Saturday, October 23, 2010

West OC Legislative Committee

As election season comes to a close, there is a pervading sense of unrest among the citizens. We see it regardless of what news station we watch or political affiliation we may have. People want change, results and a belief that our system of government works. Our community is no different.

You may not have heard about it, but there is an organization, which has been meeting some time for years, combining our voice and votes of business, in what is called the “ West Orange County” region: The West OC Legislative committee. This community of Chamber leaders from La Palma, Stanton, Los Alamitos, Cypress and Seal Beach, along with representatives from the Joint Forces Training Base, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, and the unincorporated regions of Rossmoor and Sunset Beach tries to identify core issues and communicate en masse to our legislators. We meet monthly, on the third Friday of the month, and get updates from the contiguous legislative representatives for the region. Currently we are served by the following representatives:

• Congressman Dana Rorhbacher (R) - 46th Congressional District
• Congressman Ed Royce (R) – 40th Congressional District
• County Supervisor Moorlach (R) – 2nd County District
• State Senator Tom Harman (R) – 35th State District
• Assemblyman Jim Silva (R) – 67th State District

Formed over two decades ago the organization has provided direction for an often-overlooked region of Orange County. Theresa Murphy, of the Los Alamitos based Precious Life Shelter, and a long term member of the committee, indicated that the group has gone through many levels of activity, but has been focused always on informing the business community: “ Before legislators started having ‘ town hall’ style meetings, we had the annual mixer, where everyone wanted to attend to access them. It [the West OC Legislative committee] was designed to let the Chambers interface with the aides to our elected officials and bring some notice to our small cities for business purposes and legislative action.”

Recently, we considered several state assembly and senate bills and tried to support or oppose those which were in alignment with the consensus of the entire region. It is far easier to sway a politician when you have a high percentage of their constituents in agreement. This past year, we advocated for Senate Bill 954 which would have ensured the evaluation of tax impacts on business prior to adoption, supported Assembly Bill 1812 which would have provided credit for manufacturing businesses and opposed Senate Bill 518, an elimination of free parking in local communities.
Concurrently, there has been a support of the JFTB runway funding and support of the USS Dewey commissioning earlier this year. The voices of these communities is magnified by their synergy and participation. There are several ballot issues which are of particular business concern: Proposition 22 (which would remove the state’ s ability to take local funds), Proposition 24 (which would remove a tax break for businesses) and Proposition 26 (which would force a 2/3rd vote for most new fees and some taxes).

Overall, the West OC Legislative committee is pro-local control and opposed to new tax increases or removal of existing tax benefits. Business owners and non-profits have to meet budgets, payroll and regulation standards. If they don’ t, they go out of business. Why doesn’ t government? We too have become frustrated with government, but try to work a process of engagement with the legislative aides, who both inform and communicate our needs. The meetings are also quite different from others in that they are focused on actionable legislative issues. It is a conduit for information from the legislature to our Chambers and communities directly. If you are interested in attending our meetings,
please let me know.

In closing, as co-chair of the West Orange County Legislative committee, I would remind you of the words of Thomas Jefferson, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Please go vote on November 2nd. If we don’ t hold our politicians accountable, no one will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The FABULOUS Bellagio

The FABULOUS Bellagio.

Yes, it is that sumptuous. This past week, I had the remarkable opportunity due to a client visit and conference to stay at the property, attend a conference and dine several times. I could write reviews of all of the components individually, but that would take up far too much time. Instead, I will write in aggregate about many of the features.

1. Hotel rooms - four stars. They have delightful rooms with vast glass showers, soothing bed sheets, beautiful views, a simple but elegant turn down service and all that you should need in the room. They don't get five stars because I had to pay for wireless access - seriously? $15 a day simply for access seems silly. Also, don't bother with the minibar or snack selections - they are a fortune. The room sizes are really ample. I live in 550 sq. ft and I think the room (including bathroom) was bigger than my condo.

