My Performance at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie HallIt happened almost by accident.

Recently, I was in NYC for a one-day business trip.  Since I had just finished my meetings for the day, and had almost an hour before the taxi would pick me up, I decided to see at least one Big Apple landmark that I had not already seen on previous trips.  On my way to the Russian Tea Room, I passed Carnegie Hall … and that gave me an idea.

You see, my daughter has been taking singing lessons – and she’s doing really well.  In fact, she’s one of a very few people who can sing up to and actually hold a ‘C’ note, four octaves above middle C.  That’s a stratosphere I’ll never visit personally, but I admire her talent.  (Let me assure you, it came from Angela’s side of the family, not mine.)

So, as I was walking in front of Carnegie Hall toward the Russian Tea Room, I wondered what it would feel like to perform in what many consider to be the most prestigious, legendary landmark of the music world.  Hmmm … assuming there were no performances that night, why not see if I could talk my way into the auditorium – if nothing else, just to see the Hall from a performer’s viewpoint?

I decided to try it.

After a few minutes of friendly negotiating with a security guard, I found myself being escorted down the aisle to the stage.  Something about ‘Hey, I’m from North Carolina just visiting big ‘ole NYC’ and my Southern accent may have had something to do with it.  While I was admiring the beautiful ornamentation and stately decor, which reminded me of the interior of the Paris Opera House, the guard commented, ‘Since you’re here, why don’t you sing?’

What a good idea!

After belting out a rather uneven rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, the guard said, ‘Now you can say that you performed at Carnegie Hall’.

And so I can.

Who knows now long it will be before I receive a letter from Carnegie Hall asking for an ‘encore’ performance, but I certainly enjoyed the opportunity for the first one.  And, I have no idea how long my daughter will pursue singing.  Kids at 10 years old change their minds often.  What I do know is this; there is something about seizing your opportunities and doing your best that will always bring great rewards and personal satisfaction – regardless of one’s singing ability.

Venue:           Carnegie Hall
Performer:      Mel Johnson
Music:            Happy Birthday, a cappella
Audience:       One security guard
Feeling:          Priceless

What opportunity can you seize today?

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Comfort of a Fine Old Hotel

Macdonald Randolph Hotel

If you travel much, you know how nice it is to relax and enjoy the ‘comforts of home’. This hotel was at the end of a long business trip through Europe – multiple meetings in several countries. connected by air and train, all crammed into a few hectic days.

Yes, I was ready for a rest day.

So, I called ahead to a friend to get a recommendation on a hotel outside London. Couldn’t have been happier with his suggestion. There is something about a well-appointed hotel where the staff actually enjoys providing old-fashioned ‘hospitality’ that is, well … comforting. By the simple act of entering the lobby and being greeted by the concierge, I knew I was in good hands.

By the way, if you notice that your concierge is a member of Les Clefs d’Or, you are in for a real treat. Every time I meet a member of that organization, I make it a point to get their card. Their knowledge and contacts are invaluable – especially when you’re new in town.

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Nothing in this world

PErsistence Stairs

…can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race – Calvin Coolidge

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Everything is Bigger in Texas

‘Lone Star’ in the Capitol dome
‘Lone Star’ in the Capitol dome

A few months ago, my wife and I had the unusual privilege of traveling together (just the two of us!) to Austin – the capital city of the great state of Texas.  Of course, it was work related -seems like everything is these days!  However, we did have some time for a little sightseeing.  Since we both like architecture, we decided to stroll over to see the Capitol – and hear the latest gossip about Texas politics, which is surely as interesting as the politics in our home state … particularly considering some of their previous Governors.

Although the 2nd largest state in size, Texas has one of the largest Capitol buildings: it is also 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol.  Texas recently renovated and restored their Capitol to its former glory.  Everything is so clean and well kept – you can almost feel the pride of every Texan as you walk up to the place.

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Trying Out Pete’s Ride

Mel on Motor Cycle“A day without (blank) is a day without sunshine” – you fill in the blank.

For my friend, Pete, happiness includes riding a motorcycle. We had just finished our monthly meeting of a group of hard-charging business owners, when Pete sauntered over to his bike to ‘saddle up’ for the ride home.

It had been awhile since I was on a bike (too long!) so I said, ‘Can I give it a whirl?’ That’s me in the picture returning the bike to Pete … a bit reluctantly.

So it started me thinking … motorcycle riders cut across all lines of society. I know several regular riders, like Pete, a successful real estate attorney, who are button-downed business types you wouldn’t normally think of riding. I know some others who probably never wore a suit in their life. Some are tough in a bar fight, and some are tough in the business world – like my buddies in this group. But, regardless of their backgrounds or current occupations, they all share one thing in common – a love of freedom. Freedom to enjoy life without worry – for at least the time they have the wind in their hair and a new horizon in front of them.

Of course, not all my friends ride. But in this stressed-out world, with all of the economic, political, and business challenges we face every day, it pays to find some way to have fun.

I did. Will you?

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