27 June 2010

New York City - Day 5 - The Long Journey Home

Thursday we had more to do at the BEA and I was a bit dusty, I guess 3 martinis is my limit these days.

Before leaving for the expo we received an unexpected visitor, Karen's dad was at our door as we were packing up to leave. He had just arrived in NYC after a cruise in the Atlantic. The day was uneventful, and a bit sad - we had really enjoyed our trip and could have spent another week or two doing sight seeing. But, it was a business trip after all and there was plenty of business to do after we returned to Calgary.

Danté had the limo ready for us when we got down to the lobby and we began our journey back to Newark for the long trip home. En route, Wayne told us a story of being stuck on the runway for 3 hours before taking off one time and how he never wanted to experience that again... our flight was delayed because of lightning, we waited on the tarmac for 4 hours. After a whirlwind trip, 4 hours actually went by pretty quick, mind you I think I nodded off.

We got back to Calgary and it was snowing. SNOWING!!!

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New York City - Day 4 - The BEA

Wednesday the temperature soared to the mid nineties... humid too. Our group spent the morning trying to set up meetings with suitable distributors for our book. No bites. We were faced with the same response from everyone; you've only got one title, your too new, your too small, we don't understand your marketing, we don't get it...it was frustrating. I went outside to gain better cell reception and some sanity and tried connecting to a vendor from Toronto, the connection kept dying after about 30 seconds... I finally got a message through after about 12 attempts.

This frustration caused me to want a cigar, something I don't usually have until after a few drinks - but, I needed something to calm my nerves. I pulled out a cigar but had no light. I asked the closest person to me and they lit me up without hesitation.

I chatted with the fellow conference attendee that sparked my stoagie and found out that he was from New York and that we both had an interest in hockey. I asked him what he was doing at the conference and he explained that he was with Radom House in the digital marketing department. I was excited to hear this, after talking with so many people that didn't get what we were doing, I may have found the one person that may get it. He did. His name was Peter.

I believe Peter was genuinely excited about what we were doing to launch our book and after my cigar he offered to introduce me to a guy at Random House that would also get it and would also be the decision maker for their company, he described him as 'a guy that I sit next to at work'. We walked back to the private area where Random House strikes the big deals with retailers and authors and waited for his friend to arrive. We chatted while waiting and although he was generous with his time, I felt like Ray Kinsella telling Terrence Mann, "you've done enough, thank you for your time" in Field of Dreams (based on one of my favorite author's books). We chatted about hockey a little more until his friend arrived.

His friend was well dressed, Prada glasses and ready for business at the BEA, I was introduced to him and learned his name was Jeff. He opened by saying that he only had a few minutes before he was expected in a meeting but didn't seem rushed in any way and seemed genuinely interested in what I was pitching. Peter helped out with some of the details - I'm a helluva marketer, but a lousy sales guy. My excitement for the project may have resonated with Jeff, he noticed that and asked some very good questions about the project and the marketing - he seemed interested in helping me and even suggested a few companies to talk to.

While we were talking, my cell phone must have went off about 8 times, I tried not to let it show as I hit ignore over and over again - he made time for me, I'll be damned if don't reciprocate.... even at the expense of another meeting... which I was missing. He gave me quite a bit of time, then asked me to follow up with him by sending him a package, he presented me with his card, ...'President'.

I was taken aback, from Peter's buildup I was expecting perhaps a lead buyer, maybe a director but not the President. I'm glad Peter didn't tell me that in advance, I was out of my element and it was awkward enough without knowing that. Peter then took me to meet some contacts at Ingram and after spending an hour with me, we parted. I thanked him for the introductions and expressed how much I appreciated his time. He gave me his card, ...Vice President of Digital and Online Marketing. If I could have made a list of the 2 most perfect people to meet at this show, it would have been Jeff and Peter. Both were gracious with their time considering the fact that I'm a noob to their industry.

My luck didn't end there. Remember the fellow from Toronto that I was trying so hard to get a hold of on the phone? I bumped into him in the hall, amongst 10's of thousands of people - we had an impromptu meeting and he got it too. We were now getting somewhere, people began crawling out of the woodwork, now eager to meet with us and learn more about what we were doing. We finished the day at the expo on a high note.

