[Doing it Right] Yelping + Yachting Around Marina Del Rey

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There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as manifesting your own reality and thanks to social media, I firmly believe that each and every one of us is fully capable of doing so.  Whether it’s attending the right events, donning the right duds, being up on the latest makeup tips or rocking out to the latest and greatest jams – sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr,  Hypem, Soundcloud and Yelp.  Over the past few years, we’ve essentially been watching sites like Facebook and MySpace – broad, umbrella social media sites that encompass the entire breadth of what you would want to share – dissolve into specialized verticals.  If you’re shaking your head saying “No, that doesn’t seem right”, take these facts into account; in 2012 Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 Billion and last May Yahoo bought microblogging site Tumblr  for about $1.1 Billion.   Whether it’s to be part of the competition, or remove the idea of it by purchasing the competitors – both Facebook and Yahoo! seem more than aware that there are other verticals to conquer; so it only seems right to be jumping on that social media train with them and watching the journeys unfold!  Now, social media (in my opinion) has primarily one of two functions – either individually promoted posts strewn across the interwebs in hopes that someone – anyone – will acknowledge them, or interactive and community building. Tumblr, for me, sits happily between the two as the perfect fusion of sharing and caring whereas sites like Instagram, Hypem and Pinterest rest their laurels on promoting your individual posts, siding more on the sharing and a little less about the caring.  Yelp, for me at least, is on the other end of the spectrum – they’ve built an entire enterprise on helping people cultivate a “small town” community in a big ass city; exhibit (a): me in Los Angeles.

Over the course of my five years in Los Angeles I’ve developed quite the knack for being social media savvy – especially when you consider the fact I dropped my Communications major before the first week of college had started.  Not to say that I hadn’t grown up around all sorts of cutting edge technology and extravagant modes of communication + connection, but compared to my close circle of friends it’s something that I’ve gotten to hone in on and develop on my own time as opposed to it being force fed down my throat.  When Yelp surfaced a few years back, it was a resource – a way of determining what’s hot and what’s definitely not and to be honest, it fell more on the end of promoted posts versus community outreach.  Back in the beginning, I was I guess what you’d call a ‘Lurker’ – I was a non contributing member of the community down to search some data and get what I wanted but somewhere, deep in the heart of my second year something changed: I found businesses – like retail boutiques and family owned restaurants – that I thought were either misrepresented or underrepresented on Yelp and I took it upon myself to start reviewing them.  And then, well, it just kinda kept going…and going; what started out as a save-me-from-my-own-boredom style hobby fully escalated to being a Yelp Elite in ’11.  What’s that you ask? Oh, just a collection of the nicest, friendliest foodies you’ll ever meet: we get to go to kickass events, try out tasting menus and explore the heart of our cities thanks to our amazing Elite Team Leaders  but get something straight before you join, you gotta give a little to get a little – kapish? Over the course of a calendar year, I probably pen at least 100 reviews – yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that’s a lot of opinion! But I love it…I love telling stories and letting people in on the good parts of my life; I like letting people live vicariously through my proudest moments and my failures.  Ultimately, it comes down to this – I love sharing, and Yelp has given me a great, warm and welcoming community to do it with.

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My +1, with his flare

This past Monday, our Fearless LA Leaders took us out on the town to celebrate the amazing things that we’ve done and give us a taste of good things to come!  Due to scheduling, time conflicts and availability I’ve only been to a handful of Elite events – of the ones I can remember, only a tasting at The Grill at the Beverly Center and a Spa Night at Blue Medi Spa.  Truth be told, after I won their amazing Spa Package I had a heart-to-heart with myself and thought I’d rather sit a few out since I’d been so blessed with amazing luck and opportunity; but, when Yelp’s ‘Rock the Yacht’ event cshowed up on my radar there was absolutely no way I could say no – especially since there was a plus one! Ps. Ladies, take note – the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach – so, due to the transitive properties of math: being Yelp Elite is sexy, right? Right!

