Disorganized CEO Keeps It Together With Lists

One of my favorite things about this blog is featuring successful list producers each month and showing all of you how “cool” list making can be.  If it weren’t for lists — this month’s list producer may not be the woman she is today!  Seriously!  I met Laura Verallo de Bertotto, who is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, on a shoot for almost five years ago.  I interviewed her mother, who is a dermatologist, about their skincare line.  We quickly became friends and have stayed in touch ever since even though Laura lives in the Philippines.  We share a love of lists and The Checklist Manifesto.

I’ve asked Laura to give us some of her list making secrets:

Q: Why do you call yourself a compulsive list maker?

A: I’m naturally very disorganized. Someone once told me it’s because I’m a Sagittarius. Whatever it is, my brain is tangential: it’s wired to jump. Even with simple things. An example: I pretty much know what to wear every day I go to work. No major drama there. But when I have to travel, my mind explodes. What works again? What if it rains? Should I bring something if it gets cold. Oooh, have to get the lining on that jacket fixed. Wonder if I need a new one. Should I get wool or something else this time? And poof. There goes the day. I’m a compulsive list maker because if I weren’t I’d float away. Lists are my anchors. I think of something, write it down. Stuff I need to do, write it down. Questions to ask the pediatrician at next visit, write it down. Processes at work? Checklists checklists checklists.

Q: What do you make lists about?

A: Everything. If I’m attending a meeting, I list the things I want to discuss and get done. Travel lists are big ones, too. I list all my outfits for each day and purpose, all the skincare and other essentials (meds, brushes, etc.), travel stuff (passport, tickets, etc.)…everything I need/want to bring.

I write guidelines in list form: for the caretakers of our kids, for example, to make sure they know what the creatures are allowed to eat, how they can be disciplined if need be, etc. When we had to implement a new communications system at work, I wrote out a quick-start checklist for employees to use to get up and running.

Goals. Personal, business and family ones.

When I was nursing, I used lists to keep track of my pumping schedule. Maybe this is a little weird to share but it really was so important for me. I had severe difficulties nursing my first baby so for my second, I pumped exclusively. To do so properly, you have to stick to a strict schedule and keep track of how much you’re pumping. I still have that list in my iPhone 🙂

Shopping lists. Gift lists (if something occurs to me that a friend would like). Wish lists (my whole family! each person emails their wish lists…from very small-ticket items like tube socks to very expensive things that we can pool together to get…the BEST thing for any family! So you don’t have to worry about what to get…you KNOW whatever you get off that list will be really liked. AND you can work within your budget! AND more environmentally-friendly: less material waste :). Even lists of who to #FF on Twitter 🙂

Q: How often do you make lists?

A:  Averaged out for the whole year? Not daily but easily around 3x/month. I might update existing lists more frequently at times, but I’d say this is a good average.

Q: What type of list do you make the most?

A:  Work lists just because it’s my daily reality. With the job I have, I juggle soooooo many different things. Without lists, I wouldn’t know what to prioritize and would probably do shoddier work.

Q: How do you make lists? (Handwritten/email/etc)

A:  For more general concepts (for example: Product Ideas, Copy/Names, Employee Perk Ideas, etc.), I create email messages that I save as drafts. Or I’ll use the iPhone’s NOTES app.

For quick, daily things like shopping lists if I’m out, I’ll SMS myself a list.

More often than not now, I use my iPhone. The free Reminders App is great…simple, straightforward and with a real checkbox that you can tic off when done. But I also use the iPhone’s NOTES feature a lot, too (must have over 50 in there now).

Q: How have you found lists help you succeed?

A:  The nursing list was crucial. With it, my lactation consultant and I could really track what I did, when. It was invaluable at setting my schedule and finally helping me get more sleep while providing enough breastmilk for my baby…this was a small miracle considering my first experience and the fact that I was working.

When my husband and I were commuting weekly from Hong Kong and Manila, we had a list of goals. We said if we achieved them, we’d settle in one place. And we did 🙂 I think this was very, very important for our marriage. Any marriage is hard. Strained further by distance, it can really be a challenge. In this case, our list helped us stay focused, reminded us why we were doing this, and gave us a clear thing to aim for to be together again.

Lots more re business, but I figured those would be more common 🙂

Q: Specifically what was the last thing you wrote a list about?

A:  My goals update for the year. My wish list for my family. My goals for 2012.

Laura is CEO and Creative Director of VMV Hypoallergenics, a skin care and cosmetics firm. She grew up in Manila and New England, is a self-described martini hound, and has two children with her husband from Argentina who now runs the company with her, her sister and her mother, the brand’s founder.


Enhanced by Zemanta
2 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] “I don’t have time” excuse may not work here. The busier you are, the more you need lists. Laura Verallo de Bertotto, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, says, “My brain is tangential: it’s wired to jump…..I’m a […]

  2. […] “I don’t have time” excuse may not work here. The busier you are, the more you need lists. Laura Verallo de Bertotto, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, says, “My brain is tangential: it’s wired to jump…..I’m a […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *