Buying Guide Articles on Parade.com
In partnership with The Arena Group and Maven Media, I have been contributing product guides to the entertainment website, Parade.com.
Here is a link to my author page and the article archive.
Buying Guide Articles on TheStreet.com
In partnership with The Arena Group and Maven Media, I have been contributing product guides to the financial website thestreet.com.
Here is a link to my author page and the article archive.
Buying Guide Articles on SportsIllustrated.com
In partnership with The Arena Group and Maven Media, I have been contributing product guides to the financial website sportsillustrated.com
Here is a link to my author page and the article archive.
Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in Texas
I wrote the full list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in Texas for Yelp in March of 2022 -- all 100 restaurant descriptions.
Top 100 Restaurants 2022
Contributed first 50 entries in the list.
#1 Cocina Madrigal
Attracting a diverse crowd to downtown Phoenix, Chef Leo Madrigal’s restaurant is comfortable and warm but not overly fancy. His menu is full of flavors from Oaxaca and his Mexico City birthplace, with favorites that include a grilled-romaine salad and fall-apart beef birria enchiladas. Make sure you leave room for dessert and order the warm Churros with Crème Anglaise and caramel sauce.
Yelp's Behind the Review Podcast
Ghostwriting blog posts and podcast scripts for the Behind the Review Podcast
It’s not often that folks will lose their minds over biscuits. At their core, they’re pretty basic, usually only five or six ingredients.
But a really good biscuit is worth remembering—and reviewing—like our Yelp reviewer Casey T. did for Austin sandwich shop Bird Bird Biscuit.
“It's everything that you would want in a chicken biscuit. Like literally not dry, very crispy, and flavorful. And the biscuit itself is very soft. It was just great. I felt like I was in heaven when I was eating this biscuit, and me and my friends, we were literally just sitting on the floor, outside Bird Bird Biscuit, and we were blown away by this food experience.”
Behind the Review blog on Entrepreneur.com
Top 100 places to stay in Texas
(Contributed 37 descriptions to a joint project, writing 90+ word descriptions of top hotels in Texas, including the Archer Hotel, El Cosmico, The Drury, The Driskill, the St. Anthony, Lone Star Court, The Post Oak Houston, the Joule, all Hotel ZaZas, Hotel Havana, Lorenzo Hotel, Amelia's Landing, The Range, Son's Blue River Camp, and others)
When it comes to vacation lodging, Texas has something for everyone. Staycationers and out-of-state visitors alike will find accommodations to satisfy every need, taste, and budget, from rustic cabins and ultra-modern urban accommodations, to beach condos, family-fun resorts, and romantic getaways. Looking for a more unique place to stay—a vintage trailer, glamping tent, safari cabin, or teepee, perhaps? Texas has that, too!
To help you find your next Lone Star State getaway, we mined Yelp data for the Top 100 Places to Stay in Texas. Check out the full list below, or if you already have a Texas destination in mind, jump right to Yelp results for that city using these handy links.
Behind the Review | Taking full care of your customers under one roof
(This article is ghost written)
Not every small business can be all things to all people. Customer preferences and expectations run the gamut. But when you’re able to identify your core audience, you can build your business around their needs—adding services, products, and specialties that serve them in the fullest capacity your business type allows.
That’s what drives Aligned Modern Health. They offer as much as they can while keeping with their main mission: offering the highest standards of care with a range of treatment options.
This integrated health and wellness practice in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood specializes in non-surgical, non-drug healthcare, offering a combination of chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and massage therapy services. They receive the highest marks from their patients, and there are a few reasons why.
Behind the Review | Building strength and community through experience and compassion
(This article is ghost written)
The most successful small businesses don’t try to be everything for everyone—it’s impossible to be all things to all people. Instead, it’s about focusing on your specific purpose, your unique offerings, and then connecting with customers who align with your vision and are in need of your services. It can be tempting to cast a wide net to attract more business, but the more targeted and intentional you are, the more loyal and dedicated your customer base will be.
