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The J. Margaret Weaver Journal

Happy International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day!

Growing up, I was influenced and inspired by many amazing women.  This started with my mom, who spent hours with me reading books, teaching me to cross-stitch and then to sew, and molding my character.  Throughout my school years, I had the privilege of learning from caring educators; women who fostered a love of math, a passion for English and literature, and an obsession with logic and problem solving.  From grandmothers and aunts to neighbors, friends, colleagues, and mentors, there are so many women I could thank and recognize for investing their time and energy into me.

And, thank you so much for being here - I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of each of your lives.  Your ideas, encouragement, and honesty have been instrumental as I’ve navigated this entrepreneurship journey.  Not only has this been a period of personal growth and learning, but it has also been an amazing opportunity to meet so many of you either virtually or in-person and hear your ideas and suggestions.  

One of my favorite suggestions - shared by Jackie Challoner and a team of students at Miami University - was to name each piece after an individual who is connected to someone in this community.  The Mimi blouse is named after Jill’s grandmother, Helen, the Huguette clutch honors Christina’s grandmother, the Barbara dress was named after a mentor of Becky’s, and the Kathleen top highlights Laura’s mom.  You can read each of their stories at the links below.

Meet Mimi and Jill

Meet Huguette and Christina

Meet Barbara and Becky

Meet Kathleen and Laura

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Behind the Seams: Meet Jill and Mimi

Behind the Seams: Meet Jill and Mimi

Behind every successful person are others who have poured their wisdom and perspective into them.  The Mimi shirt is named after Jill C’s Mimi, someone she describes as being instrumental in her life. Mimi has inspired Jill, a successful healthcare leader as well as one of our fit models and design contributors, to be more confident through her curiosity, wise perspective, bluntness, and extroversion. 

As we learned more about Mimi and the impact she has had on Jill throughout her life, we became confident that she was the perfect person to recognize.  Described by Jill as someone who “doesn’t know a stranger and a hard worker who has overcome incredible life challenges”, she has been a role model for Jill, helping her navigate challenging career decisions, encouraging her career aspirations, and celebrating with her on the recent birth of her first great-grandson.  

We are grateful for Mimi and the people like her who inspire us every day.

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Behind the Seams: Meet Christina and Huguette

Behind the Seams: Meet Christina and Huguette

Behind every successful person are many others who have poured their wisdom and perspective into them.  The Huguette Clutch is named in honor of Christina's grandmother, someone who not only showed her the rewards that come through hard work and dedication but who also inspires her every day in her faith, in loving her spouse, and in caring for other people, including the patients in her dental practice.

Christina shared the amazing example her grandmother, Huguette, set for her, centered around the loving, stable environment she created for her family through prayer, commitment (she's been happily married for 63 years!), and the pursuit of knowledge.  After having two children at a young age, Huguette returned to school for her GED, even though at the time that was rare for anyone to do - especially a woman.  

According to Christina, Huguette dedicated her life to “caring for her family and working hard to give them things that she didn’t have growing up. She always worked hard, remained humble and loved the Lord. Even when times were tough, she would lean on Him, knowing He would provide and protect her family.”  

Christina has wonderful memories from her childhood with her grandmother, especially in her beautiful gardens where Huguette not only shared her green thumb but also talked about the importance of family and faith.  She continues to enjoy spending time with her today.

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Behind the Seams: Meet Kathleen and Laura

Behind the Seams: Meet Kathleen and Laura

The Kathleen Top is named after Laura's mom, someone who has been a lifelong inspiration to her and is her "favorite person on the planet".

Laura shared the impact of her mom’s permanently positive outlook on life regardless of the situation.  As an Army BRAT growing up, Laura’s family moved every few years.  Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of Army life, her mom told imaginative stories to Laura and her brother that focused on finding the wonder and celebrating the opportunities they’d had to live and experience so many places.  Laura also shared that her mom is gifted at anticipating other people’s needs, and it wasn’t a surprise to learn that Kathleen worked as a nurse for over 30 years, starting in the NICU/Pediatrics.  Her unique gifts and baby whispering skills were priceless to Laura with the birth of her three children.

“One of my favorite quotes  is ‘Problems are opportunities in disguise.’  When lecturing to my students in my Psych classes I focus on changing cognitive thoughts to more productive problem solving, and when parenting my children I see bad experiences as teachable moments.  I see my mom’s influence in all of my daily decisions because I see her perspective of the world in the quote. When something goes wrong she laughs about it and finds a way to make it an opportunity.”