When Monday night came around I literally couldn’t sit still at work because I was so excited! One perk about working from home is that every half hour, I’d peruse my closet in search of anything nautical – I had snazzy stripes and a crisp color combination of blue, white and black in mind; and my closet delivered! We showed up to the Hornblower in Marina Del Rey around 6:30 and I’m so glad we did, the yacht was almost at capacity and it would have been beyond a shame to not get in.  There was a hosted, open bar and so, so many vendors – including, but definitely not limited to: Bombay Sapphire, Hamilton Wines, Beach Pizza, Pork Belly’s Sandwich Shop, Krave Jerky, Balvenie Single Malt Scotch, Grants Scotch Whisky, Scott Cellars, B Sweet, Sapporo and Stella Rosa Wines.  Needless to say, I left with a big smile and a full (and slightly tipsy!) belly.  Kudos to Hamilton Wines, Beach Pizza, Grants Whiskey and B Sweet for finding permanent homes in my heart and a mega-huge thank you to Katie B, The LA Yelp Elites and Yelp in general for always putting on such great events with amazing crowds.  Until the next one; xx!

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The collection of Cheesecakes from B Sweet

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The Winner: Glazed Donut Cheesecake

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Sunset on the Marina

Doing It Right: My Lucky Date With Blue Medi Spa

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Some people seem to have all the luck – raffles, clothes, apartments, friends; every bit and piece of their lives seem all too perfect to be real.  I’m definitely not one of those people but believe you me: I’ve had my fair share of luck.  Over the last three years I’ve been blessed with multiple opportunities that simply make my soul happy:  I was lucky enough to visit one of my best friends in Shanghai last year and got to celebrate the Chinese New Years in style, I won a trip to Las Vegas through the good folks at Metrowize and I was privileged enough to not only worth the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles, but I got to interview top notch designers like Christian Audigier and Lana Fuchs!

Over the last year or so, there’s been little luck to be found – which doesn’t bother me much, I definitely felt like I’d used up all my karma points with the universe! Well, a huge thank you to Blue Medi Spa of Sherman Oaks and Yelp’s LA East Elite Team for changing things up a bit – after attending the kickoff event for Yelp Elite’s last week, I got a strange phone call the next day saying that my raffle ticket had won me a night of pampering and a goodie bag. I’d just finished a big workout and literally had to pause and catch my breath -in between descriptions of spa treatments, I managed to squeak the words “…wait, I won?!” into the receiver.  And a week and a few treatments later, I still can’t believe how lucky I was!

First things first, the staff is beyond lovely – they were ready and able to answer all of my varied questions, and are over the moon hospitable! After a quick and nifty iPad driven intake form, I was swept away by a technician named Stacey for some microderabrasion or as the folks at Blue Spa refer to it – MicrodermaBlue.  Using the DiamondTome technology, the skin is exfoliated by distributing a stream of fine crystals and diamonds and then using a vacuum to suction the crystals – and your dead skin – up, up and away. The end result for me were that the top few layers of dead skin were completely removed, leaving a beautifully smooth surface with very little blemishes and an even complexion.  Another perk to microdermabrasion, besides your skin feeling heavenly, is that makeup will apply easier: it won’t streak and you won’t need to touch it up at all! The service itself is roughly $150, but in my opinion it’s completely worth every penny (that I didn’t have to pay…)

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One thing that I didn’t take into account before my appointment is your skin has multiple layers: the microdermabrasion targeted the epidermis, or the top layer of the skin.  My next treatment, Laser Genesis, targeting the endodermis (bottom layer of skin).   Now, let me preface this section by saying that this is a pretty pricey treatment ($400 for just your face) and there’s no way I would do this on my own dime – but – I absolutely loved it and feel that if you can afford a treatment like this, do it. The microdermabrasion opened up my pores for the removal of dirt and dead skin and the Laser Genesis then goes in and minimizes them.  It takes roughly 30 minutes, and 13 thousand light pulses, to finish your face – and not gonna lie, it feels a little strange.  The light pulses hit your face in attempts to stimulate collagen growth; and as a warning: the light pulses feel very similar to being in a strong tanning bed and can be a little uncomfortable at times.  The end result was that my skin tone and texture were completely evened out, and my cat scratches that I’ve had for years were almost unnoticeable!

