I just found out Paul Newman died.
I have mentioned Cool Hand Luke more than once during the history of this blog, so regular readers probably know that I was one Paul Newman’s biggest fans.
I suppose Paul Newman was what I always wanted to be when I grew up. Somewhere between racing cars or shooting pool or getting away to South America against the backdrop of a Burt Bacharach score… Paul Newman embodied everything that was considered to be cool by a kid like me. Then, just when you thought he was great… he started selling his favorites recipes and giving the money away.
In the world of baby blue eyed hero types, some people lean more toward Steve McQueen, and I was a huge fan of his, too. However, what always pulled me over to Paul Newman was that smile. When I was a little younger I discovered for myself the power of a good smile, and I learned it from watching Paul Newman. He has helped me defuse many hostile situations in my career, when I strolled into a conference room where the table was surrounded with angry people filled with a “sense of urgency” and rather than launching into a defensive speech about why my company wasn’t at fault…I took a couple of moments to make eye contact and let the angry folks get to know me.
Paul Newman taught me that it is hard to hate someone when he shows you the gleam in his blue eyes and flashes you “’dat ol' Luke Smile.”