Friday, December 28, 2007

James Packer: Not Australia’s Richest Man anymore.

I regret not having reporting on James Packer before. Of all the richest men of a specific country, Australia’s former Richest Man used to be one of my favourites. Just look at this guy: If you see him, you would think he’s the bodyguard to a billionaire, not one himself.

James Packer inherited his roughly $5 Billion fortune from his father, Kerry Packer who passed away in 2005. In Aussie Billionaire-style, the Packer empire comprises of a media and entertainment empire. James took over from his father and become one of the youngest billionaires in the world. He recently made headlines with allegations of acts fraud in his company, but direct links to him and his management was never proven.

Today James Packer has his sights squared on Las Vegas and Macau (China’s Las Vegas). He was reported to looking at buying a $1.8 Billion stake in one of the Vegas Strip’s most popular Casinos.

But… today the news came that Andrew Forrest (left), billionaire founder of Fortesque Metals Group Ltd have been reported to pass Packer as the Land Down-Under’s Richest Man. According to a West-Australian Newspaper, gains in Fortesque’s stock has yet again proved that Metals and Resource owning Billionaires are laughing harder to the bank than the Entertainment/ Internet/ Software Billionaires. Case in point: 2007 has been a great year for Lakshmi Mittal (Steel) and Carlos Slim (Mexican Resources and Telecommunication). Both Billionaires have made huge gains on traditional Richest men like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Billionaire Heiress: Marta Ortega-Perez

This is still one of my fav two subjects: Billionaires and their beautiful daughters. My previous post on this subject was extremely popular, so I have decided to highlight a few more “daughters-of –Inheritance”.

Forbes brought out their The 20 Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses – list. From this list, here is one lady that really got my attention: Marta Ortega Perez.

Marta is the daughter of Amancio Ortega, the Spanish Billionaire worth $24 Billion. Marta is currently being groomed to take over her father’s fashion empire with it’s prized jewel; the Zara Retail chain.

As with so many of the Billionaire Heiresses, Marta too is a passionate equestrian, but that is where the privileges end for her. She has to work her way up in the company… just like any other employee. She reportedly started in the Zara stores by restocking the shelves. Today she is in the company’s Marketing department.

I like that about her

Shamed Big Brother star, Jane Goody gets a £3 million diamond ring from Prince Azim of Brunei

Shamed Big Brother star, Jane Goody got a £3 million diamond ring from Prince Azim of Brunei earlier this month.

Jane Goody and our fav playboy prince, Prince Azim, got to know each other during the notorious Big Brother UK scandal that rocked the headlines earlier this year where Goody was accused of making racist remarks to famed Bollywood star Shipa Shetty. Goody and the Prince both shared the same opinion of the Bollywood star and made public statements to that extent. They have since met and became friends.

Apparently she refused the £3 million diamond ring when Prince Azim offered to her, but we all know that deep inside, she was going “Oh Goody!”

Lame joke, I know...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling day – Today July 21, 2007

That’s what I am calling today. And deservingly so: Today her seventh a final book in the very popular Harry Potter-series was released. This, and that the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has been in the cinemas for a week now.

As an educated guess, I will say that today, more books will be sold than in any previous day in history. Last night thousands to millions of fans would have camped out in front of stores like Barnes and Noble to get there eager Muggle hands on the last Harry Potter book ever to be published: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Never in history has any other author been so successful and none so deserving. I did a lot of reading about her for this article and realised she is THE BEST RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY in the history of mankind.

In 1993 J.K. (Joanne) Rowling was living on a welfare grant of £69 (About $100 at the time) a week while calling a mouse-invested loft flat in Edinburgh, Scotland her home. Divorcee and mother of one, she struggled financially, but still persevered with her idea of a book about the life a boy wizard.

Her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone was seen a big gamble by her American publisher, Scholastic. They took her in in 1997 and their gamble paid off royally!

Today J.K. Rowling is ranked 48th in Forbes Celebrity 100 list 2007 and has a net worth of a cool $1 Billion. Warner Brothers has cashed in on the more than $5 Billion in movie ticket sales the five movies has generated and Mattel has grossed over $300 million in movie paraphernalia.
J.K. Rowling will say goodbye to the successful franchise after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” has been made into a movie, but the money will never cease to pour in. She has created an intellectual capital empire that is comparable to those created by The Beatles, Queen, Abba, U2 and George Lucas. Paramount Studios has even announced that a Harry Potter theme park will be opened in 2009!

