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Vong’s Thai Kitchen – SOBCon08 Dining Experience

Panang Chicken Curry

     Several of us from SOBCon08 went in search of a restaurant on Saturday evening. What we got was an experience.

     Wow! That’s the first word that comes to mind about Vong’s. To the left you’ll see my dinner, Panang Chicken.  But that’s not where it starts, nor ends. Let me tell you more.

     After a short wait, we were lead back to a table with plenty of room for the eight of us, and Dawud is no small guy. Menus were handed out and water served but then we all kind of sat there.

     Oh, we were doing the normal pre-dinner chatter you’d expect of bloggers, but none of us could really decide what to get.  Thai food has differing tastes at each restaurant, and no one was quite sure what to order.  That’s when the real experience began.

     Then he showed up, Jose, the best waiter in Chicago. Jose began with a simple introduction and a hearty welcome to Vong’s. He then told us with obvious pride of the unique food style of the restaurant, and even some history.  While doing that, Jose began describing some of the food choices, starting with the seafood curry.  As he continued, he not only told us that they had seafood, but what type of crabs, and how wonderfully fresh and tasty they were.  That was when it got better.

     Jose gave us a tour of items on the menu from appetizers to main dishes, and house speciality.  With each dish, he had us more rapt.  Our eyes followed along in our menus as he went through them, and our mouths began to water.  He talked of curries and spices, of dinners and drinks, and we sat in silence, our whole attention focused on him.

     Soon enough he was done and we were all ready to chow, even Dawud and Adam, both of whom weren’t really hungry when we came in.  Jose finished up by not walking off and letting us stew but visited with some of us one on one to help us choose something just right for us each.

     As if my mouth wasn’t watering already, the Jose told me about the Panang Chicken. He described in earnest the peanut curry, it’s taste, texture, and spice. It is the house curry, and he was obviously quite proud of that. I was sold in a minute.

     Jose didn’t leave us too long at any point during the dinner, which came very quickly.  Each meal was hot and they were all served together.  Our drinks were never empty and the conversation over dining flowed wonderfully.  It was already one of my best dining experiences in ages.  And then it was over.

     Not quite really.  Only one of us, Tom, had ordered dessert.  So we sat back and relaxed, chatting.  But then it came.  Oh, not just Tom’s dessert but four more.  Jose had arranged to comp us one of each of four desserts for the table. Talk about wow factor!

     There were beignets, fried bananas, creme brulee trio, and warm Valrhona chocolate cake.  At this point, all I could mumble were ‘wow’, ‘oh my’, and lots of ‘ah’s.  My mouth is watering just imagining those again. Each dessert was rich and flavorful.  Even with 8 of us, there was plenty to go around to sample.  It made the meal perfect.

     The food was fantastic, the waiter the best, and even the manager stopped by.  She welcomed us with a smile, and graciously accepted our compliments of Jose and the whole experience.

     Too soon it was time to rise and head out, but our stomachs were full as well as our minds with the heady experience.  Needless to say, Jose got an incredible tip.  Cheers Jose!!

     If you visit Vong’s Thai Kitchen in Chicago, may you find Jose waiting your table.

Did you have any memorable food experiences in Chicago, especially at SOBCon08?

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ToJoSan @ SOBCon08



ToJoSan

Originally uploaded by bjmccray

That’s me, there, with the camera. Yeah, I know. It’s so unusual. Ha.
Thank you BJ!

SOBCon08 – Where I found more than a blogger

Shashi - geek, blogger, friend
Let me tell you about one of my favorite takeaways from SOBCon08. Shashi and I started out as on the edges of common technologies, now I feel like I’ve gained a friend for life.

It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with him this weekend. What better way to know a man than to share things together.

We shared – learning, laughter, fresh air, excitement, joy, a hug, the skyline of Chicago, we broke bread together, and shared a beer. What better ways to know a man.

What did you share at SOBCon08? What did you take away?

