RDQLUS drops in on Chicago & loves it up something naughty!
I'm all packed and set, java'ed up and in the airport in "The ONE" (Omaha, NE). Anxious, excited and a bit nervous because in less that 4-hours I'm due to stand in front of a few hundred people and talk about the skill of staying creative 24/7. And I'm still in Omaha. Nervous. Increasingly nervous. A flight reminiscent of Maverick & Goose's shenanigans in 'Top Gun', the nerves are now fully frayed but all is well when I nab my luggage full of Jordans and tees and I'm strolling confidently for the Orange Line rail into "The GO." Yeah, this is going to be all good.
I'm in a deluxe apartment in the sky! Staying at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverfront, I hop on social media to see they have a presence. I jokingly tweet that my stay would be kicked off in a much better way should I arrive to find dark chocolates awaiting my loving consumption. Due to my history with NYC, I move quite efficiently in cities with good mass-transit systems. Why do I mention this? The social media director at the Hyatt was tracking my progress and I got a bit ahead of schedule… my dark chocolates showed up at my door a bit after my arrival, but they were flanked by gourmet popcorn and some chilled 'Goose Island' brews. Yeah, Hyatt Regency-Riverfront, you're my homie now. Good lookin' out!
So I did my thing on stage and I hope I presented information to my fellow indie creatives on how to keep their motors running better, longer. The HOW Live conference has been kicked off well, but I'll get back to that in a bit. Right now, I need me some Giordano's in my face. Deep-dish, copped. Nuff'said!
I kicked off my mornings with a stop by 'Cafe Descartes' to be greeted warmly by the homie who always had a great story about last night, while he made me the best, strongest espressos I've ever had. But that's Chicago for you; a down-ass, street-wise kid from the block possessing the skills of a world-class barista. Yeah. That's "Middy" for you. We "Midwesterners" have a flair all our own.
On a little downtime from the HOW Live conference, I has to steal away and get to my fave neighborhood in the city; Wicker Park. After a little chill-mode action in the actual park you know I had to get my sneaker hunt on, so I stopped by the street-style boutique 'Saint Alfred' and talked to Frank the crew, and then I walked further up to Buckhead to hit the well-known skate-shop 'Uprise'. Culture stoked and kicks copped, I'm back on the Blue Line back to Downtown.
4 AM – I found out that trips to White Castle so late that it's early are not about the food. You only ever end up at a place like this because you are with an amazing crew that has tamed the clock and stacked experiences to the rafters. You find yourself eating sliders & fries in the parking lot where the cab was supposed to wait (but didn't), having conversations with fellow sneakerheads on their own night moves, with your crew of respected, highly skilled creative mischief-makers as the sun threatens to obliterate the darkness. All of this happening miles from base in an area of town most are cautioned about. But not us. We do work; all times, all places. That just "HOW" legends get down! Don't believe me? Twitter search #legendsofhow.
I've begun to illustrate the importance of the company good people, even for a solo soul/independent person and professional. Dinners with friends and colleagues is crucial to networking, but a far more authentic way to hang and connect with people, even if they are set for a working relationship. People do work with people they like and trust. We are still afflicted with the "human condition" after all. Some amazing times were had over sips and nibbles, with people I respect, work with or hope to forge better connections with. For instance, Kevin McConkey —the lead at Grip Creative in the Chicago-area—took out his fellow authors and pals to several amazing dinners. At G.T. The conversation ranged from our assignments on the new blog for Rockport Publishing (RockPaperInk), to "what all is in that?!" as we all tasted and shared amazing drinks & tasty food treats. All the while connecting and networking, without the stuffy confines of, well… networking.
A 50-foot Picasso with no real name and a hot-dog named after the very city I was in… that's Chicago for you. I could paint no better picture than that.
Strolling down Michigan Ave. or walking down Wacker Drive at night is invigorating and calming all the same. I've been there many times before. I've seen this place in its nightly lighted splendor as well as sleepy morning still, but it never diminishes. It never fails to fill me with a pride that only a kid from the "Middy" could understand. East Coasters have New York City. West Coasters latch onto L.A. But we Midwesterners in the derogatorily named "fly-over" states have something going here too. Her name is "Chi-town," the "2nd City," "The GO"—Chicago. And we do love her, even if you're not from there.
And down to the reason I was back in my middle-mapped crown jewel? The HOW Design conference and it's metamorphosis into HOW Live drew almost 4000 creative minds, ready for various levels of recharge, inspiration and generally motivational kicks in the ass. And kick ass it did! My thanks to all who attended my session, stopped me to talk in the halls and on the street. You are a big part of the reason I love what I do and strive to do it as well as I can. I hope this little display here validates what I was talking about in that session. To quote Outkast, "you've got to get up, get out and get something!" Live life big! What you do to make money is work, but what you do for a living is live!
Chicago, we had fun didn't we? Just know that someone in "The ONE" loves "The GO." You need anything, you call me.