Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sell Yourself

"Your network is your net worth"

While at the GW Monthly Networking Event, I was once again reminded of the value of networking. While it is honestly not my favorite thing to do, I have certainly learned to appreciate the value of forming relationships that can undoubtedly help you progress further than if trying to do it alone.

Here are a few tips that I've learned so far:

-Be prepared- You definitely want to have an abundant supply of business cards, flyers, brochures and whatever else can not only vividly represent you and/or your business but also leave a lasting impression on your new contacts. It is always better to have more than to run out prematurely. (VistaPrint offer great deals on business cards and other promotional items.)
*Attention job seekers: Giving someone your resume may not be appropriate in all situations, but having personal business cards with your contact information (and even a brief objective) is a GREAT investment.

-Be passionate- Passion is contagious, and it will boost your confidence. Even if they don't remember all of the details you share, they will certainly remember your energy and the feeling you left them with.

-Smile- Some networking situations can be aggressive and somewhat intimidating. However, simply smiling will invite others to approach you. It will also contribute to your confidence in approaching others as well. Plus, it will leave a good impression :-)

-Always seize the opportunity- any and every situation can be seen as a networking opportunity. There is always an opportunity to meet a new person, who could potentially hold something of value to you. Be willing to strike up conversation and find common ground in nontraditional settings (i.e. the airport, elevator, nail salon, etc.).

-Follow up!- it may be hard to remember every single person you meet. Following up with new contacts within 24 hours of meeting them is a great way to make sure they remember YOU and to take that connection a step further.

NetParty, The Phenomenal Women Group and Girlfriends Get-Together are known for hosting great networking events, and I recommend making it to one of their next events.

The first step is to go out there and sell yourself!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Motivational Monday: "Get Yours" Girls

What better way to start a Monday than with a bit of motivation? This book has been a huge inspiration to me, and I share with you in hopes that it will guide you further along your own journey as well.

In Get Yours! How to Have Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More, Amy DuBois Barnett addresses just that. She creates the quintessential handbook that steers young women through life’s critical transitions. With personal anecdotes and interviews with some of our favorite celebrities, including Sanaa Lathan, Kelly Rowland, India.Arie, and even Hill Harper, Barnett emphasizes discovering the beautiful woman inside of you and allowing her to shine through every aspect of your life.

Barnett addresses every major aspect of a young woman’s life from attracting positive friends to zealously pursuing your career. The text opens with a chapter dedicated to simply finding happiness, which remains the underlying theme. The author emphasizes the importance of finding what makes you truly happy. In sharing her own path to happiness, Barnett discloses her gripping experience of losing her mother but also reveals how her loss forced her to find herself.

This girlfriends’ guide answers many of the questions we have struggled with: how to grab your dream job; how to turn your house (or apartment, or even room) into a space that makes you feel good; how to become financially independent; how to find your personal style. She promotes getting healthy the happy way, without the taboo and stress of abusive diets; She also challenges the reader to reach beyond her comfort zone and to use fear as a motivator rather than an inhibitor. Yes, ladies she even offers advises on relationships. She concludes the book with a chapter on spirituality. Endorsing no religion in particular, she encourages the reader to ground herself with an appreciation of not her existence but also the existence of the life that surrounds her.

Barnett presents her life as an open book as she candidly shares her less than glamorous moments—her dreadful high school style, countless bad boyfriends, divorce, her bummy New York apartment and awful first job, situations that we all experience but which she conquered to become the woman she is today. The reader can trust Barnett’s wisdom because her success serves as a living testament of the advice she shares. A Brown University alumna, member of well-known Black sorority, former Editor at Essence magazine, former Editor -in-Chief of Honey magazine, the first African American as head of a major consumer publication as Editor of Teen People, and happy wife and mother, her achievements speak for themselves. Sharing her own rags to riches story, her perseverance serves as an even greater inspiration than the tips she shares.

Barnett’s approach to the text makes this not just an informative but also an effortless read. She includes quizzes to personalize the message and promise pages at the end of each chapter to help each reader take active steps in applying the wisdom shared. Barnett also enlists the support of well respected celebrities—Kelis shares her bold approach to her personal style and India.Arie conveys her take on spirituality, just to name a few. This book is well worth your while to read, and you will become a better person because of it. Living as an example that we can all admire, Barnett shares information to help us get there ourselves. Grab a pencil because you will want to take notes, take the quizzes and complete the promise pages in each chapter. By the end of it, you’ll trust her as if she really is one of your girlfriends.

The take home message: It’s about you and what you want. Go get it!

I found comfort in knowing that the warm and sharing personality is consistent with the woman behind the book. After hearing her speak and having the wonderful opportunity to meet, I was even further encouraged by her sincerity and her words of encouragement.

