December 16, 2010
Gary Vaynerchuck on Entrepreneurship & Passion in Paris
Gary Vaynerchuck in his typical form was on the LeWeb stage in Paris last week talking about entrepreneurship to an audience of largely European start-ups, venture capitalists, media and bloggers. As always, he exuded passion and broke all the rules, asking Loic Le Meur to pull down the Twitter board during his talk since he wanted to focus on the "people who showed up" first, suggesting that the board was only a distraction from being present to the "hear and now."
I couldn't help but agree since while having a back channel is useful, I was distracted by the energy on stage with a trailing stream of comments to my left and right as well. He encouraged people to rethink how we view our customers.....he views customers and 'interested fans' as equals and says he tries to respond to everyone. When someone asked about balance, he was 'all for family/work/life balance, yet at the same time, suggested we have to be always be available to respond to the people who give us life. (my words, not his). Translation - customers give us life. Fans give us life. Without those supporters, our voice can easily be lost in the noise.I've met Gary twice (it was in Paris in fact, a year ago at the Microsoft Biz Spark party -- and once at a Tony Robbins event in Vegas) and heard him speak a number of times, and while he is always inspiring, the most interesting response to a question about how to respond to clients who want the social media ROI was this: What's the value of your mother?
While corny on the surface, here's the gist of where he was going with the comment. How do you truly value the ROI of great customer relationships? How do you value a brand who has focused all of their attention on providing great service to customers, their primary attention on giving back, i.e., Zappos? Rather than focus all of our attention on numbers (which investors and the board always want), if you do NOT value time and effort spent on engaging customers, listening to customers and responding to customers, he says, "you shouldn't "fucking be in business."
While so damn simple, here's the sad thing about how I felt about his response - it's the way I was molded and frankly, it's in my DNA, yet it's NOT in the DNA of the majority of companies I've worked with or observed over the years. And as for the clients who have been a huge success, they have either gotten that at the core OR they were simply on a road to a quick exit and didn't really care about the longevity of the business anyway.
Once again, thanks for your most authentic share Gary. Below is the video I shot from the front of the room and it's also posted on our YouTube channel.
December 14, 2010
Start-Up Competition in ParisAt this year's LeWeb in Paris, they held a start-up competition where companies submitted their pitches to a panel of judges which included some of the top VCs and investors in France and Europe. August Capital's David Hornik moderated the session.
None of the winners were from the states btw, and each one presented on-stage following the announcement after which the judges drilled them with tough questions. The winners included Super Marmite from FRANCE (food/cooking), Waze.com (traffic/location) from ISRAEL and Paper.li (publishing) from SWITZERLAND.
Their presentations are below in a two-part video I shot from the front row.
October 22, 2010
Gourmex: Taste the Flavors of Mexico
The Friends of Mexico and the Mexican Consulate have announced the launch of Gourmex, a gala event hosted at the Bently Reserve, San Francisco, on October 25th, 2010 from 6:00pm – 8:30pm.
Gourmex will showcase the some of the best culinary talent in San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mexico while highlighting upscale and boutique food and beverage product exported from Mexico to the United States. There will be a number of diverse offerings prepared by some of the most well-regarded local Mexican Restaurants in the San Francisco/greater Bay area.
Gourmex will also highlight upscale and boutique culinary product exported from Mexico, including samples of some of the highest quality chiles, spices and chocolate. For beverages, Don Julio will be offering tastes as will some of the wineries.
October 20, 2010
Celebrity Chefs Talk on Social Media at Blog World Expo: #Jennair #BWE10At the Jenn-Air booth at BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas last week, celebrity chefs talk on social media, how they started blogging and how it has had an impact on their careers.
October 19, 2010
And Then There Was 2010 BlogWorldExpo: #bwe10
I’ve been going to BlogWorldExpo since it began. An event dedicated to all things blogging, online content and social media, it gathers bloggers who flock to SXSW in the Spring, mom and parenting bloggers who flock to BlogHer in August, and geek bloggers who flock to (or should I say are addicted to) social media and technology events every month.
The event, now at over 3,000 attendees, also attracts generalists, travel bloggers, marketing execs, blogging solution & tool vendors, and big brands trying to make an impact on the blogosphere on and offline.
A few highlights: I sampled saffron paella fresh off the Jenn-Air stage, met celebrity chef Manoushka Guerrier (Single Serving) of Food Network's Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, and sat next to interesting and engaging Erik Trinidad at a dinner who came up with a creative blog brand: Fancy Fast Food. His USP? He essentially takes fast food and makes it 'look' fabulous. Food had a bigger play this year at BlogWorld. Check out my summary post on We Blog the World, listing some of the topics and speakers.
