5 Tips for a Creative Career & Life

by Kena Paranjape on April 3, 2012

in Your Life

Amanada Cherie: http://www.etsy.com/shop/hellocherie

Amanada Cherie: http://www.etsy.com/shop/hellocherie

Last night I sat on a panel for the Business Design Club at Rotman Business School along with Helen Pak, EVP and Co-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Mary Jane Braide, a former Boston Consulting Group consultant who is now an independent Brand Strategist.  Helen and Mary-Jane are impressive, out-of-the box thinkers and do-ers (I was lucky to be included in this group!).

We were asked to think about some of the lessons we had learned around pursuing creativity in our own lives and careers and share them with the audience, who were all MBA students on the brink of re-entering the work place with newfound aspirations and a little trepidation.  Some common themes emerged and I left feeling inspired:

1.  Creativity is about taking risks. Most creativity involves some kind of risk - risk that you will be laughed at, criticized, judged or even fired.  But there is also no great reward without great risk.  So in order to innovate, taking risks is absolutely necessary.  Helen called this blind bravery - the idea that sometimes you have to jump without a net and have faith that one will appear if you need it!

2. It is all about the hustle. I heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Rotman a few years ago - he is all about hustling in order to create.  For those of us seeking more creative career paths, hustling is a pre-requisite to success.  It means reading, researching, cold-calling, cold-emailing, meeting with hundreds of people to get the introduction or information you need.  Mary-Jane added that as you become more focused you will learn to be more strategic...strategic hustling, if you will?

3.  Develop your personal brand. Know who you are, what you're great at, what you love and what you believe in.  Weave all that into a fascinating story about yourself and carry it around with you.  People want to work and connect with you, not your resume.

4. Seek out like-minded people. It is hard to follow your heart when all you hear around you is "that's crazy - why would you want to do that", "it's not stable", "what if it doesn't work" etc.  You spend all your time shielding your resolve from everyone else's point of view.  Since I've decided to take the entrepreneurial route I have been in touch with so many entrepreneurs and the support and like-minded thinking has been incredibly invigorating!  Make a point to find people who think about life and work like you do.

5.  Look at your career and life like an adventure. There is no set path so nobody can tell you exactly what, when and how to do something.  Leverage your passion, listen to your gut and have a vision and you will have quite a ride!

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Technorati Tags: career, creativity, innovation, inspiration


Spring Beauty: 8 Tips to Try Now

by Kena Paranjape on March 29, 2012

in Beauty

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Thanks to my sister, a couple of weeks ago I had the fun experience of a make-up lesson at Gee Beauty in Toronto with beauty legend Miriam Gee herself.  Let me say that I am OK with make-up....not a total disaster, but definitely not an expert and I clearly have a lot to learn.

Here are 8 tips I learned during my lesson that might help you to revitalize your spring beauty routine:

1. Choose coral. I love the colour coral and lucky for me, it is IN this spring.  My mom has a beautiful gold and coral beaded necklace that I managed to sneak away from her jewellery box and hang on to for a few years. (speaking of which, Mom, can I take it back now?)  Wear it on your lips, eyes, cheeks and nails (just not all at the same time!).  I love it on Eva above.

2. Use concealer to cover ANY dark shadows on your face. Miriam drilled this into me and I can't believe the difference it has made in a brighter, even toned complexion prior to putting any make-up on your face.  Don't forget your eyelids and the very corner of your eyes.

3. It all starts with your skin. Take the very best care of your skin.  Not only because it will serve you well in the long run, but also because great skin is the foundation for a beautiful look with make-up.  I was told that my skin is dry and that I need a facial.  Um, ok will get on that asap!

4. Use eyeshadow to bring out your eyes. I'll admit that eyeshadow scares me a little.  I have no idea how to choose the right colours to suit me and struggle with how to apply it.  I would recommend asking for a professional's help with choosing the right colours for your eye colour and skin tone and a quick lesson on how to layer different shades to really make your eyes pop!

5. Add eyebrow grooming to your daily routine. Your eyebrows frame and add definition and personality to your face and if well groomed, can give you an extremely polished look.   Make brushing them and filling them in with a brow powder a part of your daily routine.