This post also appears on the Her Journey blog.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fun Friday: Getting to know Miss Journey

In each issue of Her Journey, we ask our contributors to complete a brief questionnaire. Now it’s my turn:

Name: Danielle but you can call me Miss Journey
Education: Emory University, Class of 2007, B.A. Psychology and English: Creative Writing
Other Work: Creator of What Women Everywhere Want newsletter, dining enhancement specialist (aka waitress), The Emory Wheel ad sales rep., SCORE! Educational Center tutor
Career Goals: To achieve a fulfilling career as an international travel and food expert and motivational speaker
Favorite Destinations: Trinidad and Tobago, Las Vegas, Paris, and New York, of course
Travel To Do List: New Orleans, Chicago, Coast to Coast road trip, Brazil, Dubai, Egypt and wherever else the wind blows me. There isn’t anywhere I wouldn’t go.

In past issues we’ve discussed the Get Cute Quick bag. I keep my Get Cute Quick bag in my trunk at all times. In it, you’ll find:
The essentials: Deodorant, toothbrush
Always helps to have: comb, brush, hair clip
Just in case: Underwear, mini pack of Always, razor
To be ready for whatever may come up*: shirt, pair of jeans, shoes, eye shadow
Comes in very handy: Cell phone charger

*It’s tricky to be prepared for any and every situation. The key is to keep your Get Cute Quick bag stocked with simple but cute items that can be pretty universal.

Oh yes ladies, it helps if the bag is cute too. I got mine at, and they have so many other cute ones! Pack your Get Cute Quick bag and never leave home without it!

What else would you like to know about Miss Journey? Come back next week to get to know me a little better.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why I Do This

Someone please tell me that I’m not the only one who falls asleep watching either Food Network or the Travel Channel almost every night. (Side note: I realized that food shows are mildly torturous because you are unable to share the experience with the two very important senses necessary to appreciate food: taste and smell, but I digress.)

I remember back when all Rachael Ray really said was “mmmmmm” on $40 a Day, and now she has her own empire, with a talk show, magazine, cookbook and other shows under her belt. I am always inspired by Top Chef, excited by Duff on Ace of Cakes, salivate at Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, a little grossed out but intrigued by Andrew Zimmern and his bizarre food choices, held in suspense by Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, and somehow drawn into Adam's indulgences on Man vs. Food. The Best Thing I Ever Ate is my new favorite show. Various food experts discuss their life changing experiences with a specific type of food. It’s great! I admire all of these people for not only doing that they love but getting paid to do so, as we sit home and watch their every step.

So why can’t I do the same thing? I CAN! I may not have a cable channel team following me around, but I definitely have the passion for food and travel. All who know me know how much I savor and thoroughly enjoy each and every dining experience. They also know to expect that, at any time, I may happen to be in another time zone. Food and travel are the things and make my world go ‘round. They make me happy, and I want to continue to share them with you.

Here are a few clips for you to enjoy:

The chef’s reaction to Bobby’s Flay is one of a true Jamaican. LOL.

Mr. President fires up the grill

This is why I want Charm City Cakes to make me a cake:

I want one of these next year:

My mouth is watering already....mmmmm....:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

To all my fellow chocolate lovers

Whether you’re planning a Girls’ Night Out, a date with your boo, or night of solo bliss, let me recommend Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man to satisfy your chocolate needs. When a friend of mine suggested that I visit this chocolate heaven, my mouth was watering before she finished describing her meal. After my own firsthand experience, it is my chocolate loving duty to share it with you.

Please be advised that there may be a wait because everyone wants some of the chocolate goodness, but it is well worth the wait, and you will have an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere. Feast your eyes on the two chocolate mixers at the entrance, a chocolate bar filled with heaps of chocolate, chocolate pipes running throughout the restaurant, and walls lined with jumbo jars of cinnamon and other sweets. The “Look Mom! Willy Wonka does exist!” sign sums up this fantastical place perfectly. Once seated, you will get to flip through a menu dedicated to chocolate with pages of unique hot chocolate blends. Although The Bald Man also offers entrees that I hear are full of flavor, Max Brenner is the only place that justifies my regular routine of choosing my dessert before (or instead of) choosing my meal.

Max Brenner offers a great variety from traditional fondues and s’mores to internationally inspired crepes to uncanny creations like the chocolate pizza. You can even find chocolate filled syringes to feed your chocolate cravings. The dishes are served with fresh fruits and sweet treats like gummy bears, and the quirky dishware (a hug mug that fits perfectly in the palms of your hands, metal straws, vials of chocolate, for example) only enhance the experience. Max Brenner certainly creates a gratifying atmosphere. It has been said that chocolate creates feelings similar to that of falling in love. So whether you fall in love with your boo or the chocolate itself, you will leave Max Brenner with a mushy feeling inside, and not just from the chocolate fondue you devoured.