2. Convention services - three stars. Because of the size of the facility, it takes forever to walk to your venue. There were multiple AV issues for both presenters and the audience and networking connectivity varied over time. On the plus side, the food was remarkable at lunch and in the cocktail hour one evening, kind of meh at breakfast. Not much to enjoy if you don't do carbs.

3. The Bellagio Buffet - four stars. They don't get five because the wait to get in can be as long as an hour, the place is usually packed to the gills and the service can be hit or miss on the drinks. In terms of the food, it is unbelievable, particularly in terms of both depth and breadth of choice. You don't want to go on the weekend if you can avoid it as the buffet becomes "deluxe" which jacks the price up $7 (29.95 to 36.95) and the "normal" buffet still is amazing. Make sure you go after the high protein items. My friend Aron and I grubbed deeply on crab legs, shrimp, prime rib, NY strip, lamb, Chateaubriand, etc...that was the value. The Friday night "deluxe" buffet did include quite a few exotics - quail, ostrich, carved duck breast, etc...Oh, and to the four service people who ignored my friend Aron's request for Thousand Island dressing refill - BAD CALL / EPIC FAIL. How hard is it to refill the dressing container? It cost part of the tip and prevented me from giving it five stars for the entire review.

4. The Bellagio Fountains - five stars. Watch from the elevated veranda roundelay in front of the hotel so as not to be overwhelmed by all the plebes not staying at the FABULOUS Bellagio. (That was for you Aron!) The best part - it is FREE!

5. The FIX restaurant - two stars. Overpriced, loud and without alcohol, two people was over $160. I know I am an epicurean, but I expect all components of dining, including environment to be amazing and in this case, deeply disappointing.

5. The Fitness Center and Spa - FIVE stars. Originally off put by the $25 a day (which runs from 6 am to 8 pm), we decided to go down on Friday morning early 6:30 am to get our workout on before the conference. What a GREAT decision! As a long term weightlifter who has now looked to CrossFit and HIIT, they had ample equipment and machinery for everyone. Loved their cardio equipment and because there was so much of it, I never had to wait a second. The crowing glory however was the spa. Three jacuzzi spas (102, 104, 106 F, respectively), a cool (room temp) plunge, eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna, complementary beverages, ice towels, fluffy & silky robes, luxurious large, enclosed rain showers (with primo soap, shampoo & conditioner), full on grooming with razors, qtips, etc... and shorts you can borrow, it was THE best part of the trip. After doing a 45 minute workout, having a steam and sauna, not to mention the luxurious shower, I was fully focused and centered for a day of sitting and doing the mental work the convention required. It was such a delight, since our day pass was still good, at 6 pm, where were we for another hour and a half? Yep, the spa! Totally worth it.

Overall, if I was going to hit Vegas again for vacation or a business trip, I would definitely go back to this property. Some minor lessons learned, but mostly remarkable. No kidding about the Spa. I would go back just for that!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Weekend in Vegas - Sales anyone?

This past week I spent it in the FABULOUS Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. I was there for an InfusionSoft (a corporate CRM software system) convention with a variety of speakers. Some of them were: Bob Britton, James Malinchak, Bill Glazer and Brian Tracy. Wow, do these people know how to sell. They package, ship and then produce programs of "value-packed, wealth generating, high energy, synergetic, marketing & sales resources." The promise success in a box.

I have realized it is a lie. You lie to yourself if you believe them. Yes, the programs work. Yes, they produce results. Yes, their clients are successful. I believe however, we fall victim to a fallacy of attribution. We think because of some course work, the successes happen. I would argue a different reality.

Winners simply do the following: work hard, show up every day, research and implement plans, track results, hire the right people at the right time, envision their own success, surround themselves with other successful people, are prepared for opportunity when it comes knocking and have fun while working.

See, it is simple (not easy) and I didn't even have to charge you. Don't let that stop you from buying my program when it comes out. After all, I am certain mine will have all the secrets of the ancient civilizations and "7 Ancient Keys to Business Success." I promise. Just get your credit card ready...

Did I mention we will help starving kids in South America too?