Geek Field Trip Planned: the Louvre

When we arrived in Paris last Sunday, the Social Media Club House mates took a stroll through the courtyard of the Louvre, but didn’t go in as the line already formed was re-dunk-dic-u-lous. Not wishing to leave town before I see the Mona Lisa, we are planning a geek field trip to the Louvre tomorrow (Saturday) and invite all who would like to join us.

Social Media Club House Day 1 - 09

We are meeting at 8:30 (doors open at 9am) hopefully get a decent spot in line. If you get there a few minutes late, no worries, just stroll along the line and look for a geeky group with lots of camera bags.

Thoughts are to visit to the Mona Lisa first (get that out of the way early) and then explore from there. Based on the verbal confirmations received during Le Web, we are expecting about 15 people to join us.

It is recommended that you pre-purchase tickets online (10.10 euros per ticket), as it makes it easier to pick up (just be sure to bring the credit card you used to pick up on site). Hope you will join us for this little field trip and see some of the great works of art Paris has to offer.

When local markets, wanna be top chefs and good friends meet…

When discussing activities for our week in Paris, we thought what better way to break the flat in than to host a small dinner party on the first night we are here. We are fortunate to have an amazing market called La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marche, similar to our Whole Foods, just a few blocks away from our flat – so Cathy, Chris and I took a stroll over on Sunday afternoon and picked up some tasty bits for the group.

We invited Mark and Laurant from PayPal over as a way to thank them for their support of Social Media Club House then Heuer headed into the kitchen and whipped up a stellar meal of salmon, potatoes and asparagus.

Social Media Club House Day 1 - 31

These are the type moments I love the most, getting people together from all around the world, sharing great stories over good food and wine. It’s the beauty of Social Media Club House. It is not only a work place. Or a sleeping place. It is the perfect gathering place.

Passport in my pocket, Rosetta Stone in my bag, Paris here I come!

To say I am excited to be in Paris this week would be a severe understatement. I have been wanting to visit for year+++++, and had to pull back from three other trips in 2009 due to various client commitments (and a flu bug). So this jaunt feels like a long time coming for sure.

Heuer and I are headed over for Le Web, a tech conference bringing the best of French entrepreneurs together with other tech enthusiasts from around the world to talk innovation and trends around the ‘tubes’. While the conference is sure to be a hit, in all honesty, I am most looking forward to hanging in the Social Media Club House with @chrisheuer @scobleizer, @cathybrooks, @suzyperplexus and @stephtara as we break bread, sip wine together and explore Paris and all that it has to offer.

We have a pretty full schedule planned, but I expect to get a little tourist time in as well, as this is…my first time in Paris. Expect to find me at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower for sure.

To keep up on our activities, follow along on our Fan Page.

Private Concert with Chris Mann

Heuer and I were treated to a private concert from new Sony artist, Chris Mann, in the Berkeley Hills thanks to our pal VDog.

I had not heard of Chris before Victoria’s invite, and was pleasantly surprised to find this guy can really belt it out. He reminds me of a good mixture of Jason Mraz and Adam Levine, the lead singer from Maroon 5. If you like either of those artists, you will love Chris Mann. His voice raw enough to pierce you at the core, mature enough to be in total control of his instrument. Could hear him sing for hours.

He was joined by his buddy, Chris Jagich, a music teacher from L.A. who strummed the guitar along side Mann. Chris (and Chris) played a handful of songs to the 20 of us in the room and the 40+ folks following along to the live stream VDog set up since they could not join us in person.

Have I said how much I love Chris Mann’s voice? I really do.

After the concert, I decided to Google him and found he remade the Kanye West song, Heartless. Love it. Even better is our girl ‘VDog’ is in the video, about half way through – holding up the ‘fool’ sign (at 2:18 in the video). Woot! You a hunny VDog!

Chris’ album is supposed to hit in September – keep an eye out for it. Sure to please.

Learned a new term: Crossbody Block

I spent this past Sunday in Fresno watching my ‘nephew’ throw down on a mat in a California State wrestling tournament.

