Good morning from America's east coast. I apologize for the delay in my posting - I was out of the country and disconnected from the virtual world. At first, knowing I would not have access to electronic communication was a little stressful - but in actuality, it was quite nice to take a break.
So here are a few of my more memorable observations and insights, in no particular order of importance or chronology:
-- Cruise ships are a potpourri of nationalities when it comes to their workforce. In a thankless environment where patrons are accustomed to the "everything isn't just included, but is expected" mentality, the food service and housekeeping staffs aboard cruise ships remain incredibly kind and gracious to their more-often-than-not unappreciative clients. So taking a moment to address these employees by name, or thank them for their service, definitely caught them off guard. Here's my challenge for the day: the next time you're pumping gas, ordering your latte, waiting for your valet to deliver your car, checking into your hotel, or boarding your plane - look at the employees name tag, and thank them by name for helping you. I guarantee you'll get better service, and will really make their day.
-- Eating a meal with a group of people you've never met, in a "formal" setting can be a little tricky regarding proper etiquette and table manners. You don't want to be that buttoned-up, old-fashioned stickler for the rules and prevent others from enjoying themselves, yet you also don't want be the slob that is so casual and disrespectful that you kill the appetites of those surrounding you. The first and foremost rule when it comes to dining etiquette is this: never make your table mates feel uncomfortable or uneducated when it comes to manners. If you're friends with them, of course you may quietly offer tips or guidance; if you don't know them - it's not your place to educate them at the table. You may always offer your services later, in a private moment. You never want to embarrass or look down upon those with less-than-desirable table manners.
-- Fashion and architecture have an amazing love affair. The best stores and brands have the most complimentary architecture. Every Christian Dior store, no matter where in the world you may be shopping, has the same uber-luxe plush grayish light-purple carpet, white floating shelving units, and ornate crown molding, and vertical plasma televisions showing the season's latest show, while high quality sound systems pump out a complimenting soundtrack. Stepping into a Dior Boutique brings the essence of the brand alive by appealing to all of your senses.
You'll see this same concept applied throughout other segments of the retail industry as well. Walking into Starbucks for instance, is always characterized by the sounds of coffee brewing and milk steaming, music softly playing, various lamps and chandeliers lighting the space, and a feeling of comfort and familiarity. The general layout of McDonald's fast food chains remains virtually unchanged, regardless of the space they occupy. Identifying key codes from your product range and translating them into architectural elements will intensify your brand awareness and strengthen corporate identity.
Things I'm loving for men:
-- 2 button suits, especially in hues of gray.
-- well-made, traditional styled dress shoes, but updated with a splash of colour or interesting leather variety.
-- lightweight cashmere vneck sweaters - summer's best outerwear. hands down.
-- owning, not renting a tuxedo. Or multiple tuxedos. That fit properly.
-- having incredible, flawless skin is the best accessory, regardless of the season or weather conditions. invest in a good skincare regimen and dedicate a few moments each day.
-- And speaking of investments, investing in a few pieces of high quality luggage will better prepare you for your array of travel arrangements, eliminate undue anxiety and stress, and make your transportation time much more efficient.