• gratia plena

    Jane WurwandFor those of you not familiar with the “Ave Maria,” this line above means “full of grace” in Latin. It refers to a powerful woman.

    The Latin root gives rise to the word “plenary,” as in plenary session. Wikipedia has this to say about the word plenary:

    “Plenary power in US law

    In United States constitutional law, plenary power is a power that has been granted to a body in absolute terms, with no review of, or limitations upon, the exercise of the power. The assignment of a plenary power to one body divests all other bodies from the right to exercise that power.”

    I really love the sound of this.

    As part of the recent Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City, I participated in the girl’s and women’s empowerment “plenary,” introduced by Hillary Clinton. During the session, we viewed the famous youtube clip from NIKE, “Girl Effect 2.0.” (, and see the youtube clip at:

    Goddess NikeIf you haven’t seen the clip, find it online. It really resonates with Dermalogica’s cause, FITE. The basic premise is that the solution to world poverty begins with a girl, and that all are valuable. Even girls. I say “even girls” because in many places, girls truly are considered expendable. Less valuable than, say a water-buffalo, or maybe a new flat-screen TV or a cell phone. And, consider that there are an estimated 600 million girls in the developing world.

    As the NIKE spot comments, “It’s no big deal. Just the future of humanity.” Let’s remember that the NIKE company is named for the ancient Greek goddess of victory, who presided not only in war, but in every sort of competition. Her winged presence (and she was notoriously whimsical in passing out the laurel wreaths) was required to win at anything. You can see her hovering above battle scenes and athletic events on classical urns and coins — events where macho men did a whole lot of crowing about how great and powerful and heroic they were. Their successes and losses were actually determined by a fickle goddess. You have to love those old Greeks for their dry sense of humor, really.

    Life does seem capricious. But with FITE, we’re not leaving the power of girls and women –and thus the whole world — in anyone else’s hands other than our own. We want to (see above) “divest all other bodies from the right to exercise that power.” I do like knowing, however, that Nike was a she.

  • skin in the game

    Jane WurwandAccording to, it was über-investor Warren Buffett who coined the term “skin in the game.” It means putting your money where your mouth is, walking your talk, and so on.

    Buffett’s context was the idea that corporations need to be managed by like-minded individuals who share a stake in the company, as epitomized by high-ranking insiders who use their own money to buy stock in the company that they are running.

    Buffett is considered a conservative investor, yet this phrase of his evokes the visceral feeling of risk. Not foolish risk, but a willingness to bare your own living, bare, tender skin to demonstrate your commitment. Doing so may result in blood-loss. This is a quality I greatly admire, and, I am happy to know, which other people admire about our company.
    And Dermalogica is now upping the game. We’re preparing to launch a global initiative for 2011 which really has nothing to do with exfoliating or moisturizing. It has everything to do with using the power of our brand, backed by our loyal customers, and also backed by a cash investment which will be donated by the Dermalogica Foundation.

    Warren BuffetThe initiative is called FITE – Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship, and it’s all about extending microloans to women around the world, so that they can rise out of poverty, provide for themselves and their families, and make their own way.

    We’re designating five of our best-selling products to support this initiative, and involving our customers. Not only will a portion of sales from these items go toward FITE entrepreneurs; our customers will also be able to identify areas of the world and industries they want to support, then follow the progress of the individual recipient online.

    Stay tuned for details — then join the fight to empower women, economically, around the world! If you don’t, then sorry, you just don’t have skin in the game.

  • Appearances May Be Revealing

    by Annet King

    The great British wit Oscar Wilde wrote that “Only truly superficial people do not judge on appearances.” Yes, you read that correctly.

    On the one hand, we all know that what’s on the inside—someone’s character—is what matters most. But what Wilde understood and what we as a generation and society have apparently forgotten is that the exterior reflects the interior.

    I am not supporting “looks-ism”, in the sense that I realize that not everyone is born a natural raving beauty. Your genes may not allow you to have long legs, your DNA may have placed your eyes a bit too close together. Male-pattern baldness may make you more of a George Costanza than a George Clooney, and so on.

    This is different from not giving a damn. The antihero culture which began in the 1960s with James Dean and Marlon Brando has taken too many of us from snobs to slobs. Which is worse? At least snobs practiced good hygiene.

    Whether or not you give two hoots about the red carpet, I mention it because the venue requires movie stars to look like movie stars. This gets at the basic point: our appearance sends strong messages. This is especially significant when in the professional skin & spa setting, where in less than 2 seconds a client makes a snap unconscious judgment about you.

    Our appearance sends powerful visual messages that are more than skin-deep. The tabloids report that Victoria Beckham has told her hubby to curb his urge for more ink.

