Wednesday, June 24, 2009

BlackBerry Manners

There's an interesting article in today's Globe & Mail about BlackBerry etiquette. You can check the article out here:

I laughed out loud when I read that nearly twenty percent of American workers have been reprimanded for inappropriate BlackBerry conduct. Why the laughter? I'm one of them!

I got my first BlackBerry in September 2003 when my firm started rolling them out. It was love at first use! I just couldn't stop checking the thing. This became an issue during one meeting that was particularly excruciatingly boring. I kept checking my BlackBerry every few minutes to the obvious annoyance of the senior partner that I was working for who was seated to my left.

After my fourth or fifth BlackBerry check, the senior partner reached for his. He struggled a bit with the tiny keyboard but finally typed a message. He aggressively hit "send" and slammed his BlackBerry down. Less than a second later, my BlackBerry buzzed. I picked it up and noticed that my new e-mail was from the senior partner. It read: "STOP checking your e-mail."

I looked over at the senior partner. He glared at me, his arms crossed in disapproval. I gently placed my BlackBerry on the conference room table, etiquette lesson learned. Lest you think me a girly-man, here's a photo of the senior partner in question:

You'd have put your BlackBerry down too, trust me!

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Touch With My Wild Side

Recently, I've taken to watching videos on Youtube when I need a break. I just came across the video for the song "Wild Side" from Motley Crue's 1987 album Girls, Girls, Girls. Here's the link to the video:

I was never that much a fan of The Crue when I was younger but I have to say that this video is AWESOME! "Wild Side" isn't just a song, it's a freakin' ANTHEM! I simply can't resist the urge to turn the volume up, WAY UP, when I watch this video. My favorite part? Tommy Lee's rotating drums! When the pyrotechnics flanking his rotating drum kit blow, I'm so amped up I emit an involuntary primal yell! AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!

What's the takeaway here? Probably something like: "You can take the boy out of small town British Columbia but you can never take the small town British Columbia out of the boy!"

Inspired By Mine That Bird

Given the reference to Mine That Bird in the title of this post, you're no doubt expecting me to talk about his Canadian connection--the fact that Mine That Bird was one of the top horses in Canada when he raced at Woodbine before winning the Kentucky Derby as he is about to do in the following photo:

Although Mine That Bird's Canadian connection is a good story, it's been done to death. Instead, I'm going to recount a story about geldings, of which Mine That Bird is one.

In July 2003, I represented Verizon Wireless in connection with the sale of its 39.4% interest in Grupo Iusacell, a publicly-traded Mexican cellular telephone company. Sullivan & Cromwell acted for Vodafone which also held a significant percentage of Grupo Iusacell stock. During a lull in the kick off meeting with the acquirer and its counsel, the topic turned to horse racing.

"Oh yeah, he's a great horse--especially for a gelding," one of the business principles from the acquirer said about some horse I'd never heard of.

The immaculately coiffed, young male associate from Sullivan & Cromwell sitting across the table furrowed his brow. "What's a gelding?" he asked.

The business principle from the acquirer laughed. "Well. Hmmm, how should I put this," he said. "A gelding is a male horse who--uh, uh--whose had his testicles removed...."

"NO!" shouted the associate from Sullivan & Cromwell while involuntarily clenching his thighs and buttocks. "Why would anyone do THAT?"

The business principle grinned and explained: "Fixing male horses like that has lots of advantages. They're less aggressive and they're easier to control. They pretty much just do what they're told to do with no fuss."

The partner from Sullivan & Cromwell perked up and raised his eyebrows theatrically. "You know what?" he asked rhetorically, "maybe we should think about doing THAT to our male associates!"

Everyone in the room erupted with raucous laughter. Everyone, that is, but the associate from Sullivan & Cromwell....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kurt Warner's Wise Words

I've now pretty much wrapped up the Toronto portion of my marketing initiative. I had some good meetings but, so far, no engagements. I think I might have overestimated the need that Canadian private equity firms and pension plans have for U.S. transactional counsel. In any event, it's time to take my show to the bright lights of New York! I've identified ninety-five middle market private equity firms that I believe could use my services. I've started contacting the dozen or so that have listed Canada as a geographic market of interest. I fully intend to keep riding this Canada horse until it drops dead, rolls over and rigor mortis sets in!

It's probably still too early to get discouraged but I have to admit that I'm incredibly frustrated. I'm trying to take a little inspiration from Kurt Warner. I've always liked Kurt Warner and not just because he played for the Giants in 2004, as seen below:

I really admire how Kurt never lets adversity get to him. He takes everything in stride and just goes about getting the job done. He went from Super Bowl MVP with St. Louis to backing up Eli Manning in New York and Matt Leinert in Arizona before re-emerging as Arizona's starter and taking them to the Super Bowl.

In one pre-Super Bowl interview I saw, the interviewer asked Kurt if he ever lost confidence in himself or his abilities during the downswing in his career. I'm paraphrasing here, but his answer was something like: "No, I never questioned my own abilities. I knew what I could do. I'd done it before. What I did lose confidence in was the game--the league--the way things work. I wasn't sure I'd ever get another chance to do what I knew I could still do and do much better than other people."

Kurt Warner's wise words really resonated with me then and resonate even more loudly with me now.