OLIVER AND THE FINAL BEAM

“Oliver, the NSA tells me that you’re not writing at your usual Starbucks. Is everything okay?” asked President Elect Obama.

            “I’m fine. I’ve just been writing a lot about LA Live so I’ve been working out of the Starbucks over there. I like to totally immerse myself in my subject matter.”

            “Yeah, I thought that might be the case. The piece about the architecture critic was brilliant. Your understanding of the juxtaposition of the current micro and macro economic situation is unique. Oliver, you are still going to be the head of our new Blogging Communications Agency?”

            “I said I would come back and help out. I don’t think I have the time to head a government agency. To be honest I think I might bring back “Downtown Oliver Brown Presents” to LA Live, it’s an incredible opportunity. It’s one big party down here.”

            “Wait until you see the parties we’re going to be throwing at The White House. Don’t let my public image fool you…I know how to have a good time.”

            “Well I haven’t signed a deal yet. I promise I’ll come back for the inauguration and hear you out.”

            “Good…What do you think of this whole Auto Industry mess?”

            “Don’t appoint an Auto Czar. But definitely talk to Lee Iacocca, he’s the only guy who’s done anything like this before.”

“You’re right I should give Lee a call. What about the money? Is it the right thing to do?”

“In principle—no. But now that money has been given to the financial institutions, it’s a little late to start worrying about principle. Now it’s just a matter of what’s going to cost the taxpayers less. Which, seems to be giving them the money.”

“Do you think they can be viable?”

“Absolutely, if they’re willing to learn how to communicate in the 21st century. Any company without a blog and social network monetization strategy is pretty much doomed to failure in the new economy. Not to say that communication is the end all, but if you have a great product you’re not selling it using 20th century marketing concepts. Let’s be frank, what I’m talking about embracing is what got you elected.”

“Why do you think they stumbled over this? You and I get it.”

“Fat, rich, lazy, and worst of all, arrogant. And I’m not just talking about CEO’s, I’m talking about a lot of people. Too many mediocre people have been promoted over the last twenty years to positions of power and now we’re all paying the price. You know how many people have been promoted based on seniority rather than merit? Just give the companies that are failing a close look and start counting. We need to get back to the Sam Walton School of management. Leading a business has to be about building a company first and foremost. And it has to be done with a sense of responsibility to the community—that isn’t mandated by the government, but by civic conscience…Are you there Mr. President Elect?”

“Sorry Oliver, you just get me thinking about so many things.”

“Oops, I’m late. I have to get over to the Ritz Carlton topping off ceremony.”

“I hear that’s quite a project. I have to hand it to you folks in downtown LA, good economy or bad economy you just keep on going. I’ll look forward to reading the blog…”

I stood on the event deck and listened to several union officials and construction executives thank the thousand workers seated in the audience for their exemplary safety record—one incident during the entire project. Although this had no direct effect on my wellbeing I felt a sense of pride that our workers here in LA had achieved such an accomplishment. We’ve all heard about the terrible accidents that have happened at City Center in Las Vegas. And again, I had no plan to join the barbeque that was being given for the construction workers yet it struck me as an exceptional gesture by ownership.

Laura Diaz, who hosted the event, went over big with the construction workers. I like the fact that she actually lives Downtown. Tim, Jan, the mayor, and Jimmy Smits all spoke to the crowd, and while all four are very used to public speaking there was something special in the slightly warm breeze that was blowing, which gave all of their words something a little extra.

“Five, four, three, two, one,” Jimmy counted down. The music began to play and the last beam needed to complete the Marriott / Ritz Carlton Hotel and Residence was hoisted by crane into the air for all to see. The American flag hung from this last beam and it flapped proudly in the wind as it ascended to where it truly belongs—above all of us as a reminder of what a great country this is and the levels of greatness that we can achieve when we all work together.

I stood for a moment, looking at the flag, surrounded by the men and women who built the incredible structure with their hands, the men and women who conceived the incredible structure with their minds, and even a couple of the people who were willing to write the checks. I stood there and then left without saying a word. The accomplishment in front of me was too big even for Downtown Oliver Brown to turn into a story

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