A couple posts back I mentioned that I went to Asheville, North Carolina for a work thing. Now that things have died down a little, I thought I'd reflect a bit on it:
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we had events. About 70 members showed up and we had an annual meeting, three general sessions, 9 panels, 6 workshops, a speaker, a wellness fair with 5 stops, elaborate catered lunches and dinners every day, two cocktail parties, and a big formal event. Whew!
It was really neat getting to meet the members. I think I've mentioned before that in order to join the organization, you have to be at least 45, the president or CEO of a major company of at least 65 employees, and you have to majorly involved in philanthropic work. The average age is 62 and most are multi-millionaires. I was somewhat surprised on meeting the members at how friendly, humble and down-to-earth they all were.
We toured the Biltmore Estate - the largest privately owned mansion in the United States. It was built in the 1910s, covers 8000 acres, and has 250 rooms.It was owned by the Vanderbilt family. The head of the Vanderbilt family, Cornelius, at one point owned 1/20th of all the money in the US. One person had 1/20th of the country's wealth. And it showed. It was kind of disgusting, actually, to see this house. One room literally had gold sheets covering the walls like wall paper. There was imported Italian marble every where, he had electricity every where (in the early 1900s!!) and basically all manner of opulance. It kind of made me angry that one person should have so much and spend it so wastefully. The home is still owned by the builder (George Vanderbilt)'s great grandsons, who are in their 80s and live nearby. We toured the mansion and then we had a private dinner in the gardens. The food was four courses, and exquisite. Everyone dressed like flappers from the 1920s and there was a big swing band and the dance floor was packed. It was a lot of fun.
The hotel was stayed in was also built in the early 1900s. It was huge! 550 rooms. It's built on a mountain and it's literally built into the face of the mountain. It's hard to explain, but you drive up the mountain and circle around so that you approach the hotel from the high end, from behind. So you go into the lobby and it's confusing when they tell you to go DOWN to your room, not up! The lobby is the top level and then all the floors descend down the face of the mountain. So they all have spectacular views of the country side and the surrounding mountains. At this time of year, the leaves are changing colors so it was pretty much just a sea of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds. So beautiful. Basically, my job is super, super cushy.
I did a lot of work though. During the day, I mostly helped with running the event - making sure people found their rooms, helping set up, taking roll on the bus, assisting panelists and whatever. But I also got to do a lot of me-specific roles, like take pictures of everything, unveil the new health-improvement website I built for them, and create daily newsletters that recapped the day, showed pictures of the day, and had the schedule for the following day.
A couple funny stories from the retreat:
- There was a guy named Jerry who I ate a couple meals with and he's very, very nice. Any time someone came or left the dinner table he would stand up, and if it was a woman he'd pull out her chair (sometimes beating her husband to it!) One day at lunch he even requested "may i please be excused to get some dessert?" So cute. Well one day at lunch he mentioned he was flying out at 2:30 or 3 (that should have been my first clue) and I said oh, me too! Thinking maybe we could share a cab to the airport or something. He got really embarrassed and said no, I don't think we're on the same flight. I found out later that he has a private jet that he takes everywhere. Duh. Of course he does. He's a muti-millionaire. But apparently he's so humble he doesn't like talking about it and I'm not the first L3 staff member to walk straight into that landmine. But he'sa nice guy and he certainly didn't make me feel bad about it.
- The second was about a guy named Ed. I was sitting with him on the bus on the way back from a panel. He was working on something and I asked about it and he told me he was writing a screenplay. Then he goes... "Do you know of someone named Robert Downey Jr.?" I was staring at him to see if he was serious and I was like "Ya, he's great! Why?" And Ed says, "Well he's up for the main part in my movie and I've never heard of him. Is he any good?" My jaw just dropped. I listed off Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes and that got no bells ringing for Ed. Apparently, we should be showing movies at L3 conferences. I showed him pictures and he asked me questions about him - how old is he? What kind of character does he normally play? Would you be good for this character? I strongly urged him to get RDJ if he could, saying he wouldn't regret it. And I made him promise that when he does the Hollywood Red Carpet, I get to come, hahaha.