6. You can line your eyes with colours other than black and brown. Miriam lined my eyes with navy shadow and filled in the lower rim with a purple liner.  The effect was mysterious and exotic.

7.  Sometimes more is more. I tend to take the "less is more" phrase to the extreme.  As in, I spend 5 minutes applying make-up and it doesn't look like I've done much at all.  Sometimes, like when you're heading to the grocery store, that's no big deal.  But if you're heading out to a meeting or an event, you want your efforts to show.  Miriam had me apply a few layers of eyeshadow until the depth of colour was just right.

8. Always curl your lashes. I agree Miriam!  My basic running errands face includes: concealer, eyelash curl, blush....and go! Curled eyelashes make you look more awake than you feel and younger than you are.

Thanks to Miriam at Gee Beauty for a fun and educational make-up lesson!

If you're looking for more fabulous beauty tips, check out two of my favourite beauty blogs: Beauty Editor and Beauty Geeks.

If you like this post, please share it on facebook, tweet it or send to a friend with the links below.  Thanks!

Technorati Tags: beauty tips, Gee Beauty, Miriam Gee


A Birthday Wish

by Kena Paranjape on February 21, 2012

in Your Life

Source: Uploaded by user via James on Pinterest

Yesterday was my birthday.  When I woke up in the morning and opened my eyes, I thought, wow, 36.  But my feelings contradicted the thoughts in my head, because what I really felt was grateful. Not so much for what I have, or for what I've accomplished, but for being able to wake up each day, put my feet on the ground (or in my case, on the floor, 21  floors above the ground) and go into an unlimited, exciting world with my best friend, me.  That is what feels different to me this year.

Over the years, I have established trust in myself to make good decisions based on analytical thought and a stiff dose of intuition.  And, I have learned to have faith that along with challenges, good things are always coming. I can cheer myself up, calm myself down, and always see more than just a light at the end of a tunnel. Of course I don't have it all figured out, and I still get scared as heck and worry, and I will always need and cherish my wonderful husband, friends and family.  But there is something so comforting in knowing that there is someone who always, always has my back.  And that's me. :)

This, my friends, is my birthday wish for you!


Kena xo

PS.  Looking for fun ways to celebrate your birthday? Read: 9 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday with Style

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3 Life Lessons from Jay-Z

by Kena Paranjape on February 1, 2012

in Your Life


Can you tell I've been reading a lot of books lately?  And this was pre e-reader in my life!  A couple of weeks ago I highlighted some life lessons I took away from Steve Jobs' bio.  Well, I recently also finished Jay-Z's Decoded.  Ah-mazing.  I've written about Jay-Z before (one of the most popular posts!) and if anything, I am an even bigger fan now.  I know I am just one of gazillions of people who are inspired by his passion and his music.

Here are three life lessons I took away from Jay-Z's inspiring book, Decoded:

1.  "Before I learned the Law of Attraction I was aware of the power of my thoughts, staying focused, weeding out thoughts that sabotage" Even Jay-Z believes in some way in the law of attraction and the importance of disciplined and focused thinking.  The more I read and experience, the more I understand that learning to focus your thoughts is truly a competitive advantage in business and in life.

2. "There's unquestionable magic involved in great music, songwriting, and performances - like those nights when a star athlete is totally in the zone and can't miss.  But there's also work.  Without the work, the magic won't come." It is magic to make something look easy and effortless...but behind all of that is hours and hours of committed work.  Work that is worth it.

3.  "I've always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched.  My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement or worse, stagnation." I am so inspired by this quote.  So many of us are trying to control every moment, experience, and outcome in our lives.  But if we pay attention to what is happening around us, we might just see connections and links that lead us to something unexpected but amazing.

If you liked this post, please share it.  Thank you! :)

Click here to read:  What we can learn from Jay-Z

Technorati Tags: Decoded, Jay-Z, life lessons


5 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

by Kena Paranjape on January 16, 2012

in Your Life


Anyone who has read Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson knows that it is filled with as many lessons on how NOT to behave as it is with insights on how to be successful in business and in life.   That is what makes Steve Jobs so fascinating and compelling.  He wasn't perfect at all.  But he was truly authentic.  He didn't make excuses for who he was to anybody, he acted on instinct, and he had unwavering faith in his vision.  For those reasons, I am a huge fan.  His bio is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn from a business leader, artist and game-changer.

