We dodged rain and the occasional beggar; they were too well dressed to take their requests for money seriously. The rain eased, and we eased into a bar, where I ordered a vodka tonic. The music inside was too loud. I shied from the thumping beat, and slipped back to the side street, where people stood around and chatted. I bummed a smoke. Some partygoers strode by in neon uniforms. Their leader halted, in the middle of the street, and announced their heading by loudhailer. One of their crew, who dressed and spoke more quietly than the others, wandered towards us. He offered a ticket, recommending we join him. I declined, then allowed the peace to wash around me, taking the place where the revellers had briefly stood. Porto is not the biggest city in the world, but it is a good place to relax. That was my intention. And so I observed the man standing across from me. Slightly shaggy-haired, sporting a few days’ stubble, he leaned against a lamppost and gazed down the length of the street, whilst sipping from his bottle of beer. I admired him, and his Portuguese sensibility. He looked content, free from care. Whilst others talked, he stood apart, taking in the night air.
And then I looked again, and realized that I knew this man. It was the man, the boss, the CEO. Rui Paiva, Chief Executive of WeDo, was filling a moment of calm. For their 2014 user event, WeDo had drawn customers to Porto from 44 different countries around the world. But here, on the night of that meeting, the CEO was enjoying a beer, confident his team took care of the serious business of ensuring everybody had a good time. And this was no act. Many bosses like to stand on the stage, showing the audience how assured and successful they are. This CEO stood to one side, unaware of my eyes upon him. There was no stage and no performance, only his drink and the mood of the street. And so I interrupted this perfect moment by calling to him, joking at how relaxed he looked. But the joke was on me, because his easy smile confirmed what I had already seen. This man had no doubt that everything was going smoothly, and had no reason to. Like a theatre director, he had assembled a cast and given instruction on the parts they all played. His work done, he too could enjoy his leisure.
WeDo’s WWUG14 has left me with too many thoughts and reflections to share them all now. Please grant me a few more moments of quiet contemplation, whilst I prepare them for you.