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Patricia Kelly Offers Riders Reins to Their Dreams

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Patricia Kelly is founder/president/CEO/ head riding instructor of Ebony Horsewomen, Inc., located in Hartford, Conn. Ebony Horsewomen is an organization “to empower youth toward successful lives through the use of equine-assisted-growth learning."   The CEO of the organization for the past 30 years, Mrs. Kelly is also a former United States Marine.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Kelly shares about the difference perspective makes, how your childhood can shape your dreams and how to know if you are pursuing the right dream.

Sam's Dream Blog: In the Hartford Courant, you were quoted as saying, “Urban children are denied so much. What we are trying to do is unlock the genius, the brilliance in children to live their best life. We want to unlock the caged heart so that they will dream, and dream big." What difference does it make to get someone out of his or her environment for a little while so that they can experience something like Ebony Horsewomen offers?

Patricia Kelly: The answer to that is perspective. When your perspective, based upon experiences and resources, is limited, your perspective of the world is limited. You tend to think that all that there is what you have been able to experience. Often, youth in the inner city are not afforded experiences and resources to grow their perspective. It’s important to broaden a child’s perspective so that they can get a more global picture of the world, rather than only what’s in their limited neighborhood.

SDB: You mentioned children.  What age group does Ebony Horsewomen serve?

Patricia Kelly: Five to 19, although we have one program that goes up to 28. That’s the mounted patrol, our park rangers. We have our own park rangers in Keeney Park, where we are located. Keeney Park is 693 acres. We do it as a courtesy.

What is it about Ebony Horsewomen that is able to unlock people in a unique way?

Patricia Kelly: There are a number of things. We are in the middle of a metropolitan area that has the largest city park in New England. Keeney Park was designed by Frederick Olmsted, the same guy who designed Central Park.

Within this park, we have the ability to introduce country life and settings, agriculture on several levels. We have farm land here that we grow crops on. Not only do we grow the crops, but once the crops have been harvested, we teach the kids how to prepare the food.  They cook the food, and they learn the nutrition. That’s one aspect.

The second thing is we use equine-assisted therapy. Many of our children have difficulties in school, and some in the community. Many of them are suffering despair and depression. The equine-assisted therapy allows them to receive therapy without the stigma. We use horses to bring them to some answers in their situation.

Then, of course, the experience of learning how to ride a horse is another level that has a couple of different benefits to it. It’s the physical benefit, the emotional benefit, and the benefit of focused concentration and the ability to execute instructions that you are given as you are being taught how to ride. Those kinds of things are transferable to schoolwork.

SDB: Is there a success story that comes to mind?

Patricia Kelly: We have been doing this for 31 years. There are hundreds of success stories [from alumni.] We have one young lady who is a civil rights attorney for the federal government in Washington, D.C.  We have teachers. We have one young woman who is at Harvard University right now on a full scholarship. We have nurses and teachers and principals and business owners.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

SDB: What about your passion?  How did Ebony Horsewomen come about?

Patricia Kelly: It’s a complicated story, but it started in childhood when I was introduced to my first horse from a Jewish neighbor.  It stuck.  It became an obsession for me, a passion for me.  When I got out of the Marine Corps, I settled in my spirit that this was something I was going to pursue.  I was going to flush it out a little bit more, if you will.  Upon my attempt to do that, it became crystal clear to me that this in fact was my passion to do.

Thanks for reading Sam’s Dream Blog! Learn more about Ebony Horsewomen here

Givology CEO Joyce Meng's Global Dream

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Givology, under the leadership of  Co-Founders Joyce Meng and Jennifer Chen, is connecting volunteers and donors to people and projects around the world. Together, through crowdsourcing, they are attempting to make quality education available to all children, and thereby transform communities one student at a time.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Joyce shares about pioneering, creating community and about moving from thinking to doing.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream, Joyce? How did that originate?

Joyce Meng: What we’re trying to do with Givology is trying to maximize the impact per dollar so that the aid in the world can be done a lot more efficiently with a lot more accountability and transparency.  It’s not about what you send in terms of textbooks. It’s about the exit opportunities once students finish a program. What are the community differences that are created through that program? That’s what Givology aims to do.

In terms of the origination, part of it was that I’ve been lucky to have so many things in my life. Education transformed my life. My parents were immigrants from Taiwan. We didn’t have very much growing up, but what they did instill in me was this dream that anything was possible, and that if you have a good education and you work really hard, everything is potentially achievable.

SDB: How do you think your day job as a financial investor is helping you with Givology?

Joyce Meng: We’ve got more than 3,600 students around the world in 28 countries. Givology is 100 percent volunteers.  Everyone has something to give. In giving, they learn something about themselves.  The skills I learn in terms of analyzing companies and impact, doing the due diligence, certainly applies to what I do with Givology.

SDB: Is there one accomplishment you are most proud of?

Joyce Meng: That’s really hard. Two things that we have done at Givology that I’m a little more proud of is that we published a book. We completely wrote it ourselves and self-published. It’s been downloaded more than 5,000 times.

The second thing we did is this project called Make Your Mark. We worked with Joseph Kilrain of Gigapixel Creative. He painted a gigantic mural of the world. We set it out in Union Square (one of the large parks in New York City). We had finger paint so people could put their finger print on the part of the world that they wanted to help. We got pledges for the finger prints. Jubilee Projects, a YouTube phenomenon that films video to create change, filmed the entire process. We got more than 300 peoples’ finger prints and a lot of hits on the video. Then we auctioned off the mural pieces at a big gala kickoff. All of that money went back directly to our projects and students at the locations designated by the finger prints on the map.

