Women Who Lead

Posted by melissa kandel on March 19, 2019 in business journey | No Comments

It’s long been a personal theory of mine that all women leaders who find success have a responsibility — no, a moral obligation — to blaze their path so bright it illuminates a trajectory for others to follow.

If one of us figures out how to navigate the serpentine road to professional prosperity, it seems only right she leaves some knowledge-candles behind, like a secret map for career development we can all use. With beacons carefully placed, we’ll head in her enlightened direction because it’s been proven to hold promise. And though the journey before us will be filled with twists and turns, we’ll know there’s a way. She’s done it. So can we.

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Welcome to Las Vegas

Posted by melissa kandel on March 10, 2019 in business journey | 2 Comments

Me again. Melissa. This week I write to you from a room on the 32nd floor of a hotel in Las Vegas. I’m also eating pretzels if that matters, but I don’t think it does.

There’s this thin, gauzy curtain that covers a large picture window on the back wall of my room and if I press a button, the curtain lifts as if by mechanical magic. I’m not facing the strip, so the unadorned window reveals mostly unglamorous rooftops below, their striated air conditioner units tacked untactfully across peeling white paint. A criss-cross of pipes, rusted, lays cold against concrete slabs and in between these glitz-less rooftops, the streets are mostly empty.

OH! There goes a truck, moving slower than the buffet line for a $35 breakfast at the Bellagio. In my mind, the truck driver is a getaway man, with casino chips stowed inside bronze statues of giraffes. Except maybe not because at this speed, he’d never get away.

Above the mountains, oyster-gray clouds hover. Their gray is getting more intense, as if someone is saucing them up with gravy while I watch and type. (Do you put gravy on oysters? I’m not sure I ever have but in this sky metaphor, you do.)

The view is dark and dramatic. I wouldn’t change a thing.

On a much lighter and brighter note, I’m in Las Vegas for the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention, working with HomeServices of America, Inc. CEO Gino Blefari and catching up with colleagues and old friends. (I used to be the director of PR and communications for the brand.) 2019 marks my sixth consecutive year joining the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices festivities, though this time it’s as a business owner and not as an employee. That shift, I’ll admit, has so far been monumental not only physically, (I don’t have a long list of places to be or events to cover) but also mentally. It feels lighter in Las Vegas existing in the unscheduled unknown, and my new job imbues each conversation with a different sort of entrepreneurial weight.

“You struck out on your own?” People have asked me, and I nod. I guess that’s what I did. Like excavating gold in the riverbed of my life, I slung my proverbial pick over my shoulder five-and-a-half months ago, setting out for glimmering treasure anew.

My attendance here also has me thinking about how you can make your mark at any conference, because as a conversation I had with a broker/CEO last night confirmed, those who are genuine and willing to connect can turn their sales from stagnant to successful with one well-placed business card exchange. (His loan officer last year saw her business explode after attending Sales Convention and mingling with agents outside of the office.)

Here’s some completely unsolicited advice if you’re in the mood to maximize your own conference experience:

Made it to Vegas!

Be smart with social media.

Let me tell you a terribly kept secret: There’s no better evidence of social media’s immediacy, power and promise than when you’re at a large conference. At Sales Convention this year, the hashtag is #ALLIN2019, and just using it in the caption of your Instagram photo will insert you into the hyper-local, brand-specific conversation happening in Las Vegas while also allowing your content to be discovered by other attendees. Tag the hotel, tag the restaurant; savvy social teams will at the very least like your photo and at the most, repost. Also consider publishing your photos on LinkedIn to show outside connections you’re taking the time to work on yourself and your business. Native images show up much larger than images that populate from a URL, which means skip plugging a website for now and instead, share your thoughts about the conference in the status update box with a clear, professional(ish?) photo you took that day. Another point to ponder: Social media is a give and take, a conversation that requires listening as much as it does speaking. In the early morning, when you’ve got your coffee hot and your mind fired up for a day of learning, scroll through the event hashtag then like and comment on posts. Boom. Who said networking had to be hard?

Go to everything.

Sure it may be tempting to sip margaritas poolside or double down when the blackjack dealer is showing a soft hand, but save the aquatics and card sharking for post-conference fun. (Friendly tip: There’s no ROI in tequila.) Think of every session and event as one-time chances to mingle with people who could refer you business … or introduce you to someone who will. If you’re not the strongest networker—and even if you are—you might want to try a trick I learned from a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty agent years ago. I met her just before the start of the first day’s General Session. She was friendly, warm and when she shook my hand she also gave me her business card, onto which she’d attached a small, glass bottle with sand from Kailua inside. It was a sweet, aloha gesture of welcome, and one I’ll never forget. (I still keep the bottle on my desk because #adorable.) Of course, it’s probably too late to buy tiny glass vessels and stuff them with decorative pebbles from wherever you call home, but the sentiment is one you can carry throughout any conference. When you meet someone new at all those events you’re attending, each opportunity to talk should be like handing that person a symbolic bottle of sand. It’s exciting to share how well your business is doing but it’s pragmatic and unforgettable to approach an exchange with the mindset of giving unselfishly without receiving anything in return.

To bring this little post back to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 2019 Sales Convention theme, going ALL IN isn’t a “you versus me” existence. It’s a collective state of being that means seeing the game of business as one we should all win.

