BMW Ultimate Driving Experience Santa Anita Park Ca

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The BMW Ultimate Driving Experience never fails to thrill and impress me. Santa Anita Park in California, with a backdrop of beautiful mountains and horse track, was a fantastic mini proving grounds. I certainly felt like an ultimate driver when I left there with a huge smile on my face.

BMW’s UDE didn’t make the rounds in 2016 because of the Olympic focus that BMW had being the official car of the games. So, seeing it again in 2017 after a year hiatus made the driving all that much better.

I went solo because of schedule conflicts, but others there had the same issues and arrived solo too. This worked out well because I was able to make friends quickly and get some pictures taken.

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience driver w Stephen Harvey

The staff, all the way from check-in to the instructors, were the utmost of professionals and always made you feel comfortable and welcome. They gave me the impression that their purpose was to ensure I had a great driving experience behind the wheel of a BMW. Just listen to the expert instructions from my UDE driving coach in the video… he was super patient and very helpful!


Posted by Stephen Harvey on Thursday, May 18, 2017

And, they showed me gracious hospitality with on-site food truck dining and a gourmet coffee stand manned with a barista making coffees to order. They even had a photo booth.

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience Stephen Harvey

A personal highlight for me was placing 6th fastest in my group of 21 drivers. I am far from a race car driver so actually going faster than the majority of the group made my BMW experience even better.

All in all, BMW once again crushed it with innovative marketing and getting people into cars. The best way to sell a car is to get someone to drive it. Being able to take an expensive performance vehicle around an autocross track in anger, that will seal a deal. If you want to have a whole lot of fun and potentially purchase a new BMW, then look for the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience when it comes to your neighborhood.

Here’s some more eye candy for ya…

So much fun playing with #BMW today. Thanks @bmwusa for an #ultimatedrivingexperience

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Why I’m Ditching LYFT and Going Back to Uber!

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DO NOT USE Lyft. Uber is better.I’m ditching LYFT. I used to be a fan of the service and used it regularly. I even wrote a post about using LYFT over other services like Uber. Now that has all changed and I will never use LYFT again if I can help it.

Here’s Why I’m Ditching Lyft…

In October 2015, I went to Austin, Texas for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. It rained for three straight days and central Texas recorded some of the most rain they’d ever seen. We’re talking feet of rain dumped in a matter of 72 hours, all driven by the most powerful hurricane ever recorded, Patricia. Things were soggy to say the least but that didn’t deter me from a day at Circuit of the Americas.

When the rainy race day was over, I called a LYFT to get me and my wife home from COTA. Uber even had a special arrangement with COTA and a designated pick up and drop off area, but we still chose LYFT. Being a bit rain drenched from hurricane style weather all day, I knew the hot shower in my hotel room was going to feel great. That’s when the first signs of a not so pleasant experience should have been recognized by me.

The first issue with the LYFT ride back to the hotel was that the driver wasn’t familiar with Circuit of the Americas and I had to guide him to my location while talking to him on the phone. I was patient and understood the difficulties of finding my wife and me given the circumstances of rain, dusk, and post race mayhem after the USGP. Plus, I didn’t want the LYFT driver to waste his time and gas driving to COTA and that’s what would have happened if I cancelled the ride. So, I persevered and guided him to my location.

Well he finally found us in a gravel and dirt parking lot near the entrance to COTA. He was approximately 30 minutes after the estimated arrival time. Regardless, we were thankful that he made it and that he was going to give us a ride back to the hotel.

My wife and I hopped into the LYFT and immediately the driver threw a green towel at us followed by “Don’t get it dirty back there. Use the towel for your shoes.” We did our best working with the towel in the dark and kept our shoes on the towel. Granted we both had to step into the car from the dirt parking lot before the towel was tossed over the seat and the instructions barked.

The actual ride back to the hotel was pleasant and we even gifted our last brand new camp chair to the driver as a thank you. And, the driver was given a good tip for the time and distance from the track to our hotel. The driver put the gifted camp chair in the trunk of his car, then inspected the back seat of his car. I asked if it looked OK and even offered to clean up any mess if the driver felt it warranted additional cleaning. The LYFT driver said all was good and we wished him a good, safe evening.

I felt everything was good with the ride until the email from LYFT saying there will be a $35 cleaning fee added to the LYFT ride. The driver even provided pics of the backseat. I felt like this was an experience ripped from an Uber headline, but no. Take a look…

LYFT nightmare in Austin. Why I'm switching back to Uber.LYFT nightmare in Austin. Why I'm switching back to Uber.To me it appears the majority of dirt is on the floor mats which are designed to collect and hold dirt. From the driver’s pictures, it looks like the mats worked as designed.

I replied to the charges and offered to pay a reasonable sum, $5 – $10, the cost of taking the mats to a spray-n-wash car wash and rinsing them off. That offer was rejected by LYFT and I was forced to pay the $35 fee. It makes me wonder how many other rides our LYFT driver gave that weekend with all the rain and upcharged people with a “cleaning fee”.

Seemingly unwilling to negotiate and unwilling to work with the customer (which is what I thought Uber was famous for doing), LYFT has turned someone who was once a big advocate FOR the LYFT ride service, into someone who WILL NOT knowingly promote LYFT in any manner… a person who will write posts like this and use social media to let as many people as possible know why LYFT is NOT a good ride service… a person that will go back to using Uber because I haven’t had a disaster story with them.

