The Adventures Included A Stop In Delray

Highly recommended and a thorough joy.

A few years back, we went to a conference in New York City that featured two well-known keynote speakers: Bill Clinton and Rudy Guiliani.

President Clinton was making a comeback from heart surgery and Rudy was still riding the “America’s Mayor” mantle post 9/11. This was long before bizarre press conferences at landscaping companies with dripping hair dye.
But despite the pedigrees of the two aforementioned speakers, the guy that absolutely stole the show was a plain spoken man from Brooklyn named Herb Cohen.
Herb’s conference session was the single best presentation I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a bunch of good presentations. Nobody has ever come close.
Mr. Cohen was funny, informative and devishly charming and he gave the rapt audience actionable information they could apply to their lives and their businesses.
He spoke about the art of negotiation and if you think about it, we do a lot of negotiating in every aspect of our lives.
I left the session hungry for more information and when I returned to Delray Beach I Googled Mr. Cohen to learn all I could about this master negotiator who was funnier than the best stand up comics.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Herb Cohen, Herbie to his friends and family, lived in Delray Beach!!!
Of all the gin joints in the world, Herbie lived in the town where I was serving as mayor.
I had to meet him.
So I sent an inquiry through his website and within a day heard back from his lovely wife and associate Ellen.
Herb would love to meet you, she wrote. Would we like to come to their home for brunch?
I jumped at the opportunity and Diane and I made a date with the Cohen’s.
We hit it off right away, like old friends, and I tried to contain my excitement. There were so many questions I wanted to ask Herb.
After all, he was considered the world’s best negotiator. He was the man that worked with Presidents Carter and Reagan on the Iranian hostage crisis, stared down the Russians in arms control talks and worked on labor negotiations with the auto unions and Major League Baseball. He basically invented the profession he was practicing, traveling the world working with Fortune 500 companies and other organizations who needed someone to come in and get deals done and disputes solved.
Maybe, he even had a few words of advice for a small town mayor?
We went to dinner a few times at New York Prime and we enjoyed every moment with Herb and Ellen.
Over the years, we lost touch, but I never stopped thinking about and admiring the man who wowed the crowd in NYC.
When I heard that his son, the bestselling author Rich Cohen, was working on a memoir of his dad’s life I pre-ordered the book and waited.
When the book—“The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: The World’s Best Negotiator” —arrived I devoured it in a few sittings. It’s a great book. Rich captures the unique character and life of an American original whose life also included helping the FBI create its famed behavioral unit and being best friends with Larry King and growing up with Sandy Koufax.
Pretty cool…
The book also inspired me to go back to the source material Herbie’s classic “You Can Negotiate Anything” which still sells well 40 years after being published.
I highly recommend checking it out (and then reading my book “Adventures in Local Politics “, sorry I couldn’t resist).
Anyway, we lost Ellen a few years back and Herb decided to move back to Brooklyn.  But for a brief shining moment, Delray was his home. It makes me wonder who else may be quietly residing in Delray or Boca.

Dream Plan Grow
I had the pleasure of appearing on Allison Turner’s wonderful podcast recently and I recommend you check out her series which includes conversations with local entrepreneurs.
Allison operates BatCat Media and is a business coach as well. She does important work well.
Here’s a link to our conversation.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Interview with Jeff Perlman

The New Wave Is Here…

A weekly dose of goodness.

The Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce is an oasis of warmth and community in what can sometimes feel like an endless sea of negativity.

Like many locals, I’ve been moping about the short-sighted decision to kick Old School Square to the curb after 32 years of service to the community.
But just when you feel like chucking it all and moving to Maine, here comes the Chamber of Commerce to the rescue.

They did the same thing last year, when in the midst of our Covid gloom, they took the time to honor hometown heroes.
That event was a Valentine to the community. A much needed, deeply appreciated Valentine.

This time, the Chamber saved the day with an event at the gorgeous new Ray Hotel that honored local business leaders in an array of categories.
My wife and I were in Maine buying that escape property so we couldn’t attend the event. And then we were off to Polk County to pick up our new puppy so I couldn’t get to the Delray Morning Live Show that celebrated the winners and nominees.

I regret missing these events because I appreciate the Chamber, was honored to be nominated for a community service award, and am a big fan of all the nominees.
These men and women represent the best of this city and serve as a reminder that we can have a bright future. A very bright future if…if we stop tearing things down and start supporting those who are hard at work building the future.

These people are exceptional and they have a passion for Delray Beach that is inspiring.

