OTHER SUN VALLEY 2016 POSTS:
This morning was, by far, the most calm and pleasant mornings I’ve ever had at Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Conference.
Despite yesterday’s humiliation and complete slaughter, I woke up feeling happy – for whatever reason.
First, we were allowed to sleep in to 6:15 a.m. and were awakened by the classic Michael Eisner version of “The Dawn Of The Mogul” (as Herb Allen’s Iggy Azalea experiment backfired even with the Snapchat dude).
There were no calisthenics and the bagels were much fresher than normal (not from the 2-day old Wonder Bread shop around the corner that they normally buy from).
[One observation about seeing all these business titans in casual clothes: There are those who wear the jeans and t-shirts and look like they work out. And there are those who wear the jeans and t-shirts and look like they are dying of something.]
Herb Allen appeared fresh – which is amazing considering how many Harvey Wallbangers he had the night before (I have been told not to write about our drinking at the bar – I think because the Canadian government didn’t appreciate the Justin Trudeau shrimp catching episode – so that’s all I will say about last night).
Herb Allen: Good morning, Seekers, Outliers and Dreamers…
Barry Diller: Get on with it, Herb.
Herb Allen: This morning, as we approach the end of our conference, we’re going to try something new. Something I’ve been passionate about for over 50 years. Pin trading.
If the incredulous looks on all faces could speak, they would say in unison – “What the fuck?!”
Herb Allen: I know, sounds like amazing, right? I’ve been trading pins since I discovered it at the Rome Olympics in 1960. I have missed one Olympic games since. I don’t watch the sports – I trade pins! At Disneyland, too, Bob!
Bob Iger gave a faint smile and looked to ground – feeling a bit sorry for Herb.
He went on and on about his love of pin trading which I won’t relate – but the gist was this: He had pins made up of all our companies’ corporate logos and gave us each a bag of them and, as a way to get to know each other better, we would go around and trade pins and put them on a Allen & Co. customized pin board.
Herb Allen: Phillippe Dauman has not been seen since the first night, so Shari Redstone – I ask you to take the Viacom pins and trade them as if you were the CEO.
Les Moonves and Shari Redstone exchanged high-fives for some reason (duh).
And the trading began.
Everyone started exchange their logo pins for other logo pins. It was exactly as boring as it sounds. I got a Disney, a Time Warner (which was sharp on the edges like a knife – very dangerous), a Facebook and a Canada pin (from Justin Trudeau) in the shape of Canada. I would tell all about all the others but I’m falling asleep as I dictate this.
Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner just stood there (a bit sad?), not trading, as Microsoft’s Satya Nadella traded the Microsoft pin which appeared to show the Microsoft logo eating the LinkedIn logo – which was a nice touch – I thought.
After a couple of moments, it became obvious to Herb Allen that this was not going as he planned. He looked on – near tears – as he could tell there was absolutely no interest by any of the other guests. It was as though no one else cared about his one true passion in life.
Herb Allen: When you’re all finished – or I don’t care – just want to stop – and are thinking about heading out to your planes to go home, don’t forget to pick up the box lunch which has been prepared for you. Thanks for coming.
Herb walked off, shoulders hunched, not looking back. He kept talking though his voice faded as he continued away…
Herb Allen: You’re free to go kayaking or play golf at the…
Is it possible this would be the last year of Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Conference?
Are we all just getting too old for summer camp?
Is it time for the GoPro dude to take over and only invite CEO who are millennials and plurals who can still ride bikes and climb mountains (oh, and also come up with NEW ideas)?
And while the conference this year ended with a whimper and not a bang like in years previous, it wasn’t so bad.
This week, I learned about self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, Canada and how truly fucked up the Argentinian economy is – I learned that my daughter is no longer allowed in Sun Valley (and she could not care less) – and I learned that Warren Buffett can hold a spoon on his nose longer than any one else I’ve ever seen.
But I one thing I had already learned years ago – Bin Tran makes best goddamned dirty martini on the planet! And I’m about to go get me five more – and that’s why I gotta say IT WAS A GOOD DAY.
Take it, ‘Cube…