December 16, 2011

The "Scoop" on Being Successful

You've all heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas, right? In fact, my last blog was loosely tied to the theme in terms of contacting people around the holidays.

Well, last night, I had the chance to enjoy the 12 Scoops of Christmas. It really had little to do with the Christmas holiday. It just so happened that a TweetUp that I attended was held at the headquarters for the Velvet Ice Cream Company located in Utica, Ohio. For those unfamiliar with the term TweetUp, it is basically a planned gathering of Twitter users who enjoy hanging out and meeting each other IRL (short for "in real life). This particular TweetUp was arranged by the great folks at the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.

It's always neat to catch up with friends such as Coldwell Banker King Thompson's Patrick Guanciale and Chamber President Cheri Hottinger as well as regular Tweeters such as Mark Labutis and Ellie Hempelman. I don't make it out to Newark very often (about 30 minutes East of Columbus) and to travel out to Utica (about 15 minutes North of Newark) meant there had to be a great addition to seeing my friends.

Free Ice Cream, Anyone?

Our hosts for the evening were three of Velvet Ice Cream's leadership team. Joseph Dager is the Chairman of the company and is a third generation of Dagers to run the mini ice cream empire. His daughter Luconda Dager, the President and Nathan Arnold, Marketing Coordinator, were also there to help us taste these delicious flavors of their product and share many of the stories behind the cold creamy goodness in our bowls.

We started with Original Vanilla as if to "start our taste buds." I'm not a huge fan of vanilla ice cream because I always seem to go for some sort of chocolate involved flavor but it was good. Velvet actually has four varieties of vanilla so we also tasted Olde Thyme Vanilla (made with egg which gives it a golden yellow color), Homemade Vanilla and Vanilla Bean. It was neat to hear Joe critique each batch of ice cream as if they were his children in a talent show. He was honest when he said this specific batch of Vanilla Bean disappointed him because there weren't as many visible flecks of vanilla beans throughout the silky white concoction. I guess mine was in my belly too quickly for me to notice and besides...usually my vanilla ice cream is covered with hot fudge.

We then got to sample three new flavors that Velvet is possibly bringing to the market in 2012. I absolutely loved the Blue Ribbon Funnel Cake with it's strawberry puree ripple and chunks of funnel cake mixed in. Close your eyes and imagine a freshly poured bowl of Cap'n Crunchberries cereal right in front of you and take a big whiff. Yep, that's exactly what is smells like, but eating this ice cream won't cause permanent damage to the roof of your mouth the way two spoonfuls of Cap'n Crunch cereal will.

Carrot Cake was a cinnamon ice cream with a cream cheese frosting ripple and carrot cake bits. My dislike of real carrot cake probably predisposed me to not like this one but don't worry because right behind that was a scoop of Root Beer Float. Imagine a root beer float slowly poured from it's frosty mug into a bowl of ice cream and you would have it. Yummy!

Oatmeal Scotchie was a butterscotch ice cream with pieces of oatmeal cookie dough. I really liked this one and even sarcastically hinted to Joe, Luconda and Nathan that if they consider changing from butterscotch to vanilla with chocolate chips and the oatmeal chunks I might consider stock purchase.

Speaking of Chocolate, Where's My Cocoa Beans?

Cheri Hottinger with Luconda Dager
 Next up was a chocolate lovers dream - Viva El Chocolate; Chocolate cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon spice brownie and fudge ripple. I forgive you if you just drooled a little on your keyboard or mobile phone. It was good. I even sweet talked my way to Luconda and Nathan to allow me to bring home a small pint of this for my kids. Perhaps texting them a photo of it right before I tasted it wasn't nice, huh? The folks at Denali Flavors helped create this one as they use their Moose Tracks chocolate.

One of their more popular flavors is the Buckeye Classic - it accounts for almost 1 out of every 5 gallons sold. This is a creamy peanut butter ice cream swirled with thick chocolate fudge and small chocolate peanut butter candies. These are commonly referred to as "Buckeyes," which are very popular here in Central Ohio for obvious reasons. (Think of a large college team with excellent sports programs and a loyal, rabid fan base).

Our last flavor of the evening was Peppermint Stick, a holiday favorite. This creamy pink ice cream is infused with huge pieces of read peppermint candies. I'm convinced you could eat a huge bowl of this before bedtime and skip brushing your teeth and no one would ever know the difference.

Passion and Pride - Great Ingredients for Great Products

Sitting there listening to Joe, Luconda and Nathan talk about their products was a great experience. Joe said he has been in his role for almost 50 years but obviously, he has been part of Velvet Ice Cream since the day he was born. Luconda is the same way. The words they use in their stories are as richly infused with the pride and history of their family's hard work as their products are infused with flavor.

I could have sat all night and listened to the stories that Joe was spinning about flavors that worked and some that didn't. I pulled out my Flip Camera and got some of his comments on tape so you can get an idea of the deep passion that this man has for what he does. (If you can't see the video below, click here)

If someone asked you what your favorite part of your job is, how would you answer? Would you be able to weave a story behind the answer that makes people want to hear more? Does your passion for your service and results show in everything you do and say? Don't you want people to leave encounters with you and say to others..."That person really enjoys what they do for a living and it shows."

Thanks Joe, Luconda, Nathan for your time, expertise and genuine passion for sharing your craft with me last night. Thanks also to Cheri and Ellie for their planning and to Patrick for always being a great reason to venture out to Licking County to spend time together.

Now...after all this talk about ice cream, don't you wish you had a big bowl of Velvet Ice Cream right now?