Speeches and events
For whatever reason we have gone to a few events this spring. They were all fundraisers for non-profits always with a twist of honoring someone. I admit I don’t love going to these events but after having been to a few in a short period of time it gives me the ability to think more about what I do and don’t like. I don’t like that non-profits haven’t gotten better at being sustainable. With the web, there is a lot of opportunity out there to bring a new type of revenue stream into the organization. So they continue to have the same old event without any innovation. The table thing is never fun unless you personally invited everyone to sit at your table. When you buy just two tickets you end up with random people. Sometimes great and sometimes not so great. The food is usually subpar and that is ridiculous in NYC. It is super hard to cook for that many people but a few can and unless you have proven yourself, you should not be able to cater. We went to Ciprianis for an event and the food was inedible.
The most important thing are the speeches. A good speech makes you think. A bad speech is the worst. At PEN, an event that I have now gone to twice had the most incredible speakers. Of course most of them are all masters of the English language in their daily life. The other event we went to was honoring Dan Doctoroff. Dan has quietly, I say quietly because he really isn’t known for what he has done for NYC on every street corner and it is impressive. He gave a great speech.
Dan talked about how he came to NYC and was overwhelmed with how big it was. It was unmanageable. I remember that feeling when we first came to NYC to find a place to live. The first day we took a bus up Madison Avenue from 23th to 79th. Looking out the windows as we made our way uptown was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time. The architecture and vibe changed as we made our way up town which includes the size and scale of the buildings. My mouth hung open. I was going to live here.
Dan continued to talk about how NYC inspired him. This city was all about innovation. It is a city that is constantly moving forward with constant change and growth. It lives in the future so we can continue to be leaders in the world. That innovation is the essence of NYC. Then he concluded with how NYC is a city that we hope the world can be. We live in a city with every different walk of life represented and in general we pretty much get along.
When we were in Israel a few years ago I had this interesting engagement with a cab driver. He wanted to know where I was from. When I told him NYC he informed me that he knew where the Bronx was from the movies. I told him I lived south of that. NYC was a big place. He then asked if I had kids. He did too. He wanted to know if I let my kids speak to or hang with other kids who were not Jewish. I told him that my kids went to a school with a huge melting pot of people. I then explained to him how in NYC we live among each other and our kids to go school together with people who are Black, Latino, Christian, Gay, Muslim etc. and nobody cared. He laughed. When we departed I said to him this area of the world could learn a lesson from NYC. He completely agreed.
I still don’t love the events but Dan’s speech really made me think back to our early days in this town. The journey we have taken. Both Dan and his wife Alisa have made a huge impact on NYC and it was inspiring to hear his own personal thoughts about his journey.
“That innovation is the essence of NYC. Then he concluded with how NYC is a city that we hope the world can be. We live in a city with every different walk of life represented and in general we pretty much get along.” Sounds like a really thoughtful guy.
So they continue to have the same old event without any innovation.Well no surprise there and a pet peeve of mine. Mediocrity. The world is filled with lameness and copycatism. People (of all ages) typically parrot what others do. They don’t ever question things or want to come up with a better way. Especially when there is no feedback or rating system to change behavior.  The table thing is never fun unless you personally invited everyone to sit at your table. When you buy just two tickets you end up with random people. Sometimes great and sometimes not so great. Sure for one thing you don’t know anything about them so unless they are entertaining you and you are doing the listening you don’t know what you can and what you can’t say that might offend them. Hence friends are the safe bet. Makes total sense.The food is usually subpar and that is ridiculous in NYC. It is super hard to cook for that many people but a few can and unless you have proven yourself, you should not be able to cater.Once again, no feedback mechanism and “the sale has already been made”.In any case this seems like something that venuebook.com should get involved in raising the standards on.. Schools care only about testing. So I can’t tell you the number of school events I’ve been to where there is an orchestra and you can’t see anything but the children in the front. Because I guess it’s to difficult to have some kind of stacked seating where you can see all the kids, particularly your own in the rear.
I then explained to him how in NYC we live among each other and our kids to go school together with people who are Black, Latino, Christian, Gay, Muslim etc. and nobody cared. He laughed.I think it’s not unusual at all for people to want to be around those who think the same way that they do. Not saying meet and talk to others (I always find that interesting and will talk to anyone and everyone) but what you would call “friendship and hang out together”.I might talk to the “church lady” just to see what makes her tick. I can hold a conversation with the union lineman working outside for the electric company. I talk to the UPS driver and always find it interesting to hear his perspective on working for UPS. I spoke to an older woman that was in Starbucks last year who is Jewish and was raised in Israel and lived in NYC.Of all the above people I mentioned, the only one that I would want to be “friends” with is the last, the “Jewish woman raised in Israel who lived in NYC”. She talked fast and seemed on the ball and processed info quickly. And she had an edge to her. She spoke her mind. She also dressed very nice (I told her that she belonged in NYC not where she lives now and that made her day). My point is I felt that I could talk and relate to her but wouldn’t feel the same about the others that I have mentioned (and many more). I don’t think there is anything wrong with this at all. Most people want to be friends with people that have similar thoughts and interests not people that they need to walk on eggshells with. (At least that is the way I see the world!)
I have seen some companies trying to make these things better. Gesture.com is one. Agree, events are really boring. Would like to see a lot more innovation around them. Speech was spot on about NYC.