Nerd Alert: Sephora’s New Pocket Contour Class is Kind of Amazing

There’s a fine line between pretty and prostitute. Love this one!

Contour1Beauty trends come and go, and right now, the hot trend going super mainstream is contouring. For a quick 101, contouring is the art of highlighting and shading to better define your face. Different than using a bronzer, which is supposed to add warmth to your skin, contouring (when done correctly) can really accentuate your face structure.

If you’ve been anywhere near a Sephora store recently, you likely know that they are on top of this trend, prominently displaying contour tools and palettes and offering contour mini makeovers. Always one to try out new products and techniques, I wanted to give this latest trend a go. But being new to contouring, I had no clue where to start…until I came across Sephora’s Pocket Contour Class, a mobile tool that you can use to learn how to contour your face shape.

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Make it Stop: Abuse of Literally.

I’m not sure when or where it started. Mostly, I have no idea how it started. But I’d like to do my bit to help stop it.

It’s understandable that social linguistic trends can undo the meaning of a word over time. So let me help:



  1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
  1. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
  2. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.


  1. The term “Mardi Gras”literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French.
  2. The actions of Amelia Bedelia in the book, Amelia Bedelia

I also get that abusing a word or phrase can be a kind of tick. As in ticks me off. To help correct the situation, here’s what I think when you use this word incorrectly:

1. I can’t help but wonder … are you really that dumb:


2. I’ve stopped listening to everything you say. I’m trying to picture what it means to “literally sleep for 1,000 hours”


3. Stop saying literally. Stop it. Stop it. You’ve said it in the same sentence 4 times and used it as punctuation. 


4. I’ve lost track of how many times you’ve used this word. Why did I start talking to you to begin with? Someone, please help me escape this conversation. Haha es-cape. Remember that time Dory… You’re still talking aren’t you?


5. At the close of our chat, I’ll likely not be able to recall anything you talked about. Your poor word use distracted me completely. 




My #BeautyBash Weekend with Benefit & Birchbox

Remember that one time I said I was having a party with really cool stuff thanks to Birchbox and Benefit Cosmetics? Well it happened this past weekend and I had a lot of fun treating my friends to a terrific lady day. It was a great excuse to cook, coat my house in pink and sip on some cocktails all afternoon while catching up with friends.

I’ve already blogged about what it was, so here are the photos!

#BeautyBash Benefit Brunch

#BeautyBash Benefit Brunch

#BeautyBash Birchbox Brunch

#BeautyBash Benefit Cosmetics Beauty Bar

#BeautyBash Beauty Brunch

#BeautyBash Benefit Sips

#BeautyBash Birchbox Brunch

#BeautyBash Benefit Brunch

#BeautyBash Benefit Brunch with #Wingwomen

#BeautyBash Birchbox x Benefit Brunch

The Power of Free…and Probably Instagram, too.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.55.17 AM

Birchbox and Benefit Cosmetics show the marketing power of free…and instagram in their #BeautyBash 2014 promotion

It’s been a little bit since I’ve written anything for this – not dead, just a tiny sabbatical where I’ve made the full transition as a work-from-home employee at AutoTrader. It’s been a lot of learning and a lot of fun. I’ve also been in Europe with friends, BBQing with neighbors and really enjoying all that a Michigan summer has to offer. Now it’s fall and my personal calendar alongside my professional one is filling up with tailgates, auto shows, data previews and fun parties. Speaking of fun parties, I’m taking part in one party happening nationally as part of two beauty companies teaming up to do something smart, big and fun all in one weekend.

