Watching the Oscars here in Vegas and memories keep flooding back because I wish I was in Los Angeles; although, enjoying my time with my little Mom as she visits me...
My first introduction to the magic of the Oscars was while running my short film festival years ago when I would go scout Academy Award nominated short films at the Academy and entice all the filmmakers I liked to participate in my film festival.
Amazing, emerging talent and such excitement! Because my short film fest covered animation, live action, documentary, experimental and spec commercials, I attended numerous screenings and heard numerous speeches. Always loved it. Still follow some of my filmmakers because they've gone on to such great careers in film.
Another time I was transitioning from one career to another and was an event server for numerous high-end, Hollywood catering companies which provided me the opportunity to serve during the Governor's Ball. Talk about a surreal moment.
Michael Moore had won for his documentary and was holding court in the center of the room; I was trying to feed Adrien Brody appetizers while everyone was coming up to congratulate him on his win and ask about his kiss with Halle Berry; and saw Chef Wolfgang Puck in action in the kitchen. A special highlight was being included in the formal picture of the Governor's Ballroom with all my servers which I believe they display somewhere.
I'm part of history folks.:)
Attending huge Oscar parties put on by friends at cool restaurants and voting on who would win is also a special memory. I made such good friends and connections I still have to this day from those parties too.
Then, a few years later, firmly ensconsed in my new career as a personal publicist to numerous up and coming actors, musicians and writers, we would attend all the Oscar Gifting Suites and Osar parties we could get into too. Different experience and wonderful all in its own.
Loved all the pampering, celebrities you'd bump into at various functions held all over the city in mansions, hotels, private homes, and more, all my publicity and film friends I'd see from the various years, hanging out with my clients, and all the fun we'd have.
There's just something special about this time of year in Hollywood.
And when I actually worked the Oscars as a production assistant, I saw everything that went into creating the extravaganza from behind-the-scenes, like the tenting of the red carpet to avoid the rain, the setting up of all the Oscar statues around the Kodak Theater, the flowers, the Governor's Ball, the media war room which determined where media would stand for interviews and who was more important than the other, the long, narrow tunnels behind the Oscar stage, the actual Kodak theater, all the food that would be served which Chef Wolfgang Puck prepared for the TV crews I was escorting, and all the actors discussing their awards with the media after they had won.
We were sworn to secrecy and forbidden from taking any pictures which was killing me, but I did walk away with new friends I stay in touch with to this day, an official Oscar baseball cap and poster. Years later, working at the Hollywood Reporter, I discovered an Oscar program from that night someone was giving away and added it to my collection of memorabilia.
I remember escaping the madness of that Oscar evening due to an old ankle injury acting up preventing me from wearing heels 14 hours non-stop and watching the show with dear friends in their nearby Hollywood home on their big bed as we gossiped and talked throughout the entire show.
Now, I'm watching from my Mom's hotel room in Vegas and creating my new memory of the Oscars. I was invited to two parties this year and almost went home, but felt time with my Mom was needed because she hasn't been to visit me since I moved here and drove out with me.
Sometimes you need to touch base with home on new soil rather than go back to feel home in person to help establish new traditions, new touchstones and new experiences.
One year I would love to attend the Oscar show as a guest and someone who has created something worthwhile, but for now, I will continue to creating my short travel videos and continue to learn and grow as a storyteller on my own.
I am inspired by the creativity, dedication, determination, and focus of everyone involved in this year's Oscar show and the fashion! Love the fashion!
Remember this next time you walk up to the ticket window of your local movie theater with $10 (or higher!:) in your hand to watch a film.
The Media (accidentally?) missed this one! Please read this: The troops overseas would like you to send it to everybody you know. (I did not write this, but love it which is why I'm sharing it with you.)
Denzel Washington and Brooks Army Medical Center.
Don't know whether you heard about this, but Denzel Washington and his family visited the troops at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas,(BAMC) the other day.
This is where soldiers who have been evacuated from Germany come to be hospitalized in the United States, especially burn victims.
There are some buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a hotel where soldiers' families can stay, for little or no charge, while their soldier is in the hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base, but as you can imagine, they are almost filled most of the time.
While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He took his checkbook out and wrote a check for the full amount right there on the spot.
The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.
The question is, 'Why do: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise and other Hollywood fluff make front page news with their ridiculous antics, and Denzel Washington's Patriotism doesn't even make page 3 in the Metro section of any newspaper except the local newspaper in San Antonio?
