June 2

Three Highlights from BOOST 2023 (and one HUGE mistake)

Blog, Cooking Classes, Featured


Chef Eric’s note: This was originally written on April 28th, the Friday after the BOOST conference. The craziness of May kicked in and one of my favorite things I do each week, writing this newsletter to you, got sidetracked. In May I went to my brother’s awesome wedding in Temecula, was accepted into the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Los Angeles (even though I live in AZ, it just worked out that way), traveled to Los Angeles three times for interviews, a chapter retreat, and forum training… and even spent some time in Guadalajara, Mexico.  The team focused on staffing for a big SUMMER that starts in a few weeks and onboarding new people in recruiting, account management, and sales.   We’re currently at sixty-two total members (including the Chef Teachers). 

Btw, if you want to start planning your fall healthy culinary workshops, I’m taking a few more meetings by clicking this link.

My point is, that my excuses are done, and we are going back to WEEKLY newsletters on everything LIFT Enrichment, after-school, healthy cooking, teaching kids, and random travel updates.  

Anyway…let’s continue.

Palm Springs, CA – April 28, 2023

I’m sitting in the tiny Palm Springs airport where the heat is just starting to set in.  I’ve got a cappuccino in one hand, and I can see giant mountains dominating the skyline.  I’m exhausted, having spent a lot of time in the conference hall for BOOST, dining with clients, and networking with my fellow after-school education vendors.

It’s my fourth time at the annual BOOST conference, an after-school education and enrichment conference with thousands of attendees.  Last year, I met a ton of new clients and after spending a year talking to them on Zoom, I was excited to see many of them in person.  

As I board my flight, I look around and see weary-eyed travelers.  Some were attendees soaking up all the fun BOOST activities, and others were vacationers.  

Looking back, it started on Tuesday as I pulled into the airport and met with Chef Jackie (my go-to conference companion, and one of our best Chef Teachers).  She is smiley, intelligent, and delightful to be around.  She’s also an amazing closer for setting up meetings at our booth.

The conference, for our team, is a mere forty-eight hours of work.  But it took six months to prep!  For us it includes a welcome reception on Tuesday evening, a full day at the conference hall Wednesday followed by a thirty-person client dinner at a local steakhouse, and a half day in the exhibit hall on Thursday.  But it was worth it.  (We already closed a $100k new school district, within three weeks of the conference ending!)

Here were some highlights (and one big mistake)

Highlight 1: The Big Client Dinner

Last year, we had a client appreciation dinner with ten attendees and this year we had nearly thirty!  Next year it’ll probably be about fifty people.  We’ll see.

The day before, Jackie and I went to the steakhouse (that shall remain nameless) to make sure they knew we wanted one long table, so everyone could chat and get to know each other.  It was a unique opportunity for district supervisors to talk to other high-level staff.

I was not excited to have a “pre-fix” menu but understood that it probably had to be that way because of the large reservation size.

Jackie and I arrived one hour before our 6:00 p.m. event began to make sure that the table setup was correct.  They assured us it would be all fine.  We sipped on some cocktails, as a few guests came in from After-School All-Stars, LA, Pomona USD, and Aspire Public Schools.

At 5:55 p.m., I went outside to see our setup to discover that …there were a dozen tables all spread out and set for four people each!  I immediately inquired how they could have made this mistake after I had asked so many times about our setup requests.  But it was too late so I just put on a smile and started chatting with our guests.  

It was fun to see these people in person after a full year of chatting on Zoom. Some were a lot taller than I imagined.  All were very motivated to help their students as best they could, and to successfully navigate the tricky waters of ASES and ELOP funding.  

Fortunately, my new strategy was to have the appetizer course with one table of eight the entree with another group, and then dessert with the final group.  Drinks were flowing, and I learned a lot, including assurance that the after-school world in CA will be well funded for Title 1 schools for the next few years.  

I arrived at the end of the dinner with the Aspire Public Schools in the Bay Area, a fun and more boisterous group, that enjoyed their cheesecake and, before the meal ended, ordered one last round of Lemon Drop martinis.

Overall, it was a very fun dinner.  Not everything goes your way, but everyone had a great time, and we got an awesome group picture.  This group represents a crew that, in the last year, LIFT Enrichment was able to teach 8,000 students how to cook healthy foods at hundreds of campuses!

The One Big Mistake

The biggest mess up, which was 100% my fault, was that I did NOT book a booth for LIFT Enrichment.  I remember back in the fall seeing a few emails come by my desk, and a voicemail or two.  I can be very, very organized in some ways (we use Google Sheets in the most efficient way you’ve ever seen to run a multi-million dollar business)…and yet forgetful about the little things.

And suddenly, all the booth spots were filled up.

And I was without a spot at the BIGGEST conference we attend all year.

Fortunately, I have friends.

My buddy Nick from Professor Egghead Science Academy let me join his booth.  

Highlight 2: Spending The Conference with Egghead Was Awesome

Imagine four adults packed into one tiny booth.  This booth was under the name “Professor Egghead”, and yet was half devoted to STEM and the other half to healthy cooking.  

And yet, we made it work.

When an attendee walked by, they might talk to one of us and then we’d guide them straight to the next person.  

Ali, the head of sales at Egghead, and her colleague were a delightful pair to hang out with.  

Later, we all met on Zoom and helped introduce each other to our district clients.   It was a great way to get a warm introduction for everyone involved.

Highlight 3:  The Feeling of Knowing The Crowd

At the welcome reception, I experienced a first. While walking through the main lobby, as everyone was getting drinks, people would come up to me to say, “Hi Eric!”  

At most conferences, my team and I are the ones walking around and getting to know the attendees, but here, since we’ve been a regular at this conference, I had moments like this one:

A few of the Aspire Public Bay school directors in the Oakland area came over to say hi and bring me into their group.  Then another Aspire director in the Los Angeles area started chatting with me.  Between the two of them, a ton of Aspire schools up and down the coast were represented.  Then I was introduced to a bunch of Aspire directors who had schools in Sacramento, Modesto, and Stockton.

I looked the director in the eye and confidently said, “We’re running amazing programs at the sites of all of your colleagues, how about we get some going this fall at your schools?”

That’s the power of having a good network.

And great clients.

BOOST was a huge success this year, and I know next year it’ll be even better.

And I learned my lesson.

Don’t put me in charge of the logistics.

Our booth is already paid for and ready to go (thanks Slava).

And here are our 3 most recent newsletters

See you there,

Chef Eric Horwitz,

CEO, LIFT Enrichment

Are you ready to plan your fall after-school classes at a Title 1 school? We’re meeting with clients this month to plan for in-person or virtual-live healthy culinary workshops. Let’s plan a quick Zoom call at the link here.

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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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