#LEAPzg // Where to Stay in Zagreb, Croatia

LEAP_Summit_HotelsFrom 11th to 13th of May, LEAP Summit #LEAPzg digital community will be taking over Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. This city is rich in cultural heritage and an array of well-established galleries and historic architecture. Read my previous post on WHY YOU NEED TO ATTEND LEAP SUMMIT. I am excited that this year I am one of their official bloggers. Join me on my journey beneath Mount Medvednica, as I will be live blogging about how you can LEAP into action from smart women like Cathy O’Dowd, Lada Tedeschi Fiorio, Ivana Grbavac and many more. As people will be gathering from near and far, here are all the hotel information that you will need to plan your travel to Zagreb, Croatia.

LEAP Summit Lodging

The Westin Zagreb
This 5-star hotel in Zagreb is within walking distance to LEAP Summit and outdoor cafés.the-westin-zagrebDistance to event: 5 min walk
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Esplanade Zagreb – 5-Star Resort + Real Posh Favorite
This is our go-to hotel in Zagreb if you are looking for luxury, elegance and old world charm.Hotel_Esplanade_ZagrebDistance to event: 11 min walk // 12 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Red Carpet Apartments & Rooms
Red_Carpet_Zagreb
Distance to event: 0 min walk
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Hostel Fancy
As an official LEAP Summit partner, you can enjoy a fancy way in a specially art-designed hostel with a great price.Hostel-Fancy-ZagrebDistance to event: 11 min walk // 12 min by tram
contact: info@fancyhostel.com
PRICE: 11 EUR price per night per person
optional: 3 EUR/breakfast/day, 6.50 EUR/lunch/day
BOOK HERE.

Hostel Old Lab
Located in the center of Zagreb, this hostel offers a café with a terrace, as well as free WiFi access.Hostel-Old-Lab-ZagrebDistance to event: 13 min walk // 10 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

The Palace Hotel Zagreb
This traditional Art Nouveau hotel is centrally located.Palace_Hotel_ZagrebDistance to event: 16 min walk // 9 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Hostel 54
As an official LEAP Summit partner, enjoy this modest yet comfortable hostel set in the west part of the city of Zagreb for a great price.Hostel-54-ZagrebDistance to event: 19 min walk // 6 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
contact: booking@hostel54.com
PRICE: 10 EUR per night per person
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Jägerhorn
A 3-minute walk from the nearest tram stop, this polished hotel dating from the 19th-century is a great option during LEAP Summit.Hotel_Jagerhorn_ZagrebDistance to event: 26 min walk // 11 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

10 Things to Do in Milan, Italy

milan-italyBuon Giorno, Milan, Italy! Milan’s name has for many centuries been recorded as Mailand, which is still the German name of the city today. It comes from the Celtic Mid-lan (meaning “in the middle of the plain”) and was known as “Mediolanum” by the Romans. An Italian proverb compares the cities of Milan and Rome and roughly translates, “Rome is a voluptuous woman whose gifts are very apparent, while Milan is the shy, demure girl whose treasures are plentiful, but discovered in time.” We all know that Milan is the fashion capital of the world, but did you also know these 10 things?

1. View the Duomo
The Duomo di Milano, one of the most famous buildings in Europe, is a large and elaborate Gothic Cathedral on the main square in the center of Milan. It is the second largest Roman Catholic cathedral after the cathedral of Seville. Note: Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is not a cathedral. Measuring 157 meters long, the Duomo can host 40,000 people comfortably. The main spire is 109 meters high and the great windows of the choir are the largest in the world.

2. Tune into the Teatro alla Scala
Typically Milanese, the discreet, neo-classical façade of Teatro alla Scala, the world’s most famous opera house, featuring acres of red velvet and gilded balconies. You can tour through this opera house museum during non-performance times.

3. Drink up the coffee culture
Don’t expect to the strong, bitter, pungent taste of Italian espresso in Milan. Milanese tend to drink their coffee quite long, with added water. This is no doubt to help them linger over the amazing array of pastries and cakes that the city has to offer. We highly recommend stopping by Pavé (Via Felice Casati 27), where you get the both of both world – delicious coffee and homemade sweet treats.

