The Happy Secret to Better Work

It’s hard to find happiness after success, if the goal posts of success keep changing.  -Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor is a New York Times bestselling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage. He is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. Shawn has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success.

In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that happiness inspires us to be more productive.

Shawn’s learned you have to train your brain to be positive just like you workout your body. We not only need to work happy, we need to work at being happy. Try his 21-Day Challenge. Pick one of the 5 researched habits and try it out for 21 days in a row to create a positive habit.

1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism and raises your success rates significantly.

2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.

3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.

4.  Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time.

5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students.

{Katie Ridder}

Katie Ridder’s rooms are happy and full of life.

Many experts feel that color has a definite impact on a person’s mood. has a great article and infographic – How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity.

Stay inspired!


Good Morning 2016!

How you start the day sets your mindset for the rest of the day.


While looking for resources about morning routines I came across Adrion Porter’s Gen X Amplified podcast interview with Hal Elrod - The Miracle of a Morning Routine.  The interview could be titled, “Hal Elrod: You Only Live Twice”.  Hit head-on by a drunk driver at age 20, dead for six minutes, in a coma for six days, breaking 11 bones and being told he may never walk again, Hal defied the logic of doctors and the temptations to be a victim, and he bounced back to prove that ALL of us are capable of overcoming extraordinary adversity to create extraordinary results in our personal and professional lives.

If getting up earlier and having a morning routine is on your list of resolutions, or something you don’t think is possible for you, this book provides the tools to change your life.  Since reading The Miracle Morning in November and piecing together a custom miracle morning routine that works for me, I have consistently looked forward to getting up early to start my days and morning ritual.

At the foundation of The Miracle Morning are the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. – a set of six simple life-enhancing, life-changing daily practices: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing – all intended to get your day started with more Energy, Motivation, and Focus.



For bright and airy office design inspiration, check out Studio McGee.  Husband and wife team Syd and Shea McGee have the most beautiful portfolio of bright and clean designs.


Cheers to Today

Happy New Year!

2016     notes

I have my calendars and journal at the ready, and an evolving list of goals and plans to make 2016 the best year ever.

“No matter where you are in life, celebrate it. It’s either a product of your growth or a place that will help you grow. Cheers to today.”  -Lewis Howes, New York Times Bestselling author of The School of Greatness

The School of Greatness is in the stack of books on my bedside table.  Lewis is a tremendous source of inspiration and a great example of hustle and giving first.

Each week in 2016 Positive Workspace will feature an inspiring home office, favorite resource (book, article, blog or podcast) and a tried-and-true product recommendation.

The inspiring office of the week comes from Domino Magazine. I love the windows, the simple white desk, and the fresh flowers.



Inspired By Charm is a really fun blog full of color and inspiration.  The blog creator, Michael Wurm, Jr., has a great motto in both life and design – “Be who you are.” He has an eye for beautiful things and shares his imaginative recipes, decorating ideas and DIY projects. He wrote an article that we all can relate to, How I Pretend to Be Organizedand he uses one of my favorite organizing products in his home office – clipboards.

Product of the week…


It might not look like much, but I use these little flexible notebooks (7-1/2 x 9-3/4) daily and recommend them to everyone. Keeping all your random notes in one tidy place saves many a frustrated moment. I use a different color (pink, red, green and blue) for the 4 main categories I keep notes on: my 2 businesses, the non-profit I’m involved with, and ideas that pop-up randomly (I used to write these all over the place and could never remember where they were). $2 well spent!

As I flip the calendar from 2015 to 2016 I want to send a heartfelt thank-you to my amazing friends, family, clients, and co-workers who have supported me in ways I never would have imagined.  It was a year with challenges and unplanned changes. I’m so grateful for you keeping my face towards the sunshine. You have showed me the power of unconditional love, loyalty, graciousness, selflessness, true friendship and what it is to have a heart of gold. I’m here for you in 2016 and beyond.





5 Women Doing Great Work and Their Favorite Productivity Tools

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Natalie Eckdahl, host of the Biz Chix Podcast, led a 3-month small group Mastermind that ended last week. This energized think tank of creative entrepreneurs with varied businesses and perspectives, made for interesting conversations that sparked good action in new and exciting directions.

Here are the productivity tools they use every day:

Natalie Eckdahl, Biz Chix:  


focus@will - A new neuroscience based music service that helps you focus, reduce distractions and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading.

Carol Cox, Speaking Your Brand


The War of Art, Steven Pressfield –  The book emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Heather Farrar-Ryan, Safe in the City


Cozi App - The Cozi family organizer app effortlessly manages your family calendar, shopping lists, to do lists and family journal while you’re on the go.

 Kiana Porter Isom, Edupreneur Today


Todoist - a project management application for personal and professional productivity.

Traci Antonovich, The Kitchen Girl


A personalized workflow using Trello, Evernote and Airtable


If you are considering starting or joining a mastermind group, here are a few resources:


Biz Chix – How to Start a Mastermind with Natalie Eckdahl

Goins Writer – Why Joining a Mastermind Group will Benefit You


7 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group

Mastermind It to Accelerate Your Success

4 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Needs a Mastermind



The Power of Positivity and Smiles


Thanksgiving 2015 ~ Branch and Elkins families
Raleigh, NC

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

The depth of love, respect and kindness among these three families reinforced the power in surrounding yourself with great people. Our Thanksgiving was plentiful in food, festive table settings, warm fall weather, and a house full of very happy Carolina Panthers fans celebrating a win over the Cowboys to continue their undefeated season (11-0!!) — but most memorable were the fun conversations and gratitude for time together as a family.

I’ve been reading a lot about positivity, mindset, overcoming fear, and the value of surrounding yourself with people who build you up and believe in your potential. These topics will be the new focus for Positive Workspace in 2016. Each week I’ll be sharing 3 fun, inspiring, positive resources:

  1. An inspiring home office
  2. A book, blog, or podcast recommendation
  3. A favorite quote or workspace product

My hope is that these resources will bring renewed excitement to your work day and get you to think about ways to empower yourself by pushing yourself to do things you didn’t think possible.

You are what you believe you are. Your success in life and business starts with a strong belief in yourself.