A true American and friend to all in uniform! I don't know about you, but I got a little teary eyed reading this. God bless. Remember, there are still loving, kind people in Hollywood. We just don't always hear about them in the media.
I grew up traveling through Las Vegas on road trips and taking advantage of the copious buffets and fun sights and sounds of Fremont Street and the Strip. I thought I knew Vegas as a result, but it wasn't until I moved here that I discovered there's a whole other side of Vegas many people aren't aware even exists.
Especially if you live in Los Angeles and the only advertising and promotion you see about Vegas is about The Vegas Strip. It's easy to be fooled into thinking Vegas is only neon, bright lights and gambling if you don't poke around and get to know all the amazing resorts and activities located off-Strip too.
When I first moved here I was fortunate to be connected to a very informative, patient Real Estate agent who spent hours driving my mother and myself around introducing us to the various areas and types of Vegas neighborhoods available to live in. Her name is Ann Diab and she's with Prudential Americana Group. Her number is available upon request.:)Once she drove us near Boca Park, Summerlin and Tivoli Village I kinda felt like I had found my neighborhood. Lots of cafes, shops and great hiking nearby. So, here's three reasons why I think it's great to stay off Strip in no particular order.
1.) You can still experience the casino/resorts Vegas are known for, but according to what you want to do while visiting Vegas. Perhaps it's attending a conference, shopping, or relaxing. Well, the Strip isn't the only place to find this.
There are numerous resort casinos nearby which are upscale and unique to Vegas like the Resort at Summerlin which also features the attached Rampart Casino. They are known for golfing, conferences, destination weddings and relaxation based on the gorgeous spa I saw when I recently visited.
Here's some pix to give you an idea of what this hidden gem offers because I bet you didn't even know it exists! I know I didn't until I moved right down the street!
Here is their outdoor spa pools with private lounging pods. Isn't this relaxing? I could fall asleep here! This outdoor hydrotherapy circuit pool includes a co-ed whirlpool, steam and sauna. There's lots of other amenities in this amazing spa which you can learn about here in case you're looking for an escape from the Strip or your daily grind in general.
But if golf is more your more thing, then you'll love the TPC Las Vegas Course: 18 holes, 7,081 yards. Par for course: 71 Designed by Bobby Weed and Raymond Floyd. Golf's not my thing, but I know many love it so click here for more info if I'm talking about you.:)
2.) And then, there's always the fact Vegas is known for destination weddings too! When I first arrived I was dining at The Palms for lunch and met a guy visiting from Canada who was there for a friend's wedding, along with over 100 guests who had flown in from all over to participate.
And who can forget the quickie Britney Spears wedding at one of the wedding chapels a few years back? She's coming to Vegas for New Year's Eve by the way...
But I digress.
If you're looking to create a wonderful wedding escape where your friends will actuallly want to fly out to celebrate with you, but you don't want to lose them to the Strip, why not consider hosting your wedding off-Strip too?
Again, the Resort at Summerlin is known for weddings and is close enough to the Strip to allow your more raucous guests to run down to the Strip to burn off steam or throw a bachelor or bachelorette party for you because it's literally only 20 minutes away, but then you'll be sure to keep everyone together when they're staying with you at this gorgeous Marriott resort.
3.) Nature. I recently took a walk around the entire property because I'm trying to visit every single casino while I'm here and was pleasantly surprised to see all the nature. You can see all my pix here, but here's a few to pique your interest too. Isn't this magical? Who knew Las Vegas has such a resort? I know I sure didn't until I moved here. That's what I'm enjoying about living here now. I'm finding all kinds of unique things to do and see that we never hear about living in LA.
4.) Hiking in nature. (Maybe this is still nature, but I don't care.:)
Did you know Vegas has an amazing hiking area too? One I've been dying to experience is called Red Rock Canyon. Isn't this stunning? I'm now surrounded by all these majestic mountain vistas and it's very grounding to look out and see them every morning.
Love the Strip, don't get me wrong, but after awhile walking on concrete surrounded by throngs of people (drunk and sober) kinda makes me feel claustrophobic and all I want to do is get away to nature to regroup.
Well, by staying off-Strip, you can do that too. Click here for more hiking and nature ideas because I know I've just begun to scratch the surface of everything that is fun to do around here.
5.) I know I said 3, but I can't stop.:) Amazing concerts and performers in Vegas.
