The Makeover Issue: Your Life

23 expert tips that can change your life

Improve your smile, love life, savings, and more.

Martin Gee/Globe Staff


. . . smile

To make your teeth look whiter, wear a darker blouse or shirt. For women, the darker the lipstick, the more vibrant the teeth will look.

 — PAUL VANKEVICH, assistant clinical professor, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

. . . get-togethers

Music is what really sets the tone for a party. Choose music that reflects the energy and rhythm you want to create. For cocktails, start with lounge music. For dinner, maybe Ella Fitzgerald; end with a DJ to get guests dancing.


 — BRYAN RAFANELLI, president and CEO of Rafanelli Events  

. . . people skills

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To be more charismatic, listen, maintain eye contact, and remember someone’s name and something about them — even if it means jotting it down right after you meet them.

 — ANGELA HOSEK, director of the public speaking program, Emerson College

 . . . social media profiles

Rather than having 20 mediocre social media accounts, have three or four robust profiles that really show you in your best light. Look at them as a public snapshot: Do you want people to see you wearing a nice suit, or a nightgown and curlers in your hair?


 — FRANCIS SKIPPER, vice president of digital marketing, 451 Marketing 

. . . halfhearted apologies

Don’t use qualifiers: “I’m sorry, but . . .” Whatever comes after the “but” is your excuse.

 — JUSTINE GRIFFIN, senior vice president for crisis communications and reputation management, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communication

. . . lackluster marriage

Don’t get complacent or take each other for granted. Continue to flirt and seduce, impress, and entice each other. Too often the chase stops at “I do,” and that’s when it should really begin.

 — DANA ADAM SHAPIRO, who interviewed hundreds of divorced people for his forthcoming You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married)

. . . savings account


First, save a couple hundred dollars a month just by scaling back a bit; two or three dinners in Boston equal $250. Second, show some initiative. There are lots of ways to make a few dollars here and there, and that pocket money will go a long way, especially if you put it into your savings.

 — JOEL SHULMAN, associate professor of entrepreneurship, Babson College

. . . retirement account

Mutual funds involve a manager picking stocks, and more than half of managers don’t beat the market. It’s better to buy a low-cost index fund. It has no brains in it but performs at the same rate of return as, say, the S&P, and for a very low fee — usually less than 1 percent [of assets].

 — PETER COHAN, adjunct lecturer, Babson College

. . . negative attitude

Research shows that aerobic exercise — walking, dancing, whatever works for you — three times a week for 30 minutes each time is equivalent to our most powerful psychiatric medications in dealing with depression.

 — TAL BEN-SHAHAR, author of Being Happy

. . . Boston accent

Don’t leave out r’s when they appear in a word, and don’t add r’s when they don’t appear. “My sistuh lives in Florider.”

 — JANELLE WINSTON, owner, SpeechCoach Company

. . . vehicle’s resale value

Always go with the leather option — leather will always look better than cloth as the years go on — and get the latest and greatest electronics, because that’s where the resale value is.  

— ERNIE BOCH JR., president and CEO, Boch Automotive

. . . golf swing

To use a baseball analogy, point your feet toward the shortstop and swing toward the second baseman. The natural rotation of your body will square the club.

 — GARY PARKER, PGA head professional and owner, CityGolf Boston

 . . . helicopter parenting

Many kids no longer know how to make independent decisions without their parents’ input, but their futures are filled with unpredictable events they’ll need to handle on their own. Today’s kids can’t deal with a bad grade, much less a bully. Everybody gets hysterical about this stuff. It sensitizes the child and childhood becomes a drama, with parents as the executive producers.

 — JOHN ROSEMOND, author of the forthcoming Parent-Babble

. . . love life

Take more chances. It is a numbers game, so if you’re looking for a date, don’t be shy about approaching someone you’re attracted to. Nowadays everyone’s like “Try online dating!” but people just stand there like idiots when they’re not online.

 — JANINE BUSH, owner, J. Allen Matchmaking

 . . . friend’s love life

The idea is to find a commonality as an opportunity to introduce your friend. “Oh, you just got back from Rome? Cindy’s been there!” Now your job is done. You can focus on talking to other guys.

 — THOMAS EDWARDS JR., founder, The Professional Wingman

. . . carbon footprint

Turn things off when they’re not in use. Shut down your computer and your home entertainment system. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Put a motion detector on outdoor lights. Be mindful of your energy use.

 — RACHEL WHITE, owner and principal, Greener Every Day

 . . . waistline

Four to six 30-second sprints will burn more body fat than 45 minutes at a steady, less-strenuous pace. This has been researched and proved. It’s up to 300 percent more efficient.

 — JULIAN CARDOOS, fitness manager, Stephen Cabral Studio

. . . pantry

Keep these staples on hand in case unannounced guests stop by: breadsticks; olive tapenade and olives; a bottle of red or white wine; crabmeat with lemon, salt, and pepper; canned white beans; marinated peppers, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts; and some imported provolone.

 — TODD ENGLISH, owner of Olives and many more restaurants 

. . . health

Make sleep a priority. Too little sleep — five or six hours rather than the required seven or eight — can affect creativity, memory, and concentration. It’s associated with blood-sugar problems, heart attacks, and weight gain.

 — ATUL MALHOTRA, clinical chief, Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

 . . . college application

It’s less important that students have a 10-page resume than that they show evidence of some kind of commitment to an activity that puts a smile on their face and results in personal stories that sometimes change their lives. It’s really not about the quantity but the quality of the experiences.

 — KELLY WALTER, executive director of admissions, Boston University


. . . look

For both sexes, a classic pair of Ray-Ban Aviators or Wayfarers are the ultimate accessory.

 — RADHIKA RANA, co-owner of Beacon Hill’s Vira Boutique

. . . hair

Lightening your hair by one shade can take off 10 years. Just beware: You can have too much of a good thing.

 — MEGAN GRAHAM, owner, Megan Graham Beauty

. . . unruly dog

Instead of saying “No, no, no,” calmly direct it to a different behavior. If it’s chewing on the coffee table, say “Leave it!” and offer it a chew toy. If it’s jumping for attention, ask it to sit before petting it.

 — KIM MELANSON, behavior counselor, Animal Rescue League of Boston

Illustrations by Martin Gee/Globe Staff. Elizabeth Gehrman is a frequent Globe Magazine contributor. Send comments to