Why Leaders Should Live The Life They Imagined To Transform Their Teams

This story about living the life you imagined, professionally and personally, starts where most stories do — at a bar.

In this article I’m going to share with you:

  • The formula for living the life you imagined as told by Carla Moore, Vice President, Strategy and Education, HBO.
  • Why it’s important for leaders to live the life they imagine to transform their team.
  • The future of work and how companies like Hallmark are responding.
  • Action steps for personal and career success.

I met HBO executive and author, Carla Moore, at a hotel lobby in Kansas City, Missouri. She was speaking at a talent leadership summit hosted by TeamKC, an initiative of the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC), in partnership with 250 employers in the KC region.

The summit, also dubbed the first annual TeamKC Training Camp, brought together 350 of the region’s top human resource professionals to discuss the future of work and how companies can attract talent.

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Getting to Know a Leader on a Personal Level:

“Let’s grab a drink,” Moore said.

We had just come in from a tapas dinner, and I was ready to do some cardio before bed. But the night was still young in the middle of America.

I feel like so often we have business hours and short blurbs of time for people. I’ve found that letting a connection marinate and taking it to places that some would call your cut off — is actually where you connect.

It was during our second martini – which we took to go – that I began to know Moore on a personal level. We cut through the formalities and she was introducing me as an important blogger to people in the elevator.

We both have lived in Chicago (for me, currently and for her, formerly). Both are still single. And both have big dreams that we didn’t think we could achieve.

I was talking to her about “the life I imagine.”

When I met Moore, I didn’t realize that she had reached over 10,000 people through her public speaking and life coaching. And that more importantly, her mission is to inspire others to live the life they’ve imagined. She is doing that through her book, Crash! Leading Through the Wreckage, where she talks about using personal power to transform your leadership.

She was getting through to me – right there at a hotel bar and the next day, she was going to do the same thing to leaders and tech recruiters in Kansas City.

 

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 350 top recruiters and human resources professionals from companies including Hallmark, Garmin, Bank of America, Sprint, H&R Block, Dairy Farmers of America and Virgin Mobile USA learned about team leadership.

 
Moore’s passion is talking to people. Her purpose is helping people live the life they imagined. And, her power is in her speeches, her work, and this book. Let’s look at this a little bit closer.

The Life You Imagined vs. The Life You Have:

In front of more than 350 top recruiters and human resources professionals from companies including Hallmark, Garmin, Bank of America, Sprint, H&R Block, Dairy Farmers of America, Virgin Mobile USA, State Street, and Cerner Corporation on February 2, 2018, Moore gave a familiar empowering message — live the life you’ve imagined.

You can hear the same message thousands of times and still not listen to it. Often, we don’t believe the message. We think that’s a nice thought. We feel good after hearing it.

But we don’t know what to do with it.

We don’t know how to have our own personal transformations. We don’t know how to have our big breaks at the office. We keep waiting for big opportunities or to feel something — happy — I guess, about waking up in the morning and doing what we’re doing.

Moore had a run in with death – a convertible hitting a median at 55 mph. It’s not that she wasn’t living a great life or didn’t have great achievements before this near-fatal crash. I mean, Moore was everyone I wanted to be and more. She had a place in Chicago. She has an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She had a good job that she is accelerating in. But she wasn’t living the life she imagined until she had that car crash.

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Carla Moore from HBO spoke about living the life you imagined at the KC Leadership Summit.

The Formula to Live The Life You Imagined:

Fast forward 10 years, and Moore’s living the life she imagined. Authoring an amazing book, spearheading transformative initiatives for her company and living each moment like it could be her last.

So what’s the formula for this life we’ve imagined?

Passion + Purpose = Power.

Passion:

Experts advise going into a field that you’re passionate about — something you like doing. For many of us, we think that’s it’s impractical or not lucrative. And for others, we don’t even know what we like.

Moore shared that a person’s passion changes the game. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, —start figuring it out by compiling a passion list. Write down everything you like. Take note of what you’re doing when time flies. It may take time for you to discover what you’re passionate about, but the reward is worth it.

Moore encouraged the audience to “Keep writing — there is some connective tissue.”

Purpose:

The next part of the formula is purpose.