That said, due to being only 20 minutes away from the Strip and the fact all the casinos offer free parking, if you rent a car or a taxi, you can take advantage of all the great concerts like I recently expereinced seeing Josh Groban and Judith Hill perform up close and personal. What a wonderful experience and fun time! Great light show, lots of variety of instruments and performance styles which made me remember why I fell in love with Josh's music so long ago. Then, to see my favorite Voice contestant live because I'd been a huge fan of Judith Hill's performances even back then, it just tipped over the whole concert for me.:)
There's constantly amazing talent coming through Vegas, but what I also admire and enjoy is the fact many artists have residency's and play on a regular basis here as well. The locally based talent also believe in giving back to their community and supporting local businesses like I recently experienced at the shopping center across the street from where I live.
I was pleasantly suprised to find Taylor Hicks, a Season Five American Idol winner, and Elvis performing a few weekends ago. Who needs to run down to the Strip when talent comes to you?:)
6.) Shopping too! There are lots of great stores you can enjoy by visiting Tivoli Village, another off-Strip shopping and destination too.
This is another secret of those of us who live off-Strip which boasts the renowned David Barton Gym, beautiful Leone Cafe and lots of cute clothing stores and restaurants. Rumor has it we're even getting our very own nightclub on-site there too.
And just think, you won't have to fight crowds, be on any special lists, or stand in line with hordes of young, scantily dressed women to get in.:) Those are just a few examples of why I'm loving living off-Strip and feel you would enjoy staying too if you came to visit.
I've only mentioned a few things to do off-Strip, trust me, there are lots more, but this was to give you an idea of what is going on near me because I think this is a very unique community. Check it out next time you come through and let me know if you don't agree!
Saw lots of old friends from the scene, made some great new professional connections, and learned a lot too. Plus, had a great time socializing.
I will write more in-depth coverage on those events at a later date, but wanted to give a shout out to the organizers, Digital LA, Tech Zulu, David Beebe Productions and Cornerstone Media, for really amazing conferences asap.
I'm excited to bring some of my connections to Vegas and Silicon Beach to expand the tech scene in general in a positive manner to benefit all entreprenuers.
Technology is quickly changing the way so many aspects of our lives and these conferences were insights into this reality.
I will say that one of my favorite personal highlights of attending LA Tech Summit was being hugged by Mayor Garcetti after telling him I was a Republican, but I love him and what he's saying he's going to do for LA.
What a sharp contrast to our last loser Mayor Villaragosa!
Mayor Garcetti was described as the perfect Mayor for LA because of his Russian Jewish and Mexican background and many more unique aspects of his life, but I love his true belief in LA becoming great again.
As a native Californian who has escaped to Las Vegas for the lower cost of living, among other reasons, it would be so refreshing to see many of the things he discussed actually take effect, like lowering taxes, increasing traffic flow, keeping filming in Los Angeles, and building out more of the tech scene, among many other goals.
We'll see, but for now, let me continue to have my love affair with him because it's not often I agree with a Democrat! LOL Although a majority of my friends and colleagues are liberals for the record. Surprised you, eh? Yes, I am a big believer in hearing all view points, not just what is parrotted among certain groups.
Part of the reason I campaigned to get two Democrats into office in Hermosa Beach a few years back thus sealing my fate of ever working with the Republican party because that's verbotten, but I stand by my efforts because it really helped Hermosa and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The way I look at it, there's value to a variety of opinions, values and creeds. Pick what works, support it and make change happen. Don't get me started on Obamacare though. That my dear, is a sinking ship ala the Titantic and no amount of spin will change my mind.
But enough politics. It's Saturday after all, right?:)
I'm sitting in a cute new coffee shop near where I live called Avery's Coffee as I normally do. Really great people run this place, husband and wife, Sherman and Linda, and today is the Shopping Village launch with lots of fun activities happening thoughout the weekend.
This is what I love about Vegas. The entertainers are very supportive of their community and often participate in activities that benefit Vegas.
Recently, I attended the Luxury Travel Exchange conference which took place at the Sands Convention Center and was treated to a front row experience of a performance by Rock of Ages both at the event and later that night live and in person. (A little raunchy for me, but overall very fun and enjoyable entertainment.)
The conference itself was extremely informative and I enjoyed hearing "Big Data" mentioned by one travel professional as key to understanding the luxury traveler. It was amazing to see how technology has allowed travel operators to understand their clientelle so minutely down to their income, their likes and dislikes, what countries are most popular, what services are appreciated, which ones don't matter and more.
What I was also surprised to hear as the biggest feedback of luxury travelers, was the simple follow-up to ask how their trip was very important. Simple courtesy appears to go a long way!
