Global Summit in Florida

TLS Global Servicing Leaders

Group Shot of the TLS Senior Leadership Team & Market Heads

This week I was in Florida planning and hosting a Global Market Head Summit for the Travel & Lifestyle Services (TLS) Division of American Express. I had 28 colleagues from across the globe come together to speak about best practices and leadership about the global servicing for TLS.

The 3 day summit was one of my first big projects I have taken on as Manager of Strategy & Business Planning aka Chief of Staff of the entire global organization AND the first time a global event like this had been held. In fact, many of the team had not met one another in person, which added to the impact and influence this event could bring. This conference was very high stakes and high pressure as it overlapped and followed the senior leadership team conference of my company - however I thrive in pressure and was up for the challenge!

Menu from our joint team dinner I planned at Shooters!

The Summit was a lot of work, but it was worth it and we managed to accomplish and learn a lot from one another. It was great to meet everyone and eye opening for the team to have a true global perspective in person.

While I can’t say what we discussed some global takeaways I would like to share for global teams:

  • Meeting in person vs online can really unite a team

  • What may work in one country may differ in another, keeping a global perspective is key

  • You are not alone, a challenge you have may be shared globally

After many late nights and hours, I am happy to say the event was a success! A 9.3/10 according to my survey, I’ll take it for my first global event! If anyone needs an event planner, let me know!

Sunset in Sunrise, Florida - Not a bad way to end my time in Florida!

Sunset in Sunrise, Florida - Not a bad way to end my time in Florida!

Little Havana Food Tour in Miami

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During my vacation in Miami, I wanted to more than just your typical beach and party routine.  After seeking out some recommendations from my new friends from Sunrise, Florida, my friend and I decided to take a food tour with Miami Culinary Tours.  They had a few tour options, but decided the Little Havana Food tour, would give us a new cultural tour in addition to some yummy Cuban Food!

Stop 1 - El Pub Restaurant

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Stop 1 of the food tour was at El Pub restaurant, they are best known for their beef empanadas & coffee, which exactly what we had and a great way to start the tour!  For those of you who do not know, an empanada is basically dough filled with something, such as beef.  Variations of empanadas exist in many different cultures, such as calzones and dumplings.  I also learned about the "colada," which is a Cuban coffee that is mean to be shared (you should not have a full cup, but rather a small little shot, the size of a creamer).

 
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Stop 2 - Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co.

Next we headed to the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Factory, where we learned how cigars were made and got to see it first hand.  Fun Fact - The owner of this factory was actually imprisoned for 20 years prior to starting this factory and was sitting on the couch in the front of the store.

 
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Stop 3 - Domino Park

Domino Park is where all of the seniors go to play, you guessed it... dominos!  The park is a social club and the place to be during teh day for dominos and chess (but gambling is not allowed). Don’t forget to bring your ID, because they will card you!

 
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Stop 4 - Old's Havana

We then headed lunch at Old Havana, where we had a delicious Cuban sandwich & croquette.  A cuban sandwich consists of pernil (one of my favorites!), ham, pickle and cheese, croquettes are basically fried sticks of food, usually consisting of potato.

 
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Stop 5 - Ball & Chain

We migrated to some live Latin music at Ball & Chain for some refreshing mojitos!  Ball & Chain is definitely one of the most lively places in Little Havana, with a fantastic live band in the front of the restaurant and a pineapple theme!   They also have a nice little patio area in the back, this may have been my favorite spot on the tour - I will definitely be back next time I am in Little Havana!

 
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Stop 6 - Yisell Bakery

On to Yisell Bakery for some guava filled pastries (pastelitos).  This little hole in the wall bakery, looked kind of small and run down, but had some great pastries, bread and was very busy with locals. The bakery was crowded in the middle of the day while we were there, which says a lot about a place.

 

Stop 7 - Los Pinarenos Fruteria

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This fruit stand has a variety of fruits that you would not find at your local grocery store, here you can find giant avocados, green plantains, lady fingers (baby bananas), dragon fruit, star fruit and fresh mangos to name a few!  Here we had a very fresh mango smoothie, which you could tell was made right on the spot, I could definitely use another one in this heat! 

Fun Fact: this is one of the only open air fruit stands left standing AND was featured in some movies.

 
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Stop 8 - Azucar

Time for dessert!  For the final stop of the tour we headed to Azucar for some mantecado ICE CREAM topped with guava syrup! This shop was created by a local who saw the need to create a place for tourists to enjoy the local culture, thus Azucar was born!

 

Along the tour, we saw many roosters, both statues and real ones, very depicting of islands in general.   

Needless to say my friend and I were STUFFED by the end of this tour.  I would definitely recommend taking this tour if you want to learn about the culture, while stuffing your face!

