Wine Adventures in Langley

Sometimes you just need to escape.

Jillian at Backyard Vineyard

Escape to a faraway land filled with wine.

In all seriousness, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Langley. Maybe once when I was a little girl. Sarah from Vancouver, we love you gave me a ring and asked if I wanted to be her date to the wine show down — with a squeal and a ‘what do I wear’… I was in!

Our tour began in downtown Vancouver, just in front of Canada Place. We hopped on a bus and we were off to Langley. We had a quick pit stop en route (needed to pick up more folks!) and we had an opportunity to meet the mayor of Langley… Jack Froese. Pretty cool – and he seemed pretty legit to boot!

Next up, we were off to taste wine!

The tour included:

Each winery had a different flair and throughout the day, we tasted 18 wines. It may have been more. I may have lost count. ;)

A few of my favourites from the day…

Best Red: F Bomb – Vista D’Oro (soon to be released!)

Best White: Siegerrebe – Chamberton

Best Bubbly: Blanc de Noir Brut – Backyard

I had absolutely no idea we had an ‘Okanagan wine region’ in our backyard. Campbell Valley wine region is close to the city (30-45 mins), but it feels like it’s an eternity away. Our 6 hours in Langley was the perfect recharge.

Thank you to Jelly Marketing and Darian Kovacs for hosting the crew. Already planning my return.

Countdown till Oahu

Wanderlust Oahu
Friday, March 1
Saturday, March 2
Sunday, March 3

10 days of sunshine. 3 days filled to the brim with yoga, music and surf.

T-2 weeks. Eeep!!

A Little Escape

I know that you’re not supposed to run away from your problems… or feel a need to run away from your life.

These days many in the self-development world — “experts,” say… if you need a vacation, you need a new life.

It in it’s simplest form, the statement makes sense to me.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been guilty of saying… “I  just need a moment to breathe”…”I need to get caught up on email”…”I need time to just think”… and before you knew it I had booked a trip to the hot hot heat.

I just need some time in a beautiful place to clear my head.

Regardless of what category you put ‘needing a vacation’ into… I know I need it. Yep, need it.

I need to be able to walk away from my current life and reflect on what’s working and not working. I need to think about my constant state of being busy and overloaded {for a great post by Danielle LaPorte on being overwhelmed… click here} — and determine what changes needed to be made. I need to gain clarity on what’s truly important. I need a little Eat : Pray : Love.

If all this means I’m running away — c’est la vie. If it means — I need a new/revised life… well I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I do.

Looking forward to some time with my head. Looking forward to moving into 2013 with a little bit more focus.

Travelling on the Cheap

In the last 2 years, I’ve been super blessed by the travel gods. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places, but a few in particular are New York, Japan, Belize, Costa Rica and almost, Taiwan.

Travel is expensive. How did I make it happen?

Well I owe a whole lot of thanks to a man by the name of — Chris Myden.

Chris is helping Canadians travel cheap. He sources out deals across the web and brings them to households across the country via his blog and social media.

I know what you’re thinking…

How is this different then your own searches? 

Well #1 — it just is. {Fact on the day.}

Another point would be that Chris saves you a hell of a lot of time. {Searching for deals can be very time consuming and a real pain in the ass.}

Third would be he has more tricks and tips up his sleeve then the strong majority. {He is extremely educated on worldwide travel.}

Agree with me already!

Today Chris was interviewed by local travel bloggers, Traveling Canucks. It’s an great interview that shares a lot about how he finds the deals, when not to travel, travel scams and how to stay in touch! Intrigued? Read it now.

In the interview he covered a few gems for finding travel deals:

  1. Kayak.com
  2. Matrix.itasoftware.com 
  3. Farecompare.com
  4. Vayama.ca
  5. Otalo.com

I’ve always relied on Kayak.com and Vayama.ca (they are what took me to Tunisia in 2009 and Japan in 2010 for cheap!). The other three though? New to me!

What I love about ‘working’ with Chris… {even though I have never met him} is that I have the opportunity to travel the world for cheap, but ALSO I have the opportunity to learn a whole lot about the world. When his ‘deals’ come through my Inbox, I discover a new city or a new country. My eyes and ears perk up and I think — wow, if only.