Moore shares in her book that 70 percent of millennials want to own their own company but in the interim they are choosing to work for smaller businesses with a sense of purpose. Larger corporations are falling by the wayside with the millennial workforce.
The keynote speaker, Cheryl Cran, Future of Work expert, shared that by 2025, the workforce will be mostly contracted and entrepreneurial workers.

 

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Cheryl Cran, Future of Work Expert at the KC Leadership Summit February 2018.

 

Companies like Hallmark, one of the largest creative companies in the world, took notice a few years ago and rewrote their mission to begin developing a cultural committee and projects. One example is something called #my5days, where Hallmark employees have five days to step outside their normal work and exploring their craft or something entirely new.

 

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Amanda Elliott from Windy City Cosmo, Carla Moore from HBO, and Kristi Heeney-Janiak from Hallmark at the KC Leadership Dinner. 

 

“Passion is your compelling emotion. Purpose sustains passion. Passion can be wild and unbridled. Purpose is singular and focused,” Moore explains. “Purpose is how will you serve the world?”

So, if you’re great at writing and passionate – what is it that you do with it that serves others?

Ask yourself. Write it down.

What are you doing with your talents that is serving others? And if you aren’t doing anything with your talents, what could you do? What would it look like? How would it help others?

Moore made the point that we benefit when we use our talents and do work that we’re passionate about. In her book, she shares, “When you release the need to prove how good you are and instead help others see how good THEY are, it’s called enlightened leadership.”

How can leaders do this?

“It’s by being transformed themselves and then helping to transform others into enlightened leaders.”

Power:

The last part of Moore’s formula for leadership is power. We all want power. Money gives us power. Titles give us power. But what really gives us power is when we’re doing what we love to do with a clear purpose. And when we develop our passions into talent and use that to better the world, that is true power.

This made sense. This gave me a new drive and sense of belonging and mission. So often we look at the end goal — power and success — and we miss the ingredients that make those things meaningful and most of all – worth it.

First Think, Then Do:

I got on the plane after the KC Talent Leadership Summit and started writing my passion list — the things I like. I must have written down hundreds of items.

A few days later, I started reading You Are a Badass, by author Jen Sincero. In this book, she shares that it’s through doing, not thinking, that we discover what we like. You can’t be afraid to do things and be bad at them.

First, you have to develop your passion and then build the skills to sustain it. Create the purpose for your life, and then find the power that motivates others to do their best work and fulfill their dreams and goals.

 

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Recruiters and Fortune 500 companies gathered at the KC Leadership Summit. 

 

Leaders Need to Be Inspired and Inspire Others:

I took a moment to reflect. When I stated Windy City Cosmo — I didn’t know it would lead me to this hotel bar sipping martinis with a powerful woman — telling me to live the life I imagined.

Leaders need to be inspired. Leaders also need mentors and direction. And that’s what this community in Kansas City has — it has great resources for leaders and developing talent to think differently, work on their passion projects, and live the life they imagined. In turn, it helps others live their best life as well.

I felt power and leadership in the room that day — in the Kansas City community, a unique business community where companies work together to attract the top talent. Which is probably why, as Cran pointed out, that Kansas City is the third best city for jobs in America in 2017. (Chicago is number 23).

In the words of Carla Moore I leave you with, “Go be great and love the life you imagined.”

Leadership Action Plan:

1. Write a passion list. Keep writing until you see a trend. For example, working with your hands.
2. Think about how you can use your passion to help others.
3. Think about how you can use your power to inspire others and mentor them.

 

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Carla Moore with her sisters before the KC Leadership Summit, February 2, 2018.

 

Books to add to your reading this:

You Are A Badass By: Jen Sincero
Crash! Leading Through The Wreckage By: Carla Moore

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Chicago Events Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018

Ladies! This week is a good week to network and meet other amazing, entrepreneurial women in Chicago for International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8, 2018. I went to a beauty event with the Tulle Project today and as we were introducing ourselves, one women shared the four, yes four jobs she has. Another woman, in awe, noted how ambitious Chicago women are. I wholeheartedly believe that. I encourage you to meet these Chicago girl bosses this week at one of the many Chicago events for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018. Look for events and opportunities to connect all month long for women’s history month.

Quick note: International Women’s Day theme is #PressForProgess.