Toronto in July

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Earlier this week, I traveled to Toronto, Canada on my first work trip... ever!  It was a great experience and I learned a lot about my new team, Travel & Lifestyle Services (TLS).  I had not been to Toronto since the North American Debate Championships (Northams) in January 2010 at York University.

My boss and I were only there for 1.5 days, so needless to say it as pretty jam packed with meetings during this market visit.  However, I was able to find some time to catch up with one of my MBA grad school friends who recently started working for AMEX in Canada!

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During my stay, I stayed at the Shangri-La Toronto, a very swanky 5-star hotel chain with a gorgeous pool.  The room was so spacious, bathroom alone could have been a small studio apartment in NYC, which included a hot tub and TV built into the mirror.  The hotel concierge even left me a nice handwritten note and left me pound cake loaf to welcome me to the hotel.  I would definitely love to stay there again, can I afford it is the question!

 “Big Ass Steak” at Baro in Toronto

 “Big Ass Steak” at Baro in Toronto

After Day 1, all of the managers+ went to a team dinner at Baro, a delicious Mexican restaurant in downtown Toronto.  The food here was DELICIOUS and the menu had some great names of dishes.  My favorite dishes on the menu were the steak and the the tacos, but the most amusing dish names were "Big Ass Steak" and “Eat Like Jefe!” 

CN Tower

CN Tower

On the way back to the hotel from Baro, we had a great view of one of Toronto's most popular attractions, the CN tower.  For those of you who know me know I had to stop and take a photo. My new boss surprisingly followed suit and took a photo on Snapchat to send to his children.

The next day was filled with back to back meetings starting at 8:30 AM to 4 PM, which I then headed to the airport for my flight - delayed about 5 hours...  However, on my flight home, I sat next to someone who taught me a bit about meditation and turned about to be a new friend!

Can't wait for my next trip!

My First Work Trip!

New Role, New Team & New Country!

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On my first day in my new role in Travel & Lifestyle Services (TLS), I was able to take a business trip to Toronto, Ontario for a site visit with my new boss.  (Do not worry I did not relocate to Canada)  I would be lying if I said I was not a bit intimidated to be travelling with my boss my first few days on the job - what would I talk to him about, would we get along or would I do something silly or embarrassing in front of him?  Thankfully all of these concerns were mostly in my head as I think I hopefully made a good impression.

The trip was very quick as we had landed on Monday afternoon, around 2:30 PM, due to delays, and left by end of day on Tuesday, less than 48 hours later.  However, even in this short period of time I was able to learn a lot.  I was able to:

  1. See how senior leaders at my company thing
  2. Listen to a call into the call center from the view of a Travel & Lifestyle consultant
  3. Hear the mindsets of what is and is not working and how senior leaders viewed these matters
  4. View the company from an international perspective
Team Dinner at Baro in Toronto, Canada

Team Dinner at Baro in Toronto, Canada

As part of TLS, the team creates, fosters and manages the relationships with some of the most high end hotels, including the Shangri-La hotel where I had the pleasure of staying and Baco where had dinner on Monday night.  While we were at dinner, we learned it was the regional VP’s birthday, so of course we had to celebrate while we were there!

Sadly, while I did not have any time to explore, but I did get a much better understanding of my new team, TLS.  I excited for my new role and what the future may hold!

Check out my next post for a lifestyle focus on my trip to Toronto and stay tuned for more of my travel adventures! (Hopefully)

 

Happy July!

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Happy July!!! 🎉

Who’s ready for some R&R beach weather? 🏖 I know I am! 😎

What do you have planned for the summer? 

In June, I took a weekend trip to Montauk in the Hamptons for my friend’s Birthday. I had a wonderful time celebrating and hitting the beach! 

This upcoming weekend, I will be headed to Vienna, Virginia for a high school friend’s wedding! I can’t wait to celebrate this momentous day with them! 

 

 

Motivation Monday w/ the Eagles

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Congratulations to the Super Blow LII Champions the Philadelphia Eagles!!!

If this journey does not scream MOTIVATION MONDAY, I do not know what does!  The Eagles have come a long way as underdogs to Super Bowl Champs and it has been a long time coming (at least that is what my co-worker tells me).

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In honor of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl last night, here is a shot from my photoshoot in Philly with Bill of Echelaeus Inc! 

I was actually in Philly for a charity fundraiser for New Leash on Life USA.  New Leash on Life, also a great Motivation Monday related non-profit, works to both save the lives of dogs at shelters by placing them with inmates, which in turn gives the inmates a chance at redemption, helping both the dogs and the inmates.  It was a very moving cause.

But enough about football, what motivates YOU?

My goals & motivations this month are to:

  1. Go to the gym more
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Just focus on being a better me

Share your motivations in the comments!