On International Women’s Day

Posted by melissa kandel on March 8, 2019 in Inspiration, Women | 3 Comments

Happy International Women’s Day. Here I am … a woman. I’m fortunate to be surrounded in my life by some pretty amazing women. They’re strong. They’re powerful. And most importantly, they exude genuine, symbiotic support for others, the type that can shine a warm light on the macabre shadows of failure as easily as it can illuminate someone else’s success. So, I’m taking today to honor these selfless women, who understand with a profundity unshakeable that celebrating another’s happiness is never an erosion of your own.

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The Unexpectedly Practical Philosophy of Steve Aoki

Posted by melissa kandel on March 7, 2019 in music | No Comments

The truth was I couldn’t move. Not metaphorically or creatively, I couldn’t physically wiggle a finger. Stuffed hundreds deep into a tacky, plush-red nightclub in midtown Manhattan that smelled of fresh sweat and cheap vodka, I was stuck in place, a proverbial halter-topped sardine of the night, waiting for Steve Aoki’s set to start while wearing a surprising amount of bracelets and glitter, wondering if I looked anything close to cool.

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On Writing, On Wednesday: The Very First Word

Posted by melissa kandel on March 6, 2019 in On Writing | 1 Comment

This is stupid.

That’s the first thing I thought when the idea came to me to write about writing, which seemed no different from a balloon maker noodling up a poodle figurine at a circus side show and instead of selling it to the five-year-old cotton-candy-eater who wants one, telling the kid exactly how the thing was made. The child doesn’t care. Just sell the poodle-balloon and move on.

Balloons be gone, I filed the idea away with all my potential Shark Tank pitches—coincidentally, half of them involve sustainable poop bags for dogs—and carried forth composing little stories and business-ish posts. But then as I frequently do, I surveyed some of my most devoted readers weeks later and asked what they thought of my recent content. Good? Bad? Anything else I should be focusing on? Over and over again the one topic that came up was this: Tell me how to write.

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For the Love of Music

Posted by melissa kandel on March 5, 2019 in music | No Comments

On its surface, the story of William Garrett “Snuffy” Walden plays out like an expertly written drama. The innocence of youth, the tragedy of rock ‘n’ roll, the demise, the about-face and finally, the triumph.

But as evident in Up to Snuff, a documentary shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the heroic arc of real-life protagonist Snuffy is actually a much twistier tale that depicts an American musician and composer who would ultimately create—and still does—some of the most memorable music to sound across our television screens. (If you’re counting, there’s 42 tracks played in the film from start to finish.)

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Monday Motivation from a Decorated Navy SEAL

Posted by melissa kandel on March 4, 2019 in Interview | No Comments

When Jason Tuschen speaks, there’s a bright cheerfulness to his voice. The former Navy SEAL, who has 27 years of military and Special Operations experience under his tactical belt, laughs more than you’d expect. He describes his time with the SEALs as “fun.” He even jokes about the bad, fried food in Ramadi, Iraq.

This might seem strange, given the herculean image of SEALs as implacable warriors, with hard-set brows and a fierceness to their eyes, always ready for any mission, able to win any fight. But Tuschen is lighthearted when he talks about his Navy experiences, which were marked by some heavily impressive feats.

After finishing training in 1992, Tuschen reported to SEAL Team THREE, completing three platoon deployments as a petty officer. In 1997, he screened for and successfully completed selection at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. While there, he was soon promoted to Chief Petty Officer and later, Senior Chief Petty Officer, and was transferred to SEAL team SEVEN.

At SEAL Team SEVEN, Jason was assigned as a Task Unit Leading Chief Petty Officer and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and again in 2009. He’d continue to work his way up the ranks, assuming responsibilities as the SEAL Team ONE Command Master Chief and finally, ending his career as the Command Master Chief for Naval Special Warfare Group ONE. His personal decorations include two Bronze Stars, one for Valor, Meritorious Service Medals and more. Today, he lives in Southern California and is the co-founder/CEO of Randori Inc., an organization helping businesses—and those who lead them—reach their highest potential. 

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File Under New Things: A Newsletter

Posted by melissa kandel on March 3, 2019 in Newsletter | No Comments

Inspired by a Saturday morning conversation, I’ve decided to start a weekly newsletter. You can sign up to receive these regular updates to your inbox HERE but I wanted to post the very first edition, in case you’re not yet on the list. (*Wink wink, nudge nudge.*) The plan is to send these messages out every Monday morning. Here’s the first one, reposted on the blog …

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The Incredible Lightness of Cleaning

Posted by melissa kandel on March 2, 2019 in Personal | 2 Comments

I recently attempted to #KonMari my house to make it a more inviting, simple, joyful place. In reality, I have no actual idea how the method goes (full confession) but instead, just asked myself with every item: “Does it spark joy?”

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Love Lessons with The Bachelor’s Seinne Fleming

Posted by melissa kandel on March 1, 2019 in Interview | No Comments

If there’s any time my friends and I resemble the precision and ritualistic exactitude of a Japanese bullet trail, it’s Monday at 8 p.m. When the clock strikes, we unwrap the cheese and uncork the Cabernet. Then we affix our eyes to the glossy TV screen for two—sometimes three!—hours of romantic mishaps and milestones as The Bachelor unfurls with wildly dramatic abandon and we wine-buzz our way through the entire 120+ minute thing.

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