The Art of Wining & Dining Evolved

There was a time in my business career when I regularly dined out with vendors or suppliers of various goods and services.  Invariably, the destination for such evenings out was the classic, high end steak house.  I’ll refrain from naming names, but you know the format: à la carte menu, mostly beef, lobster or crab add-ons, creamed veggies, decent wine list, an armada of servers with those little crumb brush gadgets.  Typically, the check will come out to ~$100 a head.  For chain restaurant food.  I’ve eaten at that kind of place across America and even in western Europe.  If it’s expensive, it must be good.  Right?

Tonight I ate at one of those places (on someone else’s dime) and left wholly unsatisfied.  Stuffed, but unsatisfied.  The food was boring.  The service regimented.  The ambiance stuffy.  It was like eating at a dinner theater staged in a funeral parlor.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think the Art of Wining & Dining as a business activity has taken a left turn.  It’s no longer just about the hunk of meat and price tag.  It’s about style, about fun, about thoughtfulness.

If I were a potential customer agreeing to take time from my schedule, either while at home or on the road, I would be looking for something a little more creative:

  • What’s good?
  • What’s new?
  • What’s interesting?
  • What’s local?
  • Most importantly: what’s memorable?

Particularly when you are talking about trying to build a relationship, I think American business needs to move beyond “impressing” someone to something more meaningful.  Did your customer enjoy themselves?  Did you make a unique, differentiated impression upon them that made them think: “That was worth my time.  I would like to see these people again and learn more about why I should be in business with them.”?  To me, this is what you’re aiming for and this is how you judge the ROI on the receipt you turn in with the rest of your expenses.

Maybe that’s the longtime employee-owner talking.  Or maybe after a couple years on my own and a couple working within a very thoughtful, client-focused organization, perhaps my perspective has been influenced.  Either way, I calls it likes I sees it.  So next time you’re taking out a prospective or current client, be bold.   Take a chance and do something interesting.  Even if the food turns out to be a bust, there’s a conversation starter to be found in the shared experience of doing something different.  The End.

2009: A Brief Year in Review

Well.  Here we are once again. Another year come and gone. For some reason this year I feel like I didn’t really accomplish as many things as I’d hoped to.  I really threw myself into working with my Point B friends / colleagues to help our clients and our firm weather the storm, which took its toll on my personal time especially since my work assignments have been at client locations 30 to 45 miles from home, sapping away precious time driving on the days I need to be in the office.  I also gave up quite a few evenings for work-related outings plus business trips to Frankfurt (once), Hartford (several) and Seattle (once).  I believe it was worth it, but hoping to take a small step back in 2010.

Still, I did manage a few other things.  Made personal trips to Kīhei, Bismarck and North Platte.  Sold off my ’88 Jeep Wrangler and acquired an ’03 Flagstaff 208 pop-up camper.  Spent 300+ hours on soccer from coaching practices and games to coaching education and even playing.  Plus at least 100 more hours doing work with / for our soccer club’s board.  Soccer has become my number 1 hobby, dominating weeknights and weekends alike.  Made a batch of beer.  Built new friendships in the neighborhood where I live, which is something sort of new to me as I tend to hang out with work colleagues.  Thanks to John, Tinna, Mark and Cee Cee for the good times this year!  And thanks to Julie for getting me out of my office to socialize.  Helped out Erin with her school’s Flat Stanley Project.  Hosted Thanksgiving for 11 including my first fried turkey (much to learn about that process).  Sitting at 591 LinkedIn connections and 259 Facebook connections.  Posted to this blog a dozen times and 8 times on  I say it every year, but I need to write more!  Supported Bal Swan Children’s Center and Hope House of Colorado.

Now for some New Years’ resolutions.  I need to run, ride and swim more.  My mileage (e.g. only 358 run miles in 2009) was pushed down to the bare minimum and that has to change.  More beer making.  I need to work with Grace on posting to the family blog.  She’s become a wonderful, imaginative writer and should be leveraging the outlet.  A bit less soccer (although I’m not sure how I will make that happen yet).  Put the new camper to use and accrue a lot of outdoors time this coming summer.  I live in Colorado.  Time to get back to why we live here.

And I leave you with this: JibJab’s usual irreverent compilation of recent events encapsulated in their short film entitled Never a Year Like ’09.

2008: A Brief Year in Review

Let’s see.  What happened this year?  Quite a bit actually.