What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

SDB: What are some obstacles that you have faced?

Joyce Meng: There’s always going to be growing pains. Givology started really small. Now we’ve gotten quite big, so we have to make sure that we keep our community tight and that every person that we bring in feels connected and empowered to do things within our organization. It becomes harder the larger we grow. We’re always trying to make it feel more like a community.

SDB: How have you been able to accomplish your success without a lot of resources?

Joyce Meng: We don’t have an office, we don’t have overhead, we don’t have full-time staff. We have spent zero dollars on marketing. I think it’s a complete mentality change - small hours, not just dollars, can be crowdsourced. If everyone gives an hour or two hours, or if a hundred people do that, that’s so much more valuable than hiring a full-time staff member to try and do everything. We get all this talent donated because they appreciate and understand the purity of a volunteer-driven model. Also they use Givology as a way to develop and grow themselves. Money doesn’t motivate people as much as recognition and the feeling that they have accomplished something greater than themselves. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are in Givology. To be fully empowered and have a bunch of really supportive people working with you to achieve big things, that’s what keeps people motivated. The second thing is, when you have a budget of zero for anything, you get really creative. There are so many low-cost ways to get your message across.

Thanks for reading Sam's Dream Blog!  Learn more about Givology and get involved here

Trevor Kaufman on the Boulevard to Hollywood

Trevor Kaufman is a manager/producer. He manages feature/TV writers and produces material. This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Trevor tells about his work in Hollywood. He shares about the importance of being patient and having a support system in the midst of a dream pursuit.

Dreaming Made Simple: Is there a typical day for you?

Trevor Kaufman: I manage writers and directors. What that means is I develop material with writers, which would be features and TV scripts, and go through the process, all the way from an idea to script form. I help [writers and directors] get jobs and I package their materials, whether that is for other producers or financiers or actors or directors. It’s all in an effort to get the scripts made into a feature or a TV show. I do a lot of reading scripts and conference calls, I meet with executives and all the people from the industry to stay connected with what’s going on in the town. In this industry, there’s a 1000 different ways to get a movie or a show made.

Dreaming Made Simple: Do you freelance or do you work for a production company in particular?

Trevor Kaufman: I’m a freelancer now. I used to work for a production company. The last couple years I have branched out and done my own thing. It’s been great. It’s a little more challenging because you don’t have the same stability as you would with a company, but I like the freedom of doing it myself.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream for working in the industry and how did that dream start?

Trevor Kaufman: Basically to make projects that I am proud of and that I am passionate about, not just to make a buck. I guess everything originated when I was a kid and my Uncle George introduced me to Sylvester Stallone movies and to Beverley Hills Cops. I got really into movies. When I got into high school, I started seeing stuff like Fight Club. That’s when I started to realize that becoming a filmmaker was something that I not only truly desired but that I could accomplish.

Dreaming Made Simple: Do you have any advice on pursuing dreams?

Dreaming Made Simple: What have you learned in terms of discerning good professional opportunities?

Trevor Kaufman: It’s important to know you want to do things the right way, no matter if it takes longer to accomplish. I guess it’s just being patient. It takes a long time to build up contacts in the industry, from people you interned with or people you speak to over the phone. It’s actually a pretty small town. You want to think about how you want people to see you. If you work for a certain boss or a certain person, you’re going to be associated with that sort of mindset and work ethic.

Dreaming Made Simple: Talk about the importance of having people to support you in your dreams.

SDB: What did that journey from Illinois out to LA look like?

Trevor Kaufman: I always knew that, to work in the movie business, I had to be in Los Angeles, so it was how do I get there? I went to two years at Southern Illinois University with my buddy, Nic Camp. Then he and I transferred to Columbia College in Chicago. Colombia had a semester in LA program, and I used that as my last semester to graduate. Once I got out there, I stayed out there. I didn’t even come back for graduation. I got internships, then I started getting entry-level jobs. I kept at it and didn’t expect things to happen overnight. I just tried to enjoy myself and kept working toward getting a movie made, which is what I ultimately wanted to do.

 

John Arrow, Mutual Mobile CEO, on First Steps Toward your Dream

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John Arrow is the CEO of Mutual Mobile. Based in Austin, Texas, Mutual Mobile creates mobile solutions for brands, including Audi, Google, Xerox and Citi, among other clients. This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Arrow shares about getting started, turning your first profit and focusing on the present.

Sam's Dream Blog: You wrote an e-book by age 14. How important do you think it is for children or teens to get their hands in technology early on?

John Arrow: What’s so amazing today is, you walk into a coffee shop or an airport, and you see these little kids using iPads, which is insane to think about. There are kids today starting with technology when they’re literally one or two. Before they can talk or walk, they’re using the next paradigm of technology. Starting that early on means that the technology becomes almost an extension of yourself.

If you’re familiar with Malcolm Gladwell and the 10,000 hours outlier rule, that’s something we certainly subscribe to. If you can get those 10,000 hours in before you’re 20, it certainly makes a huge difference if you want to make a career out of it.

SDB: When you were thinking about turning your first profit, you focused on making $1, then $10. What is it about you that allows you to be patient, rather than thinking, I have to make a whole bunch of money right away?

