8 users tell me what they think about Empire Avenue

empire avenue featured

Facebook has 750 million subscribers. People on Twitter tweet 200 million tweets per day.  You Tube has 3 Billion page views per day. FlickR has More than 5 billion pictures uploaded on its site. There are over 100 million registered users of linkedIn.

No matter how hard I try I just can’t wrap my head around these numbers and the exponential growth of social media in the last two years.  Empire Avenue (EAv) is a social media game that is taking advantage of this surge.  It is unique in that it encourages participation in Social Media by rewarding your engagement while encouraging you to network with other users on the site.

After participating in several Tweet Chats where EAv was mentioned, I decided it was time to get on board. Immediately after completing the sign up process and setting up my profile I was bombarded by investors purchasing shares in my stock.  I’m not sure if it was because I signed up during a holiday weekend or it there are always investors chomping at the bit for fresh bait, but I was happy for the instant engagement.  The madness lasted probably another good 1/2 hour before settling into EAv normalcy (and by normalcy I mean the feeling you have after downing two Grande Chai Tea Lattes).

With my initial bounty of 16,000 EAVES (The EAv currency) I made several investments without any real strategy or knowledge of what to consider when I made a purchase.  I didn’t do my homework before signing up because I didn’t plan to engage until a later time. Lesson learned. Be prepared to play the game as soon as you sign in.

After making a few purchases and accepting an invite to a live chat with an experienced player

 ( <— I think it was this guy but can’t remember for sure because I was involved in so many transactions in a short period of time)

John Evangelidis ( JIANNI )
Thessaloniki , Greece

I had a much better understanding of the strategy required to be successful.  I quickly discovered that EAv was a good place to make contacts because there is a huge incentive to invest in other users and convince them that you are a good investment.

During my chat with Jianni  it dawned on me that a great way to meet some interesting people and learn more about the game would be to use the chat room as a resource. I decided I would try and interview some of the users and then write about what I learned from them in this blog.  I was successful and chatted up the following people:

ELZA VAN SWIETEN (CONFLUENCE)

Driebergen , Netherlands

KAT MCCORMICK (CALLANPARK)

Sydney , Australia

ROGER HOYT (TFLAT)

Live Oak, FL , United States

Kim Garst (KIMGARST)

Tampa, FL , United States

NIKOLA CAVIC (ORBIS)

Reykjavík , Iceland

PRINCIPE ALVERTO (PRAL)

Miami, FL , United States

RODRIGO BASTOS (BIGDIGO)

Rio De Janeiro , Brazil

ADAM WEART (AWEART)

Alpharetta, GA , United States

What I learned

1. Most of the players that I talked to  invested between 1 – 3 hours a day on the site.  One enjoys it so much that he/she logs on for up to 6 hours a day.

2. All have enjoyed playing the game so far.  Many have only been on the site for a few weeks or months. The majority said that the biggest benefit was networking with new people that they would not have met any other way.  “I have made some amazing contacts here on Empire. Connected with people that I would not have connected with on other social media platforms.” says (KIMGARST)

A secondary benefit comes about because as you use the social media you are connected to in EAv it is tracked and reported back to you thus pushing you to engage more. When I asked (TFLAT) if EAv has changed the way he uses social media he stated “Yes it has. I find that I’m using twitter more often when I haven’t been using it much. I’m also using LinkedIn when I haven’t been using it at all.”

3. One huge advantage is that the entire premise of the game is to invest in your peers through buying and selling shares of stock.  This makes it very easy to meet people because everyone has an agenda to sell themselves and buy into other players. Once you make that initial contact it makes it easier to develop a longer lasting relationship. (PRAL) stated “but i love the community feel to it that everyone connects, you make actual friend and not just a contact”

4. One negative aspect of EAv that everyone agreed on was that you have to log onto the site almost every day to maintain your stock value and when you don’t, your stock takes a large hit. Orbis noted “I dont like that going away for a few days has such a severe effect on the share price” The other negative that came up more than once was that there are many users who don’t understand or don’t take advantage of the networking capability on the site. One other “opportunity for improvement” is the site hasn’t gone mobile yet making it more difficult to connect when on a business trip or vacation.

5. Having a strategy is key to increase dividends from your investments as well as increasing your own share value. A well developed strategy is useful for getting the most out of networking.  Many that I talked to felt that networking is key and includes it in their success strategy.  Most agreed that it’s important to invest in new arrivals that appear to have potential based on their connections to social media and initial engagement in the game. Another important strategy is to fully utilize social media as it can significantly improve your share value. (TFLAT) actually wrote a blog post to discuss his strategy.

