I went to sleep last night just as Jay Leno embarked on his monologue and woke up half way through Regis and Kelly, some 11 hours later. This morning I visited Itchy Ankle’s newest breakfast hotspot, the Heavenly Grill (yes, owned by the same people who successfully run Heavenly Ice cream, and every bit as holy). I sampled a breakfast burrito and caught up with Fox News on the plasma tv–the evangelicals are ecumenical in their approach to breakfast fare, but rigidly rightwing in their daytime viewing choices. Then I hit the garden center and didn’t stop until I had a meadow in the trunk.
Back home, my email is full of compliments about the National Association of Corporate Directors conference which one colleague described as “just one step short of glamorous”–a tagline I plan to adopt. As Boeing Lead Director Ken Duberstein remarked, it was hard to see the directors seated at the back of the JW Marriott ballroom because of the curvature of the earth. Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the NYSE wondered if they were in the same zip code. At 751 directors (only one of whom was a boor), we played to an appreciative capacity crowd.
With more than 40 sessions Saturday-Tuesday and around 140 speakers, it’s hard to pick out star performers but the Digital Directorship session was full to overflowing, Carolyn Chin was a hoot on Board Information: How IT can help, and hundreds of directors got up for 6:45am to have breakfast with the sponsors of each power breakfast. Directors came from Australia, Colombia, Kuwait and Korea–oh,and Alaska and North Dakota–to enjoy the spectacle.
On the main stage, the conference opened with an instant artwork –a giant picture of the Capitol hand-painted (literally) by Brian Olsen of Art In Action and closed with an address from SEC chairman Mary Schapiro who urged directors to be specific about their skills and training on their proxy disclosures—with luck prompting lots of sign ups for our 2011 programs.
In between, lots of calls to action, practical advice and booming laughter. Non Profit Director of the Year Josh Bekenstein used his speech to solicit donations for his upcoming cancer fundraiser at www.pmc.org; Dick Keyser, a very quiet man, spoke out loud about the importance of character, values and integrity in generating shareholder value, and Curt Crawford called for boards to think not about what’s doable but what’s possible, urging them to stretch beyond traditional board performance.
At the Director of the Year dinner, the desserts were shaped like the Capitol. Inside, not hot air but delicious chocolate mousse.
I might go and plant my new purchases now–or perhaps I’ll just go back to bed.
Check out Peter Krogh’s photography here and Brian Olsen’s talent below.