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Practicing the Art of Intentionality - My 30-Day Social Media Fast

Practicing the Art of Intentionality - My 30-Day Social Media Fast

Read about my 30-day social media fast below or listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Anchor.

Around the beginning of 2022, I saw posts from a few friends and “social media influencers” stating that they were going to take a 30-day hiatus from Instagram.  After a busy first holiday season with J. Margaret Weaver and the sense that I was spending way too much time passively scrolling, I decided to follow suit and take a 30-day break from all of my personal social media. I planned to post to my business accounts, but to spend less time on it and to eliminate, as much as possible, mindless scrolling.  


This isn’t new for me.  In November 2017, I did my first screen-fast and posted about my experience here in January 2018.  It resonated with people; more than anything else I’d written to that point.  A year later, I published an update here on how addictive social media was and my goal to eliminate it as much as possible.


That worked until I started a business and saw social media as an important marketing tool.  And it is - social media platforms are powerful engines of connection that can highlight your brand story to people around the world with zero cash outlay.  But – because nothing is free – it was costing me my time (and my sanity, some days).

My unofficial time audit showed that my biggest offense was on Instagram - I thought I barely looked at it, but when I looked at my screen time reports, I realized it sucked me in every day, especially before bed at night.  This was on both my personal and business accounts.  And while I rarely post on my personal accounts, I realized that I was spending hours scrolling through reels or stories under the guise of searching for “inspiration”.  I had a renewed sense of appreciation for how addictive social media platforms have become.

That concept was reinforced in an interview I listened to with Tristan Harris.  Harris, head of the Center for Humane Technology and a former Google design ethicist, has become a prominent critic of the ways social-media companies harvest and profit from user data, abuse their market power, and encourage self-reinforcing information bubbles that lead to extremist positions. Harris’ critiques form a key part of The Social Dilemma, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before launching on Netflix on Sept. 9.  I learned a lot listening to this interview as I have not seen the Netflix documentary (still not watching much TV).  

In the interview with Harris, he talked about how the addictive qualities of social media are driven by their business model which is based on time spent in the application, which correlates to higher advertising revenue.  Harris makes the comparison with a casino, where the entire atmosphere in a casino is to keep you inside, gambling, as long as possible.  Conversely, I talk about the importance of intentionality, and I had to come to the realization that I was not being intentional with my time when it came to social media.

When I tried this experiment four years ago, it was more about being present and content with my own life.  Now, it’s also about spending more time on the things that are important to me and getting out of this self-reinforcing information bubble.

The benefits have been numerous, including:

Better sleep because I read or talk to my husband before bed instead of scrolling.  I also go to bed a little earlier, responding to my natural sleep drive rather than fighting it when I pull out my phone.


Less emotion about current events.  I stay informed by reading the newspaper, but I am less inclined to get sucked into controversial topics. 


More time to read books, relax, and work on things that I enjoy.  


I continue to experience greater happiness and contentment with my own life when I disengage from screens.  Rather than seeing what everyone else is doing and comparing it to my life, I stay focused on what is in front of me.  I did my fast during the winter in Kansas, which is not exactly a coveted place to be unless you like single-digit weather, snow, and the plains.  But I didn’t have to see pictures of people’s warm-weather vacations or outdoor activities - I could just live and enjoy the winter season, knowing full well that it will be 100 degrees and humid in a few months.


So what’s my plan moving forward?

At first, I thought I might set a time limit on how much I would engage on social media, but I really do not miss it.  In fact, I will probably severely limit my time spent on non-business related activities in the future if I choose to re-engage at some point.  While I do not think technology is inherently bad or that everyone needs to take a similar stance as me, I want to be level-headed and objective in my attitude and perspective on how unintentional use of these platforms can be distracting or unhealthy.  As a small business owner who uses social media as a marketing tool, I’m still navigating what balance here looks like in the future.  Ideas are welcome.


What about you? Have you tried something similar, and how do you manage the influence of social media in 2022?

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An Easy & Delicious Valentine’s Meal Idea

An Easy & Delicious Valentine’s Meal Idea

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Whether going out, staying in, or celebrating with friends, this weekend is the perfect reason to enjoy delicious food.


