Bobby in Boston: Let me tell you a story about Al Pacino, the Red Sox, and a Kennedy

The Down to Business presenter reflects on a packed week at the EY CEO retreat in Boston

Wednesday morning began with the Boston sun splitting the sky and so our now daily EY Running Group was a ‘hot’ affair but I felt great after it.

Producer John Fardy who had been a keen member of our group found himself feeling tired and emotional that morning so he stayed in the nest! We did over 7k and I’m hopefully I might be able to hit 10k tomorrow.

We were brought to Harvard after breakfast to hear some more guest lectures. It was Graduation Day and the lawns of the university were strewn with thousands of white chairs. Our first talk of the morning was a fascinating one by Karen Dillon of the Harvard Business Review who was talking to us about Disruptive Innovation and how market forces are not always what they think we are.

She said that all business people need to find out what ‘the job’ is and then do the job. For example, she said that Blockbuster Video were no longer doing their ‘job’ once Netflix arrived and allowed you to stay home watching and pay no late fees.   

Next up was Paul LeBlanc President of Southern New Hampshire University. Paul explained how the theory of Disruptive Innovation helped SNHU become one of the fastest growing not-for-profit online educators in the world.

After coffee, we heard from David Fubini of the Harvard Business School who was talking to us about organising change in organisations.

David was a lively fellow who basically said that most CEO’s needed to be more charismatic and inspiring. To demonstrate his point he played us Al Pacino’s Half Time Locker Room Speech in Any Given Sunday where he Al gives us the great line ‘Either we heal as a team or we will die as Individuals’. Wise words but the effect wore off as I had to listen to producer John Fardy do Al Pacino Impressions for the rest of the day.

That evening we were down on the Harbour for a final dinner with the finalists. We were joined by the Mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh whose parents came over from Ireland back in the 50’s. He seemed genuinely thrilled that EY had chosen Boston as the spot for this year’s retreat.

It was time for the remaining 6 finalists to tell us a little bit about their business and journey. One of the finalists was Jim Wright of JMW Farms who said that he got into pig farming when he asked his dad for a motorbike when he was a teenager and instead he got two pigs. Entrepreneurs are born not made!  

Day 4

Kicked off with the 4th run of the week today an hour later than usual we met at 7.30am on a beautiful sunny Boston morning. Today was the 10k day which I was slightly apprehensive about as I hadn’t done one since September.

No problem we did the 10k and had clocked up 30k over the week. Running really is a great way to see a city.

Back to the hotel for breakfast and checked out of the room and got a taxi to the Red Sox ground where we had an interview with Sam Kennedy the president of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management.

He told us all about this wonderful business that bought Liverpool FC for $500m in 2010. He talked about the business of sport and how the food and beverage concession revenue at a Red Sox game was 10 times higher per attendee at Liverpool FC. The way the fan behaves as well as the licencing laws really make a difference to revenue on match days.

A quick taxi back to the hotel and it was time to catch up with Joe Kennedy from the legendary Kennedy family who really was quite some character. He was the eldest son of Bobby Kennedy who was assassinated in 1968.

He spent 12 years in congress and has dedicated his life to helping underprivileged family’s buy fuel and affordable housing. He talked about the responsibility that came with being a Kennedy and gave some colourful views about the current presidential race.

Then it was off to Quincy market & Faneuil hall. This converted old grain warehouse is a mix of about 50 different food outlets and is really popular and busy.

Had a bit of free time before heading to the airport so a bit of retail therapy was had in Macys. I saw the new Primark store (which is opposite Macys) - it is trading really well.

It’s funny now how the girls shop. They decided what presents they wanted from me when I was away, ordered them online (with my credit card) and had them delivered to the hotel in Boston. So they get what they want and their dad becomes a pack mule bringing four bikinis across the Atlantic. Happy days for them.

So back to the airport and hope to catch a few ZZZ's on the plane on the way home.

What a great week. Big thanks to EY for organising a great week and also supreme thanks to my traveling buddy and producer John Fardy. Thinking about 2017 already. 

Hear all about Bobby's adventures in Boston on air and online on Down to Business from 10am tomorrow.