One For The History Books
“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.”
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!”
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.
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 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
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.
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