About Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett
As we age, there are a number of things that break down in our bodies or don’t replenish at the same speed. It’s important to consider both the inside and out when we think of self-care. I was recently introduced to a brand called AGE QUENCHER from Toronto which has a cream/serum combo, as well as supplements and high protein whey powder to promote skin elasticity as well as strengthen nails.
They have a full system which we found fascinating. They call it the AGE QUENCHER Beauty System and you can sign up to receive it automatically every month — it’s delivered to your door so you can keep on the beauty and health regime without missing a beat. Each Beauty System includes a one-month supply of AGELESS Beauty Vitamin, HYDRATE Beauty Electrolyte and REJUVENATE Beauty Protein.
The collagen, hyaluronic acid, potent antioxidants, proteins, electrolytes and essential vitamins present in AGE QUENCHER work at a deep cellular level repairing tissue, combating free radicals and regenerating cells to hydrate, nourish and strengthen skin from the inside out.
- AGELESS is a vegetarian capsule that delivers a powerful one-two punch of antioxidants and vitamins to support skin health from the inside.
- HYDRATE helps to replenish vital electrolytes while promoting radiant, glowing skin. It is sugar-free, carbohydrate-free, and chemical-free with less than 20 calories per serving. (above)
- REJUVENATE is made with hormone-free New Zealand Whey Powder to promote skin’s elasticity and strengthen nails. It boasts 20 grams of protein and only 90 calories per scoop, is sugar-free and carbohydrate-free, and has a delicious natural vanilla taste.
Their AGELESS Beauty Vitamin is an innovative formula that combines the powerful properties of essential vitamins and antioxidants to help combat the signs of aging. As the women in my circles know, our skin tends to dry out as we get older. One of the biggest causes of premature aging and deep wrinkles is insufficient hydration. Water hydrates every cell and organ in our bodies, including our bodies’ largest organ: the skin so it’s vital to drink tons of water regardless of what age you are, but as you get older, it’s even more important.
Not only can dehydration cause fatigue, headaches and decreased urination, but can also increase our heart rate and lower our blood pressure. Their HYDRATE product helps to replenish vital electrolytes while promoting radiant, glowing skin. Lastly, their REJUVENATE Beauty Protein, which as noted above, is made with hormone-free New Zealand Whey Powder and is infused with collagen to promote skin elasticity and to strengthen hair and nails. It is also non-GMO, lactose, hormone, antibiotic, carbohydrate and sugar free and it doesn’t have any artificial flavors, colors, wheat or gluten.
Moving onto the skin and external care, INTERCEPT is a paraben-free topical hyaluronic serum that delivers intense moisture directly to the skin, which helps to replenishes aging skin at the cellular level, promoting a luminous glow, while protecting against free radicals and environmental aggressors.
For more information, including how to order and the specifics behind their beauty system and regime, visit their website: http://www.agequencher.com/.
Skiers and hikers will love Sun Valley Idaho, a gem of a getaway where you can ski during the winter (and spring) and hike, bike, swim and climb in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Just because you’re an adventure seeker doesn’t mean that you don’t love a great meal and Sun Valley has it’s fair share of fabulous restaurants to choose from. The main hub of the area is Ketchum, which has a quaint downtown with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a great long weekend retreat from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA and San Francisco.
Two years ago, I did a fairly lengthy round-up, so be sure to read my Top 12 Picks for the best restaurants in Sun Valley. It includes eateries that locals love as much today as they did in 2014, such as Globus, Enoteca and Ketchum Grill, still on East Avenue (three of my favorites). This year, here are two new ones to add to your list: Vintage Restaurant and Warfield Distillery & Brewery.
Vintage is one of those places you never forget because of its size and unique rustic charm. Located in a restored historic cabin, all the tables are in one small room, seating only 20 in total. You’ll want to make a reservation well in advance to ensure availability when planning your trip. Since we were already a group, we took over the entire restaurant so had a pre-fix menu as well to keep things easy.
Photo credit: Yelp
While quaint and small, the chef serves a variety of organic and fresh meals, from vegetarian offerings like Mushroom Tart with braised greens, asparagus, Cambozola cheese and a white truffle sauce (YUM!!) to duck, chicken, fish and beef.
They specialize in upscale peasant food using locally farmed sources for all their seafood, meat and poultry. Some more classic menu items include crispy skin roast duckling and Cajun oysters, but also more hearty options like Organic Naturally Raised pecan crusted chicken breast with roasted tomato chutney and Dijonnaise sauce, accompanied by Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and Italian roasted veggies.
My favorite? The Beef Tenderloin, which is oh so tender. They serve it with Idaho twice baked potatoes with three cheese roasted wild mushrooms and grilled asparagus, laced with a red wine syrup. I asked for no potatoes and double the veggies to keep it on the healthy side, a smart choice given the portions.
Appetizers…yup, that’s artichoke and asparagus…
Incredibly fresh Burrata salad — smoked tomatoes, watercress balsamic caviar and basil oil. Simple, but it lingered on my mind well after the meal.
An appetizer they’re well known for is their Rock Shrimp Tamale, which is served Los Barriles style — its presentation is exquisite, almost too exquisite to eat.
The wine selection was top notch – there was no shortage of wines to choose from, and despite the tiny size of the place, they managed to build in a wall full of reds to marvel at over dinner.
I didn’t have dessert but Yelp reviewers rave about their Naked Stranger dessert and the Chocolate Truffle Torte with housemade Mountain Decadence ice cream is supposed to be great says Sun Valley Magazine when they came in. My colleagues had the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries, but it was too dark to capture.
Photo credit: Sun Valley Magazine.
Two thumbs up — we would definitely return!
231 Leadville Avenue North
Ketchum, ID 83340
Warfield Distillery & Brewery
If you read this site often enough, you know that I’m a fan of wine over spirits and beer and usually go for wine with my meal even if there’s a choice to start off with a cocktail and everyone else is having one. It’s never been my thing. That said, there are some cocktail bars and breweries which have blown me away over the years and I left one happy camper. The Warfield Distillery and Brewery in downtown Ketchum is a gem for all spirits and beers although they have a decent wine menu as well.
The flavors and nuances of a spirit come from the inexact melding of flavors on the molecular level, influenced by the design of the copper pot still, water chemistry and the hands that coax the liquor to life. At Warfield, you can try their No Return Gin, which is handcrafted with botanicals native to Idaho’s wilderness.
