June 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I will be away from my computer over the next 5 days as I am working at a large Anthony Robbins event in Toronto for the Power Within. It’s the same one I worked at last year. For those who know the event (UPW), yes I will once again be walking on red hot, 1200 degree coals in the infamous Fire Walk! Trust me, it’s a cool thing to do. If you can walk on fire, you can pretty well do anything…and that’s the point.
Tony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I'm just peeking out in the last row second from your right.

Anthony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I can be found in the last row, second from your right.

When I worked at Tony Robbins’ event last year, I was in the mindset of making sure that the ‘paying guests’ were well taken care of and that I, and my teammates, did everything we could to make the event as successful as possible.

But even as a volunteer you can’t help but soak in much of the content that Tony shares with his participants. And that got me thinking. Did my life change in the past year since the last time I did this event? The answer is a resounding YES!

Here are some of the highlights that have occurred for me in the last year.

1. I started this blog “A Little Touch of History” in May, 2008. But it really didn’t take off until August, 2008  just after I did Tony’s event.

2. I wrote about 100 articles and the contents for a book which I am currently in the process of producing. Neither of these things were on my ‘to do list’ last year.

3. I made some great new friends and colleagues this year. Something that I truly cherish in my life. You gals and guys know who you are.

4. I gave up coffee (and have only had 3 cups since last July, 2008). The desire is no longer there. Prior to that I was doing 3-4 cups a day.

5. I was welcomed into the Lincoln research community which blew me away. I had always been in awe of the great work that these fine folks have done and to be treated with great respect and kindness by them was humbling. Thank you to you all. I’m proud to rub elbows with you all.

6. I met and spoke with President Bill Clinton, former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus. I never thought that would ever happen!

7. I started doing public speaking presentations at schools and even at a conference. It is one of my real passions.

…and the list goes on.

Perhaps it was just ‘MY YEAR’ for these things to happen.  Or can they be attributed to Tony’s influence? Honestly, other than giving up the coffee (which is directly related to the event) I can’t say for sure. But I believe things happen for a reason and I will continue to read the signs that have been placed in front of me to act upon.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings but I’ve got a pretty good idea that this train will continue to roll down the tracks and gather more and more steam. Whatever happens, I’m really looking forward to the experience.

I’ll speak to you upon my return next week. If you have stories like this that you’d like to share, please feel free to drop me a line here and I’ll be happy to post them.




NOTE: If you are interested in joining my mailing list for updates on the progress of my book, The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos: A Study in Detail please send me your email at the and I will be happy to add you to the list.


May 30, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Courtesy of Reuters

May 29, 2009 - President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton in Toronto during the moderated section of "A Conversation with Presidents" event. Courtesy of Reuters

Yesterday the city of Toronto, Canada was host to a unique and first time event. President George W. Bush (43rd) and President William Jefferson Clinton (42nd) met publicly for the first time since President Bush left office in January, 2009. They were in Toronto to have a ‘moderated conversation’ in front of an estimated audience of about 5500 people. 

I am a senior volunteer for the Power Within (co-producer of the event) and a real fan of sharing what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, I’ll fill you in on how the day went and a little bit about how events like this come together. For the record, I have been volunteering for the Power Within since 2007 and have enjoyed working  their events and interacting with the audiences they attract. 

As a brief introduction to the public speaking event industry, the producer of the event is responsible for pulling the show together. They may come up with the concept themselves or coordinate it on behalf of other parties. Don’t be fooled. This is not a simple task. This is show business. And what it takes to ‘put on the show’ is a massive coordinated effort. Hopefully in the end, the audience sees a seamless and enjoyable presentation. In the case of yesterday’s program, two ex-Presidents of the United States shared the same stage together and talked for about two hours on 21st century world issues. On the surface, that is what the audience came to see. What went on behind the scenes prior to the event is what this article is about. 

For any event, once the program is defined and the talent (in this case the Presidents) contractually confirmed, then the show itself has to be pulled together. A venue is selected, the solicitation of sponsors begins, PR & marketing kick into gear and the early stages of logistics ramp up. Once the basics are in place (the who, what, where and when), ticket sales are started. I’m making it all sound simpler than it is. In reality it is a highly coordinated effort with many disciplines interacting with each other. As many of you know, I was the Sr. Project Manager for the King Tut exhibit that started touring the United States in June of 2005.  The process for that, and most other well-coordinated shows, is almost identical to this. You will notice that when I mentioned the ‘who, what, where and when’, I left out the ‘how’. Well, that’s what ‘logistics’ is all about.

