Watercoolering: The Lipstick Economy

Lipstick loot.

Lipstick loot.

Watercoolering highlights the things — not always work-related — that we’re talking about around the office. OK, they’re usually not work-related.

This week we’re handing over the reigns to editors Jessyca Dewey and Mindy Brocka, who caught the entire office’s attention whilst whipping out their collection of yep–you guessed it–LIPSTICK. Excel sheets were closed without saving, emails were sent sans signatures and general havoc ensued. But it wasn’t all for naught because there just so happens to be some method to their rouge-tinted madness. Read on!

Nail polish is the new lipstick. At least, according to Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of Estee Lauder, whom Time Magazine quoted in 2011 saying, “We have long observed the concept of small luxuries, things that get you through hard times and good ones. And they become more important during harder times.”

Hard times? More like great nails!  Credit: marinesmagazine.com

Hard times? More like great nails!
Credit: marinesmagazine.com

If you’re a beauty enthusiast, you’ve likely heard the term “Lipstick Economy” and know to associate it with the inexpensive, simple ways a person can indulge when money’s tight. In a struggling economy, a woman (or a man, if that’s your thing) may not be able to splurge on fancy new shoes, but that bright pink lipstick at the drugstore for $6? Bring it.

Well, as the economy began to sink during the Great Recession, lipstick sales continued to decline and the theory came under fire. However, the popularity of nail polish was on the up and up and so the theory lives. Kind of.

Whether the panacea to your life’s ills be nail polish or lipstick is anybody’s guess, but Content Channels editor Mindy, who sits beside me in the office, would struggle to favor one over the other. She takes her nail polish seriously (see this slide show she created for eHow) but takes her lipstick seriously, too. “It’s like favoring children,” she says, with a straight face.

To this end, Mindy and I relate. She still recalls the bright pink lipstick I wore on the day she first came into the office (CoverGirl LipPerfection in “Spellbound,” in case you were wondering). And if more than a couple days pass by without a bright color splashed across my nails, it’s possible hell has frozen over.

So then it was only natural that one day, while discussing the guidelines for the upcoming style component for Synonym.com, we’d get into a detailed conversation about the merits of lipstick brands.

It was all downhill from there.

What started as an editorial discussion about the merits of articles on brand-name beauty products quickly became a free-for-all, purse-dumping, lipstick-hoarding spectacle. Before we knew it, we’d lined up all the lip products we had (just the two of us!) and had a small gathering of editors around our desks dishing on lip products and beauty brands.

Even the girls in Mad Men knew the importance of discussing their colors. Credit: www.fanpop.com

Even the girls in Mad Men knew the importance of discussing their colors. Credit: http://www.fanpop.com

We decided the colors were too pretty not to take a few pictures. And so we did (see above).

And then we carefully slid the lids back on the lipsticks, packed them back into our purses and resumed writing the guidelines for Synonym.com Style.

Sometimes, it’s worth taking a few minutes out of the day to focus on the bright and beautiful. Even if it’s only for lipstick.

By Jessyca Dewey

Labor Day Swag Giveaway

Hi everyone! Jordan, your friendly neighborhood Community Manager here. Labor Day is coming up this weekend which means the end of summer is fast approaching. So to celebrate the end of the season, we’re taking the padlock off of the swag closet in our office and sending everything out to all of you! Here’s a look at Jenny and I raiding the closet, just for the occasion.

Who wants some Studio swag?

Jenny and I have a lot of swag to give away.

How do you get a swag pack, you ask? It all depends on your completed assignments from Friday, August 30 through Thursday, September 5. We’re counting every assignment in every section of the Studio, including How To, Topic View and Topic View Lite assignments. Depending on your Studio role, you have a different goal to reach:

  • Writers need to have 10 articles approved for publication.
  • Copy editors need to complete 50 article reviews.

If you reach your respective milestone, a member of our team will email you to get your address and a package of Studio swag will be on its way to your door. We’ve got lots to give away including notebooks, water bottles, and everyone’s favorite, Studio t-shirts.

So be sure to claim your next assignment today!

SERENITY NOW!: Walk Away…to the bathroom?

When your creativity is slowly depleting throughout the day or week, it can feel like an insurmountable obstacle preventing you from the sheer genius you know is there. I think Jenny and I can both agree, even with how delighted we are to be at the helm of this blog, we’ve gotten to that point. The chuck your computer to the side, cross your arms in pre-tantrum form, sigh into your chest point. And even though the only thing that makes sense in those moments is to continue to slog away, your best bet might just be to walk away (and while you’re up, perhaps pour yourself an adult beverage).

