Business Lunch to impress at Houston Club

IMG_0426Nestled at the height of downtown lies a great place to grab lunch, a drink, or impress a client.  The Houston Club has always been a great location, but with a recent renovation, it offers a phenomenal atmosphere for wining and dining in downtown Houston.  When it comes to business, frequently downtown is where the action is.  By stepping up to the 49th floor of One Shell you skip some of the crowded downtown destinations.  By choosing the Houston Club you can an unbeatable view of downtown combined with a delicious dining menu all in an environment that allows a relaxing conversation which is one the best business lunches are all about. IMG_0423

IMG_0424When I got a chance to visit the Houston Club for a lunch meeting, I expected what I experienced before at meetings in the location.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, that despite the formality of the location the mood in the dining area is sleek enough to be professional but comfortable enough to be conducive for real business transactions to happen.  It follows the cardinal rule of success in business; they must like you to do business with you.  You can easily miss the mark when you give the impression of being pretensions or stuffy instead of just being likable and approachable.

IMG_0425Another great way to ensure someone walks away with a good impression of you and the lunch is that they enjoyed their meal.  To answer the call in that department the food in the Houston Club is light enough to ensure you won’t need a nap afterwards but delicious enough to keep you wanting more.  Not to mention the finishing touch for me the small offerings of desert that don’t destroy your diet but satisfy the sweet tooth that for me is ever-present.  The Houston Club, with their great view and atmosphere, ensure all the work to get to the location is readily rewarded with your experience.

 

Fast with class – Business Lunch at Azuma Sushi

Business lunch at AzumaWhen you are in business for yourself business lunch is a necessity. It is a great way to meet with clients on terms where you do something that can easily be forgotten when it comes to making money… Working with clients you like.  No, liking your client does not take away from the idea that “business is business” but I always think hard work goes a little easier when there is actually someone you like on the other end.  Likewise for your client having a basic understanding of who you are as a person gives them some reassurances as to your work style that can cause havoc in the relationship when it is not present.

As business lunch is a staple for me I am always looking for fun new places that I can take clients to discuss and also not break the bank. Today my journey lead me to the Azuma Sushi on Kirby.  Sushi offers a lot of advantages for a business lunch by having a great hybrid mix of fast yet still classy.  The ambiance is a vibe of a polished restaurant while the prices for a bento box or sushi is right on the money.  The bento box at Azuma was not only a great presentation of a variety of foods, but the flavor was equally strong.  At the end I was full, but not lazy sleepy full, and the quick service and small bites made it easy to keep the conversation going throughout the meal.  Even as they stick to some bento box favorites like California rolls and tempura shrimp, they also threw in side dishes that are a little more exotic for the adventurer in the crew.

With fast service, good food and a great price what more can you ask for in the world of business lunch?

 

An Intimate Evening with Oprah at the Life You Want Weekend

Live The Life You Want Weekend, MiamiSpending an evening chatting with Oprah??? Sounds too incredible to be true but indeed at the Life You Want Weekend you walk away from the first night feeling as if you had an intimate evening learning about someone whose journey has taken her from Mississippi to becoming a household name. Oprah has the uncanny ability of being able to share her spirit and story in a way that you can not only relate to but can see yourself in.  The first night of the show put this ability on shine as she shared not just her story but some of her critical lessons and her spiritual anchors that have allowed her to handle her blessings and tribulations with grace and strength.

From the lighted bracelets to the fun music the evening starting off with building a strong sense of community. Whether you came with friends or by yourself the energy in the building made you want to reach out and touch someone for the better.  As the introductions began the dim lights and bracelets began the audience on a journey of surprises as well as awakenings.  As the bracelet lights took us from red to orange to yellow you began on a path that could lead you anywhere but also with the hope that it could lead you to everywhere you wanted to go.  As Oprah began sharing I was immediately struck not by the amazing way she was able to share her story, but the ease that her story telling leads you to see yourself in the story.  Although her story is her own I began to see where I could grow and I could change and most importantly that if a small black girl from the country of Mississippi could have the courage to reach for her dreams and become OPRAH than why couldn’t I also let the small voices of God and fate lead me to my destiny.