6. Empire Avenue is a great tool to make an initial contact but it’s pretty cumbersome for long term networking.  Almost all of my social media interactions take place on twitter and I have already made  connections with just about everyone I spoke to.  I noticed today that I was listed on (KIMGARST) Twitter account as one of Empire Avenue connections.  I’m going to have to create an EAv list for all of my connections as well.  I can’t wait to have access to Google+ as I already have plans to create an EAv “Circle.”

7. (CALLANPARK) had some words of wisdom when she said “Yea…but I don’t put in any CASH like the others do…that’s how the moved up so fast [don’t let them tell you otherwise].” I assured her that I would not be one of those people buying my way to the top.  Aweart stated that “One of the aspects of Linked in that I like is that you can get introduced to high influence ppl, EA gives you the same access without having to need an introduction.”

I’d like to give a shout out to each of the EAv uses who took time to talk to me about their experience on EAv. I learned a lot in our discussions and appreciate the new connections.

From my experience so far EAv can be a useful part of your social media portfolio.  It’s great for networking with people you may not have access to anywhere else. It is also an excellent tool for improving your social media footprint.

Here is a brief tutorial to help you get started. Click here if you want to some tips on EAv Strategy. Click here to learn how to obtain achievement awards on EAv

If you are a visual learner take a look at the You Tube video linked below:

I happened across the video below (it’s long but worth the watch) as I was doing research for this blog and decided to attach for those who wanted to gain insight from one of the founders.


5 Reasons to listen to the Bill Carroll Show KFI 640 am

More stimulating talk radio – that is the tagline for KFI 640 am radio in Los Angeles, CA.

Move over Dr Laura and Bill Handel, there’s a new talk show host in town and his name is Bill Carroll.

For more about the Bill Carroll Show check out What’s Up With Bill

BIO:

Bill Carroll joined KFI in February 2010 after working for nearly 20 years in broadcast and radio in Canada.  He was born in Scottland and moved with his family to Canada when he was around 10 years old.  After leaving high school he started working as news director for a radio station in New Liskeard, Ontario.  He did not attend journalism school nor did he have any prior experience so he bought journalism books and stayed up all night learning everything he could.  Bill is married to his wife Sylvie who, in his own words, is “smart, savvy, and breathtakingly beautiful.”  They have two kids Killian and Magalie, who are the loves of their life.

Click here to find out what Bill Carroll has to say about his first year in LA

5 Reasons to tune into the Bill Carroll Show weekdays 12pm – 3pm

5. The show has a great support staff

Chris Lane – not only does she have model good looks, she is a seasoned news reporter,  banters often with Bill and brings interesting insight and a different perspective to the show.  The other day she scooped the world when, hours before the news was released, she predicted  that Congressman Weiner’s wife Huma was pregnant.  It was funny because I was listening to the show when she made the prediction and thought well that’s interesting but I don’t think so. Crazy enough, before the show went off the air, there was breaking news that Huma was expecting.  Everyone on the air was laughing, giving her high fives, and  and joking about how talented she is that she can now deliver the news before it happens.

KFI News Reporter Chris Lane

Check out a post from Chris Lane’s Blog Why is California Broke

Brian Holt – Normally content to stay in the background, he will occasionally chime in when he has something to add to the mix.  Brian is openly gay, is obsessed with news, runs a tight ship, and brings a personal sensibility to the show. He also maintains The Bill Carroll Show blog.   You can tell from the posts that he is informed on the issues and has a humorous point of view.  I was very impressed with Brian when he was coordinating the segments about the Brian Stowe beating.  He took time to meet up with the Stowe family and went out of his way to to provide assistance while they were in Los Angeles caring for Brian S. in the hospital. I think Brian H is the brain behind Bill’s brawn.

Click here to find out what a radio producer does.

4. Professional and personal connections that provide insight you won’t get anywhere else

In his 20 years in the biz, Bill has made a lot of contacts. He doesn’t hesitate to invite them to the show because they provide a unique perspective and abundance of information that you won’t hear any where else. During the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Bill would frequently talk with a contact who was an expert in nuclear energy.  This consultant was advising the Japanese authorities who were managing the reactor crisis and giving Bills audience detailed information in real time.  The most important take away was that even though some of the reactors were in a state of melt down the situation was being controlled and no catastrophe would ensue.