Here are five inspiring life lessons I learned from Steve Jobs:

1. "People form  an opinion about a company or product (or person) based on the signals it conveys." This really applies to everything in life to a certain extent doesn't it?  How you dress, keep your home, your desk at work, all convey something about you...sometimes whether you want it to or not.  If we are aware of this fact, we can make choices that help to send the best possible signals.

2. "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." I love this quote as a way to approach life.  Yes, there are many things we can't control, however, there is much that is in our power and we can create our future by inventing it day by day.

3. "The goal was never to beat the competition or to make a lot of money.  It was to do the greatest thing possible." Steve Job's lived by this principle.  Sometimes his perfectionism led to strange eccentricities like not furnishing his mansion because he couldn't find just the right furniture (weird!), but there is something to be said for striving for the absolute best in everything we do.

4. "You always have to keep pushing to innovate.  That's what I've always tried to do - keep moving.  Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you're not busy being born, you're busy dying." Innovating doesn't just apply to work...are you growing in all areas of your life - mentally, creatively, socially, physically?

5. "What drove me?  I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that's been done by others before us.  We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow.  That's what has driven me." Even Jobs, who has been described as a narcissist, understood what it means do be grateful. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate those that that have helped you in any way and express that appreciation by creating something amazing of your own.  That is the ultimate compliment!

Have you read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson?  What life lessons did you take away?

Technorati Tags: life lessons, Steve Jobs


Fresh Starts & Daily Inspiration

by Kena Paranjape on January 6, 2012

in Interior Design, Organization


The beginning of a new year is about fresh starts and inspirations.  What better way to start than with a beautiful new calendar.  I love the calendars designed by Monkey Mind Designs (above).  Optimistic colours, enthusiastic prints and bold words are exactly how I want to start 2012.

For everyday inspiration, hang one of these letterpress posters from Happy Deliveries (below) above your desk and begin your day with bright and beautiful thoughts.   These lovely bold prints are made from lead type, wood type and antique printing blocks in Appleton, Wisconsin.


How will you get inspired this year?

If you like this post, please share it on facebook, twitter, or send to a friend.  Thanks :)

Technorati Tags: art, calendar, inspiration


What is Your Word for 2012?

by Kena Paranjape on January 4, 2012

in Your Life


Last year, around this time, I wrote a post about choosing one word to focus on as your theme for the entire year.  You can read more about it here, but the idea is that instead of making long lists of what you want to accomplish (or in addition to this if it works for you), why not choose one word to use as a guide throughout the year.

Last year my word was Dream.  It was a great word and I did a lot of in-depth, wonderful dreaming.  Well this year, I want to take it one step further....so I choose:


Because this year I want to act on those dreams.  I want to talk less (ok that might be a bit of a stretch) and act more. And I've started the year off ready to do it.  I recently made the scary decision (seriously, I agonized over it for weeks!) to turn down a lucrative, exciting corporate role in favour of committing to my most treasured dream - entrepreneurship.  And so the journey begins...

What is your word for 2012?  Please share!

If you like this post, please do share it on twitter, facebook or with a friend. :) Thanks.

Technorati Tags: New Year Resolutions


Go Big in 2012

by Kena Paranjape on January 1, 2012

in Your Life

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise." - Robert Fritz

"Life is short.  As a general rule, it is better to do something than NOT do it." - Chris Guillebeau

This year, I wish for you big, unreasonable dreams and the courage to go after them.  The world is waiting...

Happy New Year, Friends!



Technorati Tags: Happy New Year



I had the pleasure of working with Trish Magwood during my time sourcing gourmet product for Indigo.  Trish is a James Beard award-winning chef, a food and lifestyle consultant, a mother and a lovely, energetic and enthusiastic person. She recently launched her second cookbook, In My Mother's Kitchen, which is filled with delicious and simple family food recipes inspired by her mother and grandmother.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Trish on her best tips for holiday entertaining.

