American Express OPEN hit one out of the ballpark tonight, with its small business event, “Making a Name for Yourself.” I am in New York where the event took place tonight. This is the first in a series of posts I will be writing about the event.
Making a Name for Yourself focused on branding. The event was a combination of entertainment and business. It featured a question and answer session with three highly successful entrepreneurs: handbag designers Kate and Andy Spade, and cosmetics mogul Bobbi Brown. Thousands attended the event live in Times Square at the Nokia Theater, a fitting setting since it is itself a branded theater. Another 6000 attended the live simulcast over the Internet.
Last fall I attended another Amex OPEN event, featuring billionaire Sir Richard Branson who was interviewed by Jane Pauley. Being in the position to compare the two, I could appreciate the planning and attention to detail that went into tonight’s event. Tonight’s event was far more polished, better scripted, more ambitious, and offered more entertainment along with the evening’s business content.
But perhaps the biggest difference was in the audience characteristics. All were American Express OPEN customers, yet the businesses represented in tonight’s event were weighted heavily toward creative ones, such as: jewelry design, beauty salons, fashion design, accessory retailing and even a business owner who described his company as “audio products for meditation.”
Perhaps to emphasize the sometimes unconventional and highly creative businesses that entrepreneurs start, the end of the event featured a surprise special guest: Ellen DeGeneres, who gave a 10 minute comedy routine.
Come back and read more about tonight’s event in subsequent posts.
Image: Handbag fashion design company owners Kate and Andy Spade at the Amex OPEN event at Nokia Theater, New York, July 27, 2006.