OPPORTUNITIES – DAVID FOSTER, and other opportunities
I’ve had many great opportunities to express my opinion or unique thinking and ideas. Here are a few of them.
DAVID FOSTER, Master Composer, music producer, and a lot more.
I took time to learn film production, as research for my second book, THE MINDFIELD.
I was on the set of the set of the 911 movie. I did background for this movie, and was a stand in for the fire lieutenant. I was on the very large set, with hundreds of other people involved with that film. The emotions were running high on this set, because of the subject matter, the attack on the World Trade Center Towers. Most of the extra’s were actual police officers, and fire fighters.
I was talking with some actors, in between ‘takes’, when I was approached by a person that said I looked like David Foster.
People in the film business like to compare your looks with someone famous. I was mostly compared to Warren Beatty, even Pierce Brosnan, and once before David Foster. It is a compliment to be compared to someone famous, though I’m not star struck.
I knew only a little about David Foster at the time. I had looked him up on the internet previously when I was compared to him. I only knew he was one of the great musical arrangers of our time, and heard he lived in Malibu.
After the guy said that I looked like David Foster, a few other guys crowded into the conversation. One said I looked exactly like David, and got David on his cell phone. I was dubious that he was really a friend, or calling him. But I played along.
The guy that said he was close friends with David. He was talking to him on the phone, and told David that I looked like him. David asked his friend to ask me a question.
David asked the guy on the phone, “If you could produce any singer in the world, which singer would you produce”. I told the guy talking to David that I would choose Sarah Brightman as my first pick. I had been listening to her nearly nonstop for a few years. I thought the question from David was rhetorical or hypothetical.
I started to think it really was David on the line, but still wasn’t sure. The guy talking said David had asked, “What if she was not available. Who would be my second pick?” He put David on speaker. I thought for a minute about which other singer I loved and might be available and said ‘Andrea Bocelli’.
Next to Sarah, Andrea was also high on my list of favorites. I had gotten hooked on the two of them from a PBS special where they sang ‘Time to say goodbye’ together. Later I was eating in a spaghetti bender in San Francisco, and heard Andrea singing on a CD and fell in love with his music.
There was a pause and then David said, “He might be available”. He asked me more questions. He wanted to know “what venue” I would suggest. I had to clarify what he meant. It meant, what type of songs would Andrea be singing.
I told David that I thought Andrea Bocelli was best doing duets, and not pure classical or opera. He liked the ‘duets’ idea. David asked me what kind of songs I would suggest Bocelli sing and I said ‘American classics’. He asked what that meant.
I could only think of Elvis Presley, in that minute. The thought of Andrea singing Elvis was funny to David and could hear him laugh. He asked what song or songs. Everyone standing around laughed as well.
I told him my favorite Elvis song, from his movie, Blue Hawaii. I wasn’t sure of the name of the song, so said the lyrics. “Wise men say, only fools rush in”… He sort of gasped and said, “The Hawaiian wedding song”? That song, that movie related back to my first love, and took her to that movie.
David immediately suggested a duet partner for the song. He said how about with Katherine McPhee? Though I had seen her on American Idol, it did not click. He actually did get her to do it for the performance. It was as if, he already visualized the production. Very nice!
A year or two later, I was shocked to learn that David actually did produce Bocelli. The first production was Bocelli in Las Vegas in an outdoor setting called ‘Under The Desert Sky’ and the other was the fantastic Christmas album. I now had two new favorite albums. Both albums are iconic to me. I even listen to the Christmas album during the year as it so masterfully done and touched my heart.
Thank you so very much Mr. David Foster, Master composer and piano player for your wonderful productions. I am too happy to have been there that day. I’ve been feeling good about that day ever since. Your music is a joy to behold.
More opportunities I’ve had that are notable.
Again, there is no serious bragging going on here. These happened and I want to show you my ideas have been used and are good ideas.
Again, I was at a party. I am not sure if it was at my house or someone else’s. Someone that was invited, had brought some guys to the party that worked for the State of California Highways division, in some high capacity.
These guys were actively looking for people to express their opinions, about what could be done in California to make the existing highway system more efficient. These two or three guys, only wanted to know about, how to make the existing freeway system work better.
Well I was undeterred and continued to voice my opinion… so told them, with passion, what I thought they could do to improve the highway system.
I told them that the 680 freeway was one of the bumpiest in California. It was like a washboard. I said that I had driven a moving truck on it, when I moved from Orange County to Walnut Creek. I said, I could barely hold the steering wheel, because the uneven surface caused such major vibration.
