8/23/2016

Lawyers, Legos and Love

The other day, I discovered my old blog from my time in Chicago when I was working solely as a corporate attorney. Well I didn't really discover it, as I always knew it existed, but I should say I revisited it. I forgot that I had been involved in the blogging world since 2008! So crazy. I was fascinated by the posts on my old blog [I called it Living In Law Law Land -- which I think is super creative if I do say so myself ;)] So many cool articles about alternative aspects of the law and legal profession. So I wanted to share a few of those articles here for those of you in my community who are current law students or in the legal community. I hope you find them just as interesting as I did!

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Editors Note: Sometimes lawyers have to leave the law to do what they truly love. I've had quite the journey from full-time practicing lawyer to living a life I curated which includes some practice of law but also honors the other things I love such as entrepreneurship, social media and beauty. That's why I loved this story from the LA Times written by Jeff Pearlman. Here are excerpts from that 2003 article - I think the concepts still apply to current day and those of us struggling with leaving the law.

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There are dreams. And there are dreams. Nathan Sawaya has had both, only the former are attainable, the latter seemingly impossible. For example, Sawaya has dreamed of building wonderfully intricate structures out of Lego blocks, and then he’s done so. A life-size Han Solo, frozen in Carbonite. The Major League Baseball logo. The pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. All materialized in Sawaya’s mind at one time or another, and now all exist as Lego realities, thanks to an imaginative 30-year-old Manhattanite with a child’s heart.

Yet Sawaya also dreamed, knowing that the ultimate, ultimate, ultimate dream – the one that would take his life to a level of euphoria – was about as attainable as a dinner date with Britney Spears. That dream involves leaving corporate law and Manhattan gridlock and suits and ties behind; escaping the madness of his existence for a life of, simply put, bliss. Like Juan Ponce de Leon’s 490 years earlier, Sawaya’s secret fantasy focused around a hard-to-find paradise in a land far, far away.

Ponce de Leon desired the Fountain of Youth. Sawaya desired Legoland, that 128-acre plot 30 miles north of San Diego.

“It’s a mecca,” says Sawaya, who visited a couple of years ago. “The greatest thing I’ve ever seen.” Yet in his dreams, Sawaya did not simply tour the park, an experience accessible to anyone with $41.95 and some free time. No, Sawaya’s fantasy was to spend his mornings, noons and nights behind the magic wall in a corner of Legoland where six lucky men and women, known in the park as Master Builders, are paid to build and build and build and build and build. In case you misunderstand, here’s their job description: Build – with Legos.

“Forever, that’s all I’ve wanted,” Sawaya says. He is in his midtown apartment, picking at a soggy bean burrito with a plastic fork. It is a Monday night in December, and for the previous 10 hours, he sat behind a desk at Winston & Strawn LLP, a law firm that focuses on (yaaaaaawn) mergers and acquisitions. It has been his place of employment for more than five years; a nice office to work in with nice pay and nice perks in a nice life. But it is not Nathan Sawaya. Not his soul.

On the other side of the wall, in one of the apartment’s two bedrooms, Sawaya keeps enough Legos to fill the innards of a killer whale. In one corner, 18 bins hold thousands of bricks, separated by color. In another, there’s a bookshelf lined with tiny Lego men and women. Perhaps the room’s most striking feature (besides the imposing 3-by-6-foot Han Solo statue) is a startling self-portrait, made entirely of black-and-white bricks and complete with scars, dimples and shadows. The bedroom, known fondly as “The Lego Room,” is an anomaly in the cramped Big Apple, where extra space is generally not used to house childhood playthings – especially when there are no children in residence.

Yet childhood playthings are, in this pad, not mere childhood playthings. Sawaya’s devotion to Legos is equal to that of a painter who feels loyalty to his brushes, or a sculptor’s ode to clay. In fact, the room is somewhat sparse right now, ever since a church in St. Louis asked Sawaya to send some of his creations for a Christmas display. “You should see what it’s usually like in here,” he says, shrugging. “No room to move.” Three months ago, while scanning www.lugnet.com, a site for Lego hobbyists, Sawaya came across something so remarkable that he literally gasped. Legoland was holding a national contest to determine the country’s best adult Lego builder. The prize was a job at the theme park as the seventh Master Builder. For years, Sawaya had been checking Lego job postings monthly, hoping for glory but eternally dispirited by openings only for accountants and maintenance men. Then, this.

