April 10, 2012
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The last time I was on a cruise ship, I wore a bunny suit. Before you try too hard to wrap your head around that visual, let me add that I was two years old and carrying a large, fake carrot.
So it was ironic when just a few weeks ago, on a cruise industry research field trip, I found myself once again behaving like a two-year old.
Allow me to explain...
This time, I was in Miami with a group of investors led by Steve Wieczynski, an insightful Stifel Nicolaus sell-side analyst. We were meeting with Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Micky Arison, who patiently answered our questions over sandwiches. It was during that lunch I misbehaved.
No, I didn't bite anyone or snatch their cookies. Instead, I found myself absolutely unable to stop staring at our host.
Micky Arison is urbane, clever, articulate and clearly the guy in charge, as was evident from the moment he was ushered into the room. Arison grew up in the business (his father was the company's founder) and he wears the mantle of authority lightly on his shoulders.
In short, he looked the part of the stereotypical CEO - white, middle-aged, well-groomed, wearing a fancy watch and a discreet Cartier wedding band. Clearly these are not stare-worthy attributes.
But it was what didn't fit the conventional image of a CEO that made me behave badly - on the fourth finger of his right hand he wore an onyx and gold ring the size of South Dakota.
Seriously, it was so big that you could have served breakfast for two on that thing.
So while Arison was gamely answering an endless stream of questions about the shipwrecked Concordia, I kept trying to reconcile the ring to the man:
Since his clothing and other accessories were conservative, he clearly wasn't a flashy, bling for bling's sake kind of guy.
Maybe the ring had sentimental value of some kind. Could it be a class ring? And yet, what school could be so full of itself that it required its graduates to wear a five pound weight on their hand as a sign of fealty?
Having eliminated Harvard (the swath of gold inlaid in a vast expanse of onyx was not shaped like the telltale shield) and West Point (having had my hand crushed by more than one ring-bearing West Pointer I would have recognized it), I finally concluded that it must be some school in Texas. ("Everything is bigger in Texas.")
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