If you’re a vodka lover, they have Mayday Vodka, which is named for the classic triple chair that serves Sun Valley’s bowls. Their Mayday Vodka is smooth and mellow; distilled from Idaho wheat and corn, it offers a warm, round finish that lingers.
There’s a lovely warm winter veggie salad on the menu with roasted butternut squash, turnips, arugula and mustard greens and if you don’t care about those calories, go for the Chicharrones, served with jamon powder and a spicy aioli. Unfortunately the oysters on the halfshell were out when I happened to be there. Dang!!
Most definitely worth ordering is their beet salad, which is served with spicy pecan, mustard greens, arugla, citrus and a shallot dressing. I could have had two of these – the spicy pecan mixed with the sharpness of the citrus and shallots was memorable.
On the larger side, they had a Poutine which is served with hand-cut fries, Idaho cheese curds, green chili velouté and scallions. For a heavier and unusual choice, the Handmade Pierogi makes for a great choice. Imagine a smoked mash that combines potatoes, sauerkraut, housemade cheese, caramelized onions and brussel leaves – wow, right?
Also unusual is their Grilled Artichoke with fingerling potatoes, garlic, arugula, parsley, spiced olives and lemon and a Braised Rabbit polenta gnocchi with crimini, cream and Brussel leaves. If I were not on such a low carb diet, I would have been all over that one.
On the lighter side, the Dover sole with pancetta, roasted garlic, brussel leaves and red quinoa is a perfect choice with a nice glass of Chardonnay. I started with a Cowhorn Syrah from Oregon and ended with a 2013 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Both went really well with my Rib Eye which is their to-die-for grass-fed, grain-finished Idaho rib eye steak with smoked mash, roasted carrots and a shallot marmalade. Two thumbs up!!
For the more adventurous, the Cassoulet duck confit, housemade sausage with Warfield beans, citrus and a herb crust is a fun choice or the Housemade Sausage & Mash -- yup, it’s a banger, smoked mash with melted leeks and smothered in the Miner’s Canary Stout gravy. If I wasn’t so full, I would have loved to taste that homemade stout gravy — bring it on!
As you know, we drove across country last year and had plenty of southern delights at some of the best restaurants in Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock and the Mississippi Delta. One stand out dish I’ll never forget was the deep fried chicken and waffle combo, which Warfield had on their menu. This is a must try if you don’t care about fat or calories. Here, they hand-batter the chicken, add a Carolina béchamel, then top it with maple syrup, cayenne pepper and collard greens. Whoah Nellie! I regret not trying it out.
Inside, the Warfield is an eclectic mix of charming and rustic, with its copper and earth tone shades throughout and its authentic brick wall behind the bar.
Photo credit: svpn-mag.com
Inside, the establishment is laced with lots of fine touches, polished hardwood floors and booths in the middle. Benches line the walls, all of which have comfy pillows to lean up against, a great way to relax on a Saturday night.
Photo credit: www.conradgarner.com.
Kudos to the chef and very attentive servers who took care of me. Would I go back? You betcha, but this time, I’d make sure to try that insanely decadent chicken and waffle dish.
Warfield Distillery & Brewery
280 North Main Street
Ketchum, ID 83340
All photos: Renee Blodgett unless otherwise notified above.
I’m not a newcomer to Saratoga Springs New York, home of the infamous race track and spring water. In fact, I grew up in the Adirondacks as regular readers of this site know, so truth be told, I am biased (in a positive way) about the area. I know how locals think, tick, create, cook and sleep.
As much as I understand upstate New Yorkers, I’ve never known or looked at Saratoga through editorial eyes. When I was a little girl, my Uncle Mel and Aunt Betty used to pick me up not quite an hour away and drag me to the race track in August, which Saratoga is most known for. My uncle was always dressed to the nines in his vibrantly colorful checkered suits — sometimes bright orange, other times, green, or more often than not, a combination of several wild colors no one else dared to wear. Aunt Betty was always adorned in traditional floral dresses, which seemed to be influenced by her Eastern European heritage. On the way to the track, my Uncle Mel always had a lesson he “needed” to teach me; some of it was related to how to pick horses, but most of it was about life itself.
On the way home, we’d usually stop for supper as we called it back then, at a diner or a local Italian eatery on Route 29 which was famous for its lasagne, bolognese sauce and meatball grinders. Uncle Mel would review his betting tickets from the day, assessing and re-assessing the odds, the pros and cons of his selections and so on. My view of Saratoga was through their eyes, not really my own, and perhaps some self discovery of the track when I used to explore on my own for an hour or so — my excuse was getting popcorn or more soda — or whatever I could get away with — for they were much stricter than my grandfather who used to let me wander about aimlessly.
We never really dined in downtown Saratoga, at least not when I was a child. It wasn’t until high school that I explored Broadway with my sister on random weekends when we took in shopping and night time bars, which had a lot more going on at the time than the smaller towns in our Adirondack mountains further north.
With that history as a backdrop, Anthony and I pulled into town on one of the coldest February nights they’d had in years. The night before reached 7 below zero outside our rural Connecticut cottage and it didn’t appear to get any warmer for the next several days, most of which we spent in Saratoga, the city that comes to life in the summer. Pure and delicious, there was a bottle of Saratoga springs water waiting for us when we walked into our third floor penthouse at the four star Pavilion Grand Hotel, a couple of blocks off the main drag.
The lobby’s vibrant modern colors provided warmth on that ever so cold afternoon as we made our way through the biting wind to check in. Elegant, chic, colorful and stylin, its fun ambiance makes you want to hang out on the couch for awhile, regardless of the weather outside and I LOVE the creative chandelier!!
The Pavilion Grand Hotel is an all-suite hotel with forty-eight in total, ranging in styles. Each suite has full kitchens with stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, solid wood cabinetry, full washer and dryer, a 55 inch LCD TV and wifi. Most have great views and private terraces and there is a common rooftop garden patio area available for meetings and private events.
As for suite options, there are eight Exclusive Penthouse Loft Suites with Roof Top Gardens, nine Deluxe Two Bedroom Suites, three Executive One Bedroom Suite, eight Deluxe One Bedroom Suites, six Grand Terrace One Bedroom Suites, eleven Signature Studio Suites and two Deluxe Terrace Studio Suites.
Our penthouse suite was located on two separate floors, with a second full bedroom and bath on the second floor, and on the main floor, a master bedroom and bath, a full living room, dining room and kitchen area. There’s also a half bath as you enter the suite before you reach the kitchen, which has an espresso maker, microwave, cooking area and dishwasher. They replenished our suite every day with Saratoga spring water, fresh coffee and bathroom amenities.