One booth souped up dark chocolate espresso and gourmet coffee and Macallan Single Malt Whiskey was giving away samples, who btw, had two hired guns manning the booth, one of whom was not a whiskey drinker and a second who drank another brand.
Held in the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay, several tracks take place simultaneously down 3 long hallways, while activity buzzes in the exhibit hall nearby. Adjoining the exhibit hall is what they refer to as a New Media Lounge, where podcasts and video interviews took place and bloggers connected for live posting, photo uploads and managing email overflow.
In from around the world were bloggers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand (Darren Rowse from ProBlogger), Scotland (Ewan Spence), Germany (Nicole Simon), Ireland (Irish Polyglot), Poland, Argentina and hundreds of others. Babette Pepaj from Bakespace co-organized the food track which also drew lifestyle and travel bloggers, including travel blogger Gary Arndt who I rarely get to see but thanks to this annual blogging event, we were able to catch up. Below, Dave Peck with the Meshin folks at the Jason Falls meet-up.
I ran into Technorati’s CEO Richard Jalichandra and a bunch of blogger pals from LA who cover everything from relationships, sex, boomers, aging and fitness to politics, entertainment, music and travel. TWIT’s Leo Laporte was conducting interviews as was Marsha Collier on the show floor for a few hours each day. Below, Renee Blodgett, Leo Laporte and Barbara Rozgonyi.
Panel discussions were broad, ranging from photography tips, SEO for blogs, digital crisis communications, money trail, podcasts, social media policies, Internet Radio, blogging platforms and travel videos to non-profits, politics, education, parenting, mobile vlogging, Social CRM, travel pornand creating a blog network.
Barry Moltz spoke on how to utilize the speaking game to leverage your brand and blog, how to capitalize on it by using speaking to the blog revenue pie. He emphasizes three things everyone 'must have down' - what's your bio, what's your brand and what's your promise? Video of the session to follow tomorrow. Below Joseph Morin who did a bang-up job with Social Rewards all week and Steve Hall.
Countless official and unofficial parties were held every night, after all….it is Las Vegas, so it’s a great opportunity for sponsors to tap into the no rules policy or at least limited rules, where drinks can be served into the wee hours of the morning, people can drink on the streets and leave restaurants with a glass of wine in their hands, and people’s inhibitions are fluid and loose at best.
Below a little glitz and glam at the Techset opening party.
Party hopping is part of the blogging conference culture and not unlike SXSW, I got the sense each and every night, that attendees were desperately looking for the next bash after each one ended. Social Rewards held Luxor suite receptions and scavenger-hunt like exercises were an integral part of participating. Thanks Luxor & Joseph Morin.
You were given clues and links to scour through and questions to answer and ultimately you were given information albeit vague, about where the party was held. It had a fun, gaming kind of flavor to it, which was perfect for any Las Vegas venue and brands like the Las Vegas Luxor, Sony, Ford (kudos to Scott Monty -- @scottmonty -- who won an award this week), PopChips and others were able to tap into the subsequent buzz that flowed from the events each night.
Whoah, Gregory Feinstein has his hands full at the Mashable bash. So did everyone else btw.
Client CarWoo!, an inexpensive, private and efficient way to buy a new car online, threw a women’s blogger event, to celebrate their launch at Digital Dealer, a car event which started a few days earlier at the Mirage. Below Heather Meeker and Marsha Collier arrive from the massive black hummer limo.
The hummer limo picked up the girls at the Mandalay Bay for a little off-site food, champagne, wine, make-up from the team at FRESH and poker tips from Shore Slocum. Below, inside the limo, 25 or more of us were packed in with champagne bottles and glasses. Oh yeah and note the fabulous pair of red boots. Below, Renee Blodgett, Beth Kanter.
Below, the FRESH team 'refresh' attendees.
Below Pepsi's Social Media guru Bonin Bough at the Mashable party
The Bellagio’s Yellowtail Restaurant hosted a tasting for some of the food, wine and travel bloggers, so I couldn’t resist.
Award-winning chef Akira Back put together a myriad of dishes that included Jidori chicken with potato puree and garlic cream, Scottish Salmon with yuzu lemon, duck prosciutto with pickles and micro beets, seared Hokkaido Scallops with cherry tomatoes and mustard potato puree, Alaskan King Crab with rock shrimp, spicy-citrus aioli, grilled walu with shiitake mushrooms & pearl onions and braised kobe beef short ribs.
