Monday, August 30, 2010

Public Speaking

A lovely walking path follows the curves of the harbor across the street from San Diego's convention center.  The path offers something for just about everyone: art (an arresting silver sculpture), nature (a small dog park with the prettiest dog-level drinking fountain I've ever seen), a reflecting pool (surrounding yet more art).  But the most interesting feature to me were the square granite plaques spaced every few feet along the path, with quotations engraved on them.

Now, San Diego is not the only city to do this: The public spaces in Manhattan's Battery Park City feature passages by Walt Whitman and Frank O'Hara, celebrating what one web site calls "the exhilarating spirit of New York City."   But those passages are actually about New York City.  The quotations in San Diego's park were not created for or about San Diego; the man who wrote the words never lived there.

From the written word to the art inspired by it, the entire park - its official name is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade - celebrates the spirit and the vision of this great leader.  And the fact that San Diego has placed this tribute in such a prominent location, across the street from its Convention Center, where tens of thousands of tourists encounter it every day, gives even casual visitors a real sense of the culture and priorities of this beautiful city.

I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Q: When is a blockbuster not a blockbuster?
A: When you can't tell anyone about it.

I walked into a meeting recently and the client greeted me with, "We've just been singing your praises!" (Well, don't stop on my account.)  It seems a series of profiles I'd written was generating spectacular page-views on their intranet.  One in particular had done "blockbuster" numbers - 12 times their average readership.

It's the kind of result you want to stand on the rooftops and crow about - or at least put in a marketing email to current and prospective clients. Writing that gets results is rare.  Not to mention valuable.

But I can't.  Sensitive subject, confidential, etc., etc.  This client doesn't have a problem with my telling people I wrote the pieces...I just can't say what they're about. 

Same sort of thing happened a long time ago with a speech of mine printed in Vital Speeches of the Day.  It was my first Vital speech, and that's quite a milestone for a speechwriter.  The client was pretty happy about it, too.  Naturally, I asked if I could use it in my marketing and you could have knocked me over with a feather when she said no.  Said she didn't want anyone to know that she hadn't written the speech herself. And yes, of course, that's her choice to make.  But I went on to write even more awesome speeches for the woman, and it kills me that I can't show them to anyone else.

Occupational hazard, I guess.