Chilo’s

We have been spending a fair amount of time in Clinton Hill.  Our kids live there and we are working on a real estate project.  We usually stop by on Friday afternoon and find a lunch spot before heading out to the beach.   Fred is always on the look out for the best tacos.  Checking Foursquare he found Chilo’s with a rating of over 9 points.  Not surprising all of our kids have been there and had commented on Foursquare about how good Chilo’s is.  The tacos are excellent.

truckChilo’s is essentially a bar inside and a taco truck outside.  We took a seat outside at the picnic tables and had a few tacos before we hit the road.

salsaA nice array of condiments available.

shrimpShrimp tacos with a spicy pineapple sauce.  No need for any sauce here.

fishcarnitaFish taco and carnitas taco.  Both exceptional as well.

Will most likely be stopping there again and again and again.

Local

imagesDavid Haber of Bond Street and Phil Chang came by my office to talk to me and interview me for #ForNYC that will be coming to you in the next week.  They are talking to a broad range of NYers about their 3 favorite local spots.  I won’t share mine until the magazine launches but it got all of us talking about the importance of supporting local stores, brands, restaurants, etc.

Over the past decade we have seen global brands take over our streets, our malls, etc.  I get it.  The cost is huge to rent space as real estate goes up but there is a cycle to it and we all believe that the return to local, authentic, interesting businesses is around the corner.  My gut is we are entering a new cycle.

I love the local stores that I support mostly through eating and shopping.  Walking into local places is always inviting and it feels good supporting these spots.  I am also seeing more businesses that are trying to help these local shops become more efficient which is essential too.  Taking the old school up to speed with the new school.

So when you are strolling around your neighborhood, make sure to support your local shop and restaurant.  If they aren’t carrying what you want then speak with the store owner.  Maybe you can help them think about bringing in new products that you know others in the community want.  Bleecker Street in the Village used to be filled with local shops but those shops lost their relevance to the neighborhood.  Everyone I talked to was sad when one after another closed but the reality is nobody shopped there anymore.  Let’s try and support local not only with our dollars but with communication.

The Creator Class

Joanne Wilson: The Magic of Dreaming Big from 99U on Vimeo.

I was at an event and the CMO of Samsung made a toast to the Creator Class.  It really stuck with me.  Creators are defined as people who bring things into existence.  The past decade we have had an explosion of creators.  Many of these people are founders of their own companies while others have taken the road of writing books, creating art, building products,  whipping up food products and more.

People who are still in their teens and younger than that have access to tools that will spur generations of creators.  A kid can build an app and put it in the Apple store on the off the shelf products available.  They can shoot a video and put it up on YouTube.  They can come up with an idea, make a video, post is on Kickstarter, get funded and execute on their idea.  It is easier to execute on an idea sitting in your den with a group of friends than ever before.  It is works great.  If it doesn’t who cares because it was fun creating and learning in the process.

The Creator Class will get bigger and bigger over the next decade.  You can be a creator while still having a day job with ease.  That is different than it was 20 years ago when there was more of a clear cut line between people who created and those who didn’t.  Now we can all be creators.  We all take photos from our phone every day and that alone is a creation.

I went back and listened to the talk I gave at the 99u conference two years ago.  I posted it then but thought I’d post it again because it speaks to the creator in all of us.

John Dory…still here, still good

johndoryJohn Dory’s first location was next door to Del Posto.  The space was pretty sweet and the food was excellent.  I wasn’t surprised that the food was good because April Bloomfield was the chef.  At that time she was putting out some of the best food in the city at the Spotted Pig.  Not only is she top in her field she trains a solid kitchen staff because whether she is there or not the food is consistently good.  That is a true skill.

John Dory closed too soon and it really had to do with the rent.  Ken Friedman, April’s business partner, and April found another location and reopened John Dory around the corner from the Breslin at the Ace Hotel.  They are the team behind the Breslin too.  We were psyched to see the John Dory reopen.  It has now been open for over 6 years and I have been back several times.

oystersThis week I was supposed to be in Maine but the trip was cancelled so instead of being in Portland with my friend we had lunch at John Dory.  It was so good.  Oysters were necessary.  The cilantro mignonette is a perfect sauce with a bit of horseradish on top.

mussselsThese marinated mussels with slices of Holland chili, red peppers and aioli were perfect.  I ate the sauce solo after the mussels were eaten up.

shrimpSimple shrimp.

saladMarket salad consisting of crispy fresh vegetables, arugula and a tart Parmigiana dressing.  Nice mix.

flukecevicheFluke ceviche thinly sliced into swirls that looked almost like spaghetti.

arcticArtic char ceviche with bonito mayonaisse, wasabi tobiko, and seaweed served along side some beet chips. This would have been delish slathered on anything.

lobsterPoached lobster was just the perfect amount to share.

flowersWe sat, chatted, enjoyed our lunch and then walked into the flower district.  As we walked down the street through the flowers I thought to myself I just love New York City.

