Coordinating Careers with Confucius

Posted by on Jan 22, 2011

My favorite movie of all time is Working Girl. I remember how charmed my mom was by Harrison Ford (especially the scene where he changes shirts in his office) and personally, I love the sage bits of wisdom that fall, in full Jersey accent, out of Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack’s mouths. This more than 20-year old movie has always been my guide and vision for the cutthroat world of business. I often toast, like Griffith does under her breath at a social function, “here’s to the little people” trying to get to the top.

I don’t go to the top that often at the Pfister. I’ve spent much of my time enjoying the crowds in the lobby. I read the register, I know of the many events and gatherings and galas happening on the floors above me, but I’ve found it more entertaining to wait downstairs and guess who’s attending which conference, which wedding, which retirement party.

 This week, however, I braved the world of the special event, Pfister style.

 I think I may never be the same.

This story will surely have to be told in parts, but which part to start with? The incredible attention to detail? The delectable food? A commentary on the crowd and how they behaved? Questions of economic recessions and making do and multi-tasking? Or, the very noticeable fact that men outnumbered women 2 to 1 (and that’s a generous statistic)?

But I haven’t even told you the theme yet, so all that is merely terrible foreshadowing…

I understand that Milwaukee’s Business Journal is the publication to see and be seen (in) if you’re in business in Milwaukee. I learned that quickly. What I didn’t realize, however, was that all the events, networking sessions and awards celebrations the Business Journal hosts are also fully planned and executed by their staff. As someone in journalism, I’m fascinated by the fact that a local publication has not only reporters, writers, editors and photographers, but also a platoon of event coordinators. (Of course, though they perform with the zest, energy and capabilities of a platoon, I was also shocked to learn this division in the magazine is merely three talented, super- human people).

The Asian-inspired event spared no detail. From the amazing dragon fruit that adorned the buffet tables to the signature “Dragon’s Breath” drinks distributed at the many bars within the space, the room embraced the spirit and mystery of Asian cultures.

The event was designed to honor businesses that had made the Journal’s Book of Lists. The Book of Lists provides information on leading buyers, businesses and employers in our area (and other markets as well) and a snapshot of local economies. It’s a Who’s Who of sorts for the I-want-a-corner-office set.

The buzz was amazing, the honorees and invitees were thrilled at the décor, the flavors, the scenes and the energy of the room. I watched networking in action and had to laugh when important conversations about Monday morning business breakfasts and new clients were punctuated by a roaming Confucius telling terribly bad puns shrouded as wisdom. (e.g. “Confucius say man who follows bus gets exhausted”)

Of course there’s more to tell, more to describe, but for now, I rest assured in telling you that Melanie Griffith was right, as was evidenced by the interactions at the Pfister this week, “fringe times are crucial.”

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