I drove downtown Seattle to interview Brad Jackson of Two Degrees for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about the “Best Workplaces in Washington.” Two Degrees was a finalist for the award this year. Two Degrees is located in the Exchange Building where once there was the Pacific Northwest Stock Exchange. The Exchange Building is a 22 story concrete building in an Art Deco style. According to Wikipedia it was once the second tallest concrete building in the United States. It reminds me of the tall buildings they used in the old Dragnet series or black and white Noir films showing the Courthouses of LA. I went up the elevator to the Two Degrees offices and was immediately surprised by the hustle and bustle. I met with Brad Jackson. He is someone you will never forget. He and I sat down in a small office and I started recording the interview. We talked about his background and the history of the company. Brad once worked with Price Waterhouse and has a strong background in accounting. He said that he found that his strengths pulled him more into relationships and consulting. Brad talked about the special culture they have at Two Degrees. He said everything was about the Culture and nurturing the culture. He said that everyone is focused on the clients and how they can help their clients get better. Brad is almost hypnotic in his focused passion and pride about his team. He impressed me as someone who looks at life and situations from 30,000 feet, looking down and trying to figure out ways to make everything better. Brad talked about how his company had become one of the fastest growing companies in America. He talked about how he set incredible personal and team goals and how they achieved them every time. Brad talked at length about how important his team and the positive creative workplace environment was to the success of the organization. Brad talked about the Core Values of his team. He talked about their vision for the future. He talked about some of the unique and creative ways they have nurtured their culture. He told about lavish annual company retreats and a special inhouse film festival where employees went out and made their own films for their internal film festival, all in the name of creative team building. I feel very lucky to have been exposed to Brad and his team. They have sparked many new ideas and inspiration on how I can be a better leader for my team. Thanks Brad.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
It was a very warm day. I was visiting the Committee for Children headquarters in downtown Seattle to interview their CEO, Joan Cole Duffell, for the Puget Sound Business Journal video. Committee for Children was a finalist for the annual “Best Workplaces of Washington” award in the Non-Profit Category. I was immediately impressed with Joan. She was so passionate about the mission and the core values of their organization. Committee for Children has some incredible numbers. They have been around since the 1970s. There are over 25,000 schools in over 25 countries that are using their curriculum. They create curriculum that helps kids deal with issues like sexual abuse, poverty, learning disabilities, and bullying. Joan talked about how her team works hard to be nice to each other. She said that they use the techniques in their curriculum as a baseline example to help nurture a positive best workplace. That day they were having a pot luck lunch where each person was to bring a meal indicative of their heritage. Italians brought Italian food, French people brought French food, Hispanics, Asians, and Irish brought food from their culture, too. I was moved by my interview with Joan. I think I am very lucky to be introduced to such great organizations like the Committee for Children. I think everyone should learn more about their vision and mission. To learn more go to www.cfchildren.org
I knew I would like Charlie Liekweg immediately when I saw the giant photos of Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant on the wall of his office. I had recently returned from a trip to Gettysburg so the Civil War stories were still fresh in my memory. We were there to interview Charlie Liekweg for the Puget Sound Business Journal “Best Workplaces” Award. His company, AAA of Washington had reached the finalist stage. Several of the AAA employees came up to me to tell me how much they loved working at AAA. They were amazing. I met Charlie in his office at the Bellevue headquarters. Charlie told me that he really doesn’t use his office that much because he is usually out in the field visiting all of his offices. We sat down and talked about his philosophy of management, the company culture, the core values of his team, and the specific things his organization does to get such a happy workplace recognition. I was very impressed with Charlie and his understanding of his employees. He talked a lot about the character and integrity of his team. He talked about they proved themselves so many times, like during the heavy snows last Christmas and during the heatwave this summer. He said his team always surprises him with positive surprises. Charlie talked about how his team started a competition to be more healthy and how proud he was that they have accomplished so much in a short time. He said that his company has actually earned reduction in health costs because the team became more healthy. I was deeply moved by meeting Charlie Liekweg. He is a great leader and the AAA Washington team is definitely one of the most positive, enthusiastic, sincere teams I have ever seen.
