A shot from possibly the best car show I’ve ever been to at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Washington state.

4 donald trump, bill rancic and carolyn

Lessons From The Original Apprentice

You do remember the Apprentice, right?  It’s hard to believe that it was seven years ago season one aired on NBC. I remember being there with Traci during the filming of season three and walking by the Trump tower – thinking about the show and what it meant to entrepreneurs all over.

As they say – time flies – It seems like yesterday I remember Donald Trump choosing Bill Rancic, an internet entrepreneur from Chicago, to be his right hand man for a year.  It was the first time in a long time that I really got into prime time TV when The Apprentice aired.  donald trump, bill rancic and carolynThe Donald had seemingly leveraged his business acumen into show business, putting himself, his hair (is it real?) and the Trump organization into the homes of people all across America, if not the world.

Actually – truth be told, Mark Burnett, credited for creating the reality TV show genre and of Survivor fame, had approached the Donald to do the show at a party, and Trump agreed.

Season one was really the best season – and the recent stuff with Celebrity Apprentice isn’t worth watching.

However – I do remember watching Bill be selected on live TV and feeling the excitement of his opportunity.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet  with and speak to Bill Rancic at a private business function, where he was also the keynote speaker.

bill rancic and brooks van normanBill’s talk was one of the best I’ve heard, so good in fact that I was compelled to take notes ( actually I think I was the only one taking notes!).  His message was disguised as entertaining story after story about his unlikely path to  fame and business success.

Here are some of the highlights of Bill’s message:

The first is to do what you fear – and the death of that fear is certain.  In fact, he reminded the audience that humans are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises – all other fears we learned along the way.

Bill’s first assignment with Mr. Trump was joining him in Florida to help judge the Miss Universe contest, which of course was a staple in the Trump Organization entertainment division.

Tough job!

However, things got more serious quickly as Bill’s main job was to oversee a large construction project.  He talked about how he faced his fears working in a domain that he knew little to nothing about, along side senior executives from HRH Construction – general contractors for the project in Chicago.

One of the notes that I thought was especially relevant to the managers in the audience from Bill’s construction experience with Trump, came from one of the HRH executives who intelligently coached Bill with the advice to “be the conductor”.

Of course this meant that Bill was to do his best managing what I call the “white space on the org chart”.  The message was clearly to let the experts do their jobs – or help them play in harmony to continue the analogy; the architects, electricians, HVAC specialists, etc.

Good message – good analogy.

The talk then progressed to Bill sharing his assessment of dinners he’d shared with Ted Turner and Mark Cuban; both clearly different personalities – and minds I like.  He talked about how his experience working with and getting to know about some of America’s business luminaries led him to three conclusions about their success in life, despite their radically different styles:

1. They are were good decision makers.  Bill said that Trump said to him during his time with the Trump Organization, “Ill  trust whatever decision you make, but I’ll fire you if you don’t make decisions.  The message is to take action and be action oriented – even if you aren’t 100% sure.

2. Be creative and agile. Bill talked about how his first challenge on the show was selling lemonade at the proverbial bill ranciclemonade stand in 95 degree heat on a hot summer day on 5th Avenue in New York – sporting a suit no less.

Simple enough – however, the tasks became progressively more challenging from there, requiring him to adjust his thinking and management style when project leader.  Bill reconciled his ability to win the Apprentice because his competition had only their text books or singular business experiences to draw upon.  Lesson:  everything you do or learn matters someday.

3. Never give up and think like an owner. I especially liked this one because of it’s value in my own life – whether things are really great or really bad – I try not to get too excited or too down either way – but just keep working towards the goal. Bill reminded the group that Trump didn’t always have it easy – and came from one of the biggest comebacks in corporate history.  Most people probably don’t know it, but Trump nearly lost it all in the late 80’s.  Lesson: adversity+persistence gets you through.

