Dream vacation of relaxation in Cabo

Cabo is full of everything perfect for a dream vacation. There is something for everyone, beautiful beaches for the sun soaker, adventure galore for the thrill seeker, more clubs than you can count for the partier.  For all of these reasons plus the quick flight time from the US makes Cabo a mainstay in weekend getaways.  So for my most recent trip to Cabo what fun did I get myself into??? Well absolutely nothing and it was just what the doctor ordered!

I am all for a vacation that helps me break my normal cycle of business and gives me some of the spice of life I am normally missing. Especially when this destination involves a beach my sites are almost automatically set on getting in some fun in the sun with jet skis or scuba diving to zest up my life.  For this vacation, however, I was all about the R & R and man it looked good on me.

I will admit part of my freefall into my relaxation sabbatical was my hotel. The Cape Hotel is a beautiful luxury hotel nestled into the scenic Cabo Oceanside.  After a long flight and long car ride the Cape offered a beautiful escape.  With clouds and rain in the forecast it all merged together for the perfect storm of why not just chill.  So chill I did.  Yes I chilled at the pool where poolside service can even mean in the pool service.

I chilled in the cabanas when the rain began to pour instead of standard scatter to the room to get out of the rain. 

I chilled on my fantastic balcony with swing included and allowed the sound of the ocean to draw me to sleep.

I even chilled in their soaking tub in the middle of the room as I let the bubble bath take me away.

Pretty much despite my pre-trip plans I took relaxation to a whole new level on the trip.

For me this very, very relaxing trip to Cabo was a great reminder of just how good change is. As I spend most of my days constantly in motion I have convinced myself that this is just a part of who I am.  While this is true it is important to devote time in your life to things that do not come as easy…like being still and relaxing.  By nurturing a less prominent side of yourself you all your body and mind time to recharge and actually take on your life bigger and better than ever.  As I sat starring at the crashing waves of Cabo San Lucas I was reminded that life is indeed filled with wonderful things and most of them are just a reach away if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

Small Business Spotlight: Johnny Dang & Co.

With a healthy mix of income levels, demographics and tons and tons of space Houston is a prime breeding ground for small business success. Companies that can properly transverse through all these factors have the opportunity to move their small business dreams to entrepreneurial powerhouses.  One outstanding example of a Houston local business growth story is Johnny Dang & Co.  By branding himself as the grill king he has been able to take a leap in branding from a jeweler to make him a local powerhouse.

What I love most about success stories like these is all the hard work that goes in that most people are tune deaf too.  In these stories you can see the struggle, growth, ups and downs and failures of taking on your dream, being humble enough to start small and thinking big enough to seize opportunities.  For Johnny the passion began as a watch repair tech at a flea market.  Proof positive that the root is in the dream not how grand you start.  Once the seed was planted Johnny moved to a location in Sharpstown.  If you saw the store you both knew it and remembered it as the bling was definitely the theme.  In this his brand was born but it was his tenacity for building that brand that make his growth unstoppable.  By identifying a need in custom jewelry creation in Houston he was able to attract deep pockets and big names to his shop.

So with the King of Grillz on TV and at a store near you what pearls can we gather in our own businesses?

Where you start is no indication of where you will end up. Taking the leap from flea market to three stores is a huge leap but completely possible with a dream to big enough to lift your sites high and the hard work and perseverance to move your engine along.

When you have a relationship with the customer you are half way there. When he first opened in Sharpstown it would be hard to imagine the jeweler becoming a national go to for jewelry. Instead of just targeting a high end client Johnny took the population he worked in, got to know them and see what would interest them. By focusing on their response Johnny Dang was able to build a broad audience in a wide range of quality and prices.

Team work makes the dream work. Where I think Johnny Dang truly shines in his ability to collaborate. From watches to his powerhouse alliance with Paul Wall his associations have been not just strong but lasting and given him the momentum to make a name for himself not just in Houston but in the world of Hip Hop.

With Johnny Dang & Co. recently celebrating their one year anniversary at a flagship store that is over 14,000 the power of these lessons is self-evident!

