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Archive for July, 2011

Blanche Garcia in LoveToKnow!

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 27, 2011

HGTV Design Star Tips for Decorating Small Spaces

Blanche Garcia

Blanche Garcia
Carrie Grosvenor

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JJ Virgin in The Huffington Post / AOL Healthy Living

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 26, 2011

JJ Virgin


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Shawn Achor/HAPPINESS featured on LoveToKnow.com

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 26, 2011

LoveToKnow Jobs and Careers

Expert Tips: Happiness at Work Through Positive Psychology

Shawn Achor, Positive Psychology Expert

By Mary White


Are you interested in getting ahead in your career? Shawn Achor, positive psychology expert and author of The Happiness Advantage, says that the path to career success is through happiness. Find out what you can do to put the principles of positive psychology to work in your own life and how doing so can help you enjoy greater productivity and fulfillment in your career.

Understanding Positive Psychology

LoveToKnow (LTK): Please explain what positive psychology is and how it can benefit people seeking career success.

Shawn Achor (SA): Positive psychology holds that we’ve had the formula for success backwards all along; happiness fuels success, as opposed to the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. Rigorous research in psychology, neuroscience, management studies, and management of various organizations around the globe support these findings.

LTK: What are the benefits associated with following the principles of positive psychology in the workplace?

SA: Happiness leads to greater success, not vice versa. Our brains work best when we spend working hours in a positive mindset, instead of simply waiting for work to be over. Finding ways to be positive during challenging times not only makes us happier, but also greatly improves our productivity and performance. Studies have shown that maintaining a positive outlook improves work and productivity and in turn, increases success. By improving yourself and your environment to help facilitate achieving happiness, the rest will follow.

LTK: What factors cause employees to experience a lack of happiness at work?

SA: Employees tend to believe happiness is contingent with factors outside their hands. For example, they tell themselves they’ll be happy once they get that promotion, and then once receiving that promotion, change the barometer of their happiness again, so it’s a losing game. When challenges loom and we get overwhelmed, emotions hijack our rational brains.

The Zorro Circle, discussed in The Happiness Advantage, teaches us to regain control by first focusing on small, manageable goals and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve bigger goals. When our brains get stuck in a pattern focused on stress and negativity, we set ourselves up to fail. The Tetris Effect teaches us how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see-and seize-opportunity wherever we look.

Applying Positive Psychology at Work

LTK: What are the most important actions people can take to increase their levels of happiness at work?


  • Brighten your environment: Everything around us-from the color of our walls to the mood of our coworkers-affects the way we think and feel. Certain environmental cues trigger our reflexive brain into unneeded panic, while others prime us for creative thinking or calm reflection. The good news is that we have the power to control much of this input. For instance, if the latest financial news always puts you on edge, turn off CNBC, take the stock ticker off your desktop, and distance yourself from conversations with colleagues who like to ruminate on the decrease of their stock portfolio. Instead, try to surround your desk with pictures and objects that bring you joy or make you think of fond memories-your mood and your brain will thank you.
  • Invest in people: Smart people do stupid things during times of stress, such as shutting down their social networks to focus on work. In working with companies around the world, we found the greatest predictor of success during periods of stress and challenge is the quantity and quality of our relationships. Decades of research have revealed that social support may be the single greatest contributor to our personal happiness. Strong social bonds enrich our daily lives, give meaning to our work, and even improve our physical health. Now more than ever, take time to strengthen these connections, reach out to your colleagues, make more time for family, and rekindle friendships that have fallen by the wayside. You can start small by trying to make one genuine connection a day-whether it’s a conversation with the security guard at work or a quick email to check in with your spouse, you’ll immediately notice the positive boost it gives to your day.

LTK: What suggestions do you have for people who want to increase their happiness levels at work?


  • Think about work as a sprint, not a marathon: You know when you’ve been sitting at your desk too long-your muscles tense up, your eyes glaze over, and your energy lags. What you may not know is that after two hours of continuous work, your brain functions slower and your body accumulates stress and strain rapidly. Taking strategically placed energy breaks throughout the day counteracts this negative pattern. Try to split up your work day into short sprints of 90-120 minute increments and then take time for 5 minutes of recovery each increment. Walk down the hall or around the block, call a friend, listen to a calming piece of music, stretch on your office floor, or eat a high-protein 100-200 calorie snack, anything to refresh your mind during those small breaks. Not only will you feel more positive, but you’ll see a big jump in your concentration and productivity.
  • Find something to look forward to: One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent. Often, the most enjoyable part of an activity is the anticipation. If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar-even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then, whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it. Anticipating future rewards lights up the pleasure centers in our brains just like the actual reward.

LTK: How can people who want to find greater happiness at work benefit from reading The Happiness Advantage?