If you are staying in and want to make a (relatively) foolproof meal, try one of my favorite foods: penne alla vodka (I promise it’s easier than it looks). I’m also making a crisp salad, focaccia bread (if you are into making bread the old-fashioned way, try this recipe) and strawberries with homemade whipped cream.  Finish with your favorite wine.


I recently started making my own whipped cream, primarily to avoid the additives in store-bought varieties.  After my first take at making it, I realized how easy and quick it is to whip together (no pun intended).  Here is my recipe:

Bon appetit!  Have a wonderful weekend of love!

 

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January 2022 Recap: Goals & Priorities, Highs, Lows, and Gratitude

January 2022 Recap: Goals & Priorities, Highs, Lows, and Gratitude

I received a lot of comments and questions when I posted my January goal recap + February planning last week - thank you!  I can’t remember anything unless it’s written down, so I use a planner template that I designed a few years ago to keep myself organized.  This helps tremendously, as I can schedule and track everything in one place with lots of detail.

One thing I try to do around the start of a new month is reflect on the last 30 days while planning for the next 30.  My January reflection included a review of the priorities and goals I had for the month (checking off the ones I met was the most satisfying part, though certainly not the most important), as well as documenting my high and low of the month and one thing (outside the norm) that I was grateful for.  January was a roller coaster - we had a school shutdown due to COVID, a couple launches at J. Margaret Weaver, and an oral food challenge for my son (which had passed - yay)!  Despite cold temps and cabin fever, it was a treat to spend some extra downtime with my kids, read a couple books, and even go out on a nice day to evening date with my husband.  We asked our nanny to babysit one Saturday a month so we can go out without having to go through the hassle of planning and coordinating schedules at the last minute.  We did this when I was pregnant with Anne, and it was the best thing to realize that we had a free Saturday coming up.  I’m looking forward to starting this again.

My newest challenge in February is incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet (just ate broccoli for lunch, but I also had truffle fries - balance).  I used to be a much healthier eater, and I’ve sacrificed that for speed + convenience these days.  While I’m a believer in “everything in moderation”, my body needs more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff for energy these days.  Any recipes or tips are welcome - send them my way :) 

 

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What Do 92% of People Think Would Help Them at Work?

What Do 92% of People Think Would Help Them at Work?

Feedback.

Most everyone says feedback is important.  But what do we really mean when we say this?  Do we really want to hear about all the things we need to fix about ourselves? Are we willing to have tough conversations with people about something they could do better? Or are we more often soliciting positive comments and compliments under the guise of asking for feedback?

Listen to my take via podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or keep reading for some research on feedback and ideas on how to better share or receive feedback.

I’ve been guilty of wanting to just hear the positive.  Whether it’s positive feedback on a new J. Margaret Weaver design or from colleagues at work, I have vivid memories of being excited to hear words of affirmation from people about something, especially something that I’d spent a lot of time, effort, and diligence on creating.  I remember these instances so well because that wasn’t what I heard; instead, I received only issues or opportunities.  And while I became so appreciative of hearing this feedback - I believe it’s important to have forums for honest and real opinions, I share this to highlight that I’m guilty of wanting to hear the positive when I’m actually asking for constructive feedback.

There is something heartwarming about hearing, from people who know us well, all of the wonderful things we do or the qualities they like about us.  It can motivate us to keep going in the face of adversity or challenges.  It connects us with people who we see as like-minded.   

But is this really for our long-term good?

Intrinsically we suspect that it’s important to hear honest feedback and criticism, because we cannot possibly know everything there is to know or become an expert in a few weeks, months, or sometimes even years.  Hearing from other people who have more experience or a different perspective can highlight the bad, the constructive, and the gaps. 

Some people crave hearing feedback because it helps them perform better. In a 2014 study shared in Harvard Business Review, 92% of people said they thought their performance would improve if their managers would appropriately deliver corrective feedback. The study found that people don’t just want to be patted on the back and told, “Good job.” They want the truth. They want to know: How can I be better? What can I change or improve? In fact, in that same study, 57% of people preferred corrective feedback to purely praise and recognition. People want to actively improve, and feedback helps give them a direction to get there.  One obstacle to receiving constructive feedback is that many leaders in the study indicated that they do not enjoy sharing this type of feedback.  

So if feedback is so critical to success, how can you solicit or share more of it? 


Let’s start with five ways to more effectively share negative feedback.  


