Exotic Travel


“And What’s Your Idea of Happiness?” – Club Med’s current advertising slogan.  Club Med was the forerunner of exotic vacations.  Exotic travel has now evolved into everything from expeditions to the Antarctica, personal health & wellness retreats for HoopYogini, destination cooking schools, etc.

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What is HoopYogini?  It is the combination of yoga and hula hoop.  Currently it is part of the regime at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  A premium five-day workshop for a couple which includes accommodations, meals, use of facilities and movement programs like transformative practices (Gestalt, massage, yoga, etc.) costs $4,025.  Sounds expensive!  According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Global Wellness Economy Monitor (January 2017), wellness tourism now accounts for $563 billion of the worldwide $3.7 trillion “wellness industry.”

Being in the food business, destination cooking schools pique my interest.  Here are some exotic options:

  • Beijing cooking classes at the HuTong Cuisine Kitchen. Image mastering dim sum or learning to make the perfect Peking duck.
  • Wake up at a retreat, enjoy a blast of morning wellness and forage for vegetables high in the mountains of Mexico. At the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s A Sense of Tasteprogram, guests take a morning trip to walk the fields and pick produce from local organic farms, before attending a cooking lesson from the hotel’s Executive Chef, capped off by a celebratory dinner.
  • Exclusive cooking classes at the La Canonica Cooking School in Tuscany on the 4,000-acre estate owned by the Ferragamo fashion family. Approximately $250 per person or $1,400 for a private lesson (note: excludes travel).  I always did want to learn how to make Scottiglia (wild boar stew) served with a side of home-made gnocchi.

“And What’s Your Idea of Happiness?”



A Paper Trail


I was walking through Independence National Historical Park yesterday, when I thought I spotted a Euro bill among the leaves.  Not so lucky!  Instead it turned out to be an admission ticket to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; dated 2012 not 2017!  Made me wonder!

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  • How did this ticket find its way to Philadelphia?  First class?  Coach?  A classic cross country road trip?
  • Who dropped the ticket in the park?  A Californian, a native Philadelphian, a foreign tourist?
  • When did it get here?  Within the month?  Back in 2012 when the ticket was originally issued?  No way – the park’s maintenance crew does occasionally attend to the leaves.
  • Maybe the ticket had been in someone’s spring coat they hadn’t worn in years, they found it in their pocket and tossed it.  Better yet, did their spring coat still fit?

So many unanswered questions, but every piece of paper has a trail.  Think about it!

Yellow Journalism 2.0

Yellow journalism was a term coined back in the mid-1890’s by New York City newspapers. It was a form of journalism based upon sensationalism, offensive exaggeration and minimal to no legitimate researched news. Fast forward to 2017. Thanks to social media we now call it “Fake News!”

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Initially the internet facilitated the sharing of knowledge. Web 2.0, specifically social media platforms added the element of engagement. Unfortunately, a proliferation of fake news sites began to surface in recent years deliberately publishing disinformation, in some cases pure propaganda to influence readers for political and financial reasons. Fake news has become a major issue with a majority of U.S. adults, 62% getting their news via social media (Pew Research Center in a survey conducted 1/12/16 – 2/8/16).

Did fake news have an influence on our 2016 election? Tim Cook leader of Apple said: “The spread of fake news online is one of one of today’s chief problems.” Back in December Facebook began flagging fake news stories with the help of users and outside independent fact checkers. In Europe, they have teamed up with Google and other news organizations to launch an initiative to address the issue, specifically in France with its election just around the corner (April/May).

At the end of December, CNBC.com detailed the top fake news stories of 2016. Included in their fact-checked article was data accumulated by internet media company BuzzFeed. The top fake news stories generated approximately two million Facebook engagements in the three months leading up to the election in comparison to the top performing Facebook article for the New York Times attaining a little over 370,000 engagements.

Fake News, Yellow Journalism 2.0!

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Winston Churchill (pre-Web 2.0)



Do you remember Harambe?

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Harambe was the gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden that was killed when a three-year old boy fell into their Gorilla World Habitat moat.  Zoo officials feared for the child’s life based on the primate’s reaction.  Harambe’s shooting became extremely controversial.

Why did I decide to post today about Harambe?  The incident occurred back on May 28, 2016.  Harambe is a great example of the power of viral Internet memes – an idea, activity, catchphrase or piece of media that spreads from person to person via the Internet.  First Harambe generated immediate online debate among biologists, primatologists and animal rights activists.  The incident which was recorded (video) by a bystander was uploaded on YouTube and went viral globally.  Harambe memes continue to live on to this day – tributes, naming contests for baby gorillas, a computer parody fighting game (e.g., Harambe vs. Capcorn), songs by American rappers Young Thug and Dumbfounded, etc.  #Harambe on Twitter to learn more.

