SAN FRANCISCO TREAT
One of the major perks of my husband's firm is an annual WWOM (World-wide officer meeting) where BCG Partners from every corner of the earth meet for a week-long conference, and spouses are also hosted. In past years, we've travelled to Shanghai, Miami, Boston, and Cape Town. This year's destination was nearby San Francisco.
A short, direct two-hour flight away and a keycard to a room at The Palace Hotel, we were set for a week of great food, California sunshine, and sightseeing.
We reunited with some old Australian friends and spent the evening indulging at Coi Restaurant. Awarded two Michelin stars, the food was spectacular and easily the best meal of the entire trip. The presentation had meticulous detail and each morsel was perfection. The highlight for me was the Turbot, which had a fine layer of sliced vegetables positioned to look like the scales of the fish. It sat atop a sauce with cream and leeks. Each dish was an act in the art of plating, and it tasted even better than it looked. At the sweet end, there was a pre-dessert, dessert, and post-dessert, just in case we weren't longing for more. The service was faultless, warm, and perfectly timed.
During the days, Ross had conference time and there were also a couple of events over the week the spouses could attend. I attended the talk from Google executive, Chief Futurist, Ray Kurzweil. He's a modern day genius and sees a future where artificial intelligence manages large scale agriculture and 3-D printing produces housing. He suggested that at some point in the very near future, it will be illegal for humans to drive cars.
Kurzweil talks about the concept of singularity, where there will be a point when the world will be so vastly different than how we know it now. He was inspiring and thoughtful, and made a ballroom full of very smart people think with a broader scope in mind.
Tours and fun
The WWOM event must be a logistical beast. Nearly 1,400 people flying in from all over the world, three hotels, the catering, the restaurant bookings, online registration of activities, planned evening events, the conference events during the day...
Over the week I did BCG organized tours in Chinatown, Haight Ashbury, Mission, a charity SoulCycle class, visited Alcatraz, shopped, and had a beauty pamper day. Other programs offered including sailing on the Oracle yacht from America's Cup, kayaking in Sausalito Bay, wine tours in Napa Valley, bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, cooking classes, gallery visits, and a day in Muir Woods. No matter what city, a BCG WWOM is unlike any other corporate event. It provides experiences that money can't buy and access to places, people, and stories that are truly memorable.
John Legend, yes!
Outside of the full program, the highlight was the gala event where everyone came together and we enjoyed a private John Legend concert. I am sure he looked at me when he sang 'All of Me'. In my own mind, he thought I was a distant relative to his supermodel wife Chrissy Teigen. John Legend is in fact a BCG alumni, having worked as a consultant after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.
Food and old friends
Outside of the organized program, I made some free time for myself and arranged to catch up with a couple San Francisco based friends and an Australian journalist who was in town for the Macworld Developers Conference. One of those friends I hadn't seen in 20 years since we dated at Rutgers. He took me out for breakfast on Land's End. It was great to be by the sea and outside of the city. We caught up on our lives since college: travel, work, marriage, and kids. I'm really glad we made time for one another and we even made plans to ski with our families next season.
Then lunch with my dear friend Susan at The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building where we feasted on carpaccio, green papaya salad, Shaking Beef, and then indulged in all the crazy artisan chocolates. We worked together doing on the same PR team, a job that entailed managing winemaker tours, tasting events, sponsorships and sending wine to journalists. It made me so very happy to see Susan again.
My last catchup was coffee with my friend Steve who is an Australian visiting journalist guest of Apple. He's the Editor behind Tech Guide which provides tech reviews, gadget reviews, and technology news. My go-to source for anything from the latest iPhone to HDTVs to virtual reality headsets. We dug into my $50 worth of gourmet chocolates over lattes. I used to host Steve myself back in the days when I ran PR for Ericsson in Australia. Trips to Cannes, Barcelona, Sweden..good times and many memories. I'm so happy for his success and can't wait to see what he does next.
After a full week in San Francisco, we headed out to Napa Valley for two nights to meet friends who happened to have a house in Saint Helena for the weekend. Top down on our rented Mustang, we were ready for more sunshine and wine.