According to my 2008 annual report from Dopplr, I traveled 189,838 km (52% of the distance to the moon) to achieve an average “personal velocity” of 21.8 km/hr over the year.  And that doesn’t count my Nike Training Log totals for 133 runs (572 mi over 81 hrs 31 min).  I spent many, many hours coaching soccer, playing soccer, watching soccer or talking about soccer, but I still love it.  I shut down my business and opened up a new career chapter.  Bought a house, sold a house, then refinanced a house.  Hosted a family reunion for 13 and a Thanksgiving dinner for 13.  Crested 500 business connections in LinkedIn and 170 friends in Facebook.  Watched my investment portfolio crater, then shifted gears to take advantage of the market opportunity.  Grew my MP3 collection to more than 4,300 tracks (with many, many more CDs yet to rip) and converted 722 35mm slides to digital images.  I shoveled, mowed, mulched, weed whacked and leaf blowed a whole bunch.  Posted a rather lame 27 times on this blog.  Gotta do better than every other week in 2009, but not exactly off to a blazing start, am I?  I did fire up, so that has to count for something.

Anyway, a busy year with another on the way.

Now, I leave you with this: JibJab’s usual irreverent compilation of recent events encapsulated in their short film entitled What a @#$% Year! 2008.

Drambuie Unboxing

Aged Malt Whiskies, Spiced Honey and other Secret Stuff

Aged Malt Whiskies, Spiced Honey and other Secret Stuff

Over 250 years ago, Captain John Mackinnon helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from his pursuers on the Isle of Skye. His reward was to be entrusted with the recipe for Drambuie, which has been handed down through the generations and remains a closely guarded secret by the Mackinnon family to this day.

Weel may we a’ be,
Ill may we never see;
Here’s to the King
And the gude companie.

Through good fortune not unlike that bestowed upon John as he rescued Charlie, I received this Christmas a fine bottle of the sweet nectar that is Drambuie.  Truth be told, I asked for it and thusly did receive from my wise older sister Kris.  I am forever in her debt or at least in her debt until I’ve finished the bottle. Shouldn’t take too long.


The other day while driving to a meeting, I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed a large RV hanging behind me with an orange logo on the front. It only took a fraction of a second to realize I was being tailed by a Jägermeister-branded tour bus. I grabbed my BlackBerry Curve and frantically shot a picture out the back window.Jägermeister Tour Bus on my Tail

Much like St Hubertus and his own encounter with a white stag bearing a crucifix between his antlers, I asked myself: “What could this mean? What shall I do?”. Unfortunately, unlike the stag in the legend, this bright orange vision behind me provided no clues, gave no instructions.

I was perplexed, nay, distraught over this experience as it had to have happened for a reason, but I knew not why.

Then it hit me… marketing! That was it! Here was clear evidence of a higher power (Mast-Jägermeister AG in Wolfenbütte, Niedersachsen, Deutschland) raising awareness of their brand. Obviously, advertising is rare in the US, so I had to learn more.

I visited their website and soon found the Jägerbus was not their only “vehicle” for promotion. They sponsor JägerMusic concert tours and have JägerRadio pumping out the tunes of their tour acts over the Internet, there are Jägerettes & Jägerdudes to froth up crowds at events, they have an on-line JägerStore with all sorts of logo gear (want a gravity fed Jägermeister tap system in the rec room?) and they have produced a proprietary mixology of JägerRecipes.

They even have something called Toughest Cowboy where I think competitors tackle three events each night (bareback, saddle bronc & bull), ride the Jägerbus to a bar, do Jägershots with their fans until closing time, then get up and do it all over again the next night. Sounds tough. Clearly, the good people at Mast-Jägermeister are a creative bunch and deserve recognition for their JägerVison.

To honor their efforts, I have decided to change the e-mail address for this blog. Henceforth, you can reach me via JägerMail at openkimono at You must be 21 or over to e-mail. Please spam responsibly.


2007: A Brief Year in Review

On the Eve of my 38th New Year, I find myself camped out in a Scooter’s Coffeehouse in Bellevue, NE catching up on e-mails and pondering what the next 365 days will bring. It’s been an interesting year with family time spent, a business venture built, new friends made, old friends found, soccer seasons played, frequent flyer miles accrued, road trips executed, coffee drank, XM radio enjoyed, pounds gained and lost, miles run, chores completed, more dark hair converted to gray and blogs written. And a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now (I was up until 2:00am last night enjoying a few barley pops with my father-in-law Bob).

What will happen in 2008? Hopefully, more of the same. I’ve enjoyed life in the last year tremendously and cannot wait to see what’s next. To my loyal readers (all 3 of you!), I’d like to wish the best of luck in 2008 and may one day always be better, at least in some little way, than the next.

And I leave you with this: JibJab’s usual irreverent compilation of recent events encapsulated in their short film entitled In 2007.