For Amanda Volker and Juan Martinez, owners of West Texas Strength, that means creating a welcoming gym space that’s built for a specific group of fitness customers—the serious powerlifters and bodybuilders—who may feel out of place in the average gym or aren’t interested in the extra frills of fitness chains. Before the pair opened the gym, that sentiment hit home for Amanda and Juan. They tried multiple gyms but couldn’t find one that combined the specialty lifting experience they were looking for alongside the meaningful sense of community.
10 Easy Closet Organizing Tips
Has this ever happened to you? You’re heading out to a meeting or date, so you look in your closet for an outfit. And that’s when you encounter it… overstuffed drawers, haphazardly placed accessories, and a chaotic mess of hanging items you have to rifle through each time you need something. When you finally find what you’re looking for, you’re already late.
If so, you’re not alone. About half of Americans say that their biggest home-organizing problem is an overstuffed closet, according to research by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).
That’s because it’s way too easy to throw things into your closet, and forget about them when the door is closed. But it doesn’t have to be that way, if you’re willing to follow a few simple closet organization tips.
Ready to get rid of ugly clutter and maximize your closet storage space, without installing an expensive custom closet system? Follow this expert advice—plus some additional hacks—and you’ll have your entire wardrobe at your fingertips.
How much should your small business spend on marketing?
(This article was a ghost writer assignment)
It might be the scariest question ever asked by a small business owner—how much should I allocate to my marketing budget? That’s understandable. The idea behind owning a small business is to make money, not spend it. But there’s truth to the old adage that you need to spend money to make money.
First, try and think of the marketing budget for your small business as an investment, not an expense, and remember that it’s a necessary part of doing business. After all, without marketing, no one will know about your business product or service.
Second, there is a formula for building a marketing budget, and it’s a great place to start when building your small business marketing budgets.
A review strategy to help improve your business
Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” The question then is, how do you make those unhappy experiences—mostly in the form of negative reviews—into learning opportunities for you and your business?
Most of the time, online reviews are the most authentic form of feedback you can receive for your small business. Your customers might not feel comfortable expressing their happiness or disappointment with your product or service in person, so many of those people can and do leave feedback for you in the form of online reviews.
What’s in a 1-star review?
Since the dawn of civilization, people have loved to complain by leaving negative reviews. The oldest known form of writing—cuneiform—dates back to around 3200 BC, so naturally, the oldest known scathing review surfaced a few millennia later.
In 1750 BC, a man named Nanni wrote a harsh complaint to a copper merchant named Ea-nasir, claiming the merchant had shorted him the amount of copper he paid for and supplied—in his opinion—poor quality copper. Considering cuneiform writing was a very labor-intensive task, requiring the author to carve into clay and then allow it to dry, Nanni must have really wanted to make his complaint known.
Today, it is much easier to leave a bad review, especially on online platforms like Yelp. And while more than half of Yelp reviews are 5 stars and nearly 70% are 4+ stars, as human beings, we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. This is especially true for small business owners—it can be easy to take each review personally because you’ve invested your heart, soul, and sometimes life savings into your business.
The Best Ways to Build Trust with your Customers
Trust is critical to a good relationship with your customers. After all, they’re handing over their hard-earned money to you and your business, and they expect something of value in return.
But customer trust isn’t just about the transaction—it’s built over time with give and take from both the business and the customer. If you invest in your customer’s success, they’ll invest in you through repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing.
Building customer trust isn’t difficult, but like all long-term relationships, it doesn’t happen overnight—it takes a little time and investment across the whole customer experience.
Lessons on improvisational hospitality and the NYC street hot dog from Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park
In the right hands, at the right time, and with the right presentation, a New York City street hot dog can leave the same lasting impression as the celery root velouté with black truffle and chestnuts.