SDB: Is the key to that approach having a good test group?

John Arrow: I would say the best way is following the scientific method. You might have a strong intuition that there’s something there, that there’s a strong chance of success, but you don’t know yet. How can you design a hypothesis that can be very quickly proved or disproved? How do you boil it down and test it out? A lot of times you can do it as simply as buying some Google AdWords or some Facebook Ads and seeing if your offering is compelling enough to get people to click it. If it is, there’s probably something there. Why don’t you try taking it a few steps further? You can do these steps that help you to avoid making any large capital investment early on. I’m really bullish on people testing something for almost free, and then figuring out how to scale it.

SDB: Is gaining credibility difficult early on?

John Arrow: From a new business perspective, I don’t think it needs to be. As long as you’re not selling $10 million deals from day one and you’re doing more stepping stones, credibility isn’t an issue. If you look at Mutual Mobile, we’ve worked with progressively larger and larger companies, and we’ve solved more difficult and more complex projects. It doesn’t need to be a goal to work with a Fortune 100 company from day one. It should be a goal to say, "How can I prove the model? How can I deliver value to a customer early on?" If you do that, it’s only a smaller leap of faith to work with a bigger company on a more complex issue. Fortunately, there are customers that exist at all stages. That means you shouldn’t have a credibility issue if you can figure out the appropriate starting point.

SDB: I read about your sailboat called Present Moment. How have you learned to balance staying present vs. thinking about the future?

John Arrow: [Recently] we had this horrible wind storm here in Austin. On the lake, the wind hit the marina especially hard. Half a dozen sailboats sank, including Present Moment. I think the question is still a very good question. I think [staying present] is the only way to operate and to be happy. You can’t bank on being happy at a future date. That’s a bit of a mirage. It’s good to have goals, but if you’re waiting on those external goals to determine your happiness, you’re wasting your days now. It’s incredibly important to enjoy the journey.

Especially with a new company, when you’re spending 10 to 15 hours a day working, if you’re not happy doing that, you’re wasting a huge chunk of your life, and you should probably go do something else. There’s going to be hard moments, but you have to power through those. If you’re truly unhappy doing something, go find another present moment.

Read more about John Arrow, and learn what Mutual Mobile can do for your business

Detroit Tigers Legend Ty Cobb Alive and Well Thanks to Norm Coleman

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Norm Coleman embarked on a new dream journey at age 70. With no prior acting experience, the self-described "ham" developed a one-man show portraying Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb. He has since traveled around the country and reconnected with rival "Babe Ruth." Now remind me, why are you waiting to pursue your dream?

Dreaming Made Simple: What made you think you could do a one-man show? That’s pretty courageous not to have a supporting cast.

Dreaming Made Simple: Why pick Ty Cobb to portray?

Norm Coleman: I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a child, growing up in Brooklyn. Until roughly six years ago, I did not know a thing about him, except he was this great ballplayer with terrific records. Visiting my local library in Half Moon Bay, Calif., I went to get a book on Jackie Robinson. Right next to the book on Jackie Robinson was a book on Ty Cobb, written by Al Stump. As I read the book, I became fascinated with the complex character of Ty Cobb. I quickly envisioned a one-man show.

At that time, I had just started acting in a local theatre. I had never acted a day in my life. I’m a retired award-winning photographer. I joined SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), and they put me in touch with numerous Cobb historians. I became obsessed with the Cobb story. I read, I’d say, 10 to12 books on the man. I saw him as politically incorrect for our day and time, but I saw his story as very interesting.  I wanted to tell the other side of the man.

As I began to read more and write a script, I contacted several local Rotary clubs. They loved the performance. They loved the story and referred me to about 18 other Rotary clubs. Between the Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs, I got to perform quite a bit and hone the show.

SDB:Where have your travels taken you by now?

Norm Coleman: I did a couple other shows in California, I did a small one up at The Marsh in San Francisco. My big break came after writing to the Detroit Tigers. I got a Tigers media guide and wrote letters to about 15 top officials.

I heard from nobody, but I have a lot of perseverance.

The following year I again wrote to several people, including Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch. He referred me to [Tigers President/CEO/General Manager] David Dombrowki. Mr. Dombrowski referred me to [Director, Lakeland Operations] Ron Myers from the Tigers Spring Training site in Lakeland, Fla. I will never forget the moment when he called and said, "Norm, we want you." That was the first time I did the entire 85-minute show. Rotary gives you 20 to 30 minutes.

Dreaming Made Simple: How did you get connected with "Babe Ruth?"

Norm Coleman: That’s an interesting story. I am in contact with a lot of bloggers. One of them was a gentleman who used to work for ESPN, out of Pasadena. He told me he videotaped a Babe Ruth impersonator out of Boston named Steve Folven. I saw the video and contacted Steve. I had been considering a two-man show with Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth for some time. He said, yes, I’d like to do it with you. I wrote the script and went to Boston this past August. We performed six shows in six different cities for Rotary clubs.

The two of us got on the same page very quickly. Steve came to San Francisco in April of this year, and we met at [famed sports restaurant] Lefty O’Doul’s. We went to the restaurant in costume. We sat down at a table in the back, and we attracted a lot of attention. We had no script. We talked like two old guys having a beer together. Restaurant owner Nick Bovis liked the show so much that he booked me to do a show at Lefty’s next month. Steve and my photograph is hanging under an 11 X 14 photo of Ichiro.