They boast the most impressive suites in all of the Saratoga and Albany Region, which certainly wouldn’t surprise me. Penthouse Loft Suites include either private terraces or private rooftop garden areas to sit and overlook the city, which would be just about perfect on a warm summer day. Note to self: must return during August when the track is in full swing.
For those warmer months, each suite also has approximately 560 to 1160 square feet of outdoor living space, and between 1700 to 2300 square feet of indoor living space, which is larger than most city apartments. The private rooftop garden or terrace is complete with seating and lounge furniture and either a custom-planted garden or a landscaped rooftop courtyard with perineal gardens.
A few variations of their suites below — they all have a similar look and feel, however the layout differs slightly depending on what style of suite it is and the floor you’re on.
Bathrooms are spacious and the added benefit of a washer and dryer makes it an easy solution for family travel, particularly if you want to stay for awhile.
While we were there in the heart of winter, below is a picture of the upper terrace to give you an idea of how peaceful and tranquil the outdoor setting is during warmer months.
New Restaurant Slated to Open in May
On March 29, the Pavilion Grand Hotel announced that the Capital Region’s premier hospitality leader, Mazzone Hospitality, will oversee operations of a new restaurant which is currently in development and is anticipated to open in late May. The restaurant will feature outdoor sidewalk dining at its ground floor location next to the main entrance of Pavilion Grand Hotel.
Mazzone Hospitality’s newest addition to the region’s culinary scene is expected to open at 2 p.m. daily for light fair and cocktails with dinner service beginning at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, Mazzone Hospitality will provide high-end catering services to hotel guests, including in-suite entertaining and dining, rooftop event options as well as private wedding brunches and innovative package offerings for travelers.
Mazzone Hospitality owns and operates several of the Capital Region’s premier restaurants and banquet halls in the area, including: Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia; Aperitivo Bistro in Schenectady; Angelo’s Prime Bar + Grill in Clifton Park; TALA, An American Bistro in Latham; and Angelo’s 677 Prime in Albany. Mazzone Hospitality also owns and operates Prime at Saratoga National, an upscale steakhouse modeled after Angelo’s 677 Prime, located on the grounds of Saratoga National Golf Club.
We’re looking forward to a return visit to Saratoga to review the restaurant at a later date.
TC Paris Bakery
Inside the hotel, the TC Paris Bakery offers lunch items, crepes, fresh juices, salads, chocolates and macarons. It began as a small bakery with a very simple foundation: to create amazing things from fresh ingredients, with French influence of course.
Their coffee comes from small roasters throughout America and their selection of teas are from Mariage Freres. which are imported from Paris. They’ve become known as the authority of authentic French Macarons in Upstate New York and beyond. While people visit them for their pastries, desserts and other confections, its their over thirty different flavors of Macarons that people make the trek for from nearby cities and towns.
We decided to sample a plate of them to get an idea of a the variety of flavors — from strawberry, lemon and vanilla, to mocha, chocolate and pistachio, you won’t be disappointed. Oh so delish!
Their decadent dark chocolate squares are also worth sampling — let’s just say that I went off my low carb diet for a few days when we hit Saratoga.
Fitness Center & Spa
Their fitness center is open 24 hours with a hotel key card and is equipped with a few machines, an Elliptical trainer and a couple of treadmills. Next to the gym is the All Good Things Spa, a health and wellness center that offers a wide range of services and treatments, from massages and body wraps to facials.
They started out as a juice bar to improve the body and mind from the inside out and grew from there. Their skin care and massage services are 100% natural and organic and all their facials, massage and body treatments can be performed in-spa or in-suite, which is a nice personalized touch. I love the fact that they also offer eye brow treatments (3D eye brow extensions) and eye lash extensions as well, which is a lovely treat in the middle of a cold winter season. Be sure to read my separate write-up on the spa.
Pavilion Grand Hotel
30 Lake Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
How cool is this? A vehicle finder and smart car charger wrapped into one product. We recently learned about ZUS (it sounds a bit like a super hero), a small black device that plugs into your car. The first cool thing about it is that can use it to charge two devices (phones or tablets) at the same time. Anthony and I are always fighting for the car charger juice on longer road trips — as soon as one of us is at 70%, the other one plugs in.
That’s no way to take a trip in the year 2016 — things should be simpler and faster. What’s nice is that not only does the ZUS have two plugs so we can charge our phones at the same time, but the charger works twice as fast as normal car chargers.
Part 2 of the cool feature set of the ZUS is that it is also a car finder, so you have some assistance when you’re tired after a long event and can’t remember where you parked your car in that massive parking lot where each section all looks the same.
Here’s how it works! Owners use an app which is available on both iOS and Android, to locate their car. With the ZUS’ Car Finder app, users can quickly find their car by checking the compass or mapping function to locate their vehicle. ZUS will guide them straight to their car.
We love that ZUS is portable and transferable from car-to-car, so if you are flying to a new city and renting an unfamiliar car, you can use ZUS to save time trying to locate that rental car that isn’t quite as familiar as your trusty car back home. The ZUS Car Finder application offers several additional features including: share-your-location, a map view alongside ZUS’ vehicle compass, and a parking timer. More details can be found here: http://www.nonda.co/products/nonda-zus-smart-car-charger.
Two thumbs up!!
Putting a dent in the future — isn’t that a compelling idea? And, what’s even more compelling is that it means such different things to different people and why the eclectic DENT Conference in Sun Valley Idaho, is so unique. From technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists, to artists, astronauts and Olympic Gold medalists, people gather around to hear radical new ideas, learn from the best of the best and share their best practices, all under the roof of the Sun Valley Inn, a stone’s throw from Baldy Mountain and incredible skiing, even in the Spring.
The brain child of Seattle-based Steve Broback and Jason Preston, DENT is now in its fourth year and my third year of attending, DENT’s format is a mix of educational, interactive and thought provoking, with un-conference break-out sessions, fireside chats and general talks.
Since the backbone of the conference stems from the technology community, it seemed fitting that American futurist and author Amy Webb would speak. As the Founder of the Future Today Institute and an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, she dabbles in a lot of projects. She asks us wryly: “What happens when we get what we say we want?” On the topic of Emerging Tech Trends and the hot button in Silicon Valley right now: Big Data, she addressed where and how that data will change how we think about the world and how we interact with it.