Throughout, those close to her say that her ego has not taken control of her. She remains down-to-earth as a now mother of three. (Kids can do that to you…). The humility mst have been a product of her time spent defending the victims of human right abuses while working at Amnesty International; the job she held before becoming a full-time author.

Let July 21 2007 go down in the history books as J.K. Rowling day and as a great moment in publishing!

Surface Computers - Microsoft designed the next evolutionary step in computing

I have close to 14 blog articles which I have done the research for, but never actually took the time to write and publish them. But every now and again a story comes along that fascinates me so much, that I have to publish it immediately. This is such a story.

Microsoft is once again changing the face of computing: The latest evolutionary leap in computing. Ever watched the movie The Island with Scarlet Johansson and Ewan McGregor? In the movie the character that plays the director of the facility uses a “surface” / table computer. His desk becomes the computer, with “files” (computer files) scattered across the table. Just by touching the table and moving his fingers on it, he manipulates the files, type and operates the commands.

Well, Microsoft is making this all a reality.
Click here to watch the video clip of a demonstration of the product.

This is really fascinating! I can see that these tabletop/ “surface” computers will soon replace our standard desktop PC’s. Pretty soon, your computer will be bought in a computer retailer and also available in furniture shops! Bill Gates will once again become the richest man in the world. Rumour has it that Carlos Slim Helu now holds this position. I will report on this shortly...


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Futuristic features of Luxury cars – Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus

I’m back. I’ve just finished moving into my new place. Stepping up. I’ve forgotten what a big task it is to move. It’s just not simply picking up your stuff, loading it up and moving. No, it’s a whole three weeks of small, time consuming small labour: Move this, fix that, buy this, install that. Admin, measuring and fitting, looking at options, schedules and unexpected expenses. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

So I have the privilege of living in a better neighbourhood now. My favourite thing about it is the neighbours’ cars! Expensive cars. I love seeing what they are driving. Looking… that’s all I can do right now, since all my money is going into my business and my new, huge mortgage.

To protect the privacy of my one neighbour, let’s call him Andrew. Andrew drives a 2007 Lexus LS460. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Lexus, till I had a chat with Andrew. The features of this car are astounding!

And that is where I’m heading with this article: The astounding, mind-boggling technological marvels that the car manufacturers are building into their cars today. Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are leading the feature race. Just have a look at these innovative features that are in cars already and those soon to be launched:


Audi have manufactured the world’s fastest, smoothest, commercially available gearbox: The S-Tronic. It consists of 2x 3 speed gearboxes and 2 clutches. When you take off, transmission one is in first gear and transmission two is in second. When it’s time to change gears, S-Tronic uses the clutches to swap transmissions and gear changes happen in an unprecedented eight milliseconds! There is just no way you’ll be able to feel the gear changing, never mind loosing power during gear shifts!


Car-to-car Comm: This feature baffles me a bit. It sounds like the first sign that cars will be driving themselves in the near future. The future generation of Mercs will all be connected through a multi-car network: Their own little Intranet. This apparently opens up several possibilities. For example: Your new E-Class will receive a message from a SLK further down the highway that the traffic is backed up and will warn you to consider an alternative route. Wow. The cars are talking to one another! The next thing you know, they will not be doing their job, because they are IM’ing love letters to one another! This feature is reported to be launched in 2009.


Lexus has gone out of their way to pack their flagship model, the LS460 with the coolest features on the market. They are well working towards taking human error out of driving.

Advanced Obstacle detection and Driver Monitoring: Note… “driver monitoring”. They do not only manage the car; they manage you. All the new luxury cars have sensors on the front and the back, detecting the distance between you and the car in front of you. Now Lexus’ and Mercedes-Benz’s will actually assist in braking the car if you don’t do so early enough. But the Lexus will actually detect where you are looking at! If you are distracted by the sexy billboard of Scarlett Johansson next to the road, the Lexus will detect that you are not focusing on the traffic and the car will raise an alarm and start braking for you to prevent a collision.

Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS): This upcoming feature to the Lexus LS460 is for all the people, like me, who hate to parallel park. Never again will it be a problem in the LS460. With this feature, all you have to do is align your Lexus next to the open space, press a button on the dashboard and watch the car park itself! Wow. Amazing, right? The car will detect the space you want to park in and actually manoeuvre itself into that space!

If you are still not convinced that cars will start to drive itself in a short while, I just don’t know. Just look at the evidence: We’ve got cars parking itself, braking itself, cars talking to one another and changing gears without you feeling it. Pretty soon we will be spectators to cars driving themselves!

Not me however. This move will keep me financially unstable for a while, while I still drive my 2003 medium sedan. I won’t be buying a new car anytime soon. That’s unless Prince Azim actually reads my blog and decide to change my fate!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Brands - The most expensive thing you can buy - Interbrand Rankings

So three of my colleagues and I were stranded in the waiting lounge at Heathrow airport on Sunday, waiting for our plane to board. And we were bored. So I showed them my blog and we started talking about the theme. We talked about what the mega rich can buy with all that money and the subject changed to the most expensive stuff in the world. I told them about Updown Court, Lakshmi Mittal’s house and what the prices are on Gulfstreams and Mega Yachts.

Then Charl, our South African colleague raised an interesting point. These tangible luxuries are NOT the most expensive stuff a billionaire can acquire. They are mere fractions in comparison to the most expensive item you can buy: A brand.

The top brands in the world are worth billions. They are merely a design with brand value connected to it: Totally intangible. This made me go and look at the Interbrand ranking list again. I used their rankings in my studies at university and almost forgot what an interesting read it actually is. For that reason, I’m posting the 2006 ranking for you guys. As far as I know, the 2007 rankings have yet to be announced.

Billionaires’ worth are actually in large part comprised of a brand’s worth. Donald Tump’s name is so valuable, that it could sell almost any piece of property. So when they measure his net worth, they factor in what his brand name is worth. This is NOT money in the bank though: He has to sell that brand before he can see it in his bank account.

Interesting, right? These brands can be worth as much as $67 billion. Take Microsoft: And you wonder why Bill Gates is so rich? Take Warren Buffett as an example. He has a stake in Coca-Cola and Budweiser, two of the brands in the top 100. Billionaires get richer, the more people value their brands. Look at Louis Vuitton. Their monogram designs have catapulted them into top 20.

So forget the $200 million mega yacht, the $130 million house and $100 private jet. Or even the $70 million private island. Go and buy a multi-BILLION dollar brand!

The Interband ranking list for 2006. Just see which brand made the top 100.

Rank, Brand $million
1 Coca-Cola 67,000
2 Microsoft 56,926
3 IBM 56,201
4 GE 48,907
5 Intel 32,319
6 Nokia 30,131
7 Toyota 27,941
8 Disney 27,848
9 McDonald’s 27,501
10 Mercedes 21,795
11 Citi 21,458
12 Marlboro 21,350
13 Hewlett-Packard 20,458
14 American Express 19,641
15 BMW 19,617
16 Gillette 19,579
17 Louis Vuitton 17,606
18 Cisco 17,532
19 Honda 17,049
20 Samsung 16,169
21 Merrill Lynch 13,001
22 Pepsi 12,690
23 Nescafé 12,507
24 Google 12,376
25 Dell 12,256
26 Sony 11,695
27 Budweiser 11,662
28 HSBC 11,622
29 Oracle 11,459
30 Ford 11,056
31 Nike 10,897
32 UPS 10,712
33 JPMorgan 10,205
34 SAP 10,007
35 Canon 9,968
36 Morgan Stanley 9,762
37 Goldman Sachs 9,640
38 Pfizer 9,591
39 Apple 9,130
40 Kellogg’s 8,776
41 Ikea 8,763
42 UBS 8,734
43 Novartis 7,880
44 Siemens 7,828
45 Harley-Davidson 7,739
46 Gucci 7,158
47 eBay 6,755
48 Philips 6,730
49 Accenture 6,728
50 MTV 6,627
51 Nintendo 6,559
52 Gap 6,416
53 L’Oreal 6,392
54 Heinz 6,223
55 Yahoo! 6,056
56 Volkswagen 6,032
57 Xerox 5,918
58 Colgate 5,633
59 Wrigley’s 5,449
60 KFC 5,350
61 Chanel 5,156
62 Avon 5,040
63 Nestlé 4,932
64 Kleenex 4,842
65 4,707
66 Pizza Hut 4,694
67 Danone 4,638
68 Caterpillar 4,580
69 Motorola 4,569
70 Kodak 4,406
71 adidas 4,290
72 Rolex 4,237
73 Zara 4,235
74 Audi 4,165
75 Hyundai 4,078
76 BP 4,010
77 Panasonic 3,977
78 Reuters 3,961
79 Kraft 3,943
80 Porsche 3,927
81 Hermés 3,854
82 Tiffany & Co. 3,819
83 Hennessy 3,576
84 Duracell 3,576
85 ING 3,474
86 Cartier 3,360
87 Moet & Chandon 3,257
88 Johnson & Johnson 3,193
89 Shell 3,173
90 Nissan 3,108
91 Starbucks 3,099
92 Lexus 3,070
93 Smirnoff 3,032
94 LG 3,010
95 Bulgari 2,875
96 Prada 2,874
97 Armani 2,783
98 Burberry 2,783
99 Nivea 2,692
100 Levi’s 2,689

