Category Archives: working girl under thirty

video: how to graduate college in two years

As some of you who have read my blog consistently might know, I graduated college in two years at age 19. My younger brother did too. It doesn’t make us any smarter than the next person – but it does require a lot of planning ahead, which we discuss in this video. For any parents that didn’t know this was an option for their kids, or any kids interested in fast tracking their success and their lives, I hope you enjoy the video below! I thought it was timely given that graduations are just around the corner!

Taking the Fast Track with Star and Tucker Hughes from Hughes Marino on Vimeo.

splash forward


inspirational women series: kathryn bigelow

The quality that I admire most about Kathyrn Bigelow is that she’s fearless. She’s not afraid of controversy. She’s not afraid to go against the status quo. And she’s not afraid of what others might think.

Kathyrn is the first woman to win the Best Director award in Oscar history – in addition to the first woman to win the Director’s Guild of America Award for directing AND the first woman to win a BAFTA Award for best director. Pretty darn impressive.


As a female director, she’s not afraid to go against the grain, working in genres that are typically very male-dominated. Her filme, The Hurt Locker, detailed a bomb squad’s dangerous role in the War in Iraq. Her most recent film, Zero Dark Thirty, chronicled the search for Osama Bin Laden…and while it was met with some controversy, it was my favorite non-romance-chick-flick movie yet.

A few things that I admire most about her:

1. She is a true artist. I didn’t realize this before, but Kathryn got started as a painter – and she even attended the San Francisco Art Institute! She then went on to study at Columbia University Film School. It’s clear through her work that she is a true artist – and it’s impressive for someone to have such passion for the arts in so many different mediums.

2. She likes to be challenged. Kathryn insisted on shooting her films in the Middle East – a decision that many companies avoid in favor of filming in Arizona, New Mexico, and other safer areas. According to Kathryn, “I like to direct those films that challenge my capabilities and demand complete dedication from me.” She is one tough lady! Even with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, and the controversy that ensued, she owned it. She’s not afraid to get uncomfortable.

3. She knows what she wants, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. According to Kathryn, “I’ve never made a non-independent movie. No matter what scale it’s been, it’s always been independent. So I wanted to retain complete creative control, I wanted final cut, I wanted the opportunity to cast breakout, emerging talent, and as I said, shoot in the Middle East.”

inspirational women series: maria bartiromo

maria bartiromo

While I don’t have an autographed headshot of Maria Bartiromo sitting on my desk at work like Ivanka, I’ve admired “Money Honey” for years. I used to watch her show, “The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo,” weekly with my dad just in awe of the incredible conversations she would have with global thought leaders. She was always so quick on her feet, knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, and clearly a very, very sharp woman. Her experiences are incredible – she was the first journalist to report live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has received countless prestigious awards, and has written a number of bestselling books (including one of my favorites, The Ten Laws of Enduring Success). She is passionate about business, communication and the news – and has become one of the most successful financial news anchors in history.

A few of her lessons that resonated with me the most are:

1. Think Long-Term.

One of Maria’s mentors once told her, “Maria, you have to think about where you see yourself in five years. Once you get that picture, then you have to work toward it now. That’s the best advice I can give you.” I’ve always had a very long-term focus with my own life – setting goals for the month, the year, the next five years, and even over the course of my entire life. I think it helps you stay focused on what matters most and keeps you moving in the right direction.

2. Work Your Butt Off.

Maria is the first to say that her biggest attribute to success is working really, really hard. “Don’t ever, ever, believe anyone who tells you that you can just get by, by doing the easiest thing possible. Because there’s always somebody behind you who really wants to do what you’re doing. And they’re going to work harder than you if you’re not working hard.” Growing up, I’ve heard the phrase “only the paranoid survive” over and over again – and this is exactly it. You can never become complacent, or someone else will outwork you.

3. Control Your Fate – Or Someone Else Will.

In The Ten Laws of Enduring Success, Maria talks about not letting circumstances happen to you – but actually creating your circumstances. “It’s such a basic idea — a centerpiece of success: You can’t go through life thinking that the tide will just move you along and take you where you want to be. You have to swim there. I know I don’t want people working for me who are just rolling along with the tide. I want the strong swimmers — and it’s okay with me if they falter sometimes, as long as they’re in there kicking, moving forward.”

inspirational women series: ivanka trump


One of the highlights of my work week was receiving this amazing spring flower arrangement from one of the most inspiring women I’ve met in person…a woman who balances being a mother, wife, and managing partner of a law firm, all while staying true to herself and pursuing her passions.

