Rating: R
Released: November 26, 2008
Starring:Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna
Trailer / Official Site

I’ll come clean here. Before this movie, I’d never heard of Harvey Milk. I had no idea of his impact and importance in American Civil Rights, Politics or GLBT rights. But I know who he is now. The movie and story is one of passion, triumph, and sadness. This movie is brilliantly acted and directed and it did a great job of enveloping you in the San Francisco Gay scene of the mid 1970’s. After watching this movie, I did some research on Harvey Milk, which included listening to an audio clip of him speaking. Doing that reinforced what an amazing job Sean Penn did in depicting Harvey Milk. His acting was spot on. Just an amazing performance! Kudos also to Josh Brolin for a nice performance as Milk’s main enemy. This is definitely one of the better movies of the year.

Fate or Happenstance?

Sometimes, things happen that make you wonder if there is a larger master plan in place.

A bit over a week ago, I was in Chicago at the Inc. 500 Conference, where my company announced the launch of a new product The Plum Card. I was honored to be a last (but not least) minute addition to the team that manned the booth at the conference as we announced this innovative product.

The minor logistical problem was that prior to being added to the Chicago Plum announcement team, I had planned and booked a trip to attend the Conversational Marketing Summit hosted by John Battelle and Federated Media that was being held early the following week . So I had to adjust my travel plans to fly from Chicago right to SF, which unfortunately meant connecting flights in….Houston (Chicago is not a Continental hub). I dreaded the idea of connecting flights, but did it none the less.

Fast forward to Houston…no, we don’t have a problem. I’m sitting on the plane waiting for it to shut the doors to take off to SF. And as I look forward in the plane, I see the one guy get on the plane at the very last minute. As I look at this person more, I realize it was my friend Joe from business school. My friend Joe lives in Mexico City, Mexico. I ended up trading seats with a woman sitting in Joe’s aisle and we caught up most of the ride to SF.

So lets think about the chain of events here: I was added to the team from work that was in Chicago, thus prompting me to change my travel plans. I wanted to stay in Chicago longer, but when I could not find an equitable direct flight to SF from Chicago on that Sunday, I reluctantly traveled through Houston on Saturday. None of my flights got delayed and I was able to make a seamless connection. On the other side, Joe was traveling from Mexico City to SF to visit his sister, and after battling through customs, barely made the same connecting flight I was on to SF. Two friends who attended the same business school in NYC, who live on different ends of North America, run into each other on a connecting flight in Houston, TX traveling to San Francisco.

We ended up hanging out a couple of times while we were in SF. It was great to catch up.

Circumstance. Fate. Luck. All of the above.

San Francisco

I spent the majority of this past week out in beautiful San Francisco, CA attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s (yes it exists) WOM Basic Training conference. At its most basic level, Word of Mouth Marketing is defined as giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place.

Overall, I found the conference very eye opening and enlightening. There were some very compelling presentations and they far outnumbered the poor presentations (including the pathetic disappointing keynote from Robert Scoble). What I found most fun were the stories and examples of different people rallying around a specific cause or passion, including,, iPod Battery Replacement, and the Chevy Tahoe “make your own ad” fiasco.

I also met some great people, including the fine folks from Brains on Fire from down in Greenville, SC (thanks Spike, Robbin for dinner on Wednesday evening! It was fantastic!).

I could write for pages the things I learned and the background on the previously mentioned examples, but I think I’ll just add them sporadically to the blog as time goes on. It will make for some interesting and diverse reading.

I look forward to attending future conferences like this and I can only hope they are as informative and enlightening as this one!