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Posts Tagged ‘Infinite Dress’

It was a grim and cold winter evening at New York’s JFK.  I was about 5 years old.   My mother, a stunning model and reporter in her early 20’s (barely 17 years older than me), towed my brother and I to the connecting BOAC gate – destination London.  We wore matching dark green trench coats with fake black fur collars, itchy woolen plaid trousers and navy blue sweaters.

We had no idea we had left our island paradise in the Caribbean for good.

My mother, with my stepfather, Carlos, had moved with less than 2 weeks notice from Puerto Rico to London, England.

I would become a resident of London until I was 17 years old.

My stepfather, Carlos, was appointed as a commerce development representative for the Puerto Rico government in Europe. A few jobs later and he would spend about 8 years representing the State of New York also for commerce development in Europe. My mother in the meantime had inadvertently invented the modern convertible dress (The Infinite Dress). She designed a simple dress she could use shorter for work, and then covert into a longer more elegant dress for the endless cocktail parties and gala events.

When they weren’t out 3 or more nights of the week, they were hosting dinner parties. Celebrities, diplomats, executives, government officials, authors and artists of all kinds sat and laughed in our apartment’s living room, drinking and smoking until dinner was ready. Only to return to the living room after dinner to smoke cigars, pipes and cigarettes, drink flaming cognacs and tell after-dinner lewd jokes or shocking stories. We were in bed, but we could hear everything.

At times we were asked to entertain the guests with our timid, blushing faces.  We impressed them with our ability to prepare gin and tonic, whisky with soda on the rocks…. and for the Russians always vodka!

Our summers were mostly in New York, where Carlos had bought a house in Wainscott, Long Island. There the parties never ended. Most of the guests were artists, authors, and their sons and daughters always driving antique convertibles without seat belts. The sound of backgammon dice and chips thumping the felt covered board usually ended about 3am. There were wine bottles everywhere.  The empty ones plugged with a candle and used as outdoor lighting for the moonlight feasts of paella, fine wines and outrageous story telling.

It was tribal, hilarious….it was family.

We were witnesses to our parents’ natural ability to host and entertain. Mother was the model/fashion designer. She was perpetual energy. The alluring central sun of her universe’s  attention – a natural-born diva!  Carlos was eloquent, overly educated in every way, equally charming as he was brutally candid. The choice of charm or candor separated only by a mysterious switch that tilted without warning – although after a long night it was more predictable.

Yet, despite Carlos’ generous portions of late night “candor”, most guests returned enthusiastically for another round. It was just too much fun: he was a sublime genius, an outrageous scoundrel and an iconic artist – aren’t they all?

Should I wonder then why despite being an introvert, I am building a global legal organization of trusted colleagues and  friends as a gateway to doing business.  For me each of one of you is an ocean of ideas, opinions and experiences to swim in. I’m excited to dive into your life, to hear your hopes and dreams, to console you through fears and frustrations, to celebrate your ambitions and successes.

I hope we meet sometime soon.

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I just came from dinner party at a beach house. The entire dinner party was then moved to a bonfire on the beach for dessert – brownies, cookies and marshmallows roasted over the fire.  We sat around the fire telling outrageous April Fool’s stories and observing the star filled sky.  As I was driving home, I realized it was Thursday – still a week night – and tomorrow was another day of work. 🙂

About networks: 2 years ago, I read an interesting book titled, “Competing In A Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World” by Victor Fung, William Fung and Yoram Wind. At the time, I was helping my mother’s fashion business produce a 28 minute infomercial for sale in Europe.

The Fung’s book is based upon the Fung’s experience as “network orchestrators” in the garment and consumer goods industry.  The Fungs conclude that global competition is no longer about “firm versus firm” but “network versus network”.  They encourage firms to join these networks or practically be squashed by highly orchestrated networks with vast resources.  What I like the most about the Fungs is that they are not theorizing academically – they’re doing it.  They also see that the present challenges, and those ahead, for a truly flat world as coming  from politics and nation states’ bureaucracies slowing down the speed and efficiency of these orchestrated networks.

It’s late and I’ll leave you with this quote from their book:

“A company’s strength lies not as much in the competencies that it possesses as much as in the competencies it can connect to. This means that the capability to connect to competencies – the capability for network orchestration – and the capability for learning might be becoming as important as any firm capabilities”

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