Dreaming Made Simple: Let’s talk about fellow San Francisco native Joe DiMaggio. You actually photographed Joe D., right?

Norm Coleman: Yes, I did. I had a portrait studio in San Mateo, Calif. for 30 years. I did a bar mitzvah for a well-to-do family. They told me they had a VIP coming. It was Joe DiMaggio, who was a good friend of the grandfather. "Don’t talk to them. Just take the picture. Don’t ask for an autograph," they said.

Dreaming Made Simple: How did you get into photography?

Norm Coleman: I started in New York City. I studied at the New York School for Social Research. I studied with a very famous photographer named Lisette Model. She was the second woman photographer hired for LIFE magazine. I was very fortunate to be in her class. I later moved out to Santa Fe, NM. I photographed the ghost town, and I photographed Indians. When I came out to California, I got a job as a ballet photographer. In 1965, I opened up my own portrait studio in San Mateo and got into the wedding business. I photographed many athletes over the years at social events - Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Johnny Bench - My claim to fame was I photographed Ronald Reagan when he was running for president back in 1980.

Dreaming Made Simple: Why did you start acting?

Norm Coleman: I went to a local theatre called the Coastal Repertory Theatre. I was so impressed with the acting. As I was walking out of the theatre, there was a letter on the table. It said there were auditions for the next show. I picked the letter up and put it on my bulletin board. I looked at it numerous times. I went down there and read a bunch of lines. I came back and read some more lines. Then I got a call back, and they said, 'We have a small part for you.' It was a small part - exactly 16 lines - I played a juror. It took me forever to memorize those lines. I didn’t know stage right from stage left, but I loved being part of the theatre family. I was bitten by the theatre bug, you might say. At that time, I was reading about Ty Cobb. I began to put it together that this could be a one-man show.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream, and how has that evolved in the six years you have been playing Mr. Cobb?

Norm Coleman: My big dream is to perform at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. They know who I am. They have my information. I have performed at the Ty Cobb Museum, but my big dream is to perform at Cooperstown.

Learn more about Norm Coleman, a.k.a Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb, and see where he will be appearing on his Web site

Director of Photography Eric Wycoff Talks Movies and Sports

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Sometimes our dreams play out like we planned. More often than not, we instead arrive at times of self-reflection and adjustment. Eric Wycoff played football for the University of Illinois in the mid-80s. Football didn’t quite work out as planned, so he initiated a new journey into filmmaking. Read and listen to Eric share on Dreaming Made Simple how he made the transition.

Dreaming Made Simple: To get started, tell me a little bit about your journey from the U of I.

Eric Wycoff, U of I
Eric Wycoff, U of I

Eric Wycoff: I played football there in the mid-80s. Then I was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and went to camp but didn’t make the team. After I didn’t make the team, I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do. When I came back to Los Angeles, through a series of circumstances, I started working as a production assistant. From there, I went into lighting. I joined the local 728, which is the lighting union.

The competitive drive that you have in sports was always sort of eating at me. I was in [movie] lighting as an electrician, and I made a good living, but I wasn’t fulfilled creatively. I really needed to reevaluate what direction I was going in and ultimately where I would like to land in the business.

Dreaming Made Simple: What did you learn as far as putting the work in before you started taking off as a filmmaker?

Dreaming Made Simple: What are you working on right now?

Eric Wycoff: I’m doing a documentary called "My Dad’s Brain." It’s the story of former Green Bay Packer Lew Carpenter. He died at 78. When he died, the Boston University Institute of Traumatic Brain Injury contacted his family. They wanted to assess whether he had [Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain from football hits.] They diagnosed him with the highest grade of CTE. It was the catalyst for his daughter to go on this journey to understand the disease a little bit better and try to get a hold on her relationship with her father and also the relationship he had with the rest of his kids.

Dreaming Made Simple: How much creative freedom do you have as a director of photography?

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream for your career?

Eric Wycoff: I like the places that I’m in. I’m sort of going back and forth between working on films and working on documentaries and creating my own content. I like the idea of creating my own content. I think that good filmmakers are the ones that have sort of a chip on their shoulder or some sort of passion about a particular subject. I feel so fortunate now to be able to work within the context of sports and film. Being a former athlete and also a filmmaker, I see the complexity of the stories and the purity of the performance by the athletes.

Follow Director of Photography Eric Wycoff on Instagram (ericwycoff) and visit his Web site

Beauty Tips and Secrets: Perfect Beauty's Daisy Jing

Beauty Tips and Secrets:

Daisy Jing/Facebook
Daisy Jing/Facebook

Daisy Jing is the founder of Perfect Beauty, a site that encourages women to feel good about themselves and to cheer one another on. Daisy won the "Most Disruptive Product" award at the world's largest women's technology conference, Women 2.0, and caught the attention of Forbes. Daisy’s business advice goes beyond beauty, so guys would do well to read what she has to say this week on Sam’s Dream Blog.

Listen to Daisy talk about her what makes a woman beautiful as well as her dream for Perfect Beauty. Then read more afterward!

Sam's Dream Blog: Tell me about how Perfect Beauty came about.