A more in-depth review of the tasting can be found here, including a handful of fabulous food photos I took on-site. Thanks Lightgroup -- @lightgroup and @bakespace.
PopChips also drew in some of the foodies at a nearby after bash, where they promoted a Twitter quiz to get the word out about their brand.
Keynotes this year included Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, Jim Louderback, Susan Bratton and Dermot McCormack, Karen Hughes, Reid Wilson and Dick Glover. The last panel of the event was a cross between a talk-show format and a Q&A. Moderated by Rob Barnett, Adam Carolla, Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller, Mark Malkoff, Cali Lewis and Jeffrey Hayzlett discussed what works and doesn't with new media.
They were all bluntly entertaining about new media, old media, and where online is heading. Penn said of Twitter on-stage that it is one of the most intimate vehicles we have today to communicate, connect and engage.
He overtly compared it to the countless impersonal and often fake physical exchanges we have with people at cocktail parties and other events. Intimacy at its best he feels and goes on to explain how he uses Twitter. He says that he tweets all of his own stuff and rarely retweets other people’s thoughts, one of the reasons he thinks he has a popular and widespread following (@pennjillette has over 1.6 million followers at last check).
I would bet it also has a little to do with the fact that he is a national if not international entertainer celebrity, not to mention has a very sarcastic and in-your-face, bold personality. It’s so surprise that America eats him up, since yanks are typically drawn to the eclectic, the brash, the tough and the bold in my experience. Check out this video from the floor and this blog post that captures nearly all of the panel discussion in a three part video -- subsequent videos can be found in a separate blog post and on YouTube.
Tech Karaoke closed the event on Saturday night at the Palms Hotel. It was held in a large threatre with cinema-like chairs perched on an angle and the stage was roughly 4.5 feet from the ground, giving those brave enough to sing in from of their blogging peers, plenty of space and height to really feel their 3-5 minutes of fame.
Below, the tech karaoke audience get a 'little' excited and take in the energy from on-stage.
On the stage, participants play full out. For example, who knew that the iSocket guys were so talented (and so strong?)
Leaving the Klout party to go hang out with Jason for a bit.
Inside the Venetian Hotel along the strip.
Sugar Jones and Marla Schulman
@Zaneology wore these incredible nylons that were sure to make a statement and then some not to mention being incredibly appropriate for a blogging conference.
CarWoo's CEO Tommy McClung at the end of a very long night.
Kris Krug, Deb Shultz
More Mashable fun. Ben Parr was missed (@benparr).
Mashable's Brett Petersel and TechZulu's Efran Toscano
Sugar Jones, Ask Dave (Taylor), Oliver Starr, Renee Blodgett, Roseann Higgins
Chris Noble (@cfnoble) graced us with Elvis. (really good Elvis - who knew he could belt out a tune like he can?)
More late night tech-karaoke at the Palms.
Go Sheila Dowd. It was indeed a lot of work but a helluva lot of fun too! :-)
Because Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung) shoots as much as I do and then some. And he's really good. Smile.
At the Techset bash, David Spark, Renee Blodgett @magicsaucemedia, Pat Jenkins of Uptake and Michael Tchong of @ubercool.
October 19, 2010 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Blogging, On Branding, On Food & Wine, On Social CRM, On Technology, PR & Marketing, Social Gigs & Parties, Social Media, Travel, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 06, 2010
San Franola: Granola Done RightHailing from San Francisco, San Franola founder Matt Teichmann, who was once a technology entrepreneur, is passionate about healthy eating and living. He created San Franola Co., which is a health-minded granola company specializing in products that are as good for the body as they are for the senses. I had a chance to taste some of their incredible granola (which btw, also has fabulous packaging) at an event recently.
Their granola almost looks like it has chocolate in it because it's so dark, but its because its sugar-free granola is roasted. It boasts 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber with minimal fat. Matt tells us more in the video below.
August 13, 2010
Serranos Pizza and Delfina: Forget What the Customer WantsFor those old enough to remember when America 'stood' for service, delivered great service and listened to and responded to customer needs and desires, you'll also notice where it continues to decline -- even in the world of social media where everyone can speak up.