1.  What are your top 3 holiday entertaining at home tips?

1.  Bake way ahead of time (just did mine today) – stuff that’s quick to make and that you can freeze so you have host, teacher gifts as well as dessert and stand-by treats for post-Christmas.
2.  The Christmas box – keep a box or two of tree décor and other finds on stand-by so you can dress up your house in a second.  Check out Indigo, West Elm, Ikea to spruce up your kit with fun things like paper mache reindeer and glass snow globes.
3.  Controlled pot luck – whether you are hosting or heading to your sis-in-laws, divide and conquer the meal and decide early who does what.

2.  What is your favourite Christmas cookie recipe?
All my fave cookie recipes are in In My Mother’s kitchen – definitely Mardi’s shortbread and Stewie’s ginger cookie – all simple old fashioned baking.

3.  What is the perfect gift for a wannabe chef?  What about for a foodie?
Food as gift is a no brainer for anyone who enjoys good food.  Throughout the year I collect little food grabs like Knock Knock paper pads (Note from Kena:  the "All Out Of" pad is a must-have!), retro egg timer etc so I have a little stash of gifts for foodies. For good home cooks, a knife is a treat – MAC is my fave, chef knife is the essential.  Be sure to tape a penny to it for luck.  Pantry essentials like a flaked sea salt and your favourite oil and vinegar in a wine bag is a great gift to stock a solid pantry.

4.  How do you set a festive table? I’m a sucker for pretty xmas crackers and pretty festive napkins and its time to pull out the good glasses and flatware.  Bows downs the centre of the table with pomagranates in a trifle bowl lets me grab my décor at the grocery store!

5.  What do you need to be prepared for last minute holiday hosting? A good night sleep!  Oh, and a stocked bar, pity those who forget to hit the lcbo.  Fun, fancy kid-friendly and non-alcoholic drinks too – fizzy juices in fun glasses and everyone feels special.

6.  What should you bring when you are invited to someone's home over the holidays? The make ahead baking you whipped up (or as close to it as you can get)!

7.  As a Mom, chef and entrepreneur you balance a lot everyday...based on your own experience, what are your tips for women attempting to do the same? Organize ahead, keep it simple, enlist help and accept that all will not be perfect!

8.  What is your morning routine? COFFEEEEEE, at least try to get it going before the kids wake up.  Never happens but that would be ideal.

9.  If you had an hour free, where and how would you choose to spend it? A massage at Chi, a boxing class at Totum, coffee with a friend.

If you enjoyed this article, please tweet it, share it on facebook or send it to a friend.  Thank you!

To read 9 Questions with Joe Mimran, click here.

To read 9 Questions with Mireille Guiliano, click here.

Technorati Tags: holiday entertaining, Trish Magwood

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12 Reasons to Love your Sister

by Kena Paranjape on December 12, 2011

in Your Life


Yesterday was my younger sister's birthday.  I made her a proper birthday cake complete with chocolate frosting and colourful sprinkles, like my Mom used to make us when we were little.  A few years ago I wrote a post about the beauty of sisters and I wanted to re-post that with a few updates in honour of her birthday.  From the moment she entered the world, we were instant best friends, with a few lapses during my I-don't-want-to-play-with-my-little-sister and her I'm-too-cool-to-have-anything-to-do-with-you phases.  The fact is, if you have a sister, consider yourself damn lucky!  Even if you aren't super close, or the best of friends, your sister will always be there for you....don't ever take her for granted.  Here are 12 reasons why sisters are simply fabulous!

  1. She will tell you when something looks hideous on you.  "No really, that looks hideous on you!"
  2. You can count on her like no one else in good times and bad.
  3. She inspires you to follow your dreams.
  4. She helpfully (and happily!) points out any of your current facial imperfections.
  5. She works hard to cheer you up when you are down.
  6. Double wardrobe, hello!
  7. When you both find something funny (which doesn't take much, and happens often), you laugh so hard your stomach hurts and tears run down your face.
  8. She is someone you can make fun of your parents with (because no one else is allowed!)
  9. She listens to you ramble on about everything and nothing.
  10. You can easily spend an afternoon together doing absolutely nothing and not get bored.
  11. She sees the best in you.
  12. Sometimes, when you are together, you really feel like a kid again.

Happy Birthday Renita!

Technorati Tags: sisters