Of course, I’m talking about Benefit Cosmetics teaming up with Birchbox to host #BeautyBash during national Wing Woman Weekend 2014. A few weeks ago, the two brands teamed up to offer 500 Birchbox subscribers the chance to win a party worth of a full face of makeup for five of their favorite wing woman weekend, sent party packs full of totally sweet stuff and launched a website with fun tips, tricks and cool resources to make these parties rockin’. Why would anyone go through all that work after getting a crapload of free makeup? The brands sweetend the pot by challenging hostesses to have the coolest party to win one of everything Benefit offers on

Let’s take a moment – re-read that last paragraph and if you haven’t mentally bowed to the marketing teams on both sides of this promotion, you should probably read one more time. These brands have essentially sent free products, logos and culture notes to 500 people across the country asking them to each have over 5 friends and expose them to their brand because it’s free and hey, party. When you think about it, that means there’s potential to expose 2,500 people to a brand IRL along with their social networks – because the prize is won by snapping shots and posting to Instagram with the #BeautyBash hashtag. So. Smart.

And ya know what? I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the brand’s sassy tone and culture. I’ve even turned every stitch of it into a craft. Check it here.

Point is, I’ve seen by following #BeautyBash on Instagram and even Twitter that free still means something and so does Instagram when it comes to visual marketing for high-end brands. I’ve had a lot of doubts lately about the power of social media, but this little venture has proved to me that brand marketing is still alive and well. I look forward to seeing how many brand advocates come out of this social experiment. Hat tip to the pros for this one.

My next great adventure


In July, 2010 (almost four years ago) I joined Livio for the chance to think big, work with a small team and move fast.

What I didn’t know is that I was signing on to grow as a professional in ways I didn’t know I wanted or needed to. I was coached, mentored, cheered and helped by a group of 13 of the most impressive people I’ve ever known who I deeply respect.  In these few years, I’ve gotten to do so much more like watch and sometimes help young pros grow (Jordan, Claudia, Jamie, Laura, Rachel), construct booths and host events in Las Vegas, write a product manual, work with Apple and the FCC, join boards, speak across the country about marketing a start up, pitch speaking gigs and awards for my super-duper smart colleagues like Joey, Jake, Massimo, Phil, Justin and Scott, I’ve made new friends (the rest of the Livio crew who I also consider super-duper smart Paul, Lisa, Mike, Tom, Nancy, and Joel) and even work through a start-up holy grail: acquisition. It’s been a blast.

But it’s time for a new adventure. So next week will be my last week at Livio. On March 3, 2014, I will start a new career with where I’ll continue to work in automotive public relations with their talented team from my metro Detroit home (they’re headquartered in Atlanta, GA). Stay in touch friends, it’s going to be another great adventure.

Blog like a woman

notsorry-a9fd7b5c575e4eac9ae9333117a82e912e07d74b-s6-c30She’s the one who refers to herself as a girl, uses a professional headshot to be cutesy and she gives unsolicited dating advice while putting herself down. She, my dear reader, used this latest post as what I hope to be nothing more than a keyword-stuffing spree.

She did not read my friend’s 2014 social media pledge and plea for online decency this year. She has an attitude that is on my list to tackle and talk sense into this year.

Friends, women, writers give me your eyeballs and please take into consideration my three tips to any woman who wants to be taken seriously and appreciated in 2014 (not 1950).

1.)  Don’t be sorry, be awesome. Perhaps what got under my skin most about the aforementioned blog post is the fact that the author highlighted her exciting life as a number one downfall. Who taught you to do this? I don’t care. My number one rule in my personal and professional life is that no one looks out for you like you. Life is short – why would I waste it positioning myself any way other than awesome?

2.)  Never, ever refer to yourself as a girl. Maybe it’s my latest Mad Men binge or maybe I’ve noticed the most Cro-Magnon of my counterparts liking the reference. It irks me when grown women refer to themselves or their friends as “girls.” Girls are immature, in constant need of care and guidance and have no control over their lives. Women have poise, purpose and control; we call our friends “ladies,” because they are.

3.)  Shut it down. Now. You can’t change the world or perceptions by coming back to a remark or problem days or weeks after something you don’t like has occurred. I saw the post today so I rebutted. TSA is onto something with their latest campaign and we can all learn from it: “see something, say something.”

So be strong and never apologize for being awesome. Change starts with you.