What if an algorithm could predict our news? What if a news story could be written by an algorithm, using curated and scraped data that could get published? If you follow financial and sports news today, you may be surprised to learn that many of these stories are already being written by algorithms. Yet, it’s not something we really think about and curation is already there in some industries. What if algorithms designed our real world experiences OR even more radical: what if algorithms could program our people?
Photo credit: www.goldenhourblog.com
I’ve been seeing this for the last few years — curation is becoming more and more automated and we are moving towards hyper personalized news. Rather than reading a single news story, data that reaches our desktop or mobile device is becoming more personalized for you….all programmed by an algorithm. The nugget of news will be personalized based on our own old data and online behavior which means that there’s an infinite number of possible stories that could be distributed.
What if in the not too distant future, there will be editors but no journalists. Imagine that you will have your own personalized news feed that is pre-filtered based on your likes and preferences. Yes, it’s happening, but it begs the question: is that what we really want? Because there are so many possible places to get our news, the real value will be super customized and personalized. Sure, it will be content vetted, but isn’t there an element of joy when we discover new things outside our comfort zones?
If the vetted, curated big data funnel merely delivers me content on travel, photography and food because those are topics of interest I search about the most, will I ever learn about something new I might want to try, like martial arts or sky diving? And, if I’m a democrat that searches more for Bernie Sanders talks than Ted Cruz, will the articles on Bernie be more favorable than the ones on Ted Cruz, and how does that algorithm decide what bias to let me see — and more importantly, not see. What gets marshaled to the top and what gets moved to the third page of my search?
Machines are learning from human behavior every day, including political views, our income brackets and the ugly biases of racism and homophobia. Truth be told, we are leaving bread crumbs everywhere, every single day. Perhaps in the future, we will PAY to be anonymous and that will be worth more than anything else. I couldn’t agree more. Amy reminds us that the future isn’t something that happens to us passively – – it is something that we are creating proactively and collectively.
PATH’s CEO Steve Davis addressed Malaria. What does Malaria have to do with technology and innovating the future you ask? A lot when you reflect on the fact that it’s 2016 and with all of our advancement, Malaria still remains the number 3 killer in the world. A child dies every two minutes, and 453,000 people die each year. How is that possible you wonder? It’s not just that Malaria is a disease of poverty, but Malaria contributes to poverty.
Astonishing figures and yet the deaths from Malaria have reduced by 47% . If you’re not familiar with PATH, they work on vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, service and system innovation and they partner with organizations to drive down these diseases that affect so many and so unfairly.
With so many creative and bright minds in the room, Davis asked people to think about how to effectively design new issue and systems over the next 10-15 years around products, around operational management and logistics and around financing, all of which could accelerate the progress they make in Africa and beyond.
Currently, Malaria is not being solved by the private sector but he suggests that the real solution is a complex level of collaborations between private sector and governments and that cost and affordability is critical to solving this.
Says Davis, “In regular technology innovation, we think about the cost later. With Malaria, we need to think about the ultimate cost first and then design around that to get to that price, otherwise it won’t work.” They work in endemic conditions, where there’s not proper education systems and the environment is harsh which means that their work comes with enormous constraints.
It should be no surprise that the health systems they work in, especially in Asia and Africa, are incredibly complicated from years of aid and development agency and colonialism mixed with new agencies pouring money into the system. They are tracking index cases through droids and an app and using this model alone, they are attempting to check and treat every household to better figure out where people may have gotten infected. With a bunch of new data models, knowing where the reservoir is and where the mosquitoes are, is critical to their long term success. They’ve been working with Tableau to see where transmission is coming from and to give the data back to the health workers in the front line.
To make malaria history, they need to deploy resources faster than the disease can spread, so it’s an aggressive but important mission. There’s a huge sea change in global demographics. The faster we can get people in these countries to move into lower and middle working class, the faster we can eradicate diseases that are impacting so many.
Photo credit: Tableau.com website.
A few of their projects include the ISS Food Intake Tracker, which provides NASA scientists a better understanding of nutrition to help mitigate negative physiological effects of spaceflight. The challenge budget for this was only around $144,600 and a challenge award was $36,288. They also wanted to find a new space suit glove solution since the ones they’ve been using for years are brutal on the hands. Talk about the power of outsourcing ideas to the community at large!! They ended up getting the new design concept from someone who developed stuff for Victoria Secret.
After this session, DENT announced a new event called DENT Space, which will be held in San Francisco’s Innovation Hanger in September. They plan to have a theater stage, a main stage and an Exploration Hall, where people can show off what they’re building.
Former NFL football player Dhani Jones had his own set of ideas and rules for how to succeed. For entrepreneurs, which made up 80 or so percent of the attendees, learning about best practices is vital to getting ahead. From football and restaurants to being the star of a Travel Channel series for two seasons, he has his hands in a Cincinatti-based creative agency and a non-profit as well. Of his time in sports, he says that “New York raised me, Philly taught me a lot of valuable lessons and Cincinatti polished me.”
Announced in March, Dhani and former professional soccer star Kyle Martino will man the helm of the new NBC competition show ‘Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge’ which is slated to air later this spring on NBC. Of his path to success, he seems to put things into certain buckets that work for him. Learning from his time with the Giants, he emphasized the need to re-focus (we’d call that pivot in our world) and then get laser focused on what you want to achieve. ”Rewiring yourself in life is the same in life as it is in business. It’s always about re-shift, re-focus and relationships,” he said and then added, “there’s a sense of collaboration that needs to happen in the world – you can’t create it all yourself – you need to do it together with others.”
We learn that New Zealand is one of his favorite places, because it’s so “young” and has such a long way to go. He sees the country as the ultimate blank slate. It is one of my favorite countries as well.
Beverly Parenti is breaking ground and shaking things up with In-Prison Career training in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their program, The Last Mile, teaches business and entrepreneurship where inmates could tap into social media, write a business plan and interact with CEO’s, guest authors and start-up entrepreneurs. Additionally through a pilot they’ve been running out of San Quinton Prison, they have an opportunity to pitch the business idea to invited guests and fellow inmates. Men say “it’s the best day of their life.”
The Last Mile allows prisoners to re-define who they are and how they’re viewed in the world post release: Having a job can ultimately be the greatly increase the likelihood of success and a smooth re-integration into everyday life. They’ve apparently already been getting some traction with the tech community, including the likes of Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pandora, Airbnb, Twitter, and others.
Above, Beverly stands with prisoner graduates from the program. Photo courtesy of: www.hackreactor.com.
