creativity, product, product development, productivity

Inspired: We get things done by putting things together

A Boeing 747 has 6 million parts; half of them are fasteners. Making something, anything, work is about putting thing together. The magic of any achievement isn’t in the big and flashy, but rather it’s in the small intricate details that often go unseen and unsung. Remember that.

blogging, communication, creative, creativity, design, health, innovation, media, product development, stress, technology, work, writer, writing

Inspired: Check out my magazines on Flipboard for travel, stress-busting, product design, and office design

Check out my Flipboard profile:’m now on Flipboard as @christanyc and created 4 magazines to curate content in travel, product design, workspace design, and stress reduction. I hope you’ll stop by and check them out:
Travel on Purpose – use your travels and vacations to build a better world

Insanely Cool New Products – the coolest new product innovations and the awesome people who make them

Crazy Creative Workspaces – interior design inspirations for the places where we work

Stress Sucks – the science of stress and how to bust it

creative, creative process, creativity, fear, product development, work

Beautiful: A Lesson from American Express and The Ellen Show – You Have to Rise Above Fear

The Ellen Amex photo gift card
The Ellen Amex photo gift card

When I joined American Express in the summer of 2008, my first project was to develop a photo gift card that would give customers the opportunity to put a personal photo on a gift card. On Thursday, that product was featured on The Ellen Show with the original template design I worked on. My VP at the time said I had a $200K budget and 7 weeks to launch the product from start to finish or I’d be out of a job. He also said he and my director had no time to help me. This happened the same day Lehman Brothers failed, the bottom fell out of the economy, and the company embarked on its first major round of layoffs as the stock price fell to a record low of $9 / share. Panic was everywhere, and for good reason. I put my fear aside and got to work because I needed that job. The project launched on time and under budget, and the product is still going strong today despite intense criticism from many of my then co-workers.

Some day I’ll write about everything I learned during those dark days of our economy. Here’s the biggest lesson: in every circumstance, we have to rise above fear and criticism to do our best work. We have to look way out onto the fringes and trust our creative gut to pull the trigger, even and especially during difficult times. In the short run, this is a tough path though eventually history rewards us with the knowledge that our intuition is one of our most powerful and valuable possessions. It will always guide us in the right direction if we allow it to have its say.

business, product, product development, work

Beautiful: The Power of a One-Product Brand


Focus. Every time I think of entrepreneurs I admire, they all have this one quality in common.

My friend, Alex, has mentioned the story of Spanx founder Sara Blakely to me several times over the years. Sara created a women’s hoisery product that shook up an industry. At 42, she is the only female self-made billionaire in the world.

I’ve been inspired by Sarabeth Levine of Sarabeth‘s restaurant and specialty food company ever since seeing her a while back on a morning talking show. Sarabeth turned her family’s 200-year-old recipe for Orange-Apricot Marmalade that she made in her kitchen into a company that now has a jam factory, 9 restaurants, and an entire specialty food company.

Frownies are another amazing product created by a single female entrepreneur, Margaret Kroesen, who continuously turned difficult circumstances into business opportunities with her beauty products. She created her original wrinkle-reducing facial pads in 1889 for herself and her daughter to reduce fine lines and wrinkles without harsh skin treatments.

These entrepreneurs built companies based upon one single product that they perfected. These women created a simple product they loved and then pounded the pavement to get it into the hands of people who would benefit from it. What one, simple product can you build, perfect, and sell to begin crafting your story and your fortune?

creative process, creativity, product, product development, yoga

Beautiful: My First T-Shirt Designs Inspired by The Wizard of Oz and Jerry Maguire Will Go on Sale September 9th

What will my first t-shirt design be? Find out at

And now for a mad idea: my first two inspired t-shirt designs, inspired by The Wizard of Oz and Jerry Maguire, will go on sale on Monday, September 9th. (To get an email when the sale starts, add your contact info by clicking here). The sale will last for 3 weeks and then the orders will be filled if I sell a minimum of 20 of each design at $18 each. Profits will be donated to Compass Yoga and will be tax-deductible for you. If I don’t sell 20 shirts, you won’t be charged and I’ll go back to the drawing board to create some different designs. Think of it as Kickstarter for t-shirts – what gets funded, gets built. There will be 5 different t-shirt styles of each design to choose from – different cuts, colors, and types of fabric.

These are the first products for sale through One Fine Yogi, a new brand I’m building of yoga-inspired products. Being both a product developer and a yoga and meditation teacher, I wanted to combine those two passions to create yoga-inspired products that are good for you, good for the planet, and inspire others around you. Stay tuned for more details as we approach September 9th. In the meantime, join the One Fine Yogi Facebook page and get a sneak peek at one of the designs.

action, business, creativity, decision-making, entrepreneurship, product, product development, profession

Beautiful: My Company Pivots – a New Direction for Chasing Down the Muse

My new business card

As I head to Vegas this morning to be part of the mentor program at SXSW V2V, I’m excited to announce that my company, Chasing Down the Muse, is making a shift to place more emphasis on making products. I used my summer in LA to figure out my next career steps. I moved away from everything and almost everyone I know to figure out what mattered most to me.

