NYC Favorite Things - Networking Highlights

While being intentional about networking in NYC was something I intended to do, I never anticipated the variety of leaders I would meet. Here were some of the highlights of those networking connections:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk - Gary Vee has been a hero for many years. Getting to meet him at a book signing after one of his speaking events on a Sunday evening was definitely a highlight of my time here in New York. Just a couple days later I was privileged to visit his office at Vaynermedia! Gary was so friendly and great to connect with face to face.

  • George McGovern - Chaplain, Yankees and NY Giants - George actually reached out to me on LinkedIn and I had a blast connecting for lunch one day and having an ongoing relationship even bringing my family out to his house in New Jersey for a bar-b-q. George is one of the kindest and most humble men I’ve ever met.

  • Willie Morris - Founder, FaithBox - I have been following Willie’s story for some time and had a blast meeting up face to face at the VaynerMedia offices. Willie is one of the most creative entrepreneur’s I’ve ever interacted with and probably the friendliest dude I’ve ever met!

  • Will Anderson - CEO, Christian Post - I met Will at a roundtable conversation with a group of technology leaders at the Christian Post headquarters in Lower Manhattan. Will was incredibly welcoming and passionate about ministry impact far more that business development. Meeting Will gave me a new perspective of how a for-profit business can function very much as a ministry.

  • Scott Wennermark - Director of Strategic Advancement, American Bible Society - Scott and I met over the phone about a year before I moved to New York, but it was great to meet up a couple of times while he was in the area. We also had the privilege of worshiping together at Times Square Church at one of their prayer services. Love the unique work he is doing with DJ Chuang with the .Bible TLD.

  • Sean Coughlin - Co-founder and CEO, Faith Street - my friend DJ Chuang introduced me to Sean when he was in town and it was great to get to know him personally and hear about the unique work they are doing at Faith Street and how they are serving the Church using new technologies in a very unique way.

 

During my time in the city, I also had the privilege of also attending some unique networking events hosted by some unique organizations listed below. Each event led to meeting some of the most unique and creative people. Among everyone I met there was a commonality among each of them: hustle. Here’s a list of some of these events/organizations:

NYC Favorite Things - Food Spots

When people ask us what we’ll miss in New York, whether we admit it or not one of the very honest answers is the food. My encouragement to visitors to the city is to use Yelp as much as possible. We’ve yet to find a bad restaurant via Yelp and we’ve definitely found some incredible ones along the way. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Dizzy’s Diner - just a block from our house, this became our regular place. They have a casual atmosphere and everything on the menu is incredible. The Teo’s Eggs became a family favorite!

  • Bagel Pub - best Bagels in New York are on 9th Street in Park Slope! They make the bagels and cream cheese in house and everything is great! My go to was a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese and an iced banana latte.

  • Patacon - this Venezuelan hole in the wall in Queens is so addicting! Everything is good, but the Pork Wraps (called something else) are so stinking good!

  • Juniors - when guests were in town and we were near Times Square we loved popping into Juniors. The food is okay, but the cheesecake is what they’re famous for.

  • Alice’s Teacup - this was hands down the favorite restaurant (other than McDonald's) of our girls. It’s a classy spot that’s fun for all ages (mostly girls)

  • Halal Guys - located right outside the Hilton on 6th Avenue this is the best food cart in all of New York. There are lots of impersonators, but you will always see a line at the real “Halal Guys” cart. Get the mixed plate with extra white sauce. You’re welcome.

 

Bonus Spots:

  • Shake Shack - great shakes and burgers, but always a long line

  • 7th Avenue Diner - classic New York diner in the heart of Park Slope in Brooklyn

  • Ellen’s Diner - food is okay, but great entertainment

  • Carmine’s - great family style Italian spot in Times Square

NYC Favorite Things - The Views

Sometimes the best thing to do in New York is take in the views. The New York skyline is unlike anything else and there are so many great places to take it in! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Top of the Rock - from the top of Rockefeller Center you can see all sides of New York with great views of Central Park and the Bronx, the Empire State Building and One World Trade, Brooklyn, New Jersey and so much more! On a clear day it’s hard to beat this view. Just a warning though, it often comes with a long wait and a pretty price tag.

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park - this was our most regular spot to take in a view of Manhattan. The park offers a great view of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Brookfield Place - we enjoyed taking in a movie at the Tribeca film festival here and loved the view of Manhattan, the Hudson river and Jersey City from this beautiful spot.