There's a lot more to share, but I have been working on my fan page and this post all day and need to get out!
I'm always glad I'm not a film critic, nor required to see film for a living, because then I feel you lose some of your wonderment and love of filmmaking due to becoming jaded. I know it happened after I ran a short film festival for five years and it took me years to recover.
Now, without that pressure or requirement, I see films I want to see, when I want to see them, and skip those I have no interest in, or desire to waste my time with.
As a result, you almost always see me sitting alone during a romcom, action, or psychological thriller because oftentimes I see films spur of the moment and rarely plan ahead. It's whatever strikes my mood or psyche at the moment.
I also like to see films the first weekend they open to avoid being tainted by what critics and everyone else says about them, wanting my experience to be as pure as possible.
That's why I also will sit in the closer rows of a theater to get away from people who talk and text or otherwise annoy me. I avoid hearing people's chatter as they leave at the end of a movie by sitting through all the credits too.
Plus, I like to read where a film was shot, which of my friends or colleagues might have participated, what elements and departments were required, and what music was played to set the mood. (Normally I'm oftentimes the only person left in the theater, although lately, more and more people stay too.)
In other words, I absorb the movie going experience.
That is why, when I read an Australian critic's view of About Time, I felt almost personally affronted by his casual dismissal of a film I really enjoyed. I felt his desire to have it be more logical and factual on the essence of time travel stripped it of it's magical and lovely qualities.
Yes, going back in time to improve upon your courting techniques is silly, and perhaps manipulative, but haven't you ever wished you could retract something you said, or something (or someone) you did?:) I know I have which is why I was swept away into this make believe world happily and without reservation.
I go to the movies to escape reality, not face it like so many others might when they make their ticket choices. I want to be transported to another place and time and forget whatever is going on in my life at the moment. Perhaps that's why my decisions to see a film aren't pre-meditated or planned ahead, but impulse decisions.
This past week has been filled with doctor visits, DMV frustrations and important business decisions to be made which became overwhelming in my physical state. Now that I've received medication, wise counsel, and good next steps, I feel much more balanced and ready to face whatever life might throw at me yet again.
(Never let a doctor scare you into having an unnecessary surgery and always get a second opinion is all I have to say. Surgery isn't happening any time soon or ever, if all goes as expected. Whew!:)
I needed an escape from my reality Friday. After a missed connection with a friend to attend a party together that night, decided it was time to see a film and forget about my life for a few hours.
About Time sounded intriguing, I've always liked the Director's other films and Rachel McAdams film choices so off I went.
I hate reviews which tell you all the scenes you will love if seen in the theater apart from someone else describing them and won't do that now to you.
However, suffice it to say, I loved the dorky courting and bedding, difficult love decision, hilarious wedding, and family relationships that aren't normally explored in film any more.
Family relationships that is.
It's like people come into this world without families and none of their relationships matter in storytelling lately. To watch the love between the father and the son in this film was truly beautiful and heartwarming. I have always loved Bill Nighy's acting and even more so after seeing him in this film.
He is nuanced, loving, wry and conveys so much simply by virtue of his expressive face and lanky body.
I was enchanted watching him in About Time as I always am. He embodied wisdom, wit, charm and love in ways not normally reflected in film, expect perhaps in The Way, Way Back (another film I adored and recommend you see.)
I also loved the dorky ginger haired Domhnall Gleeson because it was fun to see what men go through when they like someone and the way he loved and cared for his family and friends.
I had originally thought the film was simply another love story between Rachel McAdams and his character, and was pleasantly surprised to learn she played a rather minor part in the overall theme.
This film was more about life choices and decisions we make within our families which impact our whole lives which may be why it resonated with me so deeply. I rarely cry, but actually left the theatre and cried all the way home (all 15 minutes) which felt good to release all my pent-up emotions.
Every so often we all need a good cry to move through our current situations and get rid of toxins. The next day I felt much better I assure you.:)
Yes, it's a syrupy love story too, but it's so much more than that and the time travel is used sparingly enough to make it special and fun to watch. I also loved watching the love story between Rachel and Domhnall develop because it's fun to live vicariously.
Who doesn't want to fall in love with love?:)
Because as the film says, "For me, it was always going to be all about love."
I hope you take the time to see it and share your thoughts below. I would love to hear. But don't just take my word for it, Britist Actress Emma Watson loved it too!:)
@EmWatson London · emmawatson.com "I had IMPOSSIBLY high expectations for @AboutTimeUK (being a Richard Curtis maniac) - but it was one of the best films I've seen this year."