Global Strategist Association Event:

The Global Strategists Association is hosting a luncheon in honor of International Women’s Day to discuss opportunities for women of color.

Details:

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: The DuSable Museum of African American History

RSVP

1871 Event:

1871, a Chicago incubator for startups is hosting a day of workshops and speaking events for women. 1871 is such a great resource that female founded companies like this 3D printing jewelry company, this beauty services company that is now offering company perks to GrubHub, and this designer clothes and accessories startup all used to help grow their business.

This event series has several sessions that you can drop into throughout the day. I’m personally looking forward to the Building Your Company’s Brand Panel Discussion.

Details:

Time: 8 am – 9 pm

Location: 1871, Merchandise Mart

RSVP

SheSays Chicago Event:

SheSays Chicago, a Chicago chapter of a national organization of women in creative fields, is putting together an event with Leo Burnett on Thursday, March 8, 2018 right after work.

I’ve been attending SheSays Chicago events for years and even spoke at one of the panels about networking. You can read about some of my past coverage of their events like Turning Passion into Profit and Networking Advice from Edelman, PR Agency.

There will be a panel discussion.

MODERATOR:

Jessica Papilla, Data Analyst at Leo Burnett

PANEL:

Monika Black, PhD, CPC | Chief Strategy Officer at DyMynd

Kayte Malik, CEO and Co-founder of Dresscode

Beth Sehgal, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion for A.T. Kearney

Priya Shah, Founder and Executive Director of The Simple Good

Details:

Time: 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Location: Leo Burnett Office

RSVP

Ladies Get Paid Event:

Ladies Get Paid, an organization that helps women achieve their professional goals and get equal pay, is hosting an International Women’s Day event at Ace Bounce. This looks like a causal event to get drinks and meet other professional women.

Details:

Time: 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: Ace Bounce

RSVP

WeWork Kenzie Event:

WeWork Kinzie is hosting an International Women’s Day workshop for freelancers and female entrepreneurs. Over 150 people have signed up for this event. In this workshop, speakers will present four topics: (a) finding the courage to lead, (b) the foundations of entrepreneurship, (c) a woman’s story of finding her purpose, and (d) establishing a position of influence in a competitive industry.

Details:

Time: 6:00-9:00 pm

Location: WeWork Kinzie

RSVP ($20)

She Means Business Event:

She Means Business will be presenting a panel discussion and gender equality and female leadership in the workplace.

The Panelists:

• Naima Prince, Expert Budget and Financial Analyst at GSA

• Lindsey Branding, Controller at Hireology

• Colleen Wilson, Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago

• Holly Glowaty, Co-Founder at K+H Connection and Founding Co-Producer at Flourish

• Katharine Hebenstreit, President & COO at Link Capital

Details:

Time: 5:30-8:00 pm

Location: Topstep Trader

RSVP

Edgewater Chamber of Commerce:

If drinks aren’t enough for you, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce is hosting a dinner crawl. Get all the savory details below!

Time: 5 pm

Location: Edgewater, over 10 restaurants

RSVP

Conclusion:

I hope to see you at one of the Chicago events for International Women’s Day or you can join the conversation online using the hashtag: #PressForProgress.

How do you build a professional community in Chicago? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram @windycitycosmo.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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New Coworking Space for Women Opens in River North to Fuel Your Passion

Collaboration over competition is a popular hashtag on Instagram and it’s the mantra for a new women only Coworking space in River North, evolveHer, that wants to fuel your passion.

From the moment you walk into 358 W. Ontario St., 5,000 sq. feet open concept workspace, you can’t help but feel like it was made for you. The founder and CEO, Alicia Driskill, wanted a Coworking space exclusively for women so that they could collaborate and build businesses and succeed in their career goals.

A Coworking Space For Her:

There is so much to love about this Instagramable space. The first is the artist, Laura Leigh Bean, who created a stunning wall filled with paintings of women when you first walk in. It’s something spectacular when you see a diverse wall of stylish and successful women in a business space. I seriously stood in awe for a good 10 minutes.