SA: Using stories and case studies from working with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in forty-two countries, The Happiness Advantage explains how to reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work. By training ourselves to be more positive and engaged, our work productivity will rise, we’ll be more successful, and work will be more enjoyable overall.

For Additional Information

Are you intrigued? Ready to start putting the principles of positive psychology to work for yourself? To find out more about Shawn Achor’s company, Good Think Inc., and the principles of positive psychology, visit www.shawnachor.com.

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Sports Illustrated Lovely Lady of the Day is Suelyn Medeiros

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 25, 2011

Suelyn was Sports Illustrated’s “Lovely Lady of the Day” for Thursday, July 21st!

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Grant Cardone on Fox & Friends

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 25, 2011


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Blanche Garcia in Thomson Reuters

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 25, 2011

6 Barbie Dream House additions you’ll want for yourself

Jul 21, 2011 08:29 EDT

Over the years, she’s been a surgeon, paratrooper, ambassador for world peace and of course a princess. But after more than 125 career changes and regardless of whether Ken wants to settle down, Barbie’s got a new title: smart dream homeowner.

In conjunction with the release of Architect Barbie, The American Institute of Architects and Mattel are sponsoring an Architect Barbie Dream House Competition, and the designs shed light on some great additions for real-life homeowners looking to add value to their residences. We looked at finalist Michelle Krochmal’s design for an oval-shaped 11-room domicile and picked out six stellar features worthy of your own dream home — the pink color scheme is optional. We sorted out the costs and benefits, and leave it up to you figure out whether such amenities fit your lifestyle.

“I can only hope that I get a client like Barbie, someone who is tech-savvy, easygoing and open to pushing the envelope,” says Krochmal, 35, a New York City architect who says being in the contest is like a “Toy Story” plot come to life, since she built Barbie dollhouses as a kid. (Voting is open until Aug. 1, you can see all five finalists and vote for a favorite here.)

If you want to live as grandly as Barbie, check out what it would cost you in real life:

Item #1: Solar power

Why Barbie wants it: Once a lifeguard, always a sun goddess.

Why you want it: You can “get off the grid” while letting your neighbors see how committed you are to the environment.

Cost: A roof-mounted 5-kilowatt system costs about $28,000 — but after utility rebates and federal tax credits, the actual cost is more like $9,300, says Steve O’Rourke, vice president of consulting services for MicrogridEnergy.com.

Value: Drake Housley, 44, of Simi Valley, California, estimates that his $49,000 solar installation and roofing rehab should pay for itself in less than a decade. His $325 monthly electric bill is now near zero, “and if I use less electricity than I produce in a month, I’ll have a credit.”

Did you know?: Housley can monitor his SunPower solar setup via an iPhone app.

Item #2: New kitchen and appliances

Why Barbie wants it: Krochmal thinks Barbie’s into “new appliances and a fresh cheery kitchen with stone or an Icestone/Corian countertop.

Why you want it: New appliances aren’t just luxury. “An older refrigerator could use three times as much energy as a new one, so you’re saving 67 percent,” says Mike Rogers, a senior vice president at GreenHomes America.

Cost: It’s common to pass the $100,000 mark if it’s a gut rehab with new floors, cabinets, countertops and appliances. “You can use home equity lines of up to $100,000 and deduct all of the interest for these home remodeling projects,” says Travis W. Freeman, a certified financial planner with Four Seasons Wealth Management in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Value: Return at resale should pass 90 percent, says Blanche Garcia, owner of B. garcia designs in Montclair, New Jersey. “But because of the housing market, plan for around 80 percent.” Tax credits for EnergyStar appliances can total $500, says Howard Hammer, principal and CPA at Fiske & Co. in South Florida.

Did you know?: A Sub-Zero PRO 48 refrigerator, with separate compressors for freezer and fridge sections, runs $15,000. That should leave you just enough to pay the $74 in electricity it uses per year.

Item #3: Salt-water swimming pool

Why Barbie wants it: What better way for Barbie to remember her Malibu days?

Why you want it: Since our bodies are salt-based, eco-friendly salt-water doesn’t dry out skin and hair like chlorinated fresh water.

Cost: Custom in-ground pools run about $40,000, and options such as tiling and automation can add another $10,000, according to Pool People USA. Add $800-$1200 for a salt-water chlorinator.

Value: A study co-authored by G. Stacy Sirmans, a real estate professor at Florida State University, found swimming pools add 8 percent to a home’s selling price. “We found a pool added the greatest value in the Southwest,” Sirmans said — close to 10 percent.

Did you know?: Now’s the best time to buy a pool in years. Sales of in-ground pools are down nearly 75 percent since their 2004 peak, according to SmartMoney.

Item #4: New windows

Why Barbie wants it: Barbie’s prudent enough to know that “replacing old drafty windows with efficient windows can save you money,” Krochmal says.