    Every so often, in my work as an educator I’ll encounter a skilled skin therapist who is inked from scalp to toenails in tattoos, is wearing more goth make up than a sales girl at MAC, and is pierced in so many (immediately visible) spots that I’m surprised all of the body fluids haven’t leaked out. Sorry. Though these statements seemed like a good idea at the time now that you’re looking for a job in the skin service sector, your appearance is going to diminish your ability to get hired and build relationships with clients. Why? Because you’ll have to undo that crucial first impression to demonstrate who you are on the inside and convince employers and clients that you are passionate about skin (although you choose to cover yours with ink). The bigger question is will they give you the time to change their impressions, or move right onto the next person?

    Bottom line: you can do what you want, wear what you want. But in today’s highly competitive market place where every job and client is fought over like a trophy, up your chances and reconsider the message you are visually communicating. If your hair is greasy, your nails are nasty, your breath is ciggy, and your clothes aren’t fresh, you’re telling me that you don’t care enough to make an effort. In which case, I don’t care to hire you or become your client.

  • woman’s work: the forth dimension

    Jane WurwandAs you already know, I was honored, privileged and very excited to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which took place at the end of September in NYC. I had been aware of this important summit conference for some time, but there could not be a more perfect time for Dermalogica to enter the game and play an active role.

    The three original pillars of the CGI were: green technology, economic solvency, and health-as in, world health care. All huge. But in 2009, the fourth pillar was added to the global CGI agenda: girls’ and women’s issues. Bill Clinton’s thinking is that the original three areas are critically impacted by the state of women’s lives, in every way. Smart guy, that Bill.

    From a working standpoint, CGI unites leadership representing three business models: public sector, private sector, and government. Again, insightful. Because when non-profit folks work on their own, they tend to get a bit starry-eyed. When captains of industry stay within their own spheres of power, they atrophy—and so on.

    Bill Clinton and Jane Wurwand

    The timing is so right because of Dermalogica’s launch of F.I.T.E. (Financial Independence Through Women’s Entrepreneurship). I did meet one-on-one with President Clinton while I was in NYC. I told Bill that his book on “Giving” helped our company to identify as our partner in putting 25,000 women into their own businesses as the mission of the F.I.T.E. initiative. He was warm, genuine, and strong, and told me he’s expecting us to report back to him on our progress, same time next year.

    And a word about Hillary. Okay, that unfortunate photo of her that was circulated a few weeks ago with the hair-clip was indeed a fashion faux-pas. But let’s get real: the media just give her a hard time because she’s very smart, ambitious, tough. I was frankly surprised when I saw her at CGI-she’s a “stealth” beauty. I think that she consciously plays down her looks. She’s actually much more chic, petite and youthful in person. No kidding – the word ‘luminous’ sprang to my mind.

  • fight the good FITE

    Please just pinch me.

    There is so much to say, so I’ll just start. On September 21, I participated in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City. If you don’t already know all about it, go here:

    I won’t go on and on about the history and purpose of CGI, because I’d rather tell you why I was there. A lot of the reason is F.I.T.E. (Financial Independence Through Women’s Entrepreneurship), the radical, empowering women’s microloan initiative which Dermalogica is launching with, right now. Much more to tell on that subject.

    First, let me say that I have only been a U.S. citizen for about a year. And…. I just met with President Bill Clinton. I heard President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. I sat in the audience as Hillary Clinton spoke. You’ve heard it all before, but let me remind you: only in America. Believe it.

    And can I just say this, also, about the audience? Barbra Streisand. Cherie Blair. Katie Couric. Tina Brown. Melinda Gates. Geena Davis. Ron Woods. MICK JAGGER.

    I met brilliant world-economist Nicholas Kristof, author of the NYT bestseller “Half the Sky”, and told him how much he inspired me, and helped to set our entire new F.I.T.E. initiative into motion.

    I chatted with Katie Couric about F.I.T.E.-and it turns out that she’s a Dermalogica aficionada.

    And, at random, I was seated next to the President of Prada at lunch.

    My attitude toward this entire experience was “Allow and Accept” [and I would have gladly accepted any Prada shoes he threw my way!] and the giddy mix of the serendipitous with the heart-stopping, the glam with the lofty, well, more to tell shortly.

  • Be Here Now

    OH, BEHAVE! Keeping Manners In Mind
    by Annet King

    In more polite times, formal social invitations would begin, “Your presence is requested.” This idea of being fully “present” and being genuinely engaged is the essence of good manners.

    But, we have so many digital distractions today that our attentions are often fragmented. This makes our social interactions less nuanced, and contributes to our becoming more simply rude. Our unbroken electronic connection to diverse social media might suggest that this makes us MORE present, but the converse may also be true.

    When we are so wired into our own private universe, we tend to disengage from the presence of others. And this is the beginning of incredibly bad manners.

    For instance, cell-phones are incredible technological achievements, but far too many people overestimate their powers. Note: a cell-phone does NOT encase you in a sound-proof cone of silence. And when you’re in a public place, especially the waiting room of a skin care center, you’re not in your personal space just because you’re talking on the phone. You’re in a shared space. We can HEAR you! Including far too many conversations which really should remain private. (By the way, no, do NOT call him just because you’re feeling insecure about the relationship going nowhere. Go climb a mountain or learn a foreign language instead.)