Girls Trip Fun: Reclaiming our time

Sometimes you just have to getaway and using your escape to reconnect with girl friends who reflect some of the best of you is a great way to reclaim your time, your life, and dare I say your groove? Whoever encouraged me to take the leap into adulthood and failed to mention all the unfun things that get in the way clearly wanted to mislead me. In what I thought would be a glamorous life of an attorney and entrepreneur is instead long days of running around, often in circles, for people I may not like.  It is definitely the life I choose so this is not a complaint just a note that what I want to do is often placed waaaayyyyyy behind all the things I need to do.  So that rare weekend when the stars align and I can get 7 of my friends away from their busy lives to enjoy some fun in beautiful southern California is one of the best ways to tap into the young, carefree Cori often hidden under the driven hard working Eleanor.

So how and why can a girl’s trip help you reclaim your time? Well the most important part is all the things you leave behind.  Yep the best trips are ones where you leave the laptop, pre-warn everyone you will be unavailable and tap into the present.  You only have one life to live and often we forget this message behind all the other things that seem to get priority.  Make money, find love, raise kids! All of these important life requirements but sometimes a little pearl is forgotten along the way… you are as important as all of the things on your to do list.

You

When you believe that and take occasions, even if they are rare to feed into that amazing things happen. Your step peps up, your smile gets a little more genuine, you remember to have fun and love with power. And for me there are few better people to tap into this part of myself than my good friends.  There is influence in perception and when you surround yourself by those who in the glimpses of you they get see you as smart and beautiful and powerful and competent, you can catch the same feelings about yourself.  As we set out to cheers in LA I laughed and smiled and even was a tad bit bossy, but with women who see all of those qualities as benefits to me and my friendship with them. A weekend with these kinds of reflections of yourself is a great reminder of how strong the best of you is when you untie the teeter and let the balloon soar. If only for the weekend.

Legacy Building

What stands behind when you are no longer here? At some point or another through the passage of time we will get an opportunity to consider what we leave behind.  Perhaps it is when you go to a funeral of a loved one or hear about a senseless killing on the news.  No matter how you might try to ignore it, one day you will have to face yourself and ask what has been the impact of your footsteps in the sand in your life and how will the footsteps continue or be honored once you are gone?

Over this weekend I attended a funeral for a cousin. A man who in life always brimmed with energy and a steady selflessness that you could sense before he even said a word.  In facing such a sad end to such a beautiful story I pondered this question as I have before in the shadow of death from other dear ones I have lost before.  In truth I believe clarity in this question comes while you are facing the sunset of your life but for me there is strand of vitality that has followed all I have loved into the great beyond.  Even the greatest of us may be washed away in the sands of time.  Names people once clamored around will become a distant memory for the world at one point.  And despite the natural order of immediate focus demanded by the present, the legacy that can matter most can still remained intertwined, brimming with the life force from which it was sent. Long after you leave this existence the core lessons of how you treat others remain.

Yes I have seen others pick up the path left by your footprints while yours seemingly wash away. For my grandmother I see the seeds of selfless kindness left in my vision of the world and it directs my path.  For my cousin I see in his children the consistent support of a gently but firm heart left in his children.  And one day I am sure I will see this same thread in his children’s children.  Even after the way we live our life loses all things personal to us, regardless of if your children’s children know just where the contribution came from, the way we treat people remains around as a foundation to those we love most.  And when we live lives fertile in this the best things about us can grow and blossom as its spread.  For those we leave behind it comforts us in our sadness that the long path of life that was walked was not in vain.  Without any fanfare or spotlight, the legacy remains even in something that seems as nameless to the person as kindness or joy or compassion.  A true legacy comes from inspiring others with some of your best habits while comforting them that you faced your worst, as they will have to, with determination and transparency.  The end of the sentence is often the best reminder of just how much the seeds you plant in your life matter, even when it is not destined for you to ever bear witness to the fruit.

 

In memory of my cousin

Michael Lynn Dotson

Veuve Polo Classic: New York

Vueve Clicquot Champagne and Polo are already a certified classic with scenes from Pretty Woman dancing through my head at the mere mention. With the combo already being a tempting combination for me a text from one of my fav road trip divas about the Veuve Polo Classic and before I knew it I was booked to New Jersey with ticket to this uber posh event.