Bill’s just finished shooting a reality show for the A&E Network called We Mean Business where he goes into businesses and fixes them – I think it’s kind of like Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares or Tabatha’s Salon Makeover.

That format is proven on TV, as is Bill – so it should be a good fit…provided Omarosa isn’t in it.  Just kidding Omarosa.

No, actually, I’m not. 😉

Anyway Bill included a lot of other great content for both young entrepreneurs – as well as more seasoned ones.  From humble beginnings selling pancakes at five bucks a plate in his grandmothers house, to cigars online, to the Apprentice with Trump and now to expressing an attitude of gratitude on the speaking circuit – Bill has a good and worthwhile story to share.

What I also think makes Bill a good draw for the speaking circuit in addition to his new TV show is that he’s humble, funny, comfortable in his own skin and most importantly, has accumulated a wide range of experience in a number of key industries – therefore he’s got the breadth of expertise to speak to a wider audience, than say, someone who just hit it big with one play.

Oh – and let’s not forget that that he also has first hand evidence the Donald’s hair is real.  That’s got to be worth something too, right?

2 Incredible views are hard to describe - you kinda' had to be there!

Snowshoeing In The Sun

This is one of those posts where the pictures really tell the whole story so much better than words can.

However, there are a few thoughts that I must share about last weekend’s snow shoeing at Crystal Mountain.  First – there’s nothing like getting outdoors after a long week of staring at a computer monitor!

Second, it’s amazing how fast the time goes when you’re out there with mother nature wandering through the forest (ok – we really weren’t wandering…we did follow marked trails…but it felt like that because we only saw one other couple the entire 6km’s we were out).

Third and lastly – I can’t wait to do it again.  Two hours of solid snow shoeing feels like about 20 minutes and was very invigorating.  It’s the kind of outdoor activity that can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be.

Clearly you can see by the photos of us taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain – that we’re all about it not being too hard! 😉

Going up the chair lift at Crystal Mountain

The new showshoes - great for deeper snow, but still very light

Going into the forest

Incredible views are hard to describe - you kinda' had to be there!


A Visit to Silk Scarf Winery in Summerland

This is one of those wineries that you could drive by and miss if you weren’t paying attention. And if you did see it, you might not even stop because compared with some of the other wineries in the valley, it flies very low under the radar.

And if you did miss it, that would be a total shame because the wine is fantastic… and that’s only the beginning.


Speaking of flying – Silk Scarf Winery’s owner has roots in aviation. Roie (owner and patriarch) flew for many years in Israel, before returning to his family’s roots in wine making – except he wanted to do it on the other side of the world, in Canada. If you do get here – be sure to ask about the Silk Scarf story – I’m not going to tell it here because this post is about the experience at Silk Scarf and you should really hear it with your own ears.

After buying the winery sight-unseen (other than communication on the internet with the previous owner) Roie moved himself and his family clear around the world from the Middle East to the Okanagan and started what I feel is soon to be a very popular and well known winery. The fruit is still maintained with the same philosophy and farming practices of the prior owner who worked the land for the 20+ years before hand and is credited with teaching many of Summerland’s farming and winery owners with the know-how they still use today.


I think that the property is special because it clearly enjoys and benefits from a great micro-geography that delivers less wind and a few more hours of sun each day than other wineries in the region. When you see the property – you’ll understand what I mean.

Already served by many of Vancouver’s best restaurants such as Ouest, Bishops, Salmon House on the Hill, CinCin and The Blue Water Cafe among others, Silk Scarf’s wines are unbelievably good. If Gary Vaynerchuk had been there I’m sure he’d have produced a video.

And if the wines aren’t good enough – the Middle Eastern hospitality delivered by Roie’s son Eden, his partner (and wonder-chef Tara), mom Ruth must be experienced to be believed. The care and attention that goes into the food made from local ingredients make each dish a total culinary adventure. And I couldn’t forget the savvy, upscale urban touches added to the simple, but inviting wine shop designed by daughter Einat.

