So, January is considered the Month of Health, when post-holiday, everyone tries to cut down on sugar and fat and joins the gym. This is understandable, as most of us (myself included) have just overindulged on scrumptious holiday food and cocktails for the last 4 weeks of the year.

The sad thing is that brands and the media have convinced us that cold or hot pressed vegetable and fruit juices are the key to a cleaner diet!

Oh, dear! I was a victim of this way of thinking until I met Dr. Lipman (https://www.bewell.com/about/), who informed me that I should stop counting calories and fat and pay attention to my sugar intake instead. Huh? But then I started to investigate, and sure enough, it turns out that your body converts any extra sugar (that you don’t need or burn) into fat! Plus, it’s the kind of fat that settles around your stomach and midsection!

The Problem (and it’s a BIG one)
Brands such as Odwalla claim that their juices help us feel our inner vitality! What? With 45 grams of sugar per bottle?! Yeah, I’ll definitely feel my fatty vitality after drinking this sugary drink for a month… In all honesty, continual ingestion of sugar will turn your body into grease (mostly around your belly). Worse, not only will your body turn into a marshmallow, but sugar tricks your brain into thinking that you need even more of it!
Jamba Juice offers a product labeled 100% fruit juice (whatever that means), including a Banana Blueberry smoothie with 45 grams (or 11 1/4 teaspoons) of sugar per serving! Yikes— a whole bottle could fuel a whole army for a week!!!

The Fix
Read nutrition labels and stay away from anything with more than 8 grams of sugar per serving. In fact, ideally, we shouldn’t ingest more than 25 grams of sugar per day.
Just FYI for those of us who like our morning coffee (I love my medium latte): a medium latte with regular milk contains about 1.5 teaspoons/about 8 grams of sugar. There you go—that’s about one-third of the “normal” sugar intake for the day! I’ll stop here, as you’ll have to calculate the rest of your sugar intake (morning muffins, scones cookies, etc.) for yourself!

One weekend morning, my partner and I were purging our closets (both clothing and pantry) of stuff we thought we should get rid of. We came across 3 Calphalon pans that we had stopped using because of the buildup of gunk and residue that had been deposited on those pans over the years. I’ll confess they were about 12 years old and probably not worth keeping, so they went into the “get rid of” pile.

The next morning, for some reason, my partner decided to Google the pan warranties, and sure enough, it said “lifetime,” which doesn’t mean anything these days.

Two days later, my partner decided to call Calphalon. Right away (without having to stay on hold!), he spoke to a very helpful representative, and without any fuss or attitude, he was informed that when Calphalon writes “lifetime warranty,” they mean it. We sent the pans back the next day, and 3 weeks later, brand new ones showed up! We still can’t believe the amazing service—or how quick and easy the process was.

The Problem
Not a single problem to report with Calphalon! As a matter of fact, I think other services and corporations should use Calphalon as a role model, especially when it comes to serving their clients. Those who fake “lifetime” warranties should immediately stop and not bother putting it in 6 point or less type with some disclosure mumbo-jumbo written by a sleazy lawyer.

The Fix
Not one single fix suggestion for Calphalon. All I can say is that I LOVE them! But if I want to call out those brands in my kitchen that need serious fixing, I’d add:

Samsung: One Saturday morning, we were woken by our co-op building super, who informed us of a water leak dripping from our apartment into the 4th floor. We went downstairs to our neighbor’s apartment and spotted the water leak right away. Sure enough, the leak was coming from our fancy, new fridge—which was only 2 months old.
Investigating the cause, we found out that there is (in my opinion) a design flaw with how the water feed connects to the back of the fridge. The pipe can easily kink when it is pushed against the wall. After calling the company we bought it from, we were told that this is not technically part of the fridge and therefore it was our responsibility to fix! What?!? My partner, who is quite the handyman, was able to find a replacement part at our local hardware store, and he hooked it up himself. It just pisses me off that a company like Samsung admits there is a flaw, but if it breaks, you’re on your own!

Electrolux: This concerns a dishwasher we purchased in 2007 (yes, 10 years ago), which we didn’t use much because for the first 4 years of its life, we were bicoastal. Not until recently (thanks to Sun Basket) have we made the time to cook at least 3 meals at home per week.
The other day, after a scrumptious Sun Basket meal, we cleaned up and got ready to use the Electrolux dishwasher, but it wouldn’t turn on: there was no power. We called the service center and were referred to a local service company that made us wait nearly 10 days before sending someone to take a look. After another 10 day wait, the service company called to tell us that the needed part was no longer available, so the dishwasher had to be fully replaced. What a waste!!! And that was the only answer we got after spending $55??? What serious lack of pride in service (and really, it takes 20 days to get an answer?).

I’ve lived in NYC for over 15 years now, in the Manhattan SoHo area and, more recently, in Brooklyn Heights. I absolutely LOVE New York, as I have access to museums, concerts, scrumptious food, bars, and, of course, fashion, beauty, and the hottest trends. People out of town often ask me how I deal with all that “stuff” around me on the streets as well as how I manage without a car or a TV!

