Three tips for being a proficient Entrepreneur

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I did my first on-camera interview this past Tuesday for Business Rockstars. Prior to the interview, they sent out a lengthy questionnaire that asked some wonderful – and probing – questions. This is the second such questionnaire I've filled out in the last month as you'll know when our feature in VoyageLA.com comes out in early June.

Each of the questionnaires asked very different questions, and it wasn't easy in many ways to complete them. They really served to shine a light on me personally, how I see my business, and how I hope others will perceive it.

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One of my favorite questions out of all of them was: "What do you consider yourself proficient in as an entrepreneur?" I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs what I assume is the battlecry of pretty much every entrepreneur: "NOTHING! I AM NOT PROFICIENT AT ANYTHING!"... and then I realized, I absolutely am proficient and at many different things. Here are a few things I've learned not only to become proficient in but to regard as cornerstones for success in this crazy world we call entrepreneur, or even more appropriately, solopreneurship.

1) Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses: Knowing what I can do myself, figuring out what I can teach myself to do, and accepting what I just can't.

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Example: our website. This entire website was built by me, from scratch with zero help. Those who know Squarespace might be saying, "sure, well, big whoop, Kala!" However, they don't know that before embarking on this journey, the thought of creating an entire website myself literally sent me into a panic attack. I put it off for TWO YEARS because I just couldn't handle trying to figure it out. However, once the proverbial s**t hit the fan, and it was a choice between spending thousands of dollars on new development or just sucking it up and doing it myself, well, you know what happened. And the things is, it wasn't so bad once I started and now I consider myself pretty decently skilled at it.

2) Asking for help. This isn't an easy one for us Type A entrepreneur types but especially as a one-woman show, there literally are not enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to do. Moreover, given that we are pretty much the only ones designing our businesses, we become so enmeshed that we really can't see the forest through the trees. Sometimes we need to look outside ourselves for guidance. And, please, that doesn't make us weak... it's a sign of strength

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3) Being clear... and also being flexible: Being clear about your message is the NUMBER ONE way you will get business!!! However, understanding that your message will likely have to change over time because of trends in the market, technological or other developments in your industry, geography, or simply with the passage of time is equally important. If you are steadfast in pursuing your business with one message that cannot adapt to changes in your circumstances or environment, you will likely run into some roadblocks. So, be CLEAR... and be flexible also. 

Why does live music matter?

If you've ever asked yourself this question, you're already ahead of the game. It's not that most of us don't like live music but have you really thought about why it matters? Presenting music live is a cornerstone of Five Senses Tastings' vision and events, and so we wanted to share with you why we think it's not only fun but vitally important.

  1. All music is live even when it's recorded: Unless we're talking about 100% electronically-produced sound, all music is, at its moment of creation, live. And even for that electronically-produced music, a human being was creating it. When we hear it, we are hearing a moment in time. That moment cannot be recreated. 
  2. Let's take that idea farther: no moment in time can ever be recreated. Isn't it magical beyond words to be a part of that fleeting and wonderful moment when something comes to be? Even when a singer performs a sing he or she has performed 1,000 times, each time it's performed, it's in some tiny little way different than every other time it's been performed. We get to experience that moment of magic without any intrusion from technology.
  3. Live music brings people together. Cliché, perhaps, but true. If you've ever been to Madison Square Garden or the Hollywood Bowl, or the Central Park summer concert series, you know that it is far beyond a simple musical experience; it's a shared human experience with all those around you.
  4. Performers want to be as close as possible to their audiences. The spontaneity of being in front of live crowd allows a performer to share what is in their mind and heart at that very moment, sharing their experiences with their fans, and creating intimacy that is simply not possible over the radio or Pandora.
  5. It's fun. It just is! Simple as that.

We'd love to hear from you about your most memorable live music experience.

When and where was it?
Who did you see?
Why was it so memorable for you?

Dick jokes and opera

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Yes, you read right.

This is the title of the show I saw on Wednesday thanks to my dear friend, Diane, yoga teacher extraordinaire and also the Founder of Love Infinity for All, a jewelry company that raises awareness and funds for mental illness. 

We really didn't know what I was getting into when we rolled up to the Soho House in West Hollywood. For those of you who don't know, Soho House (which actually began in London in 1995 and has houses all over Europe and North America, oh, and Istanbul) is where you go when you need to convince the rich and famous how rich and famous you currently are OR how rich and famous you think you are OR how rich and famous you will or most definitely should be.

"High art meets low art" is how the show was presented to the packed room. Opera arias, performed by LA-based opera singer and entrepreneur Nicole Levitt, were interspersed with stand up comedians named... yeah, I'm sorry, I have absolutely no recollection of who they were but they were great, especially the irreverent Illinois-Irish guy in the middle.

What I loved most about the event was the complete unexpectedness of it. Stand up comedy and opera? Maybe someone has thought of it before but, no surprise here, I absolutely loved the concept of putting together two things that you'd think on the surface have nothing in common with one another. But it worked because the purposefulness behind each story was there, whether high art or low art.People in the audience may never have heard opera before, and they were inclined to appreciate it not only because they knew the woman singing but because her voice stood in clear, melodious, and purposeful juxtaposition to the dick jokes and other insults hurled by the comedians. 