We continue our search to have some backup plan when the creative freeze comes. Jenny stumbled upon this Freidman Strategy Group article, and it reminded us that often the answers come in unlikely places — the bathroom. A bathroom break is the one thing we all do during the day that briefly helps us disengage from the work day. For a few minutes, you are without a phone or computer (we hope), and are usually just focused on your own thoughts. Therefore, many people find they have their “Ah Ha” moments in the loo. So wouldn’t it make sense that the restroom be a bit more nurturing to creativity?

“Think about the last time you saw graffiti in the bathroom. Chances are, not only did you read it, you probably thought about the person who wrote it, perhaps wondering what (the hell) was going through their mind. We can’t help but think about the things we see, but we can choose what we look at…The key is for the material to be stimulating and indirectly related to work you do,” Friedman says.

The article goes on to say that we should add more thought-provoking magazines, artwork, and perhaps even a digital picture frame with rotating images into the bathroom to encourage you to get out of your head. I mean, I for one could certainly use more art in the restroom experience.

However, we think you can tap into that insight in so many places or activities. Just make sure whatever you’re doing forces you to stop, take a step back, and return with a fresh perspective. Einstein went sailing. Darwin took long strolls. Elise Elliot (Goldie Hawn) in “First Wives Club,” got her husband-destroying moments while exercising on the treadmill.

"I get my best ideas when I'm workin out," Goldie Hawn.

“I get my best ideas when I’m workin out,” Goldie Hawn.

Harry (Billy Crystal) in “When Harry Met Sally,” realized Sally was the love of his life when he left his apartment to go window shopping alone on New Years Eve.

Credit: movieriot.blogspot.com

Credit: movieriot.blogspot.com

We know many of you have had that “By George, I think I’ve got it” moment in an unlikely place. So tell us, where have you had your most creative/problem solving moments?

10 Things My Studio Won’t Tell You

We spend too much time hanging around Demand Media Studios not to know each other better. Let’s fix that. Each week we’ll profile a DMS contributor or staffer and ask them 10 questions in our feature, aptly titled, 10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You.

Name: Carolyn Williams

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Location: SF Bay Area

Years in the Studio: (I had to look that one up!) I began pre-eHow in 2006.

Sections I edit for: I edit across multiple sections, including gardening, tech, fitness, parenting, home and education. 

1. I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Cheering my children at a volleyball match or swim meet; attempting the perfect combination of cardio, yoga and strength training; enjoying a fabulous meal (that I didn’t cook); downloading a new app or debating Google’s influence.

2. If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be…

Engaging, flexible and 21st century business model (perhaps hyphenate that last to make it seem as if it’s just one word).

Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

3. My favorite websites to waste time on are…

Facebook (naturally), RantsFromMommyland.com, and NYTimes blogs (particularly Tech and Well).

4. The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Dive. I like to swim, but diving still scares me.

5. The difference between writers and editors is…

Not that significant. Good editors and good writers want the same thing: Engaging content that meets the needs of our client.

6. I couldn’t make it through the day without…

Two cups of coffee and “The New York Times.”

7. The greatest risk I ever took was…

Quitting full-time work in the high-tech world to work independently.

8. You’ll catch me saying this phrase far too often …

What happened here? (addressed to the children or the cats — neither respond immediately).

9. I am saving up for…

diablomag.com

diablomag.com

A trip to Europe.

10. My favorite movie of all time is…

I can’t pick just one, as I love the movies. For pure action, “Iron Man” or “Independence Day.” For a great story about friendship, “The Shawshank Redemption” or “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.” For the family, “Finding Nemo” or “Monsters, Inc.” 

Tip ‘O the Hat: Chemistry on the Brain

Credit: msichicago.org

Credit: msichicago.org

If you’re anything like my lovely blog partner-in-crime Claire (or the rest of America for that matter), you’ve been an experiencing an elevated amount of anxiety lately. You’ve likely had trouble sleeping on Sunday evenings and when you see the imminent arrival of September 29 on your iCal you are filled with an indescribable dread. That’s right all—Claire loves her some “Breaking Bad.” And she’s not alone—the office is abuzz with worries about Walter White’s future and concerns about just what sort of cliffhanging madness the writers of the highly addictive (that, there was a pun) will leave us with as the series comes to a close.

sakmarlab.org

sakmarlab.org

So, it’s not totally shocking that when scouring last week’s articles, we paused at, “Top 10 Jobs for Chemists.” After all, didn’t our most love-to-hate-him meth dealer have humble beginnings as a chemistry teacher (see #10)? Without further pop culture rumination and possible cult TV show spoilers, we tip our hats to DMS writer Thomas Metcalf and his article that thankfully doesn’t list “drug lord” as one of the top ten careers for chemists.