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Turtle Island, Fiji - Heaven on Earth

Okay, so my girlfriend is putting a squeeze on me: She saw the following You Tube clip and now wants to experience “heaven on earth”. She showed me the clip and while I said, “It will be perfect for my blog”, she said “Yes, but its time you treat me to something like this”. Woman!

It does seem perfect: The perfect Holiday destination. Like I said in one of my previous posts, my ultimate fantasy is to own my own private island one day. But for now, I might just lok into visiting this beautiful island for a well deserved break.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Prince Azim of Brunei – When money is no object

Prince Azim of Brunei, 25 year old billionaire playboy spared no expense on his 25th birthday bash. His 200 strong guest list included current stars and those of yesteryear. Celebrities that attended included Jerry Hall, Olivia Newton-John, Faye Dunaway, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and even Pamela Anderson. But the star of the night was Prince Azim’s all time hero, Michael Jackson. The former star was paid $10 million to attend, and not even perform!

Every guest got goodie bags that included iPods, Bose Electronic goods, diamond jewelry and Crème de la Mer face creams that reportedly were worth thousands of dollars.

What a life you could lead if money was not an option! Prince Azim is the son of the Sultan of Brunei and known as the ultimate billionaire playboy; always with a beautiful celebrity on his side. Former dates included beauties like Naomi Campbell (Pictured with him), Mischa Barton and Scarlet Johannson.

He has never been shy to spend on celebrities as I reported in one of my previous posts. Mariah Carey got a $5.4 million necklace and to impress rap star Usher, he reportedly sent him a truck load of goodies that included designer track suits, sneakers, loads of Bling and electronic good worth hundreds of thousand dollars.

To say the least, Prince Azim is living the charmed life.

“Your royal highness, if you are reading this, I have my eye on this little… I promise it won’t cost too much… “ :)

Asus S6 Leather bound Notebooks - Luxury Computing

Okay. So do you wanna know what I bought with the money made on the deal named in the Diana Carmichael article? I bought myself the Leather bound, luxurious S6 Laptop from Asus. Pictured is two hide options. I have the lighter colored one.

If you absolutely need to impress clients or colleages. Get this beauty. I love to go down to a street cafe during lunch. But being the busy person that I am, I take my notebook with me to get some work in while munching on my ceaser's salad. So many people, strangers, come up to me just to feel the soft leather coat of the computer.

This little luxury goes a long way...

The New BMW X5 – The SUV Benchmark

With the new BMW X5, status and good sense comes standard. The old X5 was the benchmark against which every SUV (4x4) were measured. The new X5 raised the bar several yards higher. The car has exceptional off road capabilities and on road, the drive compares to that of a luxury sedan.

In my eyes, the X5 has the same iconic status as the Mercedes S-Class: Always the leader of the bunch and buying any competitor’s product is just a compromise. Range Rover, The ML/GL, Suburbans and the Porsche Ceyenne all scores a distant second to the new behemoth.

The styling screams mucho, but any woman driving it will score points in my book.

Features that I like is the in window displays, the multi media and computer/ navigational system, the improved duel suspension for on- and off-road driving and the comfortable interior lay-out.