Boo Halloween

I’m going to say the thing people aren’t supposed to say: I don’t like Halloween. Don’t worry kids, we always buy grumpy-cat-halloween-sucksthe fun-sized (and full-sized) candy for our neighborhood visitors and love seeing the neighbor’s kids dressed as woodland creatures. Like like a lot of things adults wreck it. Before you tell me about how amazing it is to be anything or anyone for one day and other passé benefits pulled from Buzzfeed, understand that my reasoning is simple. I like you just the way you are, especially if you’re a brand.

PR is an industry where disguises make-believe communication games hurt more than they help. Don’t believe me? Think about the types of costumes we see people and brands wearing (at least) one night a year:

The “slutty” costume: People often opt to bear it all to showcase their best [back] side and don costumes like sexy pizza (yes, really). The brand slutty costume usually manifests in the form of cheesy communications and total lack of creativity. Brands will send emails titled, “deals worth screaming for,” or turn senior management into Frankenstein with the magic of photo editing tools and post to social media pages. Resist the urge, friends use that big ol’ brain of yours and think creatively to showcase your best [ahem] assets. Look to examples from those who got it right this year like NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Adobe’s Photoshop and the smarties over at Ghost Cam+.

The overdone or pun costume: This one makes everyone angry. Even Freddie and Jason get more violent than usual when someone shows up to a party wearing paint swatches claiming to be 50 Shades of Gray. Since we already know what the fox says, when you show up wearing ears and a groan-inducing sign I’ve already decided to avoid you for the night. A pun has an incredibly short lifespan and it’s important for brands to remember. When done in a timely and cleaver fashion, I’m paying attention, laughing, clicking and likely doing whatever else you’re aiming for me to do. When you’re too late to the party, you end up getting more people to avoid and dislike you before even listening to your message or just get lost in the noise yet again. If you move too slow and release the communication after we’re sick of the pun it’s as useful as doing nothing. Think of the eyes rolling if you released your version of The Harlem Shake today.  Look to South Park as a brand that is able to nimbly comment and respond to trends quickly. How can you keep up? Work with your team to develop a plan to identify and react quickly to pop culture trends.  Skip emails. Talk to your team directly (skipping a face-to-face conversation in unacceptable with the availability and numerous ways to video chat).

The “I don’t do costumes” costume: The only thing more annoying than the above at a Halloween party is the person who shows up without a costume. If you’re not the costume type, avoid Halloween parties and the bar scene where they’re expected to be seen. Brands, I beg you, please don’t release “spooky” news on Halloween unless your brand has a reason to. For example, Pandora is always good for an announcement about most-played Halloween artists or an email housing great (kid-safe) music to play for trick-or-treaters. released a funny and number-packed infographic about Halloween purchase behavior. Film production companies usually release numbers on Devil’s and Halloween night movie sales. Those brands belong at the party because they have information relevant to both the day and the brand. Don’t be a poser.

Here’s my point: be yourself. Year round. If your brand’s voice is witty and laden with pop culture references, keep it that way year-round instead of potentially losing your message in a poorly constructed costume. I like you just the way you are.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success

Life throws you for loops. Sometimes they’re good; sometimes they’re bad, other times it’s hard to tell right away. Back in June when I wrote about getting a BMW, (BMW = someone you can bitch, moan and whine to) I was overnight-successreferring to the group of strong, smart, hardworking women who I’m proud to call my friends. From finance, marketing, public relations, social media and even a musician. I’ve learned more these past few weeks by simply being around them.

Life is impossible to plan completely. Turns out that impossibility is what makes the ride worth taking. So here is advice from some of the smartest people I know: my BMW’s.

