Monthly Archive 十月 2018


Why My Moon Hotel Hanoi Offers Great Value

Hanoi became our base in the north of Vietnam during our year of travel. We planned to spend a month in Vietnam, but after making a gazillion changes to our itinerary, we settled for two weeks in the country. As I’ve been to Vietnam twice before this trip, I was familiar with what to expect when…

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Nick Kokonas — How to Apply World-Class Creativity to Business, Art, and Life (#341)

“I just look at some things and go, ‘Why is that? Why does it work that way?’ Oftentimes, the people most entrenched in a system have no idea why.”
— Nick Kokonas

Nick Kokonas (IG: @nkokonas, TW: @NickKokonas) is the co-owner and co-founder of The Alinea Group of restaurants, which includes Alinea, Next, The Aviary, Roister, and The Aviary NYC. He is also the founder and CEO of Tock, Inc, a reservations and CRM system for restaurants with more than 2.5M diners and clients in more than 20 countries.

Alinea has been named the Best Restaurant in America and Best Restaurant in The World by organizations and lists as diverse as The James Beard Foundation, World’s 50 Best, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Gourmet Magazine, and Elite Traveler. His restaurants have won nearly every accolade afforded to them.

Nick has been a subversive entrepreneur and angel investor since 1996. He spent a decade as a derivatives trader, has co-written three books, and believes in radical transparency in markets and business. His latest effort is The Aviary Cocktail Book, which is perhaps the most gorgeous book I’ve ever seen. It is self-published, has already pre-sold nearly $1M in copies, and is being released and shipped in October of 2018.

We’ve been trying to get this interview going ever since Nick was of immense help to me for The 4-Hour Chef, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. We talk about much more than the restaurant business, including philosophy, derivatives trading, favorite books, and how Nick tends to break every industry he enters in the most productive way possible! Enjoy!

#341: Nick Kokonas — How to Apply World-Class Creativity to Business, Art, and Life


Want to hear another episode with someone else who understands that the most interesting way to do something isn’t always the easiest? — Listen to this episode with Astro Teller, CEO of X on moonshot thinking, mutilated checkerboards, “safety third,” and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download.):

#309: Astro Teller, CEO of X – How to Think 10x Bigger


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Nick Kokonas:

The Alinea Group | Tock | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  • Is pressure Nick’s default setting, or are the risks the world perceives he takes somewhat of an illusion? [09:35]
  • How do behavioral economics and Nobel Prize-winning investor Richard Thaler fit into Nick’s way of doing things? [12:35]
  • How did Nick make the transit from philosophy to finance, and does he feel philosophy was an asset to what came later? [14:55]
  • Why did a legendary philosophy professor at Colgate give Nick’s classmates 15-page assignments while capping his limit at three pages? [16:21]
  • What was Nick’s introduction to the world of trading at a time when his future father-in-law was predicting he’d become an intellectual bum, and why did he have to dumb down the academics on his rÈsumÈ to get a clerk job on the Merc floor? [18:12]
  • Why is it common for philosophy majors to become traders? [21:03]
  • Why Nick is glad he didn’t pursue an MBA in 1992. [22:00]
  • Going back to Nick’s professor at Colgate, why does he think he was singled out from his peers? [23:48]
  • Books and other resources Nick recommends for aspiring entrepreneurs who don’t have the benefit of a philosophy background (or a tough professor to keep them grounded). [28:15]
  • Did Nick find that being a clerk on the floor of the Merc was everything he dreamed it could be? [33:48]
  • How Nick followed his entrepreneurial father’s model for owning his own situation when entering the world of trading, and found someone who was doing business in a way no one else was doing it. [36:10]
  • Why did Nick leave his mentor after a year and start his own company? [40:53]
  • How did Nick and his employees train to quicken their mental agility required for trading? [42:34]
  • The formative moment when Nick realized he could thrive in the trading environment. [45:31]
  • Resources and books Nick recommends to anyone who wants to learn to become a better investor. [46:21]
  • When it comes to taking investment risks these days, Nick seeks out the “high, small hoops.” [48:22]
  • Averages can be misleading. Do so many businesses fail because the model is difficult, or because too few do enough due diligence before diving into the fray? [52:00]
  • At what point did Nick decide to leave trading and get into the restaurant business — in spite of being warned of the high failure rate to be found there? [55:15]
  • The dinner and conversation that led to Nick teaming up with Grant Achatz — even though they didn’t really know each other very well by that point — and the decisions they made together along the way. [1:00:18]
  • Out of so many equally risky and exciting options, why did Nick pick opening a restaurant as his next “thing?” [1:07:17]
  • How does Nick spot talent early in others that most people are late to notice? [1:10:23]
  • Why do restaurants have candles, why do fancy restaurants have white tablecloths, and other questions that Nick and Grant have pondered. [1:14:22]
  • Incidentally, a now-famous chef was Alinea’s first customer. [1:17:25]
  • Nick and Grant would never let an architect or designer shoot down their ideas just because the way things have always been done happen to be practical. [1:18:39]
  • As someone who had never run a restaurant before, how did Nick contribute to the business effectively without simply falling into the role of financial donor dilettante? [1:19:29]
  • Why was Nick “horrified” when Alinea won Best Restaurant in America from Gourmet magazine in 2006? [1:23:24]
  • Grant was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and given six months to live — so of course he and Nick wrote a book and worked on revolutionizing the way their industry handled reservations while supervising a dwindling staff. [1:24:51]
  • Sometimes a PoS really is a PoS. Nick explains how reservations have been traditionally booked in the restaurant industry and what he’s done to improve upon this in ways that go beyond holding a table. [1:29:29]
  • Partner bickering at a time-traveling press dinner and using austere minimalism to avoid Next becoming the Disneyland of cuisine. [1:39:51]
  • Dealing with reservation software problems seven hours before the first dinner and the novelty of variable price points based on the day of the week. [1:44:58]
  • The moment a bearded, unwashed, and somewhat slightly dazed Nick was able to say “This is the best thing I’ve ever built.” [1:47:44]
  • Why the rewards of such a reservation system were worth their asymmetric risks on several levels. [1:51:02]
  • Marimekko charts can be used to instantly see anything from how much your restaurant’s sending to the fishmonger every month to what the ROI of sponsoring a podcast might be. [1:55:15]
  • The next industry Nick wants to disrupt? Truffles. Here’s why. [2:00:41]
  • How does Nick choose the black boxes worth trying to illuminate and examine, and what role do his more ambitious employees play in bringing them to light? [2:04:24]
  • On the confining self-selection of roles many people fall into on the job (for better or for worse), and how Nick’s hiring process is different today than it was 20 years ago. [2:10:31]
  • Nick deals with a lot of email. What systems does he have in place to help him cope? [2:16:41]
  • Social media can be hard to keep up with, but we both agree it’s important to demonstrate that we’re paying attention by engaging when possible — even if we can’t respond to it all. [2:22:49]
  • What “puzzle” filters and other mini-hurdles in correspondence accomplish. [2:24:06]
  • We compare notes about the somewhat slimy similarities between the music and publishing industries. [2:26:02]
  • Another black box: the agency problem. [2:35:25]
  • On the Hembergers and The Alinea Project, and the upcoming Aviary Book being released independently. [2:41:23]
  • A little cocktail talk. [2:48:37]
  • Books Nick has gifted most, and how he personalizes the gifts he gives. [2:53:47]
  • What would Nick’s billboard say? [2:55:44]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:57:34]



How To Create On-Brand Images FAST with BeFunky’s Batch Processing

Let’s get personal.

Are your images on point?

If you are all like, geez Lori I don’t know, don’t worry I’ve got your back.

I’m going to be honest with you my blog images are not all on point at the moment. I am managing multiple websites and working with clients. Also, Immensely Social has evolved a lot of the years and struggled to find her way.

So why should you listen to me? Despite my own failure recently in this area, I know the importance of consistent, branded, and on point images. I have written about it multiple times. And it also just so happens that I now have a solution for busy freelance entrepreneurs like myself. A solution that I am already using to simplify and beautify the site here.

That Solution Is Batch Processing

That sounds like a fancy term Lori, what are you talking about?