Returns at the store

imgresThere was an article in the NY Times this week about the liberal returns policies at stores.  Not surprising to me that physical retail stores have the highest percentage of returns.  What was amazing is the number that Americans return over $284 billion a year.  Nothing like try it and if you don’t like it then return it.

I remember buying 10 pair of snow boot from Zappos.  They were all delivered, I tried them on and then returned 9 of them.  The process was seamless.  I always return the next day because I understand the value of getting that merchandise back into your inventories.  Although as someone who started their career in the business that transaction stuck with me.  If someone is on commission and I buy 10 pair of shoes and hold them for months on end then finally return the nine I don’t want what happens to the sales persons draw months later?

When I ran departments in a brick and mortar store I was always blown away by people’s returns. I started out as a hard ass about not taking stuff back but then realized it wasn’t Macy’s policy and I should just follow policy but it was the things that people returned that truly pissed me off.

There were multiple people who would buy outfits for an event and return them the next week after obviously wearing them.  There would be the women who would buy loads of cosmetics and decide that after going home and trying them that they shouldn’t have spend so much money.  There were the people who would wear something until it was falling apart and then decide to return it.  There were people who would buy a TV before a big event and then return it after the game was over.  There were people who would leave dirty diapers in the fitting rooms and others who would go to the bathroom in the fitting room.  I kid you not.

You see it all in retail.  It is hard to calculate what your revenue will be when you have no idea what will be coming back.  What looks like a good month can be returned the following month.  There is a reason some stores have adopted the policy that if you don’t return it with in 5 days then you get a store credit.  I get it and respect it.

Not sure there is any brilliant resolution I have here but living through those years of returns really made me wonder about how certain consumers operate.

Voting

imgres-1I caught this photo this past week of Vivienne Westwood in Britain with a shirt on that said “Don’t Let an Older Generation Decide Your Future.  Register to Vote”.  It really struck me.

Then I watched Bernie Sanders give his speech detailing his future plans.  There is no doubt based on the stats of Bernie’s voters that he got out the vote for the young and sparked a flame pointing out the issues that the youth is frustrated by.  I get it.

Towards the end of his speech he challenges the young to get involved in politics, to embrace politics as a platform to incite change.

Years ago, in the mid-90’s, when the tech scene was just starting in NYC, there were more than a handful of politicians who came and talked to people who were interested in politics.  I was one of them.  These politicians wanted us to come to Capitol Hill and talk on a panel for senators.  Not one of us had any interest in that.  After all, why didn’t they use technology to talk to us?  Didn’t they see the future?

Fast forward the private world has jumped ahead of the back end (and front end) of the political world to the point where the disconnect is a huge divide.  I don’t see many kids interested in running for office who are really big picture, deep thinking intellects yet that is what we need.  The young seem more disenfranchised with politics for good reason.  There were over a dozen candidates that ran for the Republican nomination and the majority of them are egomaniacs who are backed by one person with very deep pockets using the delegate as a puppet.  How can the youth get excited about getting involved with politics when they see the power game being played out in Washington with no care about the people.

The message that Westwood wore on her t-shirt is spot on.  There is a deep divide between the youth and the older generation.  Technology is changing our world.  The youth see where we are going and politics doesn’t appear to engage, excite or give the youth a reason to get to the polls or get involved.

Not sure how we change this but certainly rolling back the amount of no limits from private individuals through PACS  who give huge sums of cash to a candidate thanks to the Supreme Court might be a step in the right direction.  As for Britain, I hope the youth get out the vote because it is their future more than anything else that is being voted on this week.

Start-ups are everywhere

images-1I continue to think about Launch Tennessee where I recently spoke and attended.   It was really an incredible event on so many levels.

Start-ups are being built everywhere. There is this vibrant vibe from new ideas that generate excitement and growth around the community.  There are components to growing companies forward from the idea to the jobs created to the people who can write the check.  You need them all to create these start-up hubs.