The car oozes confidence and gives total peace-of-mind to the owners. The car, like it’s predecessor, will become a regular at country clubs, high-end fashion events, luxury lodges and parked in the parking lot of the best parties.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Diana Carmichael – Contemporary luxury tableware at it’s most creative

Two weeks ago I got an invitation to dine with one of the most influential men in the Internet world. He invited me and my girlfriend to dine in his lush penthouse apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His wife is a former model who also happens to be one of the most gracious hosts I’ve ever met. The night was definitely going to be memorable.

I was dressed in my usual Dunhill suit and Hugo Boss tie and dished a small fortune to buy my girlfriend a new dress for the occasion. I needed this night to be perfect: A lot of money was riding on this deal.

John and Cathy (not their real names) greeted us at the door and invited us into their beautifully furnished house. The penthouse is decorated in a wave of earthy tones with a dash of dark red ever so often. The dining room is spectacular: A dark mahogany table with the most interesting contemporary chairs. You could see they entertain quite regularly. We sat down for dinner at the table and I saw the one thing that was by far the most thought provoking…

The cutlery: With all the research that I do for this blog, I thought I’ve seen it all, but I was wrong. The cutlery was quite unique. My girlfriend then asked the question I was dying to ask: “What beautiful cutlery, where did you get it?” You could see Cathy beaming at the question, she was definitely proud of it. “Oh, it’s Diana Carmichael. I got the set as a gift from my sister-in-law as a birthday gift.” she said.

Now, I must admit, I’ve never heard of Diana Carmichael before, but it was such exquisite pieces, that I thought I had to do a posting on it for the blog.

I visited their website and actually saw the set Cathy had on the table (pictured below).

Diana Carmichael has some of the most creative contemporary tableware accessory designs I’ve ever seen. It definitely compliments any modern living environment. See the sets below.

Guess what happened… Apart from the contract I got, my girlfriend now wants a set of Diana Carmichael tableware as reward for being on her best behaviour when I scored the contract!

On a personal note

Life is great!

I would like to thank the fans of LOTR (Lifestyles of the Rich). The blog has reached a top ten ranking (9th) on Blog Toplist. Thank you.

My new business venture is booming. It is exceding my wildest expectations. I had no idea that their was such a demand.

I would like to apologize for the lack of postings though. The new venture is taking up most of my day. I'll rectify that today. I was suppose to play golf with a client today, but the weather put a stop to that. So today I have enough time.

I would like to thank my friend G-Wee for the beautiful posting / review he did of this blog on his blog Wealth Wonders. Rest assured buddy, I'm one of your biggest fans too. By the way... I've never met G-Wee. He does not know me at all, and that makes his posting so great. Go check out his blog: He DOES post often.

Keep up the good work.

Below is a graph to illustrate how the popularity of LOTR has grown in the last couple of weeks. Once again: Thank you to all the fans. I do enjoy your fan mail.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Louis Vuitton Monogram Luxury Items – What a Fashion Icon!

Although the brand has never NOT been popular, Marc Jacobs, artistic director of Louis Vuitton has hit a homerun with the monogram designs. They have an almost cult following amongst celebrities. Never has one handbag brand been so coveted in all of fashion history. An icon has been born.

A Louis Vuitton monogram canvas travel item can set you back anything between $595 and $14,000. These bags are regular features on celebs like Scarlet Johansson, Uma Thurman, Kate Moss, Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and the Hilton sisters.

And how these handbags command respect! Walk into any department store with a Louis Vuitton bag and you give out signals to the store clerks and owners of “Discerning shopper: Handle as a VIP”

The monogram is used for any travel item; from wallets, to golf bags, large trunks to overnight luggage. At a price, Louis Vuitton will even customise any travel item for you. One thing they won’t do however is compromise their brand, as one rap artist found out. He wanted to customise his SUV with monogram canvass seat covers. Louis Vuitton had no problem saying no, despite him offering vast amounts of money to change their minds.

This 150 year old brand has never been so popular amongst the elite of the world.

Below is a pic of Jessica Simpson walking down the street, clutching her Louis Vuitton.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Rich Lifestyle" articles of Note 02

Pictured: The 'Waterworld' Hotel - One of the Future/ Concept hotels in the excellent article featured on Born Rich. This is probably the best article they have ever posted. It reminds me of one of my old posts...