I drove over to Kirkland to interview the famous baseball player Edgar Martinez and his business partner Brian Haner. I was interviewing them for the Puget Sound Business Journal because Edgar and Brian’s businesses were recognized for the annual “Best Workplace in Washington” award. They don’t give out Academy Awards to business owners, but the “Best Workplace” award is about as great an honor that any business leader could strive for. We met with Brian and Edgar in their new office. They are such winners. Edgar Martinez had proven himself with his incredible Major League Baseball career that earned him a place in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame and a reputation as a kind humanitarian. Brian Haner was immediately evident to be one of the most positive and inspiring leaders I have ever met. During our interview Edgar and Brian talked about their belief in Values, Character, and living these concepts every day. They actually take their core values very seriously. Branded Solutions and Image Source are one large team dedicated to helping others. Brian and Edgar and their team have taken a lot of time and effort to analyze and defining the Culture they want in their business. Edgar Martinez has built a reputation of caring about people and always taking the time to talk and listen with people one on one. Brian has built a reputation as a great leader and a big, positive thinker. Brian and Edgar make a great team because they are totally focused on those Core Values and keeping their Corporate Culture alive everyday. Thanks Brian and Edgar for the interview. I learned a lot.
I drove up the windy road up to the top of the hill looking over Beverly Hills and to all of LA, to the home of John Gavin. I was there to interview John Gavin for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” John Gavin was a successful actor in Hollywood during the 50s and 60s, in movies like “Psycho” for Alfred Hitchcock. He also was a successful businessman and then became the Ambassador to Mexico under Ronald Reagan. John was also a good friend of Johnny Myers for over 25 years. John likes to be called “Jack” Gavin. We sat together as I recorded on video his memories of his friendship with Johnny Myers. I could tell that Jack Gavin stilled misses Johnny Myers. Jack talked about how he met John Myers at the Sunset Club. Jack talked about the good times he had with Johnny Myers. He talked about their times at the Los Angeles Country Club and at the Bohemian Grove outings. Jack Gavin talked about John Myers the man. He told me that Johnny Myers was a wise man, a humble man, a man whom he admired very much. Jack talked about flying with Johnny Myers. He told a story about how Johnny Myers could do rolls with the aircraft without anyone ever spilling their drinks. He talked about the character of John Myers. Jack talked about Lucia Myers and how she was the first woman on the Bank of America Board of Directors. Jack talked about Johnny Myers’ sense of humor and how he used to call himself “skinhead” because of his balding hairline. Jack Gavin said it must have been contagious, pointing to his own hairline with a smile. Jack was very nice in our interview and he did a great job in describing many excellent stories about John Myers. He talked about the great aviation stories that Johnny Myers would tell, only if asked. He said that Myers wasn’t the type of person who talked about the past unless you dragged it out of him. Jack Gavin talked about how kind Johnny Myers was to everyone and how he had great courage. Not the kind of courage one brags about. The humble kind of courage. I could tell that Jack Gavin had many fond memories of his experiences with John Myers. Thanks, Jack Gavin, for taking the time to talk about your friend, Johnny Myers.
It was a beautiful day in Santa Monica. I was there to interview David Price for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” David Price is a very nice guy. I could tell that immediately. He came from very humble beginnings to become a very successful businessman, aviator, and spiritual inspiration to many people. David Price is the CEO of American Airports, the largest developer and operator of airports in the country. He was the founder of American Golf Corp which managed over 300 golf courses. He also is the founder of a Christian school and the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. During our interview, David was awesome. He showed me some airplane models all over his office. These were models of all the different planes he has flown. David’s eyes lit up when talking about each plane. As we toured his office, David showed me his diploma certificate when he graduated from UCLA law school, pictures of his time as an attorney for O’Melveny & Myers, and he was very proud of a bell from the USS Arizona from Pearl Harbor. As we sat down for the interview David reminisced about his friend John Myers. I couldn’t get the camera started fast enough. David was moved by him memories. We talked a bit about his own life. David really is a self-made man. He came from humble beginnings. He is the son of Welsh immigrants but did go to college studying economics at USC and then went to law school at UCLA. He was a US Navy pilot during the early 1950s. He missed the Korean War, but clocked in lots of flying time as flight instructor. He talked about his childhood in the Santa Monica area where Lockheed was building airplanes for the war. He remembered seeing all the pilots in their flight suits. This was where he probably got the bug for aviation. He remembered all the cool interesting airplanes he saw in his youth. David talked about his first solo flight in an airplane. That is a moment that most pilots will never forget. David talked about his love for airplanes, especially those planes from WWII. He owns a few now and tries to fly as much as possible. He talked about his flying in the Reno Air Races and about the tremendous friends he has met through aviation, including his friend General Bill Anders. I asked David to talk about those days at O’Melveny & Myers, his first law firm experience. He talked about the incredible fundamental values he learned from those days. He said they were very professional, efficient, and extremely dedicated to honest day work ethic. Over the years David enjoyed working with many of the Hollywood celebrities who were clients of O’Melveny & Meyers. He told stories about working with movie stars like Marlon Brando and Bing Crosby. He talked about working with actor William Holden and negotiating the pay for his role in “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” David told about his blessings to have met and learned from some wonderful mentors over the years. He talked about a turning point in his life when he met Joseph Drown, a local businessman and real estate investor. He quit the law firm and went to work with Drown, which led him to leadership positions in several businesses like Getty Financial Corp, Beachcomber restaurants and the Bel Air Hotel. Then David went into the Golf business and the rest is history. During our interview, it was very interesting to me how David Price could recite Shakespeare and quotes from the Bible. We talked about John Myers and his being such a great friend to so many. We talked about how John Myers had so many friends that did not know each other. I mentioned this might be the best legacy a man could have, to have touched so many in so many different ways. David told me how he got to know John initially through John’s wife Lucia. Lucia was a remarkable woman in her own right. She was on the Board of Directors of Bank America for a long time. David talked about times with John Myers at the Sunset Club and at Bohemian Grove and at the LA Country Club. He talked about flying with John in his helicopter in Merced and about thier common love for aviation. I was very touched by my interview with David Price. He is a nice guy. He is a true lover of aviation. David Price a self-made man who reads the Bible, can recite Shakespeare, and loves to race WWII airplanes for fun.