Oded Brenner, coincidently a bald man, is the man that we owe the gratitude for this chocolate heaven. Taking inspiration from some famous chocolate experts including Michelle Chaudun, and with insight from designers such as Jean Paul Gautier, "Max Brenner" had the revelation that chocolate was more than just food but something that should be appreciated through all the faculties and sensations as an all encompassing experience. After opening chocolate bars in London, Australia and Isreal, Max Brenner further developed the idea into Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man, which launched in Singapore and the Philippines. In 2006, Max Brenner shared the ultimate chocolate experience with New York, opening two locations, one in Union Square and one in East Village.[1]

Sharing the passion for chocolate with each customer that enjoys this amazing chocolate experience, Max Brenner has truly made a name to remember, and many are singing its praises: The March/April 2008 issue of Hi Class Living mentions “the first restaurant entirely devoted to chocolate” and recommends the Chocolate Martini. The January/February 2008 issue of Travel + Leisure Mexico even raves en español. Many also recommend Max Brenner’s chocolate bars that can be found in the chocolate shop. Even celebrities like Orlando Bloom, find their way to enjoy the chocolate creations of the bald man. So if you have not been there yet, you should put it on your to-do list.

*This post also appears on the SASSY blog.

[1] Courtesy of Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man contact

What in the world is in Minneapolis?

Most people’s response to my trip to Minneapolis was “Why? What’s in Minneapolis?” But there was a glint of hope in the few encouraging words from a fellow travel junkie who said "That should be fun.” Having no idea what to expect from Minneapolis, I set out with an excited curiosity to discover the Twin Cities had to offer.

Where to begin?
Of course I tackled some of the commonly known landmarks like the Mall of America. I’m not even afraid to admit that I was a bit intimidated to tackle the world’s largest mall (known to have more than 400 stores). With many stores that most of recognize, DSW, H & M, Macy’s, Frederick’s of Hollywood and a few I haven’t seen before, like a cute, chic, home decorating boutique Afternoon, the Mall of America is unique in that it houses an aquarium and a full amusement park, which is what took the cake for me.

The Social/Nightlife
Within my short stay I got to see a bit of nightlife in Minneapolis: a fun night at Imperial Room, after which I caught a glimpse of the city life vibe throughout the streets of Downtown Minneapolis. I was even pleasantly surprised to find a full club on a Monday night at Envy. I also heard of a new club New York, who supposedly plays NYC music.

Although happy hour is pretty common, something about Minneapolis’ happy hour was special. The opportunity to indulge in several dishes and drinks for the price of an entrée always makes me happy.  The site with the happy hour info
Which brings me to my next very important point…

The Food (oh, the food)
If I share everything we ate, you might judge me. So I’ll keep it to the memorable/noteworthy experiences:
@ The Loop: Cappuccino Martini- best of both worlds: a drink and a dessert;
Chocolate chippers- fresh baked cookies: crispy on the outside, light and heavenly on the inside and served with ice cream
@ Hell’s Kitchen- Tequila Mockingbird- I think it’s the homemade grenadine that made it special
Fish and chips- local walleye and sweet potato fries; served with jalapeño tartar sauce and chipotle mayo
@ Sebastian Joes- homemade ice cream that comes in numerous amazing flavors including:
REAL Oreo ice cream- not vanilla ice cream with Oreo pieces, ice cream that is full of Oreo flavor in every spoon; mint Milano- with whole pieces of Milano; Pavarotti-banana nutty chocolate chip mix; Raspberry Chocolate Chip; Cinnamon (may be better alone); and Emmaculate Confection

Honorable mention:
@ The Weinery (as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)- sausage wrapped in a pancake
@ Red Dragon- Wondrous Punch
@ Good Day Café- spicy ketchup

But it doesn’t end there….(judge if you want) lol
The ultimate food experience happened at the Fair, which also happened to be my first chance to visit the twin city St. Paul. From battered potatoes, foot long hotdogs, tacos, flowered onions, pork chops on a stick and big fat bacon to deep fried candy bars, donuts, funnel cakes, chocolate covered fruits, buckets of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and an endless milk stand, the fair was definitely a foodie’s dream come true.

Even beyond that, it was so beautiful to see what seemed like all of Minneapolis come out to enjoy the festivities. Definitely a family affair: all the ladies sounding like the mom from Bobby’s World, happy babies, and an overall vibe/feeling of happy in the air. Good clean fun, which I think is safe to say is a good representation of what I saw in MN overall. From what I saw the work/life balance is very important. And with such drastic winters looming in the near future, they show a sincere gratitude and appreciation for the summer months: lots of outdoor seating, enough bike riders to compete with car traffic and more lakes than one can imagine to choose from.

While there I learned so much that will stick with me much longer than any geography lesson I got in school. Now that I know what’s in Minneapolis I can tell everyone!

Who knew?
Minneapolis is the home of Target, 3M and General Mills.
The land of 10,000 lakes is where the L.A. Lakers started.

So much thanks to Toni for being such a great host and Tiffany for sharing all the Minne fun facts!

*This post also appears on the Her Journey blog.