I’m talking about BeFunky’s brand new Batch Processing feature and it is a game changer.

Why aren’t your images on point after all? Because who has the time. You search through stock images or your own photo library and then you have to check your filter settings to keep all your images having the same feel. And if you have multiple brands to do this for…forget it!

That is why I am so happy that BeFunky just launched this new feature to make our online lives so much easier. The team over at BeFunky was kind enough to sponsor this post so I could share it with you. Opinions are my own as I have been using BeFunky for a long time now. The Photo Editor has some of my favorite settings that turn your photos into digital works of art and now I can do that in bulk!

So, how does this work?

The Batch Processing Process

The processing process, that’s a lot of Ps.

Remember Pippi from Mr Popper’s Penguins?

The Deets

While BeFunky has many free features, Batch Processing is a BeFunky Plus feature. But at just $3.95/month or $34.95/year, it’s so worth it to be able to edit hundreds of images all at once. And in addition to Batch Processing, your BeFunky Plus membership gets you access to every single powerful tool and feature in BeFunky’s entire online Creative Platform (Photo Editor, Collage Maker, and Graphic Designer)!

Let me show you how it works:

Batch your photo edits and then put them in a collage for a unique graphic or use them in the graphic designer to create your social media headers.

It’s all the photo effects you could ever want, customizable design templates, and all the things that will make photo editing and designing imagery for your blog and social media a breeze.

What Can You Batch Process?

  • Crop multiple images at the same
  • Resize all the images in a folder
  • Add specific filters
  • Lighten or darken exposure
  • Change colors to create a consistent tone

And more!

What Are Some Ways You Can Use This?

To brand your Instagram feed.

Don’t you just feel great when you see a beautiful, consistent Instagram feed like this one with the black borders from beautifulandyummy:

Or this one with a pastel feel from cestmaria:

Or the classic black and white by

With the batch processing feature you can edit many photos at once with the same settings, adjustments, and features to create your own beautiful feed even with stock photos. These photos are from one of my favorite free stock photo sites Unsplash and edited with the Black And White 1 filter on BeFunky. 

You can do the same for your Pinterest images. Images for your Facebook pages and all your other social media profiles. Also, Hello Bloggers! Like myself here at Immensely Social. We can batch process our blog images too. Easily crop and resize to save storage space on your blogging platforms.

Wanna Know What Else?

On a more intimate note, editing in batches is a great way to create a unique online wedding album to share. I took three of my wedding photos and added a vintage filter to all. Classic.

And pictures of your dogs. I’m obsessed with my rescue pups ya’ll! Auto enhance your fur babies photos in a batch. Went HDR with these. 

Ready to join me on BeFunky? Get started for just $3.95/month or $34.95/year and let’s batch!

The post How To Create On-Brand Images FAST with BeFunky’s Batch Processing appeared first on Immensely Social.


How to Get Rid Of Fleas Easily

“Fleas are a nuisance” – that’s what people would probably describe these pesky little creatures. Fleas cаn be more than just a nuisance to theіr host. They could іn fаct cаuse. Flea Bite dermatitis whіch the fleas’ sаlіvа causes. When flea bites, it excretes іs sаlіvа, and some individuals and some аnіmаls suffer allergic reаctіons to the […]

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BADFLOWER Interview: Rock Allegiance 2018

This year at Rock Allegiance we had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with the members of Badflower. After first hearing them a few years back, it was pretty evident that these guys were bound for big things. Needless to say all of their hard work and dedication has payed off. Their latest single “Ghost” officially hit number 1 rock song in the country this weekend and to say that they deserve it is a total understatement. Catch our interview right here with Josh, Joey, Anthony and Alex of Badflower as we discuss everything from how they got started, to how “Ghost” came to be and even find out what one of Josh’s first jobs was…here’s a hint….it deals with red velvet and 2 fingers.
Listen below, and don’t forget to check out “Ghost” today! Also be sure to check out more photos from the interview and Badflower’s performance at Rock Allegiance later this week.

BADFLOWER performs “Ghost”


What Your Startup Needs to Know About Regulated Markets

Often the opposite of disruption is the status quo.

