Chronicles Of Prague / Part 4

The Bloggers 5

Tuesday afternoon I met ALL of the panelists that would make up the Bloggers 5 as Robin Luymes affectionately has coined us.

I knew that IBOFightback, Tex, myself, and someone named Big Apple would be present. Once in Prague, I learned a fifth blogger had been invited and had not received word of the invitation until late the week before. In fact, she acquired her passport only on the Friday before the conference. Her name was Bridgett and she is a frequent commenter on Inside Quixtar, The Real Quixtar Blog, and other blogs in the Opportunity Zone. All the invitees were Independent Business Owners affiliated with Quixtar or Amway.

We met in the hotel lobby, grabbed a couch, and a couple of chairs and began talking, comparing notes, debating the merits of Quixtar/Amway Tool Systems and getting involved in a few healthy arguments.

Rob Zeiger, Director of Amway Corporate Communications, stopped by our group to say “Hello” and to welcome us to Prague. Rob is responsible for the Alticor Media Blog as well as other corporate blogs. Rob is also the man responsible with inviting these bloggers to Prague.

Once he introduced himself, Bridgett’s first words were, WERE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT BLOG ENTRY?! (I forget which one, but it was at Alticor Media Blog)

Rob took the question in stride, and I suggested to him after a few minutes and a barrage of questions, that he should probably “Step Away From The Bloggers!”

But, he was brave and stayed to talk with us for quite some time. We invited him to go to dinner with us but he was to attend another dinner with conference attendees. We had to keep reminding ourselves that there were a hundred or so Amway Corporate Communication staff attending this conference.

We also met Robin Luymes in the lobby, but we were destined to spend the evening with each other. And spend it, we did.

At the suggestion of “Big Apple”, we went to a restaurant/pub around the corner from the hotel for dinner and more conversation.

“Big Apple” is a successful IBO with a strong retailing business and had arrived a day early in Prague. He appeared to me to be a seasoned traveler and had checked out the city the day before.

The restaurant, Celnici, was loud, boisterous, and perfectly Czech. I ordered the Goulash, a thick dark stew served with bread. It was delicious–once it was served.

QUICK TRAVEL TIP–Restaurant service may seem slow in the Czech Republic; but it is not meant to be rude. In fact, I learned it is considered highly hospitable. It seems that if don’t order an appetizer, and your other table mates do. Then they are served first, and nothing else is brought out until that course is over. Each course is completely finished. No waiter will come after your plate in mid-bite or rush you to finish. It’s not TGI Fridays.

Big Apple and IBOfightback ordered wine with dinner. Which brings me to a small rant.

All of the panelists invited were smart, entertaining, and interesting people. But I can’t call them by name, except IBOFightback who was outed at another website and his identity revealed.

The reason I can’t call them by name, is I was asked as a Blogger, not to report their true identities.

That’s the reason their faces have black bars over them. That makes me mad. And they know it. The panelists were invited by Amway and Quixtar because of the authentic, truthful, and personal opinions that they give about Amway and Quixtar on the Internet. Their opinions were respected enough to be invited to speak to the global staff of a multi-billion dollar company. So why not, reveal their identities?

For Bridgett, it was due to professional reasons related to her “day-job”. For “Big Apple”, it was due to friction with his Line Of Sponsorship. For Tex, it was personal reasons.

Bridgett’s “day-job” is highly interesting. Can’t tell you about it.

Big Apple’s name…can’t tell you…But, there’s a funny story about it, involving him ordering wine that directly relates to his personality.

Let’s say he has a proper name, “Jonathan”. We asked him if we could call him “Johnny” or “John”. He said anything would be fine. But, at dinner, “Johnny” ordered wine with IBOFightback(David Steadson). After the wine arrived, “John” asked for a carafe, so the wine could breathe. As he related to David Steadson on the properties of the wine; Bridgett and I suddenly realized, he was, no doubt, “Jonathan”.

But, all our personalities meshed. We talked, we ate, they ordered dessert, we talked some more. Dinner lasted at least 4 hours. I was tired. It was 12:30 and I was still sick and taking medication for a cough that would not stop.

I bid farewell to my dinner companions and walked back to the hotel. I hear that they stayed much longer after that.

Prague at night is beautiful. I stopped and looked out over the square where the restaurant was located. People walking, Trams passing by, the architecture of the old buildings illuminated by street lights; I knew I was 5000 miles away from Alabama, but I felt comfortable. It was a good first day.

