‘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.

Around Town: Patriot Boxing & Fitness

Patriot

It’s that time of the year again; time for us all to start thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions. For many of us, losing weight or getting into shape will be on the top of the list. With that said, today I’d like to spotlight Patriot Boxing & Fitness.

Patriot Boxing & Fitness opened their second location yesterday in Downers Grove, following the success of their facility in Elmhurst. My buddy and owner Nick “The Patriot” Janowitz started wrestling at age 11. He’s insane. He won 100 varsity matches in college, was a member of the ALL NAVY Wrestling team. He placed third in the Greco-Roman and fourth in Freestyle at the 2001 AAU Nationals. As if this wasn’t enough, Nick decided to turn professional as a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter. He’s undefeated.

I couldn’t wait to be on hand as Nick opened this beautiful facility. Believe it or not, the workout you get at his facilities is the best. I’m glad this facility is in my own backyard. I have to stay in shape to keep doing crazy things like Flyboarding! There is no better way to workout than boxing with one of Nick’s team. You burn about 1,200 calories per class!

If you are looking to change up your routine or are thinking ahead to that New Year’s Resolution, head to either of Nick’s locations. Check them out on Facebook and when you stop in, tell them I sent you.

You Don’t Need to Board a Plane to Fly

As you may have realized already, I love trying out new things. From driving the Autobahns to walking the red carpet, I’ve spent a lot of time broadening my horizons this past year.

A couple of weeks ago, while in San Diego, I went Flyboarding. For those of you who don’t know, Flyboarding was developed by Zapata Racing in the Spring of 2011. It was introduced at the jet ski World Championship in China and created a huge buzz around the world.

Well of course I had to try this sport! Thanks to Aaron, Paul, Hickey and all the West Virginia boys from Aquatic Aviation, I was able to ride this INSANE machine. It’s powered by a water jet from a jet ski, with two under your feet and two smaller ones attached to your wrists. You use your feet and legs as well as your arms to remain stable and maneuver.

I can’t fully explain the great time I had in words, so I wanted to share the video evidence of my experience. I cannot wait to do this again!

The Windy City’s Bourbon Scene

I’ve attended many events in the city and the suburbs this past year and Bourbon has been on the menu almost everywhere I’ve been. This is definitely a trend that I don’t mind getting on board with.

Let’s talk about what sets Bourbon apart from other types of whiskey. Most Bourbon comes from Bourbon County in Kentucky and is made from corn. Legally, it must be made in the United States and must follow certain regulations during its creation to be labeled as Bourbon. While many prefer to drink their bourbon neat or on the rocks, it’s also the star of the Manhattan, the Old Fashion and the Mint Julep.

But Bourbon is just not for Derby parties anymore. Chicago has one of the hottest Bourbon scenes. Here’s a rundown of some of the best places to get your Bourbon on in the city:

  • Delilah’s: This punk spot on Lincoln Avenue serves more than 125 whiskeys and specializes in Bourbon. From Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Knob Creek to Kentucky Pride, Eagle Rare and Old Grand Dad, you’ll find something that’s just your style.
  • Club Lago: This River North Italian gem doesn’t have any beer on tap, but houses ten different Bourbons. Who need wine when you can have Bourbon!
  • Twisted Spoke: The Spoke has the largest whiskey selection in Chicago – totaling 318 bottles – and all of it is half-price on Wednesday. Don’t get scared off by the bikers; they are part of the experience.
  • Stanley’s: There’s nothing like southern hospitality and Stanley’s Kitchen brings it. The bartenders have been known to leave a bottle of Kessler American Bourbon at the end of the bar along with empty shot glasses. Free Bourbon for all!

Is Bourbon your drink of choice? Did I miss a good spot on this list? Hit me up on Twitter, @RyanKDean, and let me know where you like to go.

Plan and Survive Black Friday with Tech

Black Friday can be hard for shoppers to navigate. There are so many deals out there and opportunities to price match, why shouldn’t technology jump in and help streamline your shopping experience?

The Daily Herald recently compiled a list of apps, QR codes and other technology available to help shoppers get the best deals. Here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Shop Savvy: Pull out your smartphone, scan the price of your item and search for the best in-store and online deals on your Apple and Android devices.
  • Find My Car: Let’s face it, there’s at least one time a year where we all can’t find our car in a crowded parking lot. There’s an app for that.
  • Black Friday Deals 2012: This app will find all of your ads and deals in one spot, which updates on multiple times daily.
  • SitOrSquat: Restroom Finder: This app from Charmin can help you find the closest public bathroom. With all the shopping you are doing, you never know when you are going to need one.
  • CouponCabin.com: This Chicago-based company has an app available that enables users to transform paper coupons into digital versions for scanning.  No more paper to lose or stuff into your pockets.
  • Shopkick: You might as well earn something extra from all of that shopping. You can earn kickbucks for checking in and scanning items that can be redeemed for gift cars. This is only available on your Android.
  • MyCityWay: This app brings together 30 apps, helping you to avoid traffic, plan your route, find local transportation options and view 400 traffic cams. You can search for stores and find sales. It even helps you pinpoint bathrooms and Wi-Fi connections.

