Birthday Celebration Was Amazing: Here’s What Made It So Outstanding

Birthday Celebration Was Amazing: Here’s What Made It So Outstanding

 

 

For this year’s birthday, I had an intense urge to throw a party. Not a rager (as I have been prone to do), but a party to celebrate the connectivity and fabulosity of my extraordinary group of friends.

And I’m so glad I did – it was an outstanding night filled with conversation, catch-ups, new friends, Japanese Kit Kat bars, wine, amazing birthday cake, make-me-cry toasts –  and overall, just a great vibe that we all seemed to crave after an especially crazy “Breaking News” week!

And big thanks to Loreen Stevens for once again documenting Rivington Loft festivities. Videos and many of the pics in this post are by Loreen.

Based on the last few parties I’ve hosted, I’ve established 5 rules to make sure they are first-rate.

1.The Guest List (as always!!)

  • I’ve written before about the importance of the guest list. It’s essential that you include your “bestie/regulars” but you also need to introduce newer friends to keep things exciting.
  • For a mix-and-mingle party with 35-40 people, my rule of thumb is that 90% of the people have to have met each other at least once previously. Ideally at a party or dinner at my place.
  • This is crucial if you want a dynamic, talky event where people are excited to be with each other.
  • From experience, I’ve seen that when people only know the host, they don’t mingle as well and that really stresses me out.
  • And you don’t want to stress out your host. Big shout out to Norman Roberts, btw, who attended solo and who reassured me several times that he was meeting everyone and indeed, he proved to be a master-mingler.

Read on below for the remaining 4 rules as well as pics and video. Read More >

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Check Out Des Moines: The Heartland Has Got It Going On!!

Check Out Des Moines: The Heartland Has Got It Going On!!

 

In Iowa this weekend for the State Fair (post on Thursday). As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of the Heartland but even I was not prepared for how much I would love Des Moines – especially the East Village area.

Highly recommend a weekend here for my NYC and LA peeps. It takes us outside our bubbles, broadens our perspective and is an amazing way to scout out what’s going on culturally, socially and commercially around the country.

Here are 5 things you must put on your to-do list when you come visit:

Historic East Village

This is a fantastic area to explore on foot. Very vibrant, young and cool. We did not get to spend as much time here as we wanted – but there’s always next time!! Here are the highlights:

AC Hotel: Brand new hotel from Marriott, very stylish and modern. Highly recommend staying here, great staff, fabulous location. A bit pricey at $800 for 3 nights.

Scenic Route Bakery: One block from the hotel. Great vibe, Intelligentsia coffee, baked on-premise pastries and free wifi.

Raygun: Amazing store – reminded me of Urban Outfitters way back in the day but MUCH MUCH better. We bought tons of t-shirts. Great staff. And most interesting of all, the backstory on how this whole retail endeavor got underway. Worth a read – link, here.

Street Art Murals: Des Moines’ street art game is strong. Especially love the mural by Chris Vance behind the Scenic Route Bakery.

Read on below for other Des Moines favorites, as well as photos.

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Upping My Communication Skills With Storytelling

Upping My Communication Skills With Storytelling

 

One of my goals this year is to become a better communicator. Dare I say it, good enough to get on the TED Talk circuit!

My 3 top priorities in signing up for this training program are:

1.Develop a compelling elevator pitch

  • When asked: “what do you do?” I want to have a short response that is concise and fascinating
  • It must be intriguing enough for people to want to learn more
  • With Zandl Group, all I had to say was I have a “trend consulting company.” Everyone wanted to know more, starting with what trends were next. I need to develop something as compelling for what I am doing now.

2.Hone my storytelling skills

  • Crucial for any type of presentation.
  • Opening with a relevant, short story grabs the audience’s attention and relaxes you, the speaker.

3.Motivational speaking skills

  • I’m interested in seeing if I can turn my personal life lessons into TED-like talks on how to navigate change, build self-confidence and be comfortable living in beta-mode
  • I know that many aspects of my personal story intrigue people
  • And I will have to agree with them that my upbringing was anything but traditional. Those early years provided many lessons in self-sufficiency that both amuse and horrify people when they first hear them

Read on below for more on the power of storytelling including how to nail the first 30 seconds of any preserntation. Excellent advice from Kindra Hall. An absolute must-read.

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The Nordic Countries Tops In Innovation: One More Reason to Visit Next Year

The Nordic Countries Tops In Innovation: One More Reason to Visit Next Year

 

Bloomberg just released their annual Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including R&D spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies. The Nordic countries dominate. Four of the top 15 most innovative countries are Nordic.

  • Sweden is #2.
  • Finland moved up to #5
  • Denmark is #8
  • Norway #14.
  • #1 spot continues to be held by South Korea.

As many of you know I have long been fascinated by all things Scandinavian.

  • Big fan of the design aesthetic including the concept of hygge (coziness), the food, the outdoor lifestyle and even the climate.
  • Most recently I’ve also become enamored of Finland (the next Iceland?).

And having just spent a couple of days in Norway, I am now planning a month-long immersion in the Nordic countries for next summer.

  • I’ve started to scout out destinations, see my rudimentary notes below (along with pics).
  • I am hoping my network will be inspired to come thru with lots of recommendations.
  • Also actively looking to meet/interview people from startups, the food scene, artists and designers.