4. Be inspired by The Last Supper
In the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you can see one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper. Tickets must be reserved months in advance, so as soon as you book your plane or train tickets, you better purchase these. You have 15 minutes to examine the expressions of consternation, hostility and despair on the faces of the disciples, just as Jesus reveals his imminent betrayal. Because of Leonardo’s experimental technique, the fresco has faded through the years – but that doesn’t detract one iota from the experience of seeing it in the “flesh.” The room is humidity-controlled and non-flash photography is allowed.IMG_5157

5. Grab a gelato
Milan is full of gelaterias, serving flavorful, fresh gelato made from natural ingredients. Here’s the scoop on the ones we recommend. 😉 Grom uses only organic, fresh ingredients from around Italy: Sfusato lemon from Amalfi, and the Leonforte peach, for example. They have a central farm where all the raw ingredients are mixed, ensuring their high standards are met. Close by the main train station, Duomo Gelatieri is always fresh and made daily in the ice cream parlor with natural ingredients, no chemical ingredients and preservatives. Plus, they have a €1 cone available for children. You cannot beat that price, especially on a warm Italian day.IMG_4958

6. Marvel at the Pirelli Tower
Built in 2011, its illuminated spire evokes the Duomo, whilst stretching its height those extra few inches, making it Milan’s tallest building at 231 meters. This is the highest Italian skyscraper. The on the basement and ground floor, you will find restaurants, a bookstore and clothing stores.

7. Shop in style at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
With its glass-and-iron dome, magnificent mosaics and marble floors, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is definitely one of the world’s most glamorous and oldest (built in 1867) shopping malls. The first Prada store opened here in 1913. Note: You may see visitors come to spin their heels in the famous bull’s testicles, part of a floor mosaic said to bring good luck.Galleria_Vittorio_Emanuele

8. Lunch with the locals
Try the legendary panzerotti – a fried pastry triangle stuffed with tomato and oozing mozzarella – originally from Puglia, but definitely one of Milan’s most recognizable treats.

9. Discover Castello Sforzesco
The Sforzo Castle is the picture of the renaissance, with its rounded turrets, spacious courtyards and secret passageways. It also happens to be home to one of the city’s most precious, yet often overlooked, artworks: Michelangelo’s final, uncompleted sculpture, the Pietà Rondanini. We highly recommend picnicking on its lawn with an Italian sandwich during a beautiful, sunny day.

10. Eat the perfect plate of risotto
The saffron-laced risotto alla Milanese originated in the city and is rooted in its culture. Legend has it that on September 8, 1574, the daughter of Valerio di Fiandra, a craftsman making the stained-glass windows of the Duomo, was getting married. One of the apprentices, who used saffron to color the glass, came up with the idea of taking the white risotto that was to be served at the wedding banquet and turning it gold like his windows by adding the spice. The taste and golden color of the new dish was a hit with the guests and the addition of saffron to rice was widely adopted.