Sometimes the deals are extremely last minute and you just can’t make it work with your schedule. Others are so far in advance, you have apprehension over booking. The golden rule is that every deal goes quickly.

Who doesn’t want a deal?

When I went to New York, I flew for $69 each way with WestJet. Belize was in the high $500’s and Costa Rica was $420. For the last two, yep that’s return… including tax! The best deal I’ve bought is for Taiwan — just over $600 return including tax. You know how far away Taiwan is? Like 30 hours. A far way away and a hell of a deal!

You can rarely fly across Canada for $600!

Anyways, Chris is legit.

He’s making travel easy.

So where can you find the travel deal god?

Chris runs a travel blog, Facebook page and Twitter account for the following cities: Abbotsford, Calgary, Charlottetown, Comox, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grand Prairie, Halifax, Hamilton, Kamloops, Kelowna, London, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Prince George, Quebec, Regina, Saskatoon, St John’s, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.

If you know the airport code for your city… {If you don’t know click here to use this ‘airport code finder’!}

Then you can get hooked up with deals.

A few of the major cities across Canada:

Google it up and you’ll track him down.

Congrats on the interview Chris. Once again I learned a lot.

Happy travelling babes! Make sure to let me know where you’re headed to next!

PS – In June 2011, Chris and I were featured in an article in the Calgary Herald about travelling on the cheap. Check it out here

Smooth Skies with Salt Spring Air

I was born and raised on an island. Yep, an island! Salt Spring Island in particular.

Throughout my childhood this was no big deal. I knew no different. In winter the biggest concern was the rain and summer meant swimming in the ocean or watching a soccer game.

When I was 19, I moved from Salt Spring to Calgary and just last year moved to Vancouver.

Since leaving the island, travel back home has been a pain in the ass. When I lived in Calgary it meant a 90 min flight to Victoria and then a taxi to the ferry and then ferry to the island. If I couldn’t make that work, I’d fly into Vancouver but the commute to the island was way longer. Often planes were delayed which caused me to miss the last ferry of the night and hit up a hotel for the night.

When I moved to Vancouver, I thought that travel home would become simple again.

Not the case.

The most economical way to get to the islands is BC Ferries (less than $20). You can take the sky train from downtown Vancouver to Bridgeport station and then transfer to the bus that takes you to the ferries. The bus usually comes once an hour so you better look up the schedule before you leave. From there you’ve got a 40 min ride to the ferry terminal and then you have 2 options. You can take the 3 hour ferry that takes you from Vancouver to Salt Spring or you can take 90 min ferry that takes you from Vancouver to Victoria and transfer to the ferry that takes you to Salt Spring. The pro of the latter is that there is a ferry every hour or two whereas the former leaves once or twice a day.

I could go on and on about BC Ferries. Many of the large ferries have wi-fi now (yay!) — but it totally sucks. The ferries are archaic and old school, the boats to Salt Spring tend to be the worst. Queen of Nanaimo. Aye. The food? Less than desirable. The rugrats on the ship? In full force.

Anyways the point is… the commute from downtown Vancouver to my mom’s house takes about 5 hours. Yep the same amount of time it takes to fly to Toronto or Miami. The view is beautiful. Being on the water is divine. But the time it takes to make the journey?

Absolutely brutal.

Even though Vancouver is so close to home I dread the commute. Whenever I decide to go home I try and go for as many days as possible to justify the travel time.

For whatever reason I’ve never considered any other modes of travel to the island.

I could swim. But I’d probably die.

I could paddle board. But I’d probably die.

I could buy a boat. But I’d rather spend the money on a visiting a new country or city.

Another option is… the float plane!

I had always ruled our plane travel as I figured that’s what balla’s do and it was hella expensive. So anyways one way from downtown Vancouver to Ganges Harbour is $100ish and it takes about 20 mins. Seems like a lot when you think that WestJet can sometimes get you to Toronto for $99 each way.

Wanna know a secret? It’s a deal.

