My first exposure to Boris Johnson, mayor of London, occurred during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. His role was minor, but full of symbolism. He marched onto the stadium floor of the “Bird’s Nest” along with Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympics Committee, and Guo Jinlong, mayor of Beijing. In the ceremony, Rogge took the Olympic flag from Guo and handed it to Johnson. Deal done. Games move to London in 2012.
At the time of the ceremony, I mentioned to my wife, who was watching with me, that Johnson seemed somewhat awkward, particularly during the procession into the stadium. He wore a poorly fitting suit, with jacket unbuttoned, and his hair was a tousled mess. This was in stark contrast to the neat and tailored appearance of Rogge and Guo. As a marketing guy, I thought it was odd, given literally the global audience for the closing ceremonies, that Johnson’s handlers did not see to it that London was put in a better light.
After the closing ceremonies, Johnson appeared at a London 2012 party in Beijing and made about a 4.5 minute speech. It was a thoughtful energetic message, acknowledging the athletes of Great Britain during the 2008 Games and looking forward to the Games in London.
Here is a short excerpt from that speech. I will be the first to say that for whatever Boris Johnson lacks in sartorial splendor, he makes up for it in insight and enthusiasm. I think you will find his message is both informative and inspirational. LIsten and learn.
As a person whose bloodlines find their origins in the countries now known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I could not be more happy for, or proud of the land of my forefathers. I mean, who knew??!!