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About Dave Robison

Now Appearing in an Extended Engagement! Join Dave Robison as he takes you into his world and his daily life of reviving a stand-up comedy career. Prepare for side trips exploring Public Relations, marketing and business ethics. Enjoy some frequent detours describing his observations on life. Read the exploits of this self-proclaimed Renaissance-man and blooming blogger as you go On The Road With Dave. From Mobile, Alabama comes Dave Robison, a confessed Internet-aholic, middle-aged-married-man, who's generally a nice guy--he just has one or two issues. Stand-Up Comedy by Dave Robison is available for corporate events, college campuses, and nightclubs.
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10 Responses to Chronicles Of Prague / Part 4

  1. Bridgett says:

    Alright Dave, I’m actually commenting outside the world of OZ and AMB!

    Actually, I did step out and have been contributing around Blogland since coming back from Prague, so I thought it be appropriate to stop on by. Especially since you’re talking about me. 🙂

    You are hilarious. Those black bars are so funny. I know you are so ticked off. At least I use my first name!

    By the way, I found on Friday afternoon of the invite. I never got the original email invite and they just assumed I wasn’t interested. Go figure. And it was an off-handed comment IBOFighBack had made nine days earlier was when I first heard that I was on some list. I just thought IBOFightBack was mistaken. I mean, I wasn’t a Blogger. This world wasn’t my world. What the heck could I offer?

    Then, on Thursday (eight days later) I had emailed Beth Dornan about something totally unrelated. She gave a quick one-sentence response and then added something like, “BTW, too bad you couldn’t make it to Prague.”

    I was like, is there some parallel universe in which I’m a character?? I let her know that I hadn’t been invited.

    The next day, Friday afternoon, I got an email from the Alticor Blog Admin apologizing about the lost email and that I was still invited.

    Well, being the go-getter that I am, and being married to an amazing man, we planned on me going, even though there was a slighly bigger problem than finding childcare (I’m at home and am the “primary care giver” of two non-school aged children). And that’s that I did not have a Passport. Slight challenge.

    So, I went to the Passport office at 8:30 on Monday to apply, got it at 12:30 that afternoon, and was on a six hours later.

    Crazy.

    Did I really say that to Rob Z.? Those were my first words? Probably. I have a challenge of sometimes just saying whatever pops in to my head. 🙂

    I think I was referring to the “Just Go, TEAM” post. You notice he wanted to spread the credit and said his whole department was responsible? Nice deflection. 🙂

    We didn’t plan on all having dinner together, did we? I came downstairs to meet you and IBOFightBack (I had met him at the airport when I was told that the Czech taxi drivers were like the mafia, and so thought it be a good idea not to travel alone in a country I knew zilch about). And then I was shaking your hand, when Big Apple and Tex came over. Very surreal. Oh, and I did have one of those say-whatever-I’m thinking moments when I shook Tex’s hand and blurted out, “Wow, you’re tall.” Like I’m sure he hasn’t heard that a million time before. And really, being 5’2″, EVERYONE’S tall to me! 🙂

    You were such a trooper at dinner, not feeling well and all. I had no sense of time on the entire trip, so I don’t know when you left. You say 12:30? I feel like that’s when we left, well when we got kicked out ‘cause they were closing. So you didn’t miss much. We left very soon after you, I think.

    I do remember the two of us sitting there without any food for quite a while. Later I realized it’s ‘cause the two of us hadn’t ordered a starter like the others. And I remember being really hungry, slightly nauseous cause of the intense cigarette smoke (not used to that in my part of the U.S.), mentally exhausted trying to keep up with Mr. Energizer Bunny—The Big Apple, and being totally over stimulated with all the noise and just the non-reality experience of sitting in a Prague restaurant with people I knew from my computer screen.

    Reliving it exhausting me!

    By the way, loved your Alabama accent. 🙂

    Thanks for the post. Appreciate it.

    G’night.

  2. Ok, Bridgett,

    I may have left at 11:30 and you guys stayed until 12:30.

    I’m writing from notes and memory.

    We didn’t initially plan to have dinner together, but as we all congregated, the plan evolved.

    And, I’m not ticked off at you personally, I think you’re great…even though you are still “systemized”. 😉

    Dave

  3. Anna28 says:

    Dave, Do you have a site for “big Apple”? Are you able to share if he does? I am interested in reading/listening to an IBO who retails.

  4. Anna,

    I used to retail heavily in the commercial market. Big Apple doesn’t have a site or blog.