Oh, dear… well, you learn to maneuver NYC’s streets: you walk fast, go straight, and stay on the right side of the sidewalk. Never lollygag… that’s what tourists do! You don’t need a car in NYC! If I need to get out of the city, I rent one, and if I need to travel anywhere in this world, an Uber can drive me to JFK. It costs $50, and I don’t have to worry about parking.

Lastly, you don’t need a TV because NYC is so entertaining! It’s so full of life and interesting people that I’ve never had the desire to get one.

The problem
The constant noise above our heads has become increasingly present in our neighborhoods. By that, I mean the helicopters operated by the media, tourist board, film production companies, and the NYPD. There is no rhyme or reason to their low hovering which can last anywhere from half an hour to 3-4 hours at any given time of the day or night. My neighbors and I, both at work and at home, have complained several times, but no one seems to pay us any attention as there seems to have been an increase, not a decrease, in the amount of low flying and hovering overhead.
What saddens me is the poor kids who are woken up in the middle of the night by frightening noises they don’t understand, causing them to cry or scream for their parents, who can offer no explanation for why these helicopters are flying and hovering so low.

As a general comment, I’m a Brooklynite, and I moved here for a reason: the best strategy is to be play in the city and go home to relax. But over the past 5-6 years, the neighborhood has changed. There are a lot more helicopters randomly hovering over our neighborhood, both day and night, but often between 2-4am. When it first started, I thought, “Oh, my God, something has happened,” and I would rush to the kitchen and turn on my laptop looking for the latest news or warnings. Nothing was reported, but much to my disappointment, the helicopters were still there at 3am, waking up the kids…

The Fix:
Our NYC and borough governments need to set restrictions on low flying and hovering helicopters in our neighborhoods. Leisure tours, news media, and film production helicopters should be restricted from flying at night or in the early morning. Of course, if there is an emergency situation, the NYPD should be flying over to make sure everyone is safe and sound.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my friend and I were having brunch in the Meatpacking district and discussing our favorite architects and their buildings, such as the Pompidou in Paris, Tadao Ando’s buildings in Japan, and, of course, Calatrava’s new building in downtown NYC. We then decided to go to the Whitney, a 5 minute walk from where we were.
This was exciting for both of us, as we hadn’t found the time to visit the new Whitney since it opened in 2015. On the way over, we discussed Renzo Piano’s amazing projects, such as the masterplan for Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and the New York Times building, among others.

Once we arrived at the Whitney, the line was manageable and the ticket purchase was pretty easy, but nevertheless, we were surprised by how few ticket stations were open on a Sunday afternoon. After buying our tickets, our excitement began to wane, eventually dwindling down to “not worth it.” 🙁

The problem:
We started on the 8th floor, where the Alexander Calder exhibit was on display. Only 3 public elevators and 1 service elevator were operating (the service elevator ended up being our favorite, as it’s super fancy!), plus no public staircases were usable except for an emergency staircase and an outer staircase from floors 8 to 5!
This created a super annoying bottleneck effect, with people confused and upset about the museum’s very unhelpful navigation system.
Then, the Calder show turned out to be a big letdown, as there were far too many pieces cramped into the tiny, poorly-lit space with clashing blue walls.
The museum’s flow was also off, as there were no orientation areas with clear, directional signs as to where to go next after being “dumped off” the elevators. The cafe/bar space also felt a bit odd, as it was unclear whether it was part of the Calder’s exhibit or not. There was a weird space planning vibe on the 8th floor that seemed poorly thought out (or was a last minute fix/change). I couldn’t help wondering, did a last minute bar/restaurant deal fall though, leaving the 8th floor to become a bar/restaurant/exhibit space that no one seems to understand and is hard to get to?

The Fix:
I’m not sure what to say, but one quick fix would be to move the 8th floor restaurant to the ground floor as a bar and snack area to serve as the “overflow” (or overbooked exhibits), thus rescuing the unsuccessful, untitled restaurant on the ground floor. This would make visitors aware of the museum’s services and give them the opportunity to stop in before or after visiting the exhibits. There is plenty of space in the ground floor area, and if needed, the gift shop could become a gift stand, similar to those in airports. Honestly, I didn’t see anyone exiting the packed freight elevator and entering the gift shop on the way out. This is a pity, of course, but consumers shop differently than they did 5-10 years ago—myself included at at hallon se mobil.

The directional signage needs to be a lot clearer at elevator exit points and inside the exhibits.
Staircases need to be re-worked in order to better guide visitors to the staircases. Making them more visible by tearing down some walls and replacing them with glass walls might help.
Last, but not least, change the lighting system: proper lighting is necessary to clearly illuminate any artist’s work. You want to make sure that visitors get the best view of the art on display, and therefore you should spend more dollars on the lighting system rather than the fancy painted freight elevator (though again, I thought it was the best part of my visit along with the staircase—once I found it ;-).

Have you ever been in a store and seen someone get arrested and escorted out in handcuffs by the police? I’ve seen it a few times and each time, I think, “You idiot, didn’t you see all the cameras watching over us?” Plus, most products have built in metal detector which sends off a signal if it’s not scanned at the cash register.