  • Staten Island Ferry - if you’re looking to see the Statue of Liberty we found the free Staten Island Ferry to be the best option. It’s free, runs regularly, and goes right by the statue!

  • Jersey City - one of the best views of the city is actually in another state. While we didn’t spend a lot of time in New Jersey, there are some great views of the city from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

Honorable Mention:

  • IKEA - surprisingly great view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan from this spot in Brooklyn.

  • Empire State Building - while this is a great view, the one thing missing from the view is the Empire State Building itself which is such a key aspect of the New York skyline.

NYC Favorite Things - Our Tiny Apartment

When people ask us about living in New York, they often want to know about our apartment. The reality of our moving to New York from Texas is that our income was not changing (actually decreased), but our expenses had to stay the same or decrease. With that, we lived small. Really small! We went from a 2,600 square foot home in Texas with a yard and 2 car garage to a 750 square foot 4th floor walk up apartment with 2 kids!  And we loved it!

Honestly, we had to sell pretty much everything other than our clothes (and we had to get rid of most our clothes too). We found an incredible Brownstone apartment in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. The apartment choice was all about location as we were less than 50 yards in one direction to Prospect Park and 50 yards the other direction on our street to the F Train taking us right into Manhattan. Prospect Park is also one of the most family friendly neighborhoods in New York known as “Stroller City” with great schools.

So, we downsized… a lot. All rooms became what we call “slash” rooms. The girls had their own bedrooms and a game room in Texas which became one room that they shared and functioned as the game room. So, it’s now Emery’s room/Shelby’s room/game room. Our bedroom also doubled as my office, so it’s the bedroom/office. In case you’re curious, my end table is my desk (and it’s quite a setup I have with multiple monitors). We also went from a large kitchen with an island, dining room, living room and laundry room to a multipurpose living/dining/kitchen/laundry room. We are actually one of the lucky ones in the city to actually have a washer and dryer in our unit. The biggest challenge of all though, was moving from 3 bathrooms to 1.

When we moved in we honestly didn’t realize how small this really was. The whole apartment has 1 drawer and that’s in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it was too small to hold our existing utensil tray, so we had to replace that as well. We basically bought out everything at IKEA and got creative. Our beds all have drawers under them, our couch converts to a guest bed, we have shelves and storage containers everywhere and we make it work.

This move simplified our lives in ways we can’t describe. It forced us to physically be closer and also pushed us out into the city to adventure out together. We also found that the kids can destroy the apartment and in about 15 minutes we can clean up the whole place.

We learned that we really don’t need all the stuff or the space. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s definitely not a necessity. While I will value having an additional bathroom when we move back to Texas, the idea of smaller and simplified living will be a value that we will cling to for the rest of our lives. We’re grateful for our season in this small apartment and already look forward to downsizing again after the kids are out of the house.


Small living is for us!

NYC Favorite Things - Our Spots

While every day in New York City felt like a new adventure for our family, there were a few go to spots that we seemed to find ourselves returning to regularly. Here are some of those:

  • Prospect Park - just across the street from our Brownstone was this 500 acre park that included several playgrounds, fields, walking paths, a zoo, carousel, ice skating rink, a lake and ongoing activities throughout the year. While we lived in a tiny apartment, we felt like we had unlimited space as we were adventuring into this incredible park several times every week!

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park - just next to the Brooklyn Bridge this park was a favorite for our family. With a couple of great playgrounds for the kids and an incredible view of Manhattan from across the East River, we loved spending time at this beautiful and creative park. They have some great eateries in and around the park as well.

  • Times Square - most locals avoid Times Square, but we often felt drawn to this magical place! The energy of the lights and the diversity of the tourists was always fun for our family to take in. There’s not a place like Times Square on earth and we felt so blessed to be able to be a short train ride away anytime we wanted to drop by.

  • Coney Island - also not a local favorite, but became a favorite of ours. We loved grabbing a Nathan’s hotdog and the girls loved riding the rides in the park. On nice days the boardwalk had a great view of the water and we even enjoyed one of their fireworks shows one Friday night. We loved being a short train ride away from Coney Island and will definitely go back on our visits back to the city.

  • Chelsea Market - on our first time to visit New York and stay in an AirBnB we ended up right next to Chelsea Market and fell in love with this area. Between the great food and shops in Chelsea Market and walking the High Line, this will continue to be a go to spot for our family!

 

Honorable Mention:

  • Central Park - couldn’t spend enough time here!

  • Jones Beach - loved this beach right outside the city!

  • Madison Square Garden - best events in the city are always held here!

  • Bryant Park - always something going on in this park!