If  you’re a startup trying to disrupt an existing business you need to read The Fixer by Bradley Tusk and Regulatory Hacking by Evan Burfield. These two books, one by a practitioner, the other by an investor, are must-reads.

The Fixer is 1/3rd autobiography, 1/3rd case studies, and 1/3rd a “how-to” manual. Regulatory Hacking is closer to a “step-by-step” textbook with case studies.

Here’s why you need to read them.

One of the great things about teaching has been seeing the innovative, unique, groundbreaking and sometimes simply crazy ideas of my students. They use the Business Model (or Mission Model) Canvas to keep track of their key hypotheses and then rapidly test them by talking to customers and iterating their Minimal Viable Products. This allows them to quickly find product/market fit.

Except when they’re in a regulated market.

All businesses have regulations to follow –  paying taxes, incorporating the company, complying with financial reporting. And some have to ensure that there are no patents or blocking patents.  But regulated markets are different. Regulated marketplaces are ones that have significant government regulation to promote (ostensibly) the public interest. In theory regulations exist to protect the public interest for the benefit of all citizens. A good example is the regulations the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have in place for approving new drugs and medical devices.

In a regulated market, the government controls how products and services are allowed to enter the market, what prices may be charged, what features the product/service must have, safety of the product, environmental regulations, labor laws, domestic/foreign content, etc.

In the U.S. regulation happens on three levels:

  • federal laws that are applicable across the country are developed by Federal government in Washington
  • state laws that are applicable in one state are imposed by state government
  • local city and county laws come from local government.

Federal Government
In the U.S. the national government has regulatory authority over inter-state commerce, foreign trade and other business activities of national scope and interest. Congress decides what things needs to be regulated and passes laws that determine those regulations. Congress often does not include all the details needed to explain how an individual, business, state or local government, or others might follow the law. In order to make the laws work on a day-to-day level, Congress authorizes certain government agencies to write the regulations which set the specific requirements about what is legal and what isn’t.  The regulatory agencies then oversee these requirements.

In the U.S. startups might run into an alphabet soup of federal regulatory agencies, for example; ATF, CFPB, DEA, EPA, FAA, FCC, FDA, FDIC, FERC, FTC, OCC, OSHA, SEC. These agencies exist because Congress passed laws.

In addition to federal laws, each State has its own regulatory environment that applies to businesses operating within the state in areas such as land-use, zoning, motor vehicles, state banking, building codes, public utilities, drug laws, etc.

Finally, local municipalities (cities, counties) may have local laws and regulatory agencies or departments like taxi commissions, zoning laws, public safety, permitting, building codes, sanitation, drug laws, etc.

A Playbook for Entering a Regulated Market
Startup battles with regulatory agencies – like Uber with local taxi licensing laws, AirBnB with local zoning laws, and Tesla with state dealership licensing – are legendary. Each of these is an example of a startup disrupting regulated markets.

There’s nothing magical about dealing with regulated markets. However, every regulated market has its own rules, dynamics, language, players, politics, etc. And they are all very different from the business-to-consumer or business-to-business markets most founders and their investors are familiar with.

How do you know you’re in a regulated market? It’s simple– ask yourself two questions:

  • Can I do anything I want or are there laws and regulations that might stop me or slow me down?
  • Are there incumbents who will view us as a threat to the status quo? Can they use laws and regulations to impede our growth?

Diagram Your Business Model
The best way to start is by drawing a business model canvas. In the customer segments box, you’re going to discover that there may be 5, 10 or more different players: users, beneficiaries, stakeholders, payers, saboteur, rent seeker, influencers, bureaucrats, politician, regulators. As you get out of the building and start talking to people you’ll discover more and more players.

Instead of lumping them together, each of these users, beneficiaries, stakeholders, payers, saboteur, rent seekers, etc. require a separate Value Proposition Canvas. This is where you start figuring out not only their pains, gains and jobs to be done, but what products/services solve those pains and gains. When you do that, you’ll discover that the interests of your product’s end user versus a regulator versus an advocacy group, key opinion leaders or a politician, are radically different. For you to succeed you need to understand all of them.

