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A few weeks ago had the pleasure of sharing a great evening with 100+ retail attendees at the world famous Walnut Room in Chicago. Opening in 1907 and currently located in a Macy’s, the Walnut Room was the first ever restaurant in a department store. The elegant interior is surrounded with Circassian wood paneling imported from Russia and features Austrian chandeliers.
Salute – Wish you Passion for Many Firsts
The celebration was part of our two day ShopperTrak Retail User Summit. My role for this particular evening was to deliver the official welcoming toast to our special guests. Taking my endless curiosity to the next level, decided that this particular moment required a special “Chicago Way” salutation. Verbatim following are the words shared with the audience.
Fellow professionals, listening to all of you engage today in the User Group activities was a great reminder of one of my favorite personal quotes, “retail is a team sport”. Reflecting on the day, two motivating themes loomed Passion and Being First.
Chicago – The City of Many Firsts
As I reflected on tonight and this location, I decided to do some research on other “First’s” here in Chicago, focusing on insightful ideas and innovation.
So what’s special about Chicago?
- Spray paint was invented in Chicago in 1949.
- First Blood Bank was in Chicago in 1937
- It’s the birthplace of soap operas
- The zipper in 1851.
- The Ferris wheel in 1893.
- The Twinkie in 1932.
- The original Batman “Gotham City” is Chicago.
- The vacuum cleaner in 1968.
- First skyscraper in 1895,
- First open heart surgery in 1893.
Being Italian, I seem to remember some “Chicago Way” history in the roaring 20s.
- Al ‘Scarface’ Capone is responsible for expiration dates on milk jugs. Two stories: 1) Someone close became ill from expired milk; 2) He planned to corner the milk production business post prohibition by having bottles require an Al Capone date stamp.
- Al Capone bullet proof Cadillac was seized by the USA government after he went to jail and was used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II.
You are all sitting tonight in a city of many firsts.
Wish You Passion for Many Firsts
To me being first is nothing more than leading through new ideas. The best ideas often come from collaboration.
That’s what I heard today from all of you. A great willingness to make retail a team sport by sharing new ideas for mutual success.
Tonight is another opportunity to expand your professional network. Introduce yourself. Make a new lasting friend.
Let me raise my glass and say THANK YOU you for our partnership. Thank you for sharing so many great ideas for success, but mostly thank you for your passion in helping us drive the retail industry forward.
YOU made a tremendous difference today and because of it, I know that we will all have an even better tomorrow.
Let me close with one of my other favorite quotes from Mark Twain. “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
So let’s get started. Salute to you all, the “Chicago Way”.
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