Read on below for where I am so far with my list of interesting/cool things to check out.

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Amazon’s Holiday 2017 Gift Preview: All I Want For Xmas Is The Echo Look!

Amazon’s Holiday 2017 Gift Preview: All I Want For Xmas Is The Echo Look!

 

I LOVE AMAZON!! They don’t cut corners, they have a huge vision and their events are, without a doubt, the best I have ever attended. And big shoutout to their PR firm, Hunter PR, top notch all the way.

  • The Holiday 2017 event was held at 4 World Trade Center, 71st floor – so it was a “top of the world” kind of experience.
  • And, the layout and décor were first rate – if anyone knows the name of the company that does their design and the buildouts, let me know.
  • What I always find so impressive is their whimsical approach to merchandising and that they always have a huge contingent of marketing people from Seattle on hand to provide product info and, at the same time, to get our reactions.

Based on the product categories most prominently featured, Amazon expects holiday to be huge for:

  • Kids and babies – lots of interactive toys, Amazon really digs Hasbro. I especially loved Hasbro’s newest FurReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler (see video/pics below). Mattel, meanwhile, might have a rough go of it this holiday season.
  • Tech and smart-home devices – everything was tech but smart home security and entertainment devices were front and center
  • Outdoors/recreational equipment including scooters, tents, drones

Two categories that are newer for Amazon are fashion (located right at the entrance to the event) and Grocery & Gourmet.

  • In the fashion area, they also featured the Echo Look which I was sad to hear was only available “by invitation” and, as was clearly (not subtly) communicated to me, I was not nearly stylish enough to get one.
  • In Grocery, emphasis on Amazon Fresh with displays of bananas, avocados and chocolates. I was told their  Seattle office is filled with cute vegetable and fruit stands.

Read on below for more of the items that caught my eye – including photos and video.

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Arthritis Update: Tips For Managing It And Feeling Better

Arthritis Update: Tips For Managing It And Feeling Better

 

I’ve written about my osteoarthritis before. It’s a drag but I am definitely doing a much better job of self-managing and consequently, feeling much better!

The photos above, from my recent trip, are indicative of the wider range of motion I’ve gotten back – being able to kneel or step into that jeep is a big deal for me.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the disease and, based on my own experience, what works best to keep it under control:

  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the USA.
  • There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and more than 50 million adults in the U.S. have some form.
  • It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people age.
  • The most common type is osteoarthritis (which is what I have) – it’s caused by degeneration of cartilage, the soft tissue located between the joints.
  • The disease is irreversible but the symptoms can usually be effectively managed.
  • Risk factors for osteoarthritis include excess weight, family history, age, and previous injury.
  • Weight control is crucial: every pound translates to 4 lbs of extra stress on your joints. Lose 5 lbs and there will 20 lbs less stress on your hip or knee joint.
  • I absolutely feel better when I lose even just a few pounds.
  • Since osteoarthritis is incurable and degenerative, a commitment to self-management is critical to minimizing the speed/scope of the condition’s impact.

Read on below for some of the things I do DAILY that have been the most effective in helping me feel better.

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Thank You Groupe SEB For Reminding Me That We Are Already Halfway To The Holidays.

Thank You Groupe SEB For Reminding Me That We Are Already Halfway To The Holidays.

Lagostina copper lasagna pans

 

Attended this private viewing of upcoming product launches for  home, kitchen and beverage products from All-Clad, KRUPS, Lagostina, Rowenta and T-fal.

Although it was a sweltering 90 degrees outside, the theme was Christmas and I must admit it was fun (and informative) celebrating #HalfwaytotheHolidays in July.

See below for photos of the upcoming brand launches. The highlight of the event was All-Clad’s Prep & Cook.  They’re positioning it as your very own sous chef in the kitchen. It’ll set you back about $1000 but it’s like a miracle-worker. To make asparagus soup, for example, you put all the ingredients in the machine and it knows how long to cook before it needs to start chopping and then simmering. They were also touting the Prep & Cook’s risotto-making prowess.

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Mongolia And The Gobi: It’s Absolutely Magical, It Stole My Heart

Mongolia And The Gobi: It’s Absolutely Magical, It Stole My Heart

 

My fellow travelers from my recent Nat Geo Around The World trip set up a Dropbox account for all of us to submit photos from our trip.  I went through them this past week and noticed that Mongolia/Gobi had the most submissions, followed by St. Petersburg.

  • I am still madly infatuated by all the things I experienced in the Gobi Desert and cannot get it out of my mind. The vastness of the landscape and the horses really blew me away. These kids can obviously ride before they can walk!
  • A lot of people have asked me about this trip vs. my previous one (Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, Tibet, Serengeti, Marrakech). That trip was amazing and hit all my bucket list destinations. On reflection, many of us, including myself, were rookie travelers on our first major Nat Geo trip.
  • This Northern Route trip, on the other hand, was so much more impactful. The destinations were more remote and obscure. For whatever reason, these locations felt more significant to me (perhaps less touristy?). Additionally, my fellow travelers on this trip were more rugged and adventurous. Also, more well-traveled – several were on their 4th or 5th Nat Geo Private Jet trip.
  • My mind is still working through the experience. Major trip!!
  • See more Mongolia photos below. Unfortunately, there is no way to credit who shot them but if anyone does know and would like me to add a photo credit, please let me know.

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