When Lew Feldman, chairman of law firm Goodwin Procter’s L.A. office, sat down with Westfield Group co-Chief Executive Peter Lowy last month for a real estate symposium talk in downtown Los Angeles, it was more than the usual highbrow market discussion.
Feldman, a stand-up comic in his early days, started things off by peppering the real estate mogul with a series of droll icebreakers: What’s your favorite animal? Being Austra-lian, have you ever tied a kangaroo down? Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occur on the same night this year – what special food combinations are you looking forward to?
Lowy’s answers: pass; no, but kangaroos are a good answer for “favorite animal”; turkey and latkes.
The jokiness gave way to discussions of Lowy’s family, capital sources and the future of retail, and ended on a serious note as Lowy spoke about his commencement address this year at UCLA’s Anderson School of Manage-ment. He said it was triggered
by the thought experiment of how to make an impact in 100 years.
“What I tried to say at UCLA is no matter how successful the kids are and no matter how much money they make, their grandchildren won’t remember their business career – it won’t mean anything to them,” he said. “They’ll remember what they did in life. They’ll remember what they told them in life. They’ll remember how they acted, what they did when the chips were down, who they worked with, how they helped and what they tried to create. … That’s how you affect people 100 years hence.”
Feldman, who considers Lowy a friend in addition to a legal client, told the Business Journal
the humorous start helped.“I think humor helps people break down defenses,” he said. “He was more candid.”
Ashley Mendel and her husband, Shawn, run Funley’s Delicious, a chocolate and snacks maker in Westwood. But for them, chocolate is more than a business, it cuts to the very foundation of their relationship.
Shawn is a true chocoholic – enough that in their wedding vows Ashley promised to keep him always in arm’s reach of chocolate. The connection goes deeper still.
The two met in a movie theater. Ashley was walking to her seat trying to open a bag of M&Ms when fate intervened.
“The bag wouldn’t open so I pulled hard and it just exploded everywhere,” Ashley, 40, said.
“He turned around and took the opportunity to introduce himself.”
After the film ended, he worked up the courage to approach his unwitting assailant.
“He came up to me and said, ‘So how does a guy in a theater ask a girl out?’” Ashley remembered. “And I said, ‘Just like that.’”
They were married eight years later.
The movie they watched on that fated day? “The Perfect Storm.”
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