It was a warm day in Brentwood. I was driving to meet Peter Mullin, CEO of MullinTBG, to interview him for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Peter is a great guy. He is a car lover. My dad was a car lover and I think I am a car lover, too. I saw a show on the SPEED channel last year that showed Peter Mullin and his car collection. Peter has one of the world’s greatest collections of French classic automobiles. From Bugatis to Delahayes, Peter has one. He is also a great race driver himself. Trophies and ribbons and placques are everywhere. Peter is a successful businessman, but I could tell the race car trophies mean a lot. Peter did an excellent job in the interview. We discussed his friendship with Johnny Myers. Peter talked about John’s integrity and his love for automobiles. He said that John used to come over and look under the hood of these incredible cars. Peter talked about the incredible character in the man John Myers. He said that he was a rare man indeed. I really enjoyed my time with Peter Mullin. He seemed like a good man. It is interesting to me how so many of the successful business people I am meeting all have a similar focus on the importance of values and character and integrity. I told Peter about how much my Dad loved Model A Fords and had restored many. Peter said, “they were a great car.” As I looked around at the incredible high end French classic cars, I thought how Model As would compete against such beauty and grace. Peter talked about how the French auto makers used aviation design to enhance the aerodynamics of these French automobiles so many years ago. As you look at the smooth lines of these cars you can see a lot of aviation in those cars. Maybe John Myers could see that too.
You can see a nice inteview with Peter from the SPEED channel by clicking here:
It was a little bit smokey over in Pasadena this afternoon. There was a 120,000 acre fire up in the foothills. But it was pretty nice down in Pasadena. I was there to interview H. Russell Smith, former CEO of Avery Dennison and good friend of Johnny Myers for over 75 years. Russ had agreed to be interviewed for my new documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Russ was originally from Ohio and his family settled into the Whittier area in the 1920s. Russ had some great stories about his youth and his family history. His family were Quaker farmers who raised Russ with tremendous values and integrity. Russ went to high school with Richard Nixon. Russ always had interest in economics and political science so he won a scholarship to Pomona College where he was the captain of the track team. After college Russ went to work for Kidder Peabody investment banking in New York City. This was in the middle of the Great Depression. He spent a year working in Switzerland during the late 1930s. Upon returning to the US, he worked for a year with Blue Diamond until the war started. He served in the US Navy during WWII. After the war he took a leadership role in Avery Adhesives (later Avery Dennison) where he rose to CEO. He first met John Myers through John’s lovely wife Lucia. Over the years John Myers and Russ Smith became close friends. They were in a lot of clubs together including the California Club and the very exclusive Sunset Club. Russ told me some great stories about his friendship with John Myers, including some of his fun flying adventures together. Russ talked about Lucia Myers and her terrific personality and wisdom. Russ did a fantastic interview and I really appreciate having the opportunity to meet him. Russ talked about how John Myers was a handshake type of man. I could see that Russ Smith was that type of man, too. Russ and I talked about family history and biography. He showed me two books he had written, one about his life and one about the letters he wrote to his mother throughout his life. Russ signed his autobiography book and gave it to me. I am grateful for his generosity. As I started reading his book I learned how many charities and important causes that Russ has helped over the years and the list is long. Pomona College. Childrens Hospital. Philharmonic. Psoriasis Research. The list goes on. Russ is an inspiring man in many ways.