Daisy Jing: I had really bad acne in middle and high school. During that time, my parents were nagging me to try all these different products. So I spent thousands of dollars on products for acne, and I felt like it was a waste of money. I felt like they weren’t providing good skin care products, but they were so expensive. It took me a long time to find out certain products that would work for my acne. It wasn’t until I found out these products from people on YouTube, peers who were similar to me in skin type and ethnicity and age. I started researching ingredients in products and the industry. I realized that a lot of it is just advertising. They tell you that you need to look like a celebrity, and you need to spend hundreds of dollars to buy a product to look like them. In the long run, they ruin your skin or hair or whatever.

I started a YouTube channel where I review beauty products. I wanted to expand it outside my YouTube channel and created a Web platform for that. My slogan is, "To empower you to feel beautiful." Anyone who uses beauty products needs to first of all feel comfortable in their own skin and second, to find products that will enhance their natural features.

SDB: How is the Web site different than the YouTube channel?

Daisy Jing: Our aim is to give women a voice about products and to get them to share. A lot of people don’t want to go on the YouTube channel, or they are not comfortable in front of the camera, or they don’t have time to do all that. I want to make it so it’s easy and fast, so you know what works and what doesn’t. You can ask people questions, and everyone gets points. You can see if they are a trusted person to ask advice from. Everyone has a profile so you can see what kind of skin or hair they have.

SDB: How have you been able to achieve credibility and popularity? What made you so great at cultivating a following?

Daisy Jing: I’ve had my YouTube channel for a few years now, and I have about 100,000 views per month. People like me because I’m very honest. I tell them, ?Hey, I don’t have perfect skin or perfect whatever, but this is what I use to help me.? Because I’m very honest about my opinions, I’ve garnered that following, and people trust me. I get people messaging me, saying, 'Oh, I bought these three things you recommended and I absolutely love them.'

SDB: Do you have any role models, either from a business point of view or in terms of beauty and fashion?

Daisy Jing: I would say a big role model is Oprah Winfrey. I used to watch her when I was in elementary school. She was always so positive and honest and kind of pushed women to go after their dreams. I’ve kind of had that mindset ever since I was young. Also I read a lot about Steve Jobs. Whenever I feel unsure about doing something, I read some of his writings. He pushes me off the edge to go for it.

SDB: What lessons have you learned along the way?

Daisy Jing: I’ve learned that you cannot make people happy, and you can’t try to please everyone. When I put myself out there on the Internet, it was very, very scary at first. You have to have a thick skin to put yourself out there like that, but I’m really glad I didn’t listen to all the negativity. People do say mean things, but I don’t let that get to me.

Also, I’ve learned from my YouTube channel that everyone can have an impact on someone else. I didn’t realize that my advice would help people that much. It was almost as if I gave people advice for fun, but it has changed people’s lives.

Visit Daisy’s Web site and her YouTube page for plenty of beauty tips and secrets. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Carol Roth, New York Times Best-Seller and Biz Guru

Carol Roth:

Carol Roth

Carol Roth is a business strategist, former investment banker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. Hundreds of organizations have employed Carol’s business expertise.

Listen as Carol shares with Sam’s Dream Blog about gaining credibility and about what kind of business is right for you.

Check out Carol Roth's Web site for plenty more business insights!

LPGA Futures Player Seul-Ki Park

LPGA Futures Golfer Seul-Ki Park
LPGA Futures Golfer Seul-Ki Park

Four years ago, LPGA Futures Tour golfer Seul-Ki Park concluded her Illini career with the third-lowest career average in program history. Has it really been that long, Park wonders. Nowadays, instead of a team pushing her, it’s just Seul-Ki, her instructor and her trainer. She’s seen peers give up at this point and decide professional golf is not for them. Seul-Ki, on the other hand, is more committed to her dream than ever, as she shares this week on Sam’s Dream Blog.

Listen to Seul-Ki talk about her dream journey, and read more afterward!

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream?

Seul-Ki Park: My dream is to go out there and win multiple LPGA Tour events. Pretty much to be the No. 1 player, the best player as a female professional golfer.

SDB: Give readers a sense of how competitive it is.

Seul-Ki Park: There are a lot of good players out there, but you also have to realize that the little changes you’re making, or the little improvements you are making, are so small, particularly at this level. When I was playing junior golf or college golf, I was able to make a lot of improvements in a short amount of time. Now the improvements that I’m making in my game are going to take time. They are not going to happen in an instant. That’s what every player out there is going through.

SDB: You could be working on your game every waking moment. How do you set boundaries?

Seul-Ki Park: I had an experience last year when I was going through all my swing changes. I was injuring my abs when I was swinging. I was always out at the range hitting ball after ball and trying to figure it out. You can’t just hit ball after ball for hours to prepare for a tournament. There are other things you need to do to rest your body in order to perform your best during a tournament, or you need to work on different aspects of your game versus one thing.

What happened was, I injured myself during a tournament. I strained my ab muscle so I had to withdraw from the tournament. Then I had to sit out for about a month and a half. That’s when I learned that I need to catch myself when I am really pushing myself. It’s good that you’re focused and you’re determined and you’re committed, but you need to see the bigger picture. Is this going to help me in the future?

SDB: Golf is pretty consuming, isn’t it?

Seul-Ki Park: It does get tough. You’re at a different place week after week. You’re obviously going to a tournament to win every time. Time flies. Once the season starts in March, it’s pretty busy through September. Golf or any other sport that you’re doing at a professional level has to become your lifestyle and not your job. Golf is something that you can do every single day, rain or no rain. That’s where you kind of have to watch yourself.