Are there any apps you think I left off of the list? Tweet them to me: @RyanKDean

Looking Ahead: Tech Trends for 2013

The New Year is just around the corner and it’s never to early to start looking at the new technology that will be available in 2013.

Gartner announced its top 10 tech trends at the annual IT/expo in Orlando last week, with
the mobile device battle topping their list.  2013 is looking to be a fun year in the technology arena. Let’s take a look at the rest of the upcoming year’s trends:

  1. Mobile Devices: Mobile phones are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web access device. Will they serve as a replacement? According to Gartner, yes and no. IT departments may need to adapt, shifting focus to supporting mobile devices for workers who need them. However, they do believe that this signals the end of Windows as the single platform for the corporate world.
  2. A long-term shift from native apps to Web apps as HTML5 becomes more capable: There has been a lot of talk about the switch to HTML5. Native apps won’t be a thing of the past. In fact, they will still provide the best user interfaces and more sophisticated features.
  3. The personal cloud replaces the notion of personal computer: How many of you store multiple items in the cloud? If you don’t yet, chances are you will store everything on the cloud.
  4. The Internet of things: Absolutely every device will be connected to the Internet, cameras, microphones, buildings and sensors included. This change will lead to new products, including tax policies, and will raise new questions. I think this will be an interesting trend to watch, especially in how it affects business development.
  5. Cloud computing: As the cloud continues to gain traction, IT departments are going to shift part of their focus on creating cloud services brokerages for the management of access to the cloud.
  6. Strategic big data: Big data is becoming more economical as the cost of servers and CPUs has decreased. Gartner believes that more companies will be moving toward big data analysis.
  7. Actionable analytics: This trend links with number six. Because low-cost processing is cheaper, it enables companies to dive in to perform analytics and simulations. This trend may provide more companies with the ability to predict the future.
  8. In-memory computing: Gartner believes that this is transformational. The technology enables long processes to be completed in a manner of minutes – even seconds. Any expenses incurred in implementing in-memory computing will pay for itself in increased efficiencies.
  9. Virtual appliances integrated ecosystems: Virtual appliances not take the place of physical appliances, but will gain traction.
  10. Enterprise App Stores: Apps are becoming the source for users to get everything they need from a company. IT departments will turn essentially into market managers.

Have you seen any evidence of these trends in your daily life?

Five Lessons Learned in B2B Sales

As Managing Partner at Tigon Tierce Group, LLC, I’ve had the opportunity to coach many clients in the business-to-business (B2B) arena. I’ve found that many of these companies have come to a harsh realization: selling is easier on paper than it is in practice.

During the sales process, every company encounters hurdles that they need to jump over to make it the finish line. Whether your business sells a product or service to your clients, know that you aren’t alone in learning your lessons the hard way. Econsultancy’s Patricio Robles has laid out the five most common lessons learned in B2B sales:

  1. Selling cost savings is tough: With the economy still in a state of recovery, you would think it would be easy to sell a product that would save your customer money. The reality is that this is still a hard sell. Companies are looking to boost top-line revenue. This doesn’t mean your service or product is a lost cause, just recognize that you might be pushed to the back burner until funds free up.
  2. The sales cycle is almost always longer than you expect: If you are the owner of a small business, it was probably recommended to you to raise or take out a loan for more money than you think you need. Apply this logic to the sales process. While you may think that it will take three-months to close that deal, be safe and pad that by a few months. It’s better to underestimate your sales cycle.
  3. Timing is everything: I’m sure you have all heard this cliché before, but in the world of sales, it’s true. One of the biggest challenges businesses face is getting their product in the minds of the right people during the budgeting period. If you are in at the wrong time, your deal can be delayed longer.
  4. There’s no place in the budget for you: While your product may be exactly what your customer is looking for, chances are they don’t have the money in the budget for you. If your contact can’t figure out from which department’s budget your product’s cost should come from, then you are going to be waiting a long time to make a sale.
  5. Legal can be a deal-breaker: Once your deal is agreed upon, it’s going to face the wrath of the legal department. For them, looking at your agreement is not the most important thing on their list. Patience comes in handy during this time.

What lessons have you learned in the world of B2B sales? Have you faced these same challenges?