Ostello Bello Grande Feels like Home, Not Hotel

ostello_bello_grandeVintage-style furniture, geometric motifs and sophisticated taste, Ostello Bello Grande in Milan caters to contemporary travelers, who look for a “home” to stay in, as well as a dynamic location, in which details are well taken care of, places that might also become themselves a part of their travel experience.IMG_4943Their first Ostello Bello, located very close to the Duomo Cathedral, has been the hipster go-to place for a while, for all the visitors who want to live a local experience, coming into contact with the local culture and style. The same team recently opened another location near Stazione Centrale, restoring old hotel Florida: the new branch’s self-explanatory name is Ostello Bello Grande (Italian for “Beautiful Large Hostel”).OBGWith 6 floors, 55 rooms and about 500sqm of common spaces with vintage furniture, made for getting together, chatting, listening to music, Ostello Bello Grande provide you with breakfast and “aperitivo,” which is pretty much dinner in American circles. 😉 The basic idea of this project, started by 3 young Milan locals, is to create an active center for cultural life. This is why the suites of the old Florida were converted into a common kitchen and a reading room, with guitars and a piano made available for anyone who wants to play them. Their rooftop hosts a relax area with lounge chairs and tables.IMG_4944I was first recommended by this place from friend and Budget Traveller, Kash Bhattacharya. I was reluctant to even consider this place because it is classified as a HOSTEL. I mean, I just turned 40 and travel with my family, BUT Ostello Bello Grande is a new type of hostel popping up around the world. Kash has even listed it as one of the top LUXURY HOSTELS in Europe. This seems like an oxymoron, BUT I am so glad that I took his advice.IMG_4949My kids absolutely loved this place with Foosball table, piano, hammocks and bunk beds (each with their own light, electrical and USB outlet). My husband loved the outdoor patio, the kitchen where you can prepare your food from their FREE FOOD bins, and he also loved the hammocks. The room was quiet, and we had our own bathroom. I was reminded at check-in that it is a hostel by having to put a deposit down for towels and our key card, BUT they also offer a MIFI for guests who want WIFI as they explore through Milan.IMG_5024Overall, I will tell anyone over the age of 30 to consider staying in a hostel. Do your research, of course, but do not only explore Airbnb when traveling through Europe and beyond. Ostello Bello Grande feels like your home away from home, not just another hotel or hostel.

Why I Want to Attend LEAP Summit Zagreb? #LEAPzg

AttendLEAPSummitThere are so many great ways to learn and sharpen your skills these days: you can read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch how-to videos on YouTube, and attend webinars, just to name a few. Why bother with the time and expense of attending LEAP Summit in Zagreb, Croatia?

If that’s your attitude, then you may be missing out on one of the best opportunities to take your game to the next level. LEAP Summit provides a unique learning and career building opportunities that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Below you’ll find 5 reasons why you should attend LEAP Summit and consider sending your students and employees to conferences as well. 🙂

1. Iron Sharpens Iron

“As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend. ” Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible. Stephen Covey also lists it as his sixth habit of highly effective people. To put it simply, “two heads are better than one.” Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. People bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table, and together, they can produce far better results that they could individually.

I always return from a conference with new ideas and approaches that make me more effective and efficient at work. When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. Don’t be “a dull axe” while your competition is being sharpened by others.

2. Meet Experts & Influencers Face-to-face

While not every conferences offers you the opportunity to meet people that you have been following online for years, your chances are greatly improved when you’re sharing the same space.

Sometimes it’s about taking a selfie with someone who’s influenced you, or sharing a business idea with someone you admire, or making a connection that can lead to finding your next mentor. This will never happen from an online success summit.

3. Networking Opportunities

Social media keeps me connected to people who are both local and live and work far away. However, there’s no substitution for meeting someone in real life.15271832_1040722436038580_8717944597149496358_oLEAP Summit has opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones. Over coffee or lunch, you may make a connection with the perfect provider or prospect. At a breakout session, you may find yourself sitting next to your next customer or mentor. Or, if you don’t go, maybe your toughest competitor will be sitting in your seat.

4. Learning in a New Space

Remember that scene in Dead Poet’s Society when Robin Williams made his students stand on a desk to get a fresh perspective?dead-poetsMany businesses have meetings off-site because it’s easy to find ourselves in a rut. Sitting in the same chair, in the same office or in the same coffeehouse, can keep us from thinking of new ideas. Taking a break out of the office, sitting in a new space, can spark us to new approaches that will grow our businesses.

5. The Energy of Like-minded Individuals

There’s nothing like being in a room of like-minded people, who are willing to take time away from school or work to learn something new and want to “better” themselves.

When you sit at the Summit, you discover that you’re not alone in wanting to improve your skills and bring something back to your office or organization. That energy is lacking in all online learning channels, regardless of how much chatter there may be around a hashtag.

LEAP Summit provides a unique convergence of networking, learning and fun into a single package. It forces you to grow and challenge yourself. Oh, and it is in Zagreb, my FAVORITE capital city in the Balkans. Just read about what you can do and see!

4 Smart Coffee Spots for a Zagreb Coffee Break
Photo Journal: Secret Walks in Zagrebarium

Next Steps

All of this has been on my mind a lot lately, as I countdown to LEAP Summit Zagreb on May 11-13, 2017.