Where am I going with this? Well, having been in the creative service industry for over 20 years, we can’t really escort our clients out in handcuffs to the nearest police precinct if they walk away without paying. I understand walking away if a service provider doesn’t deliver as promised in the contract or if the drinks and food that were ordered weren’t delivered. But if that happens, it needs to be pointed out and discussed. But in so many cases, especially in the creative service industry, clients walk away way with fully delivered work that they then use to promote and sell their products but refuse to pay the agents that helped them get there. I’m talking about photographers, copywriters, illustrators, web developers, media placement companies, PR agents, and the list goes on. I’m so sick of hearing this: “Well, we ran out of funds,” only to learn that the CEO received a nice bonus and the company bought a private jet!!!

The fix: Don’t hire a creative and/or branding team if you think that your wife, sister, husband, brother, old teammates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, or any other relatives and friends can do a better job. If you’re serious, set a budget aside for the task at hand and research agencies that serve companies with similar budgets. Set aside that budget and make sure you don’t spend the $$ on things to impress the board, your clients, or on lavish Christmas parties. If you cheat anyone out of money, it will eventually catch up with you.

Take it or leave it!!

I grew up in a very athletic family (especially my brother) and I spent a lot of times in gyms and swimming pools where I often ran into members of the police force training either before or after the kids’ sessions (I saw them swimming, weight lifting, even playing volleyball). I was stunned at how fit and strong they were, and I remember telling my Dad how proud I was that our policemen could jump high, swim fast, and run fast. My Dad responded, “Well, of course! How do you think they will be able to save you or anyone if they aren’t fast and fit?” I thought that made absolute sense and it made me trust our police force.

Fast forward to 2017, and things ain’t the same anymore. What I see now are overweight out of shape, lazy, and rude policemen and women who I’d probably have to help in a disastrous situation. All they have now is a uniform and a gun, plus a lot of ego and attitude and no desire to help. I may be generalizing here, but on my work commute, I pass a precinct station daily, and I see this all the time. Half the guys seem barely able to make it up the stairs.

The fix: No officer should graduate without a workout program, nutrition education, family history, and a mental evaluation check (this probably happens), as after their graduation, the fact of their uniform and being able to carry a weapon can give them strange powers… and I’ll stop right there. Also, all officers, no matter their ethnicity or rank, should spend at least 6-12 months serving a nonprofit sector such as the arts (music, dance, liberal arts, etc.), education and healthcare, senior centers, or children/junior centers to truly understand their reason for being police officers.

Last but not least, a travel allowance that requires a passport would probably be beneficial, unless they’re working with cartels… Of course, I didn’t say that 😮

After 20 years working in the branding, marketing, and advertising industry, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the question of why brands — legacy, startup, and everything in between — make the same mistakes over and over again. I’ve seen the same mistake in all corners of the world, and it boils down to internal ego issues, C level greed, and financial corruption. At the end of the day, there is an excess of damage control while no one seems to know what their North Star is, all of which causes confusion, frustration, envy, and hatred within the organization. So, where am I going with this? Well, internal ego issues and the covert and overt lack of attention to the brand’s value proposition, promise, and customer service will always lead to a slow death. In some cases, it can take decades but in others, it takes a mere few months. As we all know, you can’t smell your own shit, but others can! In this case, I mean customers and consumers won’t tolerate the smell: by the time you wipe your bottom, everyone has left.

The Fix: Hire a mixture of talents of all ages, from Millennials to Baby Boomers, and create teams that span the age gamut. Hire an ethnically diverse team and refrain from hiring your friends and former colleagues unless you’re 100% sure they can perform their duties in a proper and economic manner, bringing their know-how to the table while leaving their egos and pre-conceived notions behind.

The leadership team needs to understand and respect diversity and be open to new ideas and marketing efforts from both internal and external teams. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but make them as fast and as calculated as possible.

I grew up in Iceland and was so athletic that my parents actually thought I was a unstoppable dancing, jumping, biking kid with way to many visits to the ER. My visits to the ER were so frequent that I was created with my first name when I arrived (some of the visits I can’t remember as I was unconscious). I played Valley Ball and was a professional gymnast and one time, I fell off the balance beam during training and landed on my back, bruising it from the tailbone all the way up to my shoulders, and the doctors said, “Oh, no! Not you again – when are you going to stop?”

I wasn’t the only kid that had experienced various injuries. All of the kids in my ‘hood” were active in sports and we loved to run around exploring the streets of Reykjavik and of course going to the countryside and exploring nature, which meant sometimes we’d bruise, break or cut ourselves and end up in the ER. No fuss, it just happened and no one would get upset with anyone or anything.

Where am I going with this? Fast forward to 2017. I no longer see kids with stitches on their foreheads or lips, or casts on their arms, legs, or fingers, or even bruised knees and toes for that matter. Does this mean that the parents don’t allow their kids to play and explore anymore? I’m not sure, I don’t see a lot of kids playing outside in NY or for that matter NYC…

The fix: Parents need to let kids be kids. Let them discover the world and let them play.
Fly your helicopter somewhere else.