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?!!

Resources that leverage your business at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit

On Day 2 of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit I hesitantly walked into the seminar entitled “How to Use Technology to Protect and Grow Your Business“ and to my surprise I was quickly realized I was getting a lot more than I bargained for.

The panelist of Claire Sulmers with Fashion Bomb Daily, LaShonda Johnson with the Houston Housewives of Finance and Everette Taylor of Skurt were a fierce compilation of business savvy, opportunity spotting business superstars all ready and willing to share their experience and knowledge with the crowd.  Each in their own way were innovators, finding opportunity and pushing through to success when many others would have only seen despair.  Everett, for instance, when from being homeless, unable to get  a call back on job applications due to stereotyping, to starting, running, selling and restarting some powerhouse marketing and IT companies.  Other panelists, like LaShonda Johnson, left lucrative businesses to take a risk to uncharted territory in pursuit of their passion.  All, however, were able to share powerful messages in utilizing the things around you and inside you to leverage your mindset and your business.

While I came in the seminar expecting a full-fledged jump into the world of technology, the talk took on technology more as any knowledge you could apply for advancement. Yes, technology encompasses the gadgets and devices that have become a part of our lives, but the perspective that was really valuable is that these things are only beneficial if you use them to evolve in reaching your customer base.  A great example of this came from Claire with Fashion Bomb Daily.  While she is known for her phenomenal fashion blog, she noticed that readers to the blog were transitioning to Instagram.  As technology transitioned she also transitioned her delivery method to Instagram and now has more than 1 million followers along with the base she developed in readers to the actual blog.  She was able to harness the resource to make an impact and increase her audience.

The focus to again use resources to connect with your audience was applied to branding by the panel. Everette was able to provide some great way use technology as a connection to building authentic relationships.  Data today can be overwhelming and in and of itself mean little to nothing.  It becomes important when you can utilize data and talking to people to see where your audience is and how you can better serve them.  By focusing on his business before worrying about all the press and accolades Everette was able to build a model and later use his success to replicate market growth for other companies.  His keys to growth included:

Making a Product Market fit: Focusing in on creation of products that stick with the market

Determining Ideal Customer Profile

Establishing growth processes so there is structure as the idea and company grows.   Everett uses the ICE test (Impact, Confidence, and Ease) to determine if structure and projects are really a good fit looking for the ideal of High confidence and ease of implementation

Getting the right people: By surrounding himself with a team members who are resilient to failure and have strong mindsets he ensures what he envisions his team can then work to implement.

The seminar was a great reminder that technology is not just having the newest idea or process, but it the using these innovations to make more informed decisions and deeper relationships with your customers. The seminar was a gold mind of ideas that you can apply quickly to make big changes to your bottom-line.

Black Enterprise BE Summit Day 2 Delivers motivation and major connections

Day 2 of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit was jammed pack with information and motivation that could really catapult your career and business to the next level. Before the conference I heard several entrepreneurs express all the reasons why doing a conference like this was a waste of their time.  Perhaps it was money or time or just the thought of what could they teach you.  The truth is we always can continue to learn and when you have an opportunity to learn from someone who has gained success you have a great opportunity to make real life applications to your own situation.

So what makes the potential of the conference life altering? Well for one there is access. The speakers gathered at event represented the gems in their field all with powerful information to share.  Take the “Why it Pays to Swim with the Sharks” seminar for instance.  On one stage you had Brandon Andrews, a producer for Shark Tank as well as Benjamin Young and Lydia Evans, founders of Sworkit and SW&G Essentials respectively, who have both had the experience of pitching for Shark Tank.  Now talk about a realistic push to move forward with your idea as their stories were not success fairy tales.  Quite the opposite the stories gave the full gambit of challenges faced by an entrepreneur, from starting, long nights and early mornings, the bitter defeats and the triumphs that define owning your own business. Through it all the conference offered a great reminder that even with failure there is no end of the road.  After the no there is still a fork in the road between quitting and continuing on that could determine success.

