It was a sunny day in Century City. I was there at the headquarters of the famous law firm O’Melveny & Myers to interview Warren Christopher for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Warren Christopher is the former Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, and a man who has dedicated his life to service. Warren Christopher knew Johnny Myers for many years. They both were members of the Sunset Club and both had worked for O’Melveny & Myers. Warren told me some great stories about Johnny Myers. Warren felt that Johnny Myers represented the Walter Mitty in every attorney because he lived such an adventurous life, even though he started as an attorney. Warren told me the history of the O’Melveny and Myers law firm. He told me about how Johnny Myers’ father was Supreme Court Justice in California who went partners with O’Melveny to create one of the nation’s most successful and prestigious law firms. Warren Christopher told me the story about how John Myers became the nation’s first entertainment attorney, representing many famous Hollywood actors including George Murphy and Bing Crosby. He talked about how Johnny’s passion for flying led him to become the Chief Test Pilot for Lockheed, then going over to Northrop for the P-61 and the Flying Wing. Johnny Myers was one of the only test pilots who worked for both Lockheed and Northrop at the same time. Warren talked about how he and Johnny Myers enjoyed great friendship and experiences as members of the Sunset Club. He talked about how Johnny Myers had such a contagious laugh. In the later years, Johnny Myers would still come by the office sometimes. One time John Myers did a slideshow of his flying exploits for the O’Melveny & Myers team. Warren talked about how even today new hire attorneys are told about the history of the firm, about the two founders and their values and integrity, and also about the fun and exciting adventures of Johnny Myers. Warren talked about the courage and character of his friend John Myers. Warren talked about how John Myers was a man with strong values, like his father. Warren talked about the sense of humor or John Myers. He told the story about John Myers was flying once with this very heavy set lawyer and they were flying from the East Coast to the West Coast. Evidently the plane was having trouble making it over the Rocky Mountains with such a heavy load, so John Myers dropped off the lawyer and had him take a train or bus to the other side of the Rockies where he picked him up and on they went on their journey. I really enjoyed meeting Warren Christopher and appreciate him taking the time to talk about John Myers.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Patrick Tessier is an interesting man. I drove over to Bellevue to interview Patrick Tessier, CEO of Northwest Laboratories, for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about the “Best Workplaces” in Washington. Patrick told me how he was educated in engineering and had worked in the paper box industry for almost twenty years. Then when his 40th birthday was approaching, he decided to completely change his life and find a new business, a new industry, to focus his next chapter of life on. He chose the Dental reconstruction business. Today his company Northwest Laboratories is one of the fastest growing companies in America. We talked about his secret to success and he said it was his team. He talked about the many things they do to keep the positive culture alive and he said his secret weapon was putting in a kitchen and having real home cooked lunches everyday. He said that one of his team members is a world class cook and that nothing keeps the culture alive like a great lunch. Patrick Tessier has an awesome attitude. I talked with several members of his team and they were so enthusiastic! I think Patrick Tessier is a great leader. We talked about the core values and character of his organization. His eyes teared up with pride.
Howard Chermak is a nice guy. Howard is the founder and CEO of Chermak Construction. They specialize in remodeling. I was there to interview Howard for the Puget Sound Business Journal video we are making about the “Best Workplaces” in Washington award. I was very impressed with Howard and his philosophies of running a successful business. Howard is always thinking about the future. Many years ago he started a Vision Team to help plan the future of the company. He anticipated the slow times of the recession so he worked closely with his team to not have to lay people off. Howard talked about how he started the company with just one employee, himself, and how its grown over the years. He talked about the core values and the importance of working closely with the community. He talked about being a member of the Chamber and the Rotary and other service groups. Howard is a nice man and he has built a nice company with a fine reputation.
I had a great interview with Patrick Yalung of Wells Fargo. I was there to interview Patrick for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s video about the “Best Workplaces” in Washington. Patrick did a super interview. He talked about how Wells Fargo really works hard to build a culture that is supportive of all the employees. He talked about the organization’s complete focus on the customer experience. He also talked about the importance of diversity in the team. We talked about core values, character, and the return to family values in the workplace. I learned a lot in this interview with Patrick. He is a nice guy.
I drove down to the Union Station area of downtown Seattle to the offices of Weber Shandwick. I was there to interview President-NW Casey Sheldon for the video we are creating for the Puget Sound Business Journal about the “Best Workplaces in Washington” award. It only took five seconds to realize why Casey Sheldon is so successful. She is energetic, enthusiastic, charming, and extremely confident. Casey is so passionate about her team and her love for her work. Casey loved to talk about her great team and how her goal is to do whatever she can to help them succeed. She talked about the tremendous pressure of her industry and how her team has risen to the occasion. We discussed the core values and the culture and the character of her team. Casey talked about the first time she ever managed other people. It was back in Ohio when she was young and leading a team of auto workers. She talked about how her team had worked together to overcome adversity. Casey Sheldon is a remarkable leader and a tremendous positive force. I spoke to some members of her team and they were very proud to be a finalist for the Best Workplace Award. They said that they love the flexibility that Casey and the leadership allow for the team members. I am very lucky to be able to interview these Best Workplaces companies and their leaders. You learn so much from each interview. Its rewarding to hear that so many leaders like Casey still have focus on values and integrity and character. Everyone is going back to basics of the way they treat each other.
I really enjoyed my interview with Cameron Green and John Rubino of the PR firm Green/Rubino. I was interviewing them for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about their nomination as one of the “Best Workplaces” in the State of Washington. John and Cameron are a great team. One is a numbers guy (John) and the other is a writer-creative guy (Cam). They seem to have a winning combination. One of the great moments during our interview was when Cameron talked about the importance of writing skills. He said that his advice for a future CEO is to make sure to focus on writing skills. I could tell that John and Cam are great leaders because they kept talking about values and character and integrity.