Yesterday the company I work for held the annual fall all-company meeting. At these massive productions, all of the senior executives deliver a formal, scripted speech summarizing various aspects of the business from the past six months (or so), as well as set the tone for the strategies to occur over the remainder of the year. Interspersed throughout the work-portion of the meeting are entertainment interludes, where various celebrities take the stage and engage the audience (i.e., all of us everyday workers) for 5-10 minutes – usually through a brief performance or a small monologue/speech. Most years mega stars make an appearance; this year was no exception.
Nine different performers shared their talents and/or personality over the course of the 4.5 hour meeting event, but three of them really struck me:
Tony Bennett sang three different songs for all of us – and I was astounded at how amazing he is, especially for someone who is 85 years old. He is the epitome of ‘retro-cool’ and modern cool; his demeanor was classy, his personality was witty, and his comportment was one of complete ease and relaxation. He was a showman, but not ‘showy’ – he was just, well, cool. I could have watched him [and listened to him] all day. I felt at complete ease in his presence, even though the stage was hundreds of feet away. (I was sitting in the second tier of a very large event arena.) He is just one cool (and kind) cat.
For the first time ever, Oprah Winfrey made an appearance at the meeting – and she was exactly as she appears on television. Sincere and personable, yet also savvy and polished. But what struck me more than her external demeanor was her internal brightness and kindness. This is a woman that genuinely cares about people – and I literally felt her empathy and benevolence within my own chest, even though I was (again) hundreds of feet from her. Her goodness is simply too large to be contained; it was beautiful to experience.
The very last performer to take the stage (and close the meeting) was Beyonce Knowles. She sang one song for the crowd that showed off her vocal range, her vocal power, and her stage presence. This woman is a force: she can generate a wall of sound to rival Phil Specter, she carries herself with the strength of a mighty redwood tree, and she exudes powerful, proud sexiness akin to the likes of Tina Turner. While I have seen Beyonce in various TV commercials and a few music videos, I had never experienced her ‘in person’ – and wow, I was incredibly impressed. In fact, I was awed. Eyes wide, mouth gaping, all-out awed. I’m astounded that this woman is so assured, proud, and poised – all at the rip old age of 30.
Being in the presence of people with such presence is AMAZING. I felt (literally felt within my own body) the genuine power of their comportment, compassion, and confidence – even from hundreds of feet away. It was deeply inspiring. Maybe one day I can radiate that level of good-naturedness, too. Either way, it was a delight to experience, and a gift to witness.