A friend of mine, David Roth, posted the below video to facebook the other day and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Watch the video because it is great, but in case you don’t have a full 16 minutes now, the message is as follows:  The secret of happiness is not money nor status nor material possessions but in JUST DOING WHAT YOU WANT.

This really struck a chord with me because I remembered the Steve Jobs speech to Stanford grads that I absolutely loved when I first read it.  Here’s a quote from it.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I’ve inserted a link to the whole thing because it is so excellent.

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech

Here are my thoughts on just doing what I want:


1) Walk more

2) Live life with more color

3) Learn photoshop

4) Speak Spanish

5) Work on owning own restaurant company/creating a concept


What do you really want to do and what is it going to take for you to just do it?







I recently had the privilege of accompanying my husband, Steve McAloon, who is a Regional Vice President of Franchise Operations for Moe’s South West Grill, on a recognition trip for their top ten General Managers.  The trip was in Punta Cana and Steve and I were flying in from different cities so I arrived at the airport on my own.  

I shared a bus ride to the hotel with a couple who told me they were from Maryland.  We got talking and I found out that the wife’s name was also Sarah and she was a winning General Manager.  She proceeded to tell me her story.  She’d worked at Noodles at one of their top performing stores and had been expecting the next level but had grown a little jaded after her understanding of what was coming never arrived.  A head hunter had formed a relationship with her personally in her store and said if she ever considered moving to give her a call.  The head hunter called her again and this time Sarah said she was interested.  


She moved to Moe’s as a General Manager shortly thereafter which was about a year ago.  When she arrived at the store, the franchise she worked for had 7 stores and this store was the worst performer.  Her goal was to make it the top performer of those 7 stores.  She communicated this goal to her team and it became their mantra.  She worked really hard for a year and when the results came out it turned out that not only had she met her goal, she was the top store in her franchise company, which had now grown to ten stores, but she had also made it to Top 3 in the whole Moe’s system which is around 400 stores.


I sat next to her at the award ceremony later that evening and when the man who got the #1 spot got up to receive his award.  I whispered to her that this was her competition.  After the ceremony I saw her talking to this man.  She was getting his advise on what to do better.


Great companies are built by leaders like this.  What an amazing achievement from this lady.  I got goosebumps when she was telling me about it.  With vision and determination she got amazing results.  And she wasn’t satisfied with that, she wanted to learn more how to do even better to beat the top guy. To get to #1.


She was so inspirational I had to write this blog about her.  


Well Done Sarah from Moe’s Maryland – you are Moe Magic.








The Clever Village ShopKeeper


Beverley MapAs I took my seat on American Airlines getting ready to go back to England for the holidays, a couple took the two adjacent seats and from their initial pleasantries I figured they were probably from a place very near to where I grew up, a town called Beverley.  I asked them where they were going and indeed they were going to Driffield which is about 14 miles away.  We got chatting and in fact they had run the village shop at Leven for 12 years which is even closer, maybe 8 miles.

Peter and Barbara Markham were their names and they had worked at making something of the local village shop for a large part of their careers. They had bought it in poor shape and felt that they had the backing of the local community to make the village shop into what it should, a place for the local community. By Peter’s account they had done very well at building up the business, eventually selling it to another shopkeeper in the area who recognised the success.

Through the conversation I took note of all of his insights and I thought they would make for good sharing on this blog:

1) BE NICE:   Always take an interest in your customers.  He told me if someone’s cat had been ill, he made a point of remembering this and asking them about it next time they were in.

2) INSIGHTS:   Listen to what your customers are really asking for and find a way to give it to them.  He started off delivering food to customers but after listening to them discovered they also needed a good catering option and started offering catering to support the community

3) BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT:  He focused on building the business outside of the store with catering, deliveries etc and his wife concentrated on running the store.  Have clear lines of responsibility and someone always thinking about what could be

4) INNOVATION:  They started selling wine on sale or return and it worked well so they created their own label of wine which the locals LOVED.

5)  BE FIRST:  He said they were the first store in the area to offer Lottery Tickets when the National Lottery started in the UK in 1994

6) BE ORGANISED:  Every Wednesday, they took everything off the shelves, organised them and cleaned them.  They worked very hard to keep on top of things.