3. Unrelenting passion for news and innate ability to get listeners to the heart of a story

If you are a news junkie I challenge you to find another radio show where you’ll get as much in depth discussion of trending local and national news.  His opinions on issues that are in the news tends to fall just right of center. Don’t try to put him in a box, however,  because many times his take on whats going on may surprise you.  With Bill it’s not political but it’s about what makes common sense.

A huge story in Los Angeles this spring was the savage beating of Brian Stowe on opening day of the LA Dodgers baseball season.  This story definitely had an impact on Bill and he covered the story in several segments each day for at least a month.  He didn’t just lament the tragedy and condemn the perpetrators.  He gave his audience insight into how the family was coping by talking with Brian’s mom on air and even went to the hospital on one occasion to see Brian.  His description the next day of Brian’s condition was very compelling.   He interviewed the neurosurgeon several times on air to get a first hand account of the extent of the injuries and Brian’s prognosis for the future.  It was made clear to the listeners that Brian had a long journey ahead of him and that is was likely he may never regain consciousness.  This was information that wasn’t really being conveyed anywhere else.

Giovanni Ramirez

The unusual police investigation underway in the Stowe case has also been a regular feature on the show.  The arrest of prime suspect Giovanni Ramirez has been intriguing due to its high profile nature and the fact that the case hasn’t been handled very well by top officials.  The defense lawyers for Ramirez (there are 4) have been making a case for his innocence through the media leading many people to wonder if the wrong guy was arrested.  Bill has been good about updating his listeners with all of the latest information, including regular interviews with a KFI news reporter who has sources inside the police department.  While the reporter has not divulged anything that would jeopardize the case, you are able to get a sense from the interviews that the police have additional evidence implicating Ramirez that they will bring forward after they have time to conduct a thorough investigation.

2. Going deep into a story to give listeners a different perspective

With time constraints and a high propensity for audience fatigue it is difficult for radio hosts to get too deep into stories. Bill manages not only to pick topics of discussion that are interesting but he gets deep enough to provide listeners with valuable information.  For example, in a segment about the Casey Anthony trial, Bill interviewed a body language expert to get perspective on evidence presented during the trial and Casey’s reaction to it. Bill asked the expert to explain, from her perspective, why Casey may have been crying when gruesome pictures of her daughter Caylee were being shown. The expert explained that she believed the crying was due to self pity and Casey coming to the realization that the evidence was very damaging to her case.

1. Gives the audience a unique point of view

Bill has a personality that you rarely see in radio.  He is passionate about what he does and comes across as brash at times but is not afraid to show his vulnerable side.  When his dad passed away a few months back, he conveyed how painful the experience was, why his dad was so special to him, and how difficult this time was for him.  For about a month he wasn’t able to talk about it but when he could he would relay to his listeners some of his memories and difficulties he was having coping. He shared his emotions in such a way that it was endearing and also talked about advice his wife gave him about tempering the grief so that he could be present and available for his young children.  Although he doesn’t do it often, some of his most compelling segments are when he talks about personal experiences and how he’s learned and grown as a person from them.  After listening to the show for a while you know that he is the real deal and that his point of view is coming from a place of honesty and integrity.

If you want to be informed, challenged, and learn about living well, tune in to the Bill Carroll Show.  Listen Live-> Here

Platinum Hit, Top Chef the Musical

Cast Members: Blessing Offor, Nevin James, Jes Hudak, Brian Judah, Sonyae Elise, Nick Nittoli, Melissa Rapp, Jackie Tohan, Scotty Granger, Johny Mornell, Amber Ojeda, Karen Waldrup

The Cast:

Sonyae Elise is an R&B songwriter who grew up in a musical family, doesn’t play an instrument, and would like to write for Lady Gaga and Beyonce, among others.

Scotty Granger is an R&B/ pop songwriter from New Orleans. His brother is NBA allstar player Danny Granger and great nephew of Mahalia Jackson.  He is openly gay and would like to write for Celine Dion.

Nick Nittoli writes a blend of pop, rock, and alternative, is from Garfield NJ, and is a self taught songwriter.

Nevin James who was cut last night, is from Pittsburg PA, writes a mix of folk and rock, and wrote and directed a rock opera while attending Pepperdine University.

Melissa Rapp writes soulful pop music, is from Honolulu HI, and left a successful career at Google to pursue songwriting. She wants to write for Norah Jones, and Rihanna.

Karen Waldrup writes a mix of folk, rock, country and blues, is from Mandeville, LA and was named top 25 country songwriter by American Country in 2008. She wants to write for Alanis Morrissette.

