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What do the Oscars, Martin Luther King and a woman with a baby have to do with The Alexander Group?

7.16.2009

Last week we wrote about people who impressed us. Here is some of the feedback we received.

Diane Gallo, Human Resources Executive
The good news is there are lots of impressive candidates and over the years I have been privileged to meet many. Some of the stand outs for me include a defector from a communist country who came here alone, worked in manual labor, studied English and became an electrical engineer. Another interviewee lost her home in the 1989 SF earthquake and apologized that her shoes didn't match her suit. Still another had spent almost two full days on an airplane in the wake of 9/11 and in spite of the turmoil in the airline industry and country made her way from New Jersey to California to discuss an executive position. Another had his moving van go off a cliff during the drive across country and never missed a beat! On the funny side, there was the woman who brought in her not too well behaved two year old and asked me to hold the baby during the interview. (I would have hired the kid before her!) That woman and the guy who called me "hon" and lit up a cigarette are
standouts too!

Jane Howze, Managing Director
Ten years ago I interviewed a woman from my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, who was about my age. Typically the conversation would start with who we knew in common from Birmingham. But because the candidate was African American and we grew up in the segregated South, we knew that avenue of commonality did not exist. Instead, she told me a story of
Martin Luther King coming to her house when she was in grade school and asking her parents if she would be willing to be one of the first African American students to attend a white school. She told of being taunted, hit, and degraded. She kept her focus, studied hard, and one day received a letter from Princeton asking her to apply. She graduated from Princeton with honors and became a very successful executive. That interview will stay with me.

Clifford Pugh, Style Critic
Although I don't interview executives, I have interviewed thousands of politicians, movie stars, fashion designers and writers over the last 25 years.

I covered the Oscars in Los Angeles several years ago and gained a coveted invitation to the Vanity Fair after party honoring the Oscar winners.

Hilary Swank, best supporting actress Cate Blanchett, best adapted screenplay writer Alexander Payne, and other winners held tightly to their Oscars while receiving congratulations from the star-studded crowd at Morton's restaurant.

Although the statue is the size of a barbell - it weighs 8.8 pounds - few winners were willing to put it down. One man let his Oscar dangle across his right shoulder.

But there are some places Oscar won't go, I discovered as I congratulated Payne. "Can you hold it for me? I've got to go pee," he said.

Oscar in my hand, my standing in the crowd shot up.

I tried to act Hollywood cool, acknowledging - with a slight nod of my head - the silent admiration of those who walked by.

Payne took his time; then a crisis erupted.

With tears in her voice, Payne's wife, actress Sandra Oh, asked me to remove a large diamond brooch at the edge of her backless gown, near her derriere, that had become unhooked.

"I can't lose it," she cried.

With Oscar still in my hand - I dared not place him on the floor - I tried to remove the brooch, but it stubbornly dangled by a single thread on Oh's Michael Kors gown.

I tugged some more; it wouldn't come off. I sensed a disaster-in-the-making - the headline would read "Oscar-wielding man unravels actress"- but Oh was too worried to notice.

Finally, a friend of hers appeared and expertly removed the brooch. Relieved, I handed her the Oscar and scurried away.

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