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XIKAR Mobile Messaging

April 21, 2016
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April 2014 Newsletter


April 23, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
I love to eat – I always have.  Over time, it’s become more of a “living
to” than a “living for”.  Cigars are also like that for me – I live for the
moments to smoke them.  This month, we discuss cigars and eating,
which share more in common than just our palate (which truth to tell,
is enough!)
Last week’s trip to New York City provided my passion
extraordinary satisfaction.  The Comfort Diner extended day-after
comfort, while Mario Batali’s Esca found a way out of NY – to heaven
(try the Branzino), and The John Dory Oyster Bar gave me the need
for Comfort – along with the best oysters and lobster po' boy
imaginable. You can find my list of favorite haunts for both food and cigars right here: Kurt's NYC Food & Cigars. Add one of your own!
New York City has among the world’s best cigar shops – with something for every taste, in both cigars and atmosphere.  And rather than pick favorites, I invite you to visit them all.  The cigar world in New York occupies a small space, with just enough stores for the intrepid smoking traveler to visit (most of the others are gone, victims of New York’s draconian tobacco taxes and anti-smoking laws).  Among them you will find sophistication, relaxation and lounges large and small.
For all my passionate eating, my weight hasn’t changed. Some might call it “discerning,” or less kindly, “picky”. Really, I just eat what I like, and beyond that I don’t have much interest.  However, I practice intrepid eating, meaning I’m willing to try anything once. The same is true for cigars – this is key to really, really understanding cigars.  And if you also read about them, study them, perhaps write about them, you will soon find your own expertise.  Howard, who I first met in the Dominican Republic, recently said hello at the TX Cigar Fest.  He carries a cigar dossier with him – of descriptions of almost every cigar he has ever smoked.  Now that’s personal expertise!
At events, consumers often ask what cigar I might recommend.  I always reply, “what do you drink: beer, wine or whiskey?” I find the palate for drinks matches cigars (beer – mild, wine – medium, whisky – strong).  I also find the palate is indifferent to gender: once I suggested a strong cigar to a woman who was sipping a bourbon – she loved it. 
Whichever palate you have, I invite you to intrepid, travel-smoking discovery.  If not to NY, then travel around your city, visit a variety of shops.  “Travel” through the humidor, practice intrepid smoking.  Above all, enjoy!


Kurt Van Keppel

August 2013 Newsletter


August 2013

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Kurt's Corner
Importance of Cigar Education


     When we started XIKAR, we based our essence on innovation and extraordinary customer experience. To achieve this kind of experience for all consumers, we have strived to achieve lifelong relationships based on trust and loyalty.  The trust comes from our Lifetime Guarantee.  And we hope the loyalty comes through our constant efforts in education and interaction with consumers -- on the phone, in person, and on-line.
Superb education opportunities exist in the cigar industry - we observe magazines and blogs bringing great focus and clarity to the "what of cigar".  However, we believe the "how" of cigars needs attention as well.  Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of retailers about XIKAR, and I focused my presentation on the how-to's of cutting, lighting, humidifying and transporting cigars.
Many in the audience had great questions and comments such as, "Thanks for the presentation! I think I've been lighting a cigar wrong my whole life!" This shows that whether you are a seasoned aficionado, or new to the hobby, you may learn something through the information we have to offer.
As always, you can find instructional videos on our YouTube channel, as well as information on our website, Facebook and Twitter. XIKAR is committed to helping you have the best possible cigar experience; please feel free to email us anytime with questions at info@xikar.com.

For now, here are a few quick tips (click each for an instructional video):
How to light: Be sure not to burn the wrapper with your lighter, this will ruin the burn of your cigar.
How to cut: Do not cut past your cigar's shoulder, this will cause the cigar to unravel.
How to store: Use our PG Solution and not distilled water in your humidifier. The PG solution will prevent mold from forming and also keep your RH level at a steady 70%.

Thanks and happy smoking!
Kurt Van Keppel

April 2013 Newsletter


April 30, 2013


Kurt's Corner


     Tim, one of my partners, compares marketing to a diamond – many facets that must each have polish, almost to perfection, to create the ulitmate value of the whole.  A single flawed element (in marketing that could be pricing, product or promotion, for example) can wipe out the value of other elements done very well. I view “Management” similarly. 
     Certainly few business activities have more value than the finding of the right people.  At XIKAR, we use interviews, resumes and a “work culture” survey to indicate work style and inherent traits, making sure they fit both the company culture and the job activity – “getting the right people in the right seats” to paraphrase Disney and others. Getting this right, getting high performers who emulate, even live the culture, prevents most problems and facilitates the other facets of management.
     Once at XIKAR, our associates deserve to understand our goals, and should be able to guide themselves by them. We accomplish this by setting overall objectives and then by including them in defining the specifics.  We then leave strive to provide the right amount of autonomy,  with the authority,  to achieve that responsibility.
     Associates also deserve recognition and reward.  We often hear that recognition is the more important of the two.  In my experience, both are required, but of the two, recognition is the harder to give. That’s not because we don’t give it or don’t want to, but because it includes and means much more than congratulating them on a job well done.  It also means recognizing their value to the organization and the value of their input by including them in the ideation and strategy process.  As a result, many of our ideas,  such as our best selling lighter, the Element, come from inside the team.
     And perhaps in our most important facet of management, we strive every day to treat our associates as we expect to be treated.  At XIKAR, we try to create a meritocracy of ideas.  At the trade show this year in July, we will introduce a new era of humidification technology that results from brainstorming, deep study and the outcome of many people synthesizing each others ideas.
     Finally, I view safety as the glue that binds the facets.  As long as we each are focused on innovation and extraordinary customer experience, then team members don’t risk when they take a chance on ideas.
     Hopefully, our diamond of Management creates XIKAR for Life among our team. And when you call, we hope you hear that in our voices and see that in our actions – and make XIKAR for Life your mantra too!

Kurt Van Keppel

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