Category Archives: Managing the Chaos

Friday’s Fave HEUCY Gal: Q&A with Executive Coach Merritt Tilney

With the start of school, and the return from our own version of “summer break” (I mean, truly, who really worked the last half of August?), we thought it would be timely to interview our friend Merritt Tilney.  Merritt recently left her corporate career to launch an executive coaching business that helps executives and key managers take their performance to the next level.  By building strong trusted relationships, Merritt helps clients gain self-awareness, fresh perspectives and new leadership skills to improve communication, decision making and performance.  She has some great tips for those of us who are considering a different path…and for those of us who just want to get better at what we do.

Be warned: Merritt is one of those people who can elicit envy in many people.  She graduated from Yale and Stanford Business School, and she looks like a supermodel.  She’s also incredibly smart, nice, witty, candid and really fun to be around.  Her full bio is at the end of this Q&A.  And some great career and lifestyle advice is right here.  Happy Friday, Gals!

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Hi, Merritt!  Can you tell us a little bit about your personal career journey, from the corporate world to a more entrepreneurial path?

It’s been a bit uncomfortable for me as an entrepreneur because I am not a huge risk taker. It took me a while to make the jump. Several years ago, I realized the part I liked best of my various management roles was working with individuals on leadership. Having my own business was crucial because coaching is so personal – you need to be the right fit for your clients.

And how did you take the leap?  Did you prepare your boss and those around you gently, or did you just pull the ripcord?

For me, it was a very gradual process but that’s not right for everyone. I decided to share my thinking with the senior leadership at my company because they were open to it. It worked out well because they were supportive and helped me with the transition. I was able to coach internally before I went out on my own. My advice on this front would be to try to leverage where you are so your new endeavor has the support of what you have done before.

Why, and how, did you decide executive coaching was the right place for you?

Throughout my career, there were times when I faced a challenge I was not sure how to address. I worked through them leaning on friends, colleagues and family. When I finally worked with a coach, I realized that having time carved out and the facilitation of a professional really helped. As a coach, it’s amazingly rewarding to see clients improve their performance and their happiness.

Now it’s time for some fun, personal questions.  We know you’re happily married with two adorable kids.  (Yours truly has seen this first-hand).  How do you find time for yourself, and for your spouse, in the midst of building a business and parenting?  Any tips for women who are constantly time and sleep-deprived?

This is a tough one. I work with so many clients trying to create some personal space and balance. One thing that has worked for me is to prioritize. Be ruthless; do fewer things, delegate and be ok with the A minus. There is a helpful blog post from Erik Barker http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/08/how-to-stop-being-lazy/ . Develop habits – it makes those things that are easy to skip (going to the gym, taking a few minutes of reflection) automatic. We all have a limited willpower but once it is a habit we don’t need willpower. Finally, really, REALLY commit to sleeping enough. The research shows that sleep deprived people can still execute rote tasks but executive function and creativity suffer. That creativity helps you deal with the inevitable meltdowns, whether kids or peers. With a good night’s sleep you may also find you are more productive because you don’t feel overwhelmed. I’ll come clean, for me getting enough sleep is still very much a work-in-progress.

On that note, tell us your favorite vacation destination.  Past, present and future.

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Before kids I loved going to a new city with my husband, my sister or a friend and exploring both the tourist destinations and checking out the local haunts. With kids, we try to avoid long plane rides and big time changes. Every summer we go to a very rustic cabin by a lake in the Adirondacks which provides a good balance to New York City. We hike, swim and canoe.

Do you have a “uniform” or go-to pieces in your wardrobe to accommodate the lifestyle of a busy mom/entrepreneur?

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I am a very simple dresser – think jeans or a casual dress (LOVE the Problem Solver). This works for kids and, with a blazer, my entrepreneur coaching clients. For corporate clients, a dress and nice pumps or in the Fall, boots. A great scarf can add some color to a basic black or navy dress.

Lastly, any words of wisdom for those of us who are still figuring out what our “second act” might be?  Are there good resources, websites, meditations we can reference?