Parenti says their mission is to teach marketable skills to lead to jobs when prisoners get out. The idea is this: if we could reduce the percentage of recidivism and break the reincarcernation cycle then maybe the kids of those prisoners won’t go down the same path as their parents did. Today, they’re already teaching technology skills in San Quentin, which is an industry known for judging the quality of your work, rather than stigma of your past.
It’s undoubtedly true that many people think that inmates are society’s rejects. Inside San Quentin, The Last Mile is trying to break the cycle by training them how to code so they can learn a highly employable trade. Says a prisoner about the program’s impact on him, “by being able to call myself a software engineer, it means the world to me. It transforms who I am and makes me more motivated than anyone else out there because I know how hard it is to get a second chance.” Parenti ends with this this thought for us to ponder, “the biggest asset is that they can visualize themselves as a different person when they get to the outside world.”
From overcoming obstacles in prison and re-inventing yourself, award-winning free diver Mandy Rae Krack demonstrates how to use the state of flow to achieve incredible things with diving. No joke, this woman’s handle on Twitter is @Breathholder and that’s precisely what she’s “the best” at doing — holding her breath. She spoke of her experience swimming with humpback whales, which changed her life.
I bet you’ve never wondered how the challenges of holding your breath translates into defeating challenges above the water? As the female holder of the deepest free diving record in the world, Mandy has always been competitive. She runs her company with her husband in Canada and they have worked with recreational divers, entrepreneurs and even the renowned magician David Blaine, all intrigued about what holding your breath longer could help in other aspects of your life.
Apparently, there are three parts to free diving: time, depth and distance. The current world record is eleven minutes and 35 seconds, going down to 129 meters on one breath. Crikey – I can’t imagine the possibility and yet I’ve learned through my travels to nearly every continent, to never be surprised at what humans are capable of.
Like in life’s daily obstacles, Mandy had to learn how to overcome the evil monkeys in your head when you’re having an off-day. That off day might look and feel even worse if you’re free diving below 200 meters in Canada’s waters, which is like swimming in complete darkness than it would if you were at 200 meters in crystal clear warm Caribbean waters. She highly recommends visualization, which I subscribe to as well and used it when I first walked over hot coals for the first time. It’s effective in sports, reaching goals and of course, on that very off day.
Photo credit: www.grindtv.com.
Un-conference proposals seemed to be all over the place, from Artificial Intelligence, Mental Health 2.0 and how to get around your own biases when hiring, to the Ethics of Sex Robots — is having one considered cheating?
We also heard from Gavin Andresen and Neha Narula about the future of Bitcoin and digital currency, explored Twitch.tv through a case study, explored storytelling in virtual environments with Nonny de la Pena, looked at new investment models with Sean Schantzen, and looked at war under a magnifying glass with Anastasia Taylor-Lind. Because DENT is so experiential, the talks were only piece of the lens at which you gathered. So much more than about collecting data from a series of talks, after hour discussions probed you to go deep into yourself about what you can do to make a pivot in your own life or make a positive impact on someone else, or even, an entire society.
Yoga was led every morning by Conrad Preston and Larry Brown soothed our souls by playing guitar over the course of three days. See a short video I shot of Larry leading an unconference which is about as unstructured as it sounds and performing at the final reception.
Lest not forget a photo walk, the views of snowy Baldy Mountain even in Spring and late night conversations in one of Sun Valley’s massive sized hot tubs, an experience not to be missed.
Not to be confused with the large pond and ducks in front of the Sun Valley Lodge…oh what a joyous view!
Denting the future is as much about being aware of what you can do to make the world a better place as it is innovation and scientific advancements. Speaking of innovation, Buick and Emblematic Group teamed up to create the ultimate virtual reality experience with the Buick Avista Concept Car. While you won’t see the Avista Concept on the road as a production vehicle, its sculptural beauty and performance apparently aim to inspire the next generation of Buick vehicles. They were on-site to bring people into a surreal 3D world of that concept car.
If you’ve never had an immersive virtual experience of this magnitude, let’s just say that it’s mind blowing at first. While you’re walking around in an empty room with silly goggles on, you’re convinced that your experience of the car is so real; it’s as if you’re walking or rather floating through a bouncy blue cloud. As for a glimpse of it? What I saw was a dreamy, if not a little spacey version of the below through my goggles, but since it was a 3D experience, I was inside the car. I could crouch and peer into the front engine from the driver’s seat, the coolest part of the demo, at least for me.
The last highlight for me was hanging out with infamous Las Vegas-based magician and mentalist Simon Winthrop. Who knows, perhaps he was at his best when he performed for Hollywood celebrities or for 16 straight hours for the Saudi Royal Family in Dubai at the Palace, but my guess is that he is as mesmerizing for smaller groups — he managed to captivate us for three straight days. As he meandered in and out of our social gatherings, he read people’s minds, performed bizarre card tricks, ended up with my watch in his hand without my feeling it while standing in front of me and made rings disappear.
Some of the innovation that happens in the world appears to be magical, does it not? As devices can now monitor our sleep in real time, others can swim around inside of us while being controlled by a doctor and drones can give us an entirely different experience than we otherwise would have had.
DENT is a dazzling and mind-expanding experience where people join forces for various collaborative efforts to move the needle and dent the future. This my friends is how community forms and how the magic and power of one mind + one mind = ten minds gets started. It happened in Silicon Valley and it happens around the world, including once a year in beautiful Sun Valley, where people with a genuine desire in helping good ideas grow and spread, all come together with overlapping interests and empathetic hearts.
Those interested in additional photos, below is a collection of networking and after hour shots….
Through the lens of Chris Voss’ camera
Greg Kisor, Renee Blodgett, Michael Grabham – photo courtesy of Russell Sparkman
Kris Krug with Jason Nunnelley
Above, Matthew F. Reyes of GoPro and Scott Jordan of ScotteVest
Above, Jason Preston interviews Buick’s Dan Kinney who leads User Experience for their Global Connected Customer Experience Group. See journalist Myriam Joire’s video interview with Dan at DENT.
Speaking of Buick, how’s this for stunning? T’was nice getting picked up from the airport in a gorgeous Regal, especially with backdrops like these.
Larry Brown plays magical tunes…
Marsha Collier, Phil Colley, Buick, Renee Blodgett
Simon Winthrop performs…
Steve Broback, Co-Producer of DENT and Phil Colley of Buick’s OnStar team
Renee Blodgett, Greg Kisor, Maryam Scoble
Food and wine is also an integral part of the event, so a great choice for foodies who also love tech and innovation…below are some shots taken at the delicious Vintage Restaurant, where Buick held a thought provoking dinner. See my write-up on two foodie gems in the heart of Ketchum.