Last, but definitely not least, I was presented with a goodie bag filled to the brim with amazing products which includes, but is totally not limited to, a Latisse kit ($120) with a one month supply of applicators and top of the line sunscreen + skin moisturizer from Fenix ($55) to ensure the treatments last.

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Once again, a huge thank you to Blue Medi Spa and Yelp for making this girl feel so special; thank you, thank you, thank you! My face looks and feels wonderful and I couldn’t be happier

Tech Tuesday: Do You Have Klout?

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Venn Diagram of Social Media

In this day and age, it’s become slightly tiresome to stay on top of all the Social Media Trends; there are just so many ways you can connect with people that websites can either become redundant, overwhelming or in the most severe cases – both.  Several of my friends coyly admitted that they’ve become discouraged to use social media because it’s just “too much” for them to want to handle (their words, not mine).  And to a point, I completely agree with them.  How you pick and choose your social networking sites is slightly analogous to picking where to sit at lunch during your first day at a new school; your environment, the information you choose to share and the connections you cultivate are all indicative of this choice.  Each Social Media site that I use has their eerie similarities, but also pronounced differences.

Everyone and their mom’s dog has a Facebook and at a very base level understands the purpose: sharing your life and ideas with a predetermined group of people and one rarely exceeds the 420 character limit of a status update.  With the new “Subscribe” option, one could make their Facebook relatively public – but I know very few non-Celebrities that have ascribed to this.

A website like Path is similar to Facebook with the types of things you can share – music, links, photos – but you’re limited to engaging a group of roughly 150 people. Why this number you ask?  Well, I’ll tell ya – it’s because of Dunbar’s Number, which basically states that the number of people one can maintain a social, stable relationships with is somewhere between 100 and 250, but scholars believe it’s at about 150.

And then there’s Twitter – you can elicit control over your audience by toggling whether you want your page public or private; at a basic level, hink of these two options as either the Facebook option or the Path option.  When public, anyone and everyone can read, and search for, your tweets – while private, your tweets are only seen by a select audience that you allow. Twitter is wonderful for being succinct and witty, but any and all responses are limited to 140 characters.

I love examples, so let’s throw a few out:

Let’s say you want to share a link to an important cause (the upcoming election, Superstorm Sandy, adorable kittens, etc)….

  • Do you have an opinion you’d like to share?  If so, something like Path, a blog like WordPress or Tumblr (or Blogspot…or Xanga…or, well, you get the picture) or Facebook is your best bet. If not, you could simply post your link to Twitter with the title of the article.
  • Do you have an audience that you’re trying to reach (or, avoid)?  If you want the biggest reach, I’d lean towards a public Twitter profile;  if you’re only interested in your pre-existing social circle, go for Facebook; and if you want your post to reach a niche crowd, go for Path.

Let’s say you’re out to eat at an amazeballs restaurant and want to share your meal with your friends…

  • Do you want to post a picture of it?  Then navigate towards Instagram – snap your shot and share away at your leisure.
  • Are you eating with long lost friends? Check the group into Foursquare or Facebook – hell, even post that picture you took with Instagram while you’re at it.
  • Did you have the best time ever and want to tell everyone how ridic the food and service were?  Log into Yelp and write a formal review of your swanky time

When you’re part of one or two sites – it’s fairly easy to understand the entirety of your audience:  if your Twitter account is private and you don’t allow subscribers on Facebook, you have an excellent idea of who your target audience is when you post.  But what if you’re playing a juggling act with social media accounts here there and everywhere?  That’s when you use Klout.  Klout takes someone from a Social Media Queen to the Social Media Queen Bee by aggregating data from a number of measured social networks

When I joined Klout a little over a year ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into – and adding another social media site that was an aggregate of the others seemed more than redundant.  But, what I’ve discovered over time is that Klout is to Social Media what Google Analytics is to Webpages.  By factoring in multiple social networks, Klout’s goal is to discover how many other users are engaged with each and every post you make, regardless of the source.  Your Klout score is between 1 and 100 and takes into consideration two factors: the topics you’re considered influential on and your social network (the people that influence you as well as the people that you influence).

