Has no

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles.
Facebook the world’s most popular media owner creates no content.

Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory.

Airbnb the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate. 

Something interesting is happening.”

Tom Goodwin in TechCrunch, March 2015. 


The art of overreacting


Yes, I’m one of those annoying people adding lots of vowels and exclamations marks at the end of the words to add some emotion to it. Even when I talk, my eyes and arms recreate the scene. It’s all about making a big issue of everything. Blame all the soap operas that I watched when I was a teenager. I had all the drama on national TV from midday, so when I was back from school, after having my lunch, I was ready to watch another episode of any Colombian, Venezuelan or Mexican soap opera…they were all good and catchy.

My husband said to me last week (and probably the previous one too)… “You do like exaggerating” and I thought -“Me? Martha Lucía Tolosa Orozco? Yes, I do”.

First thing is to admit it.

Second, question the matter. Is it bad or good? Let’s examine it together.

1. We (exaggerators/fabulists, not liars) enjoy simple things and make them extraordinary. The sun becomes that beautiful sunset that I’m going to remember forever, a simple meal becomes the most amazing food I’ve ever tried. A walk in the park becomes the moment that gave new meaning to my life.

2. It becomes poetic as you keep adding adjectives to everything.  Maybe that’s why I ended up in advertising.

3. You become grateful. “Thank you” begins to be part of your life. Saying it or thinking of it, is valid.

1. You are Drama Queen. As the dictionary refers Someone who turns something unimportant into a major deal. Someone who blows things way out of proportion whenever the chance is given. Uh oh, that’s not good.

The thing is overreacting is good when it refers only to you and your actions, not someone’s actions. It’s good to exaggerate when you imagine your next career move, your next house, your next plan. Think big when you are imaging your next business, your next trip, and everything that you want in life. Your goals need to be big and bold, demanding the best you can be, and then there is not regret. Big goal, small steps and get it done.

man on the moon

Shut up Imposter!

I didn’t know there was such a thing as Imposter Syndrome until Wednesday night. I started my 2019 eager to rejoin the Creative London circles, SheSays sent me an email…and Couching sounded good to me -so I attended their first event of the year.

the imposter syndrome

I got to Wieden+Kennedy’s London office and we headed downstairs. I was amazed by the attendance, as we had a full house. Alison Green and Fabiana Xavier, SheSays President, led the talk and here is my summary:

Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon of self-doubt and lack of self-belief in your accomplishments, as you may assume that they are just down to luck. It is a persistent, internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud” that basically holds you back.

Perfectionism plays a significant role in Imposter Syndrome. You might think this is not the “right time” to do something, you need to be more senior to apply to that role, you need more time to do that project, you need to study more to work on that field, you put off making a phone call because you are not ready yet… Impostor Syndrome comes in all forms and you may procrastinate due to your high standards. Does that sound familiar? Welcome to the Club.

The first step to let your imposter out of the way is to admit it, and reveal it. When we did an exercise visualizing the Imposter, I couldn’t imagine mine as a monster, or a giant – sorry no Sci-fi from my side. The Imposter is just me, a tall Colombian with big glasses sitting in front of me and judging me from the outside… quite friendly though.

The next step is to know that it’s normal. Everybody has felt like that, from the new guy to Michelle Obama. And if you think it will go away as you become senior, bad news. It becomes more prevalent, rather than less.

Unfortunately, this syndrome tends to affect more women than men. We, women, tend to blame failures on our own abilities, and success due to luck. When men fail they tend to blame something else.

Imposters love new events, so every time you make a decision, think of a new project, or do something else, they appear back with its 3 annoying aspects:

  • The sense that someone’s got a view. (Everybody is judging you)
  • Someone is going to realise I’m not good enough at this. (I’m going to fail)
  • If I succeed, it’s just luck. (A bit hard on yourself)
So now it comes the good part and the final step. You can’t deny or destroy it but you can tackle the Imposter.
We don’t feel confident by thinking, only by doing. Take the next step.
It may or may not work, but take the risk.
Be open, curious and playful. Promote your strengths so you don’t lose sight of your goal. You have a unique set of skills, be clear about that.
To yourself, as you will be to somebody else – or even kinder. We tent to be super critical of ourselves.
The moral is: Imposters are self-limiting bastards. Next time you are about to do something and start hearing that voice… “better later, not now, I don’t have the tools, I will wait, not ready yet… What will you say to your Imposter?