    He’s commenting a lot on the new Speaking of Amway blog and at the corporate sites

  5. Bridgett says:

    During the 90-minute panel discussion, I sat next to The Big Apple. At one point, he leaned over to me and said, “Maybe I’ll start a retail blog.” and I said, “That’s a fabulous idea!”

    He has 1,000+ customers. Some only order once a year–like a filter replacement.

    He understands customer service and the importance building and maintaining and growing relationshps.

    He loves the products and knows how to sell them.

    There’s MUCH more to him than being a Quixtar/Amway IBO. Fascinating guy.

  6. Anna28 says:

    How did retailing work for you Dave? I think that needs to be more of a focus with Amway. (sorry to get off topic of the thread)

  7. Anna,

    Retail worked great for me. I sold Amagifts and commercial janitorial products. But, it was a full time job.

    It wasn’t something you could do 10hours a week. I mean, I guess I could have, but it was more time than I was willing to give consistently.

    I still wish Amway would revive the commercial program beyond their B2B catalog and a few scant large size products, but I suppose the IBO-specialized niche doesn’t warrant it.

  8. The Big Apple says:

    Dave,

    I didn’t know my love of good wine would provide Bridgett and you such an insight into what name to call me!

    I must say, I love the way you write. So many of the little things about traveling that I just pass by, you explain in a way that makes the reader feel like they’re there.

  9. Big Apple,

    I hope you know my explanation was done with affection. Just a way to show what an expert you appeared to be to me.

    I really enjoyed talking and dining and touring the city with you. Great Stories.

  10. The Big Apple says:

    That first night (Tuesday) with the other Bloggers was pretty amazing, especially how it could have been.

    But first, I’ll relate a little about my own first day in Prague, Monday, which was very special.

    I decided to “bookend” the trip with two extra days, at my expense, of course. I arrived on Monday night after flying overnight through Amsterdam. It was so nice to see the big “Amway” sign waiting for me just outside Customs at Prague airport. I was arriving at the same time as many of the Amway staff, who were coming in from around the world. They had a driver waiting for me to drive me to the hotel. I was so sleepy, I kept nodding off in the car, a Mercedes, I might add. But then, there are lots of Mercedes over in Europe, no wonder since Czech Republic is next to Germany.

    But once I got to the hotel, I was wide awake! The Marriott in the Old Town section of Prague is lovely, and was very nice to chat with the Alticor people at the Amway Conference Check-in Desk. Rob Zeiger, head of Alticor Communications made a point of coming back to the hotel right as I arrived to greet me and chat for a few minutes. This company has class!

    After unpacking my suitcase (must let the clothes breath and “hang out” to get rid of suitcase wrinkles), I found a map, threw my Fodor’s Guide of Prague with simple phrase translations, and took off to explore. Within a five minute walk from the Marriott was “Municipal House” Concert Hall & Exhibition Centre, the premier Art Nouveau building in Prague. You can see pictures of the building and the main concert hall at this link. It is sooo beautiful! You really feel like you’re in old Europe. Maybe because you are. Prague was spared bombing in World War II (is was shelled, though), and the old buildings are all there. It made me want to see Paris, Vienna, and Budapest.

    http://www.pragueexperience.com/places.asp?PlaceID=649

    There were two concerts playing that evening, both chamber music, which I love. I chose the concert with the “New Prague Collegium” chamber orchestra playing Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Mozart’s “A Little Night Music.

    Before the concert, I had dinner at the Francouzska Restaurant, a gorgeous French restaurant inside Municipal House. I had a multi-course meal, and since the concert was in the same building, I didn’t have to rush. It was very nice that English is a second language in Prague. The wait staff could communicate with me just fine.

    http://www.pragueexperience.com/places.asp?PlaceID=370

    The Collegium is a 14 piece string chamber orchestra with 10 violins, 2 violas, one cello, and one double bass. The concert lasted an hour, and was wonderful! Even if I did close my eyes for a bit too long after each piece started. But I always got my applause in on time!

    I was very tired, but determined to take advantage of every moment I could in the four days I was in Prague. It was wonderful to have easy access to such wonderful music. The price was 1200 crowns, which is about $75 — very good for an orchestra of this size and quality

    To combat jet lag, I used the melatonin routine, and one of the tricks is not to sleep on your first day there, and stay up as late as you can. It worked! Jet lag was minimal. I had a great night’s sleep Monday night.

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