Thursday, April 24, 2008

glad it went well, malcolm

started this day fairly smoothly. woke up when my clock said 7 without the help of an alarm and was in fact awake when the wake up call came. hopped in the shower, shaved, went through my uncomplicated beauty regimen (it's easier when you're naturally pretty!), ironed my shirt for the first time in years (not this particular shirt, i mean ironing in general), and was down at the registration table an hour before my first meeting. i had some time to peruse the little marketplace and check out some of the titles at the onsite bookstore. most of them were about the unique circumstance of running a business as a woman, but there were also some samples of other female-friendly books. The Secret, for instance, and publicist Sloan Crosley's new paperback. There was also a book from Reader's Digest called I before E except after C that I totally want to buy (or at least somehow get out of one of my publishing friends).

After enduring a long recital of the events sponsors, attendees to the 11th annual Women's Presidents Organization annual conference (which was why i was in boston) were rewarded with two hours of unbridled Malcolm Gladwell action. He gave an insightful oratory about two kinds of innovation--bold flashes of experimental brilliance and labored conceptual genius--framed around the life and work of Picasso compared to Cezanne's. His speech was inspired by David Galenson's book that posits that Picasso's most valuable works came from his twenties while Cezanne bloomed in his sixties. Gladwell shared other examples of the analogy illustrated by Melville (Picasso) vs. Twain (Cezanne), Orson Wells (Picasso) vs. Alfred Hitchcock (Cezanne), and a history of the band Fleetwood Mac who's arguably best album was it's 16th vs. the music industry's current creative crisis due to the emphasis on hit singles. The main takeaway point from the entertaining anecdotes is essentially that business owners should invest in a portfolio of innovation risk rather than rely on one type over the other--not that one kind of innovation is superior to the other.

One of the conference attendees pointed out that our current split democratic party fit Gladwell's descriptions of the two kinds of innovators. Gladwell used his status as a Canadian to evade revelation of his own preference between the candidates. He only disclosed that he thought it was a shame that the two couldn't share the office, which is a desire I've had since the beginning of this quagmire. Gladwell's effectiveness as a speaker derives from the clarity of his thesis point, but also from his casual relationship with the audience. He endeared himself to us and, actually, even compared one glowing question-asker to his own praiseful mother.

There were a lot of mentions of motherhood and nurturing qualities of women this weekend, which isn't that surprising when it's the one definitive difference between men and women. You can argue a lot of other statements, like that women are more caring or that women are better communicators, but no one can say that a man was born to be a mother.

After that amusing and thought-provoking session, I ventured into the South End to take an intermediate yoga class at O2. The studio was cute and there were only four other girls in the room with me besides the female instructor (and I say this because smaller yoga classes are better--you get more attention and you feel more comfortable to move around). Then, I went to this place called The Dish down the street from the studio where I interacted with my first male since the guy who checked me in at the hotel front desk. He was this adorable bartender with an Elmer Fudd speech impediment, and I totally asked him as many questions as I could think of so that he'd keep talking. "I weally wecommend this wed wine." I should have asked him when he got off work! It didn't matter that I decided against taking the flirtation up a notch, in the end, because I majorly needed to crash after just two glasses of wed.

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