After Christmas goodies

One of my favourite things after Christmas is finding leftovers in the fridge. The joy of not cooking plus finding a seasonal set menu for a week is wonderful.

Supposedly January is about dieting, but not in this house. Every night when I check the cupboards looking for something to eat, I keep finding hamper bits from Harvey Nichols and they are simply beautiful. You can tell they dedicated time and talent to it.

It sounds like someone is paying me for writing this, but no, not yet. I just want to share my love for their design, literally when food met fashion. Harvey Nichols’ own-label food packaging launched in 1994 and it became famous for its iconic monochrome and photography. Last year, Smith and Village revamped the collection -fearlessly stylish- and every single item has been beautifully presented and conceptualized. Hats off to the artists.

“The design of the physical packaging has been extremely important in this project. For a start, none of it is throw-away, so the Harvey Nics brand lives on in people’s kitchens long after the product is finished. Secondly, it is led and inspired by fashion to delight the target audience – pull-out biscuit packaging that is closer to a sunglasses case than a pack of biscuits; airtight tins to keep biscuits fresh for longer with colors inspired by lipstick shades and shiny, elegant refillable tea tins,” adds Debrah Smith, Creative Director, Smith&+Village.

Phones are not bad

But I did know that I had to put mine away in order to write this article. It seems like we are all suffering from phone addiction or “Nomophobia”, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia” – a term proposed during a UK study evaluating anxieties suffered by mobile phone users when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery, or have no network coverage”. Sounding familiar? Yes? It’s happened to me too. I lost my phone at Disneyland Paris, and I transformed into a monster [seriously you can’t imagine my face], asking the entire staff at the Disney Resort for help. I don’t know how but the monster found her phone an hour later.

I’m not saying phones are bad, as they actually inspired this post. It is not technology’s fault, it’s what you do with your phone that we are evaluating. Are you killing some time or doing something productive?

Writing is my way of teaching myself some lessons. So here are my findings:

1. Are we missing the moment by capturing the moment? 

We are obsessed about recording or taking the pictures of concerts and events we go to – it’s our conscious decision to watch it from a tiny screen. I was wondering what a photographer thinks about it. They don’t have a choice. Do they?

Steve Simon, a photographer based in NY, refers to a great scene in the film “The secret life of Walter Mitty” where Sean Penn have been waiting for hours to capture a snow leopard. And finally when it appears into the frame…
[I’m not going to ruin it for you, press the play button below.]

“Sometimes I don’t…if I like a moment…I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera…so I stay in it (the moment).”

There are good thoughts in Steve’s post. “Though photographers don’t always participate in the life they shoot, their eyes are wide open, alive and on the lookout for beauty and meaning; something the people staring into their phones are missing.” Read the full post here.

2. Are we becoming antisocial?

I found this talk from TED 2009 “Our antisocial phone tricks” by Renny Gleeson
Almost a decade later, it still rings true.

3. Do more with your phone

It’s amazing what you can achieve with determination and a reliable smartphone. It’s not good comparing yourself to others, but while we are recording a LIVE video, others are making films. Beyond well-known projects like “Tangerine”, an American film shot with three iPhone 5s and premiered on 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival; smartphones have played a key role in a number of productions, including Détour, a short film shot on an iPhone 7 by Michel Gondry as part of a creative ad campaign launched by Apple itself. Nowadays filmmakers don’t need big gear to create a great piece. 

There are Smartphone Film Festivals taking place in Toronto, Zurich, Sidney to name a few.  They are great for bringing new talent and developing the potential of mobile filmmaking. Brooke Leavitt created this very useful list of outstanding smartphone film festivals with a good summary of entry details, submissions and a bit of context.

4. Can we achieve greatness with our phones?

If you want to go further, your Smartphone can be a hero. There are several apps helping to save lives. First aid by Red Cross teaches vital knowledge and simple first aid skills in an emergency,  Stay Alive provides advice when experiencing suicidal thoughts, Breast Check Now makes checking easy to remember and gives useful information about signs and symptoms. And it’s not getting boring, even a video game can save your life.

From sensible things to silliness. You can do whatever you want with your mobile. Literally. The greatness starts within you and goes through your device. Not the other way around.