“I immediately called my girlfriend and said, ‘Here’s my dream, and it can really come true!’ ” he says. “I felt like crying, because it was so absolutely unbelievable.” If anyone could empathize, it was Dierdre Harding, a lawyer who has dated Sawaya for four years. When they first started going out, she watched with unease as Nathan would receive large cardboard boxes in the mail but never, ever reveal their contents. Strange thoughts swirled through her head. (Gun stash? Porn tapes? Vanilla Ice CDs?) Finally, secure in their relationship, she had the guts to ask what, exactly, he was hoarding. Sawaya turned red. “Well,” he said, “it’s really embarrassing, and you’re definitely going to laugh at me.” He proceeded to tell her the life story of a man addicted to Legos. “It wasn’t,” Harding says, “what I thought.”



Upon graduating from high school in 1991, Nathan enrolled at New York University and, for the first time, kept his Legos on the down-low. Back home, everyone knew the Sawaya kid was a gifted artist (albeit with an odd medium). That happens in a small town, where one person’s business is everyone’s business. But in college, especially in the too-cool-for-words city of New York, how would people react to an 18-year-old college student fiddling with a boy’s bricks? 

Sawaya messed with Legos in the privacy of his dorm room, but nobody except his roommates knew. Through four undergrad years and three at NYU law, it was pretty much his secret. “Let’s just say it doesn’t get you a lot of dates,” he says. “People [would] think you’re a little strange 

This might not be hard to argue. In his current position as a corporate lawyer, Sawaya takes home a six-figure salary. Should he become a Master Builder, he will start at $13 an hour. The financial details didn’t really enter his mind on Nov. 14, when he showed up at the Toys R Us in Times Square to take part in the first regional round of the competition. With 45 minutes on the clock, contestants were given a random theme – SPACE! – then asked to sort through 200 pieces and build. Sawaya constructed a rabbit in an astronaut’s suit, which was praised by the judges for its originality.

He advanced to the second round, recorded live on NBC’s “Today” show Nov. 21. This time the theme was Thanksgiving, and only two contestants, Sawaya and Jessica Frantz of Hellertown, Pa., appeared. Again in 45 minutes, Sawaya made a lifelike turkey, with a brown body, yellow beak and red tail. Frantz, whose turkey looked more like a rainbow-colored cow, was thumped. “Clearly, he’s a very talented man,” says Pat DeMaria, Legoland’s model shop supervisor. “I’ve seen his portfolio, and it’s extremely impressive. He’s a real challenger.” DeMaria says the ultimate victor will be chosen on myriad categories, ranging from past work to personality to Lego passion. “We want someone,” he says, “who is truly dedicated to Legos.”

Now, for Sawaya, it is legit. Fantasy has become reality. Dreams have merged with life. He will fly to San Diego on Jan. 23 and join 29 other finalists from around the country.

For the, oh, 73,103rd time, he is asked whether he’d really, truly, honestly, sincerely consider leaving his serious adult life in New York. Leaning back in his chair, Sawaya smiles. Just recently, a fellow attorney, smirking all the way, asked Sawaya if he was “that Lego guy.” It’s the sort of stuff he’s heard before, soft-core mocking. At his job, those who know of the hobby are generally supportive and curious, yet a bit perplexed.

And no wonder. “Let me put it this way,” he says. “If I were offered the Lego gig, I’d be making five times less than my current salary. I’d be leaving a city I love, and my girlfriend and I haven’t even worked out the logistics. It’d be a whole new world to me, and it’d be scary.” Sawaya pauses. “In other words,” he says, “absolutely. In a millisecond.” There are dreams. And there are dreams.

Nathan Sawaya is beginning to believe they just might come true. All of them.

Update:
In 2004, Sawaya left his career as a lawyer to become a full-time Lego artist. Since then, Sawaya's had a national touring exhibit, "The Art of the Brick." Here's what he said during a CNN interview about leaving the law: "New York corporate attorneys are known for working the long hours. I find myself working long hours now as well, but I'm doing something I love. ... The worst day in the art studio is still better than the best day in the law firm." More information is available on his Web site.

The original article can be found here.

8/10/2016

BlogHer 2016 with Kim Kardashian! My Experience & Conference Tips!

This post is sponsored by SheKnows Media
If you're following me on Snapchat (if you're not, you should - we have lots of fun over there! my username is @maebad) then you know this past weekend I was lucky enough to attend BlogHer 2016 right here in Los Angeles! This was my first time attending the social media and blogging conference, so I wanted to share my experiences at the conference, what I learned, and some tips if you'll be attending in years to come! Grab a coffee and get ready, this is going to be a long one!