Airlines, restaurants, hotels. For the traveler, the frequent traveler that is, service can make or break your experience. It's not just about a soft bed, a clean bathroom and great food - it's about your experience and how you feel in those establishments. I often get more hospitable service and 'curiosity' at an old fashioned diner than I do a 5 star hotel.
I had a few 'interesting' experiences over the last few months that left me feeling unheard and more importantly, feel as if my requests didn't matter as a 'paying customer.' I'll mention two, both based in San Francisco.
Serrano's Pizza in San Francisco is a small casual eatery with a few tables - I imagine a lot of their business is take out since they're all about pizza and pasta.
I've ordered from them quite a bit in the past six months. The past 3 times, I asked for more sauce on my pasta since the first time it was really dry. The first time was just a simple request - extra sauce please. The second time, I explained that the last time was very dry and could she PLEASE add extra sauce. (BTW, I had to heat up my own sauce --from a JAR--) to really enjoy my meal. The second order, despite the request, it was too dry, so once again, I heated up more sauce.
Try number 3, the conversation goes into depth. I BEG them -- over five minutes -- to dish up extra sauce. Happy to pay for it; just WANT EXTRA EXTRA SAUCE PLEASE. He says, "well it's hard to fit a lot of sauce with a lid on it," or something to this effect. "Hmmm, put extra sauce on the side."
In other words, whatever you have to do: PLEASE SIR - your PAYING CUSTOMER WANTS EXTRA SAUCE ON HER SPAGHETTI!! How hard is this? You're an Italian pizzeria. You have sauce right? It's not like I'm asking for extra Mexican beans. The order arrives. Annoyed that my repeated plea (at least six times in one of those voices that sounded like I was down on my hands and knees begging) seemed to go nowhere, I decide to call.
He says, "you don't see extra sauce." NO, I say as I open the container and see a layer of sauce sitting on the top of a huge pile of spaghetti. He suggested I go somewhere else and no I'm not joking. Instead of an apology to his PAYING CUSTOMER, I was told to take a hike. Thanks George, I WILL.
Enter Delfina, a restaurant I have always liked - the ambience, the food, the wine. It's also popular and trendy and often, there's a long wait for a table. A friend was in from out of town and wanted to try it out, so on that particular night, we were walk-ins who sat at the bar. Bread came and an appetizer, one which I, the PAYING CUSTOMER, wanted more garlic for......
The bartender looked at me as if I had asked for a dozen free roses rather than a side of garlic. The response? The chef won't do it. Huh? I actually walked up to the kitchen (since it's wide open) to confirm for myself and sure enough, no garlic for a PAYING CUSTOMER who asked for it despite the fact that they had it.
My friend, a male in his thirties from the East Coast, was also in disbelief, and it was clear that he wanted to see me -- his friend -- happy because the restaurant clearly didn't care whether I was or not. So, what does he do? He walks out of the restaurant to a little grocer/convenience store on the same block, and buys a bulb of garlic. When he returned with a grin on his face, we sat there at the bar, both cutting up the bulb of garlic, in front of the bartender and in front of other guests. And so I GOT my garlic, but I got my garlic the hard way. All of it was so unnecessary.
So, what's our take away here? Was their stubbornness and refusal to 'please' a customer worth it? They have essentially created a very disgruntled PAYING CUSTOMER simply because they wouldn't dish up some extra sauce in a container or chop up some garlic on a plate.
More than being disgruntled and affecting our dining experience at the time, I have a negative memory in my 'dining memory bank' that is strong enough to last a lifetime. I'll tell people about the experience so others will hear the ridiculousness of their decisions and so on. And, it sat with me so much that I finally decided to write a blog post about it.
So if you don't care about your customers and what they want, just say so. Say you're about your food and that's it. Come to EAT not have an experience. All I can say is that it's a crying shame to leave such an impression when it was so easy to have the opposite reaction and, a very very different blog post.
August 09, 2010
Eating Your Way Through San FranciscoBelow are some snapshots of recommended dishes in San Francisco, taken from dining experiences over the past couple of weeks....it includes The Wharf and Fog Harbor along/near The Embarcadero, Limon in the Mission and Paul K in Hayes Valley.
Fresh Oysters Promise to Impress on The Wharf along The Embarcadero. Ask for him large - they have as much taste as the smaller ones.
Tuna Coated with Spicy Pepper on the The Embarcadero.
Syrian Spiced Duck Breast, Spelt, Grilled Figs, Hazelnuts, Watercress at Paul K on Gough.
Roast. Tomatoes. White Beans. Rosemary. Succulent. Tender. Incredible.
