A Few Notes from Anaheim
This might sound a little too sappy for a business blog, but as I begin to recognize more and more faces in the franchise industry, I'm still amazed by the kindness of people I meet along the way. Here are a few dispatches from my attendance at last week's West Coast Franchise Expo in Anaheim, California.
Day One: First of all, have you ever experienced bubble tea? Maybe I'm 10+ years behind the game here, but Jenna Trinh at Lollicup opened my eyes with a strange but fantastic cup of boba. What's boba? Tea shaken with milk and small balls of tapioca. It's delightful, and so was she—a great example of the right demeanor at a show booth.
My first scheduled interview was with Darin Leonard and Tiffany Herman of Dream Dinners, a franchise that allows busy people to come into the store and assemble meals that they then bring home to eat or freeze for another day. Cool concept! As an enthusiastic home cook, I'd much prefer this option on busier days, rather than ordering a pizza or something equally unhealthy.
I met some cool people from Fishman Public Relations—always nice to connect some faces with the names of people who've guided me toward some of my favorite story sources. See ya next time, Kayla Atwell and Matt Gold!
My first-ever dinner at a Ruth's Chris with Dean Georgelos and Eric Brown, from Giordano's pizza. Great steaks and a great bottle of Jayson Pahlmeyer wine, and one of the more fun business dinners I've been a part of. Aside from being a great guy, Dean is hooking me up with a rabbit recipe.
Day Two: Does the dry air in every convention center need to literally suck the life out of everyone who enters? I say cut back on the weird carpet and install an indoor pond. Something. My annoying rant notwithstanding, I really enjoyed interacting with some of the attendees who stopped by our booth.
I love asking people if they're looking to get into franchising for the first time and, if so, what concepts they have in mind. It would be so intimidating to roam those halls with a pocket full of ambition, but no idea which direction to take. Good conversations all around...
The gold star of my day goes to Maxim Sirotovsky, CEO of Island of Treats. While I hadn't previously interacted with this brand—beyond wandering through their super-impressive booth at the previous Houston show—Maxim was one of the kindest people I've met in ages.
He told me a little bit about his story as a Ukranian immigrant, and about how proud his parents are that he's now the head of a major, national company. It's incredible that some people want to limit how many hardworking immigrants are allowed to come to this country. They should talk to Maxim.
Everything was eclipsed, however, when I met Ken Ishiyama, a licensee of Franchise Times out in Japan. His excitement at meeting me—"the very famous Tom Kaiser"—was very flattering, and I loved hearing about how my stories (translated into Japanese) are enjoyed by readers in his country. I didn't see that one coming, and I can't wait to see Ken at a future show.