7) LEVERAGE YOUR PEERS:  He made connections with other village shopkeepers and they would call each other with any trouble from criminals. The shop was once ram raided with a car and all the stock stolen.

8) KNOW YOUR COMPETITION:  His customer would tell him about what they didn’t like about other shops in the area and he would make sure they didn’t fall into similar traps.

It was a really interesting conversation about a quintessentially British entrepreneurial role.

Well done Peter and Barabara.




A wise mentor once told me that there were three qualities every great leader needed. I’ve never forgotten.

The ability to know where one is headed

The ability to inspire others to seek that vision

The ability to achieve results on the way to that place.

If one of these qualities is missing, the leader may be good but not great.

Thanks Greg Creed CEO Taco Bell, for being one of my teachers.

Lessons learned in Patagonia

Lessons learned in Patagonia

Each year my husband and I like to travel over the thanksgiving holidays. Being British we like to take advantage of the two days off work, when our colleagues are visiting their families, to get away to learn more about other cultures and more about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. This year we chose Patagonia, Chile.

After a little apprehension about our ability, we booked a five day program which involved three days trekking in Torres del Paine with an extra few days in Santiago and a day in Punta Arenas. Rated four out of five for difficulty and marked ‘vigorous’ we trained for our trek by walking around the state parks in New York. I was a bit worried that we would hold others in the group back as we hadn’t had a lot of experience so when we got picked up by the travel company and three of our fellow passengers started swapping iron man stories, I definitely felt worried.

Our first day was a 14 mile trek with a 300 meter elevation. It was what they call ‘Patagonia flat’ which means there is a lot of up and down but over all you don’t climb that high. It was really hard. After quitting twice on the way to the summit, a nice word from an Irish lady to tell me it was only 15 more minutes to see the Frenchman’s valley and the glacier, I got the energy I needed to do it. I find that when I make that final call to go for something that I thought I couldn’t do it is a real spiritual moment. A proof point that indeed one can do anything if they just set out to do it. The second day was a 7 mile ‘easy’ trek through a forrest to Grey glacier and then a cruise to get close up to see the beautiful blue ice. The third day was another 14 milers hard trek up 500 meters to see ‘The towers’, along shale hills and competing with wind that can knock you off your feet and rain and snow. The other two days were traveling days. All in all it was an achievement that me and my husband felt proud of. It was hard work but it provided a great sense of satisfaction.

Our companions were a pretty amazing group. These are the sort of people that inspire me. There were two surgeons, boyfriend and girlfriend from Quebec, French Canadians. About thirty years old and responsible for saving cancer patients lives. Both had done aggressive climbs and hiked all over the world. Their last was a volcano in Lombok, Indonesia. A retired couple who we’re nearing sixty who both worked out for at least two hours every day were also in our group. The wife runs half marathons and said she was in peak physical condition and was planning on running either the New York or Chicago marathon. Another guy living in Breckenridge ran ultra marathons and iron mans. He was the one swapping stories on the bus. He was 55 and said he turned his ultra training into adventures. He had to essentially devote entire weekends to training but took his back pack with a tent and got excited about his mini adventure on the way to his big adventure. I loved this mind set.

Each of these people and others in the group taught me something and made me want to be better.

Here are some of the pieces of advice they gave me or which I learned from them which I think can be applied to life in general or business life:

A) Take small steps but keep going. Don’t go too fast so you don’t finish. Don’t worry where everyone else is or feel the pressure to keep up. Go at your own pace.
B) Use your tips toes when going up hills. They are a different muscle group to the ones you’ll need on the way back down. I think in business life this could mean, use all the resources you have not just the easiest ones to get at.
C) Make your training fun, not a chore. Make meetings fun, make work fun.
D) Everyone has doubts, everyone thinks they may not be able to make it. Just set out to do it.
E) When you want to quit you are probably 99% of the way there but you just don’t know it. Keep going.
F) Kindness can be the only help someone needs, be kind and this alone can inspire people and give them energy.
G) Don’t worry about every step. Step confidently. Being nervous about every step wastes energy that you will need to get the job done. If you do stumble, it’s ok. Keep on stepping forward, you’ll be ok.
H) Look around . Don’t get so caught up in your steps and your journey that you forget about the scenery or about the other people around.