I do think it's a chick flick and more women will get it than men, if my new Australian film critic Twitter "friend" is any indication, but I do hope men will see it too simply for the father/son relationship. If you had a good relationship with your father it may resonate with you more, but even if yours is strained, it's still beautiful and heartwarming.
I loved this film.
And to motivate you even more, here's the trailer:
United Way of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) will host its 6th Annual “Women’s Fall Suit Drive” from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, November 1 at the NV Energy parking lot at 6226 W. Sahara Ave.
WLC is collecting new and gently-used, clean professional suits and dresses on a hanger and shoes, handbags and jewelry to assist women in need. The drive helps women prepare for career opportunities and gain confidence to succeed during an interview and in the workplace.
Donations will benefit United Way accredited agencies with back to work programs for women. The agencies include Goodwill Career Connections, S.A.F.E. House, Safe Nest, The Shade Tree, Women’s Development Center and HELP of Southern Nevada’s Work Opportunities Readiness Center.
Donations will also be accepted during the month of October during normal business hours at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino customer service desk operated by Tickets & Tours.
Last year’s drive collected more than 6,200 professional items including suits, dresses, shoes, handbags and jewelry. For more information about WLC and the suit drive, please visit uwsn.org or contact Lawrel K. Larsen at email@example.com or 702-892-2319.
Just received this announcement and wanted to share it with you because Coach Wooden is one of my favorite sports coaches. I'm not into sports at all so this is really saying something. His wisdom translates across all industries and his life was an inspiration to so many, myself included. He was one of the Golden lights in the Golden era of California transcending sports.
Writing a couple other blogs, but in the meantime, enjoy this new book announcement:
On the 50th anniversary of John Wooden's first NCAA Championship at UCLA in 1963-1964, Sports Illustrated senior writer and CBS analyst Seth Davis presents the unflinching and definitive biography of one of the giants of the game inWOODEN: A Coach's Life (Times Books, January 14, 2014).
"WOODEN" captures the life, legacy and essence of the sports icon. Davis's research is exhaustive and exemplary and his prose is artful and entertaining, as he offers perspective on this quintessentially American tale.
The "Wooden mystique" was built on his sweat-soaked gymnasium floors, his awe-inspiring fast break, his harnessing the talents of legendary players like Lew Alcindor, Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard and Bill Walton, and his unmatched record in the NCAA tournament.
Davis celebrates the mystique and how it was built, but digs further. He takes full measure of the man who was often considered an enigma in his playing and coaching days before he was elevated to "St. John." John Wooden was a disciplined and hard-nosed man, who dealt with the issues that all coaches of that era dealt with (race relations, political protests, mercurial athletes, overeager boosters and the heavy weight of expectations), and others that don't quite mesh with the lasting memories we have of "The Wizard of Westwood."
In order to take full measure of the man, we must know the full story, warts and all. In "WOODEN", Seth Davis grants us a clear-eyed look at a gifted player, a brilliant coach, and a master teacher, and helps us appreciate John Wooden for what he was. Not a god, or a saint, or a wizard-but a man.
In anticipation of the release, Davis has launched an informative website for WOODEN: A Coach's Life(released by Times Books, January 14, 2014). The site includes a book trailer narrated by CBS Sportscaster Jim Nantz, preparing the reader for one of the greatest sports reads of the New Year as we kick of a new NCAA season.
"This is a superb biography, worthy of its subject. With deep research, clear writing, and objective thinking, Seth Davis has cut through the mythology to present John Wooden and his UCLA dynasty in a fresh and compulsively readable way."
- David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
Long time no chat, howzit going out there?:) Since arriving in Vegas it's been a whirlwind of activity and writing opportunities that always preclude my writing here.
Now that I've had bronchitis for almost two weeks and feel like I'm finally coming back from the dead, I feel inspired to share all the fun things that have been happening just in case you're curious.:)
I dove head first into getting involved with the tech scene and enjoyed many Downtown Podcasts with my Girls in Tech friends until I started having other events and illness affect my ability to participate. The Downtown Podcast is a fun gathering of tech entreprenuers who live in Vegas and is produced by the founders of Ticketcake.com.
Girls in Tech is a "global non-profit organization which aims to support the collaboration, promotion, growth and success of women in the local technology sector.
It does this by offering educational workshops and lectures, panel discussions, networking functions, social engagements, and recruitment events."