One of the critical things to understand is how the regulatory process works. For example, do you just fill out an online form and pay a $50 fee with your credit card and get a permit? Or do you need to spend millions of dollars and years running clinical trials to get FDA clearance and approval? And are these approvals good in every state? In every country? What do you need to do to sell worldwide?

Find the Saboteurs and Rent Seekers
One of the unique things about entering a regulated market is that the incumbents have gotten there first and have “gamed the system” in their favor. Rent seekers are individuals or organizations with successful existing business models who look to the government and regulators as their first line of defense against innovative competition. They use government regulation and lawsuits to keep out new entrants that might threaten their business models. They use every argument from public safety to lack of quality or loss of jobs to lobby against the new entrants. Rent seekers spend money to increase their share of an existing market instead of creating new products or markets but create nothing of value.

These barriers to new innovative startups are called economic rentExamples of economic rent include state automobile franchise laws, taxi medallion laws, limits on charter schools, cable company monopolies, patent trolls, bribery of government officials, corruption and regulatory capture.

Rent seeking lobbyists go directly to legislative bodies (Congress, State Legislatures, City Councils) to persuade government officials to enact laws and regulations in exchange for campaign contributions, appeasing influential voting blocks or future jobs in the regulated industry. They also use the courts to tie up and exhaust a startup’s limited financial resources. Lobbyists also work through regulatory bodies like the FCCSECFTC, Public Utility, Taxi, or Insurance Commissions, School Boards, etc.

Although most regulatory bodies are initially created to protect the public’s health and safety, or to provide an equal playing field, over time the very people they’re supposed to regulate capture the regulatory agencies. Rent Seekers take advantage of regulatory capture to protect their interests against the new innovators.

Understand Who Pays
For revenue streams figure out who’s going to pay. Is it the end user? An insurer? Some other third party?  If it’s the government, hang on to your seat because you now have to deal with government procurement and/or reimbursement. These payers need a Value Proposition Canvas as well.

Customer Relationships
For Customer Relationships, figuring out how to “Get, Keep and Grow” customers in a regulated market is a lot more complex than simply “Let’s buy some Google Adwords”. Market entry in a regulated market often has many more moving parts and is much costlier than a traditional market, requiring lobbyists, key opinion leaders, political donations, advocacy groups, and grassroots and grasstops campaigns, etc.

Diagram the Customer Segment Relationships
Start diagraming out the relationships of all the customer segments. Who influences who? How do they interconnect? What laws and regulations are in your way for deployment and scale? How powerful are each of the players? For the politicians, what are their public positions versus actual votes and performance. Follow the money. If an elected official’s major donor is organization x, you’re not going to be able to convince them with a cogent argument.

The book Regulatory Hacking calls this diagram the Power Map. As an example, this is a diagram of the multiple beneficiaries and stakeholders that a software company developing math software for middle school students has to navigate. Your diagram may be more complex.  There is no possible way you can draw this on day one of your startup. You’ll discover these players as you get out of the building and start filling out your value proposition canvases.

Diagram the Competition
Next, draw a competitive Petal diagram of competitors and adjacent market players.  Who’s already serving the users you’re targeting? Who are the companies you’re disrupting?

I’ve always thought of my startup as the center of the universe. So, put your company in the center of the slide like this.

In this example the startup is creating a new category – a lifelong learning network for entrepreneurs. To indicate where their customers for this new market would come from they drew the 5 adjacent market segments they believed their future customers were in today: corporate, higher education, startup ecosystem, institutions, and adult learning. To illustrate this they drew these adjacent markets as a cloud surrounding their company. (Unlike the traditional X/Y graph you can draw as many adjacent market segments as you’d like.)

Fill in the market spaces with the names of the companies that are representative players in each of the adjacent markets.

Strategy diagram
Finally, draw your strategy diagram – how will you build a repeatable and scalable sales process? What regulatory issues need to be solved? In what order?  What is step 1? Then step 2? For example, beg for forgiveness or ask for permission? How do you get regulators who don’t see a need to change to move? And do so in your lifetime? How do you get your early customers to advocate on your behalf?