Must read to write

After publishing my previous post, I kept thinking… telling people not to read is not a good message, especially for myself. Life is a contradiction, so here is my new post about a very inspiring book: LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg -Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

LEAN IN - Must read to write.png

A good friend gave it to me on one of her visits to London. I never knew I had to read it at that time, the earlier you read it -the better. It’s about doing what you love, but really going for it, in order to have more women in leadership jobs. Either you want to be the best at work, a super Mum, a singer, travel the world, whatever else you want.

“Success is making the best choices we can … and accepting them.”

The book tells us (with plenty of statistics, research, and life experiences) how few women are in top roles because of internal obstacles, even before society places more in their way. Prejudices, opportunities, the education we receive, family decisions, all hold us back from what we want. It is a reality that men are earning more than women, men go for leadership roles more often, men are more willing to negotiate salary, men apply for jobs -even when they are not fully skilled, dads-to-be don’t think twice when applying for a job. So what is happening? Why do we women keep stopping ourselves?

I tell you my reasons. I’ve been working since I finished Uni at different advertising agencies, and when I found out I was pregnant I just had finished a contract with Expedia London. Uh oh! There is no perfect time to have a baby, but babies are the most perfect things I’ve seen.

I was more eager to get a job because of my news, so went to interviews camouflaging my belly with winter coats (I shouldn’t say this on my blog, but kids are expensive, so you need a job -it’s a fact). I started contacting people from different agencies and finally, I was very grateful when Ariadna US, an agency based in Miami, took me on board after some freelance work. I had my baby and kept working remotely, it was amazing attending KFC meetings on Skype and presenting Amex campaigns over the phone. Baby sleep time was my office opening hours. How? You just find the energy if you love it. And then a startup called me to join their team, and here I am dividing myself between motherhood and projects. Maybe I stopped myself from working in an office but haven’t slowed down.

There are two faces when you work from home, the crazy and the crazier. I can tell you a lot of stories of multitasking/working Mum moments. The first that comes to mind happened when I was listening to the annual company’s review (while I was potty training my oldest daughter).  Nobody from the meeting knew what was happening on the other end of the line and thank God for the MUTE button.

Or that time, when I spent the entire day, on my own, waiting for the team to get together to hear my presentation. They all had busy agendas and just when I picked my 2 girls from the nursery, very tired and irritable, my team sent me a text: We are ready.  So I gave my girls a couple of ice creams, sat them on a picnic blanket in the middle of the garden and started presenting my ideas from the patio (where I could see them but not hear them). I reckon when working remotely, the main skill you need is availability.

Anyway, this post is not about crazy stories whilst multitasking. Freelancing was my choice and I assumed it. It is about persuading yourself to lean in and go for it. We need a change of mindset, first from us, and them from the people surrounding us. Work-life balance when having kids, it’s not easy, nor is it impossible.

“You can’t have it all”

This is my favorite sentence from the book. CEOs are human too and Sheryl tells how difficult was for her leaving her daughter crying and asking her not to go when she had to fly to a TED Conference. True leaders are human.

There are plenty of quotes and inspiring bits, I’m not going to spoil it for you. I just had to share the fever after reading this book, and when that stops here are my top mantras:

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    1. We are the choices we make. Simple. Life will follow our decisions.
    2. We are what we are thinking about. This is so true. If I’m thinking of strategies, and awards…I’m an ad woman. If I’m thinking about my kids and places to take them… I’m a Mum. If I’m thinking of others all the time, I’m just a bored neighbour.
    3. Compare yourself to yourself. Stop scrolling Instagram (note to myself) where people seem to live the perfect life with the perfect filters. Think of yourself ‘the one you want to be’ and become that person, that will make you the happiest woman/man in the world.

Life won’t become easier but it will become more exciting. If you are not there yet, LEAN IN and good luck!

No need to read to write

I’ve been trying to finish 3 books in order to write something about them. As you can see by my title: I failed. I keep leaving the books in different parts of the house to give them a fair chance. Downstairs is the book about love and funny stories. When I’m upstairs I read random pages of How to be mindful, and every time I take the train I read about the girl from Google. All in equal positions staring at me and screaming: READ ME.

This time I’m not going to blame the World Cup, busy life, lack of concentration, mobile addiction, etc. This time I just have to admit it: some people love reading, but I love writing.

A lot of articles suggest you must read in order to write. I’m not going to argue that reading improves your writing, widens your vocabulary, gets you inspired, keeps your brain in shape, broadens your imagination, gives you knowledge, and even cultivates the theory of mind (the ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires, feelings, and perspectives that are different from ours).

