Thursday, July 30, 2009

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco

Posting earlier about International Olympic Committee Member Anita DeFrantz reminded me of another IOC conversation of days gone by (specifically, days of 2002 in DeKalb County, Ga.). Unfortunately, no video to support the latter IOC encounter, but there are photos!

During early '02, the DeKalb International Training Center (now Atlanta DITC -- at the time a client of Edelman, the P.R. firm where I work) launched in Atlanta with the attendance of one of its patrons/co-founders, HSH the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Albert II. The Atlanta DITC remains a key legacy of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games of Atlanta (check out their intro video).

The launch event included several government officials and local politicos, media, Atlanta DITC Co-Chair Ambassador Andrew Young and Mr. Grimaldi in attendance with Atlanta DITC Co-Founder/Co-Chair, Dr. Marc-Daniel Gutekunst, who had his own Olympic introduction to Prince Albert back in 1996. For those who are curious, in 2006 the World Olympians Association published a DITC backrounder by some guy from Atlanta.

What impressed me most about Mr. Grimaldi was his approachability. In addition to speaking with dozens of guests eager to shake hands and discuss business with him at the "official" event, when we were behind the scenes he was friendly as well.

The best candid moment of the day (as an entourage from Atlanta DITC took him on a venue tour) came at the Emory University student aquatic center, where a young college student named Molly recognized Prince Albert from the pool. Her shy self-introduction quickly melted into an easy conversation with The Prince, and in no time she was asking many questions.

Without hesitation, the IOC member cheerfully answered Molly's eventual request to speak with her mother in Texas via cell phone (see photos). His conversation by phone was as down-to-earth as any other moment of the day, and he was appreciative of every volunteer and experience across Atlanta.

A few years later at another Olympic function, HSH was just as approachable.

My travels have not yet taken me to Monaco, but Monte-Carlo is on the list, including a visit to the nation's international sports events and a casino or two. I'll be looking for the royal bobsleigh training course (did you know The Prince competed at five Winter Olympiads in this sport?) -- you can bet on it!
Photo by Rick Diamond of Rick Diamond Photography in Atlanta c. 2003 for the DITC; Rick was a good sport and rode shotgun at 110 mph in the Prince's summer motorcade trek across Atlanta ... in my old Audi sans airconditioning. Rick is now with WireImage. The colleagues joining The Prince and I in the photo are Carol Milliron (beside Mr. Grimaldi) and Lisa Tilt, now of Full Tilt Consulting -- you can check out her excellent blog regarding branding.

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