There are most certainly still some kinks to be ironed out in terms of the flow and presentation, but I am thrilled to bits to hear that this will not be the last installment and that the future of the show is moving towards a more meaningful connection between the two art forms.

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I had a thoroughly unplugged weekend this weekend, and it felt amazing. I slowed down, walked (strolled even), spent longer than normal on each bite of food, stood and LOOKED at the ocean rather than passing it by, left my phone at home and didn't listen to anything except the world and people around me. 

Then it was today – Monday. First thing I saw this morning was the "Revel-Reflect-Recharge" weekly email, in which the author mentioned the following:

"Acknowledging your senses is a quick way to become attentive to the present moment - what is meant by being mindful. To create a mindful pause whenever the need arises focus for a few minutes on what you can hear, and then on what you can feel on or in various parts of the body (the chest breathing, airflow over the skin, ambient temperature, minor aches and pains, feet on the floor, even itching sensations...), and then on what you can smell and/or taste. Lastly focus your sight on a few things around you both far and near, and really see them (particularly helpful when your eyes have become screen-weary)."

What a beautiful reminder that, even amidst the chaos, we can always find a minute or two just to BE in ourselves. Focusing on all our senses is the way to ground ourselves in that moment of being.

Are you drinking with the popular kids?

When you go into a wine shop on a Friday looking for a bottle to end your week, where do you usually go?

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The bargain bin, right? Or, more appropriately, the well-placed bargain shelves that stand just at eye-height and don't make you do any work to find them. Sorry, anyone who ever taught us anything about wine, but that is just often how it goes. Even those of us who really enjoy a good dig around the shop or pretty much always want to try something new sometimes just don't want to put in the effort at the end of a busy week.

Next time you visit a wine shop, however, keep the following in mind and see if you can't try something new or, if you do want to stick with the tried and true, try a different region or country producing the same grape.

So, who are the cool kids? I think it should come as no surprise whatsoever that Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (which, did you know is actually a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc?) top the list of the most popular wines consumed in the U.S.

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Chardonnay comprises fully 20% of all wine drunk in this country, with Cabs following shortly behind. After that, there are varied opinions on what's next but the following positions are typically held by a mixture of the following: Pinot Grigio, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. 

So next time you're looking for that perfect bottle, maybe you'll try a different grape (two of my personal favorite and only slightly out-of-the-box options are Viognier for white and Petite Sirah for red) or maybe you'll just consider a different region for your favorite Chardonnay (try Edna Valley) or Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast, Mendocino, or Lake counties). 

Final tip: the bottle may not always clearly state where the wines are from. Make sure to check in with the wine shop owner and don't be shy about asking questions. That's what they're there for. Make all the money and time they spent studying to be able to help you worth it for them :)

The power of experience over stuff

Carefully selected wines, food, and music have the power to create unique experiences. These sparkling wines – one white and one rosé – are from the Boisset Collection.

I am consistently unamazed at how much more people talk about experiences than things. According to David Adler, CEO of BizBash, the market leader in event news, ideas, and resources, research shows that "today's buyers believe that experiences are the new bling," and I have found this to be exceptionally true, across generations and across the country and even the world. 

People are always looking for that "new" twist to their special events and in Los Angeles, which is an events town through and through, I find this to be even more pronounced. From real estate agents to financial planners, health coaches to those in the hospitality industry, people crave something memorable... something more than just a party with a Costco cheese plate (don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Costco cheese plates) and some cheap wine from Trader Joe's (those who know me know what a complete and utter devotee I am of TJ's!).

A guest at Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills listens carefully to the musical selections, each one hand-picked to pair with the wine, cheese, and chocolate served.

Most people – me included – do not consciously consider their senses on a daily basis, except perhaps to notice if they have a stuffy nose or their ears are popping after a long flight. We accept what the world throws at our senses without question and without much consideration of the fact that we do actually have the power to customize what we sense, at least to some degree.

As Julian Treasure often remarks in his speeches on conscious listening, we do not have earlids, and so entirely turning off the sounds of the world just isn't possible (even the best earplugs can't filter out the jackhammer noise from next door's rebuilding project completely – trust me, I know!). However, we do have the option of focusing on our senses and purposefully triggering and engaging them. 

Guests listen intently at a recent Five Senses Tastings event in Essex Fells, New Jersey. 

At Five Senses Tastings, we take this idea very seriously. We have all come to accept sound – or perhaps more appropriately, noise – as something that by its very nature is unspecific (and sometimes even annoying) in our lives. We have become inured to the idea that our senses, when carefully addressed one by one or in concerted unity, can center us in the moment and help to create and solidify memories.

Specifically triggering all our five senses – sound, smell, taste, touch, and sight – is our primary goal in our music tastings. We have shared it with hundreds already, and we can't wait to continue sharing this unique experience with our friends in Los Angeles. Whether you're planning an anniversary or birthday party, product launch, or client appreciation event, we can help create a special experience that your guests will not only enjoy but remember with all their senses.