My point?  Memes are powerful.  Each meme has its own shelf live depending on the nature of the subject.  Memes have become an integral part of our modern culture.

Can you name some popular memes in today’s culture?





Trivia question: Who were Horn & Hardart?

  • ___ British astronomers that discovered Uranus.
  • ___ Kurt Cobain’s first booking agents.
  • ___ Restaurateurs that opened the first U.S. automat.
  • ___ American inventors of the “hookless fastener” (a.k.a. zipper).
  • ___ Guinness World Records holders – most pubs visited (46,495).

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Answer: 3.) Restaurateurs that opened the first U.S. automat.

An automat is a fast food, self-service restaurant that serves food and beverage via vending machines (prepared items displayed behind glass windows and coin operated slots).  Horn & Hardart, inspired by the German concept, opened their first automat restaurant in Philadelphia in June of 1902.  They expanded to New York City ten years later in July of 1912.  Their concept’s popularity peaked during the Depression; macaroni and cheese, baked beans, creamed spinach, coffee and pies were their top selling items.  Eventually the automats, the company and the Horn & Hardart brand went kaput a century later.

I know about Horn & Hardart thanks to my personal historian, my Mom.  When she was first married, and living in Massachusetts, every time she went to New York to visit my Dad’s parents, they would stop at Horn & Hardart, loaded with nickels, to treat themselves to pie and coffee.  Back in December I was reminded about Horn & Hardart when I read an article in the New Yorker about a new concept being launched by a former Google programmer, a vegetarian chain called Eatsa.  Guests order their food via their mobile phone ap or instore iPad kiosk (a menu consisting primarily of quinoa bowls) and then the food is delivered via vertical cubbyholes when your name pops up on a LCD screen.  Fast, convenient, healthy and cashless.  Easta, an automat resurrection, a restaurant concept for the future.

Horn & Hardart were definitely skating back at the turn of the 20th century to where the puck was going to be.





Back in December I addressed how the word “awesome” has evolved into one of the most over used words in America.  Today I have another awesome over used word entry – “disruptive!”

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Google revealed numerous definitions for disruptive: to break apart; throw into disorder; interrupt the normal course or unity of……  In business, it is used as it relates to or noting a new product, service, or idea that radically changes an industry or business strategy, especially by creating a new market and disrupting an existing one.  Great product/services examples: ATM machines, mobile phones.  Disruptive brands: Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat.  Businesses no longer innovate, they process disruptive innovation.  Government administrations no longer change, they disrupt.  Candidly, I read or hear the word used several times a day.  Some new usages for the term disruptive are detailed below:

  • Family reunions disruptions.
  • I enjoy extreme disruptive sports.
  • Secretary of State Disruption.
  • Fake disruptive news on Facebook.
  • Give me a bear disruptive hug.
  • At the end of the day disruption.

Why does everything have to be disruptive?  What ever happened to continuity?  A topic for a future disruptive blog post.


E Word: Execution


Happy New Year!  Time to move on with business.  More importantly observe the outcomes of the soothsayers’ 2017 food industry predictions – global flavors, clean labeling, hybrid products (e.g., Cronuts), etc.  Some organizational experts (a.k.a. consultants) are calling for businesses to embrace the T-word: Transformation.  Why make business sound so complex? 

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Candidly I understand and value the annual National Restaurant Association survey for the top food, beverage and culinary concepts that will shape 2017.  However, I find it difficult to digest all the prophecies written by consultants about the data-analytics revolution, digital personalization and inclusive economic growth engines.  An example of one expert’s spin: “At the end of the day, we believe companies need to fundamentally design a comprehensive dashboard of elements that will create and capture value for tomorrow – new revenue streams at re-engineered cost structures.”  What?  English!  English!

Wouldn’t the above statement be more intelligible if it read: “We believe companies just need to execute!”  Why worry about getting everyone in your organization from the C-suite to the people that manage the mailroom marching to the tune of the T-word: transformation?  Why does your organization have to obsess about making thorough or disruptive changes?  What if everyone in your organization was energized to execute the basics and march to the tune of execution – “What can I do a little better today than I did yesterday.” 

My recommendation: This new year is a good time to exercise the E-word: Execution.  Think about how great your organization will be in 1,000 plus days – 2020!

Execution!  Execution!  Execution!