While there were many awesome life lessons shared throughout the night the two that provided the most impact to me where these:

I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

These two very simple truths of life have the power and shape and mode anyone’s life into the life they want as they become more aware of themselves and God and the world and their own power in it to become a better version of the person they already are. Although I believe those truths before hitting the door there is nothing like hearing it from Oprah to give you an extra push from belief to faith and walking the walk to implement those truths in how you think and how you act.  With that just being the tip of the iceberg on the journey I am excited for more in Day 2!

 

Letting go of the fear of failure in order to reach for success

Rock climberHow easy do you think it would be too pick up a watermelon while holding a hand full of rocks? Chances are either the rocks fall out or your smash the watermelon in trying. Success is a big treat many strive to attain in their lives, however, reaching high levels of success often require grabbing for your dreams with both hands.  Making this reach often seems a lot easier than the reality as it means abandoning other coping methods we have learned throughout our lives to cushion or hearts and minds from when we fall.  Even without recognizing it these methods become a part of our way to survive the pitfalls and ensure we weather the storms that come without completely destroying.  High levels of success require some levels of risk and learning how to deal with the fear of failure is a big step in taking the plunge and diving with both hands towards your success.  Here are some ways to let go of the fear and commit to success.

Facing Fear. Fear of failure is one that crosses the mind of most people when reaching for success.  This fear can be depilating as it can seem like an easier option to live with the potential of what could have been instead of the reality of no.  Not fully facing the possibility of failure makes it is a lot easier to reach for the lower rungs of success and stick with the risk level that you feel pretty confident that you can beat.  At least you know what you are getting instead of the risk of failing that comes with reaching higher. The scary thing about big leaps in success is that it is often hidden behind a dimly lit corner, requiring you to take some steps in the dark.  To combat this fear you rely on the experiences and skills that have gotten you this far and in understanding that even if you don’t make it you will still add to your knowledge base and walk away better prepared for the next round.  The fact you are well armed in fighting failure is a good way to guide you through the darkness of doubt that the fear of failure instills.

Breaking old habits. There are patterns we set in our lives that stick with us from very young throughout our lives if we don’t put in the work to change them. Perhaps that habit is tardiness, or procrastination or maybe even a negative attitude but they all work to support the illusion that failure is the worst possible option.  Identifying these bad habits in ourselves and putting in the work to correct the bad habits shines the light on how success is usually within reach, you just have to stretch out to win.

Considering the alternative. The fear of failure sells the dream that your pride and self-confidence would not and could not survive the failure and therefore it’s better to not even try. The truth is when people look back on their regrets in life the fear of not trying often trumps the fear of failure as a lifelong regret.  Our limits are never known unless they are explored, challenged and even re-challenged.  The fear of not trying leaves the sting of untapped potential that you have to live with forever.  Even when you experience failure you quickly learn it’s rarely as bad as we imagine it to be and even it is that time and patience can really heal all wounds.

Plan. Facing your fear because you’re prepared and being fearless because you are stupid are not the same thing.  Instead of ignoring the fear of failure, letting it fuel your success gives you the offensive strategy you need to be prepared for the mystery of what lies ahead.  The possibility of failure can inspire you to think of alternatives, do your research, and choose your strategy carefully, all of which work to get you through the darkness that comes with reaching for success.

Jump. Planning is pointless if you can’t summon the courage to jump when you need to towards your success.  If you are not careful planning can become a crutch to hinder the commitment you need to jump with both feet.  No matter how much you plan the truth is that part of the fear of success and of failure is that you cannot see all the obstacles in your way and therefore cannot plan for everything.  Being prepared means you have done the leg work but also that you are responsive enough to begin the run and make changes along the route in order to reach your true possibilities.

The fears of failure and of success are often different sides to the same coin. You have to choice one and commit to it in order to win big.

Networking one round at a time at the HYP Meet the Mentors

September Meet the MentorsThe Houston Young Professionals presented yet another great opportunity to expand your network and learn tips for success in the most recent showing for their Meet the Mentors series. The series allows you get one on one interaction with business professionals who are at the top of their game in a roundtable setting.  The diversity of the mentors ranged from media to fashion to restaurateurs and even ventured to relationship experts.  Each one sharing their own insight on their path to success and unique challenges and advantages they face in their perspective fields.

