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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Taking a Bite From the Big Apple!

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

We’re just back from the super-successful ASI NY Show and it was a blast! So many special moments (many of which are captured in the photos below), but one of my favorites had to be ASI’s first-ever Women’s Summit. Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul, author of the book, If You Don’t Have Big Breasts Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails… & Other Lessons I Learned From My Mom and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, was the keynote speaker and was just a pistol! She talked about how she parlayed a $1,000 loan from a “former lover” into a billion-dollar business. She was salty, irreverent, whip-smart and very savvy.

She also, at one point, flipped off my boss — ASI’s senior vice president and publisher, Rich Fairfield — not once but twice, claiming that he looked like the infamous money-loaning (and cheating) scoundrel of a former lover. “He looks just like him,” she shrieked, as she flipped Rich off again, much to his delighted amusement. (After I picked up my jaw, I nearly swallowed my own tongue after watching the whole interaction go down…)

Sponsored by J. Charles Crystalworks Inc. (thanks to Fran “The Man” Ford!) and Fields Manufacturing, the event was fantastic, and started with a cocktail reception at noon (gotta love sanctioned midday drinking!) and included an awesome luncheon, plus a dessert keynote from industry speaker Rosalie Marcus. I sat next to LeAnn Rankin, vice president of national accounts for Senator’s promotional group, someone I’d heard great things about but had never met. I’m here to tell ya that she exceeded the hype and was just delightful… LOVE her!

Two things of note: 1) The lanyards from Fields Mfg. that were given out to hold the badges of the women in attendance were tres cool — more like a jeweled, beaded necklace than a regular cotton lanyard. Go to www.fieldsmfg.com to check out their swanky and unusual offerings; 2) The fine folks at J. Charles Crystalworks had a gift for each woman in attendance: A crystal keepsake box, etched with the event’s logo, that — according to industry celeb and J. Charles vice president Fran Ford — was used by former presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton as their inaugural gifts, as well as Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, who used them as place settings. I’m holding mine right now and it is stunning and impressive! E-mail Fran at fran@jcharles.com if you’d like more info on the gift boxes.

Then, there was another first for ASI… We held a breakfast at the W Hotel for members of the business press in NYC, which was a huge success. Print and TV outlets joined Tim Andrews, ASI’s president/CEO, Rich Fairfield, Melinda Ligos, ASI’s senior vice president/editor-in-chief, and members of the editorial staff, who shared scintillating facts and stats about the industry and the 10 Most Innovative Products we’ve seen as of late. Also addressing the members of the press were Jason Robbins, president of ePromos, Anthony Corsano, president/CEO of Anvil, and Sarah Caplan, the 27-year-old entrepreneur who, with her sister, founded the company Footzyrolls — cool roll-up slipper-shoes women can don when their feet start throbbing from their strappy stilettos! (So snazzy are these items, they’ve been selected for the Sex and the City 2 gift bags!) Kudos to my colleague Dawn Shurmaitis for rising to the occasion and being the event planner extraordinaire! ; )

Last, but not least, there was the jaw-droppingly stunning Counselor Awards banquet at the Plaza. The decor, the food, the presentation — everything was top-notch, and I’ve never had so many people tell me how impressed they were with an event, and how much fun they had. The person who does these events for ASI doesn’t like to be named in print, but to him I give a HUGE shout-out for outdoing himself yet again: You are the best, Sat Mamuels. ; ) 

My only regret? When the Counselor banquet is held in July at the ASI Chicago Show, I at least have some semblance of a tan. At this event, I looked like one of those pale, pitiful, sun-deprived children from Flowers in the Attic.

Cheers, and enjoy the photos!

– M

PS: Big thanks to Proforma’s Greg Muzzillo — this year’s Counselor Person of the Year with his wife and co-CEO, Vera — and ASI’s Don Mennig, executive director of marketing, both of whom were on the “Secrets of Wildly Successful Self-Promotion Campaigns” education panel that I moderated. Their professionalism, preparedness, vast knowledge and humor made it a winner. If you missed it, I’ll be moderating it again on Education Day at the ASI Chicago Show on July 13!