I hear from people in different parts of the country from Chattanooga to Nashville to Cleveland to Miami to Phoenix to New Mexico to San Diego.  Launch Tennessee has shown how to support the SouthEast how to support that area so people can live, work and create companies.

I’d like to see large companies spend more capital and time trying to support all of these different areas vs staying in the hub of the technology community.  Building accelerators in Detroit or Cleveland will have a more powerful effect than building another accelerator in Silicon Valley or NYC.

I really applaud the group behind Launch Tennessee.  I am sure there are more organizations out there in different parts of the country doing the same thing and we should all be cheering for them to succeed.  It is good for all of us.

Being vulnerable

images-2Women are praised when they do a good job from the time they are young.  We are the harshest judges of our own abilities.  As young women we take on challenges and like everyone sometimes we succeed at them and other times we don’t.  When we don’t we take that as a sign that perhaps that isn’t our thing.  Whereas young men take not succeeding as a challenge to get it right.

Women are building new companies daily.  Watching them start with an idea and then grow that company into something bigger over time is very similar to watching a young girl master a challenge.  We work at mastering the goals and at the same time being very methodical in the approach.  At one point when women start to build a company that is hitting it out of the ball park their attitudes change because internally they know they own it, they are hitting the high notes and they are top of their game.

Men are quite the opposite.  They are not about self-control.  They continue to move forward and believe that eventually they will figure it out and master whatever they need to master.  They never believe that maybe that they could be out of their league.

Perfect example of women not believing in themselves is the small percentage of women that apply to analyst positions in the investment world.  Why?  They don’t think they would get the job because perhaps they don’t see themselves as qualified.  Guess what, not only are they qualified but they are no less qualified then all the men that believe that they should and will get that job. It is purely a mindset.

Women need to be women.  Authentic in who they are as they build their businesses.  Being vulnerable is ok.  Being able to fake it as you make it is even better.  Men do it daily.  Perhaps it comes from the very early years on how we are all raised and praised.  Bottom line is women need to be confident that they will learn as they move forward and get better as they move forward and it doesn’t have to be perfect from day one.  Be confident that we can tackle anything and be ourselves at the same time is a lesson that we should be teaching our daughters from early on.  It will make a big difference as they move forward.  Let’s give that confidence card to the next generation of women by showing them the strength of our own successes and failures.

Supporting balance…aka women

imgres-1In the last few years more than a handful of male VC’s have told me that they are looking for a female partner and wondered if I knew of anyone who would be interested.  I have called out firms to be supportive and also amplify the fact that they have invested in women.

I am now hearing from LP’s (limited partners) that they are starting to think about the diversity of the funds that they are investing in.  Karin Klein, at Bloomberg, is on a mission to have LP’s invest in companies where there is diversity on the investment team.  She wrote a piece about it here.  Lindel Eakman at the Foundry Group is doing the same.  He is putting money into funds where women are part of the investment team.  It is refreshing to hear.

As always change has to come from outside.  If more LP’s are only going to give money to funds that have at least one woman on the investment team then we would see a shift.  If shareholders of publicly traded companies said that they would only invest in companies that have women on the board then we would see a shift.  If VC’s made a commitment to make sure that their portfolio have a certain % of women-led and minority-led companies then we would see a shift.

I do believe these changes are starting to take place organically perhaps because of the environment or perhaps because women and minorities are rising to the top as entrepreneurs and investors and in time we all hope that it isn’t something that we even have to think about.  Yet right now we still do and my hat goes off to Karin and Lindel to showing leadership with their dollars which in turn will create change.  In the end the returns will be that there is proof in that pudding.  Bravo!

Minneapolis – day 2

alssWhat a day.  We began at 8am and went non-stop until 4ish.  Regrouped and went back out in the world again.  It was 93 hot and humid.  The sun doesn’t set until 930pm which is pretty awesome but the day was long….and fun.

alWe started the day at Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown.  A long small diner with 14 seats and solid diner food.  The guy behind the counter (above) commandeered the seatings.  People had to move right and left on occasion to make room for two or sometimes more.  We spoke to a guy who had been coming there since 1971.

eggsEmily went with the eggs benedict.

pancakesI had one blueberry pancake with two poached eggs over the top.  Love this place.

bridgeNext stop was Mill City Farmers Market.  Nothing like a good farmer’s market.  The market overlooks the water and the Stone Bridge which is now only for walking.  Some yoga going on down there.

asparagusThe asparagus, rhubarb, garlic scapes, radishes and snap peas were out in force.