  1. Your goals are for you and no one else. My friend Amanda is the one of smartest, toughest, hardest workers you’ll ever meet. Recently, we talked about the importance we personally place on goals and how hard it is to create new ones after reaching old ones.  We also talked about how our family, friends and strangers on the street have no problem telling us what they think our goals should be. Forget career, friendship, community involvement and the overall ability to be an independent woman. Someone else is always going to have a different vision for you than you. If you want to be (or stay) happy, your job is to pay attention to the vision you have for yourself and work your ass off to get there.
  2. There’s no such thing as an “overnight success”. Just ask my friend Maggie. She left college early to move to Los Angeles and pursue her dream of making music for a living. Ten years later, she’s still working hard. Whether she’s waitressing, teaching violin or making music, she’s managed to remain committed to her passion even though there wasn’t an immediate payoff. No trip worth taking gets to the best part right away; believe in you no matter how long it takes to get there.
  3. You can have it all – whatever “it” is. This one is especially hard for me to remember.  Luckily, my eternally wise-beyond-her-years friend, Angela is happy to remind me. She’s one hell of a PR pro, a former Miss Michigan crown holder and a mom to two wonderful little girls. I’ve learned a lot from this friend: nothing is simple, nothing is easy but without her added complexities she’d still be chasing “it.” It’s also great to spend time with another woman who believes that and demonstrates our gender is never a limiting factor for our lives. The only way you can get the lifestyle you desire is by working hard toward each piece of it, one piece at a time, all the time.
  4. You’re awesome. This was the response Jennifer gave during a job interview when asked why she should be given the job opportunity. She was only half-kidding and went on to give an honest full response as to why she was awesome for that particular position (and landed the job). The truth is, she is awesome. She has (and has always) had enviable levels of self-confidence and a great screw-you-if-you-don’t-agree attitude to go with it. Want someone to believe you’re awesome? Start with yourself.
  5. It’s never too late to make a new plan. My friend Margaret has spent the last seven years as a New Yorker hustling in social media marketing for fashion, travel and web development. It was fun but she and her husband got sick of the city and longed for a yard for their dog and space for themselves. What did they do? They picked up and moved to Liverpool without jobs or a house to live in. Now they rent a great house outside the city complete with a yard, urban lifestyle offerings and an adventure to share. They’re both looking for full time jobs but have managed to sustain themselves with freelance work and are happier than they’ve been in a long time. If you think you can be happier somewhere else, doing something else make a new plan and do it.

The next time someone is introduced as an “overnight success” remember one thing: it’s only offering insight into how little the introducer knows about the person who worked their ass off to get there.

Up in the Air: Don’t Touch That.

This past month, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at not one, but two conferences touting the Livio way and how we roll when it comes to marketing, public relations and events. Not too shabby for a business-to-business automotive infotainment company. germaphobe

Instead of talking about new cool SEO tactics or social media epiphanies, I’m going to share some tips from people I never expected to get advice from: a flight attendant and an airline pilot.

During two of my six flights from Flint to Boston, Boston to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to San Francisco, San Francisco to Detroit and Detroit to Flint trips, I sat next to a flight attendant for an airline and a pilot for another airline.  I won’t say names or airlines because they gave awesome (actually pretty gross) advice but would probably get into trouble if I named them. For the sake of this blog I’m calling them “Judy” and “Carl”.

In my time with these air pros, “Judy” and “Carl” both offered superb advice that will change my habits and hopefully avoid travel-related sickness in the future:

  1. Never drink the coffee. According to Judy, the coffee served on a flight isn’t necessarily bad, but the stagnant water used to make it in a dirty coffee maker is. She swears the only reason she doesn’t get stuck with some cold/sinus infection is because she skips the coffee.
  2. It’s not a new plane. According to Carl, although a lot of the planes used in ____ carrier’s fleet look new, they aren’t. Turns out airlines are finding better, cheaper ways to keep these babies clean.  They’re called cleaning crews.
  3. Never go bare. Both “Carl” and “Judy” shared that the floor at security is rarely cleaned – especially if it’s carpet.  While flip-flops are speedy and convenient for going through the check, it’s also a great way to pick up foot fungus or warts. Wear anything that requires socks, and then burn the socks.
  4. Stick to hand sanitizer. Even if your plane seems “brand-new-clean” the bathroom isn’t. In fact, the soap is rarely changed and that same water you won’t drink for coffee is pumped out for you to wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer to get you through the flight and wash your hands in a bathroom on the ground.

