Fresh Reads: The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg

Most of my books are non-fiction, usually written by an entrepreneur I admire in some way. Every single one of these entrepreneurs has worked hard to achieve their dreams, and yet every one of them is vastly different from the next. Like every girl, I've admired Diane von Furstenberg for her style, charisma and that iconic wrap dress. To be honest, I didn't know much about her until I picked up The Woman I Wanted to Be, her latest book. Little did I know what an introspective look I'd get into the life of a real-life princess!

This is probably the first book that caught me uttering the words, "Girl, you have a charmed life." But that's only the half of it! In The Woman I Wanted to Be, Diane takes us through her life from four different lens: family, love, beauty and fashion. Naturally, the fashion part is a lion's share of her story, but you really understand how the soul inside the lady and the business have evolved together throughout the entire book.

You can't help but wish you were a part of Diane's inner circle as you read through the book. She speaks so fondly of everyone who's touched her life in some way, no matter how far back they go and whether or not she sees them anymore. Her fierce love for her family translates deeply into her business - and stems from the well of fierce love she's cultivated for herself through the years. 

What was my favorite lesson learned from Diane? I loved how she's owned every part of her life. Daughter. Mother. Sister. Cancer survivor. Inexperienced but wildly passionate entrepreneur. Jetsetter. Lover. Comeback kid. She repeats the message of 'becoming the woman I wanted to be' throughout the book, as well as her mantra, "Love is life." No matter how dark or bright her life might be, Diane knows love is the motivating factor in everything, and her journey of loving and finding herself has made for one truly enchanting life.

Check out Diane von Furstenberg's The Woman I Wanted to Be.

Fresh Reads: The Daily Love: Growing into Grace

How many newsletters are you currently subscribed to?

Lord knows I've got way too many in my inbox, and no matter how many times I hit that unsubscribe button, even more find their way into my email. They're like weeds!

The one newsletter I've held onto like a dear friend is The Daily Love. Written by Mastin Kipp, TDL is like a daily coffee date with the one friend who tells you everything you need to hear but - for whatever reason - don't want to. I never really saw myself being into the self-help genre, but I've always been into Mastin's raw, unapologetic writing style. While he's very much categorized in that same genre as the people he looks up to (Marie Forleo, Gabrielle Bernstein, etc.), he's always come across as genuine and honest to me.

That's not to say they don't. Mastin just has this "take me as I am" realness and confidence about his writing that sets him apart from the others. His ability to connect with his readers stems deeply from his candidness about his own insecurities, fears and serious life fuck-ups. He's been to his personal depths of hell and back, and not only has lived to tell about it, but he's using his experiences as a way to help others get past their own fears and hang-ups (me included.)

The Daily Love book, The Daily Love: Growing into Grace, Mastin Kipp
The Daily Love book, The Daily Love: Growing into Grace, Mastin Kipp

I've been reading The Daily Love for at least five years, and was so excited to hear that Mastin was taking his new book, The Daily Love: Growing into Grace on a special workshop tour with a stop in Seattle. I probably could've spent that Friday night in October doing a million other things, but there was no place I'd rather have spent those three hours than from hearing from him in person.

The Daily Love: Growing into Grace
The Daily Love: Growing into Grace

Just as I'm a fan of The Daily Love newsletter, I loved this book and devoured it in less than a week (which is unheard of for me nowadays!) All the pieces of Mastin's life we've been exposed to in the TDL newsletter - his rise & fall in the music industry, hitting rock bottom, getting perpetually "friend-zoned" by the women he met to falling in love, meeting Oprah and putting his all into The Daily Love - that's all woven together with some serious life lessons for us to learn from.

In the workshop and in the book, his story culminates in finding Grace and Love in the throes of despair and devastation. He shows us that success is what happens after we've survived all of our mistakes. That following your bliss is a serious bitch sometimes. That you should always seek to help others in order to find growth and opportunity yourself - and that your intentions should be pure, not with an agenda. That fear isn't the opposite of love, but rather a compass telling you where to go. That fear should fuel your courage to do what you most need to.

My favorite concept from the TDL book and workshop was of "spiritual entertainment." Basically, that all the retreats, workshops, books and articles we're consuming are nothing to us if nothing changes in our life because of them. If you ever feel yourself forgetting something as quickly as you're inspired by it, you know what spiritual entertainment is. While it's great to bring all of those things into your life, it's most worthwhile if you take immediate action and ask better questions to improve your life because of those things. As someone who is forever overwhelmed and striving to cut back on everything I'm 'consuming' online (that's another blog post), this has totally stayed with me since the workshop and reading the book. I'm doing my best to make choices tied to action and not just because it's something I saw on Facebook, Twitter or in my inbox.

You can pretty much pick your poison when it comes to the self-help guru who speaks most to you. TDL is just right for me, and I'll be subscribed for a very long time!

Check out The Daily Love: Growing into Grace book and The Daily Love website.