Food is only served on Saturday and Sunday. But don’t expect expect to show up and be seated. Tara only makes enough food for about 25 people and you can only get in if you have a reservation. Tara used to work in a restaurant in Israel that served new dishes EVERY day. The same philosophy of food delivery happens here.  It’s totally cool.  No two days are ever the same, although some dishes are often repeated, Tara will only produce what is available locally or brought over by other local farms.


Her cooking is incredible and the way it’s served is even more exciting. First of all, you don’t need to order from the daily menu. Instead, you order the wine first and then they’ll pair the food to whatever wine you chose. How cool is that?

However, because there were five of us and we each ordered almost every wine they make (yes – they are all THAT good), we wound up getting nearly everything on the menu.

Food is served tapas style in small bowls and serving plates. Each dish was delivered one at a time as it was prepared fresh in the kitchenette. Eden took the time to describe where the ingredients came from and what we could expect to taste as he carefully brought out each dish and placed it on our table.

One of our guest had food allergies, which were immediately and graciously accommodated.


You literally fall in love with these people and their passion for food and wine. I wanted to move in and just eat and drink with them. They made you feel like family, but not overwhelmingly so. Never did we feel smothered, yet the service was perfect.

These people care about everything to do with wine and food and it totally shows. Their philosophy is simple, produce less product but make it really good.

Our reservations were for 12:30pm, but we didn’t get there until 1:30pm due to highway construction closures on Highway 97. Once we arrived, we were welcomed and had a quick tasting before being seated on the outer deck, in the shade, but with a beautiful lake view.


I had a glass of the 2006 Pinot Noir (which recently won top marks at the Northwest Wine Competition – beating out world class Pinots from the Columbia River and Willamette Valley regions). I’ve yet to find a Pinot like this in Okanagan and I think I’ve had all of them. Maybe Tom DiBello’s Platinum Pinot from Cedar Creek – but other than that one, there’s nothing else as good.

Upon being seated we ordered wines and began an awesome afternoon. The first dish we were brought was grilled peppers and capers in red wine vinegar. Then Dolmathes with fresh, young grape leaves from the vineyard. This was followed up with fresh Tagiliatelle pasta with zucchini and fresh basil. The sauce was so good I just wanted to drink it. When I asked how the sauce was made – Tara said, “it is special – the sauce becomes itself in the pan”.

What do you say to that?

Then Eden brought us some pastries called burik made with 3 onions and parmesan. Then kalamata olives mixed with roasted fennel and citrus fresh herbs.

Don’t even get me started on the roasted lamb and beef kabbbs served on cinnamon sticks over olive oil and tahini. I could eat a plate of those myself. Did I mention the bulgur salad with dried cranberries, fresh mint, lima beans mixed with a pomegranate reduction? I didn’t think so.


How about the roasted beats and plums mixed with candied australian ginger and thyme vinagrette? Probably forgot to tell you about that too, right?

Smoked salmon with chilled horseradish?  The colors alone are enough to get your heart rate up …


Serving the food this way was such a powerful, but simple method for showcasing the wines. Lunch was finished with complimentary chilled, Sonata cherries as big as plums and deep red as the merlot you must try.


I thought to myself how special the experience was and was inspired to blog about it while looking at the amazing lake view of this beautiful place where I live…only to be gently interrupted by a one hundred and forty three pound gentle-giant of a dog named Bruno. He is the family mascot that tends to the 10,000 some vines and 10 acres of grapes on his daily jaunts through the vineyards. Bruno is a rescued dog who clearly displays his gratitude with un-ending affection for what amounts to a serendipitous lifestyle afforded to him by Silk Scarf’s proprietors.  On hot days he can be found in the creek cooling off.

When I die, I want to come back as Bruno at Silk Scarf.


To top off an already unusually special winery visit, we were presented with a bill of $17 per person (plus wine) and a very clear request that we DO NOT leave a tip.