Here’s what I learned: While I’ve enjoyed the strategy, communications, and marketing consulting projects I’ve done this year, I miss spending the majority of my time ideating, making, launching, and iterating products. Time to change that! Don’t get me wrong – the strategy, marketing, and communications is vital to having successful products and I plan to continue that work; now I want to bring the actual making of products back into my daily work life. Want to work together on product-based projects? Drop me a line!

This summer I’ve spent every day involved in the process of making and it’s been a complete delight. I have always believed that the surest way to a fulfilling life is to follow the joy wherever it leads. So I’m taking my own advice. I’m going for it – let’s roll!

Check out the Chasing Down the Muse website to see what I’m creating and to get a few freebies that will help you find your direction, too.

Up tomorrow: Why I lean in every day

business, determination, opportunity, passion, product, product development, time

Beautiful: A Lesson in Persistence from Life is Good

good-yoga-studio-baulkham-hills-meditation-relax-stressMy friend, Moya, sent me this video yesterday. It is a 3-minute video interview with the Founders of Life is Good. Here’s what I love about it:

1.) They are honest about the fact they have made every single business mistake in the book.

2.) By all accounts, they failed for 5 and a half years before they hit upon their “Life is Good” slogan with their mascot, Jake. And here’s the best part – it wasn’t even their idea to put that slogan and character on a t-shirt. They had a ton of t-shirt designs taped to the wall of their apartment and they invited a bunch of friends over to get their feedback on the designs. Their friends are the ones who pushed them to put the slogan and Jake on a shirt and sell it. It was an immediate hit.

3.) They have a very clear, simple, and elegant business proposition: spread optimism. They don’t care what products they make; they care about the message that’s infused into each one of those products. Life isn’t great, and it’s sure as hell not easy, but it is good. And that’s why they want people to know.

Click here to view the video.

creativity, discovery, dreams, product development, work

Beautiful: Want to Find Your Purpose? Forget Avenue Q and Take a Page from the Product Developer’s Handbook.

from Pinterest“Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs.” ~ Frederick Buechner

Finding Purpose can be a daunting task. Just ask Princeton, the lead puppet in the show Avenue Q. He’s looking for purpose and his life takes a number of twists and turns, some happy and some incredibly unhappy, in his quest.

But finding purpose doesn’t need to be a torturous task. You don’t need to be a Princeton. There’s a better way, and it’s very similar to how companies create products every day: they identify what they do well, then they look at what the market needs, and they build products and services at the overlap between their strengths and the market’s needs.

You can do the same thing, and it won’t take long.

1.) First, figure out what you like to do and what you do well. These areas can be as broad or as narrow as you like. “Writing” is just as good an answer as “writing poetry for children”.

2.) Second, identify a pain point in the market. A pain point is something that causes people to waste time or causes frustration. For example, many people in New York City don’t have cars of their own and it can be difficult to transport a lot of goods from a store to home. For this reason, many stores and service providers have delivery service. This reduces frustration and saves time for consumers. As you go through your day, think about things that cause you to waste time or energy and things that cause you to be frustrated. Ask your friends, family members, and neighbors about their pain points. Observe other people’s behavior on the street, in stores, at work, etc. What pain points are they experiencing? Again, you can make these pain points as broad or as narrow as you’d like.

3.) Now for the fun part. Look at the list of what you like to do and where your strengths lie side-by-side with the pain points you’ve identified. This is where your creativity comes in. What can you build in the places where these lists overlap? That’s purpose, and a profitable purpose to boot!

product development, work

Beautiful: What I Learned About Work From the First Test Batch of Body Scrubs for One Fine Yogi

One Fine Yogi Signature Scrub

Today I’m having all of the amazing Compass Yoga teachers over to my apartment for a thank you celebration as we wrap up yet another season of getting more yoga to more people in more places. As their party favors, I created the first test batch of homemade body scrubs for One Fine Yogi, the product line I’m developing to create a sustainable source of income for Compass so that we can expand our programming.

This picture shows the test batch of what I believe will be our signature product. With the uplifting scents of lemon, orange, and a hint of eucalyptus, making this scrub put a smile on my face and twinkle in my eyes. Making something for people who mean so much to me reignited my passion as a maker and product developer. And that’s exactly what all of our work should do. It should put a light in our hearts.

product, product development, yoga

Beautiful: Love Bath Products? Be a Tester for One Fine Yogi.

b8c4e85a4708be368aaa0bf88beefdd3Last week, I wrote a post about One Fine Yogi, a new line of yoga-inspired personal and home fashions and personal care products that I’m creating to generate a sustainable income stream for Compass Yoga. In my tiny New York City kitchen, I’m cooking up and testing the “recipes” for our sugar scrubs and bath salts. Now I need testers – people who will test the products and provide feedback on them. You’ll get complimentary samples and the feedback process will be painless and fun. Want to be a tester? Send me an email at or join the mailing list by clicking here. Anyone, anywhere can be a tester!