Logistics involves thousands of details being planned and executed. To name just a few of the basics, you need to deal with transportation, lighting, audio-visual requirements, staging, staffing, venue coordination, food and beverage, washrooms, tickets, seating, VIP considerations, speakers and their staffs’ needs,  sponsors and their needs, medical and EMS requirements, fire and safety, and of course security.

With regards to security, you can imagine that to protect not one, but two Presidents of the United States in one location is a logistical nightmare. President Clinton and President Bush each have their own Secret Service details. Then there is the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police who protect all government officials and visiting dignateries to Canada), local police and venue security staff. All parties work hand-in-hand to protect the Presidents and make the event secure for the people attending. 

Please let me state that in no way am I personally involved with any of the arrangements mentioned above for the Power Within or any of the security forces mentioned. As a volunteer I have my own ‘job to do’. I just wanted to make you aware of what goes on in setting up such an event like this.

Now let’s get to yesterday’s event.

The event had about 5500 paid attendees ranging from about C$200 to C$2500 per ticket. Now before your jaw drops about the higher priced ticket, this was for people who desired to attend a private luncheon and photo session with the Presidents before the event. 

The location of the event was the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The doors opened to the public at around1:00 pm with the event scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm. A volunteer orientation meeting was held the night before where 70+ recruited volunteers attended. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the logistics of the event and visit the room where the event will take place. They volunteers learn what their job will be the next day (doing everything from working as a ‘greeter’ in the lobby to assisting at the photo op with the Presidents and their special guests. I’ve worked all these positions at one time or another and frankly love them all. Yesterday, my job was to coordinate with two other Senior Veterans and manage about 40 volunteers assigned as “IN ROOM USHERS”. IN ROOM is the term we use for the actual room where the event takes place. Our job was to get all 5500 people seated and ready for the show and deal with any problems that may arise. Seating 5500 people is no easy task. Events of this type attract dignitaries, celebrities, CEOs, Presidents, sponsors and groups, the general public and people from all over the world. There are different ticket prices and you need to be sensitive to everyone’s needs and requirements. In the end, you have to have everyone seated and ready to go when the event begins. Yesterday went fairly well. Typical problems usually involved people sneaking into sections they were not supposed to be, people saving seats for others, impatient attendees wondering when the event would start, etc, etc, etc. No big deal. In general, this audience was really great and once everyone was seated and the lights turned down, the show began and everyone forgot any issues they may have had earlier in the day.

The event:  I won’t get into all the nitty gritty of the actual content of the event as news stories have been run in all the major publications, news services, MSNBC, CNN, television and radio news, and has been fodder for Jay Leno and David Letterman.  But here are my impressions.

The stage was set up with one podium on the left side of the stage. To the right of this were three big comfy green leather chairs with tables between each holding water bottles and hand microphones.

After being introduced, President Clinton was first to come out and spoke briefly in his usual easy going, confident and charming way. I have seen the President speak five times now and his natural charisma just captures and holds an audience’s attention. He joked and spoke about what he is currently doing as an ‘ex-President’. He humorously bemoaned the fact that of all the things he has missed since leaving office was that during personal appearances they no longer play ‘the song’ (Hail to the Chief). He really misses that. The crowd ate it up. After his short 10 – 15 minutes talk, he took a seat in one of the chairs on stage.

Next President Bush was introduced. Where President Clinton has been a consistent visitor to Toronto and a good friend to Canada, people were apprehensive about how the audience would respond the Mr. Bush in his first public appearance in Toronto. As expected, protesters were camped outside of the venue with signs and chants showing their disapproval of President Bush’s policies and involvement in the war. Also, there was the perception that the President might struggle with his public speaking. Well, all those fears were dispelled very quickly as he stepped onto the stage looking relaxed, stress-free and confident, and then launched into a series of ‘one liners’ that had the crowd laughing and quickly on his side. His jokes were often self-deprecating and genuinely funny. He mentioned that like most A-type people he needs to stay active. Now that he is out of office he is writing a book, which was a surprise to many, because they figured he has never even read one! This also got a great laugh from the crowd. Whether well-coached or genuinely looking and feeling relaxed, President Bush came off as enjoying himself and thoroughly having fun with this event. I felt that the audience really enjoyed it too.