That’s right – you do not tip at Silk Scarf: Knowing that you’ve enjoyed yourself and will come back is apparently enough for these savvy, kind and passionate business people.

There’s no question that if they continue to deliver the experience I enjoyed, that they will soon be over – run with demand. I am pleased to share this experience as it was so positive and memorable.

The Pinot Noir is killer. The chardonnay unoaked and delicious. The viognier is dynamite.

Silk Scarf is about half-way between Kelowna and Penticton (click for a Google Map), just off highway 97. If there’s ONE place you must stop – if only to try (and buy) some incredible wines, I highly recommend Silk Scarf – you won’t regret it.

New York in October

New York in October. Always a solid trip. How much has been written about this city? It is the most famous in the world. There’s probably more content in cyber space about New York than any other city.

I am always excited about about travel, especially to New York. My grandfather got out there every time he could according to my dad. So much happened there.

So much is happening there.

Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time, there’s always something to do, see, eat and spend your money on. The thing that I like about New York more than anything…is how easy it is to get around. Metro, cab, by foot…it doesn’t matter.

It’s an easy town to get around in. However you do it, just bring good shoes.

We stayed in Mid Town at a fairly decent hotel and took in as much as you can in 3 days.

  • Times Square
  • Grand Central Station
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Liberty Helicopter Tour
  • Central Park
  • Soho
  • Canal Street
  • Mid Town

For admission to over 40 of New York City’s best attractions (including the Empire State Building) I always check out New York Pass for the best deals.

We also went up to Hauppauge by train to visit a new friend whose art we’ve been buying – Maria Noma Bliss.  Maria picked us up at the train station and opened her home to us.  Hauppauge is a beautiful two hour train ride north of New York.

While up there, we drove down to Terrytown – another small suburb of the Big Apple – and also did some shopping at one of the best outlet malls I’ve ever seen – Woodbury Common.  In fact, I would suggest you skip shopping altogether downtown and make a day trip to this outlet mall call.

The deals here defy description ON EVERY BRAND NAME GOOD YOU CAN THINK of.

Just get yourselves up there and do it.  You’ll thank me.

While just outside of NYC, near Terrytown, I couldn’t believe that I actually saw Sleepy Hollow cemetary.  Yes, it DOES exist!

…it reminded me of that whole Halloween story about Icabod Crane and the headless horseman. I think I will watch the movie again soon. 10 days before Halloween.  How fitting.

While up in Hauppauge, we went out for dinner and dined next to Paul Teutul Jr. from Orange County Choppers. I didn’t get the chance to talk with him, however on the next day while driving, we drove past their original shop and also saw the new one, which is quite a production.

Here are just a few shots.  (Click on any of them to view them larger, in a slide show)

new york sleepy hollow cemetery

new york sleepy hollow cemetery

new york october building

new york october building

Amazing culinary ability for sale at Dean and Deluca

Amazing culinary ability for sale at Dean and Deluca

new york mid town outdoor market

new york mid town outdoor market

new york empire state building

new york empire state building

new york canal street

new york canal street

new york ruby foos times square

Ruby Foos restaurant in Times Square -  good food when your feet are tired


Boston in October

If you asked me to name one of my favorite places to visit – it HAS to be Boston. We had never been there before and this place is fantastic!

History, culture, great food, architecture and lots to do. It’s a good thing we walked a lot, because we ate and drank a lot.

We stayed at the Westin Copley place (after so many years of business travel I have accumulated tons of Starwood Points – so the Westin was a logical option).

The hotel is well situated right downtown and was terrific in every way.It’s a business hotel, but I DO love the heavenly beds and the Westin level of service. So you would be pleased with the Westin Copley if you were having trouble deciding where to stay.

The thing that I liked the most about Boston…was the history.I had no idea just how much stuff happened there…and how many influential people lived there.

Being a shutterbug, camera-geek, photo freak…I found Boston a dream to shoot at all hours of the day.