SDB: What have you learned?

Seul-Ki Park: As I find out more and more about the game and the players, I’ve had to find my own place. That’s something I struggled with my first year on Futures Tour. I played in the tournaments, but I was so inconsistent with my routine. Some players were doing this, so I’d try to do that. Other players would practice two or three rounds before the tournament, so I’d try to do that. Physically, I’d be too tired playing three practice rounds going into a tournament. What I’ve learned is how important a routine is for me, a routine that fits my needs.

LPGA Futures Tour action begins this week. Check it out, and follow Seul-Ki

The Dinner Party with Zokos' Brad Baer

BradBaer-Zokos3.jpg

Brad Baer is the co-founder and chief product manager of Zokos.com. Baer is a designer and an architect with degrees from Yale University and Iowa State University.

Zokos gets its name from the txokos in the Basque region of Spain. These gastronomical societies have existed for hundreds of years and basically involve a group of people pitching their money together so they can meet several times a week to take turns cooking for each other. Coincidentally, the word "zoko" literally means nook, cozy corner or bargain.

Zokos.com is the dinner party "Kickstarter" that uses social media to help people connect.

Watch Brad answer a couple of my questions over Skype, and read more afterward!

Sam's Dream Blog: Why should people get involved with Zokos?

Brad Baer: We think food is the world's favorite reason to get together, so what better way to do this than by helping people have parties in real life. If you've ever hosted a party you know that the financial burden is all on you. Whether it's a tailgate, a wine-tasting party or a corporate fundraiser, the host is the one that does all the work and ends up spending all the money. Our goal is to make it easier to have better parties more often. We like to use the expression "fearless entertainment," meaning that we want hosts and guests to be assured that they can host and attend parties without any worries. We eliminate the fears of there being not enough or too many people at the party by having the host set a minimum and maximum number of people. We don't charge any membership costs, and the guests and hosts only pay a small percentage on the transaction.

SDB: What's the key to hosting a good party

Brad Baer: We think the key to any great party is having a good mix of people you know and people you'd like to know. The way we accomplish this is by allowing what we call "friends-of-friends." This means that anybody attending the party as a guest can invite friends of their own. That way you have some new people in your home, but they're connected back to someone else at the party. The second thing we think is key is sharing the burdens both in cost and in work. We have a chip-in feature that allows guests to chip-in money so the host doesn't get stuck with the bill. We also have a co-hosting feature that allows a host to invite people as DJs, dishwashers, table-setters or bartenders in exchange for not having to pay the chip-in.

SDB: How did Zokos get started?

Brad Baer: Two of my co-founders and I were involved with a group as grad students at Yale called Veggie Dinner. The premise was simple: each member cooked for 10 people once each semester and in exchange was able to attend dinners at someone else's apartment every other week of the semester. The concept really caught on quickly and in not much time grew to more than 400 people, which meant more than 20 meals to choose from every week. It was great because you could choose based on time, location, guests, host or cuisine. It helped save money by cooking in bulk and also gave students the time to interact with people outside of their specific area of study. My co-founders and I ended up enjoying the idea so much that we came together to write a business plan for a course at Yale. We ended up winning the Connecticut Business Plan Competition, getting an investment from a business accelerator in Providence, R.I., and eventually running a successful closed beta test where 900 people threw more than 400 parties.

SDB: You said you are living your dream.  How?  What's your ultimate dream for Zokos?

Brad Baer: For the last 12 years I've been practicing architecture. I love the idea of building things, and I thought the best way to do this was to literally shape the environment. I was able to work on a project at MoMA in New York, design sports stadiums around the U.S. and work on literally planning entire new cities in China, but I knew something wasn't quite right.

The reason Zokos has allowed me to live my dream is that it's something I truly believe in. It has the power of bringing people back to the table in real life instead of just interacting over the Internet.

I know a lot of entrepreneurs that run businesses that have nothing to do with them personally, but my co-founders and I are all avid party hosts. We love meeting new people and eating great food, so being involved with something that has the power to change the way the world socializes while involving those two things is pretty amazing. We say it in somewhat of a joking manner, but our goal is to make it just as easy to go to a party with friends as it is to grab food in a drive through and eat alone. In other words, we'd love it if people would check zokos.com and have the possibility of a different dinner party every night of the week.

SDB: It's a unique idea to have a start up where hosting parties is your business. How do you land clients?

Brad Baer: Our focus is strongly on university students, and in particular, graduate students. They typically are searching for venues to socialize, don't live in dorms and are looking to save some money. We also plan on working with the various environmental and cooking clubs at schools around the country. We're creating a campus ambassador program that allows early users to get some great rewards if they help us spread the word at their university. In addition to universities, we're also reaching out to young professionals, foodies and people with various food preferences and allergies.  We would love to see vegetarian zokos, weight management zokos and themed zokos like "fresh fish Fridays" pop up everywhere. Other than that, we hope to get users who are already having a dinner party, be it with friends from church, co-workers from their business or classmates in their alumni-group. As we always say, we aren't necessarily creating something totally new - we're just trying to help make something that already occurs better.

SDB: Tell me a Zokos party story.