Let’s start with Jamael Stewart and Amanda Perna, the co-hosts of Delray Morning Live.
The show is simply outstanding and serves as a weekly pick me up for all who watch. The chemistry between the hosts is palpable and so is the positivity. Add in great guests, humor and tons of local information and you have a recipe for success.

Amanda and Jamael are great people. I admire Amanda’s world class design skills and her entrepreneurial chops which includes a retail store “A Little Wyld” and her design business “House of Perna.”

Jamael is a local success story who coaches football, volunteers tirelessly and is a master marketer for local attorney (and all around good guy) Lee Cohen.
Jamael was raised here. He was helped by great mentors like C. Ron Allen and Michael Coleman . He  is proud of Delray. We are proud of you too ,Jamael. And glad that you live and breathe your hometown.

I’m also impressed by Shaun Hall, who runs a company called Viral Vision Marketing.
Shaun is passionate about helping local non-profits and while he’s very humble, be assured he is someone to watch. He’s making an impact. That’s good news, because his heart is in the right place.

Another extraordinary leader is Business Person of the Year Allison Turner of BatCat Media.
Allison is kind, smart and dedicated to this city. And if you don’t follow her on social media, you are missing some great messages and some amazing photos of her long walks through town. I’m so thrilled she won.

There were other worthy winners and nominees: Lionfish, a great new spot from the people at Clique Hospitality and Menin Development, Johnny Mackey of Shamrock Restoration, Robes Law Group, Milagro Center, The Institute for Regional Conservation, Anna Hess and the visionaries behind Masterwing Creative. And let’s not forget Debra Tendrich, a talented non-profit leader with Eat Better, Live Better with a heart for public service.

These are the type of leaders who move the needle.

Entrepreneurial energy is essential to a city’s success.

Entrepreneurs by their nature are creative, passionate and energetic. They embrace risk, have vision and are fueled by a belief that tomorrow can be better than today.

These are the people who move a place forward.

They work hard. They play hard. They love—deeply and when they find a place they fall for they will take you places you never knew existed.

I’m passionate about the dreamers, the doers, the givers and those who support and light the way for these special people.

Way back when, when we dreamed of the future at a visioning event or a community goal setting session, we dreamt that our town would attract and retain people like Amanda, Shaun, Jamael, Allison and so many more.

I, for one, am glad they are here.

They make me bullish about our future.

Yes, we bought that place in Maine because it’s on my bucket list and Covid reminded me that we don’t get to live forever and the sand is flying fast through my personal hourglass.

Even casual readers of this blog (I appreciate you all) know I’ve been profoundly disappointed with some of the recent events in our town. No sense in sugar coating things.
But thanks to organizations like the chamber, I’m excited about the future. I can’t wait to see where our talented young business leaders will take this city. The sky is the limit. I’ve been a believer in Delray since the first time I laid eyes on the place back in 1987.
I still believe.
Yes I do.

Random thoughts:
I found myself deeply moved by the loss of General Colin Powell who died of Covid last week.
I had the privilege of meeting him briefly during a visit he made to Delray years ago. If I remember correctly, he went to the Boys and Girls Club and maybe the Full Service Center. My mom went to high school with him in The Bronx which I used as an icebreaker. He was a warm and friendly man and the kids he visited with that day were in awe. His America’s Promise effort touched a lot of lives thanks to Rita Thrasher and others in Boca. He will be missed.

I watched with a fair degree of nausea a slick video produced by the City of Delray Beach on how the city is saving the day by using Parks employees to staff events the non-profit is no longer equipped to do thanks to the city’s decision to cut off funding and end its lease.
It’s like an arsonist taking credit for putting out the fire they started. Not a good look for new City Manager Terrance Moore to be out front on a wildly unpopular and short sighted decision.
Taxpayers should be asking how much this is costing. I asked a commissioner that question and was told that the manager found “efficiencies”—which is bureaucratese or bs, take your pick. There’s no way these “efficiencies” can be more efficient than having a non-profit provide those services rather than government.
Mr. Moore seems like a kind man.  And I get that he has to carry out the will of a majority of his bosses.

But he would be well served to expand his circle by talking to people who made OSS go for three plus decades. It would serve us and him well if he did so.

On a positive note, one of the best lessons from the life of Colin Powell was his ability to own his mistakes which he did after falsely telling the United Nations that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
When that assertion proved false, General Powell admitted he was wrong. He gained a lot of admirers by doing so. Maybe that kind of character and integrity will return to politics at all levels.