honeyHoney is big there.  Different honey’s and also beeswax honey candles.

syrupMaple syrup in large doses and of course there was jam, breads, and other wares.

redoWalking over the Stone Bridge was the thing to do.  Lots of history here.  There were over a dozen flour mills in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in this area.  My guess is that history has to do with why there are so many bakeries around the area.  They shored up the destruction of this building and built out a glass structure behind it.  Really great job whoever did this.

damThe dam was built when the water was eroding the area.

parkThere are these small parks off the bridge.  This little area is quite beautiful.

lookingbackThis is looking back over the bridge.

mallWe were hot and sweaty so what better place to go than the Mall of America.  It is like nothing else.  A few large areas that are more like being at an amusement park.  At one point someone shot over our head from a ride where people were zip-lining across the mall.

shoesMaps are everywhere to keep you going where you need to go.  We picked up mophies at the Apple Store for our phones and I picked up a pair of shoes.  Sandals were not cutting it for the amount of walking we were doing and the heat.

tshirtsNext stop was Midtown Global Market.  Conceptually it is smart but execution is not great.  It is a market with multiple small restaurants and I believe many were food trucks first and then parked it here.  The place just feels old.  A good paint job and a cleaning would really be a game changer here.  The t-shirt shop was the first place we saw when we walked in.

tortaWe walked around for awhile until we got to Manny’s Tortas.  A roll, sliced in half and then toasted on the grill and filled with pork belly, jalapeno, onions, spicy sauce, chopped lettuce and avocado.  Kind of the perfect sandwich.

tartSalty Tart was the other place we wanted to check out.  It looked good but was disappointing. Chocolate caramel salty tart and roasted rhubarb square.

glamdollNot far from there was Glam Doll donuts.  After checking out the website I really wanted to go there.

donutsDonuts are not something I partake in very often.  It always seems to taste better going down then later on.  That dense mound of sugar and dough is intense.  I so wanted these to be delicious but they were just ok.  Maybe they were made a few hours ago, who knows, but one bite is all we did and that was enough.  Peanut butter and sriacha and a chocolate covered vanilla cream filled donut.  The reality is ordering the simple glazed is probably the way to go.

metWe were curious about the Minneapolis Museum of Art so we went over there.  A beautiful big old building overlooking a luscious green park.  The museum is more fine arts although they do have a wing of modern art and photography but we decided to just sit outside and regroup instead.

frederickNext stop was the Frederick R. Weisman Museum.  The physical museum is by Frank Gehry and it is connected to University of Minnesota.   Frederick Weisman was an incredible entrepreneur, philanthropist and art collector.  He was born in Minnesota but moved to LA when he was 7.  His father owned a hotel near University of Minnesota so he would go back there in the summers as a boy.  Weisman has a large estate in LA where the majority of his art is housed including a foundation that makes loans of art to museums across the globe. Weisman made his money investing in risky start-ups including Toyota when it was just starting to import cars to the US.

weismanThis is a piece made of Weisman called Executive in a Red Chair by Duane Hanson.

sheepThese sheep by Francois-Xavier Lalanne are part of the collection.

cheeseWe then hit up Surdyk’s Liquor Store and Gourmet Cheese Shop.  This place is fantastic.  A really well curated cheese shop with crackers, cheese, jellies, etc inside a liquor store.  Smart move.  We tried a few local cheese and bought a few for snacks later in the afternoon with a bottle of Rose to celebrate National Rose Wine Day.  Every city needs one of these.

sausagesOur last stop before going back for some rest was Kramarczuk’s East European Deli.  The smell is intoxicating from the moment you open the door.  A few sausages to go with our cheese and wine then back to the hotel.

pickWe relaxed a bit before having our pick me up.

cocktailThen out to dinner at The Bachelor Farmer.  Underneath the restaurant is a speak-easy bar called Marvel.  We had a cocktail to start.

hipsUp to the restaurant for dinner.  They start you off with some potato chips and a lemon yogurt parley dip.  The restaurant has Scandinavian roots.

beerWe split the beef tartare.  Not only a beautiful presentation but just perfect.  Mix this all up and spread on the two toasts they gave us.

vealEmily went with the fish and I had the veal schnitzel.  All ok nothing great.

coconutThe coconut cake with ice cream was our ending treat.  I much preferred Spoon & Stable around the corner but the overall vibe here is good.  Just not my type of menu.

Got up the next morning and headed back to NYC.  Great weekend.  I can hardly wait to see where we go next year!