Since becoming self-employed I’ve learned a lot about the value of my time.

My time is worth a lot. {Pavel would love to hear me say that out loud!}

I had been stalking Salt Spring Air on social media for awhile. They post ‘deals’ on their social media channels from time to time — and I was keen to get myself a deal for Easter weekend. I was thinking that it would never happen. Long weekend and everyone likes to head home for family time. All of a sudden yesterday — BOOM. DEAL.

The customer service was great! Philip over on the social media channels got everything arranged and then a lovely rep called this morning to confirm and get my credit card number. I arrived at the docks 10 mins before we left and my gosh, travelling with 2 others is sure efficient! The pilot wheeled my bag down the dock and we got our bags all sorted. He didn’t drop my Macbook in the ocean so he for sure gets points for that!

One of the other customers asked if I wanted to ride up front and I was like — WHOA. YES. I sat beside lovely Rob {the Pilot!} and he taught me how to drive {?} the plane. Well not really, but I did get to take in the view, listen to the radio and chit chat with him about how his job is sweet. {The last time I was on a small little plane like this one, it was in Costa Rica and everyone was violently ill. Damn winds.}

It was a beautiful day to be in the sky. Gorgeous weather, minimal wind and quite the sight. I love West Coast BC. I love the ocean. Flying through the islands calmed my mind and immediately I was at peace.

For under $50 and in 20 mins I was back home on the island.

YES. HOME. 20 MINUTES. 

Door to door it was probably 55 minutes — so efficient.

I was blessed to be raised on a beautiful island. If you haven’t been to Salt Spring, you must check it out this summer. They have a nice hippie market that takes place on Saturday’s, beaches galore, the blackberries are plentiful and if you are really keen you can run the hills {like I will be doing tomorrow}. Barbs Bakery, Salt Spring Roasting Co and Treehouse Cafe are all must do’s. As long as you don’t mind seaweed, Vesuvius Beach is my favourite.

If you would rather poke yourself in the eye then take BC Ferries again, I’d recommend taking Salt Spring Air. Especially throughout the summer when the skies are divine.

To stay in the loop with their promotions and day to day, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Huge thanks to Philip, Rob and the team at Salt Spring Air for getting me home for Easter. The mother is happy. :)

Looking forward to travelling with you again!

{Note: I wasn’t asked to write this post. I had a positive experience and wanted to share what I learned. And obviously I wanted to highlight my ‘pilot skillz’ so that one day they let me fly the plane. ;)}

Finding Peace in Costa Rica

When I think back to when I bought my plane ticket – I can’t actually remember what month it was, let alone what day. Chris over at http://www.yvrdeals.com highlighted a seat sale and I hopped right on it! There is something about Central America that intrigues me and brings me peace.

In December, I counted down the days.

In January, I continued to count but with a grand feeling of excitement.

Finally all became real on February 5th when I was en route to the airport.

Something I have learned about myself over the past couple of years is that I am very high and low. “Regular” day-to-day life is busy. The focus is on working a lot, helping others as much as I can, volunteering in the community, attending events, pushing myself to learn more, keeping track of my new niece and family, learning to run, catching up with friends — and keeping my head above water.

Sometimes stamina will keep me going a month, but other times it’s a week.

When I get to my brink – all I want to do is lay down in silence. I don’t want to talk or even sleep (…I often say “I’m done talking today”)… I just want to enjoy. I curl up in my duvet for as long as it takes to catch my breath and start again.

Every so often I exchange a little R&R in my bedroom for a trip abroad.

My exposure to international travel began when I spent 5 weeks in Europe in 2005 (10 incredible countries!). Before that I had just been to the US and Mexico — which keeps one fairly sheltered!

  • 2005: England, France, Monaco, Italy, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium
  • 2006: Kelowna, Playa del Carmen
  • 2007: Banff, Puerto Vallarta
  • 2008: Dominican

[Note: In late 2008, I finally ended my travel frustration as I figured out how to manipulate my ‘corporate’ 2 weeks vacation into mega time off. Win. :)]

  • 2009: Las Vegas, Germany, Tunisia
  • 2010: Toronto, Niagara Falls, Hawaii, New York, California (San Francisco and Napa Valley), Montana, Japan
  • 2011: Belize, California (from Laguna Beach to LA), Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Maryland, Virginia

[Note: No I do not own a home. Yes I have a travel bank account instead of a mortgage savings account (much to my banker’s disagreement).]

