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Friday, November 12, 2010

New York, New York

New York, New York

In a departure from typical Southern Comfort adventures, this trip began with getting the bike tucked safely out of the weather. The Harley definitely wasn’t my chosen mode of transportation to New York City.....arrival at a reception at the Westin New York at Times Square in leathers and engineer boots wasn’t going to cut it. At least not with the crowd I was meeting. And yeah, there’s that fucking helmet-hair thing too. Soooo.............

The hotel.....

The event.....

I work for Thomson Reuters, and was invited to NYC to attend a kickoff meeting for a new business unit I’m proud to be a part of: Governance, Risk and Compliance. Think of it as a business that will help companies and institutions comply with the new legislation and regulation stemming from the recent economic disaster we’re all too familiar with. I met people from around the world who are joining forces to build this new business, and it’s really amazing to have a professional opportunity of this magnitude. I couldn’t imagine doing something like this while sitting on the porch as a kid on Hampton Road. In fact, I couldn’t imagine it even 10 years ago!!

The first order of business had nothing to do with business, however, and I just had to have a Harley Davidson of New York City t-shirt....or two. My nifty iPhone quickly located the closest shop....the only shop in Manhattan, actually..... so I dialed in the address in the GPS and off I went. Walking. I promised my trainer I'd get some exercise, so I wanted to fulfill the promise.

Countless blocks later, walking further and further south on Lexington Ave, I realized I was not anywhere near an area that might have a Harley shop, so I did the unthinkable and asked someone for directions. It turns out I was literally 2 miles off course. My iPhone GPS had led me astray! Sticking to my commitment to Alison, my trainer, I decided to keep on walking, in the opposite direction, ignoring the GPS. There was a bonus. I found that watching the scenery instead of the GPS was far more fun. The girls in NYC definitely dress well, I'll say that. Short skirts and boots EVERYWHERE! Yeeehah!!!!

And I finally found it!

Now, this was a different kind of Harley shop. There was only one bike in it, just for show, and you were not allowed to rummage through all the t-shirts. You picked one from a rack of samples and they'd get yours from the bin. Making a move toward the t-shirt bins earned you a reprimand from one of the Russian/Eastern European staff. Thick accents saying, "NO! Let me help you!", as you made your move on the shirts....LOL. But WTF, I wanted the shirts...2 of them...and they charged me 39 fucking dollars for each. Regular old t-shirts...nothing special. Damn.

So after all that, I stopped in a restaurant for some grub, and the waitress pegged my accent (I have an accent?) for Texan. She liked it so much, she went and got her friends to come over and hear me talk. I was the source of fun for the servers...what an honor!

And 5.6 miles of walking later, I was back at the hotel, with my commitment to my personal trainer fulfilled.

Note to self: Walking 5.6 miles in a pair of mostly new cowboy boots is a very, very bad idea.

The Sunday night meetings were held at the hotel and plenty of great food and beverages were on tap. I met many colleagues I'd only communicated with by phone before, and also hooked up with other folks in the company that had moved onto other locations, and that I hadn't seen in ages. Lots of fun.

I'll confess that what passes for "business casual" in DC (or to an extreme, southern California), doesn't cut it in NYC. Lots of suits, ties, plus (thankfully) heels and dresses, and my jeans and blazer seemed a little out of place, but what the hell, I just rolled with it, and a couple of my buds were dressed the same.

The Thomson Reuters office.....the right smack in the heart of Times Square and what a collage of colors, sights, and sounds in that area.

And from the 30th floor of the TR office, we look directly across at that huge ball that drops each New Year's Eve as the final 10 seconds count down. You can see the ball, along with the 2010 sign, just over my right shoulder in this picture. The ball stays up all year, and is constantly changing colors and designs. Totally cool, and even the TR Execs at the meeting weren't immune to getting photos taken with "the Ball" in the background.

For Monday's meeting we met all the new Team Members and had a chance to learn our new business charter. A very interesting meeting for reasons I just can't get into here. Probably wouldn't make sense anyway.

And what an interesting mix of people from all over the world. This was a long way from East Coast Sturgis, in every sense of the expression!!!


On Tuesday, the scenery changed and I hopped in a cab and headed for the Financial District...the famed Wall Street area. TR has an office down there as well, near the World Trade Center site, Ground Zero.

We hashed over some business issues down there, and met, via a Telepresence system, with colleagues in Bangalore, India. Totally cool system, and it was almost like being in the same room. Later that evening, we were treated to dinner at Tribeca Grill owned by none other than Robert Di Niro.

The next day was light on work and with time on my hands, I walked to Central Park, and yes, in those damn cowboy boots while lugging a suitcase and laptop. More exercise to appease Alison. Central Park was a pleasant surprise and a special treat. I'd always wanted to visit, and just never seemed to have the time. After enjoying the south end of the park, I had a yummy Kobe Burger at Rue 57 and caught a flight back to DC. Awesome trip. Below are some Central Park area photos....

Cowboy (aka Corporate Ken)

PS So far this year, 2010, I have definitely been living the good life, traveling to loads of fun places, and meeting a kaleidoscope of people. It's been simply great, and the year isn't even over yet. Daytona is just weeks away; I'm leaving Christmas day...... Stay tuned.