PREPARATION

First things first, my recommendations on how to prepare:
1. Register early and join the Facebook group for attendees. There is lots of valuable information there! So much networking goes on before the actual event even happens. I arranged to meet up with Gwen from The LA Girl and identified brands that I wanted to connect with.

2. Print business cards. Even if you don't have a blog already or you're not sure what to print, just make some classic calling cards. It's so helpful for quickly passing along your information plus it gives you credibility!

3.  Download the app and prepare your schedule. But be flexible. Take a look at the schedule and have an idea of what sessions you want to attend. BlogHer has a great app that helps with scheduling. But also remember that things will change, you might connect with someone fabulous and want to attend a different session together. But it's a good idea to have a working base for your schedule and go from there. 

4. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. There are all kinds of outfits and styles on display at BlogHer. Do you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Of course you want to be put together and professional because you will be meeting with brands, but also just remember to stay true to your style. And honestly, no one is really going to remember what you were wearing. If all else fails, stick to neutrals and black. Throw a blazer over a comfy tee with some jeans. That's always my default business casual outfit.

THE CONFERENCE

Alright, now that my tips for preparation are out of the way, let's talk about the conference itself. This year it was held at the J.W. Mariott at LA Live. As I mentioned this was my first time attending so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was the typical conference setup. Registration desk, then an exhibit hall, breakout sessions in various rooms and sponsor suites. Standard stuff. 

At the exhibit hall, I got to interact with some really great brands! For me, it was a matter of quality over quantity. I honestly did expect a few more exhibitor booths than what were there, but like I said the ones that I met with were awesome!

First up, I went to the Best Buy booth. Freddie Prinze Jr was there! Remember him?! That was obviously one of the highlights. I've always admired how he deals with the spotlight and his celebrity status. He was signing autographs of his new cookbook. He was warm and friendly and really engaged with everyone. Just in case you missed it on my Snapchat, here's a peek of him:



As a tech lover, I enjoyed the Best Buy booth because they were showing off super slim laptops and they had charging stations for those of us who were already at 18% by 1pm. #guilty

Second, I visited the Bai booth. I always see this brand at grocery stores but had never tried it so I was super excited that they had plenty of cold cans of the beverage available for everyone. And it was my favorite flavor -- blood orange! Plus it was sparkling with just the right amount of frizz. The marketing team at Bai created a really great experience, with random acts of kindness that you could choose from. And then had a super cute typewriter! I loved it.




I also made it a point to visit the Merck for Mothers booth. Even though I'm not a mother yet, I was really touched by the experience. They had created a wall where you could write messages to your children or your mother. I loved reading all the sweet notes.





I visited several other booths, but I also loved my experience at the Knock Knock booth. If you're a stationery lover, then you know Knock Knock for their adorable paper products. They're coming out with more books and lots of other great designs. Stay tuned, I'm super excited to be working with them soon!! Yay!

THE SPEAKERS

So, I know you all want to hear about Kim Kardashian and what I thought about her keynote. I was truly impressed. However you feel about Kim and her behavior in the spotlight, one thing is for certain -- she is a powerful business woman! I know she has a team working for her but at the end of the day she is still responsible. She has built a brand around her name! This is powerful marketing. She was very well spoken! She didn't sound ditzy. She was still true to herself but she presented in a professional manner as well. I was very impressed! She's an amazing entrepreneur and business woman and I wish her all the continued success in building her empire!



Sheryl Crow was also amazing! She was very down-to-earth and relatable. She spoke more about women's health and taking care of ourselves. She also mentioned the book The Four Agreements -- which I love! If you haven't heard about it, I definitely recommend you check it out. Basically the Four Agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, always do your best. So powerful, right? They seem simple but if we could all implement these four things into our daily lives - both personally and professionally - imagine all the success and happiness we would have. So I loved that she spoke about that.

THE SWAG

Alright, here is where I wish BlogHer would have stepped up their game a bit. I know that I shouldn't complain because I basically received a bunch of free gifts. But the swag bags left a lot to be desired. Garnier was a big sponsor so I loved that they included shampoo, conditioner and their micellar water which I have been wanting to try forever. That was great! But the other products weren't that exciting. For a conference that huge and well-established, I expected a more substantial gift bag. 

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But overall, I had a wonderful experience. I've been asked a lot if I would recommend this conference. Honestly, I don't know if I will attend again. As far as the material and the information presented, I feel that was definitely for bloggers who are just starting out. I think it was pretty basic knowledge that most experienced bloggers already know. The most valuable part for me was meeting companies (again, there weren't a lot there I wanted to meet with but the ones I did connect with were great) and networking. I made some great connections. So as far as recommending the conference, I think everyone should attend at least once to get a feel for it and have the experience. If you're just starting out, I think it's a great resource! 