So, 2012. After this trip to Costa Rica, the hope/plan is a week in Toronto, girls weekend (and a half marathon) in Seattle, Wanderlust in Whistler, the JCI World Congress in Taiwan and 4 weeks in India teaching entrepreneurship.

Just writing that out gets me so amped for what is next.

My soul comes alive when I travel. It allows me to step outside my life and for whatever reason (the good and the bad) all becomes clear.

Travel pushes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to learn so much about the world. When I was young “travel” meant 5* hotels and all-inclusives. Now it means a backpackers hostel and at least one “I think I might die” moment. [Note: I still love a spa day, massage and duvet every so often. :)]

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I had absolutely no expectations of Costa Rica, and very unlike me, I did absolutely no planning. Mom gave me the Lonely Planet for Christmas and I opened it up on the flight to LAX.

I had one destination – Santa Teresa. I had randomly met a terrific (capital T) woman named Shannon in Whistler late last year. Sure enough we know lots of the same people (…thank you Vancouver!) and I met her biz partner, the fab (capital F) Diana last month. Anyways Shannon and her family [badass (capital B) Brett and too cute Kaede] are living in Costa Rica for 3ish months. Sweet life eh? My “plan” was to head to their beach town and go from there.

My “I think I might die” moment of this trip took place in the first 48 hours (kind of the first day still as I had spent the last 24 hrs traveling and that only kind of counts)… I missed my regional flight as we landed late in Liberia. The next flight they could get me on was 2 days later (not an option). I had no idea until I arrived but Santa Teresa is 5 hours by car from Liberia — in other words, a hell of a long way in a developing world. I was told that most people headed to Santa Teresa fly into San Jose… which is considerably closer… :) I was advised not to take the local bus as it would take 10 hours and was very unsafe compared to local buses in Central America. My only option was a taxi… and it would cost me $300 USD. :-/ My driver did not speak English, the car barely worked and my fingers were crossed I would make it down the Nicoya Peninsula. A local tourist guy at the airport gave me his phone number and told me to text him if I ran into any problems. He reinforced that I need to pay attention to the routes the driver is taking and to not let him stop anywhere. He gave me a map and wished me luck. Great and all but I only had cell service the first 2 hours (of which I panicky texted my sister and a few friends telling them where I was headed and what I was wearing).

It was a very long drive. I was exhausted from my 24 hours of travel and my eyes kept on fading in the last 2 hours. The driver was a nice young guy and (I could tell) he knew I was scared he was going to rape and kill me. He offered many times to stop and I politely declined. The last 3 hours of roads were brutal bad – dirt roads full of pot holes, bumps and not so much fun.

But eventually we made it to Santa Teresa!!

First impression was — Why the hell did I come here? This is not paradise. I arrived at night and the town was a dusty dirty mess. The dirt road creates a lot of dust (it’ll all be washed away when the rain comes in a few months!). If you’re planning a visit (and renting a ATV), bring a bandana or dust mask to cover your nose/mouth. Shannon and I chatted about the nasty road and she made a good point… If the road wasn’t dirt, then Santa Teresa would be LOADED with tourists. The dirt road keeps them away…. Ah, dirt. Love dirt. Love dust.

I could continue to write for days on every detail of the trip but instead, a few of the highlights:

  • Morning runs at Playa Santa Teresa (by the way, running on the beach sucks hardcore)
  • Daily smoothie goodness (banana, guava, soy was my fave!)
  • Learning to surf at Playa Hermosa
  • Ice cream everyday (mainly consumed to-die-for Trits but also loved the choco mint mmmmm)
  • Raw food classes with Joanne
  • Breathtaking views and the infinity pool at XXX < cannot remember what it’s called :)
  • Sunsets, sand castles and tacos with my adoptive family
  • Evening hammock sessions at Casa Zen with the boys
  • Sleeping more than 5 hours… most of the trip I slept 8 hours :)

Santa Teresa is a special place. The beachesand sunsets are absolutely stunning, but the town has some charm too. There ended up being a lot of stress from back home throughout the trip but — still, Santa Teresa calmed me. On the last day, badass Brett told me that I looked more relaxed than when I arrived. Well thank goodness haha.