Thank you to my amazing and inspirational group and thank you to Patagonia for being so beautiful.





Start with the end in mind.  Most people have probably heard of this.  This is probably one of the quotes I have kept close to my heart during my career.   Here are the five ways I use this quote to maximize the impact  I can have:


Most businesses are modeled around annual results.  Most businesses have annual targets that are budgeted.  Bonuses are typically paid out on these numbers, and some good organizations create individual objectives per person to achieve by the end of the year.   If you don’t know what your annual goals are for your job, you need to create some. Circulate them and make sure what you’re working on is driving those vital few.


My New Year’s Resolutions are less about giving things up or impossible weekly regimes and more about setting impactful measurable goals.  I’ve got my husband into this habit and usually we have an informal chat about what we’d like to achieve in the year.  We’ll write them down in EVERNOTE or something similar and do periodic check ins on how we’re doing.  It’s usually travel goals, or having people over for my husbands famous Sunday Roast Dinners.  What we’ve found is that when we have a joint goal these things tend to get done more – and we like that.  We’ll have a few personal and a few joint.  There is no way I’d have visited all 50 states without doing this.  I’d usually put down a few more states at the beginning of the year and we’d plan weekends away around them – or I’d extend business trips to do day trips into new states.  My media planning team thought I was crazy when I took a side trip from NYC to Delaware after a meeting to get another state in.


I’ve always had an idea of the job I’d like next and I’ve always tried to learn the things I would need for that job while in my current job.  My first job was in operations but I soon decided that I’d like to switch to marketing.  Having no idea how to do that, I started a part-time MA in Marketing.  While doing that, and as a result of that, I got my first job in marketing with Pizza Hut – that career lasted 15 years.  That investment into learning for my next role really paid off.  Eventually, I would like to run a business, whether that is my own or someone else’s is yet to be determined but I am now learning about operations and P&Ls as much as I can to prepare myself for that type of role one day.


I find that if I have an idea of what I want to get achieved at the beginning of the week or day I get this done and more.  The way this happens is less important for me.  Some like planners, some allocate calendar time to projects they want to get done, some use pen and paper and scribble pads.  I mostly use my pad and allocate calendar time for thinking and working.  This is also a great way to get a sense of achievement – to see how much you really achieved in one short day/week.  The main thing is thinking about what you want to have achieved at the end of the week at the beginning of the week!


This was Stephen Covey’s not mine, in case you think I’m getting morbid.  At the end of your life what do you want to have achieved?  I need the most work here.  I want to have actually given back in a measurable way – not just focused on business and travel etc.  What do you want people to say about you?  Invest more in those things – create the time now.




I believe marketers are in the business of creating a better world, doing this well creates a profit which fuels the process – Jim Stengl’s book GROW is a great book on this subject

I believe in being a team player, I’m not perfect but this is always my goal – 360 feedback is a gift in life and something I have always embraced

I believe digital and social is the future of marketing #SoLoMo – I make sure I understand everything that I can about the future of my field, you should too.

I believe that some people are not in the right jobs and when that is evident it’s time for them to find where they truly belong so that they can thrive again.  Although, I admit it is always hard to make these decisions

I believe that if you get stuck under someone who inhibits the ability for independent thought it is time to go, but exits can be timed and smooth.  Know when it’s time to go.  Have your own bottom line

I believe everyone can achieve more than they think they can if they simply set out to do it – set a goal that is currently beyond reach

I believe you should follow your instincts, even if you’re not sure why you want to do something, do it – if it feels right and you do it,  the purpose soon reveals itself.  I get a lot of offers for help from people who stand to gain nothing in the short- term, but good things usually come out of these situations

I believe in creating stimulation for innovative thinking.  Get involved in different things, talk to different people, look at art – get a different perspective and then make connections to your world

I believe you should engage with the best thinkers in your field and beyond – Twitter is a great place to do this.

I believe in doing things that are scary.  Practice doing this inside and outside of work.