Saying Good-bye to 24 Years of My Life

One For The History Books

From the pen of Peggy Noonan, long-time Republican apologist, comes this in The Wall Street Journal… repeat: The Wall Street Journal (6/6/20):

“This will not end well. The president should give an address from the Oval Office announcing he is leaving: ‘America, you don’t deserve me.’ Truer words were never spoken.”      

 

 

 

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Saying Good-bye to 24 Years of My Life

 

The New York Times had a story today (6/8/20) about Michael Tilson Thomas on his retirement as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. A line that hit me: His career will be defined by his quarter-century in San Francisco. My career has been defined by my work with PowerSpeaking, Inc., especially the quarter-century we spent at our office on Twin Dolphin in Redwood City. This blog is devoted to that office and what it meant to me. 

I turned 81 in March. As my eyes grow dim and my memory fades, my thoughts turn back to my wondrous career in the communication business. Late at night with a glass of Jack Daniels at my side, I scroll through old videos, articles and audio tapes. My own growth and that of those around me has been beyond imagination. We built our team of stunningly good trainers. Our staff has been remarkable. Along the way, we helped literally tens of thousands of people find their voices and launch spectacular careers.

In the words of  Vladimir Nabokov,

                  The cradle rocks above an abyss,

                          and common sense tells us that our

                                                  existence is but a brief crack of light between two

 eternities of darkness.

My brief crack of light has been a blaze of glory because of the work I’ve done and the people I’ve met through PowerSpeaking, especially at 200 B Twin Dolphin Drive. I am forever grateful. I watch the company grow with so much pride. I have not met many of the newer trainers, but I hear of their world-class work. I hope they can hear my cheers from my basement office in Redwood City. You are changing lives and having impacts on careers around the world. Soon enough people will forget the building, the memories will fade. People will soon forget the founder of PowerSpeaking. Soon the cheering, the yelling, the applause that rang throughout the training rooms will be distant memories. But in the moments when they happened, the impact was explosive. Those moments lit up our lives. We were blessed to have them.

I leave you with this: “Let ‘er Rip!”

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A major event in the history of PowerSpeaking, Inc. (PSI) happened in 1996 when we moved from our home office in the basement to a “real” office at 200B Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City. After 24 wonderful years at that location, as of July, PSI will be leaving that complex and going entirely virtual. Here are my reflections of the highlights of those years, including a video interview at the end.

 

The Facility

At one point, we had three complete training rooms and adjacent coaching rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even before the C-19 pandemic, some clients were requesting on-line training. Now, most are. So, no need for the training rooms. In addition, all of our team now work from home. It is ironic how this trend that was slowly gaining speed, has been pushed into overdrive by the virus.

 

As the last files and various pieces of furniture leave the building, I become more and more reflective, even melancholy, about what it has all meant.

When I started the company in 1985, I dreamed of a real office with “Frederick Gilbert Associates, Inc.” (Now, PowerSpeaking, Inc.) painted on the door. I was hoping we could build a good reputation in the Bay Area and maybe, even, in northern California.

This story is about a business that grew from a metal file box and a telephone on my desk in the bedroom in 1985 to a company with a world-wide presence, with 30 trainers in eight countries in 2020. By my rough estimate, during those glorious 24 years, about 30,000 people came through those doors seeking new skills that could transform their careers, even their lives.

As Angie Trau,  a training manager at Adobe told us, “Working with other vendors is transactional. Working with PowerSpeaking is transformational.”

First, was the remodeling

 

Melinda Henning facilitated our first program in late 1996


 

 

There were several other remodels over the years.

 

 

The People

The number of staff and trainers grew and evolved 

 

 

 

 

 

 Some of the closest friendships of my life were developed during those 24 golden years

 

 

 

Robert Fish, master storyteller

 

 

Jerry Johnson, photographer and Zen master

 

 

Too many emails then and now contain the word: “biopsy.”

But, so too, there were moments of pure joy.

Staff training events

 

 iPad Pandemonium: 

In 2012, we had a profitable year. So, for our final Trainers Day of the year everyone got an iPad. They had just come out, and we all knew about them, but no one had one yet. The roof came off the building.

Reflections

What have I loved about this company? What have I been most proud of? How do I want to be remembered?

This video says it all. The video was made about six or seven years ago, about two years before I retired. Keep in mind, as the company has grown and become even more successful, under Mary McGlynn’s ownership, things have changed. This is a snapshot of my recollections as I summed it up toward the end.

                        “This moment is more precious

than you think.”

                            De La Vega

 

 

14 thoughts on “Saying Good-bye to 24 Years of My Life

  1. I’m so proud to have been along side you on the journey. You have a real legacy, Rick. I look at the future and see continued impact on this generation—and generations to come.

  2. Legacy is right. You and Mary, my dearest friends for 40+ years, have always instinctively known how to live life to the fullest, and to bring as many people along with you as possible. PowerSpeaking is a reflection of that passion. How lucky am I to have watched it all, and to love and be loved by such extraordinary people. Thank you.
    Rick, my soulmate in all things irreverent and edgy, I say we do some kind of April Fool’s edition (e-magazine?) of 2020. Imagine the possibilities! And we don’t have to ask for HR’s permission!
    So much love, Rachel

  3. Rick, I was there. That year-end event when you gave the group an iPad. The most phenomenal company gift I had ever received. You and Mary created an organization where trainers and staff excelled, participated in being a part of something bigger than ourselves, felt respected as human beings, and encouraged to take our skills and talents as far as our imaginations could take us.

    My time with PowerSpeaking was a blast.

  4. Not everyone can reflect on their work with such joy and enthusiasm as they make great changes to it Congratulations and welcome to the Zoomer Generation. I hope you’ll still keep Let Her Rip going .
    and also keep some pity for those of us who are not complete Tech converts yet. Maybe you can hit up the CEO of ZOOM for grants. He should have quite a pile to do good work with.

    Pat

  5. What an incredible and productive 24 years!! This is a new exciting chapter for you and Mary. So happy for you both

  6. You and Mary have created an amazing venture that has changed so many lives. I’ve always admired you both for this.

    I liked reading your recap of your journey. I remember the early days, too. And it was wonderful to be up close to your growth since Fish was a member of your trainers. I loved seeing the photos of him and Jerry. Thank you for taking the time to write this and share it.

  7. Truly expressed from the heart! N was a treat to watch ur video…a speaking up classic!! Blessed to be one of the 30 trainers with PSI. Deep respect for u n Mary n pray for good tidings for PSI as always! You surely opened doors!! Thank u!!

  8. It was so fun reading this and seeing all the pictures! I’ll always remember that trainer’s day… “You get an iPad and you get an iPad…!” We were like Oprah! 🙂

    Thank you, RG, FGA and PSI for all the amazing memories.

    xoxo,
    Melissa

  9. Loved this Rick. You captured so much…of course volumes could be written about all of the stories, high points and challenges! As Annette would say – sure isn’t boring here! I was blessed to be part of the home office and Twin Dolphin Offices – difuned half of my life (thirty years – good years)! Loved all of the pics!! Love you and Mary! ❤️ Moira
    (I’m not on the subscription list – need to get my personal email on there!!

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