The primary focus of the Summit is on themes connected to innovation, entrepreneurship and business development, leadership, creativity, inspiring and life changing stories, success stories and career development.

Date: 11-13 May, 2017
Place: Studentski centar, Savska cesta 25, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Cost: 300 kn (~€40) – 1500 kn (~€200), depending on when you buy tickets!

Learn More & Register for LEAP Summit Now >>

What other reasons are there for attending LEAP Summit? What lasting impressions did it leave for you? Leave your answers in the comments below…we read every one!

Business Travel: Athens, Greece

Business Travel Athens GreeceI am a firm believer in the idea of adding fun to a business trip. It’s not always easy to find free time when you’re traveling all over the place representing your company or brand, but business travelers should carve out time to enjoy themselves whenever possible. Whether you’re traveling to a new destination directly from a business trip, or spending a few extra days or hours in the city where you’re working, business travel can be a fun reward for your hard work. I have been to Athens, Greece, before with the family, but being alone changes your experience. Fortunately, Herodion Hotel and its sister-property, Philippos Hotel, hosted me for a one-night stay and a posh dinner at their establishments.

Cozy Hotel

If peaceful environment and low-key service appeals to you while you travel, the Philippos Hotel is a great choice. The 50-room hotel is located in Makrigianni, which merges into Plaka, on a peaceful side street close to the Acropolis metro station, just a 10-minute walk from the Acropolis itself. It includes a delicious buffet breakfast served at the all-day cafe. I HIGHLY recommend you try the Portokalopita, a Greek orange filo cake. I watched everyone grab a slice at breakfast, and the staff quickly replenishing. 😉orange-filo-cakeAfter sitting in a conference room all day, I basked in the my light, airy room. Drinking a glass of water and snacking on fresh fruit, I sat on my balcony that caught a glimpse of the Acropolis. The quiet street allowed me to collect my thoughts and enjoy the weather in Athens, Greece. Some but not all rooms have Acropolis views – there’s no extra charge for this, so specify if you want one, it’s totally worth it. Nearly all have balconies too, at no extra cost. The Philippos Hotel is an excellent value for money considering the location and the friendly atmosphere.Phillipos-Hotel

Naturally, Modern Restaurant

The Atrium Greek Bistrot restaurant in Herodion Hotel, Philippos’ sister property, is tucked at the back of the front lobby, where you sit under a skylight and can look up to the stars. Atrium specializes in homemade Greek recipes with a modern twist. The reviews online use words like “intimate,” “relaxing” and “magical atmosphere.”Atrium-Herodion-HotelOne of the things that I love about traveling is trying different dishes from around the world. Also, I like to treat myself while I dine, so I usually get two to three dishes to sample because why not?! 😉 Dining alone is a funny thing, some people can do it and others will not. I do not mind it, especially when you have the pleasure of an excellent server who really was a culinary host. Also, a woman, who is traveling the world, dined alone at the table next to me, and she really should have joined me since we talked together throughout our meal. After receiving recommendations from two servers at the Atrium, I started out with Loukoumades, fried cheese from Elassona drizzled in Greek honey, followed by Sea Bass on top of beans and finished with rose ice cream on freshly-made Syros Delight. The server insisted that I also try the Salmon with horseradish cream, served on fluffy “ladopsomo” bread from Kimolos Island. I am sooo glad that he did. It was amazing!Atrium-Greek-Bistrotdav

Getting There

Athens is well served with scheduled flights from Aegean, British Airways, easyJet, AirSerbia and Olympic.

Getting Downtown

There are lots of different options. Metro Line 3 serves the airport while Suburban Rail Services operate from Athens Central Railway Station (Larissis) and Piraeus. Taxis, limo transfers and Uber are also available from outside the airport terminal.