Wallpaper Vibes 😍 by member @lauraleighbean

A post shared by EvolveHer (@evolveher) on

Then, in the next room, she created wallpaper with women’s faces that is so chic. Bean has been working with other female empowering spaces like the new, Ezza Nails salon, which is having a hair and nails glam night event on March 7, 2018 that you can sign-up for here.

Beyond the artwork at this women only Coworking space, it’s simply inspiring and inviting. I love the comfortable office chairs, the long and vibrant couch, and extensive bookshelves with empowering books and cute trinkets. It simply feels like a second home.

Coworking Community:

One of the best aspects of this women only Coworking space in River North is the community. When I attended the launch party in January, I recognized so many Chicago female entrepreneurs like Michael Donnelly, who runs the FWD Collective conferences in Chicago and San Francisco for diversity. Then there was Lisa Nation who founded the Lisa App for businesses to offer beauty services to their employees. And then there was Silvana Favaretto, who founded the Tulle Project, making skirts for women to feel feminine and empowered in the workplace. And then Ari Krzyzek, who founded The Creative Women’s Co., a podcast, event series and community for female creatives and entrepreneurs.

Beyond faces I did know, I also got to meet the funny, charming and extremely talented Grace Lee of Love, Sugar, and Grace bakery. She made the most beautiful and delicious cake pops and macaroons but I have to admit I commented on her style at first when I met her. You can follow her witty and beautiful bakery bites on Instagram here.

Branding and Business Events for Women:

I think one of the best aspects of this women only Coworking space is the events because I love events and how they inform us and bring people together to share ideas. EvoveHer has an extensive events calendar including branding workshops and how to use Instagram for business. But they also have fireside chats like the She Did That documentary sneak peek on March 10, 2018.

Lastly, as a social media queen and blogger, I love the hashtag #fuelyourpassion and that they have a wall and glam light for women to take pictures and post on social media. I feel like women connect when taking pictures and commenting on Instagram and this was a nice added touch to the inspiring Coworking space.

Women’s Coworking Space Pop-Up:

EvolveHer is the first permanent space for women only. But I’ve been going to the Ladies Room, which is a weekly Coworking space inside the Coworking office, Coalition Impact, also in River North. That too, is a great area for women to collaborate every week and learn from graphic designers and writers and founders. The mains difference is that it’s only available on Wednesday’s and then a special free dat once a month (which if you follow my Insta Stories has amazing snacks and cocktails as well as good community.)

One of my favorite Chicago PR companies, Exclusive PR also has a space there. Once a month they offer free Coworking and then a mixer immediately following.

I really appreciate the community in Chicago that helps women succeed and having a space that can be girly and empowering and also inviting and propelling. It’s really exciting to see in Chicago.

How to Find The Right Coworking Space For You:

There are so many Coworking spaces in Chicago and the industry is only expanding. I would suggest to sign up for some events, see who you want to connect with or which area in the city that is best for your commute,and then explore. As a blogger who has spent way too much time at Starbucks, a Coworking space is truly valuable to grow your brand, find a mentor, and learn while your building your empire.

You can see a map of 50 Coworking spaces in Chicago that was created by Vertabiz.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Chicago Staycation at Historic Millennium Knickerbocker

I get it – I love to get away. But sometimes getting away is a martini, a nice bubble bath and a new comfy bed for the night. Staycations have become more popular over the years and I can see why – yes, its fun to explore a new city, but sometimes a nice night in at a nice hotel is the self-care and break girl bosses need. I recently had a nice Chicago staycation at the historic 1927 Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago.

And if a staycation at this historic hotel isn’t enough, it’s right by Michigan Avenue, 360 Chicago Observation Deck at John Hancock and the Museum of Contemporary Art for you to explore some of Chicago’s most iconic – and if you’re a native – overlooked spots.

The Knickerbocker History: Speakeasy and Playboy:

I think one of the coolest aspects of the hotel is its history. Anyone can build a new hotel, but you can’t make up this hotel’s sinister past. I had to see for myself the Penthouse floor where Al Capone’s brother once ran a casino and speakeasy. Today it’s used for conferences or events but you can still see the cutout to a secret stairway that guests used when the cops came. Al Capone’s brother was never caught because everyone would use that stairway to go down a few flights of stairs.