Meet the Mentors pic 1In attending these events previously I cherished the opportunity not only to hear very personal success stories from the mentors, but also to have an opportunity to make a personal connection with the mentors. Although this event was no exception to the high bar the “Meet the Mentors” series has set, I was also reminded of another powerful benefit of the series.  When you and another seven professionals sit around to meet, ask questions, and learn from the mentors you also have an opportunity to learn from each other.  Whether if you hear an intriguing new company idea, or a success story, or even similar business challenges than the ones you face, the mentorship extends just from the assigned mentor to the table full of colleges that you can also learn from.   Sharing these experiences and interactions really are the stepping stones for building a network.  You can transform your perspective from how can I help myself when I meet someone into how can I learn from others or better yet, how can I help others in their own business endeavors?   By the time the last mentor rotates a table full of strangers transforms into a table full of colleagues.

One of my biggest criticisms of many networking events is that it can become a little like speed dating. You move quickly on from one person to the next looking for the key words that would make you want to take the relationship outside that setting and see if something deeper can occur.  The Meet the Mentors series is a stark contrast to this model as you first give the nuts and bolts of your job title and in the questions and conversations you share the concerns, attitudes, and even motivations that are unique to you and really draw people into your story.  For those with a fear of meeting new people, especially those you look up to, there is no better way than in a casual, laid back setting where you can be yourself without feeling the pressure to be entertaining and suave at all times to keep the conversation going.  As this is just another great portion of the events put on by the Houston Young Professionals make sure to stay tuned to different way the chamber can enrich your path to success as a young professional.

 

 

 

5 Lessons I relearned though watching kids

Back to schoolSomething about the mind of a child holds the key to a lot of life lessons we forget as adults.  Their point of view of the world, that has yet to be hindered by years of the rejections and limitations, cast some light on the true potential we each have to do and to be anything that we want.  In some recently pondering of why I have been feeling stalled lately I refocused on some lessons kids seem to have mastered, that as an adult have become a little cloudy for me.  Here are the 5 lessons I took away from the way kids approach life:

1. Never forget to ask why not. When the answer is anywhere remotely close to no, most kids instantly play their “Why Not” card. Kids are clueless of the risk of annoying whoever they pose the question to. They prioritize the need to understand what is going on if they are not going to get what they want. As adults we lose some of this determination to getting to the bottom of the road blocks ahead of us by not wanting to sound like an idiot or be rejected or get our feelings hurt. When we get to the bottom of why people say no, from their perspective, we have given ourselves a short cut to actually solving the problem instead of working on all the wrong ways to fix it. (Knowing and understanding the problem is half of the battle)
2. Imagination turns a box into a spaceship. Turning the box a toy spaceship came in into a spaceship happens in a breeze for kids. As adults though we lose some of that creative ability for the sake of being practical. Being practically is a necessary component of being a responsible adult. Unfortunately that means for many people sweeping the dreamer in you under the rug. Even as adults though we have to give our minds reign to let the imagination run free. Like most things if you don’t use it you lose it so make sure to make time to rekindle the dreamer in you.
3. If the damage is not too bad and no one is looking, what is the point of kicking and screaming? I am the kind of mom who sees a kid take a small tumble and quickly turns my head and waits for a scream. The funny thing is that when there is no one looking a small fall that would have gotten a big reaction just results in a child picking themselves up, evaluating the damage and keeping it moving. Sometimes our pride is what is really hurt when we make a mistake and to appease this pride we make a big deal about a small problem. Carrying on as if no one is looking and picking yourself back up does wonders in the process of moving forward.
4. Mirrors show us how we see ourselves. My friend sent me a video of her son semi-infatuated with himself in the mirror. He looked at his reflection like it was the most exciting thing he ever encountered. As we grow up though we look at the mirror to tell us if the world thinks we will look good. Your reflection should always be beautiful to you because its you. If you are inside or outside of the world’s definition of beauty, there are things that make you special and unique to you. After all, what is more beautiful than something that is perfectly unique?
5. When one road is blocked, check for alternatives. I swear we should hire kids as strategic planners. They think of a plan and of the path of least resistance to tackling that plan. Ever have a child ask you for something betting you will be an easier sale than another responsible party (or vice versa and had them not want to ask you)??? Kids learn that when you can take an easier path you should. While as an adult you have to learn to balance the easier road with being honest, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a heads up in thinking of which path will be easier or faster for you to get things done.