I have seen Fos play soccer. I have caught several of his football games. This was the first time I have seen him wrestle. And you know what? My boy done good. Real good.

Foster Wrestling Tournament

I didn’t know anything about wrestling before I walked into that gym, and to be honest, I can’t remember much now. I do know I did not like seeing the bodies twisted into different directions. The worry wart in me kept peeking out, and I am sure I freaked him mom (Jones) out a few times. I also did not like the waiting around for hours in between matches. What the hell is that all about? Just seems like everyone’s time could be better spent, but what do I know.

I was glad to get the chance to see Fos wrestle. he did really well and seems to enjoy being in the ring…but I will admit, I cannot wait for football season. So much more my sport.

Flexing our Road Tripping Skillz

I love taking road trips. Packing up the car. Filling up the tank (ok, I don’t really love this part of the road trip). Getting our ‘mix tape’ together. Putting the pedal to the medal and exploring all that this fine planet of ours has to offer.

The last couple of years have found Heuer and I in planes more than cars, so I love it when the road trip presents itself…

When we were offered the opportunity to host the Ultimate Blogger Dinner (UBD) with Lenovo during CES, we started evaluating all the equipment we needed to bring for the event (cameras, light kit for video shoots, recorders, collateral, extension cords, power strips, etc.) and realized quickly it would be a huge pain in the ass flying with it all.

We needed to drive to Vegas, and Heuer’s Cherokee was not going to be big enough. Did I mention I needed to pack shoes too?

So we jumped on the horn with our pal Scott Monty over at Ford, and threw out the idea of us taking their just released Ford Flex for an extended road test.

Scott made a few calls and the day before we were scheduled to leave for CES, a cinnamon colored 2009 Ford Flex was sitting in my driveway just begging to have its tires kicked. Awesome.

SMC Road Trip to CES2009

My initial thought of the truck (sorry Scott, I have a hard time calling it a ‘cross over’ vehicle even though I get why its classified as that) was how much it looked like the big brother to the Mini Cooper Clubman. Nice. Heuer and I have talked about buying me a Mini Cooper once my Lexus finally bites the dust, so already the Flex was winning me over in the aesthetics department.

Next test – capacity. The Flex has three rows of seats and can sit seven (7) people comfortably. We put all the seats down and packed six suitcases into the back of the Flex along with a small cooler and a bag of snacks for the road. And you know what? It all fit, with room to spare. Sweet.

We were ready to hit the road.

I wanted to drive the first leg of the trip to give Heuer a chance to play with the Sync system and get familiar with all the gadgets so he could then train me. LOL. Side note: Heuer and I have an understanding that if we were ever to be accepted in the Amazing Race series, I would be the primary driver so he could man the maps and the gadgets. It always works best that way as even though I think I have a sense of direction…I really don’t. I am meant to drive…so I do.

I settle in behind the wheel, immediately noticing how ‘sedan like’ it felt. To me, this is a good thing as if given the choice between driving a sedan or a SUV full time, I will always pick a sedan for shear comfort. The Flex really scores on this level.

We head South…

About an hour into the trip, Heuer discovered the USB port AND the electric outlet in the middle console. Who ever added that into the product plan is a genius. Seriously. Every new car should have this capability. So.Damn.Smart.

Now here comes more information than you probably wanted to know:

Along the way, we stopped in Santa Nella for Andersen’s famous split pea soup (a Wells family favorite pit stop), in Kettleman City for a really crappy pot roast (took two bites, gagged, paid the bill and left), and ‘harassed’ some sheep on the side of the road. Each time we stopped, folks mentioned what a sharp looking truck we had. No lie. The barista at the drive through coffee shop, the older couple at the split pea joint, the attendant at the gas station. I will admit, it was kind of cool to have something so bright and shiny at my control.

And each time we stopped, Heuer asked if it was time to change drivers and each time he heard the same thing, no. I enjoyed driving the Flex and was not ready to turn the keys over to him. It handled well. It was comfortable. And after six hours behind the wheel, I was not tired…so we carried on.