I knew they were already grinding that freeway flat, but the concrete had major fractures and would continue to be a problem. I told them that they were grinding too deep, and only needed to grind the peaks, and they didn’t need to grind to the bottom. I thought if the peaks were flattened, the cars would ride smoothly. They seemed a bit confused at first but then ‘got it’.
I said the grinding they were doing was so deep it had compromised the freeway and they needed to cover the whole thing with asphalt. Concrete makes a stable base for asphalt, but asphalt does not make a good base for concrete. It is now 2014, and they did that project, and are now wrapping it up. They did a beautiful job.
I told them that the 405N ramp to the101W interchange was dangerous. They resisted me when I suggested a flyover for this 405 to 101 West exit. I later read in the LA Times they had changed their minds and were going to design one. Flyover freeway connectors can cost up to a billion dollars, I was told.
I also told them that the Westwood part of the 405 had been a problem since I worked there 20 years before. I suggested they pave it wall to wall, meaning the limits of the land they owned. That turned into a major project.
I told them that the Sepulveda Pass needed to be expanded. Wow, what a huge project that turned out to be. They had to cut deep into the hills and build some major retaining walls and redo bridges. Very expensive!
I told them that the bumpiness and narrow lanes of the 5 freeway between downtown LA and Orange County were also a big problem, but they said LA wasn’t ready to fix their side yet. That was back near 2012 when this conversation occurred.
I also said they should tell Los Angeles County that the pond in the middle that smelled like a sewer, needed to be made a park. they just finished that, 2016.
I was glad to see these ideas turned into projects that they do seem to move traffic better.
I was talking to a guy, that said his job was to find new products for his company, that provides household cleaning and fragrance products. He said he had an easy job, as there was really nothing they could develop.
I suggested they use the technology of an existing product in their line…Febreze, for a new aerosol product line. He immediately loved that idea. I was happy to see him run with it and be successful.
I took a job selling cars, after closing a business I could no longer do.
One night on the car sales lot, I went out to see if a customer had questions, but he said he was not a customer, but a designer for the auto manufacturer. He was looking for new ideas for the redesign of the pickup truck.
He listened intently and asked me to repeat for his recorder. I thought that was fun, and would never hear anything more about it.
I soon left that job. I needed to take care of some matters. I was concerned about making enough money to feed, and house my family.
I went back to that dealership to buy a van for my family, and was surprised by what I was told.
My prior sales manager, a dynamic and highly skilled woman, was still sales manager. She told me that the truck designer, that I had talked to that night, had come back into the dealership looking for me. She said he wanted to bring a whole design team in to talk to me.
She said I was unreachable, as I had moved and had a new phone number. This was prior to cell phones. She asked me what I told the designer that would make him want to bring in a whole team. The new truck had already been introduced to the market. This was a while after I had worked there.
I mostly suggested they make the grill more manly, big and bold. They did that one, and it started a new competition for manly grills. I said the manufacturer should get rid of the hood ornament, and replace it with a new design that was flat. I suggested how to change the front fenders to make the design better. They did everything I suggested. Very nice.
The Sales Manager gave me a huge and unexpected compliment. She said that I was a great salesman, for what I had done, for the design of the pickup truck. That was very flattering and I loved it. Thank you for that compliment, and to the designer, thank you for a great design. Your pickup set the standard for the other companies to follow. Great job!
Just one more:
I worked at a Silicon Valley company that sold telecom equipment. I managed projects that tested new products, before they went to market, or to any customer. I sometimes was involved in the ‘Idea’ phase of the product design. Divisions in that company compete with other divisions. They do not tell the other divisions what they are up to.
I was in a meeting, of one division, and suggested to the developer, that they expand the diagnostics being introduced, to include self diagnosing the switch. They did do that and was told made the switch sell well.
I have had an abundance of smaller opportunities to make my voice heard, and it was heard. I tell these stories for the sake of encouraging others to speak up when you have a good idea, that you cannot develop yourself.
We cannot always profit financially from ideas we have no burning desire to do or ability to do. We want to make a difference? I have so many ideas come to me and I could never do all of them, so I give some away. Whether I get credit or not is never a consideration.
Opportunities to be helpful, often come at the least expected times. That is our time to step up, and make your ideas known. It will make you feel better. Simple things, like a guy in the gym locker room, asking us guys if we knew where to find a little motor. Well, I knew and sent him off to Cal Tech. There he found his motor and a new toothbrush was born.
Based on the book, ‘THE POINT’ by Ronald G. Matthews
Copyright 2012 version 07.12.12