It’s been years since I bunk bed travelled (I usually opt for the $20 private room over the $8-10 shared dorm). I am someone who loves my space (sorry Casey, Luke, Julie, Jake and Nate). On the second to last day, I was done.


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In order to avoid the 5 hour taxi back to Liberia, I decided to take a regional flight. Sansa Air took me from Tambor to San Jose and then San Jose to Liberia. Breathtaking views on both flights. I’ve been feeling ick the past few days (and also threw up on my 2nd flight)… so when I landed in Liberia I decided to end hostel life early and head to a hotel for the night. I had a hot shower (no more cold!!), room service and slept in a kind sized bed with down duvet. This morning I blow dryed my hair and put on shoes, jeans & mascara! Perfection.

As much as I love travel, I also love home and the routine that comes with day-to-day life. I’m on my flight from Liberia to Miami (then Dallas Fort-Worth) — and honestly so excited to get back to Vancouver. I’m looking forward catching up with my clients, seeing my friends and sleeping in my own bed. I thought I was getting in at 11pm but I actually get in at 8:30pm. Once I get home, I’m heading straight to the grocery store. I can’t wait to put all I learned from Joanne at The Healing Cuisine into action.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be back to work. It’ll be a busy week catching up on client work, plus Forum for Women Entrepreneurs‘ Sparkle Gala, JCI Vancouver’s launch party, Pink Tank Group’s NextGen panel and CKNW’s Pink Shirt Day Ladies Luncheon.

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2 weeks in Costa Rica was just what I needed. It allowed me to breathe [and cough… damn dust. ;)]

I’m very grateful that I am able to see the world and spend time with those who continually expand my mind.

A big thank you to Shannon, Brett and Kaede forthe laughs and love.

PS – Travel Wish List (in no particular order): Panama, Brazil, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Colorado & New Orleans in the USA. … yep, pretty much everywhere. :)

the final few

As many of you know… I no showed on my going away party. See transparent sob story here. Sigh. [Moving forward… :)]

On my last Saturday in Calgary, I went to one of my favourite places with 4 of my girlfriends. Taste Restaurant (www.taste-restaurant.com) is absolutely divine. I am continually wow’d by the service, staff and menu. For the ‘last dinner’ we enjoyed mac n’ cheese, tomato salad, gnocchi, limited edition vegan items and to-die-for pretzel bits. You heard me… to-die-for. Thank you to Brandon, Bill and the girls for making the night most memorable.

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Sunday was filled with packing. It ended up being a stressful day and evening, as although I sold most of the things I owned… I still had a ton of stuff to move. Michelle and I packed the car to the brim and all that would be left in Calgary was 3 boxes (to be dealt with at a later time).

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Our journey began around 7am. The car was so full, Michelle couldn’t see out the back and I had to be the rearview mirror. Once we were in the mountains, the rain started. It poured and poured and poured. Thankfully the weather cleared up once we entered the Okanagan and made for a pleasant last leg of the trip.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a long drive… but on a positive note, we made it without killing each other (12 hours, 2 Type A’s). ;)

Once we arrived, we picked up the keys to my condo and unpacked the car. Super productive considering we had already had a long day! It was a beautiful night in Vancouver, so we enjoyed Mexican food on a quaint little patio.

The next chapter has officially begun.

eat learn move

It takes a lot to wow me… but in a solid minute I’ve just been blown away.

Travel mixed with creativity absolutely melts my heart.

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ….into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films…..

= a trip of a lifetime.

Their story:

Love love love.

opportunity

We’re 9 days into the new year… and I haven’t blogged! What is wrong with me?!

The good news? I’ve been having some necessary *me* time. I have been getting sleep, going to yoga, and putting some serious thought into what’s in store for 2011.