The next phase of the event was where Frank McKenna, former Canadian Ambassador to the United States in 2005, moderated a series of questions as they all sat in those big green comfy leather chairs. Early on, both Presidents joked that the audience had come to see the event in hopes of witnessing fireworks between the two of them. For the most part, although the questions were moderate in nature, very few differences of opinion came from either gentleman. In fact, both President Clinton and President Bush backed each other when a policy issue or international event was discussed. 

When President Clinton took personal responsibility for not reacting fast enough to the genocide in Rwanda (800,000 were killed in 9 days), saying that in hindsight he should have sent troops into Rwanda to stop the carnage and perhaps save 300,000 to 400,000 lives. He was defended strongly by President Bush saying that it’s not easy being President. You just can’t send 20,000 troops into action. There is a process that is required. Approval from various levels of  the US government, other governments and the UN. Then there are the sheer logistics of mobilizing 20,000 troops and their equipment and weapons, transportation, food, etc. It just can’t happen in a short period of time.

All in all, I believe the audience had an enjoyable and entertaining time hearing these two former world leaders speak. Regardless of everyone’s politics, the presence of these two men had everyone hanging on their every word. 

From a personal point of view, I really enjoyed this event. But what I liked best of all was the fact that several audience members I met had brought their teenage kids with them to see these two world leaders. So few proud Americans, let alone their kids, will ever get the chance to see a President speak live. As a kid, I was lucky enough to see a speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the late ’60s that my father took me to. I was with the Cub Scouts at the time and I’ll always remember how amazing it was to see the President of the United States speak in person. I carry that same feeling to this day. And I’m glad that these parents were able to find a way to bring their kids to this event. I truly think it will stay with them for the rest of their lives as it did with me.




November 26, 2008: Barry Cauchon

As many of you know, I volunteer for an organization called the Power Within that puts on high-powered speaker events. Today, we hosted President Bill Clinton in London, Ontario, Canada. I have volunteered at two previous Clinton speeches (one on November 13, 2007 and the other on October 16, 2008) and so this time, I think the folks at the Power Within wanted to give me a ‘thank you’ surprise. So they assigned me to work with the photographer in the Pre-Show Photo Op session. This is a 20 minute period where about 100 pre-paid patrons come to get their pictures taken with the President.

So there we were, set up and ready to go in a small 10′ x 10′ room, with the 100 people lined up just outside, waiting for their opportunity. Inside the room was me, the photographer, another volunteer colleague Louise, and 2 to 3 other sponsor reps. Except for Louis and me, everyone was in either a suit or dress. Louise and I were wearing bright blue STAFF tops. We kind of stood out in the sea of suits!!!

After about a half-hour delay, the room began to quickly fill with secret service, additional sponsor reps and President Clinton’s advance team members. All in all, there were now probably about 15 people in this tiny little room.

Finally President Clinton entered the room to my right. He looked around and then walked over to Louise and me and greeted us. After saying hi to Louise, he stepped in front of me, shook my hand and said “Hello. Nice to see you”. “Nice to see you too, Mr. President. Have a great day!” was my reply. WOW. That was totally unexpected.

Other than the 100 people that were about to come in and get their pictures taken with him, we were the only two he greeted. So cool! Anyway, I got to then spend the next 20 minutes standing within 6 feet of the President watching him work with the various people who came to get their pictures taken with him. He is warm and inviting and of course, very personable. It was a great gift and I want to thank my friends at the Power Within for doing this for me.

As a transplanted American citizen living in Canada, it was a very proud moment for me to meet the President of the United States. Up until seeing President Clinton give his speech last November, I had only seen one other President speak live, and that was LBJ. In 1965, when I was a cub scout, I saw LBJ give a live speech at Langley Air force Base in Hampton, Virginia. It left quite an impression on me.

So years later, I’ve now actually met the President of the United States. And I did it by just being a volunteer and giving my time and energy to an organization that brings great speakers to the public. You never know where things will lead you to, but for me, look what happened! It was great.

Thanks for letting me share.



Published in: on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at '7:21 pm'  Comments (13)  
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