Fresh Reads: Unlabel / On Reconnecting w/Your Core Strengths

Being sick at home all week sure has its perks. I've been battling what seems to be a cold and nasty allergy cough, and rather than force myself out to spread some germs, I canceled everything on my calendar, moved meetings to satellite calls and gave myself some self-imposed cabin fever. While at times it drove me nuts, not having to go anywhere left a lot more time to get caught up on things like emails, reading and writing. I'd started Marc Ecko's Unlabel last fall; after seasons of slowly making my way through, I powered through the second half of it in one night this week. Boy, was it worth it!

For those who don't know Marc Ecko, he's a cultural ingenue in the realms of streetwear, hip-hop and graffiti. Most famously, he's the founder and face behind Ecko Unlimited and its family of streetwear collection brands as well as the figurehead behind Complex Magazine/Media. As Unlabel will show you, Marc's had many other endeavors in art, video games, high fashion and more. He weaves all of his entrepreneurial successes and failures into a brilliant story on personal branding and starting your own business. He even appeals to the analytical brains by conveying his points with an algorithm; each chapter highlights one piece in this algorithm that eventually comes together in a formula for 'unlabeling' yourself.

As you can imagine, a white Jewish kid from Jersey had a hard time establishing a name for himself in graffiti culture, then in streetwear, then in mainstream fashion. This is where the 'Unlabel' flame is ignited. Ecko shows how he overcame the presumptions and the hardships put in place by the 'gatekeepers' of these 'scenes'; that despite what label one might place on him, he didn't have to live in a box, limited by what that label meant.

I could go on forever about all the things I resonated with in Unlabel - the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship, personal branding, being a creator, breaking down barriers, being vulnerable, thinking strategically, etc. - but what struck me most was his consistent return to 'remembering your core strengths.'

That could be your most popular, best-selling service or product, or it could be the passions, personality traits and skills you know you're strongest in. No matter how far Marc strayed, he always came back to his core strengths.


How often do we stray from our own core strengths?

I do it all the time. Anyone with a smartphone or internet access can probably say the same. I started this sick week almost bored from forcing myself to rest and not knowing what to do. I didn't like anything on TV, so naturally I'd reach for my phone and scroll endlessly. After reading Unlabel, I thought about all the things I'm truly passionate about doing (besides working out.) Reading, writing, blogging, marketing. I should never be bored b/c there's always something new to read about, try, analyze and try again in those four fields alone. Return to your core strengths, Jess.

So while Unlabel was a great marketing / personal branding read overall, I thank Marc Ecko for renewing that fire within me. Sometimes it takes a little sickness and some quality reading time to re-anchor ourselves to what's truly important to us.

Check out Unlabel here.

Show Up!

I write about "showing up" every year, usually right after I've read Bill Gates Sr.'s Showing Up for Life.

Here's last year's, which is so good I almost just sent around the link to it instead of writing this! I haven't read the book yet in the 2014, but the concept came up in so many ways in my life just this week I couldn't resist writing about it again. Simply put, when we 'show up', we move towards success. 'Success' is purposefully ambiguous in this sense - it means and looks different to everyone and in different situations. Showing up seems like such a simple, almost novel thing that should naturally be instilled in our lives - and yet it's the very thing that sets apart the hustlers from the pack. 

We pay a lot of lip service to the things we want to do in life: Get fit. Eat healthier. Travel the world. Not be afraid of handling our finances. Blog regularly. Now think about what most of us are actually doing with the majority of our time. Working, right? If you're anything like me (the self-proclaimed captain of Team Naptime), sleeping takes up its righteous chunk out of your day too. When we're working and sleeping all the time, it's easy to forget to show up for the things that truly make us come alive. They're the projects that get put on the backburner 'for when you're not as busy; the friends and family you'll call eventually; the run you'll go on when it's not raining. You feel me? 

Image via Lifehack

I've blogged A LOT about my transition to a healthier lifestyle. I'm over a year into it and it still isn't smooth sailing. Nothing that's worth it ever is, right? No matter how long it's been since I worked out or had a smoothie, I still show up. You think I like getting up at 5:30a.m. every morning for a workout? That voice inside my head that's clawing for excuses to stay in bed is so seductive, but I love the feelings that come from completing that workout I'm getting up for even more. Having the rest of my day to everything else in my life. The adrenaline that powers me through my morning. The fact I'm up and about so early. I'll show up for all that. 

Sometimes I'll hear the phrase, "How've you been? Looks like you're everywhere at once!" when I see someone I haven't seen in awhile. Man, how I wish that was really the case. I still do my best to only commit to events, blog post coverage and things that I truly can show up for. If I can't come to the event or don't have the time to write a blog post that does your product/service/event justice, I won't commit to it. It's not really showing up if you're half-assing or doing it sloppy. The ability to say 'no' is a skill I'm always sharpening, but in doing so, I know that I'm always putting quality stuff up here on Fresh Jess, and I also know that I'm not overexerting myself. 

Show up to support the friends, causes and brands you care about - but also show up for yourself and make sure you're taking the time to slow down, reflect and take care of yourself. I'll leave you with a couple of things. First, a highlight reel featuring Ultimate Fighting Championship's marquee lady fighter, Ronda Rousey. She's been the face of a new leaf the UFC's turned over (allowing women to fight), and I so admire her hard work and determination. Ronda shows up. Looking forward to seeing her fight tonight!

Do yourself 100 and show up for a healthy bod and lifestyle!