Getting results with daily check ups

Take Control Speedometer Think Big Want ChangeAs the midyear mark quickly came and went I set out to take an inventory on where I was this year to see if I was on pace to meet goals and resolutions I made at the beginning of the year.  With every start that I attempted to get my list done I found myself bogged down with work and travel and other distractions keeping me away from my inventory.  As I sat at my desk weighing doing an inventory or going home, however, I realized that the real question is a daily one, not just a midyear or annual review.

The big results we really want to see in life, whether it is a new job or a desire to improve or personality or position, come if we can successfully check off the box of accomplishment on a daily basis.  Although it may not seem like a big change or difference at the end of every day, those daily actions add up to give us the big success at the end of the year.  Instead of going with an exhaustive review of where I was I decided to challenge myself to asking some simple daily questions to mark my progress.  Every day when I prepare to pack up to leave for work I decided to be still for a couple of minutes and do a self-check up on how the day fit into the vision I have for my life and for myself.

Was I kind to people? Did I let my loved ones know how important they are to me? Could people care I was there and willing and help to help? Was I consistent and provided my highest level of personal service? 

All these things could be answered in minutes with some simple yes or no answers.  The benefit, however, is that in this daily review you can get the insight to change what is not working and ultimately preventing you from getting where you want to go.  You get a chance with a daily check up to ask the big question of why and answer in bite size portions that are easy to swallow and produce some real changes.  If the problem was you were tired, you can go and get more rest and be refreshed for the next day.  If the problem is conflict with a co-worker, you can make a plan to talk to them the next day to discuss or resolve your differences.  The truth is that annual checklist can aid on the procrastination effect because it’s based on the premise that if you did not get it done today, there is always tomorrow.  The bet that you will always get another tomorrow slows down the gusto to do everything you can today to ensure a better tomorrow if you see it.  This balls to the walls approach to developing change results in an increase in awareness of the impact every day and especially today has in you getting where you want to go.

Elevate your business lunch at Mr. Peeples

Mr Peeples Business LunchBeing successful requires a lot of work and often burning the midnight oil, however, if you are not able to get new business and close deals your business is doomed for mediocrity.  Business lunches offer a great way to engage new clients and seal the deal with old ones in developing two fundamentals in selling your product or services to clients…Likeability and Trust.  People commit their resources to others they fell they can trust to do what they say and deliver a product or service appropriately and those they connect with and think they would enjoy working with.  If not why would they not explore their options elsewhere?  Over a good business lunch you are able to share not just why you think you are perfect for a job, but also showcase a bit of your own spirit and personality that connects with others emotions and gently persuades potential client that the search for the products or services is officially over.

Since opening Mr. Peeples has offered a step up on the sophistication level for a dining experience in Houston.  The chic décor paired with the amazing food offers a chance to really get lost in the ambiance and quality of the restaurant.  As they announced the expansion of this offering to a lunch environment it instantly screamed business lunch to me.  What better way to get someone in a buying mood then delicious offerings such as Lobster and Crab Tostadas, Filet Mignon Burger, Grilled Pork Chop and Chilean Sea Bass???  Not to mention they distinctive location really makes clients feel special and that you value their business enough to treat them to something special.  Business always goes a little easier when people are happy and relaxed and the cool vibrations and libations at Mr. Peeples work to do some of the foot work and take the load off showing just what makes your products or services unique.  If you have not been it is a must, from your walk in the door to the last bite of your desert you are sure to love the indulgent experience.

 

Joining organizations that support you

ICON Induction CeremonyOver the years I have been apart of a lot of organizations that touted professional development or networking opportunities.  Within these structures there are always opportunities to meet new people and expand the reach of your scope to your market or potential clients.  Although some of these organizations are a must in building your network or exceling in your business, few of these organizations vest a personal interest on how well you fare.  If you are outgoing, chances are you will successfully meet others and if not then you will find who you connect with personally and stay in your lane.  I encourage everyone, however, to also include in their mix organizations that are equally interested in building your own character through a shared purpose with likeminded individuals who you can learn and grown from.