Here’s vice president of ASI Canada, Freddy Oesen, one of my all-time favorites, buying his beloved Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales, a bouquet of pretty roses on the street corner in NYC. I think they’re having a bromance! ; ) On Monday night during the ASI NY Show, I put together a small, intimate dinner of fun, larger-than-life personalities from the industry. We had a sinfully sumptuous meal at Del Frisco’s and enjoyed every minute. (From left): The delightful and lovely Missy Kilpatrick from Castelli, ASI’s Ron Ball, ASI Canada’s Fred Oesen, J. Charles Crystalwork’s Fran Ford, Creative Promotions’ Sharon Biernat and Vantage Apparel’s Ira Neaman. 
Real estate guru and sassy sistah Barbara Corcoran spoke at ASI’s first-ever Women’s Summit at the Millennium Hotel. All the ladies in attendance were in agreement: She, and the event, were fan-freaking-tastic  Geiger’s Jacqui Hornberger, a spitfire in her own right, explained to the industry ladies in attendance at the Women’s Summit some of her tips for sales success.
Great times on Times Square! Here’s ASI’s vice president of distributor services, Heather DiPrato, me, my pal Sharon Biernat from the Chicago-based distributorship Creative Promos, and ASI’s distributor sales rep Meghan Bogarde vamping it up in the big city. Fun fact: Heather DiPrato and I share the same birthday (August 9) and are both Leos, yet have drastically different personalities (she, responsible, measured, contemplative; me, none of the above). This is what your room looks like when you share it with your distributor gal pal (in this case, Creative Promotions’ Sharon Biernat) who has multiple sample boxes shipped in daily for a crucial sales appointment with ESPN. In all fairness, my side of the room was equally trashed — with about 20 pairs of stilettos, all wildly impractical.
On Tuesday night during the ASI NYC Show, I headed back to the fabulous Del Frisco’s with my BFF Sharon Biernat and two of my industry faves: Jim Hagan, president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Sweda and his consigliere, Scott Pearson, vice president of product development. Here’s Sharon and Scott, who has — I swear to God — one of the most infectious and joyous laughs ever. Hence, his nickname, “Giggles.” Me with Jim Hagan, Sweda’s smart, suave and hilarious president. People who know me who’ve seen this photo describe the look on my face as “the harbinger of mischief and mayhem.” I do not disagree.
This year’s Counselor Top 40 banquet was held at the famed and illustrious Plaza Hotel and boy, did it live up to its legendary billing. Here’s a shot of the room where the banquet was held, about an hour before the event started. Though it looks awesome in this photo, I’m telling ya that the finished room doesn’t do this justice. It was, quite simply, breathtaking. Backstory: For years, Damian Want — senior vice president of Logomark — and I have joked that the Counselor banquet is like the industry’s “senior prom.” So what did Damian, who had just flown in from Cali where Logomark is based, do? He called a florist (the one Oprah uses, no less!) and brought me a wrist corsage! How sweet and hysterical is that??? So, this is our official “2010 Counselor Prom” photo… all that was lacking was the obligatory slow-dance to “Always & Forever.” Thanks, Damian — you rock!
As usual, I stacked my table at the Counselor banquet with all my favorite industry crazies. Here, we have Chuck (“Chuckles” or “MotherChucker” to you and I) Fandos, CEO of Counselor Top 40 distributor Gateway/CDI (left) and Jim Hagan, president of Sweda. Love, love, love them! Colin Graf (left), ASI’s marketing manager for supplier sales and Jake Krolick, ASI’s marketing manager for online products and services, strike a pose before the Counselor Awards banquet. I’d say they’re voguing, but knowing these two, let’s say they’re roguing.
ASI’s senior vice president/editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos and Counselor editor Andy Cohen get their swank on at the Counselor awards banquet at the Plaza. After the Counselor banquet, all the industry celebs and revelers poured into Mickey Mantle’s bar, right around the corner from the Plaza. Here’s Marc Held, national sales manager for Counselor Top 40 supplier Bodek and Rhodes (is there anyone who doesn’t love the always-awesome Marc Held???), and the lovely Alisha Zavadil, marketing specialist for Counselor Top 40 distributor American Solutions for Business.
Dan Townes, owner of Shepenco/Shelbyville Pencil and the reigning Mouth of the South, shown here with the beautiful Sadie Schlief, the director of promotional products for American Solutions for Business. Benn Chazan (left), sales manager for BamBams, was kind enough to join Jeffrey Townes — Dan’s son and definitely the kinder, gentler, quieter Townes — and I in doing Patrone shots for Cinco de Mayo. Yeah. I felt those the next day.
Ira Neaman (left), owner/president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Vantage (whom I have always referred to as my “Yoda of Wearables,” due to his vast knowledge) and Dan Townes, at a pit-stop bar (Whiskey Park) on our way to the bowels of NYC in the meatpacking district.  (From left): Andrea Biernat, Sharon’s daughter, is a recent graduate of University of Penn’s Wharton School of Business and is now living in New York and working at JP Morgan. Next to her is her mom and Jeffrey Townes, the third-generation of Towneses in the ad specialty industry.
So we end up at Hogs & Heifers (the bar that the movie Coyote Ugly is based upon) in the meatpacking district and to say it was a dive is being kind. But I — and the rock star industry revelers I was with — happen to love dives, so we were right at home. So closely does this bar adhere to its “F-You” persona, that the female bartenders (wearing bikini tops, no less) strongly suggested (read: berated) Dan Townes and Ira Neaman remove their ties and tux jackets. Hence the reason — when I woke at 8 a.m. with my eyelashes stuck together after getting in only three hours earlier — I had Ira’s tie stuffed in my purse. Here, Ira and Sharon Biernat play pool with some colorful locals. (Note the guy behind Sharon with the Pabst beer can… LOVE it!) True story: When the fine proprietors of Hogs & Heifers politely and demurely announced it was last call (verbatim: “All you f***ers can get out now”) we emerged onto a street corner in the meatpacking district of New York at 4 a.m. with no cab in sight. Suddenly, like out of a Xanadu-esque fog, this white limo with twinkle lights rolled up and the door swung open as a bass-heavy Barry White song pounded. I don’t know where it came from, and I’m not even sure it had a driver. It was just there and took us back to the Marriott Marquis. Kidd. You. Not.
Witness Joe Haley, ASI managing editor and star of The Joe Show, hamming it up with The Naked Cowboy, a legendary, infamous New York City personality. We thank God that Joe didn’t follow his lead and offer himself up as The Naked Editor (insert Simpsons-esque Mr. Burns shudder here). ; )