takes themselves too seriously. That’s one of the many reasons our culture is so special. Here are some of my personal favorite, work-safe go-tos to bring on the chuckles.

  • Everyone’s favorite daytime TV host: In Cutline SF, we usually have the TV on throughout the day -- starting with morning shows and then ending with news shows. And at the glorious hour of 4pm, we tune in to Ellen! Hilarious little kids and celeb pranks are always good for a laugh. If nothing else, her dancing bit at the top of the hour always makes me smile.

  • ClickHole: This is my personal favorite for weird humor. ClickHole, for those who don’t know, is a parody website created by The Onion and modeled after BuzzFeed. Running the gamut of ridiculousness, there are tons of fake quizzes, videos and “articles”; favorites include, “Are you a dog person or an ant person”, and “10 hilarious chairs that think they’re people.” The people running this site are genius.

  • Giphy extension: Ever since fellow Cutliner Annie shared this, it’s been responsible for many, many laughs -- one time I even laughed so hard I cried. Like tears coming out of my eyes. And as Nena put it, you can really see a little bit of everyone’s personalities in the gifs they pick out -- whether it’s an adorable puppy, a pop culture reference, or a balloon that bursts and turns into a dancing man (what?!! Thanks Shelby.) I immensely look forward to happy company-wide emails and the gif storm they inevitably bring on. And, it’s now available as a Gmail extension!

  • My coworkers! One of the benefits of an open workplace is getting to hear your coworkers’ random musings throughout the day. I just keep my ears open and enjoy the witty and often weird things my esteemed colleagues say.

In case you’re curious for more reasons why laughing is the best, here’s a list of 30 benefits of humor in the workplace that an expert put together. Enjoy!


So Many Books, So Little Time

I watched a LOT of TV shows last year. You may think you watch too many shows, but I had a spreadsheet with a schedule of the 16 shows I watched on an ongoing basis. That didn’t include the countless hours I spent watching Real Housewives and Keeping Up with the Kardashians episodes while eating dinner. So, my new year’s resolution was to watch less TV and read a book a week this year! So far, so good.

Rewind to January 1. I’m thinking “I have to read a book a week?! One book. Every week. How will I choose what to read?!” I began searching for bestsellers and stumbled upon a story in The Atlantic about, a tool for discovering new books. I checked out the site and it seemed like Yelp for books: users can read/write book reviews and leave recommendations. Some of the reviews even have GIFs incorporated! I immediately created a profile and, based on my preferences, was recommended 15 books.

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Now, I’m obsessed with checking at least once a week to see what my friends are reading, determine what I should read next, join virtual book clubs, and win free novels. Ten weeks into 2015 and I’ve already read 18 books! AND the only TV I’ve watched is House of Cards season 3. I’m very proud of myself. I also convinced the Cutline team to join the site during our last Book Club meeting – we’re an office full of bibliophiles. Add me!


From the Page to Stage

Recently, a few of us were lucky enough to attend Pop-Up Magazine in SF. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a live magazine where journalists bring stories to life on stage using video, photography, audio, and music. From history and film to religion and relationships, the event covered all the content you’d find in a magazine in a brilliant new format.

We were blown away by the experience. Here are just a few of many things we learned and/or loved about the show:

  • Original, captivating music from Minna Choi.

  • Our fave QB, Colin Kaepernick, is the proud papa of a tortoise named Sammy that weighs over 100 pounds.

  • The three reasons characters are killed off in TV series: 1.) the actor wants to leave 2.) the crew wants the actor to leave 3.) narrative imperative (i.e. it’s essential to the storyline).

  • After the three-strikes law was amended, prisoners who were jailed for life due to minor offenses (i.e. stealing a pack of gum) were released. In some cases, prisoners had only the cloth jumpsuits on their backs.

  • The Farallon Islands in the Bay Area were once grounds for a war over eggs.

  • That only six U.S. states allow conjugal visits in jail/prison, with California and Washington having the most lenient programs in the country.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next event in SF, LA or NYC...we highly recommend it!