It was a fleeting moment, but it was one of the most important lessons of my life.
I was a media intern at McCann-Erickson’s Troy, Michigan office. In addition to doing anything asked of an intern, my job was to attend the weekly Wednesday rep meeting. Back in the day, magazine and other print reps would visit ad agencies, show them their wares, bring treats and a leave behind for the media buyers. As an intern, I was the designated body assigned to go to these meetings.
On one particular Wednesday, I wasn’t allowed to go to the meeting.
Something was up. Everyone was dressed to the NINES. All of the junior media people were upset. They couldn’t attend the rep meeting, either. Because I respected the cadence of the administrative staff, we were best friends. Soon, I heard a rumor that John F. Kennedy was THE rep meeting. I didn’t believe it, so I called my mom.
My mom was working at General Motors and confirmed it, John John met with some auto reps that same day. McCann Erickson was a GM shop, so it made sense that the founder of George magazine would be in the office, presenting the rate card and asking agency reps to buy a page or two.
I had to get in that meeting.
Because of the excitement around John F. Kennedy’s visit, no one worked. The junior media staff was complaining about not getting invites. The admin staff was wondering what John John was wearing. I took a moment to think about the next few hours and came up with a solution. In the middle of the room, I stated, ‘I’m going to ride the elevators for the next hour or so and land up 15, anyone want to come?’
McCann-Erickson had multiple floors. Certain floors had goodies like hot chocolate packets and better kitchens. I learned that the meeting would be on 15. Easy strategy.
Thinking I’d have buy in from everyone, I was wrong. Everyone looked at me and said I was ‘so cute’. A few junior media buyers saw ‘aaaw’ to me. I wasn’t phased. I excused myself and went on my elevator riding spree.
So there I was, in my flowery dress with back clasp (you know you had one, ladies), jean jacket and curly hair. I mastered the elevator ride and looked like I was just an intern getting supplies. Then, it happened.
In exactly one hour, the meeting ended. The elevator doors opened on 15. I saw a wave of black suits. That was followed by a glazed look on women’s faces. I knew he was near. I turned to my left, looked down and saw shoes. The most glorious, leather boots I’ve ever seen on a man. Slowly, I gazed up and there he was, John F. Kennedy Jr. For a split second, my AP History loving eyes locked with the man whose father shaped our country. For a moment, I was someplace else. I wasn’t working off of Big Beaver Road/Exit 69 (yes, that’s where the office is located), I was sitting on a porch some place on the east coast, drinking lemonade and taking a break from my tennis match with John F. Kennedy Jr. I couldn’t move.
That’s when the entourage quickly ruined my image, brushed passed me and poured John John into the elevator. I remembered a smile, a quick hand gesture as I exited the elevator for them.
Once the George crew and handlers left, there was nothing left but a bunch of media people, their bosses and me. Soon, attention turned to me and my boss asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ To which I simply replied, ‘We were out of hot chocolate upstairs.’
Thank you to John F. Kennedy Jr. for reminding me that the smallest, most simple idea can work. I refer to that image when I'm in a time crunch or think something isn't possible.
And I won that tennis match, by the way.:)