Although, if the goal is to write, then write.

Don’t fall into the trap and become part of the group of people who stare at others’ work delaying their own. I’m sure there is a masterpiece waiting to be written and if I want to be the author I’m not going to make it happen just by reading. I need to spend time with my keyboard or notepad and write, cross, edit and keep writing. As a good friend of mine said: execution.


How are you, really? By Cannes Lions

I haven’t been networking for ages. While living in London it was so easy to attend all the courses and events at least once a week. Now that I moved to Essex and after having 2 kids, escaping for 3 hours to London requires a “bit” of planning.

Anyway, I made it last week to How are you, really? an event organized by Cannes Lions See it Be it. Unlike most chats, where the speakers tell us about their jobs, case studies and success (and we end up wanting to be like them), this event was focused on us, the audience. I guess the title can tell you that, so let me tell you the rest.

How are you really

Michelle Morgan started with an honest and touching talk sharing her story about the time when she had a burnout. Yes, it can happen to anyone. She is the co-founder of Livity and despite loving her job and working in the industry for many years, one day it suddenly happened. (FYI a burnout is exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress). The talk opened the topic for mental health and depression, in the Q&A more women shared their stories and also advice on how friends and family can help. I must confess my eyes welled up with all the stories but shhhh don’t tell anyone. If you know someone going through difficult times, just be there for them, to make dinner, to change the topic and most importantly to listen. Michelle was wearing pjs, 6pm is maybe is a bit early for them but she was showing us her new venture called PJoys. Confirming that after every storm the sun always shines, and brave people like her get to move on.

Sukhvinder Pabial followed, sharing great advice on how to deal with this s*** . Pardon me! How to deal with all the stress and concerns. Basically by removing ourselves from that situation and thinking of the positive. We spend too much time worrying and don’t give permission to ask ourselves when we had a moment full of joy. I tried to write down some of the exercises so you can join the club.

1. When was the last time you felt vibrant? ____________. What do we mean by vibrant? What made you the happiest person in the world? Gratitude is a very important thing.

2. Can you think of 3 good things that happened to you today? 


Is it difficult to come up with some answers? Maybe as adults, we became too complicated. Kids have no concept of holding back, they reply immediately to this. Lastly, there is more to life than being at home or being at work. People tend to have 2 places where they spend most of his time so

3. Where is your third place?________________. Where are you taking care of yourself? What’s that thing that you do and make you feel rejuvenated? I’m not pretending to be a therapist (I’m quite far from it) but in this article maybe. Just ask yourself the simple questions. Sometimes the greatest answers are those that we are not looking for.

Then we left our seats and started dancing and singing. Yes, we are mad! Blame Dr. Amy Rachelle on stage, sharing her 6-step system for a complete mind, body and spirit workout. If you have 6 minutes a day (which I’m sure you do) use them to power yourself.  Amy remarked on the importance of putting yourself first. We seem to be busy taking care of everybody else, thinking that we have super powers with no need for a break. Although, it’s essential to take that little time to pause, clear your head of thoughts and feelings – recovering your healthy self, instead of letting your body deplete.

Just when I was thinking I was in the perfect yoga retreat, the event took us back to the ad world. Jaki Jo Hannan, Senior Art Producer at AMV BBDO gave a fantastic talk about self-care & love in a fast-paced industry. Starting with a pic of herself with braces in her teens, Jaki Jo opened the door for a conversation about confidence and self care. She shared her own experience with honesty and humour all the way; simple statements such as ‘Sleeping the hours you need, not having sugar at night, taking yourself on a date and writing as a therapy’ became relevant when you see her on stage. She is a spontaneous and thriving woman, having worked her way up from intern to integrated creative Senior Art Producer. Recently she launched EqualLens her 50|50 Photography Ambition creating new and equal opportunities for female photographers in advertising.

We are almost there, so time to breath. That was the last piece of advice by Anthony Abbagnano. How such a simple tool as your breath can be used to transform your life.

That’s it. Time to ask yourself How are you?

Let’s talk about maps

We are probably obsessed (let’s say we instead of just me) about doing check-ins at fancy places so the world can be jealous about our days. We are obsessed with locations but nobody cares about maps. Contradictory ah!?

I decided to do a little research to update my Cartography brain and discover some of the fantastic things when mixing tech and maps.

Read more…

I was invited to write for Disruptica’s new blog – Join me there.