I hope this was helpful information for you all! Let me know in the comments below, if you've been to BlogHer and what you experience was like. Any other preparation tips we should know about? What did you learn from the conference? Keep the conversation going!

I also vlogged while I was there so check out my YouTube channel soon where I'll be posting a closer look at what I got up to! Plus more from Kim Kardashian's keynote speech and a look inside the gift bags!  xo

Note: I teamed up with BlogHer to write a sponsored post about my experience at the conference. But as always, I only share my honest opinions! I can't be bought. More disclaimers below! ;) xoxoxo


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SheKnows Media and BlogHer16 Conference. The opinions and text are all mine.

6/21/2016

MaeBad's Summer Must Do List!


Happy Summer Solstice!
I'm not usually the biggest fan of summer because I majorly do not like being hot. 
But I'm living in Los Angeles now and summer here is pretty fabulous!

I created a fun and inspirational summer to-do list. And I wanted share it with you all!
It's a free printable, so head over to my shop to download it now!
And when you do any of the items on the list, be sure to tag me on Instagram @maebad so I can see too!
What are you most excited about this summer?
XO

ps- can you tell I am currently obsessed with the color lilac?

6/14/2016

My Observations on Leadership & Top Tips for Leaders

Being a leader - whether it's in a professional setting, among friends, or within your family - is never an easy task. It takes a humble posture of learning as well balanced with a bold nature. Here are my musings and tips on how to be a better leader:

Write it out.

Use an index card and write out your life lessons, your mantra, your vision, all the things that make your leadership style unique. Your entire leadership acumen should be able to be summarized on that card. I know it's a surprising thought, but distilling and curating our best advice into a manageable size will allow us to share it with others more easily. It's important to have a clear, teachable leadership mantra and style.

There's a difference between success and significance. 

We are constantly bombarded with the term success and what it means to achieve it. And while financial success and independence is certainly a worthy goal, I believe it's also important for us to think about the legacy we are leaving behind -- our significance.  Significance can utilize the same skills and knowledge that we would use to become successful, but there is one key difference - using those skills to serve others. Then we have a true impact, change people's lives and leave our footprint on the world. This is a great time to clarify your purpose and what you're truly working towards. The bigger picture.

Keep on learning.

We should always strive to increase our knowledge base within not only our industry but also other areas as well. Broadening our horizons helps us to stay inspired and think creatively. It also increases our compassion which is a key component to being a truly impactful leader.


Keep on keepin' on.

I truly believe perseverance is the one of the most crucial characteristics of being a leader [and really just an adult in general ;)] Life is hard. Leadership is hard.  Just remember that we are all humans going through the same human experiences, sometimes at different levels and different intensities, but we are all essentially one. A true leader keeps their head up and focus' on the path ahead and encourages others to do the same.


3/28/2016

Lessons Learned | Resources & Tips for Bloggers and Women in Business

It's no secret that I'm a huge supporter of female entrepreneurs #GirlBoss
I believe that women should assert themselves in the business world! So I've rounded up links that share worthwhile lessons from some of the world's most powerful people in business. Consider this your one-stop shop for all things business -- from SEO to photography to being truly confident and successful. Be sure to bookmark this post or pin it to Pinterest for easy reference. And please do let me know if you have any other resources to share! 

Awesome Free Business Resources!

12 Things Truly Confident People Do Differently

Enthusiasm vs Action : Why You Need One More Than The Other

The Basics of SEO for Blogging!

Great Ways to Get More Social Media Followers

The Most Influential Things I Read This Year [an oldie circa 2014, but a goodie!]

Daily Exercises To Make You a Better Photographer

12/18/2015

Giveaway | New XO Planners for Your 2016 Organization!


You all know I'm always trying to find beautiful, chic office supplies. And although I'm not usually a fan of color, I'm absolutely love these goodies from XO Planners. Nina, the founder, created a functional and beautiful Day On One Page (DO1P) calendar that helps you organize your schedule, to-dos, finances and health. It even includes a water tracker and monthly dashboard. I love that it has tabs for each month and a pocket too! #itsthelittlethings

Check out my YouTube video for an in-depth look at the pages and layout....and those swoon-worthy planner stickers! I LOVE them!

Nina was gracious to offer 2 planners to giveaway to you all! Enter below for your chance to win! Two lucky winners will get to choose which cover they want. Contest closes on December 21, 2015

And don't forget to use the discount code MAE15 for 15% off all orders. 
The coupon is valid until December 23, 2015.
Good luck!