The Knickerbocker also had a few ownership changes throughout its nearly 90-year history. In the ’70s, the property had a stint as the Playboy Towers. The hotel has housed such luminaries as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and the Rolling Stones.

The Rooms:

The hotel still has a historic feel. The over the top chandeliers are all noticeable about this four star hotel.

There’s definitely an older feel, but the rooms have been updated and transformed into spacious one bedroom suites with a mini bar, a whimsical bed, 40″ flat screen TVs, and yes a bathrobe and yes – a whirlpool tub (make sure you get the room with a whirlpool tub, you’ll thank me later).

I took a quick 5-minute walk to Water Tower Place on Michigan Ave to go to the new Millennial makeup store, Riley Rose. Since Lush is no longer at Macy’s, Riley Rose was perfect for picking up a bath bomb.

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I loved the hotel room which had its own living room and a private bedroom and expansive bathroom.

One of my favorite parts of a staycation is getting ready, and I appreciated the lighting and added mirrors. My friend met me for dinner so we got all dressed up to have martinis – something that we should do more often.

The Martini Bar:

One luxury of a Chicago Staycation is that you get to enjoy fine dining and drinks. One of the nice things about the Knickerbocker is that right in the lobby is the Martini Bar open till 10 pm for dinner and 12 am for drinks.

Its extensive martini list is to be explored and enjoyed, and despite being served at the bar, it’s fine dining cuisine is exceptional. Plus, they have a piano and some live entertainment on certain nights.

martini bar

I’ll start with the food. If there is one thing you should order, it’s the steak and arugula salad. Honesty, it’s the best salad I’ve ever tasted. The dressing was light, the steak was savory and the arugula was fresh and had some added toppings for a slight crunch.

And since we had a late night meal, my friend and I also tried some of the martinis. Hands down, the chocolate martini was my favorite. I usually love a dirty martini or a Cosmo. Those were strong and really great but there was something about the chocolate martini.

Sweet Dreams and Healthy Breakfast:

I took my martini up to my room and drew myself the most amazing bath. The bathroom at The Knickerbocker is over the top. They have a shower area and a separate bathtub in the room. I added the jets to the bath and it was better than a jacuzzi at most hotels.

In the morning, I woke up in my robe and comfortable king-sized bed. I connected my phone to the TV to get ready to my favorite music and then rushed downstairs for some much-needed coffee and a delicious omelet at Nix, the other restaurant in the Knickerbocker. The service was great and the omelet was actually delicious, especially the side of bread and jam.

Overall:

There are so many hotels in Chicago because it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Honesty, I’ve been to quite a few hotels – The Trump Tower smells like vanilla because of the candles. Cambria in the loop is great for a Theatre District Hotel with the exquisite Italian restaurant, Petterino’s next door, The Palmer House has a beautiful and extensive lobby and a spa but the rooms are a bit stuffy.

But the Knickerbocker, this hotel has history and merit and I was surprised by the quality of the food, the rooms, and the location. The hotel rooms itself were some of the nicest I’ve been in. I would say one issue was that the WiFi went in and out sometimes, but other than that, my stay was perfect and memorable. It’s a good location, a good price and it’s a historic spot you should add to your Chicago Bucketlist.

This article is a sponsored post.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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I Planned A Drake Themed Galentine’s Dinner Party In 5 Days And It Was Everything

Having dinner with girlfriends is the best. But add cake and Drake songs – it’s simply the perfect theme I could think of for hosting my first Galentine’s Day dinner in Chicago.

I love a good party (see here, here, and basically all of my Instagram stories). And the reasons why I love them is because they help you bond with people. This Galentine’s Day dinner party was no exception.

First, I’m going to walk you through how I planned the Drake Themed party in five days- from the Drake on a Cake to the location.

Then, I’ll share with you what we did at the party.

How We Got to Drake on a Cake Galentine’s Theme:

The theme was Drake on a Cake. How did we get here? It all started with Chicago Restaurant Week and God’s Plan.

I was having a late lunch, which turned into early cocktails with a few fab Chicago lifestyle and food bloggers.  Drake had just released the song, God’s Plan, and we started talking about the lyrics which led our Instagram-obsessed selves to Drake on the Cake Instagram account.