Brad Baer: Parties are often, but not always, themed. We've had everything from "anything in crust" to "pinch your own pierogi" to "everything must be local" and even a "party in the dark." One of my favorite examples was a group of people who decided they would like to have a Sunday afternoon "soup group." The original kickoff meal eventually turned into 16 meals and after a couple of months the number of people trying to RSVP to the events had almost doubled. Each zoko had some of the same people, but toward the end there were also several new people from local design firms that had heard about the group and wanted to be involved. This gave the designers from the community a chance to find out what was going on in academia and inversely allowed the students to pick the brains of the young professionals. The second benefit of the growing group meant there were even more diverse choices of soups, stews and gumbos from all around the world, which served as a great platform to discuss everyone's hometown or home country.

Check out the Zokos blog to get in on the dinner party

NYC Restaurant Week with Sous Chef Adam Nichol

Adam Nichol
Adam Nichol

Almost a decade ago, Adam Nichol and I sat around a lunch table in high school. Now, for New York City Restaurant Week, I caught up with Adam. These days he’s a sous chef in arguably the greatest city in the world at the Grand Hyatt New York. Watch as he prepares pan roasted monkfish with Brussels sprouts, black trumpet mushrooms, black truffles and lobster emulsion. As opposed to my rookie video skills with my Droid, it doesn’t any better than this.  More, please!

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream?

Adam Nichol: Right now, to have my own restaurant. That’s one of the reasons you become a chef. Hopefully in the next couple years that will happen. I’ve been talking with a friend I know from Cincinnati, so we’re looking there right now. It’s got potential to be a really good food city.

Dreaming Made Simple: When did you think about becoming a chef?

Adam Nichol: It happened when I was really young. I was five, six, seven and throwing food coloring in macaroni and cheese and thinking it was creative. What really got me was when I was eight or nine, I would come home from school and watch "Great Chefs of the World." Just watching them put dishes together and how they worked got me started at a young age.

Dreaming Made Simple: How did you get to New York City?

It’s been a lot of traveling. When I was 15, I started working at Country Kitchen (one of our hometown restaurants). I worked there for two years and pretty much did everything I could - dishwasher, busser, line cook, buffet cook - You name it, I did it. That’s what got me into the industry and made me want to pursue that.

I went to school at Johnson and Wales University. I was in Charleston, S.C. for two years for a culinary arts degree, and I worked in two different restaurants there. Then I went to Charlotte, N.C. for a bachelors in food service management. I worked at two hotels there. In the summers between college, I would come home and work at a country club - the best of both worlds - I got to cook and play golf. After that I did an internship in Chicago at one of the Westin properties for three months. I transferred to a Hyatt hotel in Chicago, a McCormack Place property. I worked there for a little over a year before I transferred to Cincinnati as a corporate management trainee in culinary. Halfway through that, they promoted me to sous chef. I did that for a year and a half. I’ve been in New York for about 15 months.

It’s been a journey. It’s good and bad. You get to meet a lot of people, but at the same time, once you start meeting people, you move. You stay in touch, but there’s still people you kind of lose touch with.

Dreaming Made Simple: Is moving part of the business?

Adam Nichol: It is. It’s the best way to get promoted and to get more experience. I think once you’ve been in one place for a year, year and a half, you’ve kind of learned everything that you can.

Dreaming Made Simple: How have you developed as a chef?

Adam Nichol: A lot of learning. Every chef that you work for has their own styles, different ways of doing things. Here at the Hyatt in New York City, it’s a big union hotel. You learn what you have to abide by with union contracts. It was an eye-opening experience when I first came here. But if you have a passion for cooking, if you have a passion for food, that’s what your driving force is.

You learn whatever you can from whoever is going to offer it. You might have a line cook from Guatemala. Maybe he’s got a native dish that his mom used to cook. Every day you should be learning something new.

Dreaming Made Simple: Do you have a favorite story?

Adam Nichol: I have tons of stories. The first thing that came to mind is when I flew to New York City for my interview. I had just arrived in the city and my boss Christian took me out. My boss starts talking about his love of butchery and pork. He started to say he has a pig tattoo on his left ribcage. I said, 'That’s funny you say that because I have a pig on my left ribcage as well.' We both looked at each other and showed each other our pigs. Before I even started cooking, that was one of the determining factors that he was going to hire me.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s it like being a chef in perhaps the best city in the world?

Adam Nichol: It’s good and bad. There’s so much talent in this city that it’s very easy to get inspiration. You can go to any restaurant to get ideas. Being right on the ocean, we have amazing seafood here too. On the other side, with the competition, it’s very hard to stand out unless you’re a big boy. Otherwise you can be doing some really great food, but it’s very easy to go unnoticed.

Cafe Business with Ty Paluska

Ty Paluska
Ty Paluska

Ty Paluska is the Co-owner and Café Manager of thirty-thirty Coffee Co. Paluska and his cafe business partners selected the café’s name because between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator is ideal for coffee growing.

Watch Ty answer a couple of my questions over Skype, and read more afterward!

Sam's Dream Blog: What makes your product and service/environment stand out?

Ty Paluska: For starters, the location. We picked our building because everyone in Peoria (Ill.) seems to know and love "the triangle building" that sits on the corner of Main and Glendale across from Methodist Hospital. We didn't skip any details on redoing the inside. We wanted people to first feel like this was unlike any other cafe business they've ever been in. That way, when they come to our menu and see what we are doing, they will immediately see that our product is just as unique as our atmosphere.