  1. Start by having clear performance objectives.  This allows you to minimize concerns of bias (too easy on Person x, too hard on Person y) and to share specific examples and areas to improve.  Look at individual goals, metrics, and KPIs that the person is responsible for meeting.  How are they actually doing compared to these goals? Establish clear processes and have transparency on what you expect.  Communicate often, in thoughtful and relevant ways, so people are aware of your expectations and can apply them to their work.  
  2. Give people some grace.  Most people have no idea they need to tweak something.  It’s a blind spot for them, and perhaps you are giving them the greatest gift of all - the gift of insight and wisdom.  When you approach the conversation, assume the best rather than the worst, and let this come through in how you deliver the message.  Ask questions and look for clarity from your perspective as well in case you are missing any relevant information or data.
  3. Give context.  Explain why you are sharing the feedback and why it matters so the person can apply it to future situations.  When is it relevant and when isn’t it? Why does it matter?
  4. Be specific.  Cite actual examples or times you’ve observed something happening.  This helps the person reference the behavior or situation more clearly and can demonstrate greater credibility in your feedback.
  5. Finally, work on building long-term trust and open communication with the person so you can both share feedback with each other openly and honestly at any time.

There are also some practices that help you to receive feedback better.  Here are four ideas that I've used.

  1. Reframe the reason for the feedback.  When someone gives you real feedback, it means they care about you enough to share a tough message and they trust you enough with this message that you aren’t going to hold it against them.  If you aren’t hearing challenging feedback or engaging in conflicting thoughts/debate, people may be missing one or both of those traits in their interactions with you.
  2. Stay calm and ask a lot of questions so you can understand what they are saying and apply the feedback in the most practical way.
  3. Take notes and ask for specific examples.  Share ideas on what you might do differently and ask for their insight.
  4. Reflect on the feedback for a week or so.  See if you can spot yourself doing whatever behavior was highlighted or missing something in your work product.

All my best as you navigate giving and receiving feedback!  May these tips help give you confidence and clarity in your conversations with others.

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Is Your Network Really Your Net Worth? My Take on this Popular Phrase

Is Your Network Really Your Net Worth? My Take on this Popular Phrase

I tend to be a skeptical person.  Perhaps it’s from years of doing brain teasers and logic puzzles, perhaps it’s from my early desire to be a journalist and an economist growing up, or perhaps it’s just time and experience. Whatever the reason, I tend to not see much value in pithy memes or inspirational social media posts.  Sometimes, depending on what they are, I really dig into what the implications are from what is being shared.  And, when I do this, I find that the message is often illogical at best and misleading or detrimental at worst.

Today, I am talking about a popular phrase that’s been thrown around on social media.  It comes from a book that was published a few years ago and sounds catchy, but the implications could be detrimental if the guidance is taken literally.

"Your network is your net worth."

Have you heard this one?

It’s originally from the book Your Network Is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale.  At first, I thought she was just trying to throw out a clever saying, a spin on words if you will to grab attention.  After reading more about her theory, outlined in her HuffPost article about her book, it sounds like she intends to make a literal comparison.  For example, in the article Why Your Network is Your Net Worth  she states (my emphasis added):

"I believe your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio.

Therefore, I believe that your "net worth" will be based not on the size of your portfolio or the size of your network but on your ability to define and stay true to your passions and values and that working with other people who share them will allow you to build a strong and enduring interpersonal safety net that will carry you through any financial calamity to greater output and personal fulfillment."

This might sound compelling, especially since it's probably more fun for most people to build their network with people instead of invest money in their IRA. That said, research, testing, and data refutes this.  Listen to my take on why this comparison is inaccurate, data on actual wealth-building from an empirical study of 10,000 millionaires across the US, and a high level overview on networking here.  My goal is to encourage you with practical, pragmatic information on wealth building and financial planning as well as to highlight the real, rather than the hyperbolic, value of networking as one of many inputs or variables when it comes to achieving success. 

Listen on Spotify, Anchor, or Apple Podcasts.

Bringing it full circle, I'll end with my own inspirational signoff: your actual worth is never based on how much money you have or the size of your network.

 

 

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How Fitting! Take a Peek Behind the Scenes

How Fitting! Take a Peek Behind the Scenes

Happy 2022!

I kicked off the year with some excitement when I had the opportunity to sit down with Alison Hoenes, host of the How Fitting podcast, to share more about how and why I started J. Margaret Weaver last January. It's crazy that it has almost been one year since we launched!

Here is a link to our conversation if you'd like to listen in.  Thanks so much, as always for your support.

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