Risotto, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Melted Pecorino Cheese at Paul K on Gough.
Aroz con Mariscos - Peruvian-style Paella made with Saffron Rice, Mixed Seafood, Spicy Pimento Sauce and Roasted Red Peppers at Limon on Valencia Street (a much better choice than the dish sitting behind it: Grilled Octopus on a Bed of Mashed Potatoes which was too Rubbery and needed the Mash to counter the tough texture and lack of taste).
Ceviche Nikkei de Atun - Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna with Mushrooms and Sesame Seeds in Soy Sauce-Infused Leche de Tigre at Limon on Valencia Street. The sauce and the mushrooms make this a unique dish and compliment the Very Tender and Tasty Tuna.
July 03, 2010
San Francisco's Zare FlytrapZare Flytrap in San Francisco's SOMA district immediately impresses as you walk into the restaurant.
The food has a Persian influence, brought by chef and owner Hoss Zare. The building itself is historical and housed a restaurant under different management called Flytrap without "Zare" as part of its name. Since 2008, the new chef brings in incredients from local Bay Area farms and markets.
Zare was born in Tabriz Iran and immigrated to San Francisco in the mid-eighties. Prior to opening the "new Flytrap," he has experience at South Park's Ristorante Ecco and Aromi on Polk Street - both in San Francisco.
They had two Lebanese reds on the menu when I was there earlier this week. Take a look at what else they were pouring from a tweet I sent out in real-time on-site.
Below was my favorite, the pistachio meatball starter served with harissa-honey pomegranate glaze.
Also wonderful was the wild mushroom cake with asparagus and lemon confit.
One of the main courses we sampled was the flavorful grilled moroccan-style wild salmon served with toasted fregola, blue lake green beans and charmoula.
A little on the rich side but also incredibly tender was their lamb shank abgusht which they dished up with black-eyed beans and fingerling potatoes torshi.
While certainly tasty but not as uniquely presesented was the butter lettuce salad with parma prosciutto and a tarragon-mustard vinaigrette.
What I didn't try but would like to on a future trip was the braised Italian eggplant with sun-dried yogurt, walnuts and crispy onions. The other thing that will bring me back is the warm ambience and historical feel in the restaurant itself as well as the vibrant bar - I will likely have dinner at the bar next time around. I do wish however that they had more diverse wine choices by the glass.
Yank Sing for Deem Sum in San FranciscoDeem Sum used to be more common among my posse when I lived on the East Coast so I haven't spent much time exploring the offerings in California. A media bud introduced me to Yank Sing this past week in Rincon Center on Spear Street in San Francisco, a stone's throw from the Financial District.
Likely due to the location, it was packed. As is typical with dim sum, carts came by every few minutes with one offering after another ranging from steamed dumplings and stirfy vegetables and meat to butter lettuce enclosed 'chicken and pork' pockets you eat by hand.
For those not familiar with the tradition and style, Deem Sum literally translated means "to touch the heart."
Some of the options we tried included snow pea shoot dumplings (Dau Miu Gow), chicken fun gwor (steamed translucent crescent dumplings filled with a tasty wok-cooked hand-chopped chicken, shiitake mushroom, winter bamboo shoots, and cilantro-flavored stuffing), sauteed string beans, cabbage salad, steamed pork buns (warm fluffy bread buns stuffed with nuggets of honey-glazed BBQ pork), and of course the traditional potstickers (Wor Tee) filled with minced chicken, scallions, ginger, and toasted sesame oil stuffing, steamed in a wok, then shallow- pan-fried, and served with vinegar, soy sauce and Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce.
What I didn't try but would like to sample on a future visit:
Peking Duck - A Yank Sing Signature dish, house-roasted Peking Duck served as a deem sum appetizer, Crispy paper thin honey-coated skin and tender slices of succulent meat stuffed in a steamed seashell bun, accompanied with finely slivered scallions and smears of tangy hoisin sauce.
Stuffed Crab Claws - Light and fluffy crab and shrimp mousse croquette encasing a whole snow crab claw, deep-fried until golden brown. (even though I'm definitely not a fan of deep-fried food and in fact, very very rarely eat it).
The ambience is bustling and the service was great - a large glass tea kettle filled with strong flavorful green tea came within minutes of asking for it. One thing to note: lunch for 3 was very pricey by deem sum standards, given that we didn't order any alcohol neither did we go crazy with wild ingredients and menu options. (nearly $120 including tip).