A few weeks ago, I watched an interview by Sheryl Sandburg on 60 Minutes about her new book, Lean In, and it left me feeling so inspired by the amazing women role models I have to look up to. Whether it’s a Facebook executive like Sheryl, my role model Ivanka Trump, or the leader of a law firm that so generously sent me flowers.

You may notice to the left of those beautiful flowers is a signed photo of Ivanka Trump…and the slight reflection of my bright pink polka dot iPhone case. For years, I’ve looked up to Ivanka Trump – but not for the reasons people may think. Yes, she is gorgeous, famous, has her own shoe line (I am a proud customer), and has a fabulous, globe-trotting lifestyle. More than any of that, she is classy, poised, brilliant, strong, committed to her family and values, and extremely hard working. What more could I aspire to be?

Ivanka Trump

I thought it was only fitting to share a few things I’ve learned from her (in the many interviews I’ve read about her, from her Twitter feed which I follow, and from her fantastic book which I highly recommend)…

You never get anything you don’t ask for.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and what you deserve. Chances are that you’ll get it.

The power of hand-written thank you notes.

Today, hand-written thank you notes are rare…but nonetheless meaningful. And they stand out from the masses of emails sent out on a daily basis.

Embrace being different.

Don’t be afraid to stand out in the crowd.

Strive for excellence – and never settle for mediocrity.

“Mediocrity terrifies me.”

Embrace being a woman.

“I have always admired women that have a strong sense of self, complemented by femininity. I especially appreciate the presence of these women in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as real estate. You can never underestimate the power of a woman, whether she is leading a meeting in the boardroom or attending a post-work event.”

Image matters.

“My top three style tips for women at work are context, modesty and femininity. My office style has changed pretty drastically, and a lot of it became being comfortable with expressing femininity in a way that, when I was younger, I was nervous about. I was almost afraid to be feminine on the job, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. I wear pink to the office now, whereas when I was 22, I was nervous to wear anything other than a black pinstripe suit.”

Love what you do.

“Love what you do. There’s always going to be someone else who’s smarter than you, but there’s no substitute for passion. People who are passionate always work the hardest, and that sets them apart.”

blurring the lines

Most of you by now know a few of my favorite recipes, my love of country music, and passion for arts and crafts…but that’s only a very small part of my life these days! I thought it was about time to share what I spend 95% of my time doing…and that is my job at Hughes Marino!

Star at Hughes Marino

I am fortunate enough to work at my family’s business in commercial real estate where we represent tenants and users of space in their lease and purchase negotiations. We only represent tenants – and never landlords – which is pretty unique in this industry. Think of it this way…if you needed an attorney, would you hire the same attorney that’s representing your opponent? The same goes for commercial real estate. My dad built this company on the foundation that companies need expert, unbiased tenant-only representation – and we’re now the largest tenant representation company in San Diego.

I’m very lucky in that I can truly say I love what I do. I love the company I work for, the team that I’m a part of, and the mission that we’re advancing. It’s a wonderful thing.

I’ve now been working full-time at Hughes Marino since September of 2011 – about a year and a half – and boy how my lifestyle has changed! I love my 60 to 70 hour work weeks…but it definitely doesn’t leave me with as much time and energy to post recipes and craft ideas!

Those will be more sporadic in the future…and it is one of the reasons I’ve put blogging on hold for the past year or so…but I’ve decided now is a good time to blur the lines between my personal and professional life on this blog. I’m ready to share my adventures at work (as a young woman in a predominately male-dominated industry), my adventures in finding and maintaining balance in my life, the incredible experience of buying my first condo (and the fun decorating process ahead!), my attempts at brightening up the workplace with pink skirts and polka dot shirts, and much much more.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit more about what I do!


the $1.6 billion woman

Hi ladies!

I first have to thank you so so SO much for welcoming me back into the blogging world and being so wonderfully sweet and supportive! I’ve missed you!

I wanted to share an article I read in the New York Times this morning.

