Sunday, April 30, 2017

America's Best Social Media Cities - My Own Travels

I have traveled a lot over time for both personal and business reasons and have always been attracted to high-tech socially progressive cities that have a great music scene as well as being a melting pot for entrepreneurs.     My favorite cities have a lot of great business networking, have a positive outlook on life and the economy and access to great scenery.  

I have been to Europe many times but I will reserve this list for my American travels including the US and Canada.    Of course, Boston, my hometown makes the list even if I didn't live here,  Boston is everything a city should be!

So here we go in no particular order, let's travel!

Seattle!

The Emerald City.  The home of Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks!   You want music?  How about Pearl Jam, Soundgarden ad even Macklemore!!  Yes, Seattle is one cool city.   It has a huge entrepreneur scene and is the fastest growing major city in America right now.  The cool thing is now there are direct flights from Boston to Seattle which is a lot better than taking Interstate 90 from Boston to Seattle!  Seattle is socially connected and is as high tech as it gets!  The weather and cost of living is a little shaky in Seattle but after all, you have to sacrifice a little no where you live.   One of my favorites!!


Austin!
Deep in Heart of Texas Hill Country, I visited the "Live Music Capital of The World" a few years ago for a conference and was amazed at how progressive the city was considering I was in Texas.   The food was amazing and the tech scene was probably the fastest growing in the US with new meetups starting up on a weekly basis.   Austin is the home of Whole Foods, and big footprints for Apple and Facebook.   The weather is great 8 or 9 months out of the year and the scenery is not bad for Texas.   It is one of the few places you will see a pine tree next to a palm tree.   The cons for Austin are the intense summer heat, no pro sports team and growing pains.  


Orlando!
Florida's Magical City is full of surprises.   It is a lot more than Disney and Universal.  There is a huge tech scene here, with networking and mobile application companies such as AirWatch and Juniper Networks.  The business networking scene is booming according to Network After Work and the restaurant scene is the best in Florida (yes, better than the larger Miami to the south).  The great thing about Orlando is that within four hours you can see a sunrise to the east and a sunset to the west in the same day!   Like Austin, the summer can be brutal, but unlike Austin, you can be at a beach in a couple of hours!  Orlando is most popular Florida city when it comes to social media likes and follows!   What a great city!!


Vancouver!
I went to Vancouver right before the Olympics and was amazed how it was 55-60 degrees in early January in downtown, yet, you can go a half-hour outside the city and have the best skiing in the world.   I went to Vancouver while working at Nokia and was able to enjoy the great brew pubs, high tech meetups, and probably the best scenery of any city in America.   Vancouver was the most fitness minded city in Canada (probably because it avoids the brutal winters like the rest of Canada).  It is the most expensive city in Canada but worth it.    Everyone should put this city on its bucket list!


Nashville!
Yes, the Music City, the Heart of Tennessee, the Home of the Grand Ol' Opry!   It is the city I have been to the most outside of New England and Florida.  I ran an IT organization in Nashville back in 2008-2009 and was down there every other week for a while.   All I can say is I met some of the most amazing positive professionals anywhere in Nashville.  Of course, the music was amazing.   I was at a club one night and Neil Young just showed up and jammed with this band.   Only in Nashville!  Anyway, health care IT is king here, there are great schools and as a result lots of startup companies.   The restaurant scene is the best in the Mid-South besides New Orleans.   I look forward to another visit to this great city soon!!


Denver!
I visited the Mile High City a couple of years ago and was amazing at the explosive growth of this amazingly scenic city!   The tech scene and the business networking scene is the fastest growing in the West.  The people are very fit considering it one of the best outdoor cities in the US.  Denver has room to grow so look for it to be a top ten city very soon.   The drawback is that Denver is land locked and the weather is very unpredictable.  The cost of living is expensive but not as bad as the Northeast or California.    Finally, on my bucket list is to see a concert at Red Rocks!


San Francisco!
I remembered going across the Bay Bridge from gritty Oakland into San Francisco and was absolutely blown away how beautiful this city was.  San Francisco is Boston with mountains and palm trees.  It is the king of tech with just about every major tech company based in the metro area alongside San Jose.   The restaurant scene is the best in the West.   I did a power tour of the city the one time I have been there including walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving down the zig-zaggy Lombard Street and then hanging on the street corner of Haight & Ashbury, the home of the Grateful Dead.     The city is the most expensive place to live on this list but it is worth it!


