Monday, March 29, 2010

Baseball and George Will

With Opening Day just around the corner, thought it appropriate to share a Baseball quiz from one of America's most well known baseball fans. For those who have been with the Sacramento Speakers Series since our inception back in 2005, surely you'll remember the baseball loyalist and political pundit, Mr. George Will.

Great quiz, and for the record, I did not score a Grand Slam!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Greetings from the Sacramento Speakers Series. For the first time in our five year history, we are writing to inform you that one of our speakers has been forced to cancel her appearance.

Due to an unexpected and uncontrollable circumstance, Dr. Sylvia Earle will not be appearing in Sacramento during our April 6th program.

In an effort to keep the integrity of our series intact, we have worked around the clock to find a qualified speaker whose expertise and experience relates to adventure and our oceans.

We are fortunate and excited to introduce Dr. Joe MacInnis as our distinguished guest for our upcoming April 6th lecture.

Dr. Joseph MacInnis is a physician-scientist who spent three decades studying physiology of humans working under the ocean. Between 1964 and 1994, he led thirty expeditions and logged more than five thousand hours under the Great Lakes, the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.

Additionally, Dr. MacInnis has worked with Academy Award winning director James Cameron on a series of deep-sea documentaries which included 40 dives at ten deep hydrothermal vent sites surrounded by bizarre communities of life.

Dr. MacInnis will speak of his experiences and encounters in our great oceans and lecture on the physiology of humans working under extreme conditions underwater.

While we take every precaution possible to eliminate the chance of speaker reschedules and/or cancellations, unforeseen circumstances do happen. Please trust that we have and will continue to work tirelessly to keep these instances to a minimum.

We apologize for any issues that Dr. Earle's cancellation may have caused you. We firmly believe that Dr. MacInnis will be a fantastic replacement and we look forward to seeing you on April 6th.

Jeffrey Toobin Feedback

Based on collective client feedback, think it is fair to say that the Jeffrey Toobin event was a very successful endeavor.

Mr. Toobin graded out with high 4's in all of the categories that we survey (lecture, Q&A, acoustics, lighting, and overall experience) and personal comments were very positive and complimentary.

I myself was highly impressed with Mr. Toobin's extensive knowledge of the history of the Court and his ability to give the social, economic, and political conditions of time period he was referencing without the use of many notes, etc.

I agree with the few patrons commented that Toobin seemed a bit distracted and "lost his place" a few times during the lecture. For those who were not aware, Toobin has quite a bit going on in his personal life and one can only wonder if it is/was the root of his concentration lags.
I thought the Q&A segment was particularly interesting with great questions coming from patrons on the "Chicago Bearing Arms" Case as well as the "Corporation Spending" ruling which was just handed down. While the Prop. 8 question was posed and answered, would have liked Toobin to dig a bit deeper on the subject.

A few patrons did comment that we stopped the Q&A segment about 5 minutes early than normal. This assertion is true, based on the fact that we were out of questions and really had nothing left to ask Mr. Toobin from our list of patron questions.
Patron Quotes from the Engagement

"Jeffrey Toobin gave the most substantial and honest comments of the season's presenters.
He presented some personal insights of events in historical sequence, which provided insight as to who/why things have transpired. He was more entertaining than Colin Powell, which was a surprise to me, as I anticipated that he would be the best speaker of this series."

"This was the best of all the spkr series events I have attended. (1 full yr and so far this year everyone). Mr. Toobin is the perfect speaker with a great subject and the ability to connect to other events. Great selection."

"Mr. Toobin was very liberal. I also found him to be vague. Often he mentioned court cases, but with no explanation. It seemed like he thought he was talking to an audience of lawyers only. "

"The evening was great. We enjoyed his insights regarding the personal side of the justices and his comments on how the court has changed over the years and why it has changed. Good evening!"

"I loved the anecdotes and the humor and hearing a knowledgeable perspective about the Supreme Court. Toobin plainly leans to the left, but does so without rancor or snide remarks or being offensive. He made me think and provided fresh insights, which is what I look for in this series."

