I have to say, it’s a bit humbling to be given an umbrella by a pitying and insistent homeless man when one is on a business trip in New York City.
“I can tell you really need this!” the kind man said, gesturing to his own warm set of woolen hats, forcing the already-opened awning into my hand one more time before smiling graciously, but a bit incredulously, at my obvious lack of winter attire planning. I thanked him after initially trying to demure, but I finally couldn’t help but admit he had a point.
My black-slacked legs had become rainspouts, directing turrets of water and sleet into my shoes as I sloshed along the sidewalks and in and out of cold, ice floe-filled ponds. Though my orange overcoat was a thick wool one, it was proving to be water resistant (vs. waterproof) and I could no longer feel my poor feet, which were long since frozen by a deceptive puddle that turned out to be half-calf deep. The only benefit I could think of for my 3 inch heels at this stage were as ice picks.
I had learned an important NYC lesson: always take a cab to an important meeting. Always. Even if it is only blocks away and you are a cheap bastard.
Looking on the positive side, as entrepreneurs often do, I knew at least I couldn’t get any more cold or wet. And, given how sopping my hair was, there was absolutely no way I was going to have static issues. And, most importantly, I was finally, really on my way to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia headquarters for my first day of a two day “Dreamers into Doers” entrepreneurship workshop put on by mavens and maestros who make “good things” happen every day–on TV, in print and online.
Luckily for me (and the Living group’s flooring), less than an hour later, swished past security and into the ladies’ rest room, I was once again warm, having at least had the foresight to bring a spare set of shoes (though my pants were now dragging a bit on the ground), and gladly noshing on the most. beautiful. food. EVER. while pawing through my post-MS-show bag for rogue chocolates. (I tend to be a nervous eater, okay?)
Let me just pause here to give you my first thoughts on seeing the insides of the space that these super beings inhabit, located on the top two stories of the city block-sized Starrett-Lehigh Building (along with fellow building-mates Hugo Boss and Clicqout Inc., natch). It’s not enough to say it was organized and beautiful (as you might expect). The most surprising thing, to me, is how much unrelenting creativity seemed to be poring out of every cube, office and staging area. There was a huge commercial kitchen, a woodworking shop, the nicest looking server room I’ve ever seen, and desk after desk that was (tastefully) decorated with whimsy, flair and–above all–screamed ubercompetence. In short, it was my dream work environment come true. Most of the people were extremely pleasant and warm to our gaggle, though there were certainly a few that felt we were an unwelcome distraction to their very focused work. (TBH, seeing some of the attendees taking pictures of their work spaces and publications-in-process without asking, I can’t really blame those few.)
I was also pleased to meet the motivated, friendly and good-humored women I was attending DiD 2011 with. Prior to the event, I was surely not what one would call an active online community member. I had checked out the site, read a lot, and in general stayed as much in the shadows as possible. I am really quite an introvert by nature and feel really intimidated by large groups of people, even when it’s virtual. It was reassuring to realize that I wasn’t the only person in that boat, as we all introduced ourselves to one another and tried to piece together our patchwork quilt of interests and geographies.
Later that night, there I was, sitting mere feet in front of Martha herself, listening to her converse with Susan Solomon of the NY Stem Cell Foundation. The discussion itself was quite interesting, but I couldn’t quit gawking at Martha, to be honest. I couldn’t even pull out my camera. Here I was, someone who had taken it upon herself to *hug* Ehud Barak, for goodness sakes, and I couldn’t even find the courage to tell another woman how much she had (unknowingly) taught me…how many of her books had finally showed me how to do any multitude of things, how many of her recipes set me beaming with pride when I presented them to others. How I admired her drive and vision, even when (especially when?) she had made all-too-human mistakes.
It didn’t help when the group surged forward in a relatively crazed way for pictures and autographs post-discussion. Martha understandably retreated to the safety and sanity of another room after graciously posing for more pictures than I’m sure she wanted, and I wandered to the next event, where thankfully some drinks (and more beautifully done food bits) were waiting…
Have you ever seen a celebrity that meant a lot to you in person? How did it go?