Must-See Sights

A 3km pedestrian zone has been created in the neighborhood of Plaka based around the sacred rock of the Acropolis, site of iconic architecture and art, including the photogenic Parthenon. If you travel off-season, the Acropolis is half-price, regularly €20. Give yourself an hour to climb up and take many pictures of these amazing site. Some 4,000 historical items are on show in the new Acropolis Museum, and for only €5, you do not want to miss it. Tip: Visit the Acropolis Museum before your climb to the Acropolis. You will have a greater understanding of what you are looking at, especially if you do not have a tour guide. Also, start on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum, where you can enjoy the view and take pictures of the Parthenon replica and make your way down. It will take you no longer than 2 hours to enjoy all of the museum. Take a stroll in Monastiraki with its stalls full of colorful spices and window shop on pedestrian avenue of Ermou in the center of Athens.btydav

Culture Club Creative Hub

Traveling on business and need a place to work? It’s the sharing economy to the rescue! Coworking could be just the answer you’ve been looking for, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out Bios Romantso , a cultural center, as well as a creative hub. Set in a 1930s building, it is spread across four floors. The ground level has a cafe/bar and a space for intimate performances. While the basement has a concert area, rehearsal studios and a recording studio. I attended the European Creative Hubs Network Forum here on the first floor. The remaining levels are used for workspaces.

Thank you again, Philippos Hotel and Atrium Greek Bistrot, for making my business trip more homey and enjoyable while I was away from the family.

Business Travel: Belgrade, Serbia

business-travel-belgrade-serbiaSerbia lies at the crossroads of Europe, connecting the East and West, with a diverse mix of cultures. Its landscape is sprinkled with medieval churches and fortresses, and the capital city, Belgrade, rests on the banks of the Danube. I am a firm believer in the idea of adding fun to a business trip. Whether this is your first business trip to Belgrade or you travel here often, Belgrade always reveals a little piece of its heart and soul through its food, fortresses and friendly hospitality. I have been to Belgrade, Serbia, before with the family, but being alone changes your experience.

Cool Hotels

If a small hotel with a sophisticated feel and a superb location appeals to you while you travel, Vila Terazije is a great choice. Overlooking the Terazije Square, this hotel is housed in a cultural heritage building and offers free WiFi and a flat screen TV in every room. Breakfast is served only in rooms, and you can choose what you want delivered for breakfast in bed. I recommend the burek and local coffee, a classic Serbian breakfast.TerazijeBreakfastKalemegdan and Knez Mihailova are only 500 meters away from Vila Terazije. After walking around Belgrade and sitting in a conference room all day, I collapsed in the comfortable bed. Vila Terazije is an excellent value for money considering the location and the friendly atmosphere. If you prefer to save more money, we highly recommend Cricket 2 Hostel, which is close to some of our favorite restaurants and cafes in Belgrade.cricket2hostel

Hip Restaurants

Bright yellow cranes frame the entrance to the Beton Hala, a port-side warehouse now filled with hip new art studios and restaurants. At starkly decorated Italian restaurant Comunale, you see posh businesswomen enjoying pizza, risotto and antipasti with a view of the Sava River through its double-height windows. Founder Aleksandar Rodić created an exciting and trendy space with clear design and big wooden tables and benches. As the name suggests, the idea is to encourage community gatherings or group interactions, while enjoying delicious meals.comunalepizzaMarukoshi Japanese restaurant opened in 2015 in lower part of Belgrade in the Dorćol area. It’s an authentic Japanese restaurant offering tasty Japanese dishes such as Ramen noodles, salads, gyoza, Udon noodles, curry dishes and interesting desserts. It’s a very comfy place where you can relax and enjoy Asian specialties in the heart of Belgrade.Marukoshi

Getting There

Belgrade is well served with scheduled flights from AirSerbia, Etihad Airways, Alitalia, airberlin and Aeroflot.

Getting Downtown

There are lots of different options. – The A1 mini-bus leaves every 30 minutes in front of the Arrivals area. The charge is 300 RSD (2.50 EUR). Taxis are also available from outside the airport terminal.

Must-See Sights

Walk around the Old Town, see the Kalemegdan Fortress and stroll along Knez Mihailova Street  – Belgrade’s main shopping street. Before it was turned into the peaceful green oasis that it is today, Kalemegdan was part of Belgrade’s fortress. The park gradually started to come into existence after Serbia’s liberation from Ottoman rule: trees were planted, paths were cleared and monuments were erected, including the Statue of the Victor (Pobednik) and the Monument of Gratitude to France. Come here for a break from work and go for a stroll on the promenade lining the Sava River.