SOBCon08 – Brian Clark – Copyblogger

Brian gave me several things to think about, but here’s my quick list of take-aways:

  • Attention is valuable but not everything
  • Authority rules
  • Don’t think niche, think large audience and carve out a niche in that
  • Expertise creates authority
  • Think maximize my assets vs replace my job
  • Maximize my subscribers – build lists
  • Build destination pages

A lot of this stuff is immediately useful and gives me a whole viewpoint turnaround.  We are doing a model review out on our sites.  Pages is a big focus of the discussion.

SOBCon08 – Anita Bruzzese

What did I take away?

  • Use good resources
  • Make sure my sources are reliable – does my source have an agenda
  • Keep my credibility – keep away from hidden agenda
  • Post corrections – Immediately!
  • Don’t respond by attacking
  • Encourage comments – highlight great commenters – don’t let the bad comments take over
  • Get a roundtable of folks to keep me true
  • Put a line in the sand on what I will and will not due or blog about
  • Write things I’m not only proud of now, but I’ll be proud of in the future

Very good presentation. Anita is from www.45things.com.

On the way to SOBCon08

I’m on my way to SOBCon08, or almost anyway. I got up early this morning with all intentions of landing in Chicago about right now. That isn’t to be obviously, as I’m still in St. Louis at Lambert International.

All of the flights are being pushed back today, both in and out. Heading to Chicago is especially problematic because flights in and out of there are also running behind. Just spoke to Shashi, coming in at Midway, and he’s been taxiing for quite a while there. They are waiting for a gate.

So what’s a guy to do that’s not on time today? Why, blog it and twitter and considering whipping out the camera. Just had lunch and still have time for that. Hopefully the flight won’t be delayed much more though.

Also, I’m already doing my Friday call for postcards. If you want a postcard, then send me a DM on twitter, @tojosan. Be sure to mention postcard, and provide a name and addy. If I hear from you by tomorrow sometime, I’ll personally address, sign and write a note to you on a postcard. They’ll go out Monday from my home post office.

I’ll be doing a post about the postcards I received back as well.

Cheers!

SOBCon08 at The Summit Executive Center

SOBCon08 is of course being held in Chicago, and it’s new home there it top of the line.  The conference will be held at The Summit Executive Center.

The Summit Executive Center is  in the heart of downtown Chicago on N. Michigan.  Their site really makes the place sound exciting.  Can’t wait to get there.

Nearby hotels abound as well as being close to many attractions.  Most likely I’ll find time to visit one or two in the evenings.

If you want to find out more about the SOBCon bloggers conference, please check out their site.

What I’m learning on the way to SOBCon08

If you haven’t heard, I’m going to SOBCon08. SOBCon08 is a three day blogger conference for bloggers about blogging by professional bloggers.  N’uff said.

So often folks talk about what they’ve learned at a conference or picked up in conversations while they were there.  Some people will talk about the social networking that happened on site or afterwards.  Finally, some will relate stories of the fun, including wild parties they had.  But few bloggers will blog about what they learned on the path to get there.  I’m here to tell you that I’m learning plenty already and I’ve not even made my hotel reservations.

Get your friends involved

 It’d be easy to sit on the sidelines and moan about how hard it is to be a better blogger, or pay the way to the convention. It’s most tempting to do that moaning to friends.  But what I’ve learned is it’s a far better tactic to bring them along side as partners.  Heck, I’ve got hundreds of contacts on my social networks, why not get some help.

I’ve sought them out and they’ve responded. Daily reminders both in person, on the blog, and through the network have allowed them them to directly respond with helping me get the lead in the contest but also get my blogging fingers working. They’ve encouraged me with great feedback about the blog posts themselves, and the contest.

What’s amazing is that several of these people I’ve yet to even talk to live, yet they’ve reached out to help me push along.  Cheers to you guys and gals.

Supporters will show up to help

So I started off with this wild idea to improve my blogging by attending this conference.  Then I realized how crazy it seemed. What makes me think I have something to contribute? Am I really blogger material? Woah.

