I get asked this question a lot. I imagine it helps with the pedigree and trust. 

I’m proud of my clients over the 20 years of teleprompting. It’s always an honor to hear who I’ll be working with next.

Even though I’m closely contributing to their speech and performance on-stage, I may not have direct contact with the speaker. Some presenters, like senior politicians, just run in, deliver their speech and then disappear into a waiting limo. However, their advance team has worked with me closely to ensure everything is right. Both the President and the First Lady have very detailed instructions on how the Presidential teleprompter mirrors are placed. And while I’ve shaken President Obama’s hand and got a photo, I often only get a peek at these political speakers from down a hallway as their agents whisk them backstage on to the stage. Still… knowing that people at this level rely on my skills is a great rush.

On the other hand, I can work much closer with executives—like Sun and Union Bank’s CEOs—to help craft their speeches and work with them on their presentation and delivery. My skills help them better deliver their message to their clients— and that makes me proud to contribute.

One of my favorite experiences was in 2009. I flew to Mexico to work for a week coaching the “Pan American Games 2015” team from Lima, Peru. An amazing speech coach, Dia Bondi, and I worked with a team of 9 presenters including the Mayor of Lima, several government Ministers and Olympic athletes to fine-tune their presentations. Lima was one of three finalists for the right to hold the Games.  Toronto, Canada and Bogota, Columbia also presented. Each finalist team was given a short session on-stage to win over the judging panel of princes and other country representatives. After the tense sessions that followed with representatives and royals promising to support one city or another, Toronto ultimately won.

Trusting us with your scripts is very important to me and our team. I work on all sorts of political campaigns, like those of John McCain, Mitt Romney, both Barack and Michelle Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, other elected officials and countless propositions.  Again, your trust is something I take very seriously. Because of that trust, I’ll often sit in high-level “war rooms” where speechwriters hammer out what their candidate will say against somebody I may very well teleprompt for the next day!!! I’ve worked for both sides of California Governor races with candidates Jerry Brown against Meg Whitman, and earlier candidates Gray Davis against Dan Lungren. I have to be neutral and just give everyone my best.

I’ve also assisted many faith based organizations: ArchBishops, Bishops, Priests, Rabbis, Jews for Jesus, Muslim Advocates, Mormons and  Scientologists—plus some potentially controversial organizations like GLAAD, NARAL, and AIPAC.

Sir Edmund Hillary is still likely my favorite… He’s like royalty in my book:) My next biggest fan boy moment was the honor of going backstage at ILM’s Skywalker Ranch and the Barn with George Lucas and his creative team.  My mom’s favorite celebrity that I’ve assisted is Charlie Rose. And I figured I had finally made it, when I was faced with the very tough choice of referring Al Gore to another team member so that I could work with Robin Williams and Robert Redford on the same day instead:) The most surreal and unique celebrity experience was easily David Hasselhoff, who never broke character as “The Hoff,” even when rehearsing for his US musical tour. He was a great guy regardless of what I expected.

Live shows are a blast: they really put me to the test… Dmitri Martin did several episodes of “Important Things” with me in San Francisco over a two year period. I really enjoyed working with his talented, hilarious scriptwriters. Making edits just seconds before they went live was a real challenge that kept me on alert. That same kind of calm and confidence is what allowed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s assistant to change his script on one laptop while I was simultaneously teleprompting on another laptop, for the executive immediately preceding Steve . (I don’t ever advocate this move… Always finalize the script 30 minutes before the show so I can format and massage the words.)

Working with musicians is a special feeling since I get to be part of the ensemble… I recently worked with T Bone Burnett and just loved it. Previously , I’ve assisted Rufus Wainwright, Michael Bublé, Liza Minelli, and Taeyang. My team has worked with Sting, Snoop Dogg and Metallica.

Because some people are not comfortable with the potential stigma of being seen as relying on teleprompters, some request not to be listed on my Clients Page but most of the big names I’ve assisted are there, even companies that are no longer in business or have been acquired. This was really common in the Dot.com era. RIP Alza, Sun, SBC, Veritas, Macromedia and most recently URS…

Ultimately, it’s an honor to be trusted with clients’ VIP speakers regardless of celebrity or executive status. Give us a call today. No matter who you are or represent, we’ll make sure you get the same exceptional treatment that our safety and confidence creates.

