Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

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Articles: Influence, Relationship & Human Performance Skills Archives

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Just Getting Started - How About You?

My riff on #Tony Bennett and his new memoir, and what it means for us.

I’ve been a fan of Tony Bennett since I was 17. About 15 or 20 years ago I discovered we shared the same birthday – though not nearly the same year. So when he and I coincidently were attending receptions in the same room of the Players’ Club in New York about four years ago, I walked up to him, introduced myself and told him of our shared birthday. Without missing a beat, he replied, ”Well, we’ll have to meet up again some day on our birthdays.” Hasn’t happened yet, and doubtful it will, but that’s Tony – friendly, accessible, and gracious - just as I had heard from people who have interacted with him over the years.

At age 90 still performing an active schedule with substantial travel, and painting - his other passion, Bennett has written a memoir (with his paintings making it all the more vivid) with NPR’s Scott Simon, titled “Just Getting Started” about family, friends and other performers who have influenced him over his life. Some will be surprising. What shines through the book and his stories is his devotion to quality in all things and his infectious enthusiasm.

My takeaways are his open-mindedness, always following his passions, and love of continuous learning - often from people in their 20s. He has been collaborating as a performing artist and mutual mentoring across the generations. And he’s been reinventing himself while bringing the American songbook of classy classics to younger audiences. The reinventing in the last few decades owes much to his son Danny, who became his business manager as Bennett was emerging from hard times in both career and personal demons and addiction. Danny connected Tony with much younger generations of fans and he is thriving on work with such popular multidimensional artists as Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse, both of whom he considers great jazz artists. He has even performed in this year’s Thanksgiving Day parade with Miss Piggy, who kept him from falling off the float they were on as they sung.

So it’s clear Tony Bennett continues to act as if he is just getting started. He could be a role model for all of us. And as I have expressed before, he and Lady Gaga are my dream team to interview on cross-generational conversation. Who can make me an introduction?

As we enter a new year full of uncertainties and unpredictabilities (Is that even a word?), dashed hopes for some, exhilaration for others and more holiday cards with “peace” selling than “cheer,” I urge you as the congenital optimist I am (though one who doesn’t like being disappointed) that there is always something to “just get started.” Let’s pursue with passion and come together with both like-minded people and those contrary-minded to civilly engage, to learn and change for the better. As we say in improv, “Make positive choices – Yes and…”

Wishing you a healthy and fulfilling 2017 with happy surprises!