As of today, these are the Social Media Networks that Klout considers relevant (and as a sidenote, I believe because of it – these are also the most important social media sites to be involved with): Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress, Last FM and Flickr; however, they’re currently looking to integrate Quora, Yelp, Posterous, Livefyre, Disqus, Bit.ly and BranchOut.

Last, but most definitely not least, there are perks of being involved with Klout.  Those perks aren’t whimsical, idealistic badges (*cough*foursquare*cough*) – they’re actual, tangible, physical, hold them in your hand and covet them Perks and all because you are considered influential!  Below are some of the wonderful ways Klout has thanked me for being a social media maven and I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to both enjoy and share them.

Argo Premiere with treats, drinks and delectable snacks!

Fair Trade USA & Klout Perk:
Allegro Whole Coffee Beans
Alter Eco Mini Dark Noir (chocolate bar)
Choice Organic Teas Roobios
Coco Cafe Cafe Latte with Coconut Water and Espresso
Honest Tea Half and Half Organic Tea with Lemonade
Lärabar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough food bar
Near East Quinoa Blend Rosemary and Olive Oil
Stash Roobios Tea

Klout Perk from Fit Frappe: Samples of each flavor and a huge container of my choosing. Plus, a jumprope!

Tech Tuesday: An App a Day keeps the Doctor Away

I’ve always been an Android lover; in fact, I can’t recall ever wanting an iPhone….granted, I’ve also had Verizon Wireless for my entire life so I didn’t exactly have the option of getting an iPhone when it came out…but, I digress.   I’ve watched the Android market evolve and expand over the past few years, and I’m almost in love with what I’ve seen.  The OS has gotten sleeker, potentially even sexier – if you could call an OS sexy, that is. Though the phones have gotten larger in height x length dimension, they’ve also become thinner, lighter and with better quality resolution on the display.  Not to toot the horn for the HTC Rezound, but beepbeep: it boasts the first HD screen for a carried branded phone in the United States.  How you like them apples, Apple?

Now,  originally – one of the great things about the Android phones is the fact that unlike the iPhone – it contains(-ed) Adobe Flash.  I have to phrase it that way because Adobe has decided to discontinue its use after this November, and has started with devices that have already upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.1  One of the draws of having Flash was that you could view any web page in its full entirety.  But who needs fully supported web browsing when there are so many fantastic  applications for the Droid?!

Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming figuring out which ones you should download. Not to mention, how to handle re-downloading applications after upgrading to a new device. Well, first things first -in the Google Play Store you have the option to view every single application you’ve ever downloaded on your phone.  Simply go to the Play Store, toggle the Menu button (the middle left button on the bottom of your phone) to access the pop-up menu and you’ll have an option at the top called “My Apps“.  Click through and swipe your finger from right to left to see “All Applications.”

The pink oval represents an application that was downloaded in the past, paid for even, yet not reinstalled when I upgraded my phone.  The blue oval is an application that’s currently on my Droid.

Now – onto the fun part, the applications. Some of these are pretty straight forward, especially ones for social media and some deserve a little bit of an explanation. The great thing about the Google Play store, is once your Google account is linked to your phone you can actually pick your applications out online in a more hunt and peck friendly atmosphere, and then send them to download on your phone.  It’s pure genius.

Hit the jump for my should have applications, and anything that is in italic or bold is a “must-have” – enjoy!

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