With gorgeous city views, great vibes and flowing Veuve Chicquot champagne this event made sure to get a special marks on my calendar as it not only met but exceeded my already high expectations. Nothing beats the opportunity to step outside the regularly scheduled program of your life, get all dolled up and do something both different and absolutely fabulous.  As soon as I hopped off the shuttle and headed towards the location I felt the vibrations of fun and fancy from walking in the door.  Set in Liberty State Park you have a jaw dropping view of the impressive Manhattan skyline.  My immediate first move…head straight for the champs!! Even that very easy decision though was difficult just because of the sheer beauty of the venue and the people that inhabited it.  With special Veuve photo opts sprinkled throughout the park it is hard to stay focused in heading in one direction.  Despite the struggle I made it and quickly decided on getting a bottle of Veuve, which came with a classic Veuve carrying case, to get the show on the road.  With the champagne moving your feet and probably your mouth too, the feeling of getting all dressed up with your friends as you feeling on top of the world and ready to slay only to realize you weren’t the only one who caught the vibes.  Chic dresses and distinguished gentlemen abounded offer a sea of eye candy with the champs easily opening the doors of conversation.

So of course on top of all the eye spy fun there is the Polo Match. Admittedly I was a little late for some of the fun and when we finally made it over to the field we found a sea of blankets and picnic baskets checking out the action of the game.  While on my first go round I opted for general tickets if floor seating is not up your alley you can also upgrade to VIP for more formal seating (and of course easier access to the champagne).  To top off a full day of day drinking the fun climaxed as Alicia Keys performed to cap off what was a great day enjoying some beautiful weather with even more fabulous friends.

Next up is the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Los Angeles on October 14th!  Mix in the Classic Fun with the easy flow and beautiful scenery of Southern California and you are sure to have a fabulous combination on your hands.

Tapping into your regal side at the Palace Hotel San Francisco

Sometimes names can be misleading, but when it comes to the Palace hotel the name is right on the money. In most recent stay at the Palace Hotel San Francisco not only did the hotel feel like a Palace I was treating like a queen.  I pride myself on choosing nice hotels, but not every hotel makes you feel regal.  Making you feel special is at the top of the priority list from the moment you pull up at Palace with welcoming doormen making sure to accommodate from the moment you arrive.  As you walk up the stairs and into the front door you realize that the welcome is just one part of an awesome experience.  The hotel itself is one of the most beautiful that I have seen.  From it soaring ceilings, to marble corridors to the awe-inspiring chandeliers in the bar area the elegance oozes out of every nook and cranny of this hotel.

Of course all that would mean little if you got to your room and were left disappointed. Luckily the rooms are just another extension of the luxury.  After traveling the world part of how I judge the best hotels is by their bathroom, especially their toilets.  It just shows an extra investment that makes the guest feel amazing and this one left me using it as a kid getaway more than for its intended purpose.  With comfy beds, lavish robes, and superb room service I could have spent the whole day cozied up in their window seat relaxing and watching the busy city vibrate with energy.

Located in a bustling block of San Francisco you have everything you may need from shops to food at your fingertips. If you set out walking within minutes you are in the shopping district where you can find staples such as Macy’s but also smaller local stores giving you a taste of bay area style.  If checking out some sightseeing is more on your map not only is the location golden so is there helpful concierge team.  After getting a quick skinny on the city and a great drink at the bar I was locked and loaded for a great time exploring San Francisco, and feeling very majestic the whole way through.

Family getaway to San Francisco

One of the first rules of travel club is sometimes you choose the destinations and other times the destinations choose you. In my most recent trip to San Francisco it clearly called my name.  With fare sales down to $200 for a ticket to San Francisco it was a great way for me to get a family getaway together to start off my daughter’s birthday month.  The city is great fun for both children and adults and with the mild weather and bountiful selection of things to do it is a great destination.

With so much to do in San Francisco its hard to know where to get started.  While I am a fan of doing a tourist tour of a city my approach is usually has a bit more of an intimate focus, steering me away from buses and large tours and closer to walking and of course public transportation.  When traveling with a family that can be a difficult choice, however, especially with little ones and San Francisco offers some great city passes that could take up hours to days of fun and new adventures.  I choose a mix this trip sticking with some classic San Francisco favorite’s pared with things I had never heard of or done before.