New Sister blog

Doing my research for Lifestyles of the Rich, I read many success stories: Rich people and their rags-to-riches stories. It makes for excellent reading. Then about two months ago I heard someone saying: "Study success and you will see new doors open in front of you".

I have been reading about successful people and since then saw how simple the path to success really is. I've read about how a certain person made his fortune and a new idea popped into my head: A gap in the online market. I've since been hard at work and in this week have reaped the rewards!

But I want to share what I've read:

Visit Studying Success.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lakshmi Mittal’s House – The most expensive residential real estate deal ever done.

Earlier we reported about Updown Court, the world’s most expensive house and Donald Trump’s Florida Mansion, the most expensive house in the USA. Although these two mansions have the titles of being the most expensive houses, they still have to be sold. No body has ever paid that much ($139 million and $125 million respectively) for a residential building. Then who was the person that forked over the most amount of money in a residential real estate transaction?

The answer is Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel tycoon and the world’s fifth richest billionaire. His London residence at 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens was bought from Formula One Boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2004 for a staggering $114.89 million (£62.7 million). And for while the house held the Guinness World Record for the world’s most expensive house. The Mittal/ Ecclestone deal still hold the record as the biggest of its kind.

Another interesting fact: Prince Talal Bin Waleed's palace racked up a construction bill of over $200 million when it was build in the late 80’s. But the palace belongs to his country and not to him per se, so his residence cannot be counted as a “private residential house”.

Another coveted Black Card: The Marquis Card – Partial Private Jet Ownership

Okay, so if you think that maintaining a sports car is a hassle, try owning your own private jet. First you need to buy the plane, find expensive hanger space to store your plane, procure a pilot every time you want to fly, hire the service crew to get the plane ready for flight, get flight attendants and all the while swiping your credit card to pay for it all. Okay, so now you are in the air flying, you reach your destination and once again you have to manage the airport admin, and fly back. Then, how often do you really fly?

Partial ownership of a private Jet makes a lot of sense. And at the forefront of Jet consortiums is MarquisJet. Operating the fleet of NetJets, you get the choice of up to 10 different plane models, from 6 to 14 seaters, with brands like Gulfstream, Hawker, Cessna Citation and Falcon.

All you have to do is get your Marquis Card, book a plane and arrive and fly away at a fraction of the operating cost of owning the Jet. Privacy is guaranteed and the hassle non-existent. Benefits include:
• Exclusive access to the NetJets fleet of over 650 aircraft
• Guaranteed availability 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
• Access to thousands of airports in North America and Europe
• Choice of up to 10 aircraft types
• The option to exchange your jet for a smaller or larger cabin depending on
your needs
• Freedom to exchange between NetJets North American and European
• No "deadheads" or "empty leg" charges within NetJets primary
service area
• No long-term commitment
The best is, I’m not making a cent for posting this article, but the concept is so phenomenal. Flying around in a private jet is one of the ultimate luxuries of being wealthy. The Marquis Card just makes the luxury so much easier. NetJets celebrity customers include tennis star like Tim Henman, golf star Jim Furyk and TV star Kelly Ripa.

Club Sportiva - Partial Sportcar Ownership (Carsharing)

A business associate of mine, Markus, and I had a very good meeting yesterday. He owns his own printing and distribution company and usually makes a good impression in front of potential clients, tailored in Hugo Boss suits, Ralph Lauren shoes and the Breitling watch. He walks into every room with an aura of success: He owns the room.

But he usually does something in every meeting that makes it hard for me to fully concentrate: When he sits down, he takes his car keys out of his pocket and places it on the boardroom table in front of him. I cannot help to notice the keys... Yesterday it was Aston Martin keys. Strange thing is, at our first meeting back in January, the keys were those of a Ferrari and the time after that it was BMW. So obviously I started thinking the printing business must be doing reaaaaally good. Let's forget online, it pays to go offline!