Johny Marnell is a pop singer songwriter whose style includes rock, soul, R&B, and dance. He comes from Kingston, NY has toured with Ingred Michaelson and played sold out venues such as NYC’s Webster Hall.  He wants to write for Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Taio Cruz.

Jes Hudak writes pop and soul music, is from Saratoga Springs, NY, and has toured with Maroon 5 and Enrique Iglesias.

Jackie Tohn writes folk, pop, blues and reggae, is from Ocean Side, NY and has been named one of top 100 unsigned artists in Music Connection Magazine.

Blessing Offor writes pop, R&B and soul, is from New Haven, CT and has opened for the Temptations and Tower of Power. He wants to write for John Legend, Cee Lo Green, Justin Timberlake, and Alicia Keys.

Brian Judah writes alternative, pop rock, dance and country, is from Studio City, CA and is the only artist to win the singer-songwriter of the year award in back to back years. He would like to write for Florence and the Machine, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry.

Amber Ojeda writes new soul and jazz, is from San Diego, CA and her heros are Etta James and Billie Holliday.  She would like to write for Joss Stone, Natasha Bedingfield, and Joss Stone.

Episode 1: 

I didn’t hate it…

In this episode we meet each of the 12 contestants, learn their history, and get a flavor of what type of artist they are. Nick is cocky, has a punk vibe, calls himself a musical genius and is sure he will be the next king of pop. Sonyae is sassy, fashion forward, and claims she was put on this earth to make music. Karen is a bubbly blond, southern girl, who falls in love with Tommy the guide dog. Each of the other song writers brings their individual talents and personal flare to the table.

Jewel welcomes the contestants as they meet up at the Grammy Museum in downtown LA and explains how the competition will be structured. Each episode features a “musical quickfire challenge” where contestants compose a hook in 30 minutes and then they all proceed to the elimination challenge where the hooks were incorporated into finished song lyrics. In tonights episode there were 4 “winners”  from the “hook challenge.” and these winners were told that they would have an advantage going into the final round.

I was suprised when Sonyae was selected  as the overall winner of the hook challenge.  To me her hook was loud and not very catchy.  The judges stated that the singing was not a criteria in the judging but it’s hard to ignore completely. My favorite was Jackie. I could actually understand her hook and I thought it was well thought out and had a soulful tone.  Johny, Scotty, and Nick also did well.

The winners advantage was that they would be team leaders and would be able to select the members of their team as well as use their hooks to compose the final song.

Team 1 – Sonyae, Blessing, Amber

Team 2 – Nick, Jess, Karen

Team 3 – Jackie, Johny, Melissa

Team 4 – Scotty, Brian, Nevin

When the 8 hour time limit was up all of the teams completed their lyrics and were prepared to go before the judges.  Jackie was told that her strength was melody and stucture.  Feedback to Nicky was that he was edgy, not afraid to push the envelope and wasn’t scared to express what LA meant to him.  Scotty was told that his song was not memorable, not emotional and didn’t speak to them.  Sonyae was told that the song was trite, confusing and uninspiring.  Nicks team was selected as the winner and Scotties team was the loser.  Nevin was sent home because the judges didn’t think his lyrical contribution was strong enough. I’m not really sure how they selected Nevin versus Brian.

My complaints about the show are mostly related to the format. Given the unique concept I was hoping that the executive producers would avoid putting out a re-hashed version of Project Runway and Top Chef.  It would have been nice to have been given more background on the contestants and how they were selected.  Also, I think it would be interesting to see how they interact when they’re not in studio to get a better flavor of their personality (from the preview of upcoming shows it looks like that may happen).

What I really liked about the show was the diversity of the song writers and their unique skills and talents.  In typical BravoTV fashion the drama between team members keep the show interesting and the performances in front of the judges displayed their musical and vocal talents well.

I say stay tuned because I think the show will improve over time as we get to know the contestants better and as their songwriting skills improve.

What’s a nomnom?

It’s 2011 and I’m just now writing my first blog post.  I know a little tardy for the party, right?

So why start blogging now? Is there anything left to say in this vast internet universe hasn’t been said already?  It’s not like I’m a Bravo Housewife who needs to peddle my next song, sell some hand bags, plug my over autotuned pop song, or plead my case for causing a riot at a babies christening.

I’ve been going through a crazy unsettling time  due primarily to health issues that have changed my life, unfortunately for the worse.  I’m not going to dwell on it too much but as I get more comfortable with this blogging thing I will begin to share and hopefully get support and ideas from readers.

What can I discuss on a regular basis that will keep you all interested?  I have a few ideas so hang in there with me as I get started and get sorted.  I decided to write my first blog….wait for it…about food trucks.    Why Food Trucks?  Everyone has to eat.

