Our 2011 Road Warrior Contest winners logged a combined 618,186 air miles in 2010. That’s a lot of miles — and proof that they deserved a little R&R at the Hotel Breakwater in sultry South Beach.So, here’s the deal: If you ever find yourself on a random trip in Miami with a group of strangers, we highly suggest that you manage to secure at least one professional mixologist and one professional ice cream maker. After that, add a free spirit who moonlights as a jury consultant and is game for anything, including but not limited to perching on high ledges, gambling the day away in a casino and wearing shoes two sizes too small because they complete the outfit. Now, find two wise guys to add a dose of humor and to deliver those memorable zingers that will be quoted time and time again after the trip (“A squirrel fell straight through the sunroof. It could’ve killed me!”) and who will be the glue that binds the group forever after. Finally, in the words of a mixologist, shake well and pour. What do you have? One of the most memorable Road Warrior trips in the history of American Way. Which is appropriate, considering we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of our annual RW contest this year. Of course, as we’ve said before, what happens at Road Warrior stays at Road Warrior. (We do have reputations to uphold, after all.)
Neal Gottlieb, Grand-Prize Winner
American Way: We hear you took some creative measures to secure your spot as the grand-prize winner of our little contest. Care to explain?
NG: Just like entrepreneurship and dating, the Road Warrior contest is about strategy. I began drafting out my master plan in September, as soon as I was notified that I was a finalist.
First, I posted a plea on the American Airlines forum of FlyerTalk the morning that the voting went live [Nov. 1, 2011]. I had written it two weeks prior, and I secured most of the votes to be had from it by the time Claire and Bruce posted there a week later. Then I created 2,000 postcards featuring me in a crown asking folks to name me the next “Road Warrior King” and handed them out at my shops, at events, on flights and even in a bathroom.
Social media was also huge. I posted repeatedly on my company’s Twitter [feed], @ThreeTwins, and I emailed about 700 of my 800 or so Facebook friends individually, which apparently had a healthy yield. But the real coup was a Facebook contest I created in which those who posted that they had voted for me or the other RW finalists would be entered in a drawing to win 100 pints (of ice cream). Rumor has it that this tempted Bruce [Cacho-Negrete] into voting for me.
AW: What is your best memory from your Miami RW experience?
NG: My curly hair is a big part of my identity, but frizz didn’t work with the Mad Men theme of the shoot, so I was given a bouffant, which I wasn’t exactly thrilled about at first. David Radabaugh, AW’s design director, told me that he wouldn’t make me do anything he wouldn’t do himself, and he lived up to his words when he showed up at our final dinner with a carefully styled, gravity-defying bouffant of his own. I laughed. I cried.
AW: What is one tip you’d give your fellow frequent travelers?
NG: The trip will be enjoyable if you want it to be.
AW: How did you get into the ice-cream-making business?
NG: I started slowly, with a one-scoop shop and no employees in 2005, with the desire to build a brand with green characteristics that would appeal to the masses in a way that most niche green businesses do not. Six years later, Three Twins Ice Cream is available in more than 1,000 locations in 35 states and growing at 100 percent per year. I also recently kicked off a new land-conservation initiative called Ice Cream for Acres, through which the purchase of each pint funds the preservation of at least six square feet of land. And I’m introducing the first organic fair trade ice cream to the U.S. market, as well as launching a line of organic cake mix and cake frosting.
AW: If you hadn’t started Three Twins Ice Cream, what job would you have?
NG: I make a terrible employee, so I likely would have skipped ice cream and moved straight to the egg company that I plan on starting some day. It’s called My Friend Neal, and it’s a game-changer. But that’s all I can say. I wonder if I would have won the contest if I were the “egg guy” instead of the “ice cream man”?
AW: Definitely not! We picked you strictly because we wanted free ice cream. (Just kidding.) Your ice cream truck, Carl, will hit the road soon and travel around the U.S. to share Three Twins. Any hints on what cities he's visiting so our readers can be on the lookout?
NG: I recently learned that Whole Foods Market is taking Three Twins Ice Cream national, so Carl will meander all over the country hosting ice cream socials. The route isn’t set yet, but you’ll be able to find out where he is and where he’s going on ThreeTwinsIceCream.com, Facebook.com/threetwinsicecream or in the Twittersphere via @ThreeTwins.