I ended up driving all 12 hours of the trip to Vegas (did I mention it was a smooth ride?) and when we arrived at the hotel, the valet sized up the truck, and again – all positive comments. We drove the Flex all week in Vegas, and I will say it continued to receive high marks from everyone we met. When we were transporting a couple of our friends home from a party, there were sounds of glee from the back as they both found the heat button for their seats. I know this is such a simple option, but it is again a sign of a thoughtful designer.

When Heuer and I started plotting our trip back home, we decided to extend it one more day and see how the Flex felt about the Ocean. It liked it. At least, it felt like it liked it as it handled the flat roads of 1-15 as well as it did the hills of Route 223/I-5. Smoothly. And who was behind the wheel? That’s right. Me.

Road Testing the Ford Flex

We met up with our Social Media Club Los Angeles crew and had a wonderful brunch in Malibu. After filling our bellies we contemplated hanging out in Los Angeles for a day, but realized after being on the road for a week – we were ready to head home. So we packed ourselves back into the truck and headed North.

I do think it important to note that Heuer did, in fact, get to drive the Flex. We were about three hours from San Francisco on the return home when I finally turned the keys over to him. I was tired. Vegas has finally caught up to me. And you know what? The passenger seat was as comfortable as the drivers seat.

I will admit I was sad to return the truck back to Ford the next day as I surely could have kept driving it longer.

I will say the ‘real world’ experience driving the Flex really turned my views of Ford around as I come from a Ford loving clan (the ones I can remember – as there were more – are two Broncos, a Ranger, a F150, two Mustangs, a Thunderbird and a couple of Jaguars) and my entire family strayed years ago due to one reason or another, mostly technical/ performance based. My last Ford was the 1990 Thunderbird SC that I turned in after 18 months due to transmission issues that could never be fixed – in shop four times. I think it important to note this as when talking about buying new cars, Ford has not been top of mind for me for 18 years.

The Flex really put them back on the map for me.

Heuer and I chatted at length on the way home as to whether or not we would consider purchasing the Flex, and both agreed we would, if (1) we had kids (or dogs, which is more likely) as it is too big for just the two of us and (2) we did not live in San Francisco where parking is tough (though not impossible) for a large[r] vehicle. The Flex just isn’t practical for us [today], but would be cool to rent if we headed to Tahoe or wanted to take a road trip with a few friends in tow. I want to drive this truck again.

I do think it is brilliant for Ford to put every day people in their cars and let them live life for a bit. They will naturally win with some and not with others, but overall, smart marketing on their part. It also shows confidence in their product as people will normally find something they don’t like after they ‘drive it off the lot’. When they don’t – you should pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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I linked to a bunch in this post, but if you would like to see more photos of our trip, check out my photo stream and Heuer’s too.

Moderated my first panel – woot!

SFAMA Viral Marketing Panel Sep2008 - 01

Thursday night I moderated my very first panel. My victims? The SF AMA. The topic? Viral Marketing – Is it right for your firm?

It was a nice low key way for me to hone my public speaking chops, and I think the 60+ in the audience felt good about the info shared during the night. I know the SF AMA President was happy with my moderating skills, so I guess all is well and maybe, just maybe…I will try another one.

Thanks again to the folks at the SF AMA for giving me the opportunity to speak/moderate, and to the folks in the room for being so darn nice and not heckling me during the session. 🙂

P.S. And please excuse the boob shot – Heuer took a photo of me at the podium, but I hated it so you got this one.

Happy anniversary baby. Again.

365me

When the time came for Heuer and I to plan our wedding – we were a bit conflicted. We really loved the idea of a small, intimate beach wedding, but both thought the reception should RAWK. We decided to split the events by having a laid back destination wedding in Mexico on July 7th, 2007 and then celebrate the official wedding reception one year, one month and one day AFTER in San Francisco on August 8th, 2008.

Ok, to be completely honest…we had wanted to throw the San Francisco reception immediately upon our return from Mexico, but half way through the wedding planning, we realized our financial situation was not going to allow the party we wanted. Not in 2007 at least. I was just coming off a nine (9) month sabbatical, and we decided to spend a lot more on the wedding than originally planned. Our wedding day turned out perfectly so I wouldn’t change a thing. It just meant putting our plans on hold for a bit…ok…we put our plans on hold for a year. Well really one year, one month and one day.