Raleigh!
Last but not least, is the fastest growing city on the East Coast. Raleigh.  The home of the Research Triangle, Duke, UNC and NC State!   It is progressive with tech companies like Red Hat and SAS headquartered here.   Raleigh is only two hours from some of the most scenic coastline and three hours from the mountains.  It is great spot and it probably has the best weather if you still like to experience the four seasons.  What I liked about Raleigh is the greenery.   There is a lot of open spaces and trees even though you are in a major metropolitan area.   The company I am in business with, Market America, is based in neighboring Greensboro, so Raleigh is a place I will frequenting a lot.   The only drawback is that Raleigh doesn't have the excitement of a Nashville, Boston or Seattle, but it is a great place to call home!!

There you have it, my favorite American cities list.   Yes, I have been to others like Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, DC, Phoenix and Philly, but these cities did not have the great combination of tech, networking and scenery that the top cities have, in my opinion.   Happy travels!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Attending Business Networking Events - The Top Five Do's & The Top Five Dont's

The ability to network is not an inherited quality that many are born with. It is simply the process of developing mutually gratifying/advantageous relationships with like-minded people and businesses and, more importantly, can be earned, honed and developed. 



Business Networking is a marketing tool; crucial to the success of you and your business that can take a variety of different forms. From face-to-face business conferences, to less formal coffee or after-work drinks meetings, business networking is the defacto best way to build long lasting trustful professional relationships!

We are lucky here in Boston, with all the amazing networking organizations and meetups.   It is an easy city to network in with lots of aspiring professionals and opportunity to succeed.



Whether you are at the beginning of your career or a business veteran embarking down a new road, here are a few do’s and don’ts about networking to help you succeed.

The Do's:
  • Put your best Foot Forward – There is no benefit sitting in the corner by yourself. Don’t be afraid to say hello to people around you. The chances are they are just as nervous as you.  Also, it is a business networking event, not a dating event!
  • “Elevator Pitch” – Be quick, concise and accurate when describing your business. Ensure you engage your listener from the get-go and be interactive and engage in a two-way conversation
  • Follow up – Whats the use of meeting people if you don’t follow up afterward?  Remember, they may know someone that can be your next client, business partner or friend.
  • Listen and learn – This is a valuable lesson in life and not just business. Take time to learn from others’ experiences.   The rule of thumb is to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time.
  • Quid-pro-quo – You cannot expect to get something without offering anything in return. Offer free help, favors, advice or reduced cost services.   Everyone is an expert in something and has something to offer.
The Dont's:
  • Don’t be timid – and only talk to people you already know. Networking isn’t just for the flamboyant big-shots or charismatic colleagues.
  • Don’t only speak to one person – The more the better.   You didn't go to a networking event to meet one person for a drink.
  • Avoid overzealous self-promotion – This tactic is more likely to annoy than build valuable relationships.  Remember people don't care about you, they care about building their professional network!
  • Don’t forget to follow up – this is so important, we’re saying it twice.  The most important tip of all!
  • Don’t get drunk – Especially at the more informal social events, there is the chance they will be serving alcohol.   Even though a little cocktail courage can help the confidence, appearing intoxicated is the worst thing you could possibly do.  The same goes for bad breath!
There you go, so practice some of these tips at upcoming networking events in your area!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Your Health is a Marathon Not a Sprint - Inspiration from The Boston Marathon

Today, was the 121th running of the most famous marathon in the world, the Boston Marathon.   It is 26.2 miles of hilly terrain through scenic towns and cities from bucolic Hopkinton to the bustling Back Bay section of Boston.

Today's run was especially challenging due to the warm sunny conditions.  The last I heard around 2400 runners got treated for heat exhaustion.    The mantra was #BostonStrong and #oneBoston to help our determined athletes to get through the challenges of the marathon course.   Boston has become closer than ever, especially after the awful events four years ago at the finish line, and it was so amazing seeing everyone come together to cheer the runners on.   Why I love this city so much!

Marathon runners train for Boston, for years and years.  You cannot wake up one day and  decide you are going to run the Boston Marathon.   It starts with the physical aspect of running in all conditions and changing your diet along the way.   Most of all, it is perseverance and positive mindset that determine when you are ready to run 26.2 through the wilds of Metro Boston.   Marathon runners know that it is a marathon that takes years of training and not a sprint.

Like the Boston Marathon, Your Health is like a Marathon, not a Sprint.

My company AIMC Health Solutions focuses on four sectors of health & wellness - Fitness - Supplementation - Diet - Positive Mindset.    In every sector of your health, you need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint.   I have some great examples below.