I was recently lucky enough to join the I.C.O.N. Women’s Organization and even at induction I was inspired by the spirit of sisterhood and service prevalent throughout the organization.  While it was my good fortune to stumble upon the organization it can be difficult to really discover an organization that will not just offer opportunities to grow professionally, but personally as well.  Here are some of the criteria I look to when deciding if I want to devote my time, talent and treasures to an organization:

Purpose: Everyone wants to be motivated.  Organizations whose focus is beyond their members always give you an extra boost of why to participate.  We all one to do things that are good for us but that limits the things we are willing to do to those things you like or you are good at or are easy.  When the purpose is bigger than just your need to meet people or share your services, you are able to push past some of the blocks, interruptions and “I don’t want to’s” that can waiver your commitment to an organization.

How are connections built: Throwing you in a room with a bunch of people often results in people sticking to who they know and already like, leaving new comers having to fend for themselves.  Great organizations have members who were welcomed into the fold and likewise see new comers as an opportunity to meet someone new and learn new things.  When these connections are strengthened with the opportunity to get to know members, both new and old, on a personal level you get the most genuine introduction to the spirit the organization stands for.

Participation and Accountability: Let’s face it, if you showing up is just at your option or convenience there are going to be lots of times you just don’t make it.  Organizations that set given participation requirements may seem like a pain but that structure breathes life into the idea that you get what you give.  By meeting the participation requirements you get a chance to really give to the organization and get things you may not have anticipated that add to the person you are on the road to becoming the person you want to become.  By collectively holding people responsible to make an organization great you move from passive participation to actively caring about both the organizational goals and your other members.

I.C.O.N. is a great way to get involved in the community and expand your network through sisterhood.  Check them out and sound off on some other great organizations that work to build its members and its community.

 

The List: Getting what you want by deciding what you want to give for it

Woman makng a shopping list in her kitchenChecklists can be pretty easy and detailed when you are listing something you want.  Just think of how quickly the things you need for a big party or a wedding or even all the qualities you want in a spouse pop in your mind when it comes to planning.   I always use lists as a part of my plan to get things done and stay on track and inspired. As good of a tool as lists are, however, when planning something you want to accomplish or to come your way you also have to ask yourself the hard question of what you are willing to pay for it.

A party is a great example as it is fun to plan all of the things to include in a really great party.  Unique invitations, outstanding food, great music, drinks and decoration all pile on the list quickly when thinking of how to create the party you want.  Putting price tags next to those things, however, often puts things back down to reality because everything in life costs.   The perfect party you have in mind requires some changes when the cost is $15,000 and you are only willing to pay $5,000.  The idea is the same when you are planning things you want in other arenas, even if the price for those things are not money.  You may want a fulfilling relationship with someone tall, dark, and handsome who handles you gently and provides abundantly.  The question of what you are willing to pay for it, however, requires some real self-assessment.  Everything in life comes at a price so expecting something for nothing is quickly tossed out realities window.  If you want that perfect relationship the next question is really what you are willing to give of yourself for it.  Are you willing to be kind or gracious or work hard or even swallow your pride to get what you desire?  If all those things cost too much for what you are asking then you have to go back and re-work your list in order to be sure when what you want comes around you are willing to do your part and pay the price to get and keep it.

Being able to list what you what you will pay for something has few better applications then when applied to your career.  Many people can see successful individuals once they attain a certain level of power and money and want to emulate their position.  As nothing is free, however, the questions becomes if they are willing to do what needs to be done to get those things.  Are they willing to take on sleepless nights and frustrating days full of no’s in order to achieve this goal?  If not those things others have are just items on a dream list that you are unwilling to pay for.  By writing down a list of your skills, talents, abilities, and efforts you are willing to commit to achieve a goal you put yourself and the world on notice that you know what you want and what you need to do or give to get it and you are willing and able to pay the price.  Armed with this you are able to check off from the list of things you want into the things you have paid for and are yours because you earned them.

 

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