Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Meet the new boss...

...not the same as the old boss. "I believe in the bottomline not the headlines." -Bob Iger

This morning I attended a "Conversation with Bog Iger," the newly named CEO of the Walt Disney Company. It was held in the main theater at the studio. It was me, Bob and several hundred Disney castmembers. Bob told us that he is using these meetings to reach out and talk to us and give us a feel for him and the future.

Let me say that I have seen Bob speak in person 5 or 6 times and I have thought from the first time 4 years ago or so that he should be Michael Eisner's heir apparent. He is smart, subtle, witty, intelligent and humble. He is quick on his feet with a huge breadth of knowledge about any subject regarding TWDC that he is asked of. Needless to say I am very happy that he has been named Disney's next CEO. I was very excited to attend the meeting this morning and wound up sitting in the third row on the aisle. Shortly before 9:00am Bob sat down across the aisle from me looking a tad out of place and maybe a bit nervous or unsure of where to be. People around me noticed him and there was a little buzz about his presence. I thought to myself that he has always been approachable and since he was bantering a bit with others near him, I leaned across the aisle as he started to get up and said "excuse me sir, but I think that seat is taken." He smiled and laughed and walked up to me and told me and two of my co-workers that he was a little out of sorts as he had forgotten his speech. I extended my hand and congratulated him. He was warm and gracious and said "thank you" with a big smile.

As corny as it may sound I felt very honored to shake hands and talk to Bob for that brief moment. I don't get starstruck very often having grown up in Los Angeles and seen celebrities all my life. As a young boy I saw Danny Thomas in the elevator at the dentist office. At a summer program, I met Groucho Marx shortly before his death. With my grandmother on Hollywood Blvd. I almost stepped on Cornel Wilde's star before Cornel Wilde himself said "don't step on my star." As I remember he was rather dashing on that day as he was in so many of his movies. There have been two encounters that stand out for me where I was awestruck. The first was a couple of years ago when I had the chance to shake hands twice with former President Bill Clinton at a Rolling Stones Concert at the Staples Center. The President had introduced the Stones and I ran into him in the men's room and told him he did a great job. I saw him again after the show and shook hands with him again. A president of the United States. Wow, now that was big time. The other big celebrity encounter of note was when I met Pete Rose at his son's graduation from my wife's school. Debby had Pete's daughter in her class the year his son Tyler graduated. Debby was 5 months pregnant with Kylie at the time. After the graduation Debby introduced me to Pete. My first words to him were "you deserve to be in the hall of fame." I just blurted it out and I felt sort of stupid as soon as I did. Pete was friendly and gave me a firm handshake. He pointed at Debby's bulging tummy and said "good job." Charlie Hustle telling me I did good. Can it get much better than that?

Back to Bob Iger. After shaking his hand my co-workers told me that I did good and that I was on my way to the top. I sat back and enjoyed the moment. I had just met Bob Iger, the new head of Disney. It was as good as meeting President Clinton and Pete Rose.

Congratulations Bob.