Fitness - You know the people that whenever you talk to them, they are like, I am going to start hitting the gym hard next week, and go to the gym on Monday and are at the bar by Friday?   Exercising consistently three or four times a week is essential for great health, positive mindset and the proper digestion of food.   Waiting till tomorrow to exercise is like waiting for those lucky numbers on a lottery ticket.

Supplementation - There is a reason why the label on the vitamin bottle says "Daily Vitamin".   It is because you need to take your vitamins every day!   Our food is not nutritious anymore, therefore why supplements are essential for great health.    Taking vitamins is like a marathon, where you stay healthy for the long haul and not for short periods.

Diet - There are no quick fixes or magic pills to make you lose weight, despite what some companies promise you.    Eating healthy consistently is the long haul.   You do not want to experience a yo-yo diet because that is when you may have health problems.  Eating natural foods light on sugar, dairy and grains is essential for a healthy long life.  There are great resources out there that will teach you how to eat a diet for a marathoner and not a sprinter!

Positive Mindset - Eliminating negative influences over the long haul is probably the most difficult of all.   There are always those people that discourage you from doing anything that would help you.   It is unfortunate, but over time, it is best thing to do to assure great health.    Marathoners hang out with marathoners.   Successful people hang out with successful people.    It is that simple.


In closing, watching the marathon today provided me more inspiration to help others with their health and wellness.    After watching the marathoners push through the vigorous course through the warm temperatures, it made me realize that you can do anything as long as you treat it like a marathon and not a sprint.  It is all about how you finished the race.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Tip for the Aspiring Entrepreneur - It is What You Do In Between The Lines That Counts

I love this time of year in my hometown of Boston, MA.   Of course, the weather goes from those chilly rainy days to that perfect sunny 70-degree day in a flash.   Boston's most famous sporting event The Boston Marathon happens.   Opening Day for our beloved Red Sox is here.  April is truly a great month to be in the Hub.




From a business and entrepreneur's perspective, spring is also a time of new beginnings, a time for reflection and a time for action.     The business plan you did right before the holidays is falling into place, and you are assessing the first quarter of the year, adjusting your goals along the way, so you can march your way toward amazing success.

If you are an entrepreneur, you probably have also read aspiring books and attended sold-out celebrity events and training sessions, in order to learn about positive mindset, business planning and successful strategies.   Some of my personal favorite books are from Gary Vandychuk, T. Harv Eker, Grant Cardone and Daymond John, to name a few.    Amazing amazing entrepreneurs and they don't fool around.  They know what that are doing.





Likewise each uber-successful entrepreneur may hold free training sessions via their own rock star tour that can move into more detailed multi-day trainings at a hotel or conference center in a great location like Las Vegas or Florida.    Robert Kiyosaki, Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank and Grant Cardone are well-known for their training companies and invaluable ways to take your positive mindset and focus and ultimately your business to the next level.


Books are a very small investment of your money and time but can be life-changing.   The multi-day entrepreneur/ business training is much more of a monetary and time investment.  Some cost thousands of dollars which for that budding entrepreneur can clean out their life savings!

I am personally an entrepreneur and have had my own business ventures for the past nine years in addition to a full-time career as an IT Executive.  I have been to celebrity trainings and have read probably a hundred books.  

What I have learned is that you can read all the great books, go to the best trainings that teach you how to be laser-focused and give you all the tools to succeed,  but if you go back to your old routine and don't take action on what you learn, it all goes to waste and you don't grow.

I have seen this happen time and time again.   We all go to this amazing Business Conference in Miami in February.  Everyone is all pumped up to take their business to the next level.  They can't wait to get home and get started.  Right?    By March, they are still saying they will get started next week and another week goes by and nothing.  Back to the same old song and dance.

The biggest tip of all is, it is what you do every single day is the difference between a business stuck in the mud or a business that is accelerating down the highway of success.

This tip does not cost you thousands of dollars or thousands of hours.   Once you learn the skills taught by uber-successful business professionals, make a DAILY action plan and track your progress every single day.    It is what you do between the line that counts, not the number of events you attend or the books you read.

Finally, I encourage you to join entrepreneur groups, go to a celebrity training event an pick up a great book.   Once you complete the training.book, make a daily task list and put it next to your goals and track them every single day.    You will start to notice that every day is like spring in Boston versus fall, and you will be onto that highway to personal success on your own terms.





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