Tory Johnson Turns Business Dreams into Reality

I don’t know about you, but I am the ultimate dreamer. In fact, throughout my life, I’ve set several lofty goals for myself.
Land a leading role in a high school musical: Check.
Make the high school tennis team: Check.
Land a job as an advertising representative at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian: Check
Graduate Phi Beta Kappa: Check.
Receive a Masters Degree in Journalism from NYU: Check
Land a network TV PR job: Check
Find my soulmate and get married: Check
Give birth to two beautiful and fun loving children: Check
Publish two pretty funny books about motherhood: Check
Host inspring events for moms and launch an online parent blogger network: Check
Create an online magazine for parents: Check
Experience professional success beyond my wildest dreams…Still a work in progress.
While I’ve got the drive to succeed, I have to admit that I sometimes lack the direction. And that’s where Small Business Champion Tory Johnson comes in. Tory is a New York Times bestselling author whose new book Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now is set to debut nationwide on June 5. Having worked closely with Tory over the past year, I have to say she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s driven, she’s a perfectionist and she’s the ultimate customer service cheerleader. I’ve never seen anyone more committed to small business owners and I’ve proudly watched as she has literally helped catapult many of them to overnight success.
Having attended Tory’s latest Spark & Hustle conference, I have to admit, I was totally in awe of her keynote speaker – Barbara Bradley — creator of my all time favorite summer handbags…Vera Bradley! Bradley shared the story of how she launched her multi-million dollar business without having a clue as to how to do it. She discovered the name of the fabric wholesaler that sold to the top department stores, walked right up to the owner and while he could have ignored her, he instead took her under his wing and helped her get Vera Bradley off the ground. What I love about Barbara Bradley is that she had guts and a bit of moxie. And that fearless attitude propelled her company to where it is today.
Check out an excerpt from Tory’s new book and then make sure you order a copy today.

Tory is currently touring the country as part of her nationwide Spark & Hustle conference tour. Bringing together successful entrepreneurs in each city, the conferences offer attendees a healthy dose of inspiration, motivation and real advice you can act upon right now so that you can turn your dream into reality. So what are you waiting for? Put a little Spark & Hustle in your step and there’s no telling what you can accomplish.

Brooklyn I Hardly Knew Ya

Who said you can never go home again?  Well today I did just that.  While my daughter attended the umpteenth Bat Mitzvah service of the season, I wandered around Brooklyn Heights – not exactly my old stomping grounds, but at least a semi familiar part of the beloved borough where I was born and raised.  Since I knew I was going to be spending a few hours on my own, I tweeted a few Brooklyn experts for advice and within minutes, Liz Gumbinner, Nicole Feliciano and Anna Fader offered up a list of suggestions of where and how to spend my day.

Morning Jo at the Vineapple coffee shop
– Liz suggested my first stop should be at this hip cafe on Pineapple street that’s populated with lots of artsy writer types.  The place is totally cozy, has wifi (the password is conveniently plastered on one one of walls), comfy couches, tables and board games.  I ordered a latte with skim milk, whipped out my iPad and read the latest edition of the New York Post from cover to sports section.

A stroll along the promenade – After I finished my coffee and two toddlers usurped my 

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge (Photo credit: Akibubblet)

spot on the couch,I left Vineapple and made my way to the promenade – a picturesque pathway that I still remember visiting when I was a teen.  I took a stroll along the walk and as I gazed out into the East River, I saw a handful of people kayaking.  Wait, what?  This is so not the Brooklyn I remember well – it was soooooo clean!

Made my way back to Montague street for a little window shopping.  Liz recommended that Tango was a must see for shoppers.  Meanwhile, Anna said to check out Prospect Park, while Nicole said I’d love DUMBO and one of her favorite restaurants, Almondine. Instead, I found a new mani-pedi place on Montague Street called VIP where I got the full treatment and finished in just enough time to see a text from my daughter that she wanted to be picked up in 20 minutes.  

Almost adopted a pet – Walked out the door and noticed the local pet food store was offering up kittens for adoption.  Almost left with an orange tabby that drew a striking resemblance to our treasured Rudy, but decided it was still too soon to bring another cat home with us. 

Who said you can’t go home again?  After I picked Becca up, I plugged in an address to the nav and off we went.  As we made our way through once familiar neighborhoods where I instinctually locked my windows and doors, we passed the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Botanical Gardens, Crown Heights, Flatbush and many more familiar streets.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at my childhood home in Canarsie.

English: Looking east across Flatbush Avenue a...

English: Looking east across Flatbush Avenue and down Avenue U at Kings Plaza on a sunny afternoon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trip down memory lane…I couldn’t help myself, but after I made Becca take a few photos from her phone of the outside of my old house, I told a man who looked at us like we were nuts that I grew up there and he just waved and smiled.  A few minutes later, a woman came outside with her son and dog and I once again gushed that she was living in my childhood home.  It turned out she was the person who purchased the home from my parents 13 years ago and still remembered them.  She then invited us inside and I couldn’t wait to see my old room.  What I found totally strange was that the entire house seemed so much smaller than I remember it.   My room no longer had that Laura Ashley style purple floral wallpaper and lavender carpet I had picked out as a teen.  Our old den looked different without the shag carpet and my dad’s favorite brown recliner, but the dining and living room still looked familiar since Mom had left some of our furniture behind.

Cruising past my hangouts…Paerdegat Athletic Club, South Shore High School – which has since been boarded up and closed down, the Arch Diner, Ralph Avenue and Kings Plaza, while I drove down Ralph Avenue, I asked Becca to take a few more pix so I could remember our special day and the fact that I probably won’t be back again anytime soon.

403465_10150861789070205_56175687_n.jpegFinal Stop…Original Pizza!  If you grew up in Brooklyn then there are two things we are passionate about.  Our bagels and our pizza.  Maybe it’s something in the water, but all I can say is there is nothing that quite compares to a slice of Brooklyn pizza.  And so, I treated my daughter to her first taste of Original Pizza and then ordered a pie for my husband.  And then we were on our way.

One last glimpse…Most Romantic Restaurant in Canarsie — as we hopped on the Belt Parkway, I pointed out the place where her dad and I celebrated after getting engaged – Abracciamento — a romantic Italian restaurant located on Jamaica Bay in Canarsie. 

Home Sweet Home.  We arrived back in New Rochelle and when I asked my daughter if she’d ever like to live in Brooklyn, she replied:  “No way – I love having all this open space and I want to live in our house forever.”  In fact, I found out her master plan is to live in our house once my husband and I move out.  Except she said she and her brother are g
oing to have to fight for it since he wants to live there too. 

So there you have it.  One very special day where I got to relive everything that’s great about Brooklyn while taking a trip down memory lane with my daughter.  And I will never forget it.  Here’s hoping she takes her own daughter one day to all her favorite childhood haunts.  Something tells me the Westchester Mall won’t be as nostalgic as Kings Plaza, but one never knows.  

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