First Coworking Space in Belgrade

Traveling on business and need a place to work? It’s the sharing economy to the rescue! Coworking could be just the answer you’ve been looking for, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out Smart Office, the first coworking space in Belgrade. Located right off of Knez Mihailova street, you walk through a hall and up the stairs to Smart Office, founded by Miroslav Mijatov. You’ll be greeted by Mira, who will make you feel like you are in your home office. With light jazz music playing in the background, you will have no problem getting to work or skyping with others in one of their conference rooms.SmartOfficeThank you, Smart Office, for making me feel a part of your community and get stuff done while I worked away from my office.

7 Amazing Things To Eat In Brussels

Brussels has a bamboozling mix of restaurants, food markets and fine dining haunts that are dotted around this amazing city. With so many choices, I asked locals like my friend Pierre Pevée, whom I meet through European Creative Hubs Network and Jean-Alexis Spitz, a fellow blogger from Spark.Me, and found some favorite things that are worthy of eating while you are in Brussels, Belgium.

#1. Belgian Frites from Maison Antoine. I had heard a lot about Belgium fries, but are they really different from French fries? YES! Belgium frites are made with Bintje potatoes that are double fried. This makes them  crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Why we love Maison Antoine is that they offer many sauces to dip your fries in AND the pubs around this friterie allow the fries to be eaten on their premises.

#2. Stoverij from Le Clan des BelgesAt first glance, you may mistake this hearty beef casserole for French staple boeuf bourguignon, but it’s beer, rather than wine, that the Belgians use—giving it an earthier taste. Stoverij usually comes with frites for dipping.

#3. Belgian Chocolate from Pierre MarcoliniPierre Marcolini costs a little more than other chocolaterie because he buys unprocessed cocoa beans directly from the local producers and transforms it into chocolate in his own workshop. This chocolate is worth every bite!

#4. Sirop de Liège from Chez Franz. A sweet, sticky brown jelly made from evaporated fruit juices—dates, apples, and pears are stock ingredients—Sirop de Liège trumps even European’s favorite Nutella when it comes to spreads. Smear it on a baguette for breakfast, or pair it with cheeses at lunch. Chez Franz has an amazing brunch menu, so we highly recommend that you try Sirop de Liège here.

#5. Belgian Waffles + Speculoos from Maison Dandoy
Did you know that there are two types of waffles available in Belgium? Brussels waffles are made from batter leavened with beaten eggs. It is served with powdered sugar, and Liège waffles are made from yeast-leavened dough with pearl sugar. How best to eat a waffle in Belgium is hotly contested. Locals swear waffles should be topping-free. I, however, enjoyed mine with fruit and ice cream. Belgium has an (unofficial) national cookie. These flat, spiced shortbreads are so beloved you can even get speculoos-flavored spread (what America’s call “cookie butter”)—as well as ice cream or gelato. Originally baked to celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6), you’ll now find them year-round, and Maison Dandoy offers the best.

#6. Paling in’t Groen from Belga Queen. Luckily, “eel in green sauce” is more appetizing than it sounds. Chunks of white, meaty eel (which has the consistency of chicken, only with a slight gamey taste) are stewed in a thick, herby sauce of sorrel and chervil—hence its bright green color. Belga Queen is a former bank, and it is the perfect backdrop while you enjoy eating this delicious green dish.

#7. Stoemp from Royal Brasserie. A staple of Brussels cuisine, stoemp blends mashed potatoes and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion and kale. YUMMY! It’s usually served either as a side dish or as main dish with sausage or another type of meat or seafood.

Have we missed any dish from Brussels that everyone should try? Please comment below!

Can’t Stop the Feeling: Prepare for Spark.Me

Spark.me is less than a month away! And today, Justin Timberlake drops a new song that expresses how I feel. I may have modified some of the lyrics ;), but turn up the volume and dance with me.