There’s also delicious dining at the Warfield Distillery & Brewery in the center of town…
And, a delicious spread at the home of Scott Jordan, CEO of ScotteVest
Did I mention that Sun Valley also has superb skiing, even in mid-March?
I’m a huge fan of Buick and love that we get to drive them on some of our family travel adventures. People think that I own one, at least that happens to be the case on social media. It appears that there’s a bunch of Instagram Buick lovers as well and it’s fun to see enthusiasts join us on our journey.
Our most recent Buick adventure was in the dead of winter in New England and we got it all: snow, ice, damp air and below zero temperatures every night. We decided to go with the LaCrosse 2016 model, which includes a boat load of bells and whistles, including one of my favorites: heated seats. It’s not as if heated seats are a unique feature in the luxury car category, but not all of them warm up quickly – not the case with Buick. Within a few minutes, our bottoms were toasty warm.
While everyone who has either grown up in the Northeast or spent a lot of time there knows, it can be biting in February between the slush and wind chill that sends shivers up and down your spine. It was around 30 degrees or so a few days before we flew into JFK and on the tails of a major snowstorm, which thankfully we missed. As we made our way off the Delta Airlines ramp and felt the gust of wind chill our bones, we knew it was going to be a rough week. Let’s just say that Buick made it better – yes, really.
We picked up the LaCrosse just outside the airport and one of the things we noticed right away, was how quickly the car heated up. Not only were the seats cozy and warm, but within minutes the interior of the car was homey fairly quickly.
The Ritz Carlton Westchester bell hop team sent our LaCrosse into a warm garage on the first night so her engine didn’t have to endure those rough temperatures. You laugh of course, but those of you who are car nerds know, your car quickly becomes part of the family, at least it does for me. I have always named my cars and they somehow take on a personality of their own, just like my iRobot Roomba Rocky already has as he zips around the house cleaning our floors.
Our white LaCrosse which still didn’t have a name, blended right into the snowy background as we made our way out of New York and into rural Connecticut where we spent a very cold night in Pomfret, a small village that hasn’t changed much since it was founded in 1713. In fact, there was a lot of gleam and shine all around, brought out by a cold and clear blue sky against a winter sun.
Shine extended into urban areas as well with the LaCrosse – it’s a statement car. We think it’s a solid, reliable buy in the luxury car category with loads of comfort, safety and technology built in. I remember when Anthony was zipping around in his black Camaro a couple years back and while it may have given him a bit of an ego boost from driving it, it was as uncomfortable to drive as it was sitting in the passenger seat.
Not the case with the full-sized Buick LaCrosse, which is as comfy as the Buick Enclave, another model we tested out, which isn’t quite as good on gas mileage as the LaCrosse. That said, we’d highly recommend the Buick Enclave as a great family buy – it performed flawlessly last summer when we took it to the Adirondacks for a l’il adventure.
Smart Technology at the Helm
Inside, advanced technology takes over. The new Apple Car Play seamlessly integrates your smartphone with Buick IntelliLink and we took full advantage of the 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot powered by OnStar. From the main menu, you have several choices, including Hands-Free Calling, Turn by Turn Directions, On Star Info, Virtual Advisor and Wifi Settings. The wifi is so simple to set up and yet we made it more complicated than it needed to be. In other words, we somehow figured it would be a long drawn out process to enable and it literally took seconds once we clicked on wifi settings from the main menu to access the code to get our laptops up and running. And, it worked seamlessly.
Voila – our SSID and our password!! We were quickly up and running, which was great for me in the passenger seat. The connection was also fast enough for me to quickly and easily upload photos onto our server — in fact, I’d argue that it was faster than our Comcast service at home.
You can play your favorite music through the Bose premium speakers (Bravo Buick) or connect your smartphone to access contacts, music, and more directions through Buick IntelliLink using just your voice. We tested it out on two different occasions, once during rough weather and once when it was sunny and clear out, just to see if weather impacted the performance. In both cases, the access and performance was equal and it was fun to discover new experiences and access new music we normally don’t listen to.
The LaCrosse has eAssist technology which helps to conserve fuel and their All-Wheel Drive helps you stay in control while in the rain, sleet and snow — we had all three during our trip and can honestly say – two thumbs up!
Buick IntelliLink also has an eight-inch-diagonal touch screen that can be easily customized to house your frequently used features. YAY for better natural language voice recognition technology than we’ve experienced in cars in the past — you can make call or play music using commands. Our LaCrosse model had both Pandora and SiriusXM Radio, which Anthony became addicted to by the end of our trip. While I was raving about the heated seats that warmed me up in just a few minutes, he went on (and on) about Pandora and SiriusXM Radio access, which works poorly on our smart phones when we’re on the road.
Apparently Apple Car Play is brand new for their 2016 models. Essentially you use it inside the car to connect your smartphone with Buick IntelliLink (see above). It seamlessly integrates applications such as navigation, hands-free text messaging, contact lists and entertainment apps for news or music onto the eight-inch-diagonal IntelliLink radio display.
The feature we used quite a bit was the built in IntelliLink with Navigation and the real-time NavTraffic data and directions help. While it wasn’t necessary on this particular trip, you can save favorite routes and destinations as well. All of this is accessible using voice commands, which is a godsend when you’re navigating other things or trying to juggle kids needs in the back seat.
Aside from cool tech, the LaCrosse has eight way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, dual-zone climate control (essential for Anthony and I since he’s always hot and I’m always cold), an E-Z key passive entry system, inside rear view auto-dimming mirror with memory settings (wish I had this on my car at home), HiPer Strut front suspension, outside heated power adjusted mirrors with LED indicators (another “great” in the Northeast during winter months), heated steering wheel (OH YES), a remote vehicle starter system, another godsend for colder months, HID Headlamps and Fog Lamps (oh so lovely on those early cold mornings).
The headlamps and fog lamps are optional, but a great feature. The HID (high-intensity-discharge) xenon headlamps are brighter than traditional headlamps and swivel left or right in the direction you want to turn. Fog lamps illuminate your path in low-visibility, a huge benefit if you travel in rural areas early morning or late night, which we did on this particular trip.