I was fortunate to arrive just in time to participate in GIT's Computer Education classes for the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada and really enjoyed helping young girls develop a passion for technology.
Plus, made some new fun girlfriends in the process! You can see Christina Aldan sharing our events during a recent Downtown Podcast. She runs Lucky Girl Designs and is a great person. Connect with her on Linkedin here! http://www.linkedin.com/pub/christina-aldan/8/2/b13
There's a really supportive community for female entreprenuers out here in Vegas and I was able to participate in a recent Women of Influence seminar featuring: Jean Birch, Owner/CEO Birch Company and Former CEO of IHOP Restaurants and Romano's Macaroni Grill; Rose McKinney-James, Managing Principal of Energy Works LLC; Fafie Moore, Owner of Realty Executives of Nevada; Renee West, President/COO Luxor and Excalibur and Dr. Kate Zhong, Senior Director of Clinical Research and Development at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
I also loved participating in the DISH Las Vegas Three Square Food Bank Charity Fundraiser held at the "Palms Casino Resort (at The Palms Pool & Bungalows) with tastes from Las Vegas’ most acclaimed restaurants, including: N9NE Steakhouse, NOVE Italiano, TAO Asian Bistro, LAVO Italian Restaurant & Nightclub, rm Seafood, Border Grill and Bar+Bistro @ The Arts Factory." (As written in their press announcement.)
Talk about a feast! It was really fun and for a great cause too. Here's a little facts on Three Square Food Bank and how they help the community. They are partnered with over 650 community program partners including non-profit and faith-based organizations, schools and feeding sites; serve over 100,000 people monthly; and have provided the equivalent of roughly 18 million meals in 2011 alone!
In addition, I've enjoyed the Cowboy BBQ, hosted by my former employer, O Entertainment, who recently relocated here to Vegas as well!
And for a change of pace, crashed The Las Vegas Biker Fest with another new Vegas BFF, Jamie, with very fun results. We never know what will happen when we hang out which always makes it fun.
Just another Adventure!:) See what I mean?:)
Earlie that day we visited The Mob Museum in Downtown Vegas which is really interesting, but very graphic too. Here's me with the cut-out of the former Mayor of Vegas, Oscar Goodman, recognize him?:)
His memoir was very good too by the way, although I think he kinda white-washed the criminals he represented in my humble opinion. No offense mobsters who might be reading this, but when you kill and rob people, you're not a family man, no matter how many times you say it out loud or want to believe it.
I worked the amazing Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction which I have always wanted to attend ever since an attorney I was working for years ago helped Micheal Jackson sell his Maybach there.
Here's a teaser... It was so cool to see Siegfried and Roy on the final day make an appearance. I remember that fateful day 10 years ago when the tiger attacked Roy and was thrilled to see Vegas royalty live at the auction fully recovered and supporting the community.
I also wrote an article on social media for a classy, cultured magazine out here in Vegas called BLVDS Las Vegas which I will be able to share soon. I was pleased to include my friend, Social Media Guru, Peter Shankman, and his esteemed colleague, Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, of Hartstein Psychological Services in New York
City whom you may recognize as a contributing psychologist for CBS’ The Early Show.
So, needless to say, I've been berry, berry busy.:) Oh, and in addition to all of this, have managed to create my budget and work on more details for Joy's Travel Adventures, despite being too sick to participate in a cool pitching event in front of a bunch of potential investors. Sad face, but there will be other opportunities.
I'm continuing to plan my next travel video now that I'm here in Vegas and reaching out to all the cool casinos for freelance and permanent work because you always create stronger relationships when you work with people.
Having lived in Las Vegas, NV now for almost a month, the main question everyone keeps asking me is why? I did leave LA rather abruptly, but you'll have to believe me when I say this decision has been brewing since January when I attended the first Vegas Tech event at The InNEVation Center and was only confirmed more when I attended the recent Startup Weekend Las Vegas this past August.
I went to Vegas in January to attend the New Media Expo and while there, learned there was a startup event happening at the InNEVation Center as a precursor to CES. I was curious and drove over to check it out.
The InNEVation Center is very industrial, very black and red, and very cool. Here's a picture of the entrance.
What impressed me then, and continues to impress me now, is the support from the state, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the entire Vegas Tech community. Who knew you could actually receive the guidance, education, and advice, and potentially funding, you need just by virtue of living in Las Vegas?
Well, you can.
Every day, I continue to learn of other unique offerings Vegas offers to startups which is great.