But yesterday I walked him to the car. Yes, there stood a beautiful 2006 Aston Martin DB9 Vantage, its silver body gleaming in the hot sun. I said to Markus: "Beautifull car buddy. What happened to the Ferrari?" He smiled, slipped the Polo Sunglasses on his face and told me the secret... Carsharing. He was part of an exclusive carsharing club. The consortium owns a collection of cars and that both the Aston and the Ferrari were part of the collection. He reserves a sport car every time he wants to impress clients. He makes sure that he does not pitch up at a client with the same car twice! “Markus, Markus, Markus… The tailored suits are enough, buddy!” I thought to myself.

But if you would like to go Markus’ route; here is the phenomenon of carsharing consortiums.

Wikipedia describes carsharing as such:

“Carsharing is a system where a fleet of cars (or other vehicles) is
jointly-owned by the users in distinction from car rental or cars in private
ownership. The users are organized as a democratically-controlled company,
public agency, cooperative, ad hoc grouping. The fleet is made available for use
by members of the carshare group in a wide variety of ways. The costs and
troubles of vehicle purchase, ownership and maintenance are transferred to a
central organizer (the Carshare Operator or more familiarly CSO).”

I searched the net and came to site of Club Sportiva, the Bay area’s largest partial-ownership club. Instead of owning one sportscar and being responsible for all the maintenance of the car, you buy into the hassle-free consortium and instead of having access to only one sportscar, you can have a whole collection to choose from. On Monday you can drive the Lamborghini Gallardo to work, followed by the Porsche 911 Turbo on Tuesday, the vintage Ferrari 348 on Wednesday and so forth. Members do not have to worry about maintaining these bad boys, as they have a professional mechanic shop worrying about the cars’ well-being.

Club Sportiva has a $8 million car collection which includes brands like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus, Corvette, Jaguar, Bentley, Morgan, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. The cars vary from new and vintage sport cars to luxury sedans. In some consortiums you car even drive away in the Muscle Cars of yesteryear.

The concept to me is sound. The benefits excellent, and the service that comes with these partial ownership worth the while. BUT, dear Markus, you do not NEED to drive a new car every day to make a deal, but it could help…

Monday, April 30, 2007

American Express Centurion Card - Once you go Black...

In the words of my father: “To be successful, you have to visualize success now”. No other picture does this better than the one left.

My Branding Communications lecturer told us that to him the BMW brand symbolizes “Going Places” and Mercedes symbolizes… “You’ve arrived”. Granted it was 2003 and she had not seen the new2006 X5! (But that is another future posting). Nothing symbolizes “You’ve arrived” better than the black Centurion Card from American Express.

So, when I visualize success, I see myself do what so many celebrities like to do: Whip it out to stun unexpected onlookers. Only the top 10,000 American Express clients could qualify for all the associated benefits of the card:

No predetermined spending limit
Airport Club Access – At airlines like Delta, Continental, Virgin Atlantic, and US Airways. And includes one night free at a Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
A VIP Concierge Service at hotels, airports and spas.

The card could literally be used to buy your new Rolls Royce at the swipe of the card. Retailers would swoon at the mere sight of it and they will let you date their daughter just to get you to use in abundance at their shop. Celebrities loves to flaunt it, executives makes damn sure their friends at the country club sees it and the ladies loves to tell their mothers that their man has got one… It actually buys the approval of you mother-in-law.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Drive 495 - Golf Fitness in Manhattan

So I love my golf; nothing beats spending a 4 hours on a beautiful green course, trying to beat my personal best. I only resently broke 90 and am trying to break 85. You know what they say: "There is only one thing better that breaking 85... and that is breaking 75!"

But sitting in Manhattan for a couple of months, I gettin' out of shape... golf shape that is. So I mentioned this to the native NY, account exec at the company and he took me to Drive 495.

Drive 495 is a golf fitness gym in the heart of Soho. The club consists of two floors, the bottom you'll find a fully equiped fitness studio with cardio and weight areas and the top loft consits of a golf studio. Here you can exersize the body and sharpen you shot in front of virtual driving ranges.

Appatently you can play a full similated course to sharpen your skills with each club. Play St Andrews, Valderama or Pebble Beach without leaving Manhattan! Skilled personal trainers help sculpt your body for perfect golf fitness. Members include celebs like Michael Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Donald Trump. For more info, visit their comprehensive site.

I enjoyed the experience (did not join, but was tempted), but I still enjoy the real thing. I cannot wait to return to NV to play my favourite courses! BUT when in Rome... vitually escape it!
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