Case of the Mondays: Productive Palette

Credit: blog.straightnorth.com

Credit: blog.straightnorth.com

Monday’s can be a rough transition from the relaxing (or adventurous) weekend. That’s why each week we will try to help you avoid that case of the Mondays with some motivation to help refocus for the week. This is the day we stop, take a breath (come on, breathe in, exhale) so we can gear up to be productive for the week ahead.

Let’s do a bit of word association. When we say “blue,” what comes to mind? Water. Sky. Moon. Singing the blues. Bet you didn’t think of the psychology of colors and how this cool shade can help you focus and perform at a higher level. Don’t worry though, this association is going to catch on.

It shouldn’t come as that big of a shock that colors have an influence on our behavior and mood. Blue is said to have a calming effect on the brain – it may even help lower blood pressure – and encourage concentration, according to this article on color psychology. For these reasons, blue is one of the most common colors used in offices, and it’s recommended you wear blue to an interview because people associate the color with loyalty.

Credit: stickybee.blogspot.com

Credit: stickybee.blogspot.com

While blue is best if you want to log some serious office time, warmer colors, such as oranges and yellows, can make you feel more energetic. But beware, warm colors, particularly red, can also make you feel more irritable and angry. (Fun fact: Babies tend to cry more in a yellow room. Perhaps they are rebelling against the notion of yellow being a gender neutral color.) Color psychology is also a big factor in industries like marketing. Check out this awesome map of how colors are associated with certain brands and emotions.

Now, we don’t expect we’d go as far as these guys to incorporate more blue into our day, even though they do seem rather productive. But we may consider changing our desktop image to a serene sky, adding a photograph of an idyllic beach to our desk, or even just sporting a blue shirt to the office. Consider the behavioral impacts of color, but make it your own.

So, the next time someone asks you if you are feeling blue, feel free to say “Yes,” followed by a detailed account of all the tasks you checked off that To Do list.

Watercoolering: Heck Yes We Read Books

We might spend our days reading copy, editing copy and secretly judging our peers who send that email with typos in it (Yep, we do that.) but, no matter how weary our eyes get, we still have the desire to read when we get home. And more than that, we like to talk about what we’re reading the next day–sometimes around the literal water dispenser.

So, on this Friday a select group of the editorial staff decided to share those books they can’t help but gab about with peers. Here goes!

Credit: michaelscomments.files.wordpress.com

Credit: michaelscomments.files.wordpress.com

the book: “A Confederacy of Dunces”

the author: John Kennedy Toole

The real reason to read this book is the protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly. So full of righteous anger and indignation towards the world around him, he is a disaster of a man. And that disaster also happens to be hilarious. Read this book! –Tim Edmundson, Editor

betterworldbooks.com

betterworldbooks.com

the book: “Half and Half: Writers Growing up Biracial and Bicultural”

the author: Claudine C. O’Hearn

This is a collection of short stories about bi-racial and bi-cultural experiences, but unlike a lot of other books on the subject–this book opened my eyes to different bi-racial and bi-cultural experiences. It’s a great book because it makes you ask yourself: What is race? What is culture?

–Cathy Flanagan, Editor, Content Channels

the book: “Side Effects”

the author: Woody Allen

Yes, that Woody Allen. My uncle, a baby boomer comedy nerd, gave me a copy of this anthology of Allen’s short comic stories and essays when I was in junior high–one of the few books I read cover-to-cover in my illiterate youth. Includes the classic story “The Kugelmass Episode” in which a city college professor is magically transported into the novel “Madame Bovary”, setting off a series of hilarious fictional and “real” consequences.