Will Guidara has entertained A-list celebrities, CEOs, and world leaders while running his former restaurant group, Make it Nice, which includes one of the world’s best restaurants, the three-Michelin star Eleven Madison Park. But that hot dog is one of his most memorable dishes.
As a group of Europeans dined in his restaurant, he overheard them mention the one culinary treat they had missed on their trip was an authentic, NYC street-side, dirty-water hot dog. So Guidara acquired one, plated it, and served it up.
“I talk about it as improvisational hospitality,” said Guidara. “It makes it more fun to be on the floor if you can improvise and listen and watch and then react, and it gives every single person on the floor a much greater feeling of ownership in the experience they’re creating because they’re actually a part of creating it.”
Best Places to Advertise Your Business
(SEO-Focused blog post)
The oldest way for local businesses to reach new customers—and in many ways still the best—is paid advertising. But advertising is more complicated these days and has progressed beyond a simple ad in a local newspaper to an online world with phrases like “retargeting,” “search engine optimization (SEO),” “lookalike audiences,” and “behavioral targeting.”
As a local business owner, it can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you put together the right marketing strategy. This simple two-part process will help you target your ideal new customers.
Low-Cost Ideas to Promote Your Business
(SEO-Focused blog post)
You’ve put together a business strategy, ordered inventory, developed your marketing plan, and are ready to roll out your new business—all you need now are customers. Or maybe you’ve already established your business and are looking for ways to jumpstart your marketing strategy.
But what if you don’t have a lot of time or budget to devote to marketing? We’ve put together some of the easiest, least expensive, and most rewarding ways to promote your business, even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Preparing your small business for the holiday season
For many small (and some large) businesses, the holiday shopping season can be “make or break” time. According to a recent PayPal survey, one in five businesses say their future is heavily or wholly dependent upon a successful holiday shopping season, but only a third of those businesses had started to prepare properly as of September.
With no end to the pandemic in sight, this holiday season is going to look drastically different from previous seasons. The CDC has released recent guidelines labeling shopping at malls or in crowded stores as one of the highest-risk activities for contracting COVID-19, so it’s anticipated that there won’t be as many large crowds as usual on Black Friday.
Lessons from a Michelin-rated restaurant’s transformation to casual takeout
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the conventional wisdom in the restaurant business was to save cash, cut overhead, and “If you’re fine dining: hibernate.” Mark Canlis did the exact opposite and performed the ultimate pivot—transforming Canlis from a world-famous, upscale restaurant with a months-long waiting list to serving bagels, burgers, and takeout.
Most restaurants enjoying any success during the current epidemic—even if that means simply staying open—are sticking with what they know best and paring down to simple meals and smaller take-out menus.
Lessons from a celebrity chef on focus, leadership, and balance
The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t care if you’re a Michelin-starred restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall bagel shop—no restaurateur can escape the fact that the hospitality business has changed.
Will kitchens return to the typical 80-100 hours a week, or will there be a new normal with a better work-life balance? The pandemic has given chefs and restaurant owners a chance to reconsider some priorities and rebalance their kitchens and personal lives.
3 steps for managing your online presence
To find a great electrician or the next great takeout restaurant, people used to phone friends and colleagues and ask for recommendations.
That’s changed over the years, and people now largely rely on the opinions of total strangers to make those same recommendations, thanks to the broad reach of the online, community-driven landscape.
Digital marketing—including online reviews—is the new “word-of-mouth” marketing, and it’s here to stay. Consumers are less likely to make a phone call and more likely to open an app like Yelp to find what they need, so it’s important for businesses to pay attention to their online reputation.
If you follow a few simple steps, it can be just as easy to build, track, and maintain a great reputation online as it is for customers to leave a comment.
Lessons on fighting the good fight with celebrity chef Rick Bayless
One minute, you’re running a Michelin-starred restaurant; the next, you’re lobbying Congress and advocating for fair wages for restaurant workers.
They seem like two totally different careers, but as the COVID-19 pandemic shows little signs of easing up, chefs and restaurateurs have had to take on new and sometimes intimidating jobs just to keep the industry—and their restaurants—afloat.