Safe (germ-free) travels, my friends!


super-excitedThe past three and a half years have been a wild ride at Livio. From marketing and publicizing consumer products, to a total rebrand, to launching and marketing business-to-business in-vehicle infotainment middleware products, no two days have been the same.

It’s been fun helping to write one chapter and turning the page to write the next: Livio was acquired by Ford!

Here’s the skinny:

Ford Acquires Software Company Livio to Further Advance In-Car Connectivity Leadership

  • Ford builds on in-car connectivity leadership by acquiring startup software development company Livio
  • The deal allows the companies to share technologies, intellectual properties and engineering talent as they work toward creating an industry standard for in-car connectivity
  • Industry standard would give app creators a single platform to work with, resulting in faster development of higher quality apps for consumers to safely access digital content on the go
  • Ford has been the industry leader in in-car connectivity systems since the 2007 introduction of Ford SYNC®; by 2015, more than 14 million vehicles worldwide will be equipped with SYNC and 7 million with SYNC AppLink, which lets drivers control mobile apps with their voice 

DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 26, 2013 – Ford today announced it will acquire Livio, a Ferndale, Mich.-based software development startup. The move will further extend Ford’s ability to meet consumers’ growing demand for safe, seamless access to the electronic content they love while in their vehicles.

Livio builds products and software tools to support smartphone/car connectivity and has a strong track record of creating in-car connectivity solutions. Ford’s purchase of Livio is designed to accelerate innovation by providing access to each other’s talented engineers and unique intellectual property, as well as enabling both companies to work toward developing an industry standard for smartphone-to-vehicle communications.

“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.

Ford and Livio are joining forces amid explosive growth in the connected car market. Last year, more than 1.9 million vehicles were delivered with smartphone integration solutions, such as Ford SYNC® AppLink. That number is expected to reach 21 million vehicles by 2018, according to a June report from London-based GSMA, which represents the global mobile industry, and data from SBD, a London automotive technology consulting firm.

Creating an industry standard

Livio’s software-based, advanced vehicle information and entertainment solutions improve the connection between software and hardware. Now, they will help Ford standardize the way customers connect their smartphones to their vehicles.

Ford previously contributed Smart Device Link, the open source version of AppLink, to the GENIVI Alliance for use by app developers.

A single vehicle interface standard gives developers the opportunity to write software faster and more efficiently, providing customers the apps they want to use more quickly. Livio software already is compatible with several commonly used apps and works with all major smartphone devices.

“At Livio, our philosophy is centered on bringing customers more connectivity with less hassle,” said Livio CEO Jake Sigal. “We believe this partnership is an excellent match, as it will give us the ability to work with Ford to provide customers even more access to new technologies in the vehicle infotainment space.”

Livio, co-founded by Sigal and Massimo Baldini, will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Global Technologies, which manages all aspects of intellectual property for Ford. Livio will function as a separate department within Ford Electrical/Electronic Systems Engineering, while integrated into Ford’s overall connectivity operations. The deal gives Ford access to a broad group of application developers, while enabling Livio to maintain its independent and entrepreneurial approach.

“Ford is acquiring Livio to advance connectivity for our customers and to lead the way in in-vehicle connectivity for the entire automotive industry,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies.

SYNC and AppLink pioneering in vehicle connectivity

With its SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface, Ford was the first automaker in the world to launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with a vehicle and create apps to enhance the driving experience.

Since SYNC’s debut in 2007, Ford has been the automotive leader in in-car connectivity systems. In 2011, Ford reached a milestone with production of the 3-millionth SYNC-equipped vehicle. By 2015, Ford will have more than 14 million vehicles on the road worldwide equipped with SYNC and 7 million with SYNC AppLink.

Consumer demand for robust in-vehicle connectivity is rising, as the technology and automotive worlds continue to intersect. Ford customers have opted for SYNC and MyFord Touch® on nearly 80 percent of 2013 Ford vehicles.