So please, when you need to get your happy behind somewhere for whatever reason, please DO NOT USE LYFT. Use Uber, or Metro, or a cab, but for whatever reason DO NOT USE LYFT. Thanks.

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Tooting My Own WordPress Developer Horn with the New SMCLA Website

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I want to share a personal success story. Or, at least, I really feel that it is a personal success. First, I’ll give a bit of supporting details so this story will sound even more impressive.

The SMCLA Website Story

Stephen smiley faceDigital media and social media happen to be BIG parts of my life. I run a digital consulting company (Harvester Solutions) and I help SMB size companies figure out how to utilize the Internet to make business life better. To stay on top of all things in my industry, I am a member of Social Media Club LA. This is a group of digital marketing, social media, Internet folks here in Los Angeles that have monthly events ranging from panel discussions with industry experts to super-fun networking happy hours. The “Club” has lots of regular events and is a talented group of helpful professionals.

SMCLA, like most organizations that want to promote themselves on the Internet, has a website. The site when I joined the “Club” was extremely dated and in dire need of a facelift. After all, it is called “social media” club and the image needs to reflect latest trends. The updating conversation around the website ebbed and flowed for about two year until I was re-elected to the Social Media Club LA Board of Directors in 2015 as a Communications Associate Director. Having WordPress love and experience, I was instantly tasked with the SMCLA website update, revamp, facelift, reconstruction.

That job seemed a bit daunting because I love and preach the greatness of WordPress, but I am by no means a code wrangling, Mello-Yello drinking, WordPress developer. I consider myself a full-blown evangelist, but not a coder. However, I knew the benefits of a fresh, updated website since I work with digital concepts everyday and took on the SMCLA website revamp with only slight apprehension coupled with a huge desire to make the site BETTER.

Along with a new look and feel, added functionality was requested by the Board. Being able to post and search for social media and digital marketing jobs was something that the Board felt would be a great value-add to SMCLA members and to others in the marketing community. So, I made it happen.

Turning to the fabulous WordPress community (Gregg Franklin and Adam Silver in particular), I found a WordPress plugin that would enable the ability to upload, search, and manage job listings on the SMCLA website. I’ll give a quick shoutout to the plugin because it is such a great fit for my needs: WP Job Manager. After some valuable information from Gregg and Adam I was able to install the plugin, get it configured for the Club’s website, get it tested, and finally live on the new SMCLA website by the Board imposed deadline. Yay! – because that meant good times and praise from the Board for me.

The site has been live for three weeks at the time of this post and things are going well. Please take a look at the new SMCLA website and dig into the “Jobs” tab. This is where you have the ability to upload a job opportunity and/or search for a social media position. Feel free to explore other areas of the website to learn more about what Social Media Club LA does in the Los Angeles area. And, leave comments about the new site below in the comments or send SMCLA an email.

If you feel that I can help you get a WordPress website updated and functioning the way you need it to, then please feel free to contact me. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the Internet and helping others understand how to leverage them too.

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Sprinklr is AMAZING! And, Not Just Because of Their Fantastic Services

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I had the most amazing experience with Sprinklr! Now, their software and management solutions that are cohesively kept together with Social@Scale are AMAZING in themselves. However, I am talking about another dimension of Sprinklr and that is their internal hiring process.

The process is thorough, in depth, and a hellova experience from the interviewee’s side of the desk. I underwent that process and came out a much better job candidate than when I entered into it.

Mock Sprinklr presentation

A mock sales engineer presentation for my Sprinklr job interview.

A mock Sprinklr presentation job interview.

Here is what I felt compelled to create for the mock client pitch meeting that was my interview with the elite of the Sprinkr organization.

I have a huge affinity for motorsports and have spoken with BHA in the past. So, it was only natural for me to use BHA and Barracuda as the basis for my mock sales engineer presentation. I was given the time frame of 3.5 days to research Sprinklr’s service offerings, put together the PowerPoint presentation that aligned client needs to the services that Sprinklr offers that help meet those needs, and then present the mock sales engineer presentation to the team. I met the deadline with no issues.

Full disclosure, I did not land this particular job that I was interviewing for. However, I was told exactly why I was not fully considered for the position at Sprinklr along with an invitation to follow up with the interviewing manager in the next few months. That does not happen often, if ever, when out looking for gainful employment.

Overall, it was disappointing to not get what I feel would have been a dream job for me, but the experience and knowledge that I acquired going through the Sprinklr hiring process is invaluable information that I will definitely use in my future endeavors.

Side note: Sprinklr does do amazing things with enterprise level social media management. Please take a look at them if you are researching tools, services, great companies, etc to help with Fortune 100, enterprise level social media management and digital strategy help.

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Stephen Harvey on KVUE News talking Formula 1 shuttles

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Formula 1 shuttles interview

Formula 1 shuttles Austin Texas Stephen Harvey

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 US Formula 1 GP in Austin Texas. I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed the F1 experience that Austin gave to fans. This year was no different. There were problems with tickets and FanVision and trackside announcing of the F1 race, but the staff and vendors at the track were phenomenal. The people of Austin greeted F1 race fans with open arms and showed us all great hospitality. The Formula 1 shuttles were great despite the $5 per day per person rate increase from last year.

Going to the track on Saturday morning I was interviewed by local TV station KVUE. Take a look. I’m featured at 25 seconds in and then at min 1:21. If you don’t see a video, then refresh the page and it will probably appear.

Here is the full article on the KVUE site.

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