Access to really power players did not stop at the seminars. During the luncheon the discussion was joined by Charles Koch, Chairman  & CEO of Koch Industries.  Known not just for his million dollar businesses, but also as a prime political contribution the inclusion was initially surprising.  But as with many things in the conference some of the best benefits came from the most unexpected directions.  During this discussion we were reminded that making it for ourselves is not the only goal, but also in building a legacy for those who come behind us.  In the discussion surrounding building sustainable paths for our youth to follow it was a great reminder of where real change happens:  In your mind. By changing the mindset, understanding our innate abilities, and pairing rising above with giving back we can become a partner with the youth.

Between all the events and programs the other priceless part was the filling in between. Meeting those motivated, dedicated entrepreneurs in your city and from far and beyond is a great connector.  The foundation is already laid as attendance shows a commitment to their business and to get better.  Outside of the some of the great seminars I had the real opportunity to meet others on their own path but with a similar goal as mine.  From other attorneys, to college classmates, to inventors to CEOs I got a chance to connect on the start of the work to do better and get better which is reason enough to attend an event like the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit.

Professional development at its best at the BE Entrepreneur Summit

Many people ask why they should invest in professional development and at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit Wednesday’s opening festivities made a bold answer as to some of the fruitful reasons why.  Professional development is about more than sitting through conferences and hoarding business cards.  It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility to do better, work harder, make more money, and learning to enjoy yourself through the process.  The opening night was a wonderful emulsion of all these reasons with a great lesson in working hard and playing harder.

The first day of the conference showcased how to best take on professional development, from the inside out. A big part of really evolving professionally is evolving personally.  By making it a priority to master new techniques and challenge yourself to step out of y our comfort zone you also make strides in becoming the best you can be for your business.  The sessions for Wednesday started with a frequent nail bitter for many professionals, business presentations.  In the Mastering Business Presentations session you had the chance to hear from some great including Alfred Edmond, the Executive Editor at Large for Black Enterprise, on honing your skills to present in ways that moves and motivates your listeners.  With that session pushing you from within you quickly moved to how to take that motivation and make it work for your business.

With a conference focused on moving you from internal development to external development the session on business in Houston was a cornucopia of business ideas on how to expand to Houston. With key insights from none other than Houston mayor Sylvester Turner you got some invaluable insight on seizing on the wealth of opportunities found within the Houston market.  Now this is already what a good business conference is made of, a meeting of opportunity and growth and the networking potential that allows you to connect all of the dots.  To add some ice cream on the top of what is already shaping up to be an amazing treat in your personal development, Wednesdays kick off mixer was the perfect welcome present.  From delicious food including some Houston specialties to fun entertainment to a room full of eager entrepreneurs the summit was kicked off with a bang.  As I joined in on the fun in the lip syncing contest I was reminded of something that stayed with me the entire conference, in the world of business learning to enjoy yourself draws  others to you and in a game you have to play to win you need all the help you can rising to the top.

Big eats and even bigger charity at Big Taste of Houston

If you are looking for a party with a purpose infused with great drinks and food then look no further than the Big Brothers Big Sisters Big Taste of Houston.  Big Brothers Big Sisters has always been a charity that inspired me.  With a strong commitment to providing diverse mentorship to area youth the non-profit is based off the principals that giving back does not have to be ordinary.  The Big Taste of Houston is another nod to this idea as you have the opportunity to taste some of the best bites Houston has to offer while raising money for this worthy cause.

The premise is just as it sounds, fabulous local restaurants and chefs dig deep in putting together big bites of some of their best or newly created dishes. From braised short ribs to oysters shucked to order there were bites big enough to satisfy even the hungriest Texan.  It always brings a smile to my face when I see some of my favorite local restaurants participating as I know the competition will really get their creative juices flowing.  Restaurants like Uchi and North Italia really outdid themselves on coming up with delectable treats that you just could not say no to.

No question the party was great, but there is no forgetting the great purpose behind it all as some of the cities shining stars turned out to support. Although the tastes were definitely big, the auction prizes were arguably bigger.  From a silent auction full of goodies to an Audi A3 giveaway there were so many ways to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters while coming away with something amazing for yourself in the process.  With the panel of celebrity judges and beautiful people enjoying the night the event was hard to beat.  The perfect balance of drinks flowing and music bumping and charitable giving made the big Taste of Houston a must do on any foodie’s annual calendar.

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