PROGRAM GRADES (1 low / 5 High)
Overall Enjoyment 4.6
Lecture 4.6
Q&A 4.5
Lighting 4.3
Acoustics 4.4
94% labeled the evening "money well spent" and 93% felt that Mr. Toobin met or exceeded their expectations.

Want to share some additional thougts? Add your comment below.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010-2011 Season Announcement (Almost)

Hints for those Interested on our 2010-2011 Season:

Speaker #1 - October - Born in 1946. Female. Graduated from SMU. She and husband have two daughters. Created the National Book Festival.

Speaker #2 - November. Born in 1954. Male. Began his "vocation" at age 11. Has worked on all 7 continents.

Speaker #3- January. Born in 1940. Male. Attended Univ. of Iowa but graduated from Univ. of South Dakota. Has worked for same company where he became a household name for 44 years.

Speaker #4- February. Born in 1948. Male. Retired CEO of multinational company who now lobbies in the industry for policy and industry reform.

Speaker #5 - March. Born in 1934. Female. Has been awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life from Harvard.

Speaker #6 - April. Born in 1960. Female. Reporter and writer best known as an author whose book was named "Top 10 of the Decade" by Amazon.

Guesses anyone?? Let's see if these hints were too hard or easy....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rich Kaarlgard Recap

With the Rich Kaarlgard program behind us, I thought I'd share some patron feedback as well as my own thoughts about the program. We will begin using this platform to share the feedback from past engagements rather than take up precious stage time during each program moving forward.

Patron Ratings of the Program (1 Low / 5 High):

Overall Enjoyment 3.9

Lecture 3.8

Q&A Segment 3.8

Lighting 4.1

Acoustics 4.3

76% of patrons polled rated the event "money well spent" and 79% said that Mr. Kaarlgard met their expectations.

From my own standpoint, Mr. Kaarlgard was clearly not our "best" speaker ever, but far from our worst (that distinction goes to Richard Dreyfuss). The Economy continues to be a topic that resonates with patrons, but we've had challenges in finding speakers who are both entertaining/captivating and strong in content.

I enjoyed the lecture portion of the evening and Kaarlgard's comparison of the 1970's recession and the one we find ourselves into today. I also found it interesting that he "blamed" the media for much of the nation's poor "consumer confidence" scores even though he represents one of the periodicals creating the problem. Anything to sell a magazine I guess. :)
We did receive numerous complaints about the parking situation as the program was held on the President's Day Holiday. We apologize for the inconvenience and will do our best to stay away from the national holidays in the future. With that said, we are at the mercy of the Sacramento Convention Center and are only able to choose from dates not reserved by the California Musical Theater, Sacramento Opera, and Sacramento Ballet.

Individual patron feedback was consistent Mr. Kaarlgard's collective scores. Many found his talk full of interesting numbers and comparisons while a few found it disjointed and unorganized. The Q&A portion received many comments most sharing that Kaarlgard did not answer the question(s); speaking in generalities and "above the trees".

Kaarlgard was the first speaker of the season that touched a few of our patrons' political nerves. Right leaning patrons enjoyed his candor and intellect while a few "blue" patrons were somewhat put off by Kaarlgard's comments. For the record, this type of feedback is almost unavoidable as we cannot program full seasons with speakers who have not political insight (left or right).

A few Patron Comments:

"Richard's talk was very interesting all the way through. He's well informed and gave great insights on a lot of different issues. I'd say this ranked at close to the top of speakers you've had in the last couple seasons."

"He was too political. Strictly from the FOX news talking points. It would have been more interesting to talk about the current economic situation vs historical situation without his personal political jabs thrown in."

"Karlgaard gave simplistic answers to complex questions--saying short sellers were totally responsible for the the collapse of banks, for instance--and managed to insult anyone even slightly to the left. I attend this series to listen and learn from people who think differently. Instead, all I heard last night was partisan rhetoric."

"Richard Karlgaard was one of my all time favorites. He gave our economy a historical perspective that was understandable and comprehensive. What an intelligent man. I was so impressed! "

As always, we appreciate the time and consideration those give us in taking our speaker feedback survey each month. We hope this blog will give you some more insight on the collective feedback of the patron group as a whole and give you a forum to continue the "water cooler" dialogue after each of our programs.