“I got this feeling inside my bones. It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on. All through BUDVA, all through MONTENEGRO. We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone. I got that sunshine in my pocket. Got THIS good song in my feet. I feel that SPARK in my body when it drops. I can’t WAIT FOR END OF MAY, moving so phenomenally WELL. You gon’ like the way THIS CONFERENCE rocks it, so don’t stop. Under the lights when everything STARTS. Nowhere to hide when CONFERENCE getting you close. When SPARK.ME STARTS, well, you already know. So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine…SPARK.ME WILL MAKE you dance, dance, dance. Feeling good, good, SPARKING up on you. So just dance, dance, dance, come on. All those things I should do to PREPARE, but you dance, dance, dance. And YOU ARE leaving soon, so keep dancing…”

I CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! How about you? 😉

10-Tips-for-Spark-MeHere’s my TOP 10 checklist to help you prepare for Spark.Me, so you can continue to dance your way to Budva, Montenegro, on May 28-29, 2016.

  1. Search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for anyone talking about #SparkMe. You can then determine if you want to follow them and start conversations ahead of Spark.Me. This works amazingly well for people who might be a bit shy. Make sure you are also using #SparkMe hashtag, so can people can also find and engage with you.
  2. Visit the speakers blogs or youtube channels for ideas of how things are going in their lives or in their businesses. Before meeting them, maybe you’ll read that they just closed a B round of funding, and thus might have budget for a project with you. It’s free intelligence before a conversation.
  3. Check out the partners for Spark.Me. Visit their web pages. What do you know about them? Are they a prospective vendor for you? A client? Do you see some business value in meeting any of them?
  4. Write some of your best work in the days leading up to Spark.Me and have a great post launch on the day of the event. The likelihood of people checking out your blog during or just before an event is high. JUST DO IT! 🙂
  5. Consider writing posts that might help you form conversations at Spark.Me. For instance, if you’re looking to work with startups, write a blog post about how you’d help startups get funding. Thus, people who might investigate your blog ahead of time might also know what you’re thinking about and will engage you.
  6. Consider making a video about something and posting it to your blog. Videos will give people an even better opportunity to observe you and see what you’re about. It might also help with the people recognition factor, as seeing you in motion might improve their chance of seeing you at an event. 😉
  7. If you’re going to take lots of photos or videos at Spark.Me, check your gear to make sure you’ve got everything (charger, media transfer tools, spare things, etc.). Consider any extra batteries or power supplies you might need to bring with you.
  8. Backup your laptop before you travel. You might not think about it, but there are many chances to destroy your data once you’re on the road. Make sure that’s not going to happen.
  9. Pack business casual clothes and comfortable shoes for two days and a nice black dress or button-down shirt & nice pants for the cocktail party! And, DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT to wear while you enjoy the Bečići beach. 🙂
  10. Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch explaining who you are and what you do. Be crisp. Make it easy to say. Be very clear. If you’re looking for work, be clear that you’re available for a few extra projects. It seems that lots of folks beat around the bush or don’t exactly know how to have a beginning, middle and end to a conversation. REMEMBER, YOU ARE AWESOME! TI SI SJAJAN/SJAJNA!

Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. For now, make sure that we are connected on all these social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest.

#SparkMe // Where to Stay in Budva, Montenegro

Spark-Me-HotelsFrom 28th to 29th of May, #SparkMe digital community will be taking over the breathtakingly beautiful coast of Montenegro in Bečići // Budva. Read my previous post on WHY YOU NEED TO ATTEND spark.me. I am excited that this year I am one of their official bloggers. Join me on my journey up the coast, as I will be live blogging about what will SPARK me into action from smart women like Veronica Belmont, Danica Kombol and many more. As people will be gathering from near and far, here are all the hotel information that you will need to plan your travel to Budva, Montenegro.