We had some time to kill before dinner and my wife was out shopping at Macy's. I put on some shorts hand walked down the 15 blocks to the landmark NY store and found my wife, exhausted after an 8 hour day of shopping. I did a little shopping myself... but not much. We walked back to the hotel, checking out some of the shops along the way.

That night, we went out for a quick dinner in the theater district, as we had tickets to "A Behanding in Spokane" a broadway play featuring Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan. It was amazing, a very well written and executed dark comedy. After the show, we went to Rockefeller Plaza again, this time we went up 67 floors to the Rainbow Room and the Top of the Rock - the view of the city from there is spectacular. We took a handsome cab back to the hotel and followed up by having drinks in the hotel's lounge - $85 for 5 drinks... mind you, they were martinis.

It was only a day, but we packed in a weeks worth of activities. I love NY.

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New York City - Day 3 - The BEA

The next day, we attended the Digital portion of the BEA tradeshow and made some really good contacts. We also attended many conferences throughout the day - most were really good.

That evening, we went out for dinner, my turn to buy. Our group went to Kellari in the 'money' part of Midtown, an upscale restaurant across from the New York Bar Association and next to the New York Yacht Club - the food was amazing and we had a great time - and I was shocked at the bill... it was about $500 lighter than I thought it would be. Everyone says that NYC is expensive, they're right... but there are some surprises like cabs, "I LOVE NY" T-shirts and this meal.

So much can be had in a short walk in New York.

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19 June 2010

New York City - Day 2 - Sightseeing

Monday was a day off from work, so we got up early and had breakfast in the private club for Penthouse guests. On the TV, the Today Show played with Bret Michaels being interviewed.... I pointed down the street and said, "hey, that's happening right now, right there!" So, we walked over to Rockefeller Plaza and saw the Today Show being broadcast and checked out the plaza, inlcuding the skating rink - which is way smaller than it looks on TV.

The Rock is a very neat spot and no trip to New York would be complete without a brief visit there - we came back to it three times. It's where Saturday Night Live is taped as well as other shows for NBC. We then walked north on The Avenue of the Americas to Central Park, stopping in shops and poking our heads into the Ritz Carlton and the Plaza Hotel (which is owned by the Fairmont Group - should have stayed there). In front of the Plaza is Pulitzer Fountain, which we sat down at for a bit - across the street is the 5th avenue Apple Store - the only place I really wanted to visit in New York. Having met with the designer of the store while working on a project for another computer manufacturer, I really wanted to experience it first hand... while waiting for the lights to change, I received a phone call, the first on my New York cell phone (we each got one for local calls) - I was needed back at the Crowne Plaza for a conference call with our investor from Toronto. I never made it into the store... now I have a reason to go back.

After our conference call, Karen and I bought two tickets on the open topped bus and did a tour... we got off in Greenwich Village and strolled around, what a beautiful place - we had lunch at a little Italian restaurant called Trattoria Pesce Pasta on Bleeker Street. The buildings in Greenwich Village are much smaller than the rest of Manhattan, typically only 5 or 8 stories high, the streets are lined with trees, many of them forming a canopy over the narrow streets. We got back on another bus and were shown many of the sites all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry and back up to Times Square. The history in New York is absolutely amazing.

Before leaving, I sent an e-mail to the Late Show with David Letterman and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart... David Letterman's staff got back to us and we were in, free tickets! I checked out the line up for the show, we were going to see Don Rickles and John Prine - you have no idea how big a fan I am of John Prine. We went through the queue and eventually ended up in our seats in the Ed Sullivan Theater - the very same place where Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones and so many others had performed. It was really neat to watch a TV show happen live - I was the biggest JP fan in the audience.

We decided to go for dinner that night and to jump on the bus again, as a hop and go tour, you could get off and rejoin another bus at specific stops along the route. Our hope was to to go to SOHO for dinner - we got on the wrong bus. Three hours later, there we were, in Brooklyn, looking at the city lights of Manhattan... only another hour and a half left on the tour. We got back to Times Square and needed to eat - we found a small restaurant in the theatre district and got quite a free(k) show. Two very stereotypical transvestites had a very animated conversation at the bar beside us, oddly enough it didn't seem out of place.

New York is filled with all sorts of characters.

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