I was very happy to close the door on 2010 and start a new chapter with the new year.  During the last week of December, my intentions were to reflect on the year, write my new goals, make my dream board, and start the new year organized. Well… that hasn’t exactly happened.

Life has been full tilt. I was given the opportunity to go on a new project at work and started three days before Christmas. With a new role comes a whole load of learning – and it didn’t help matters that I booked off three weeks of vacation within my first month of work! The good news though? I am doing employee engagement every day, all day – and I absolutely love it.

In addition to starting the new role, I’ve got a bit of my social life back. In December I finished 7 years of university. Yes, SEVEN. I have been going to uni full-time nights and weekends; it took a wicked amount of time away from my friends. I’ve been taking the last few weeks to reconnect with friends and meet some fabulous new people. Immersing myself back in the social environment (which is totally my scene), just showed me how much I missed it.

I have met some excellent HR contacts (and friends) over the past few weeks.  They ooze with passion and dedication towards the profession – and two ladies that I couldn’t be more proud of. I also recently tweeted that I was overwhelmed by web design and how to create a website. Well I was blessed to have a friend of a friend respond to my plea for help and he’s supporting me through the process. Hopefully by late Spring I’ll have a new site up!

I feel as though my life has been disorganized for months, if not the whole past year. I spent this past weekend cleaning my house, organizing my life, and trying to get things sorted. I had a massive stack of unread mail, ridiculous amounts of business cards to look through, textbooks to sell, and laundry up the ying. I have been procrastinating so many tasks for months… putting them at the bottom of the list of priorities. Yet, since completing everything I’ve putting off, I feel at peace. Funny how that works. ;)

This week is going to be busy, but I feel prepared to take it on. In four days I leave for Toronto.  KPMG is flying me out east to meet with the CEO’s and Executives from the “Top Employer” competition this Fall.  On January 18th, I’ll be meeting be the CEO/President’s of Starbucks, GAP Adventures, Steamwhistle Brewery, and KPMG (meeting with Rogers CEO is on January 10th via tele-conference). The other days that I am in Toronto will be spent meeting with various Executives at other companies, people I respect & admire, and catching up with a few friends.  I’ll be running from coffee date to meeting to lunch date to meeting to meeting to dinner date to – hopefully, a glass of wine. :)

I then fly from Toronto to Belize for a little more *me* time.  2010 was honestly a very overwhelming year.  There was absolutely great success and massive achievements, but also a few major rock bottom moments. I want to get 2011 started off on the right track. In order to do that, I need some time with my mind. I will be spending 2 weeks in the sunshine – sunbathing, swimming, reading, and living freely. I am looking forward to the opportunity to both disconnect and reflect.

From a blogging standpoint, stay tuned for:

  • My reflection on 2010
  • 2011 goals & dream board
  • “Top Employer” experience
  • Trip to Belize

I’ll leave you with this…

Someone recently asked me what were my expectations of my trip to Toronto and the “Top Employer” experience. All I said was… “opportunity.” I honestly threw together a video, uploaded it onto the Top Employer site, and never thought for a moment that I would win. Yes, I was confident with my response and stood behind it proudly.  To me though, my opinion on the workplace of today  is the same response I’ve had for years. It wasn’t special, unique, or an idea that I had been brewing for months.

Tomorrow is my first “Top Employer” meeting and guess what? I’m nervous. I think I find it odd that these executives would want to meet me and/or have any interest in what I have to say. I mean… I am pretty cool ;) but seriously – why? [Rhetorical]. :P I’m looking forward to participating in this experience. It is absolutely once in a lifetime, and I’m prepared to learn a massive amount.

I hope that you have had a chance to think about how you want your 2011 to look. Always remember – you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

With all my love. xo

PS – A few questions I have recently been asked….

1) Are you going to wear a suit to the CEO meetings? No.

2) Are you going to ask them for a job? No.

3) Are you going to ask them to give me a job? No.

4) Are you going to ask Starbucks about their new “branding” or Rogers about their cellular service? No.

If you have any other questions about the experience or the meetings just let me know. ;)