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Be clear on your priorities and what motivates you. It can be hard to distinguish what we think we “should do” from what we really want to do. Be confident – too many women don’t give themselves enough credit. I hesitate to recommend a book because my bedside is a tower of books I haven’t finished but Jim Loehr’s The Power of Story is good. Loehr has worked with a diverse set of people – military, athletes, professionals – and has tangible tools to figure out where you want to go and more importantly how to get there. Some useful ideas include visualization and writing. A short period of meditation every day can feel like an impossible luxury but makes a huge difference. When I did a meditation class the instructor said, “If you don’t think you have the 5 minutes a day to meditate, you definitely need to meditate.” Gil Fronsdale at the Insight Meditation center (www.insightmeditationcenter.org) is a good place to start.

Merritt Tilney’s Full Bio:

Merritt Tilney combines extensive business experience with coaching skills to help executives and key managers take their performance to the next level. By building strong trusted relationships, Merritt helps clients gain self-awareness, fresh perspectives and new leadership skills to improve communication, decision making and performance.

Merritt has a strong understanding of different environments and cultures gained from 20 years in operating roles and as a management consultant. Merritt has worked in Marketing, Strategy, Operations and Finance roles at ETRADE, Citigroup, Gap and several start ups. Merritt holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and a MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. She completed her coaching accreditation through Columbia University’s Coaching Certification Program. She is a qualified administrator of the Hogan Assessments Tools and Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI). She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

This Week’s Muse…Girl Power

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As we mourn the end of Season 5 of “Game of Thrones”, we can’t help but call out for the show’s truest badass: Daenerys Targaryen.  Daeny (we’re on a first name, natch) is obviously a fictional character; I mean, while my kids do act like dragons from time to time, it is impossible to actually give birth to them as Daeny did at the beginning of the series.

Yep, she sure did.  And she raised those dragons, too.  Talk about parenting envy!

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Daeny has also walked through fire, eaten a horse’s heart, freed an entire slave army and now rules a country she invaded with the help of her loyal soldiers.  Oh, and she’s also fighting off assassination attempts 24/7, while wearing some of the coolest dresses we’ve seen on TV in a while.  In sum, Daeny is awesome.

If Daeny lived in present day, I have no doubt she’d be running a very large non-profit organization that helps disenfranchised people.  And she’d do at least five triathlons a year, while raising her dragons.  And we’d love her for it.

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So go on, gals.  Throw on a HEUCY Goddess dress and start your day thinking, I can conquer this day.  No matter what the week ahead throws at me, it can’t be more difficult than what Daeny puts up with all of the time.  Here are a few of our girl’s best quotes from the show, to get you through the plight of pre-holiday madness:

“I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” (Real life scenario: you’re eyeing the only seat on the subway during rush hour…and/or your vying for a promotion…and/or there is one piece of sushi left on the table and you’re determined to have it.)


Barristan Selmy: “The Yunkish are a proud people; they will not bend.”
Daeny: “And what happens to things that don’t bend?”
(Real life scenario: you’re having an especially painful customer service moment and/or you’re still on the subway.)

“The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands.”  (Real life scenario: you are being yelled at by a traffic cop…or someone else.)

Have a most empowered week, friends.

xx,

The HEUCY Team

Monday’s Musing: Motherhood

I’m sure many of you were celebrating, or being celebrated, yesterday for Mother’s Day.  Hopefully your day started with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, in bed, like mine.  Kidding!  I did get to take a nap, which was lovely.

HEUCY is all about celebrating women — moms, daughters, grandmothers, godmothers…the entire ethos of our collection is all about YOU.  We want to enable our HEUCY Gals to do all of the amazing things they do, unencumbered by synthetic, uncomfortable material or an outfit that won’t make it past 5pm.

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For those of you who are moms, you would probably agree that motherhood in this day and age is definitely not black and white; it’s complicated, busy, challenging, full and wonderful all at the same time.  Many of us have several different roles we need to fill throughout the day.  Which is why this article from The New York Times back in November really struck us.  It’s all about what “mommy-hood” has become in the 21st century, and how popular expectations for parents, and mothers, have become somewhat unattainable and unrealistic.  Here’s a link to Heather Havrilesky’s article, from The New York Times‘ November 9, 2014 Sunday op-ed:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/opinion/sunday/our-mommy-problem.html

We’re not saying we agree, or disagree…but it’s a great, interesting read.  Especially if you’re spending part of this day in line at the post office, or waiting somewhere else, and are in need of some quick lit and something to think about.  Besides waiting.  Hopefully you’re wearing HEUCY, so at least you’re comfortable.  Happy musing, gals.

xx,

The HEUCY Team

A Case of the Mondays…and Why We Should Play

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It’s Monday, and some of us are getting back to work after a spring vacation. It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel in a Panama hat and a HEUCY Alter Ego jumpsuit…and then reality sets in as the week begins. My kids were so excited to get back to school and, full disclosure, I was pretty excited to get them back too!

