Archive for June, 2008

How many will hide you?

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Just short of a month ago, I was invited to Milan by my good friend Paolo. Paolo was my roommate back when I lived in New York (almost four years ago now). Paolo now works as the personal assistant to Angelo Moratti, who is a friend of Warren Buffet. Moratti had followed Buffett around his recent European tour to introduce him to new people, and the trip ended in Milan.

Paolo had invited me to the Buffett press conference to ask a question. See the full press conference on here: Part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. I asked Buffet what he thought of the significance of true equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace, and a couple of innovative ideas for how to achieve it. The part with my question is part 2 — you have to scroll about 10 minutes 15 seconds in.

After the press conference, Paolo had also arranged a small get-together in a hotel suite, where Paolo, me and 10 other people got to speak to Buffet for about three quarters of an hour. He is completely down to earth and extremely fun.

When we asked him what his metric of success is, he responded with a beautiful metaphor: “How many people will hide you”, which is a reference to who would hide the Jews during WWII. If you have people who will hide you, you have achieved something — true friends. He is a great guy, enormous aura and has great empathy. It was a magnificent experience.

Of course, the weekend after the event was as much fun. Paolo, Stefan (my good friend, who joined for the Buffet event), Simon (my cocktail buddy and entrepreneurship thought partner), and I hit the town in Milan. We ended Sunday morning for a Mozzarella bar brunch. Below, all of us in a slightly misty Milan right after Sunday brunch on the way to the airport.

Stefan, Bjorn, Simon, Paolo

Spring vacation: Manhattan

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

My spring vacation this year went to New York with my friend Christoffer. One of my very good friends Jesper live there, and of course I have to come visit once in a while. Below is the view down Mott St, where his apartment is.

Writing up and down about New York doesn’t make so much sense anymore. Instead, let me highlight four peculiarities beyond the usual dining, clubbing and shopping:

  • The best Cuban restaurant ever
    On the corner of Prince and Elizabeth is Cafe Habana — one of the top restaurants in the “everyday” range, that I have ever been to — a very low key, Cuban restaurant with a nice and busy Latin feel to it. It is impossible to book a table, so people wait in line on the street for more than an hour to get to eat there. While waiting for our table, we stood in the bar drinking Mojitos (great Mojitos). The bartender, a great, relaxed guy, with a lot of humour, mixed the one Mojito after another as if he were a machine. After having seen some thirty Mojitos fly by, we started wondering what the few drops of black liquid he put into the Mojitos, when starting mixing. After speculating in East and West, we finally asked: “Cuban nature medicine,” he answered, “it’s makes it taste better — and then you can also say that you’re drinking a healthy Mojito.”
  • Roosevelt Island — what a bore
    When I was in New York the last time with Christoffer (last summer), we were eager to try the tram from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, but never got around to it. This was of course on the to-do list for this trip, and the short ride with the tram was exciting as any picturesque vue of the Manhattan is. But the Island itself was incredibly boring. The Queensboro bridge crosses over the south end, which is rather noisy. There was simply nothing to do, but to grab a Starbucks coffee (yes, Starbucks had found their way to this otherwise godforsaken island) and take a walk around the north tip of it. The tram ride was nice, but don’t waste time on the island itself. Below a picture from Roosevelt Island towards Manhattan, and a glimpse of the tram that takes you back and forth.

  • Williamsburg and Flushing Avenue
    We took out a day for the allegedly hip Williamsburg neighbourhood, and decided to take the Brooklyn Bridge stroll, and then head north. Let me just be the first to say: Don’t do that. To get to Williamsburg by foot from Soho via Brooklyn bridge involves 10 km and a completely dead walk on Flushing avenue in Brooklyn (I mean completely dead — no places to stop for Coke, ice cream, anything). Arriving at Williamsburg, finally, we find out that it is actually an orthodox Jewish neighbourhood, which by itself is very fascinating. That was one cultural side to New York I had never seen before. Continuing the walk through Williamsburg, we finally ended up in the allegedly hip part, but we were so tired that we didn’t manage to go to any of the cool galleries there. We stopped at the first, cool cafe we could find (there are numerous cool places to eat there — highly recommendable) and walked around a little afterwards to feel the atmosphere. All in all, a cool neighbourhood, that I have to go back to, but next time using the subway which goes directly out of Manhattan and smack down in the middle of the bohème part of Williamsburg.
  • The Shampoo store on BWAY
    I had been thoroughly instructed by my big sister to bring back Redken shampoo. Fortunately, Jesper and Mia knew a dedicated shampoo store on Broadway, east side, south of Houston, with all you could ever dream of in shampoo, skin care, and the like products — in normal sizes and super sizes — and at a price that made my sister faint. (I think a quarter to a third of the price in Denmark.) I’ll have to go there again.

Finally, the weather was great and it was great to see Mia and Jesper again — with beer on the balcony, wonderful cup cakes that Mia had found from the Magnolia baker in the Village, and much more. One morning, I even ditched my usual personal shopper (Christoffer), and went out with Mia. She is a great shopping companion, and can’t wait to go out with her again.

Below, Christoffer, Jesper, and I are on the rooftop terrace of Jesper’s apartment building.