I'll never forget in January, listening to Gabe share his story of moving to Vegas and the vision for the Vegas Tech community to attend SXSW with their own section to help all the Vegas startups gain traction.
He spoke about living in a small Downtown apartment, working on his startup, volunteering and getting involved and how supportive everyone had been.
And guess what? The SXSW Vegas event also happened this March too! Very cool.
I also listened to Dylan of Ticketcake.com share what his company's experience was like when they moved to Vegas. Another amazing story. Everyone was so down-to-earth and excited about the Vegas startup community it was eye-opening and vision catching.
Running a startup, or any business, can be isolating, lonely and frustrating unless you have help and a community behind you, which is why hearing this about the Vegas Tech Community really resonated with me.
I was so jazzed driving home that night after meeting all the startups and seeing how many female entreprenuers there were, hearing everyone's stories about their experience in Vegas with their new companies, and being blown away by the cool co-working space, I was ready to move right then and there.
However, it wasn't the right time and slowly this desire began to fade as I got caught up further in the Santa Monica tech scene. Although I did stay in touch with certain people via Twitter and utilized TicketCake's reservation system for my social media coffee talk event, I really dove into all the startup events hosted by ROC, Cross Campus, TechZulu, DocStoc and Digital LA.
So much so, I was invited to join StartupMind on Meetup as a Co-Organizer and began aggregating programming that was happening around town. It was fun and we grew from 40 members to over 180 in a little over three months. We've now expanded our LA Chapter to include Vegas because so many Californians come to Vegas and there's such a keen interest in this tech space.
I pulled my Joy's Travel Adventures team together slowly, but surely, and began to explore opportunities around town for support. I began a dialog with a CFO to see if he would help figure out the financials with an equity stake which never really went anywhere, took classes and tried to figure out what I needed to do next.
I ran an award-winning PR and Digital Marketing firm for almost ten years and blog on the side because it's more for fun than business now that I'm not promoting clients; I AM considered media and it's a page one Google blog. Whoo hoo! Big whoop de do!:)
I have also taught social media at a well-respected music school, at conferences and more because I'm skilled in it; I've covered quality tech conferences, seminars and more simply for personal enrichment mainly. I've also traveled throughout 27 countries, worked for Alaska and Delta Airlines for five years, and worked with LA Inc covering travel for Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau for many years too. Plus, I've helped celebrities, small businesses and festivals brand themselves online quite successfully.
All this to say, I know what I'm doing. Video is valid. My concept is valid.
And I'm not just a journalist or blogger.
Every woman I've ever told about my idea to provide travel partners for women via an online social community and video travelogues is excited and encouraging. All my research supports this too. Plus, you realize women make all the travel plans anyway, right?:)
Ironically, most men, unless they've traveled, stare at me blankly because it's not something guys need when they're travelling, and as a result don't understand.
However, then I hear Google Ventures funded another similar project for a million dollars and I feel vindicated. And when I share my vision with a few investors on my own and they're interested... I know it's valid.
And that's why I'm so excited to be living in Vegas to receive the real help I need to make this dream a reality. I know I don't know it all and am excited to get the help I need to succeed.
I also enjoyed attending FilmBreak's entertaining fashion/tech panel, "Creating Customer 'Buzz' in Entertainment, Fashion, & Tech" featuring Dr. Taryn Rose, Howard Lim, Vladimir Krushinsky, and my two favorite Frenchmen, Dr. Marcel Saucet and Yohan Stern,
moderated by Celebrity Stylist, Phu Styles.
The French have a very different view of the human body and some of the buzz marketing examples Dr. Marcel Saucet shared were pretty funny.
I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Taryn Rose's story about building her shoe business because you always gain when you hear the personal story of another entreprenuer.
Yohan had some great examples of the power of game marketing which numerous large brands have employed through his company which I had never thought about before.
Howard kinda dominated sharing for a little bit because he was so enthusiastic about branding. However, Vladimir gave some great advice about marketing yourself on YouTube towards the end and Phu was able to bring it all together.
Since I've been in the branding space for so long, it was more of what I know already, but it was great to hear the panel because you do always pick up something new regardless, like Yohan's information on game marketing.
Overall, I know I left a vibrant tech scene in Silicon Beach which Forbes has called one of the top startup arenas in the nation. However, after all the training, seminars, co-working spaces are explored, the accelerators are examined, the VC's are vetted, what's left are the people running startups and the actual community.
And that's where Vegas became more and more appealing.