The Buick LaCrosse also comes with a standard six month trial subscription to OnStar. OnStar Basic Plan, available for five years beginning with vehicle delivery, offers OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics, Dealer Maintenance Notification and access to RemoteLink Key Fob Services to remotely start, lock/unlock your vehicle and activate your horn and lights from anywhere. For any woman driving solo, especially with kids in the car, these features bring peace of mind.
Then, there are features I think are essentials for a luxury family car. Safety, safety, safety….
Safety Alert Seat: when a collision avoidance technology like Lane Departure Warning triggers an alert, the Safety Alert Seat issues a warning of its own. The front, left or right seat bolster gently vibrates to signal the direction of the approaching hazard, so you can stay aware of your surroundings without having to take your eyes off the road.
Side Blind Zone Alert: this nifty add-on issues a visual warning when a vehicle enters your blind zone. When you’re changing lanes, Lane Change Alert uses radar to help watch for and warn you of vehicles approaching from behind. I love this!
Rear Cross Traffic Alert: When you’re backing out of a parking space, Rear Cross Traffic Alert technology uses radar to detect vehicles approaching your car and alerts you within 65 feet of either side.
Lane Departure Warning: Their Lane Departure Warning technology provides an audible and visual alert should you drift out of your lane when you haven’t activated a turn signal. It’s there to help you to stay the course, instead of straying into someone else’s.
Forward Collision Alert: Its Forward Collision Alert technology helps to prevent frontal crashes by sensing when you are approaching a vehicle in front of you too quickly, and alerts you with both an audible and visual warning.
Front Automatic Breaking: This feature senses when a crash is imminent and then can automatically brake to help you reduce crash damage or help avoid colliding with the vehicle ahead in some low speed situations.
There’s also the EZ Key Passive Entry System, which automatically senses your approach, unlocks your doors and turns on the interior lights, all without your needing to remove your key fob from a pocket or purse. Note that the entry system is not automatic since you DO need to touch the button on the door handle, however it does lock when you walk away from the vehicle.
Rear Parking Assist: while Buick considers this a technology benefit and add-on, hands down, it’s one of my favorite safety features. It detects the distance between your back bumper and objects within eight feet behind it, and then beeps to indicate how close you’re getting. Available Rear Vision Camera shows you live images of what’s behind you on the eight-inch-diagonal Color Touch Radio screen and user-friendly guides help you better navigate while backing up. Oh so cool – love love love this!!!! This is a must have if you live in a city like we do.
I also love the rear vision cameras and universal home remote features, which definitely fall under safety. They are a must have for women who drive unknown roads alone. Note that not all the features listed here are automatics in the basic LaCrosse but can be added on as you wish. See how cool it was to use Rear Parking Assist to view the New England winter countryside after fresh fallen snow. (taken on an iPhone so the quality isn’t top notch)
Ahhh Yes Performance
Sports Mode Selectivity: Their ever so awesome Sport Mode is built into the gearshift for a more responsive and enhanced driving experience. Sport Mode heightens suspension and steering feel and holds transmission shift points for a more assertive feel. In addition, continuously variable real-time damping provides a smoother ride.
An Engine that Roars….Quietly: the LaCrosse has a powerful E85-capable V6 VVT engine with an impressive 304 hp, which is standard on the LaCrosse 1SB and 1SL models. Also, available with the 2.4L ECOTEC 4-cylinder engine, the innovative eAssist Engine Technology helps achieve an EPA-estimated 36 mpg highway, which means great gas mileage for those longer hauls.
All Wheel Drive: as noted above, this is great at maintaining control during bad weather conditions, such as rain, sleet or snow. The intelligent system constantly monitors traction and sends power to wheels with the most grip. Their electronic limited-slip differential allows torque to be split between the rear wheels for even more safety and security.
All Things Luxury Interior
First of all, the car just feels luxurious, inside and out. Inside, the leather heated seats and spaciousness are prevalent: the dashboard, the easy to navigate screens, the gorgeous paneling and the clean natural lines in its design throughout.
Heads Up Display: rather than take your eyes off the road, the innovative Head-Up Display projects information onto the driver’s-side windshield. Lots of built in safety in this car, another reason I find it a fabulous family buy. You can customize the display to instantly access various kinds of vehicle data such as speed or radio settings, compass bearing, temperature or directions.
We talked about the heated and eight-way power adjustable front passenger and driver seats already but did I mention the massive room in the front and back seats, making it one of the most comfortable cars to drive? It’s spacious, making every drive feel that much more luxurious. Also, their Ultra Luxury Package includes real Tamo-ash wood trim, ebony accents, moon roof, seats made of supple, sangria-hued leather and an ultra suede headliner. Sweet!
Their QuietTuning Technology works to block and absorb outside noise and vibration, which means not only driving with extreme comfort and space, but enjoying a quiet ride as well. I LOVE this feature.
One of these days, we’ll test out the Buick Cascada convertible (they make them in my favorite blue with tons of other great color choices as well), a more viable option during warmer months and when we don’t have two kids in tow.
Two thumbs up for the Buick LaCrosse!! More information on specs, features and prices can be found at http://www.buick.com/lacrosse-full-size-luxury-sedan.html and other model choices at http://www.buick.com/.
I have always been a fan of speaker and author Mallika Chopra who spoke on our TEDxBerkeley stage in 2013, an event I co-curate every year. Her most recent book, “Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy,” (gotta love the name) takes you on a journey of Mallika’s personal path to intention through trials and tribulations in order to get to that life balance she was (and we’re all) striving for. She talks of her own insecurities as a mother, and tips on how to become more focused and present in your life.
She is also the founder of Intent.com, a website and app focused on personal, social and global wellness, a personal passion of mine. Her goal is to harness the power of social media to connect people from around the world to improve their own lives, their communities and the planet. She is speaking at the Watermark Conference for women in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, an event I plan to attend this year. This year’s event has a fabulous line-up of inspiring and thought provoking women (and even a few men), so be sure to check it out. Below is a dialogue I had with her in a Q&A centered around life balance and health.
RB: You’re both a mom and an entrepreneur — how do you juggle both and what tips can you provide to other women who run businesses and need to constantly juggle?
MC: Finding the right balance between the personal and professional for me has been the key to sanity, health and happiness. One of the motivations for me when I wrote my book, Living With Intent, was admitting that I was always busy, juggling work and my kids schedules, and yet feeling like I hadn’t accomplished by the end of the day. I was exhausted, and on a sugar and caffeine binge just to get through the days. Ultimately, I had to slow down, recommit to my meditation practice (which helps anchor me), and think about what truly made me feel healthy, happy, more connected and more purposeful. In addition to lifestyle changes (meditation, exercise, making small changes in my diet), it also mean letting go of guilt, saying no more often, and asking others for help.
