I'd like to welcome you to The Guide, a new blog designed to give modern entrepreneurs the tools they need to stay at the top of their games. My name is Amy Tara Koch, and I'm also the host of Inc. TV's newest series, The Inc. Life.

What's the easiest way to land an upgrade? Which tech gadgets are essential for your next business trip? How can you amp up your workspace? In both The Guide and The Inc. Life, a seasoned trend reporter (moi!) will discuss and dissect the tools that impart that quantifiable edge in all aspects of your entrepreneurial life -- in the boardroom, at the cocktail party, at the bank, and on the road.

And now'¦ a little about your host. As a trend reporter for NBC, style expert for USA Today, and contributor to Town and Country, American Way, Chicago Tribune, and Travel & Leisure, I would describe myself as a journalista (one part journalist, one part stylista) of the highest order. My beats? Fitness, fashion, interiors (I am a flea market fiend!), food (just back from olive oil tasting in Brescia, Italy!), and uncovering the latest and greatest anti-aging treatments on the mean streets of Beverly Hills. Random House/Ballantine will be publishing my first style book in 2010.

So what can you expect from the first episode of The Inc. Life? The art of the power cocktail. Conveying creativity and business acumen are, obviously, critical components to closing a deal. And, sometimes, your prospective partner needs a hearty nudge in the right direction. One trick? Get your target out of the confines of the boardroom and into a relaxed setting: your home. The intimate cocktail soiree has evolved into a power player in the deal closing playbook.

In our first show, I meet up with entrepreneur Wendy Pashman of the 18-year-old Entertaining Company in Chicago to stage two strategic yet easy-to-emulate cocktail parties designed to wow colleagues and close the proverbial deal. Pashman and I agree that what you serve is as important as how you serve. So, projecting one's image through food, decor, and overall ambiance must be treated as a strategy. Layering the table with quirky items like a rough hewn bowl fashioned from a coconut, chunky quartz tea candle holders, and vintage Turkish bowls to house dips and sauces is key to thought provoking ambiance. The result is an artful gathering that emanates strength, power, and outside-the-box thinking.

One tidbit from this week's episode -- I am obsessed with Jayson Home and Garden, a brick and mortar and online resource for eclectic decor. The company offers a high/low smorgasbord of tabletop items from a glam $10 shell-as-serving dish to pricey platters from John Derian. But the selection is impeccably edited and perfect for a groovy party at home. Check it out!

So sit back, enjoy, and drop me a comment below. Next week, I'll check in with Fred Devito, founder of CoreFusion, for a look at how to stay fit on the road.