Learn how our friendly team of skilled teleprompter operators can save you time and money.

 

It’s a travel necklace

While this post has little to do with teleprompting in San Francisco, you might see Neil on set and notice his necklace.

My travel necklace bears a stone or bead from each country I visited. Clerks, CEOs, bicycle messengers, busy librarians and more have remarked “What a great necklace. Where did you get it?”

I smile, and share this story with them: It’s a travel necklace. I collect the stones and beads as I visit other countries and states—mostly via teleprompting work. I gather a pair from each country, then add the stones to the other beads on my neck.

It started with a necklace that my best friend made for me at university. He “blessed” it by wearing it for a week before giving it to me in a simple ceremony of friendship. I never took it off for six years.

Eventually, the natural fibers showed their age. While I was working in Brazil in 2001, it broke as I was lifting a jacket over my head to put in the airport xray machine.

Later, I was walking around the craft stalls of Såo Paulo and found an indescribable stone. Just like those “pound puppy” stories where the one perfect dog stands out for you, so did this stone.

It’s actually still a bit of a mystery. People from all over the world have told me with authority it was green jade, or maybe agatized jasper, or even petrified moss. Whatever it is, it attracts comments like no other.

And so, my idea of a travel necklace was born. Every stone has a memory attached, whether it’s to the person who sold it, the friend who gifted it, or the journey behind it.

Having that quest is something I look forward to in each country. I’ll usually read a guidebook or ask at the hotel desk to find craft fairs and night markets. Getting to the destination is always fun. I often ask a concierge, a barman, or policewoman what route they recommend. And it’s great—I’ll find myself navigating streets or canals that aren’t typically on the tourist path.

Once I find the shop or market booth, I’ll look at my options. Then I’ll catch the eye of the shop worker, and depending on the country, speak in English, my basic Spanish or fractured French to explain my quest. If that fails, pantomime and smiles work just as well and make for a fun challenge. I’ve even been lucky to befriend locals who come with me and assist with the navigation and negotiation too.

There’s often some stone or material that is representative of that country, like Chile’s lapis azul, or New Zealand’s cowrie shells. Mercifully, no merchant tried to convince me their national stone was gold.

The selection can be a process. Sometimes it’s just a simple choice, like in Brazil or Australia where the stone calls to me. Other times, like in Malaysia, I end up emptying a jar of tiger eyes on the table and scouring though them for 30 minutes to find the pair that belongs with the others.

The pieces are always common grade and never flashy, even though they may share the name of more expensive brethren.

It’s rare to find stones that are loose and pre-drilled for threading onto a necklace. So, I often buy earrings, and disassemble them to get the individual stones. Specialized bead shops are becoming common and make the process simpler. After working in Sydney, I drove up to Airlie Beach and was able to find two black opals for a good price. Then in a nearby beadshop, elbow to elbow with some local mothers and children, I strung them onto the necklace.

I normally restring the necklace when I return home. There’s often some maintenance involved as well. Some stones need to be repositioned based on the color of the new arrival or if a softer stone rubs against a harder stone.

And not all representatives stay on the necklace. Venezuela’s “stone” turned out to be plastic and wore too easily. Sweden’s was too rocky and flaked apart. Argentina’s rose quartz was too close to the color of chewed bubblegum. And while the jade pieces from Taipei and Beijing have weathered well, softer stones from Peru and Chile have worn out too fast. Of course, rather than being sad, I see that as my excuse to return to that country and find a hardier replacement.

As the list of countries I’ve visited has grown to 46, I’ve had to stop the practice of stringing two stones per country. I still buy a pair, but only one makes it on the necklace, taking the space vacated by the twin of another country. This twin then joins the others in my collection of spares. And just like in my teleprompter business, it’s good to have a spare.

I highly recommend you take my idea and run with it. Finding stones for your own necklace pushes you to taking quests in foreign lands, talking to locals, and navigating unfamiliar streets. You create something of your own that looks great, attracts positive comments, and is a physical reminder of your travels. And perhaps most importantly, this is a great way to start conversations and in turn learn something about that other person.

Like I said, not much to do with teleprompting in San Francisco, but now you know!