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Ann Curry, Calvin Klein and a Real-Life Seinfeld Character

1003_mockup.gifForget about the dog days of summer. The stifling heat couldn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. In fact, many of the power lunchers showed up early to escape the oppressive temps which made for a jam packed dining room. The always unflappable Loreal Sherman kept everything running smoothly as usual, finding just the right table for everyone despite the SRO crowd. At Michael’s, you are where you sit after all.

I was joined today by Scott Singer, managing director of Discover Digital Group where he helps media companies identify and build e-commerce businesses, as well as assisting them in growing their existing digital assets. When he’s not navigating his clients through the changing world of social media and mobile advertising, Scott is also a passionate author. In his first book, How to Hit a Curveball: Confront and Overcome the Unexpected in Business (Portfolio, 2010), Scott took on the question on everyone’s mind at the time: how to survive and thrive after the 2008 financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession. “I’ve spent my career advising companies (including CBS/Viacom and Disney) on how to overcome and confront change,” Scott told me. After enduring his own series of personal and professional ‘curveballs’ —  his job as head of digital media and internet infrastructure at Bear Sterns was a fatality of the tech bubble, his brother was in one of the towers at the World Trade Center on 9/11 but thankfully survived and he got divorced (“My marriage ended in a death spiral,” he writes in the book), Scott told me he learned that “None of us know what the future holds but, once you’ve learned how to confront and overcome the unexpected, it will stop making you anxious. Tomorrow will no longer be something to fear and that’s a great feeling.”

Diane Clehane and Scott Singer
Diane Clehane and Scott Singer

Cleverly outlining his insights using baseball terminology, Scott leads the reader from ‘spring training’ all the way through ‘an extra inning’ and includes the wisdom of those who have always aimed for the fences, like CBS honcho Les Moonves, former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin and Michael J. Fox.

Scott’s best advice: Step up to the plate and accept what is, be the batter and keep your eye on the ball. A self-proclaimed enthusiast for the latest and best gadgets on the market, Scott says these rules are easily applicable in business, especially when it comes to new technology. Change is happening every minute and the only way to win is to embrace it and be an early adapter. Just look at our kids.

“Every child today is born digital. It’s in their DNA, while those people that are passing away are analog. We’re digital immigrants,” he says. “My 14 year-old son is my IT support. It’s amazing to think of all the innovations the digital generation is going to create.”

And when it comes to companies and technology, “Most innovation and change tends to occur outside major corporations.” Today’s startup is tomorrow’s technological leader. Just look at Facebook (regardless of the stock price). “It’s a monster success in terms of the number of users,” says Scott, and companies can either develop their own channels of e-commerce and online advertising, or turn over all that potential revenue to Mark Zuckerberg. It’s there for the taking if you think outside the box.

In his next book, What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid? which he hopes to have out in 2014, takes on the one thing that keeps most people from achieving their most ambitious goals. “Most of us grow up with some sort of fear,” says Scott. In this book, he explains how people can learn to take calculated risks and do what they want to do without fear standing in their way. Sounds like a winner to us. Speaking of winners, Scott is getting married in September to Dina Barberio, InStyle‘s executive beauty director. They were introduced on a blind date by Dina’s publisher, Connie Anne Phillips. Now that’s what I call a happy ending.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Ann Curry and attorney Bob Barnett. We were thrilled to see Ann happily ensconced at the best table in the room, graciously chatting with well-wishers and friends.

2. Allure editrix Linda Wells looking fabulous — as usual — in black and white

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Ed Victor, both resplendent in their summer linens

4. Would love to have been a fly on the wall at this table: Leonard Lauder and Cathie Black (Long time no see!). Before joining the former chancellor of New York City schools, Leonard perched at the bar for an animated conversation on his flip phone. No, I wasn’t eavesdropping, but I did notice the cosmetic titan’s eye- catching red rubber watch (love the matching velvet band!). Cathie, who looked a little tense when she first sat down, visibly relaxed as she passed the time chatting with Jeff Greenfield.

5. Calvin Klein and Deborah Kenny, founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies and author of Born to Rise.

6. Dr Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield, gathered for their weekly ‘boys’ lunch

7. Manolo Blahnik’s sole man George Malkemus

8.New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia (also in seersucker) and Hiram Williams

9. Catie Maron

10. Lucky‘s editrix Brandon Holley who pulled off her gorgeous off-the-shoulder navy silk mini dress and stunning gold necklace with the elan befitting an editrix of the shopping bible she helms. So chic.

11. Lloyd Braun and AOL’s Tim Armstrong. Here’s some interesting TV trivia for all your Seinfeld fans: I’ve always wondered if the real Lloyd I’ve seen at Michael’s had any connection to the wonderfully kooky character of the same name on the beloved sitcom and today I got my answer — yes. “I lost a golf bet to Larry David,” Lloyd told me explaining how the executive working out of Frank Costanza‘s garage selling computers got his name. “The lesson here is don’t hit the ball out of bounds on the 18th tee of the Riviera.” I can think of worse things than being immortalized on one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, can’t you?

12. Cablevision’s Tad Smith and tech guru Shelly Palmer

14. Jolie Hunt and W‘s Courtney Dolan. I just had to congratulate Jolie on pulling off the trifecta of the summer: new job, new husband and new apartment all in one fell swoop. Formerly with Thompson Reuters, Jolie is now AOL’s chief marketing and communication officer. Congrats! Interestingly enough, Jolie tells me she got a curious response to the mass email she sent to friends and colleagues yesterday alerting all to her big news. “I got 10 emails asking to see photos of my apartment,” she marveled. “I didn’t see that one coming.” Only in New York.

15. Black Ocean’s Gerry Byrne

16. United Stations Radio’s Nick Verbitsky with another distinguished looking gent

81. Scott Singer and yours truly

17. Agent Boaty Boatman (Don’t you just love that name?)

18. Sol Kerzner

20. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower and Nancy Mahon, global executive director of the MAC AIDs fund. Great to meet you!

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher with, we’re told, three of the magazine’s interns

22. Scalamandre’s president Steven Stolman with CEO Louis Renzo (who singlehandedly rescued the legendary luxury fabric house from the brink a few years ago), PR maven Janice Langrall and New York magazine’s design editor Wendy Goodman.

23. Steve Rattner

24. Attorney Michael Kassan

25. PR man extraordinaire Tom Goodman with Missy Rennie who have been friends since their days together at CBS.

27. Chuck Pfeiffer

28. Banker and Paris Review publisher Antonio Weiss

29. Hunter Millington, brother of Michael’s GM Steve Millington

Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.

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