Why you want it: Today’s high-tech windows use multiple glazing layers with special gasses to reflect heat back from the outside in the summer, and the inside in winter, Rogers says.

Cost: High-end brands such as Marvin custom-build windows, so prices are hard to gauge. But count on spending at least $800 for a Marvin Ultimate measuring 3 ft. x 4 ft. with installation.

Value: Energy-efficient windows and shade treatments are eligible for 10 percent tax credits, for a maximum credit of $500.

Did you know?: Shades have also gone high-tech, and can add to the energy savings. Duette Architella shades by Hunter Douglas use a honeycomb design to reduce heat transfer at the window by up to 40 percent.

Item #5: Radiant heat floors

Why Barbie wants it: Barbie barefoot on a hardwood floor in winter? Brrrrr. Even Ken knows those doll toes deserve better.

Why you want it: “There is something really wonderful about having a tile or stone floor warm under your feet on a cold winter day,” says Kimberly Neuhaus, principal of Neuhaus Design Architecture in Brooklyn. “At the end of a renovation, clients often note the radiant floor as one of their favorite features.”

Cost: A radiant heating system typically costs $6-$12 per square foot to install, according to Anderson Radiant Heating in Campbell, Calif.

Value: Radiant heating systems can cost 25-50 percent less to run than conventional forced-air systems.

Did you know?: Neuhaus recommends a radiant heat mat under a new stone or tile floor when renovating a bathroom for an added touch of luxury.

Item #6: Greenhouse

Why Barbie wants it: Though she’s been a Canadian Mountie and a bus driver, Barbie (so far as we know) has never played gardener, horticulturalist or farmer.

Why you want it: Instead of churning out greenhouse gasses, you can go the opposite route by growing organic fruits and vegetables.

Cost: A FloraZone 12 ft. x 24 ft. greenhouse runs slightly more than $3700 at Jaderloon, though you could spend much more depending on how big and durable a structure you want.

Value: At least three crops top $17 per square foot for return: cilantro ($21.20); arugula-roquette ($20.92) and green salad mix ($17.55). You could also grow your own landscaping plants. Otherwise, there’s no quantifiable value spike to a house that also sports a greenhouse.

Did you know?: You can price your own custom greenhouse at the HomeBlue contractor network website.


LINK: http://blogs.reuters.com/reuters-money/2011/07/21/6-barbie-dream-house-additions-youll-want-for-yourself/

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LBN Dinner Club Invitation

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 21, 2011

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Suelyn Medeiros in Sharp Magazine

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 20, 2011

Suelyn Medeiros first started modelling as a way to help her pay her way through medical school. This is the kind of fact that seems absolutely far-fetched, yet predictable. Of course she was going to be a doctor. Just look at her.  She was then introduced into modelling by a friend. This friend deserves to be bought a drink, and possibly a hug of gratitude, despite any shortage of doctors in the world.

While modelling for print campaigns like L’Oreal and Dos XX beer got her name (and body) noticed, she branched out into music videos by artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg.


Nowadays she’s trying to break out of modelling to make a brand name for herself, similar to Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Lopez. We spoke with Suelyn about her career path and her recent Lilo-style brush with the law. And we couldn’t resist asking about her Delorean – yep, the one from Back To The Future.


What are you working on at the minute?


I’m working on a TV show that I can’t get too much into, I have a clothing line coming out in September that’s called Bombshell by Suelyn, I’ve been designing it for four years now and now I’m finally ready to launch it.


I’ve been doing a few magazine covers, I have a movie right now that’s called Video Girl, in AMC theatres, and it’s starring Meagan Good. I have a lot going on.


Tell us some more about the clothing line.


It’s completely designed by me, I have a team working with me getting the right fabrics, and the right things for my designs, but they’re completely inspired by me and my culture, I’m Brazilian. The customers that I’m trying to target are mainly models or very fit people that just like to look good and show their curves.


I have a season coming out, it’s going to be neon colours, very bright summer fun colours, and I’ll be working on the next season in the next few months.


So are you trying to branch out from modelling by taking on these other roles?


I love modelling but I think for everyone there comes a time when it comes to an end, not that I see that time anytime soon, but I want to do more. I aspire to really brand my name, that’s what my ultimate goal is, to be a brand, so I want to work on the clothing line. I’m just trying all these new things that I haven’t done yet.


Like Jennifer Lopez has done?


Correct. She’s someone that I look up to who has done something close to what I want to do in my career.


What would be your ideal acting job?


Comedy and drama would be my two main goals. But I’m also very athletic, I learnt martial arts growing up so I’d be able to do something in that area, maybe be a kick-ass sexy killer.


You were recently arrested. What happened there?