As I watched my daughter spend several minutes picking out her outfit and accessories, and literally skip to school…it made me think. When did I become so un-excited about returning to my routine? Why was I not running to the mailbox to pay the bills that awaited me? Why was I not dancing through the front doors of my doctor’s office for my annual physical exam? I laughed at all of the #caseofthemondays posts on Instagram today…but it made me kind of pensive, too. When did we (or I, sorry to pull you into this) lose that sense of joy that children have?

Fortunately, some very qualified people have also looked into this topic – specifically, the idea of play and its importance during childhood and beyond. Sometimes we work too much – or we think too much about working. Or, worst of all, we worry too much about basically everything. This has repercussions beyond just being sort of unhappy – it can actually affect your health.

Which brings me to a TED talk you must listen to when you have a chance. According to Dr. Stuart Brown, we actually need to play as adults. For sharp minds and healthy hearts. And lucky for you, HEUCY’s eco-friendly jersey fabric is the perfect material for work and play. And everything in between.

Have a wonderful week ahead.

xx,

The HEUCY Team

Managing the Holiday Chaos…and Looking Good While Doing It

It’s December 15th and I keep having to remind myself to settle down and just namaste through the holiday season.  Common phrases in my head include:  Focus on the present.  Don’t worry about FedEx Ground delivery schedules.  Don’t lash yourself for forgetting to bake cookies for the preschool holiday party and/or never baking in general.  (PSA: Entenmann’s cookies are nut-free and available pretty much anywhere).

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Why are we always rushing, rushing, rushing through this festive time of year?!

And the bigger question is, what can we do to stop rushing?  Is it possible?

Tis the season of major multi-tasking.  In an effort to help you all (and ourselves!) navigate the next few weeks, we wanted to highlight a new brand we love called STIKS COSMETIKS.  We met the dynamic ladies behind STIKS at our Soho pop-up shop on Friday.

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STIKS founder Laura Heilman, a single mom of 3 boys and a marketing executive, wanted a lipstick that looked good but was also functional.  So, she created one.  STIKS can fit into a back pocket, a flat wallet and/or a tiny clutch. The cap also has a flip-top, so you can apply it with one hand!  And do something else with your other hand (text…or, in the spirit of mindfulness, brush your hair or time your breaths).  And the packaging is mirrored, which makes it super-convenient for application while traveling.

We say, brilliant!  More holiday tips and tales to follow….until then, marinate in the madness and enjoy every crazy, full, chaotic moment.  Shameless plug: all of our styles accommodate a busy lifestyle, but the HEUCY #ProblemSolver may be the perfect dress for this time of year.  The drop waist allows you to grab one more cookie sans guilt or discomfort, and the loose silhouette is great for running around town…and/or decorating the Christmas tree…and/or navigating an end-of-year talk with your boss 🙂

xx,

The HEUCY Team

“Goodbye To All That” (In August Issue of ELLE)

87 days until launch

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Check out ” Goodbye To All That,” a great article that rings true to Heucy’s mission in the current (August) issue of ELLE by Meghan O’Rourke.  The author writes about breaking up with the clothes she had once loved. She talks about her younger self who sought out bargains for “office-y” things with the occasional spend for the quirky and most likely odd discount designer item. She writes, “[t]he result was haphazard: half of my closet cheap fast fashion that pilled or frayed, half of it idiosyncratic high-end pieces bough on sale.”

She realized that her older self needed a more refined, edited and chic wardrobe. Listening to her new impulses to “buy less stuff, but of a higher quality, to shop less often, but in larger batches; and to make sure that each purchase plays a necessary role.”

Meghan, you just need one more item in that beautifully edited closet – a Heucy dress!  87 more days…