Food Trucks:

My partner and I live in Valencia, CA (awesometown) and when I heard there was going to be a food truck festival on Sunday I knew we had to go check it out.  Last summer we watched the reality show “The Great Food Truck Race” http://eater.com/archives/2011/05/04/the-great-food-truck-race-season-2-lineup-revealed.php and one of our favorite teams on the show was “the nomnom truck.”  They were scheduled to be a the festival so we headed out to check them out. http://nomnomtruck.com/

Owners Jennifer Green and Misa Chien

Food trucks have been around for a long time.  Don’t we all have fond (or not so fond) memories of the “roach coach” pulling up to the work place at lunch time and grabbing a burger or ham sandwich for lunch?  When my partner and I first moved to LA 10 years ago there were plenty of food trucks but very little diversity.  They were mostly Mexican vendors selling street food (some great and others not so good).  Sure, the food hit the spot when we didn’t feel like waiting for a meal at our favorite sit down restaurant but the food choices were pretty limited and the trucks sometimes were hard to find.

That quickly changed about two years ago  when a gourmet food truck craze started in LA with buzz created by Koqi kogibbq.com  Now there are close to 200 gourmet trucks roaming the streets of LA many with innovative names like “Slap Yo Mamma, Grill Em All, Ragin Cajun, Great Balls on Tires, Gastro Bus”  If you follow your favorite trucks on twitter you can easily find where you can get your daily fix of  soul food, tapas, crepes  lobster rolls, sprinkles cupcakes, korean bbq tacos and even organic handmade ice cream sandwiches.    http://golosangeles.about.com/od/losangelesrestaurants/tp/Los_Angeles_Food_Trucks.htm.

Living in Valencia, which is about 30 miles north of LA, we are off the beaten path for the G trucks. Since the great city of Valencia sponsored a food truck festival over the weekend we had to go check them out.  We were most anxious to try the Nom Nom truck since we were such big fans of them on “The Great Truck Race.”  For $6 per sandwich we both decided on the foot long pork banh mi sandwich that I have to say was definitely gourmet worthy.  The baguette was perfectly toasted, the meat was juicy and flavorful, and the toppings were crisp and fresh (sliced cucumber, carrots, pickled daikon, cilantro, and jalapenos).  I should have held off on the jalapenos – they were good but very hot and overwhelmed the flavor of the remaining toppings.

nomnomnomnom!!! It was great!

The owners of the nomnom truck have learned a few things about giving good service.  There were only 3 sandwich items available on the menu, no side dishes and no drinks.  Customers were able to select which toppings they wanted on the chicken, pork, or tofu sandwich

We were there in the early afternoon and only waited in line for about 15 minutes during what was probably the busiest time of the day.  The next day I saw on their twitter feed that they shut down about two hours early because they ran out of food.  No doubt it was a successful day at the festival for them and a fun day for their customers. There were about 30 trucks at the festival and most of them had plenty of customers.

There is a lot of food truck buzz right now in the foodie world.  For entrepreneurs who are interested in breaking into the restaurant business the entry costs are quite a bit lower. For customers, the gourmet trucks provide an alternative to the brick and mortar sit down experience and offers a wider variety of choices.

Unfortunately, most larger cities are passing regulations that are making it difficult for the trucks to operate.I think it’s because the sit down restaurants are wary of the competition and are lobbying city council reps to  increase the red tape.  Please, if you love your food trucks and your council rep is hassling them with more red tape, give your rep a call and voice your support for the trucks.  I know the truckers would appreciate it.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of eating a gourmet meal street side, find a food truck festival or follow your favorite on twitter and check them out when they are nearby. Who knows you may find yourself nomming down some great food!

I wanted to add several links to food truck bloggers.  Unfortunately, I only found one in Portland that is really active.

http://www.foodcartsportland.com/

To foodies who live in or want to visit NYC you may also want to check out the following blog:  Feitel occasionally talks about food trucks and local street fairs in his blog.

http://feitelogram.wordpress.com/

There you have it.  My first blog.  I know that as time goes on I’ll get much better at this and find my voice.  But it’s exciting to get started on this journey and I intend to bring on some  interesting topics going forward .

One more thing, I want to add as the a regular feature to the blog is the question of the day.  Hopefully this will provoke some thought, at times some controversy, and get some interesting discussions going.

A lot of people are thinking about how well things were “back in the day.”

Question of the day:

Were things really better back in the day? / will the USA become a third world country in the next 10 years?