The Best of the Best of 2012

new year

There’s no better way to look back on 2012 then to review the year-end lists other organizations have compiled. I’ve always wanted them to be compiled in one spot, so I thought I would do this for you!

Before I dive into these lists, I want to share one of the coolest honors that happened this past year. Home is where the heart is and my town, Downers Grove, ranked as the eighth friendliest town according to Forbes. In my opinion, this is the best blog of the year.

That wasn’t the only cool thing that happened in 2012. Here are the best of the best of 2012:

The Top Ten Most Viral Videos: Kony takes number one on Mashable’s list. Not only did the video take this honor, but it was the most viral video in history.

The Best Books of 2012: No matter what genre you read or what age you are, NPR has a best books list for you all. I’m happy to say I’ve read many of them this year.

Chicago’s Best Restaurants: There is no better way to rate Chicago restaurants than with Michelin Stars. I’ve been to many of these establishments. Have you?

The Best Microbrews: Ask Men developed a great list of microbrews and their corresponding breweries. This list is enough to make your mouth water.

The Best Android and iPhone Game: Whether your pledge your phone allegiance to Android or Apple, there is a game for you on this list. Angry Birds Star Wars anyone?

The Best of Chicago in Photos: The Chicago Reader compiled some great photos that encompass the best of Chicago. These photos are simply gorgeous.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Economy: This is a not-so-funny list of facts, but nonetheless a great list from The Economic Collapse.

For Everyone Else: Just in case there was a list I missed that piqued your interest, Google has a list of every topic you can imagine.

What will 2013 have in store for you? HAPPY NEW YEAR, make it awesome.

– “Opportunity knocks at the strangest times. It’s not the time that matters, But how you answer the door.” -Steve Gray

‘Tis the Season to Shop Artisan Vendors

In October, I shared a bit about my mom’s business – Beau Savon – and how she hosts the Hinsdale Holiday Artisan Homeshow each year. This year was a great success!

I’m sure that many of you are still looking for gifts for your loved ones this holiday season. I hope that his slideshow, featuring photos from the Hinsdale Holiday Artisan Homeshow, will inspire you to look to local artisans for that unique holiday gift!

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Who are some of your favorite artisans? Do keep coming back to them for gifts throughout the year? Share your favorites with me on Twitter: @RyanKDean.

Supporting the I am PK Foundation

During the middle of August, I was lucky enough to be out supporting one of my favorite causes: the I am PK Foundation.

I serve as the executive director of the foundation, which was started in the honor of Phil Kaiser. Our goal is to provide assistance to less fortunate individuals in the Chicago land area in a number of ways. The foundation provides health screenings, help to attend schools and the funds to cover sports fees.

Throughout the year, the foundation holds events to raise money for our organization and to spread the word about how important health screenings are in youth athletes.

Our most recent benefit was held at the La Grange Country Club on August 18th. So many great organizations have sponsored this event, including ATI Physical Therapy, Finch’s Beer, Metropolitan Club, ArtBeat Live, as well as Elliot for Coyote Margarita and Phyllis Benstein.

Thanks to these and our other great sponsors, our 340 attendees and 42 stellar volunteers had a great time. We raised $31,000 for the foundation! That money is going to go a long way in helping us reach our goals.

Where’s Ryan? The Month of August in Review

The month of August is busy for everyone. Many of you are taking your last vacations before the official end of summer. Parents are hurrying to prepare their kids for back-to-school. I was out enjoying myself as well. Here’s a recap of my fun-filled event month of August.

Chicago Gateway Green Preview Party: I’m on the associate board and serve as committee chair. We held our preview party at Moe’s Cantina in River North and sold more than $1,200 worth of tickets to the Green Tie Ball. I even got to meet Showbiz Shelly from B96. She’s pretty cool.

Greater North Michigan Avenue Association: This summer boat outing on Chicago’s First Lady was awesome! This was a great event and I got to meet a ton of great people. Afterwords we headed over to III Forks for a post-cruise party and drinks.

TechCocktail Summer Sessions: Logan LaHive, Founder and CEO of Belly Neal Sales-Griffin and Founder and CEO of Code Academy served as the keynotes at this event at Joe’s Bar. Really interesting to listen to!

Dress for Success at MidAmerica Club U-36 and Young Execs Group: I’m on the board of the Young Execs group through the Metropolitan Club. It was awesome to be at this event that was co-sponsored with Chicago Gateway Green. We raised $500 for Gateway. One of the night’s highlights: Meeting Miss Illinois who is from Quincy! I used to teach and coach there!

First Look at City Winery: Everyone loves a grand opening! This is an unbelievable space, with stellar service and hospitality. The wine was great and schmoozing with Mayor Emanuel wasn’t too bad either.

Finch Brewery Tour: I headed out the brewery to pick up a donation and they gave me a personal tour. They’ve only been in business 16 months and the place is at capacity. They are an awesome brand with awesome brews and stellar service.

Best of Chicago Awards: I had a great time hanging out at Venue One. Killer event hosted by Chicago Magazine and Diageo.

Compassion, Fashion & Cocktails: Looking forward to potentially working with these great people. The event was hosted at Frontier and I was out in support of my two friends who serve as co-chairs.

Technori Unwind: This event was held and Dragon Ranch. I tried out a killer moonshine drink called White Dog Mash. Beware!

New Member Reception at the Executive’s Club of Chicago: This is a cool group who can host a fun event. I’m looking forward to the 2012 Fall Season.

Hope you had as awesome of an August as I did! Check out my Facebook page for more photos in the upcoming days!

Drive the Awesome Autohbahns in Illinois

Every car enthusiast dreams of driving a Ferrari at max speed down the Autobahns. Luckily for me and the residents of the State of Illinois, we don’t have to go any further than Joliet.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to spend the day at the Autobahn Country Club Joliet via a personal invitation from Sales and Marketing Manager Ron Dabisch. After I checked in and got my wristband, I got to go on a tour of the members’ only section of the club and had a great lunch before I was led off to the tracks. The Autobahns have two sets of tracks, about three miles long, one that is ready to race on and one that is held open for members at all times.

The Napleton Porsche Performance Motorsport team, along with a custom motorcycle racing team, were also on hand.  It was awesome to watch these teams race and work one-on-one with instructors on their driving skills. From pre-track lessons about the dynamics of the high-speed course to behind-the-wheel instruction, it was awesome to watch these instructors at their best.

I was lucky enough to get out on the skid pad, autocross, kart track and about a mile loop on the south track for lead-follow. I worked with an instructor who explained the dynamics of driving on the course. It was amazing to be in an exotic but legal street vehicle on the racetrack, that I could have literally drove home when I was done. Yeah, I wish! You can also test drive in style behind the wheel of a BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan or Porsche while member/guest track time is available.

The hospitality at Autobahn County Club Jolie was fantastic! Check them out for a high-end boys’ night out or for a killer corporate team building event. I’d do it again any day and look forward to trip back in Fall!