Somehow I found Jackie Jenson's TEDex talk on Playing Nicely with Fellow Entreprenuers Pays Off which I've included below:
She is another reason I felt motivated to move here because I really admire everything she and her Ticketcake team have accomplished in such a short time. Also, because what she says here when comparing Silicon Beach to Vegas Tech nailed it for me. I hope you take the time to listen to the video. She's very articulate, funny and smart. You will enjoy it. Trust me.
In any case, when I heard her talk, it only further cemented my take on the difference between the two communities because it's just not as supportive in Santa Monica. It's just not. Especially not for women who aren't in their 20's.:)
Hey, just keeping it real. LA is the image city of the nation so it only goes with the territory.
I decided to visit the Startup Weekend Las Vegas as a way to determine whether or not I should really take the leap and to support some of my StartupMind members who were participating.
It was great to see people I had seen in January were still involved, like Adam seen above, who currently works for the Vegas Chamber and had even started his own startup for couples called Coupla.
I met some new Vegas entreprenuers who really impressed me too, including David Anderson and Krista Whitley Castellarin, just to name a few. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm, professional and personal, for the Vegas Tech scene and all the opportunities available here.
It almost overshadowed the fact that this StartupWeekend included such powerful tech illuminaries as Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution and Co-Founder, America Online; Jason Mendenhall, Executive Vice President of Switch C.U.B.E; and Kate Rutter, Co-Founder, Luxr, to name a few.
Here's a shot I grabbed before the judging began of some of the judges and others. Recognize these folks?:)
I was again, blown away, by the InNEVation Center as an event/startup space and the entire event, even though I wasn't there for the entire weekend's programming. I popped in and out to take pix and catch up with what everyone was working on. Then, I hit the presentations for as long as I could before having to leave.
It was very inspiring as a whole, and also very encouraging to see female entreprenuers involved in a hackathon like this. However, the real highlight of the entire event was hearing the leader's perspective on the impact StartupWeekend is having around the world.
He told me when they travel to third world countries that's when he really sees the value of what they're doing. When people participate in such a weekend there, they understand their hard work is not only impacting themself, but generations to come.
It made me tear up hearing this heartfelt mission for pursuing his crazy career and I really admire what this company is doing to change the world. Literally.
Yes, it was fun to attend this event in Vegas and learn what everyone is doing here, but hearing this deeper mission and impact on a global basis really put things into perspective. All in all, it was a really great weekend.
So much so, I didn't want it to end and decided to see if SXSWV2V would allow me to attend one day of their new Vegas SXSW program as media which happened the next day. They were gracious and allowed me to which was great.
What was fun was bumping into my friend Espree Devora at the Opening Night party along with another Silicon Beach familiar face, Krishna Gupta.
She runs the Girls in Tech group in LA and is definitely "The Girl Who Gets It Done" as her company says. Really like her and wish she'd move out here too.
The next day was my first introduction to hearing Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speak as the keynote and I was again moved by the vision for the Vegas Community. I liked how broad and encompassing the vision was to revitalize Downtown Vegas, including arts, culture, tech, real estate and small business.
He spoke simply, humbly and with a great sense of humor. I liked what he had to say so much I decided to follow him into the next session where Tech Cocktails was going to ask him questions because I wanted to hear more. I had never heard someone speak with such vision and I loved it.
It was fun to hear Tony speak and learn more about him, but also to realize Tech Cocktail which I have always seen on the tech scene, is also based here in Vegas! It just keeps getting better and better.
All I can say is, SXSWV2V, way to go! Excellent all the way around (as I've heard the main Austin one is all these years.)
After that informative session, it was also very fun to meet my Twitter buddy, John Lynn, after all this time because he'd been very helpful to me too. He introduced me to another Dylan who had started Rumgr, an "online garage sale that's good for your community, the environment & your wallet."
He was super nice and also helpful, recommending I check out Work in Progress, the Downtown Project's co-working space, and other suggestions. I began to feel more and more comfortable with my decision to move there and as the weeks have progressed now that I'm here, even more so.
The next panel included Jackie Jensen, Adam Kramer, Thomas Knoll, Zach Ware, and Jason Mendenhall extolling the virtue of living here and working here in Vegas as a startup. If I didn't feel I would move here before, hearing this panel only solidified my decision.
I've had the opportunity to visit other amazing tech events which I will share soon. However, Starbucks is closing and I need to run.:) Thanks for reading. Hope you take the time to check out all the links and review the pictures. I tried to add captions to tell the story.