Of course I blogged and talked about it; sent it out to the either I did.  To my surprise, not only did my existing buddies come on board, but folks not even on my attention list did too.  The folks over at SOBCon08, Liz and Terry, have both stepped into my life and begun providing encouragement.  They’ve taken time to visit my blog and leave comments, and send me personal messages.  Liz even took time out of her hectic schedule for a one on one pep talk. WOW!

To sum that up, if you ask for help and speak boldly, others will join your cause.

Blog better now

Signing up for the conference made me step back and evaluate where my blogging is at today.  Talk about a sanity check. Not only was I hardly posting a few times each week, but most of the posts were one paragraph or less.  There was no multimedia except on rare occasions, and not enough link love.  You get the picture right?

Of the few things I’m mentioning here, this lesson hit me the hardest. I realized that what’s to gain from a conference if I wasn’t going to put my best foot forward.  This has led me to some changes you might have noticed.

Longer posts, more conversational posts, cartoons (courtesy of Toonlet), commentary on other blogs are just a few of the changes and directions I’ve taken.   More work to come.

The results?  I’m having some 100 hit days on this current blog.  The toons are a big hit.  Comments are happening.

In Summary

Those those three lessons might not seem like much, but trust me they are.  They’ve resulted not only in the practical things, such as leading the contest, and a better blog, but in a less tangible way.  My confidence has been boosted too.  I’ve come to realize that success isn’t some far off concept, only available to other lucky folks. It’s about what you do and about moving forward boldly and bringing your friends along.

It’s not about the belief that I’ll be successful, only time will tell that.  It’s about losing the worry over the end results and focusing on the process.  Focusing on the doing and not getting lost in frustrating second guessing.

As a fellow blogger put it, I’m going forward and let a higher power tell me no if they want. But barring that, I’m making a run for the little ring.

Your fellow blogger,

Todd

SOBCon08 Contest Update

SOBCon08 is running a contest for attending bloggers where the payoff is admission and hotel expenses.  The contest works by counting hits to the SOBCon08 website from the competing bloggers.  I’m in that contest.

The contest just posted an update here, and guess who is in the lead? Me!

Yes, you, my readers, have put me in the lead.  But the contest is not over yet.  Far from it, there are 22 days left and I’m not far enough out in the lead to make it certain.  The very fact that people now know whose in the lead will have an affect.

The contest is simple, so if you want to help, all you need to do is click here.  That’s right. Just click there and that’s it. No registration. No sign up. No giving your email.  Just click any link to SOBCon08 and their site.  Every hit counts.  The more the better.  Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell strangers, but please, send them to my blog and have them click through to the SOBCon08 site.

To be transparent:

Convention cost: $450

Hotel cost: $300 +

Getting there: ????

Thanks you again for your support thus far.  Sending me to SOBCon08 will improve my blogging skills, resources and my network of support.

As an added incentive, if you leave me a comment letting me know you click, and provide a link to your blog, I’ll provide a link back on my blogroll and I’ll include you in an upcoming cartoon.

Sincerely,

Todd

10 Reasons You Need to Go to SOBCon08

Char over at Essential Keystrokes has written a good piece on why you need to go to SOBCon08.  Some of these are my reasons for going as well.  You can check out the full blog post here.  But below are a couple of my favorites.

10. Chances are your friends, family and co-workers don’t “get” blogging.

Ain’t that the truth.  My folks really don’t understand any of the geeky stuff I do, let along anything to do with online stuff. My mother thinks it’s all about porn and my dad thinks it’s just a big waste fo time.

6. Share ideas and forge relationships.

Amen to that!  I’m very excited about meeting some of my favorite bloggers in person as well as meeting new people.  The blogosphere often seems very spread out, but meetings like this help to shrink that universe.  Meeting Liz Strauss, another one on the 10 reasons list, is an exciting opportunity as well as the possibility to chat in person with Chris Brogan and others.  Who knows? I might find more than one blogger with similar interests as mine, and form a partnership.  Heck, and new friends are always welcome.

So what’s your excuse for not going? Check out SOBCon08 and see just what it could do for you!

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