    I’m in favor of all of us making a conscious attempt to move away from electronic distractions in order to give the present moment our full attention. This applies to many areas of our digitized lives, as we interrupt our family dinners to check email, and surreptitiously text and tweet our way through meetings.

    Multitasking is an important skill, but we also are enriched when we can be still, and totally “here”, giving our full concentration to whoever we are with, and whatever experience we are having. Imagine chatting while you’re having a skin care treatment or a massage. You’re only half-there! Or half-here, depending upon how you look at it.

    Buddhists, among others, speak of turning down the “noise” and “chatter” of the mind so that we may be fully present in each moment, and that this full presence leads to greater compassion. Step 1: Turn off the literal chatter and the literal noise as often as we can.

  • Everbody’s talkin’ at me: LOQUACIOUSNESS

    OH, BEHAVE! Keeping Manners In Mind
    by Annet King

    Many etiquette-experts devote lots of advice to the art of polite conversation.

    But today, we live in the age of TMI. We now know things about people we’ve barely met that, a generation ago, would never have gotten outside a doctor’s office, the confessional booth, or a tightly locked diary stashed under the floorboards.

    Which brings me to this: now especially, one of the truly lost arts of conversation is knowing when to simply zip it. When to put a cork in the proverbial pie-hole. When and how to allow natural spaces to easily open up, amidst all of the chatter.

    Part of having good manners, and simply good sense, is knowing that sometimes other people want sweet, healing silence from us as well.

    This is an essential discipline for skin therapists. The sanctity of the treatment room may seem like a good place for a chat. It isn’t, even if the client herself is chatty. Your role as the resident professional demands that you diplomatically minimize the talk.

    Some clients get talky because they are nervous about getting naked in front of you, perhaps. It is your job as a professional to put their minds at ease, and softly silence them.

    The other sort of client already feels that she is paying for a professional service, and looks forward to an hour or more without small-talk. It’s not that this client does not “like” you. If this were the case, she would not be there. She simply wants to sprawl on the massage table or the treatment bed and turn her mind off until it’s time to return to earth and try to remember what her car looks like, and where she lives. (And where did those lovely children come from???)

    The skilled skin therapist needs to begin the session with professional Q & A up-front, but then should cut the chatter to a polite minimum. This allows even the buzzy, high-energy client to turn her internal noise down. If the client starts up about her favorite television show or other small-talk, murmur once or twice in response, making each answer shorter and shorter until you literally are silent. Ask the client if she wants ear-plugs (when, in fact, you may want them yourself!).

    With any luck, she’ll take the hint and allow you to transport her into the realm of silently communicating skin. This is, after all, why she came to you. And then you simply need to say, in hushed tones, “Okay, take your time…sit up slowly…and I’ll meet you at the front desk.”

  • Running On Empty: TARDINESS

    OH, BEHAVE! Keeping Manners In Mind
    by Annet King

    The skin therapist has chosen a career in a service profession. This means that the skin therapist must ALWAYS be courteous. As with a wait-person in a restaurant, an airline reservations associate, or a hotel employee…regardless of how flippin’ rude a customer gets, the service professional must never, ever respond in kind. Tempting though it may be. (I will say this, however: if your airline luggage is forever being misrouted to, say, Sydney…you may need to ask yourself why.)

    And, as a professional skin therapist who trains other skin therapists worldwide, one of my most deeply held beliefs is that courtesy is a two-way street. I am always coaching my fellow skin therapists on how to show the client respect. And, as professionals, we are within our rights to expect clients to return the favor.

    The industry standard is that the front desk personnel, skin therapist or other pro should call you to confirm. As part of my trainings, I advise that a phone message should be left on the client’s home phone and a quick text confirmation sent to the client. Likewise, I advise that clients put the appointment right into their “crackberry” or iPhone calendar on the spot!

    In case a client ever challenges you, it is now an absolutely accepted industry practice to charge the client for an appointment which is missed without the courtesy of 24-hour notice. If the client has not worked in a service industry, she or he may genuinely not realize that arriving more than 15 minutes late for an appointment can do some damage to the day’s bookings. Encourage clients to call if they’re stuck in traffic—share your cell-number if you have that kind of relationship. Every professional knows that sometimes, with sufficient warning, we can shuffle things around a bit so that everyone stays happy.

    Now let us imagine the shoe on the other foot. As a skin therapist, if you keep your client waiting for more than 15 minutes, you must be prepared for consequences. Hopefully, the client will inform the receptionist before exiting. When this happens, view it as a professional opportunity; in fact, your integrity is on the line. The onus is on you to make it right, regardless of why the client was kept waiting. You must call that evening, or the next morning, and a phone call is better than an email. And you must offer a comp—as in compensatory, as in, “f-r-e-e”—service to make amends.

    If you do not immediately rise to the occasion, the client is certainly entitled to seek services elsewhere. In fact, this is not rude. It is simply the way of the world.