There’s just so much history to learn about in Boston and it’s fun to consume. It seemed that every time we turned around, there was something to learn about or see.

  • The first Post Office
  • The Boston Public Library
  • The Freedom Mile
  • Beautiful old Brownstone Walk-Ups
  • Street lamps still burning gas
  • Harvard University
  • REAL brick buildings
  • Beacon Hill
  • The home of Robert Frost
  • Faneuil Hall
  • The Old State House
  • A cemetary where Benjamin Franklin’s PARENTS, James Otis, John Hancock and Paul Revere are buried.
  • The fattest squirrels I have ever seen (they are in Boston Public Garden in case you’re into that sort of thing)

Newbury Street is Boston’s Rodeo Drive – but a thousand times better and totally authentic. Go there.

Walk it end to end and shop.

Traci and I took a day trip up to Salem, MA because we were getting into the spirit of Halloween.

We didn’t see any witches, but did find the coolest black cat named (are you ready for this?) Boo and got to learn about and eat a candy called Gibraltars – America’s first commercial candy.

The stuff never goes bad, is guaranteed to destroy your fillings, teeth and only comes in two flavours: lemon and peppermint. You’ll try it once and then use the rest as paper weights.

While in Salem, we also stumbled into the coziest restaurant EVER – a place called the Lyceum Bar and Grill, which happened to be the same building where Alexander Graham Bell made his first demonstration of the telephone in 1877.

I felt SO COOL whipping out my Blackberry.


A visit to Harvard was on the agenda and boy did I feel smart just walking around out there. Now I can tell everyone that I went to Harvard – and when they ask “what for?”…I’ll just change the subject quickly and hopefully leave ’em THINKING that I’m really educated.

Harvard is cool and serious at the same time. It’s an awesome place in so many ways. I could write a post just on the experience of being there.

REAL wrought iron and some amazing architecture that I remember studying in University were in every corner of the old campus. Seeing the Widener library (Harvard’s most photographed and published building) in the flesh (or in the ‘brick’, I should say) was awesome.

My most favorite building however, had to be the Boston Public library. It is breath taking. Even if you don’t like architecture, you will still be impressed. The building is downtown, and you cant miss it.

Go to Boston in the fall. The weather is perfect for being a tourista.

Here are just a few of the shots we took:

The Boston Skyline

The Boston Skyline

The Boston Westin Copley Place

The Boston Westin Copley Place. Gotta love the Heavenly Beds!

Boston has done a good  (not great) job of mixing urban and commercail

Boston has done a good (not great) job of mixing urban and commercial

The Boston Publc Library at night.  Stunning.

The Boston Publc Library at night. Stunning.

Inside the Boston Public Library.  No cameras allowed.

Inside the Boston Public Library. No cameras allowed.

An alley in old Boston. Something about this shot compelled me to take it...

An alley in old Boston. Something about this shot compelled me to take it...

Old World Lantern and New World Architecture

Old World Lantern and New World Architecture

Boston the Old State House

Boston the Old State House

The Paramount in Beacon Hill. A great, casual spot for breakfast or lunch

The Paramount in Beacon Hill. A great, casual spot for breakfast or lunch

John Hancock's Head Stone. I wonder if mine will be this grand...

John Hancock's Head Stone. I wonder if mine will be this fancy?

Harvard Architecture and Wrought Iron. Are you feeling smarter yet?

Harvard Architecture and Wrought Iron. Are you feeling smarter yet?

The Widener Library

The Widener Library

Boston Beacon Hill Post Office  -  America's First

Boston Beacon Hill Post Office - America's First

The Lyceum Bar and Grill Restaurant. What a lovely receipt.

The Lyceum Bar and Grill Restaurant. What a lovely receipt.

Gibraltar Candies in Salem, MA

Gibraltar Candies in Salem, MA

Boston Sunset. Looking West (does the sun set any other way?)

Boston Sunset. Looking West (does the sun set any other way?)