Behind the scenes of the first Fortune 500 Day


Our managing editor, Andy Serwer, was driving around Manhattan in a 1964 Cadillac convertible, letting everyone know it was Fortune 500 Day.

As people walked to work Monday, Andy yelled from the back seat “IT’S FORTUNE 500 DAY, TAKE THE DAY OFF!” We had 50 issues of the magazine in the trunk, and we hopped in the car after visiting CBS Studios where Andy revealed Exxon Mobil as the top company on the list on CBS This Morning. We were headed to MetLife, which was ranked No. 34 on this year’s list. When we made it to the executive floor, Andy met with Steve Kandarian, who became CEO last May.

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We didn’t leave MetLife until Andy handed out a few necklaces that had a small Fortune cover on one side and mirror on the other, and he showed a few people his Fortune cufflinks. “Happy Fortune 500 Day to you all,” he said, and we left for the next destination.

From MetLife, we made our way to Estée Lauder, located on the 40th floor of the GM Building. Andy met with Chairman William Lauder, who looked at a photo of his board featured in the issue. They stood in the reception area that looked out onto Central Park and beyond, while chatting about what it took to jump 17 spots on the list to number 290. More necklaces were given out, and Lauder signed an issue. Our sharpie broke and Lauder kindly gave us a new one while saying, “I think we can afford it.”

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A security guard asked us to leave right as we finished up filming outside of the building. We got back in the car, traveled to CBS, and then Citigroup. Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citi, talked to Andy about everything from Citi’s performance in 2011, to their new bike program in NYC starting this summer and how he wants American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault who we were visiting at our next stop to purchase a Citi card. From our view of Park Avenue, Andy pointed to our ride. “That’s a great car,” said Pandit.

Businessmen, truck drivers, and a dozen others asked us what kind of car we were driving as we were stuck in traffic heading downtown to see Chenault at American Express. It started to drizzle, but Andy held up a large Fortune 500 Day sign and continued to spread the word.

From American Express, there was a brief stop at The Robin Hood Foundation Veteran’s Summit during cocktail hour, and then we headed to the closing bell at the NYSE.

The rain continued to come down, our signs were used as shields, and the top stayed down because a drizzle wasn’t going to rain on the Fortune 500 Day parade.

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