–Mike Plewa, Supervisor, Title Selection

Credit: joedag32.com

Credit: joedag32.com

the book: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

the author: Mark Haddon

I’ve always liked mysteries–when I was little I read everything from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Sherlock Holmes. This book was, in many ways, a detective story, but the revelation is not, as you might expect, discovering what happened to the dog in the night, but rather a discovery of the life of the novel’s protagonist, Christopher, who is a teenager on the autism spectrum. It’s  inspiring as a writer to see how a novelist was able to bring me into a completely foreign realm and to so aptly depict the metaphysical landscape of this boy’s world in an engaging and approachable way.

–Lindsay Morris, Senior Manager, Content Channels

So we shared our favorites. What are some of yours? Let us know!

SERENITY NOW!: Boiling Points

Quote

Credit: ian.umces.edu

Credit: ian.umces.edu

Ever since the industrial revolution, Americans have been incredibly in tune to the working conditions of its citizens–just read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to find out why. It also seems that our awareness of what defines a “healthy” work space only continues to grow. It’s practically a prerequisite for companies to go above and beyond to make sure their office spaces and accommodations are top notch–just check out Demand’s very own write up in the LA Times earlier this month. And if you work from home hardly anyone would be shocked to find a book, at the very least a Google search, about Feng shui in your midst.

So, we bloggers looked into this work space obsession and were delighted when we stumbled upon an interesting article by Ron Friedman, that to our surprise, completely ignores how a couch facing southeast promotes serenity, or bench-style seating enhances team dynamics, and instead hones in on thermostats. Yep, folks. Temperatures is where it’s at. Check out the complete article here, or peruse some of the highlights below!

“When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees).”

Credit: Digital Vision.Digital VisionGetty Images

Credit: Digital Vision.Digital VisionGetty Images

 

“When people feel cold physically, they’re also more likely to perceive others as less generous and caring.”

Credit: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com

Credit: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com

“The unconscious desire for physical warmth is thought to be the reason lonely people bathe longer, more frequently, and use higher temperatures.”

10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

We spend too much time hanging around Demand Media Studios not to know each other better. Let’s fix that. Each week we’ll profile a DMS contributor or staffer and ask them 10 questions in our feature, aptly titled, 10 Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You.

Naomi runs a feral cat rescue, in addition to writing about pets. Here is one of her recent rescues.

Naomi runs a feral cat rescue, in addition to writing about pets. Here is one of her recent rescues.

Name: Naomi Millburn
Location: Sunny California
Years in the Studio: 2 and counting
Role: Writer
Sections I write for: Pets and occasionally gardening.

 

 

 

1. I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Running a rescue for feral cats in my area.

2. If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be….

Detailed, upbeat and caring.

3. The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is….

Sew. I have fashion aspirations, but I’m a klutz in this specific department. Sigh…

4. The difference between writers and editors is…

Not major. We all share a love for words.

5. If I ruled the world for a day I would… 

Make the continents closer together. Grant animals the ability to talk. Can world rulers do these things?

6. I couldn’t make it through the day without…

My tuxedo cat causing chaos on my desk as I type!

7. You’ll catch me saying this phrase far too often …

“No, I mean it, this is the most adorable cat I’ve ever seen.”

8. I am saving up for…

The well-being of all of the animals in my neighborhood and in my foster care. Lots of spay/neuter appointments to schedule, lots of flea medication to apply and lots of furry mouths to feed.

9. What is your theme song for life?

Anything by Édith Piaf.

10. My favorite movie of all time is…

“The Apartment” with Shirley MacLaine.

Tip ‘O the Hat: Adjusting Our Aperture

Image

Credit: Tara Novak/Demand Media

Credit: Tara Novak/Demand Media

The studio has some really talented writers, editors, photographers and experts in their fields. So, we want to show off a little. Each week we’ll share a recently published piece of content that we find inspiring, helpful or simply impressive enough to merit sharing. It’s our way of tipping our hat to your talents.

What’s cuter than a pug puppy tugging on a toy? Nothing. So, we’re holding off writing our 1,000 words on why the article’s great, and simply tipping our hat to Studio photographer Tara Novak, whose eHow slideshow has stolen the show (and our word count).

This is just one of many examples of how our new photo studio is improving the quality of our content through original photography. Photo Director Nicole Coppola has been hard at work recruiting talent and fine tuning our processes. She says, “Our goal for the Demand Media Photo Studio is to grow a community of talented photographers, editors and photo researchers who are passionate about conveying, through imagery, the content for real life that makes up the portfolio of Demand Media Studios.”

And there you have it, folks!

Interested in finding out more? Want to be a photographer with us? Check out the new Photo Studio and available opportunities here