I made a mistake, I’m not really a drinker and I get high off of health and just having fun and being with my friends. I really don’t need all that other stuff. But I made a mistake, I went out and drove to Hollywood with my friends after a red carpet, and I met up with a few friends at a club, we had a few drinks and, I figured two hours had passed and I was ok to drive, like a short drive home, and it was a huge mistake and I would never do that again. I’ll just take a taxi.


I got pulled over and I got my first DUI which I was very ashamed of, and I’m not too happy to talk about it really.


And you drive a Delorean?


Yes I have a Ferrari and a Delorean. I use the Ferrari actually the most, but the Delorean is a very different car and calls a lot of attention, usually more than the Ferrari. It just depends on my mood, what I’m feeling.

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SELF Features JJ Virgin… Again!

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 19, 2011

Simon Cowell’s Daily Anti-Aging Smoothie: Does It Work?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 4:22 PM


Simon Cowell was notorious for being a harsh judge on American Idol, and when The X Factor comes to the U.S. this fall, he’s expected to deliver his usual repertoire of nasty (yet hilarious) insults. Just last month, in front of a live audience of more than 4,000 people, he told a group of 12-year-old girls that their voices sounded like cats being run over on the freeway.


So it makes sense that Cowell is wary of being judged himself — for his 51 years on the planet. In his quest to stay youthful-looking, Cowell reportedly has turned to … daily smoothies.



Cowell drinks a “specially formulated anti-aging smoothie” made with lingonberry, acerola berry, chokeberry and aronia juice flown in from exotic locations, The Wall Street Journal reports.


Acerola berry, for example, originated in the Yucatan and now grows in sub-tropical areas like Southeast Asia, India, South America and Brazil. Pricey to import, for sure, but for someone like Cowell, one second of air time should cover those costs.


But do these berries really do anything?


“These expensive exotic ingredients are basically plant-based antioxidants that can help quench these free radicals and therefore minimize some of the damage that occurs as we age,” says JJ Virgin, certified nutrition specialist and co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters.

While all of these exotic fruits assuredly offer up a hefty dose of antioxidants, we’re thinking Cowell’s affinity for Kool cigarettes negates any smoothie benefits tenfold. In fact, Cowell would be better off investing his piles of cash in a smoking cessation program!

On the plus side, rumor has it that Cowell, who has been accused of sporting “moobs” in the past, is eating a lot more salads and raw vegetables these days. Sources tell The Daily Mirror that he’s keeping these healthy foods ready to eat in his dressing room so he can avoid the chocolate and biscuits that he used to snack on.


Guess his old regimen wasn’t working terribly well. Cowell is a famous fan of Botox, once describing the anti-aging injections as “no more unusual than toothpaste.”
The take-home for you: There’s need to fly in exotic compounds for your a.m. smoothie when we have wild blueberries and pomegranate juice readily available, says Virgin. And if you’re sipping on said smoothies in an attempt to drink from the fountain of youth, it’s a good idea to skip the Kools.

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Shawn Achor featured on Monster.com

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 19, 2011

6 Tips on Coping with “Horrible Bosses”


Horrible bosses — they’re funny on film, but they’re not so funny when they’re in the office down the hall.

So when your boss is crazy, cruel, or just plain old incompetent, how do you cope? 

Shawn Achor, the author of “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work” and a well-known expert on positive psychology, offers these six tips on staying positive in a stressful workplace:

1. Train your brain to scan for the good. Say three things you’re grateful for twenty-one days in a row and you can literally re-wire your brain to be more positive.

2. Smile while you work. Research shows that bursts of positivity cause people to think more intelligently and creatively, and work more productively. When we’re happy, our neurons fire faster and more efficiently.

3. Brighten your environment. Everything around you—from the color of your walls to the mood of your coworkers—affects the way you think and feel. Surround your desk with pictures and objects that prime you for positivity—your mood and your brain will thank you.

4. Use your words. Neuroscientists have discovered that verbalizing thoughts can act like a wet blanket on the fire of negative emotions—the simple act of putting emotions into words immediately decreases their magnitude. Keeping a weekly diary also enhances your decision-making skills and improves your progress towards goals.

5. Invest in people. Smart people do stupid things during times of stress, like shutting down their social networks to focus on work. The greatest predictor of success during stress and challenge is the quantity and quality of your relationships. Strong social bonds enrich our daily lives, give meaning to our work, and even improve our physical health. Take time to strengthen these connections in your life.

6. Think about work as a sprint not a marathon. After two hours of continuous work, your brain function actually slows and your body starts to rapidly accumulate stress and strain. The secret to beating this pattern is to take strategically placed energy breaks throughout the day. Split up your work day into short sprints of 90-120 minutes, then take time for 5 minutes of recovery. You’ll feel more positive and see a big jump in your concentration and productivity.

For more tips, see “Seven Ways to Handle Your Dysfunctional Office.”

How have you coped with a horrible boss? Share your stories in the Comments section.

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