When the topic of our one year anniversary came up, we both agreed we had to throw a party. A big party. And when we started looking at the calendar, we realized quickly when one gets married on 07/07/07, it only makes sense one has a party on 08/08/08. From lucky number 7s to lucky number 8s (three times the prosperity).

Much like our wedding day, the reception/anniversary party was a blur. 100+ people in our house. Stocked bar. Great food. Good times for sure.

Heuer-Wells SF Wedding Reception

And special thanks to Tom Conrad of Pandora who provided the audio equipment so we can have groovy music played inside and out during the party. That was super swell. Thank you!

It has been an incredible first year of marriage. There have been many ups (travel, work, personal successes, etc.) and many downs (health, work, personal failures, etc.). I think sometimes you need those random kicks in the ass to make you truly appreciate the good times. And boy oh boy…do I appreciate them now.

And now, our focus turns to the planning for the 09/09/09 anniversary party… 🙂

Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Want to see me make a fool of myself?

I know, I know. When do I NOT make a fool of myself, right?

How about voting for one (or all four) of the panels I could present on next year at SXSW (March 13-17, 2009) to test the theory I won’t be able to get through a public speaking gig without saying something silly:

(1) Beyond Social Media: Introducing Social Communications
Who really “owns” social media? Is it PR, Marketing, Branding? This panel will demonstrate that it’s all of the above and more. Thus the new category “Social Communications,” which we can think of as a hybrid of PR, marketing, branding, WOM, customer service, product development and more.

Co-presenters: Jackie Peters, Connie Reece, Chuck Hester, Todd Van Hoosear

(2) Climbing the Corporate Ladder in a Mini Skirt (or pant suit?)
Powerful tech women share their secrets regarding kicking ass, moving up the ladder, dealing with jerks, and helping other girls reach the top.

Co-presenters: Mel Kirk, Sally Strebel, Bronwyn Jones, Aubrey Sabalas

(3) Walking the tech runway in stilettos
Being a girl in a boys world. And succeeding. Similar to the panel above. But different. It’s a fun and lighthearted discussion that prepares females for greater success by helping them get comfortable in their own shoes. 5 panelists share the lessons learned on their journey toward success.

Co-presenters: Mel Kirk, Sally Strebel, Bronwyn Jones, Aubrey Sabalas or Tara Hunt (I think)

(4) 5 Common Misperceptions of Technological Creativity
Drinking the creation koolaid can sometimes be deceiving. It’s like trying to acclimate your taste buds to dog crap. 5 successful panelists share with you the ways to tell the difference between koolaid (the purple stuff) and Sunny D. to get results rather than reaching into a risky over populated grab bag.

Co-presenters: Sally Strebel, Mel Kirk, iJustine, Laura Fitton

Added bonus, my Heuer also submitted a panel idea:

Against All Odds-A Media Literate World

Presenters: Chris Heuer, Howard Greenstein, Alex De Carvalho, Brian Solis (with possibly Howard Reingold too)

You can vote for one or all of them at the SXSW website up through Friday, August 29th. Winning panels will be announced early October. Vote now and please don’t forget to use the ‘stars’ option too!

Northern Voice: Good Stuff Eh?

NV08-sticker

This weekend confirmed everything I thought about my Canadian friendsthey all ROCK…and I am super thankful I had a chance to spend a little more face:face time with them at Northern Voice.

It was the first time I made it up North for this event, missing the two years before due to ill timing bouts with the flu bug, and boy oh boy am I glad I got a shot this year. The weekend was filled with great dinners, amazing conversations and enough geekiness to be able to write the trip off as a work expense. Ha.

Seriously, I don’t know if it is the Canadian water or the fresh air coming off Whistler mountain that makes Vancouverans so darn nice, but thinking every city could use a little bit of what they have as every time I am around these guys, I want – scratch that – I need, more.

Photo by Robin Yap Read more