Hotels

Hotel Mediteran – Spark.Me HQhotel-mediteranDistance to event: 0 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Splendid Conference and Spa Resort – 5-Star Resort + Real Posh Favorite
Refined accommodations in a high-end lodging featuring 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a spa & a casino.splendid-spa-resortDistance to event: 7 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Sentido Tara
Polished hotel with an outdoor pool, a spa & an international restaurant, plus 3 bars.sentido-tara-hotelDistance to event: 1 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Montenegro
Casual beach resort offering rooms with balconies, & 6 restaurants, plus a spa, 2 saunas & pools.
Distance to event: 2 min walk
Boreti, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Anitahotel-anita
Distance to event: 5 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Iberostar Bellevue
Modest rooms in a beachside property with free breakfast, plus relaxed dining, pools & a spa.iberostar-bellevueDistance to event: 6 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Slovenska Plažahotel-slovenska-plazaDistance to event: 23 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Bracera
Distance to event: 27 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Why I Want to Attend Spark.me // Zašto bi trebalo da učestvujete

Why-I-Want-To-Attend-Spark-MeHosted by Domain.ME since 2013, Spark.Me brings stories on the front lines of technology, innovative business models, engaging branding strategies and world-changing initiatives.This two-day interactive conference is designed to inspire you, ignite your creativity and allow your to find your SPARK that will propel you toward the future in business and technology. Here are my top 10 reasons that you want to attend Spark.Me on May 28-29, 2016.

10. Refresh & Recharge // Osvežite se
Take a weekend off your busy work schedule to recharge. Through the provocative sessions, you will uncover some ways to refresh, re-energize and return to work reinvigorated.refresh-and-recharge-budva

9. Biggest Business & Digital Innovation Conference in Montenegro // Najveća konferencija biznisa i digitalne inovacije u Crnoj Gori
Learn the latest techniques, tools and strategies in business and digital innovation to be able to address your company’s challenge in a new improved way. Because Spark.Me is one of the biggest professional conferences in the Balkans, it is truly the best way to access innovative and disruptive content with lots of like-minded people.

8. Rub Elbows with Other Industry Professionals + More // Upoznajte se sa drugim profesionalcima industrije + više
This is the best part of the conference experience. You’ll be in touch with other professionals and experts to share your concerns, experiences and solutions.

7. Network, Connect and Reconnect with Colleagues // Poslovno umrežavanje sa kolegama
Life-long connections have evolved conferences like Spark.Me. Bring your business cards, your smile and an open-mind to Spark.Me, and you will not be disappointed in the people that you meet.

6. Learn from Each Other and Develop Professionally // Učite jedni od drugih i razvite profesionalno
We always have something new to learn from one another, and take the knowledge that you learned back to your company and to those who were not able to attend.

5. The Price is Right // Cena je prava
Spark.Me is very affordable! They offer a student rate and early-bird discounts (until March 11, 2016) between €60 – €120 for registration. As the conference gets closer, the price will get higher, so buy your tickets now.

4. Showcase Your Innovation through Startup Competition // Pokažite inovaciju kroz “Startup Competition”
Spark.me brings together successful startups in its Startup Competition. They focused on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow and team diversity. Participating in the competition enables you to have access to advisors, mentors and a network of investors, industry experts and serial entrepreneurs. In order to participate, you need to apply by May 4, 2016 here.

3. Great, Dynamic Speakers // Sjajni i energični govornici
Last year, I had the honor to speak at Spark.Me, and I was blown away on the speaker lineup that Vanja and his team brought to Montenegro. The speakers and topics are as diverse as the Spark.Me attendees, which is why this conference stands above the rest in the region…and even in Europe. So far, the speakers for 2016 include Jon Bradford, Annie Machon, Everywhere Agency’s CEO Danica Kombol and my new friend Marvin Liao. Below is my talk with Real Geek Dad about Content Marketing vs. SEO called “Beauty and the Beast.”

2. Not Only Talks…A Lot of Fun // Proveselite se
During Spark.Me, you can have fun at their cocktail party, walking along the beautiful beach, eating along the breathtakingly beautiful Montenegrin coast with others from the conference or do other informal gatherings that will surely add fun during your Spark.Me weekend.

1. Experience the Breathtaking Beauty of Budva // Putujete u najlepšu Budvu
Speaking of Budva’s breathtaking beauty, Budva Old Town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage and a short walk from the conference. Crossed with narrow streets and squares, you can also visit many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries in Old Town. The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world. Also, you can find a wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury.

budvabeach

Buy Your Ticket Now! Kupite kartu sada!