First up was Pier 39.  The bay is one of the most beautiful parts of San Francisco and this area of town offers shopping, attractions, restaurants and of course fantastic views of the city.  My first stop was to catch up with friends for a family friendly day at the Pier.  The restaurants span from local favorites to national mainstays but many offer fresh takes on old favorites.  The best part, of course, is the views from many of the restaurants having panoramic views of the pier.  It also gives a great chance for the adults to enjoy while the kids can spend some energy taking a look at some of the attractions.  From magic shows to shops and stores we quickly hopped from lunch to crepes to ice cream and walks to the water and even sightseeing sealions in the meantime. 

While the city tour was very tempting to me a quick visit means you really have to narrow down what you do to your top pics.  This led me to try to knock down lots of fun all in one place at the Golden Gate Park.  With beautiful parks and museums in one place it is a place where you can really get lost for the day.   First up was the California Academy of Science.  I know the geek in me is showing with this choice but when traveling with kids of different ages the California Academy of Science not only combines a museum of natural science, aquarium and pyramid it give some hands on activities for the kids that make the interactive experience a real win.  On top of that the grounds to the museum are amazing.  From sprawling parks to an authentic Japanese tea garden you could spend a whole day just walking around enjoying.  The tea garden was a particular favorite of ours with a chance to enjoy the winding trails and do something you can miss in the everyday hustle and bustle, spending time reconnecting as a family.  With just two days in a city you can feel like you are missing out on some fun but if you play your cards right in San Francisco you will definitely feel like you have had more than enough.

The Texas Black Expo delivered on Texas size fun!

The Texas Black Expo is just what you may expect, but sooo much more.  The expo is a great opportunity not only to support black owned businesses, but also offers some great showcases and seminars from everything from entertainment, to health and wellness to real talk from successful professionals.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to not only check out some of the great vendors at the expo but also get a little insight in the age old question, what are the differences between men and women?  In the Diva Dialogues Entertainment Attorney Jalene Mack brought together a power packed panel to take on the challenge of “The Great Divide” and see just how different do many and women feel about things from business to love and relationships.

This Texas Black Expo seminar was a great look into the differences, sometimes subtle, sometime distinct, between how men and women see the world. This type of conversation can either be lots of fun or down right argumentative so it was an extra bonus that Jalene was not just an entertainment attorney but an actor as well, and able to keep everyone both on task and having fun.  With a feisty panel of professionals you who are enjoying themselves and openly sharing you almost cannot help yourself but get wrapped up in the fun.  The panelists ranging from philanthropist, to attorneys, to radio station owners, to successful entrepreneurs and even a special guest Golden Brooks, a successful actress and business owner most known for her role on Girlfriends.

So what is the take on the great divide? Actually in listening to the responses you begin to understand women and men are looking at the same side of the different coin.  Although initially it may seem like two completely different approaches, the more you communicate and open your mind the more clarity you see on the differences.  Whether big or small, however, the panel offered some great insight on how they take on the challenges of being a business owner.  Here are a couple of pearls that most of us know, but often forget to apply and use in the way to approach both business and life:

  • Jalene Mack – Entertainment Attorney and founder of MPAC: On networking Jalene recommends entering into it with purpose. When you are focused in on finding opportunities you make sure networking actually enhances your business.
  • Golden Brooks – Actress and Entrepreneur: When faced with the challenge of being an African American woman in business Golden found strength by walking in her own light. By knowing herself she is not diminished by others but can use it as a basis of celebration for the unique person she is and the distinctive gifts she brings to the table
  • CleRenda McGrady – Author and Philanthropist – in referencing her favorite movie scene in The Wizard of Oz CleRenda draws strength from the idea that the power is within you all along, you just have to believe it for yourself.
  • Velma Trayham – PR Expert recommends business owners really invest the time and energy to know their market. When you don’t waste time and money focusing on being everything to everyone you can focus on making real connections with your target audience
  • Keisha Nicole – DJ for 97.9 The Box: In speaking to purpose Keisha is inspired by knowing that if God gave her a purpose, he also blesses with the gifts and capacity to carry it out if you are willing to put in the work.
  • Al Rucker – owner of Midtown Bail Bonds – For those who do not network Al recommends using the energy to focus on building their brand. After time a strong enough brand gets people searching for them instead of the other way around.
  • Danny Norris – Attorney with Norris & Norris Attorneys Essential tips for starting a business are to work out a business plan, a mentor, and the capital needed to get the business off the ground
  • Marcus Bowers – Owner of She’s Happy Hair – In his journey to hair mogul Marcus made a commitment to himself to just try to be better every day than he was the day before
  • Oscar Hines – Owner of KYND Radio shared his favorite quote that captured his life philosophy – “It’s not the number of breaths you have in life, it is the number or moments that take your breath away”

All in all the Texas Black Expo is a great way to support your community with businesses you love and others you have yet to fall in love with. Most importantly it is a great opportunity to have more breath taking moments and learn something along the way.

