I grew up as the son of an American Diplomat. For most of my early life we moved every two years. Kuala Lumpur, Warsaw, Jakarta, Seoul, Manila. It's a life I won't wish on anyone nor would I exchange it for another. I stutter—worse as a kid than I do now. Growing up I learned to watch as a way of understanding what the rules are. I've taken the coping process for a handicap, and turned it in a profession.
In 1975 I moved to New York City with the goal of working for the American Urbanist William H. Whyte. I joined Project for Public Spaces, the not-for-profit organization he had just started. I offered to work for three months without a salary to prove my worth. That summer I stood six feet four inches tall and weighed 168 pounds. Like so many smart misfits that head to New York City to find a place, it took me a while to find mine. Yes I did eventually get a salary, but I had lean times.
If you'd asked me back then if I'd end up as an expert in: QSR Drive-thrus, lip stick, and troubled shopping malls, much less the author of books that sell millions of copies all over the world, or the CEO of Envirosell, a global Research and Consulting firm, I would asked you what insane asylum you'd escaped from. Life often picks us up and takes us to unexpected places. You've now landed on one of mine. Thanks for coming.