I sketched out a sample diagram of some of things to think about in the figure below. Both The Fixer and Regulatory Hacking give great examples of regulatory pitfalls, problems and suggested solutions.

If you read Tusk’s book The Fixer you come away with the view that the political process in the U.S. follows the golden rule – he who has the gold makes the rules. It is a personal tale of someone who was deep inside politics – Tusk was deputy governor of Illinois, Mike Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Senator Charles Schumer’s communication director, and ran Uber’s first successful campaign to get regulatory approval in New York. And he is as cynical about politicians as one can get. On the other hand, Regulatory Hacking by is written by someone who understands Washington—but still needs to work there.

Read both books.

Lessons Learned

  • Regulated markets have different rules and players than traditional Business-to-Business or Business-to-Consumer markets
  • Entering a regulated market should be a strategy not a disconnected set of tactics
    • You need to understand the Laws and Regulations on the federal, state and local levels
    • You and your board need to be in sync about the costs and risks of entering these markets
    • Strategic choices include: asking for permission versus forgiveness, public versus private battles
  • Most early stage startups don’t have the regulatory domain expertise in-house. Go get outside advice at each step


5 Poolside Style Tips for a Flawless Look

Summer is all about relaxing and having fun, and what better way to do that than going to a poolside party? There’s nothing like dipping your toes in water to cool off on these hot, humid days. But deciding what to wear to a pool party may not always be the easiest task. You won’t always just be swimming; you’d also snack, have a few drinks and socialize with your friends. This isn’t just a swimsuit and cover-up situation, you have to think about the whole outfit that is both practical and appropriate.

So, here are 5 cute outfit ideas for any pool party you have coming up!

1. Bikini chic

You don’t always have to go with a classic triangle bikini or a simple one-piece. Instead, try some designer bikinis with interesting shapes and cuts which show off your curves in the best possible way. The unique style of these swimsuits opens up a world of outfit options. You can wear them as a top with a pair of high-waisted shorts or breezy summer pants. They even look good with almost any skirt you have in your closet. The choice is yours, really, just don’t forget to add a bit of your personality to the look with some fun summer accessories.

2. Boho vibes

It doesn’t matter if it’s a dress or a top, crochet is always a good option. It’s light, breezy and perfect for summer. Not only is crochet always in style, but it’s a great way to casually show off your cute bikini, while still being covered up. And the best part is that it goes great with almost anything. Whether you are a casual slides or more of a chic sandals kind of girl, you are guaranteed to look great. Just put on your favorite pair of oversized sunglasses and statement tassel earrings and you are ready to rock the pool party.

3. Resort style

Just because you aren’t going to a luxurious resort, doesn’t mean you can’t steal some of the resort collections’ best style ideas. Tropical prints, vibrant colors and evergreen stripes are definitely the way to go. Just pair your favorite resort-inspired piece with a straw bag or a straw hat to easily achieve that casually chic vibe and dazzle everyone at the poolside. This type of style also looks great with messy buns and beachy waves, so it’s one less thing you need to worry about when planning your outfit.

4. Going classic

Mixing current summer trends with classic pieces is always a good idea. Put on your favorite pair of printed high-waisted shorts and a simple button-up shirt, which you can tuck in or tie at the front to give your outfit a fun twist. You can also leave a few buttons undone to show off the beautiful minimalistic jewelry you chose to wear with this look. Don’t forget to throw on a pair of brightly-colored shades and some cute woven wedges to tie the outfit together.  And you know what else is great about this outfit? You can easily hide a swimsuit underneath it if you’re not the type that’s comfortable with it constantly being on display.

5. The simplest thing

Rompers and jumpsuits are one of the simplest things a woman can pull out of her closet. One item, endless outfit options. Whether you choose to wear a brightly-colored or a printed one, you are guaranteed to look put-together in a well-tailored jumpsuit. And if you’re going to an evening party, you can even opt for a black one for that sophisticated, yet casual look. Don’t feel the need to wear a pair of heels to a slippery poolside, a good pair of flats will work just as well. With this type of outfit, you have the complete freedom to accessorize however you want, either with simple jewelry and makeup, for a more toned-down look, or by going completely glitz and glam to dazzle everyone at the party.


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