With the impending buzz of the G20, and all the VIPs coming to town, I thought I’d share a story with you. It is about my 2 degrees of separation with Barack Obama. Not sure if Barack realises he is 2 degrees separated from me but he possibly has more on his mind than I do!!
This all transpired a few weeks ago and although it happened across the pond, in the U S of A, it rippled over to our lives here in Brisvegas. So here is where the 2 degrees comes in (albeit for less than an hour or so, but for the sake of telling the story, work with me on this).
My younger brother lives in Santa Monica and works in a small space which can best be described as an innovative, creative hub where early stage entrepreneurs and VC funded start-up teams (read IT geeks working hard to develop the Next Big Thing) share space, ideas and the occasional beer.
So you can imagine their collective surprise, when a few weeks ago an invitation arrived, announcing a very special guest. Passports were required to be presented, background checks were undertaken, and then the secret service arrived. The President was coming to see them!
From my brother’s daily report, preparing for a presidential visit is not much different from what we see in the movies. Lots of men in black, crawling all over their office, sweeping for bugs, perhaps planting bugs, checking for explosives and generally doing the secret things secret service men do. It’s a bit like what they are doing at The Brisbane Marriott, and other venues around town at the moment -lots of secret stuff.
Why my brother’s workplace? Obama is interested in the innovation and start-up nature of what a cohort of individuals, known as Millennials* are doing, and was making a speech from an actual entrepreneurial workspace, Cross Campus. Thanks to technology (created by ‘pre Millennials’ a few decades back) we were able to participate in this exciting occasion and a link was emailed through as Obama was going live from my brother’s office. http://www.crosscamp.us/2014/10/video-president-obamas-visit-to-cross-campus/
What struck me, as I watched the link from my breakfast-dish-littered kitchen bench (quite the antithesis of an entrepreneurial hub), was the casual way Obama strolled into their office, in an open-necked shirt, made casual introductions to the guys behind the desks and enquired about their work. He was sincere, kind, oozed charisma and was instantly engaging. I could feel Obama’s power coming through the live feed and was mesmerised by his charm and eloquence. Imagine how the guys felt being in Obama’s presence. I know my brother was enthralled. One participant, perhaps a little over excited, even offered The President a job!
It makes me think about the power converging in Brisbane over the coming week. I wonder if Putin exudes his interesting personal brand of ‘charm’ outside of Russia? Or if Obama is as warm and engaging when dealing with his powerful counterparts? (The image of too many roosters flashes through my mind, not to mention a couple of leaders with too much chest on display!)
Perhaps if Tony popped into our offices for a quick visit, (we are in the Christie Centre if you are reading this blog, Tony), to have a momentary escape from hosting the foreign dignitaries, we equally would be awestruck. Possibly something I won’t have to worry about this week but it makes me wonder about the intoxicating impact of power. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the G20. But alas, I expect the secret service would exterminate me, as no bugs allowed.
*Millennials, for those unfamiliar with the term, is what Gen Y’s are now commonly known as.