My week this week really came down to one day and to an event bigger than my daily life, bigger than my company, bigger than the current ups and downs of our industry, and perhaps as big as anything Americans have seen in quite a while.
Not to over-dramatise but, hey, I can’t help being an American!
This week I travelled to our Chicago headquarters (the city I lived before coming to London) to finalise our 2009 financial plan.
I come here relatively often, and the travel schedule is routine.
This Tuesday, however, wasn’t routine at all as it was election night in Barack Obama’s hometown.
The weekend before, Monday and Tuesday is all about the 2009 plan – lots of work on the flight from London to Chicago, lots of emails to teams querying data and asking for background information, and the end result is a thick PowerPoint deck.
Given this economy, accurate forecasting is even harder than ever, and we want to get it right. Death by PowerPoint.
After nine hours of meetings, we were all ready to decompress and to learn who will be the next President of the United States.
Our hotel, the Palmer House Hilton, is conveniently located downtown so after a quick dinner we started to walk to watch CNN announce election results on the “Jumbotrons” set up in Grant Park.
Our walk quickly became more of a march, with crowds getting bigger as streams of people met at every corner, chants of “Obama… Obama” getting louder and louder, people selling t-shirts, and most importantly, a growing sense of collective energy and pride.
It didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful night with warm clear skies and absolutely no wind.
A fantastic showcase for Chicago.
I am just not a good enough writer to articulate the sense of excitement in Chicago, the impact of seeing strangers hugging in the street and tears of happiness when the final results were announced.
It was simply amazing to see what inspirational leadership can do.
Hopefully we can bring a fraction of this back to ebookers. Hmmm… How I can get a Jumbotron?
Alan Josephs is managing director at Ebookers