There aren't any other cafes in town that specialize in as many hand-brew (one cup at a time) methods as we do. We are not only highlighting different coffees from around the world but also how each cup can taste different because of how it’s brewed. Most cafes do what's called "drip" coffee. We do drip, French press, Chemex, and a new method called a pour-over. We grind the beans fresh to order for each cup and make it one cup at a time. It takes three minutes and makes an absolutely fantastic, smooth, clean cup.

Lastly, the knowledge of our product and the customer service aspect of each one of our employees is second to none in the industry. Everyone on our staff is equally passionate and knowledgeable about coffee and what we are providing at thirty-thirty Coffee Co.

SDB: Talk about working with your partners. What are each person's responsibilities?

Ty Paluska: My seven years in the cafe business both as a barista and manager bring experience and organization. Also the network of people that I've made over the years with music, artists, equipment services, etc. help in providing the tools necessary to operate a successful cafe.

Daniel Williamson brings with him five years of experience as a barista and also a year of learning the roasting trade. This vital skill has enabled us to offer artisan roasted beans which will separate us from anyone in town.

With his knowledge and skill we don't have to use a computerized method to roast our beans. This also gives us the know-how to operate a wholesale cafe business, providing beans to other cafes and restaurants.

With the added help of former business owner Steve Elmore, now a C-5 ? C-6 quadriplegic after an automobile accident, we had the final piece of the puzzle. Steve and his wife Haly were regulars at a cafe that Dan and I used to work at. Steve brings with him a love for coffee but more importantly QuickBooks know-how and back office skills that Dan and I don't have. This gives us the opportunity to all focus on what we are good at.

SDB:What's your dream for the future of your cafe business?

Ty Paluska: We hope to have a few more locations across the country, keeping it small and not franchising. More importantly, we want to get into direct trade coffee. We would build and establish personal relationships with farmers across the globe and buy our coffee direct from them, cutting out all the middlemen in between. This not only gives the farmer and his or her community/family farm more money, but it also helps to ensure quality.

If you are in Peoria, stop by thirty-thirty Coffee Co. Otherwise read more about Ty's dream on the company's Web site.

Web Application Development with Dave Look

Web Application Development:

Web Application Development
Web Application Development

Dave Look is a content management system (CMS) developer and video producer at Chromatic, a three-man leadership team for Web solutions. He is the main designer behind Sam’s Dream Blog.

Watch Dave answer a couple of my questions over Skype, and read more afterward!

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Sam's Dream Blog: What skills does your job require?

Dave Look: The ability to explain something very technical to someone who doesn’t understand technical things, the ability to put yourself in a typical computer user’s shoes. My fellow developers and I are in a group of super computer users. We use computers all day every day. Discipline is also required, especially working at home. There’s constant bombardment in the world we live in with social media and blogs and news, so being able to focus and block out that stuff is really important.

There’s a couple different sets of skills I’ve had to learn for Web development, basic how-to-build- a-Web site skills. As a Drupal (CMS) developer, I have had to develop an intricate knowledge of Drupal and its best practices, learning how to build what I would call applications. To learn those skills, there are books and people, but for me the best way to learn is by doing. I learn a lot by trial and error.

SDB: What do you enjoy about your job?

Dave Look: I love the flexibility [of working at home.] I understand that there are repercussions. If I sleep in, I’ll work until six, seven or eight o’clock. It’s all about getting the work done. It doesn’t really matter how much work it takes. You gotta get it done. I like the fact that the harder I work and the more hours I put in, I tangibly see not only the work getting done and appreciative people, but I see a financial benefit. There’s something exciting about trying to close a deal. I like selling. I like sitting down and trying to convince a person that they should buy our product.

SDB: Because you work on a team, how is the work divided?

Dave Look: We all deal directly with the clients. It’s sort of on a project-by-project basis. Matt Jurmann, our CEO, is a really great project manager/negotiator. He’s kind of the driver on a lot of things. Chris Free and I tend to be the builders, but we all handle an equal share.

SDB: Can you share a story about how a project you’ve worked on has come to life?

Dave Look: One of the projects that comes to mind is my work with Operation Amazon. We’ve been trying to get a promotional video created. Getting to see that process all the way through was pretty awesome and seeing the tangible results of the video. There have been numerous charitable donations to Operation Amazon after people have watched the video.

SDB: To get back to Chromatic, what’s it like working with your friends or people you have known previously?

Dave Look: For me, it works really well. As for Matt, I wouldn’t have said we were more than acquaintances until the last few months. Chris and I have an interesting history. The first time I met him, we were in a three-week class together. I absolutely thought he hated me. I thought he was a little abrasive. He and I have talked about it and joked about it since. On many things, he and I are polar opposites.

I have a lot of people in my life that are like that. I think it’s great. I love people who challenge me.

A lot of people enter into business agreements with friends and they really worry about the outcome. Maybe I am naïve, maybe I’m not, but I am not worried about that. When I decided to leave my job at Northwestern University, I didn’t have a written offer. I had a handshake. That’s who I am, and that’s how I’m willing to do business. I’m not going to be pushed over, but [with Chromatic] it was two guys I worked with before and that I trusted. I stayed in contact [with the Chromatic guys] after undergrad at Bradley. I had done some freelance work for them before, so I understood their process. I had no problem sitting down at a dinner, shaking hands and walking away, saying I am ready to quit my job. It’s been a very rewarding experience.

Get involved with Operation Amazon through the Web site or check out what Dave and Chromatic offer in the way of web application development