Monday, February 28, 2011

British Airways Face to Face Award Conference

British Airways Face to Face Award Conference
 Thank you British Airways You are First Class ALL the Way!!!
Keith Williams CEO British Airways
Simon Talling-Smith holding our Mesquite Sample
After a few travel bumps and bruises caused by the bad weather and because of the extreme generosity of British Airways I finally made it to London. I was there without my carefully thought out and packed luggage, but there was something almost freeing about that situation and besides I had Lou Quallenberg's  mesquite furniture portfolio, business cards and the little wooden mesquite samples he had made. What else did I really need? 

British Airways is FIRST CLASS!!
I had tried for several days to make it to New York but the weather just would not cooperate. So when British Airways kindly offered to fly me direct from Dallas to London, so I could at least make the final portion of the Face to Face Global Entrepreneur Conference I got myself to Dallas as fast as I could.  I ended up meeting Chris McKee a fellow Face to Face award recipient in the British Airways VIP lounge, a perk that the ticket agent granted me due to my mounting travel woes.  Chris is Founder and Managing Partner of  Venturity Financial Partners in Dallas, Texas and would turn out to be a great coach for using the London Underground.  Chris was also suffering from lost luggage but he had managed a "Plan B" bag which was good because he was headed to Bangalore, India and his first bag did not find him before he left.  At the time we thought we were the only Face to Face folks on the plane.

I met Kenyatta Harris owner of 4 $hades Clothing and Tshirts of Dallas,Texas in the Heathrow Sofitel Hotel lobby and was so totally surprised when he informed me that he had sat behind me on the plane from Dallas. I wish I had known sooner because we really hit it off and could have spent the day hanging out until the reception. At the champagne reception I recognized Rishi Khanna, CEO/Managing Director of ISHIR Infotech as the guy that sat across the aisle from me on the airplane. Rishi, Chris and Chris Eilers owner of Dunn Brothers Coffee (and one of the top three finalists of the Face of Opportunity Contest) are all members of EO Entrepreneurs' Organization a group that I jokingly referred to as a cult because they all talked about what a great organization it is. I am seriously looking into membership options because of the way those guys talked, one of the requirements is $1million in revenue so we will work on that step first. Hey Dream it! Believe it! Make it happen!!!

Chair in London Hotel Lobby
Chairs in Barcelona Hotel Lobby

Some of Gaudi's Furniture Designs

The Champagne Reception was First Class, like as I would find out, everything British Airways did for us. I finally got to meet Jenny Walker face to face but unfortunately did not ever hear her sing in person. I tried to make up for lost time and catch up with some of the folks I had hoped and planned to meet but there was so little time and so MANY people! I did get a brief glimpse of the glamorous Thea Marx.  I briefly met Anne Tedesco VP Marketing NA for British Airways, and  Melissa Fernandez Evans  Face of Opportunity Campaign Project Manager at British Airways but a HUGE amount of THANKS goes out to these two woman for such a great conference.

The Breakfast Meeting the following morning was a huge spread of eggs, bacon, sliced meats, fruit, breads, cheeses, the very odd but very English baked beans and tea lots of tea, although I went for the coffee.  We heard from Simon Talling-Smith EVP Americas for British Airways, Nik Haigh Director of Grassroots Soccer and a Grant Recipient from British Airways, Keith Williams CEO of British Airways, Lord Stephen Green UK Minister for Trade and Sir Clive Woodward  Olympic Performance Director, British Olympic Association.  I met Nannette Hunter at this meeting  and we hope to do a collaboration with her and D-Unique Tools- Universal Square at some point in the future.

Once the conference was over and we were all on our own, headed off to our "face to face "meetings and other destinations my luggage decided to FINALLY make an appearance.

Saturday morning thanks again to Chris McGee and his guide tour services I found my way to the Train Station at Kings Cross (of Harry Potter Fame) to meet up with Joe and Amie Prest from The Mesquite Company.  This was my "face to face meeting" with the company that was bringing Lou's work to the United Kingdom. Unfortunately Lou's tables had not made it across the pond but they were in transit and expected any day.  

V&A Museum London
Sponge w/custard
We went to several potential Gallery spaces to see if any felt suitable for his work.  I found it interesting that most of the Galleries required you to ring a bell to be buzzed in. The artwork was incredible we saw one of David Mach's super sized wire hanger sculptures- so cool. We also went to the Victoria and Albert Museum finding inspiration in every corner of this huge museum. 

Amie did not want her photo taken but I should have insisted on one of the two of them after all it was about Face to Face.  We made a stop to eat and rest our feet at a traditional English style pub.  We all had the fish and chips which was delicious. Dessert was interesting to say the least.  Amie and I shared the sponge with custard. It was my first and hopefully last sponge. Amie who is originally from Texas nailed it when she compared it to an undercooked corn muffin. I know Joe was hoping to take a spin on the London Eye but my energy had run out and as the light began to fade I knew I needed to get on the underground and get headed back to the hotel.

Lamppost inspiration in Barcelona
Sunday I packed up my bags and headed back to London's HeathrowAirport to go on to Barcelona, Spain.  I had hoped to meet up with a Furniture company that we had admired online but could not make it happen in the short amount of time I had changing my destination from Cairo to Barcelona. I did have enough time to find a great place to stay: Hotel Praktik which I would highly recommend for location, service and charming architecture.  I was a bit intimidated getting on the plane to Barcelona and not knowing for sure what I would do or where I would go. I decided to just enjoy the journey and see where I was lead.  Had I done more research I would have made a point of making it to Montserrat to see the Black Madonna because that is the sort of thing I truly enjoy religious mystery and the sacred.  As it was I fell in love with Barcelona the art and architecture, the people, and the the lifestyle.  I spent most of my time at La  Sagrada Familia and Park Güell admiring with the work of Antoni Gaudí.  The entire time I was there I knew that I would be coming back because Lou REALLY needs to see, feel, taste and touch this place.  I'll work on that.

Self portrait at Park Güell
Mike Goodstadt aboard British Airways
The flight back to London was where I met and visited "face to face" with Mike Goodstadt a young architect, designer and genealogist from Valencia.  Mike was traveling on business to London with Lavernia & Cienfuegos. He told me about designing and building webpages using Squarespace and a book he was reading called Trust Agents by Chris Brogan. I look forward to sharing more with this creative young man.  I only hope I can be half as helpful to him someday. 

 Overall it was a whirl wind trip that filled my head with inspiration and ideas that should pay off long into the future for Lou Quallenberg Studios.   

Back in Texas...................

Llano's Trail of the Deer Art Project 2010-2011
@LAST Llano Art Studio Tour March 26th 2011
When I got back I had to hit the ground running as Llano's Trail of the Deer Art Project wraps up it's initial year 2010-2011.  Today is the FINAL day to place bids on these works of art. The money raised will be used to purchase more Deer for the 2011-2012 Trail of the Deer Project. 

Lou Quallenberg Studios  is also a participating artist in the @LAST Llano Art Studio Tour on Saturday March 26th, 2011. It will be a great opportunity to meet our wonderful and ever growing population of Llano's Resident Artists. Lou Quallenberg will demonstrate his process of turquoise inlay into mesquite at 2:00pm.

Our spring is shaping up to be one of the busiest yet and for that HUGE thanks goes out to our clients, friends and supporters.  Thank You! Thank you! Thank You!