Friday, January 27, 2012

New York Food Musts

Before even going on my recent trip to New York City I new I was going to write a blog post about New York food. At first I had the idea to compare Chicago and New York pizza (New York is better), but that's already been done too many times. Then I thought about putting Chicago and New York hot dogs against each other (Chicago is better), but that has been overdone also. Instead I decided to just give a overall food tour of New York City's highlights. There are some real gems that anyone planning on visiting the city should consider. And even though New Yorkers may consider some of these places tourist traps, they are famous for a reason - they're just damn good.

My first stop in the city was Papaya King (179 E. 86th Street) for some hot dogs. Its not only one of the tastiest spots in Manhattan to eat but also one of the cheapest. I scored a classic dog with sauerkraut and mustard, a chili dog, a knish, and an absolutely phenomenal papaya drink.

If you hit up Papaya King consider walking over to nearby William Greenberg Desserts (1100 Madison Avenue). I had the quintessential New York black & white cookie and a chocolate babka. While the babka was overrated, the black & white cookies were delicious. You can also order from them online and have stuff shipped directly to your house. 

For breakfast Ess-a-Bagel (831 3rd Avenue) is a great spot to grab a bagel sandwich. I had an everything bagel with cream cheese and a chocolate egg cream soda. Everything is incredibly filling and a great start to any morning.

I was especially excited about the chocolate egg cream soda. You can read more about those in my Review of Jeff's Egg Cream Sodas. Needless to say I was not disappointed and recommend that everyone go by here and try one for yourself.

For great sandwiches swing by Carnegie Deli (854 7th Avenue). Order the Woody Allen, which is a pastrami and corned beef sandwich. Its big enough to feed two people, but save room for a piece of their cheesecake. Also keep in mind that this place is cash only.

Near Times Square there are three great places to eat. O'lunney's (145 W. 45th Street) is an Irish bar with great Irish food. I recommend the shepherd's pie. Secondly, nearby Tony's Di Napoli (147 W. 43rd Street) has fantastic Italian food. This place was recommended to me by a real, living, breathing New Yorker.

Lastly in Times Square is John's Pizzeria (260 W. 44th Street). Its great pizza cooked in a coal fired oven. That means the pizza cooks hotter than a traditional oven, which makes all the difference in taste. The problem is that there are only a handful of coal-fired pizzerias in NYC because they pollute so much, so make sure you go out of your way to hit at least one up while you're here.

And if you can only hit up one coal-fired pizzeria go to Lambardi's Pizza (32 Spring Street) in Little Italy. This place was the first pizzeria in America. I had the best Caesar salad and the best pizza of my life here. Let me also add that the pizza here was way better than all the deep-dish places in Chicago I just reviewed last month - it was that good. The ingredients were fresh, the atmosphere was classy, and real local New Yorkers were eating here. What more could you want? Look at how beautiful this pizza is:

So next time you're in New York City. Give some of these places a chance, and save Applebee's and McDonald's for when you get back home.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sleep Less, Do More

The problem most people face is not having enough time. When I was in graduate school I was also working full time so I started trying to figure out ways to sleep less so I could get more done. Up until that time I had always slept about 8 hours a day, but I started to wonder how much of that time could I cut off that 8 hours and still function properly. 

I first started by just slowly going to bed 15 minutes later each night and forcing my self to wake up at the same time. This got me down to 7 hours pretty easy, but that's where I got stuck. Any less than 7 hours and I was like a zombie. So after some more research I started using sleep cycles to my advantage.

The body functions on an approximate 90 minute sleep cycle. This means you go through all the levels of sleep including the most important, REM sleep, in about 90 minutes. When you wake up in the middle of the night naturally you know you have just completed a sleep cycle. You can use the times you wake up naturally to go back and calculate your average sleep cycle time. For me a its about 80 minutes.

This is helpful because you can use this information about your own body clock to time going to bed so that you'll end a sleep cycle close to the time when you want to wake up. I was able to get down to 4-1/2 to 6 hours of sleep per night no problem doing this method. I actually felt more tired waking up mid-sleep cycle from 8 hours of sleep than waking up exactly at the end of a sleep cycle with 6 hours of sleep.

I've also converted to bi-phasic sleeping. I've found for me that sleeping once a day leaves my mental energy low in the evening. So now I sleep for about 3 hours in the evening and then 3 hours at night. I know this may seem a little weird to sleep twice a day, but most animals are polyphasic sleepers. I think monophasic sleeping is an unnatural habit that has become a cultural standard. Sleeping multiple times a day also cuts down on the number of hours you need to sleep to feel refreshed. People sleeping 3 hours twice a day will feel more refreshed than people sleeping 6 hours once a day.

Good night and good luck!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Axiom 16: Talk to the Lion

"If you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat." -Sun Tzu

"An archer cannot hit the bullseye if he doesn't know where the target is." -Anonymous

I had a professor once that told me a story about a business deal that fell through. It was a potential client meeting between a family-owned business (owned by two brothers and a sister) and a PR firm trying to add them as a client. The PR firm thought the meeting went great. They were grilled by the two brothers with tons of questions while the sister quietly sat in the corner. The PR firm charmed the two brothers with all of their answers but in the end they did not get the account. They failed to focus on the sister, who even though she sat quietly and did not ask a single question, made all of the final decisions for the company. The PR firm did not know their target. They did not talk to the lion.

I hear about similar failures all the time. People failing because they were just not prepared with any research, or were prepared with the wrong research. Often that lack of knowledge is perceived by the other party as a lack of respect and the potential deal is killed no matter how stellar the presentation.

The biggest violators of this axiom that I have seen have come from salespeople. At work there is one sales guy that visits us that comes to mind. He struts in every few months to see our company and try to get us to buy more from his company. My office is at the front of the building and he often ignores me when he walks by. Sometimes he will say hello and call me 'Shane', which is slightly annoying. Then he heads straight over and starts kissing the ass of one employee in particular.

Now the interesting part of the whole thing is that this outside sales guy thinks he is kissing the ass of the person with the most purchasing power in our company. In reality the guy he is talking to probably buys the least from his company and I probably buy the most. Kinda ironic considering the guy can't even seem to get my name right. This sales guy is a victim of bad research and failing to talk to the lion

The point of all this is to prove the importance of doing accurate and useful research. When you go in for a meeting you should already know (or have a plan to quickly find out) who has the decision making power. Otherwise you'll look lazy, ill-prepared, and hurt your overall chances of accomplishing your goals and succeeding.