Gala, Banquets and more, taking advantage of grown up dress up

Getting all dressed up every day is usually out of reach for me. Most days I am on the run.  I get dressed in the dark, grab my kids and spend the rest of the day on the run.  It’s safe to say that most days my appearance isn’t magazine worthy.  But there are other days when it totally is.  I appreciate the opportunity to pamper myself and get all dolled up for an adult night of fun. The awards gala at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit most recently provided me the perfect medium for my love of dress up.

Now by excited I mean by the result, not all the work it takes to get there. After a busy day of seminars I was still left with the daunting challenge of getting kids to the sitter, getting make up done, curling my hair, throwing on a dress and doing it all without breaking out in a cold sweat.  As a working mom I will say that the challenge can almost make just staying at home easier.  But easier is not always better.  As a working woman it is important to play dress up every once in a while.  It is a great reminder of not just who we were before the kids and responsibilities but who we are, our core.  We all deserve to feel like a princess every once in a while even far after the dream of a fairytale life has ended.

So with the running and curling and rush I walked into the gala still in rushing mommy mode, but once I walked it I finally received the fruits of my labors. Looking amazing has a funny way of making you feel amazing and the walk you walk when you feel amazing is a must in every woman’s life.  Not just the walk but the talk as you see yourself as your best self, even if it is just superficial.  And as people do their second take wondering if you are the same hectic business woman they saw earlier, you can do an internal victory lap. Sometimes you may not have it all or be Wonder Woman but at least you look great faking the funk.

Building your Personal Brand with the BE Summit

No matter what you do, there are usually other businesses or people who do the exact same thing, so how do you show your brand is different to the audience that matters to you? This is a question that entrepreneurs wrestle on a daily and at my final seminar at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit we received some great insight from a master in his field, Raymon Ray.  In the seminar “How to Build Your Personal Brand” Ramon Ray provided some simple but essential strategies for separating yourself from your competition to becoming the “go to” person in your area and for your target market.

This seminar created an unmatched energy as within the first minutes the audience was excited for what was to come. Raymon Ray delivered on all counts in this seminar.  As I walked in room everyone was connecting and volunteers were sharing their brand information.  This is the type of energy that gets you excited to not just listen but also participate and dare to push yourself further than you would normally go.  While quite out of the ordinary for a seminar, it paired perfectly with the enthusiasm and mastery displayed by Mr. Ray.  The very best thing is that Raymond Ray preaches what he teaches.  You can catch him in areas from AT&T to his own magazine Smart Hustle.  The four personal traits of personal branding to Be Happy, Be Excited, Be Patient, and Be Focused were displayed masterfully as he shared five gems in personal branding

1 – Be a Rock Star: People want to rock with rock stars so make sure your presentation isn’t a no frills water downed version of what makes you different. If you have attributes you think are special then share them and don’t skimp on the razzle dazzle

2 – Make a Personal Connection: Networking should be strategic so that you are also building relationships and connections with people. When done properly you can really cultivate a circle of personal influence that can carry your brand a lot further a lot faster than you can yoursel

3 – Get your personal branding toolbox in order. Things like a personal website, blog, and active social engagement are a requirement in this day and age so don’t slack on sharing the story of you and what makes you different,

4 – Just Do It: It is easy to get so busy working on small things you forget to add some big things into your larger vision. Whether it is an event or sizzle video there are some great ways to tout your talents and increase your audience.

5 – Maximize Media Exposure: Even small business in this day of connectivity can get some major media exposure if they work at it. Take some time to get to know journalist in your area so when a topic comes up that applies to you, they have you on special for an experts input. By working to not pitch yourself but educate on a topic you can easily build a reputation as an authority. Even something as simple as creating a regular show can help catapult your media exposure.

This was a great seminar that showed you how to immediately put some ideas into action while leaving attendees feeling both motivated and empowered. With just 5 easy steps to get you on your way to becoming local celebrity in your field what’s stopping you?!!

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