As most of you know, I am sure, we are now in the midst of Mogulmania Week at the Herb Allen conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. At that pristine and august location, business honchos meet, break bread, and attempt to keep their gasbags aloft in rooms drained of available oxygen by the collective weight of all that ego.
Me, I’m jealous of the guys who get to go. For many years, my parents sent me to summer camp and, I’ll be honest with you, for the most part it was pretty much a nightmare. If you have to go to a camp — and it’s apparent that for big cheeses this is pretty much a mandatory exercise — Sun Valley is way better than the camps I was forced to attend.
In what way?
- I had to travel by bus with a bunch of screaming kids who wanted to punch me in the glasses. The assembled moguls mostly travel to Sun Valley in their own private planes, and are delivered to a tidy little landing strip from whence they are whisked away to their destination in privacy and comfort.
- I had to stay in a bunk with a couple of sinks we all had to share and a very public bathroom. One bulb, hanging on a fixture above our heads, provided all illumination. At night, we had to use flashlights to read our comics under the covers. At Sun Valley, moguls have their own private Idahos in more ways than one.
- Cabins, of course, were one-sex only, twelve or so boys or girls per bunk. Moguls are permitted to bring their spouses and enjoy full connubial privileges. We had to go out onto the ball field for that.
- We were forced to hike up hill and dale and engage in a wide number of rustic activities. On one canoe trip, my face was completely eaten by tiny gnats and I nearly got trichinosis from undercooked pork chops. Moguls at the Allen summer camp do engage in light rusticity, but nothing that would smear their Guccis, and the only one likely to eat your face is very often smiling into it.
- Speaking of food, the stuff provided at my summer camp was pretty bad. I’m betting the moguls can do better than meatloaf and canned corn.
- Once you got to my camp, there was no way to communicate with people back home and nobody knew what you were doing for weeks at a time unless you wrote postcards or letters at rest hour. At Sun Valley, there are more journalists around than there are ants on a chocolate-covered stick. Five minutes after Bob has a little chat with Betty about the upside implications of subprime, the sighting is reported on a host of online vehicles, generating the kind of speculation infinitely preferable to actual news for many media outlets.
- I was very homesick a lot of the time. Not so with our camping moguls. They can yell at people six, seven, eight times a day on BlackBerry and cell phones, then disappear into the gigantic thought bubble that hovers over the place for as long as they like. The best of both worlds!
Finally, after all was said and done I made friends at summer camp that I missed very much when I went back to my real world.
I don’t think moguls really have that problem.