Here’s an excerpt of the parts that resonated most with me…

The $1.6 Billion Woman, Staying on Message

Seventy-two hours before Facebook’s big moment, Sheryl K. Sandberg was half a world away, hobnobbing with the likes of Bill Gates and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Yes, Ms. Sandberg is Mark Zuckerberg’s No. 2. And, yes, if all goes well, she will soon become the $1.6 billion woman. On Wednesday, Facebook filed to go public in a deal that, in all likelihood, will instantly make it one of the most valuable corporations on the planet.

But Ms. Sandberg, who has helped steer this social network to this once-unimaginable height, had more on her mind than securities filings and ad metrics. She was attending the annual World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, where her subject wasn’t Facebook — but women. Specifically, how women, in her view, must take responsibility for their careers and not blame men for holding them back.

Given that Ms. Sandberg is Facebook’s chief operating officer, and that all of Wall Street was hanging on last week’s news, you might think that she was absurdly off-topic. But Ms. Sandberg sees herself as more than an executive at one of the hottest companies around — more, too, than someone who will soon rank among the few self-made billionaires who are women. She sees herself as a role model for women in business and technology. In speeches, she often urges women to “keep your foot on the gas pedal,” and to aim high.

If Silicon Valley men bond in venture capital conference rooms or on weekend bike trips, Ms. Sandberg has been building an alternate networking group of Silicon Valley women. For about seven years, since she was a Google executive, she has held catered monthly dinner parties at her home for a group of several dozen women. Guest speakers have included the feminist and author Gloria Steinem; Steve Ballmer, the C.E.O. of Microsoft; and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, according to three people who have attended the dinners but spoke on condition that they not be identified out of respect for Ms. Sandberg’s privacy. Ms. Sandberg recently invited Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri to attend as a speaker.

“I expected to see a lot of women in St. John suits and expensive purses and was pleasantly surprised when it was anything but that,” Senator McCaskill said. “Women had been included that were in the infancy of their careers, her kids were running around, it was very low key. It was clear that she’s the kind of role model that young women are looking for, especially in the tech sector.”

For all her roles and titles, Ms. Sandberg is about to add one more: billionaire. According to Facebook’s filing last week, Ms. Sandberg made nearly $31 million last year, including base salary, bonus and $30.5 million in stock awards. She owns 1.9 million shares in the company and an additional 39 million in restricted stock options. If Facebook goes public at a valuation of $100 billion — which Wall Street sees as a possibility — her stake could be worth as much as $1.6 billion. She would rank among the richest self-made women in America, above Meg Whitman ($1.3 billion), but below Oprah ($2.7 billion), according to Forbes.

What really inspired me were her monthly dinner parties at her home for her networking group, featuring different guest speakers each time. I thought this was such a neat idea – and I can’t wait until my apartment can accomodate more than three people at once so I can host dinner parties of my own! It also might require that I buy a dining room table…and some food. I still don’t have a single ounce of food in my apartment. That’s one of my goals for the week. Go. To. Grocery. Store.

Apartment post coming soon!

In the meantime, happy super bowl! Go Tom Brady!

Love, Star


Don’t forget to enter this giveaway!

beautiful day

lessons from my MBA

I have big news for you, ladies.

On Saturday night at 5:00 p.m., I officially finished my last class of the MBA program!!! Hooray!!!

The best way to celebrate? Lots of ice cream, creme brulee, and triple chocolate mousse cake.

And the most amazing graduation gift in the entire world from my parents.

A big-girl camera! It was the best gift I could have imagined. They know how much I love to blog and take pictures…so this is the next step in getting better at photography.

And look at these flowers. My mom’s friend, Shirley, did this (and the flowers in the first picture) – she has a professional gardening business and produces the most gorgeous flower arrangements.

The MBA was the biggest whirlwind experience of my life. Just one short year ago, I started the MBA program as a freshly-graduated twenty year old hoping to learn a whole lot more about business, make some great friends, and enjoy the process. It’s amazing to reflect back on how much things have changed, and how far things have come, since last August when everything began.

I learned a lot about business, and I was inspired more than I ever thought possible. I met sooo many great friends, and the memories I’ve made will last a lifetime. From rooming with them in Singapore and Hong Kong in January to watching one of them walk down the aisle last month, I feel so grateful for the people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made.

I thought it was only fitting to do one last MBA Lesson of the Week for my last few days of school…only this time, it’s “Lessons from my MBA.”

I hope you’ve had an amazing weekend!


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