RB: I am a huge believer in the power of intent and the positive impact it can have on your life. I’ve seen it work in my own life and others across cultures. That said, it’s hard to keep “intention” and being present in check when we get hit with so many daily demands and stresses. Can you suggest two simple things we can all integrate into our lives and yet can help us with life balance and overall happiness?
MC: I believe intents are different from goals. Goals come from the mind, but intents come from the soul. They represent our deepest desires, and who we aspire to be as individuals, members of our families and communities, and citizens of mother earth.
I have found, through our website, www.intent.com, that sometimes people feel overwhelmed thinking about life intents. I suggest setting a daily intent, what I call micro-intents, to begin. Perhaps the intent for today is to express gratitude to someone you love, or to remain centered in the midst of chaos. When you write, or post, your intent you anchor it with words. I also think re-affirming your intents, like to meditate daily for me, helps keep you committed to the journey.
RB: Let’s talk about wellness. How do you define wellness in your own life and overall?
MC: For me, wellness is living a healthy, happy, connected and purposeful life. Intent.com, from the beginning is about personal, social, global and spiritual wellness. We need to be healthy personally, but if our society and world is suffering, then we all suffer.
RB: We live in a society that promotes pharmaceutical drugs as a way to resolve our issues, physically and emotionally. With this message going up and up (90% of TV commercials hit American society with “solutions”), how can we turn this around? What could those of us who are aware do to reverse this?
MC: I believe that one should seek professional help when they are suffering from mental or physical diseases. I think there are many complimentary techniques or supplements that can support traditional medicine. But, I believe strongly that we need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically through diet, hydration, good sleep, and exercise. Meditation has tremendous benefits to reduce stress, increase immunity, and support a healthy lifestyle.
RB: What is your view on food and what’s happening in the United States, aka that our supermarkets are exploding with processed food and that far too many Americans fill their carts with more cans and boxes than fresh produce, largely due to lack of education and costs? For lower income families who can’t afford $8 for a dozen organic eggs, what do you suggest as a way to migrate them to a more natural path of eating and living?
MC: The tangled hierarchy of food, GMO’s, commerce, obesity, and disease is overwhelming. When I embarked on my book project, I began to “notice” the effects that food was having on me. I noticed more body pain when I ate lots of sugar or gluten. For my family, over the last 2-3 years, I am trying to buy less processed foods, particularly making weekly trips to our local farmers market. Recently some larger companies have agreed to label GMO foods and I think (hope!) we are beginning to see a commercial shift to more access to information and healthy choices.
Above, Mallik speaking to a group at LinkedIn.
RB: You’ve probably been asked this question dozens of times, but as the daughter of spiritual guru and celeb Deepak Chopra, how has this impacted the life choices you have made?
MC: This is the most common question I get – how was it like to grow up as the daughter of Deepak Chopra? For my brother and me, that is all we know so we accept it. I think most importantly, we were gifted with a very stable and loving family. My mother is all of our anchor and has played the most important role in keeping us close and connected. Because of my father’s work, we were exposed to people seeking healing and meaning in their lives. I think seeing how people truly created better lives for themselves through meditation, healthier habits, and self exploration inspired me to share my stories as well.
RB: While no doubt, your father has been instrumental to your path to a spiritual and intentional/purposeful life, could you name two individuals who have inspired you in your life and WHY? What about their guidance and how they live their lives have helped you stay strong and march forward when the chips are down?
MC: I have been very fortunate to have strong women in my life. My mother is my inspiration, truly. When we were young, and my dad traveled the world and worked incessantly, she was at home with us. She is our anchor. Similarly, my grandmothers were both very strong women. I dropped out of Business School at one point to start a company, and when that didn’t work, I decided to return to school to complete my MBA. My husband had to stay in LA where we lived, and I returned to Chicago with my 3 month old daughter in tow. My mother, mother-in-law and aunt took turns staying with me and my daughter so I could finish school. I am forever grateful to them for believing in and supporting me.
I recently discovered a very cool venue in San Francisco: The Lost Church, a multi-media theatrical production house and venue for live music. Since I had never been there before, I was looking for a church along Ellis Street but you’d actually miss it if you weren’t closely looking for the sign. A small venue, it’s an eclectic and artsy area with about forty or fifty chairs facing the stage.
Imagine naked light bulbs glowing against a red velvet curtains. The phrase “The Greek Chorus” twinkles in gold glitter on an arrow hanging down the wall and along the wall, you’ll spot rose-colored lights and ivy hanging around lights, lamps and paintings.
The Lost Church wasn’t created to be some kind of divey rock ’n’ roll haven according to an article; it is said that The Lost Church is a haven for adventurous souls hungry for new thrills in unexpected settings. You might think it’s got a religious twist given the name and the Mother Mary inside near the bar, but there really isn’t one.
Apparently, the building came to life in 1979, the creation of famous local conceptual artist David Ireland. He’s the one responsible for the geometrically-shaped windows, angled for ideal moon viewing, and the second floor bridge that winds across the room and doubles as a balcony during performances. Four years later, it became The Capp Street Project, an installation gallery, until Brett Cline took it over in 1997. The space pretty much stayed out of the public eye until 2011.
Since opening to the public as a “theatrical production house” last February, they’ve hosted numerous plays, musical performances, and variations on those themes. I was there to see Rob Hotchkiss and his wife Pamela Haines perform.
Rob won a Grammy Award (Best Rock Song) for “Drops of Jupiter”, and was the musical force behind hits such as “Meet Virginia”, “Free”, “I Am”, and “Get to Me”. Rob founded the band Train, and his songwriting helped to create their multi-platinum success, but, due to musical differences, he left after their third album. After leaving Train, Rob recorded and produced his solo album, Midnight Ghost, which received tremendous critical acclaim. Rob’s classic sound, with meaningful lyrics, beautiful melodies, and lush harmonies, has been likened to The Beatles, Neil Young, and more current artists like Ed Sheeran.
The music he plays with his wife, who also has an incredible voice, is a bit more folky these days. I love their sound! Two thumbs up for hearing them live in a small venue and for the magic of The Lost Church.
Below is a shot of them on our TEDxBerkeley stage performing this past February – bravo bravo!
While they play solo quite a bit, they also perform with a band sometimes…..below is a shot of Rob and Pamela with band in tow.