Lessons in becoming your own brand from chef Jet Tila
Celebrity chef Jet Tila learned the importance of diversification in business early in life, and that’s made the difference in his ability to make it out of the pandemic intact, rather than going under.
Tila grew up in the family business, which encompassed some of the first Thai restaurants in California, the first Thai grocery store in the United States, an import company, and an agricultural business. It was his first experience with the benefits of building multiple revenue streams. That diversification mindset has made him not only a great chef, but a household name.
How to become an eco-friendly business
The average American creates 4.5 pounds of waste each day—that’s more than 1,600 pounds each year and three times as much as the global average—from soiled paper products and uneaten food to thrown-away clothes and single-use plastic. Those items end up in landfills, our water systems, and sometimes back in our own bodies.
There are a number of ways that people can reduce their individual waste contributions, and those efforts are now being adopted by businesses and corporations as well. And while any type of change to your business can be intimidating, thanks to modern technology and some knowledgeable consultants, it’s easier than you think to clean up your business.
Lessons from Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue on a bulletproof plan for success
People have been dining out for more than a thousand years—since the first restaurant as we know it opened in 1100 A.D. in China—and have operated in basically the same way ever since. You sit down at a table, a server takes your order, brings that order to the kitchen where it is prepared, and delivers it to the table when it’s ready.
“I don’t believe that because we did something some way yesterday that there is any reason to do it that way tomorrow.”
Businessman and television personality Jon Taffer has been innovating the restaurant experience long before COVID hit, and he said that while he understands many restaurants are just trying to stay open, now is not the time to shy away from improving upon operations. In fact, he said, it’s imperative in order to move forward.
Lessons for building a $10 million restaurant from Chef Sam Marvin of Bottega Louie
When Chef Sam Marvin talks, the hospitality industry listens. After all, he built a $10 million restaurant, Bottega Louie, in downtown Los Angeles during the recession in 2008. He’s a person who seizes an opportunity wherever, and whenever, he can.
But Chef Marvin says that the hospitality business has evolved—and that it’s now all about perspective.
“I’m not really in the restaurant business anymore. That was my basis 10 years ago, that I was getting into a new business, and it’s called the experience business. And my number one goal in my experience business is to create ‘egocentric gratification’ in my guests. If I can achieve creating egocentric gratification in my guests, it’s over.”
Lessons on using the prospect of failure to succeed with Seth Godin
The saying “Winners never quit and quitters never win” from Vince Lombardi is famous for inspiring determination and persistence. But according to entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin, Lombardi was wrong. Winners, Godin said, quit all the time—it’s just about being strategic when it comes to what and when you quit.
“What it means to be a strategic quitter is to say, has anyone standing where I’m standing, trying to go where I’m going, gotten there? Because if no, well then I’m wasting my time.” And one of the biggest keys to success is welcoming, acknowledging, and understanding failure, Godin said.
Another Godin-ism that goes against conventional wisdom? Talent is overrated.
Organizing your home saves time and money
Decluttering can cut down housework by more than 40%
Home organizers help with everything from closet overhauls to major moves
When TV shows about professional home organizers consistently make Netflix’s Top 10, you know home organization is on trend. However, organizing your home is more than just a fad, it saves time and money, too.
The average household loses 2.5 days a year looking for lost items (mostly the TV remote but also keys, phones, and sunglasses). And Americans as a whole spend $2.7 billion—yes, BILLION— each year replacing items that seemed lost forever.
Another fun (and perhaps motivating) fact: Getting rid of clutter cuts down on housework by more than 40%, according to the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). That alone may be an incentive to start organizing your home.
But what if you’re completely overwhelmed by clutter and disorganization? Stress, it turns out, is one of the best reasons to launch a home organization project. Some 80% of medical expenditures are stress related, and stress-related illness costs the US $300 billion a year in medical costs and lost productivity.