 

Nicole Triebe from Windy City Dinner Fairy at Restaurant Week. Photo by: The Brazen Gourmand

 

During the lunch, I met the infamous Nicole Triebe, Founder of  Windy City Dinner Fairy, who I had followed on Instagram, but we’d never met in person. And, I’m going to tell you, meeting in person is so important. 

The day we met for Chicago Restaurant Week was also the day I started to promote my new relationship podcast, Ok Cool. We started talking about dating stories in Chicago and we were swapping our worst date stories.

Drake + Good Lobster Rolls + Bad Dates = BFFS

 

After a few laughs, some mussels, and some good cider, I had to interview Nicole about Windy City Dinner Fairy for my blog. So, we set up a date to make a Drake on a Cake and learn more about how she started baking and cooking.

The Drake on a Cake: Making the Cake:

About a week later, what was just girl talk, turned into baking the Drake on a Cake. I started my afternoon with Nicole from Windy City Dinner Fairy with a bottle of champagne. She already had the eggs and some ingredients on the table. Without a recipe, she swirled the batter and tossed in the ingredients to make a double chocolate Drake on a Cake.

 

Baking a Cake with Windy City Dinner Fairy.

 

Meet The Girlboss Behind Windy City Dinner Fairy:

While her cake smelled sweet, her story of becoming a girl boss was about a 15-year long road. See, Nicole always knew what she was good at, but it took time to develop her skills and her clientele. She was working a full-time job as a Paralegal when she started her creative, custom dessert catering company, Windy City Dinner Fairy. She was catering with a friend and made pastries for a coffee shop. And then on her own, Nicole was hired as a personal chef for three CrossFitters. It was when she made cupcakes for a wedding that she realized that this was what she wanted to do. She switched jobs to be an Assistant Underwriter at an insurance company and still kept making cakes and food on the side. Her business had expanded throughout the Chicagoland area. After working two jobs, which she didn’t like very much, she was ready to incorporate her side hustle on her 35th birthday – December 1, 2017.

 

The cakes were cooling, and it was time to pop the champagne. After hearing her story, we brainstormed the best Drake lyrics. Ultimately, we went with “You The F*ckin Best.” Windy City Dinner Fairy then made then made a “You The F*ckin Best”  playlist as she finished icing the cake, and I finished the champagne. I knew that those weren’t just empty words on a cake – she really is the f*ckin best for quitting her job and making her side hustle her business.

 

We Chose the Drake lyrics “You The F*ckin Best” for The Galentine’s Day Cake. 

 

P.S. if you need a visual of what it was like to bake with Nicole, you can watch her in action with Glossed and Found, an online video magazine making a hydrangea cupcake bouquet for Valentine’s Day.

The Galentine’s Day Invites:

One Party Can Lead To Another if you just believe. Chicago influencers from Chicagogrammers came to the Drake on a Cake Galentine’s Day Party. 

I think the only thing to do with a cake is to have a party. So, I went to the monthly Chicagogrammer’s happy hour with 30 other Instagrammers on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

Some of them had seen my Instagram stories and asked me what Drake on a Cake was.  After Chicago bloggers and influencers Alyssa Erickson from Doughscuit, Allie Barke from Alliesfashionalley, and Katie Cahnmann from Appetite_4_Adventure were interested – I decided it was for a party.

A handful of people were going to the Chicago Pizza Party like Allie Bahcall from Bahcallmemaybe, who works for Yelp and the other half had no plans –  so we choose Saturday night.

I literally met new people that night like Ratanya Bowens and said, “Hi, I’m Amanda, what are you doing Saturday night?” With the blizzard coming on Friday, I knew the more invites the merrier.

So, I had a cake. I had people. Now, I just needed a time and a place. Three days till the party.

The Place to Host a Dinner Party:

Dinner parties are my favorite thing. I realized that I’m still an aspiring cook and so I appreciate the many wonderful chefs in Chicago who introduce me to new foods and flavors.

 

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We had the Galentine’s Party at Urbanbelly in Wicker Park. We had a big table to the side with a green wall in the backdrop for the semi-private dinner party.

 

I went out the next day to a handful of restaurants in Wicker Park and talked to the managers about hosting the dinner party. All three of them were great spots – Bru Chicago, Piece Brewery and Pizza, and Urbanbelly. 

 

I knew I wanted a semi-private event space where I could set up some type of decor. I ultimately chose Urbanbelly because they had this beautiful green backdrop and a nice table space with a corner area for us to drop our coats and purses and do what girls do best – relax and talk. Plus, the manager, Elizabeth was so nice.

The Decor:

If ever there was a time for a Target Run – it’s for a party. Target has really cute decor for $1 or $3. I picked up some cards, balloons, some pens and stickers, and a few photobooth props.

 

Appetite 4 Adventure and AlliesFashionAlley were some of the Chicago bloggers at the Drake dinner party. 

 

Plus I got some champagne gum as a palate gum. It made a great conversation piece.

The Night of The Drake on a Cake Dinner Party:

Let me just say, I loved everything about this party. Urbanbelly in Wicker Park had the table reserved for us with water and chopsticks already on the table.

We all decided on which Ramen and dumplings to order – don’t forget the dumplings. They are small, but flavorful. I got the beef and cheddar and the chicken curry. They were so good! And then I ordered togarashi fries for the table. Which were perfect in between good, spicy bites of my chicken ramen.

Last night was messy, funny, and as real as a Drake song makes me feel. My dreams came true – I threw a Drake themed dinner party for Galentines Day. We made Valentine’s Day cards from Drake lyrics and had a Drake on a Cake. I went to a few restaurants to host the party and @urbanbellychicago was wonderful and made us feel special. After ramen, some dumplings and piña coladas, the manager brought us amazing ice cream shots and pb&j ice cream – soft serve with crunchy peanut butter and huckleberry jelly that even @seriouseats recognized as some of the best ice cream in Chicago. The food was amazing! And I had never been there before. Getting a card written from Drake lyrics made us all laugh and most of all I had amazing company. Cheers to week of love and laughter 🥂

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I had never been to Urbanbelly before – but everything was good and everyone loved it. I learned that the master chef is renowned Chicago chef, Bill Kim, who has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and the StarChefs Rising Stars Award.

One of the best parts of Urbanbelly is their cocktails and desserts. Seriously these can be extras and often overlooked when having a big bowl of ramen. But, we had to try. They have house-made signature cocktails including a new pina colada inspired cocktail. I went for the cider.

Making Valentine’s Day Cards From Drake Lyrics:

After we shared dating stories and caught up on life. I had everyone put their name in Valentine’s Day bag. We all wrote out Valentine’s Day cards to each other using Drake lyrics. I think this was one of my favorite parts of the night!

 

We pulled names from the Valentine’s Day bag to write personalized notes using Drake lyrics. 

 

The best Valentine’s Day card made via Drake Lyrics was:

Katie,

Tonight was your night. Go get you some lobsters and shrimp.

You smart and you know it. I get it. I get it. You outdo those pimps.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Sam

I mean Drake lyrics written as a card had us all laughing.

The next part was dessert. The manager surprised us and brought us some of Urbanbelly’s dessert to try and it was seriously amazing. If you only have room for one dessert – order the shake shot. I was confused when they put a mason jar filled with soft serve and shot glasses on the table – but taking a shot of ice cream is now one of my favorite shots. UrbanBelly’s shake shot has vanilla soft serve, Vietnamese iced coffee & chocolate crisp on top.

 

After Ramen, we took cake shots – which are just as amazing as they sound. 

 

I’ve never tasted peanut butter and jelly in ice cream form – but it was better than the sandwich. They take crunchy peanut butter and mix it with berry compote into the vanilla soft serve. Then, we also sampled the soy caramel soft serve.

Finally, it was time for the cake behind the party – Drake on a Cake. Urbanbelly cut the double chocolate cake and served us. The homemade frosting was so good!

Happy Galentine’s Day:

Our bellies were full and my heart was filled with joy. I’ve always wanted to throw something ridiculous like a Different rake on a Cake party. Celebrities have been my muse for several parties. For my 25th birthday, I threw a 1989 Taylor Swift party and we shut down the bar to make a music video to Shake it Off.

 

We finally got to eat the Drake on a Cake. 

 

So, that’s how you throw a party in five days. Hope you have a great Galentine’s Day and thank you for reading Windy City Cosmo! Remember, you’re the f*ckin best.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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