June 4, 2020

Facing Your Fears with Rodney Fong

“All of the other things that I have done before just bubble up into this one particular moment in time.” 

That’s how Rodney Fong, President & CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, describes getting ready for the challenge he faces today – leading his 170-year-old organization during COVID-19, which has caused unemployment rates to soar and many businesses struggling to survive.
 
Rodney shares his career and personal journey, including his lifelong challenges with dyslexia. Throughout his journey, Rodney has directly faced his fears, which has made him the person and leader he is today. It’s an inspiring story that reminds us of the importance of believing in yourself and being a strong, passionate leadership in times of crisis. 

Meet the Guest

Rodney Fong, President & CEO at San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and President of Fong Real Estate Company, is a native San Franciscan and a third generation operator/owner of the world famous Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, where he had served as President. He is also the President of Fong Real Estate Company, overseeing leasing and tenant concerns for the properties, such as the 100,000 square foot Wax Museum Entertainment Complex building in the heart of historic Fisherman’s Wharf and Broadway Apartments.

Rodney has been working in the tourism and hospitality business since he was a child. Early in his career, he was responsible for the daily operations and management technique at the Wax Museum, a world-renowned tourist attraction. He eventually made marketing his main focus, gradually learning the concepts, strategies and procedures of that profession. Rodney not only directed marketing activities for the enterprises, but also came to oversee all operational and management issues. He eventually managed the successful sale of the Wax Museum in 2013.  Rodney still maintains ownership of the property and manages all leasing and property management activities.  

Rodney has been active and held office in a wide variety of civic, tourist and travel-related organizations including currently serving as the President of the San Francisco Planning Commission and also formerly served as President of the San Francisco Port Commission. In 2009 he became Chair of the San Francisco Travel Association and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the California Travel Industry Association, the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, Fort Mason, Fisherman’s Wharf Merchant’s Association, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District (in which he was a founding member), Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, and the Bay Institute.  Rodney is the Director of the Fong Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization created by his grandparents to benefit many worthwhile social services in the City, and was honored by the City and County of San Francisco as part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Links

To learn more about the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, visit: SFChamber.com


Transcript

Beth Davies, host

Welcome to Career Curves where we talk to people who have interesting careers and explore how they got where they are.

I'm your host Beth Davies. Our guest on this episode is Rodney Fong.

Rodney has had a career filled with "ands", always doing at least two things at once. He currently is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, AND owner and president of Fong Real Estate Company.

Earlier in his career, he was owner and president of the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, AND owner and president of Fong Real Estate, AND a Planning Commissioner on the San Francisco Planning Commission.

I'm happy to have Rodney here to tell us about these "ands" plus more, like how he does so much AND why does he do so much? What's made his journey easy AND what's made it hard?

So let's get started. Rodney, thank you so much for joining us.

Rodney Fong, guest

Thank you, AND what would you like to know more?

Beth

(laughter) That was good. I like that.

First of all, I'd like to know about the present. So, tell me what it is that you're doing now, at this stage of your career.

Rodney

You're catching us in the middle of COVID-19, and we're about to start to reopen some of the businesses. We've been in Shelter in Place, living at home, in our houses and apartments for the last three and a half months or so. And so you're catching us at a very interesting time.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has been around for 170 years, and so it's seen a lot of catastrophes and disasters in San Francisco, but nothing exactly like this pandemic. We are very busy trying to help advocate for businesses and non-profits – to get back on their feet, figure out how they're going to retool themselves, how they're going to reinvent themselves.

Beth

For people who aren't familiar with Chambers of Commerce, can you give me some examples of the types of things that the Chamber actually does?

Rodney

Sure. The Chambers of Commerce around the world are very varied. They can be running big events where they're networking, sales related events. We have breakfasts and events with over 700 people at one time.

Then there's a very serious piece of the Chamber, which is advocating for legislation that can be supportive to the business community. Right now, again, back in COVID, a lot of our members are businesses, but we have to think of them right now as employers. With such a big unemployment rate, we have to think about those companies and organizations that are providing work. So, keeping that thriving and keeping that going. We're seeing with this shutdown how important that business sector is. How important that community piece is.

Beth

The people who are working in the Chamber of Commerce, are these volunteer positions or are these paid positions?

Rodney

We have a staff of about 20 people, which is actually, for the amount of work that we're producing, an incredibly small, lean-and-mean team.

Beth

I thought, for sure, you were gonna tell me 10 times that amount.

Rodney

It should be, yeah.

There's no government funding. A lot of people have a misconception that there's government funding. It's a nonprofit, 100% membership based. We do have many companies, about 1800, that are paid members of the Chamber of Commerce. And we have a lot of volunteers – the volunteer board, people who volunteer as ambassadors for our events.

It's a fun place to be and it's a fun energy. And if part of your business requires that you get out and about, or you become engaged and sit in things at City Hall, it's the place to be. It's a think tank. It's an open forum.

Beth

What do you say to people looking to volunteer now?

Rodney

You know, Beth, I think that is actually one of the top questions I'm getting from friends, family members, associates. "Rodney, it's bad out there. How can I help?"

And my response to them is, "Everybody now needs help. And if it means just being a friend, if it means helping a neighbor who's elderly and getting groceries for them. If it means that you are CEO of a large company, and you know a nonprofit that just could use a fresh view on how to retool themselves, how to shrink down, how to maybe give up and renegotiate an office lease. I think right now everybody has a value."

We, I hope, as a society, open our arms and our hearts to everybody and our neighbors. That is what makes a cool city. That's what has made San Francisco a very cool city for me and my parents and grandparents, great grandparents who were born here. That collaboration. And now, in time of need, is the most important time for us to open up and help.

I can't give you a specific website or a link where you go sign up for a volunteer job, but I bet you just ask any of your favorite businesses, organizations, and you volunteer your professional or non-professional help (labor). I bet you that they would take you up on it.

Beth

This is not the only thing you're doing. That sounds like an enormous job but as we said you've got all of your "ands," and so you are also owner and president of Fong Real Estate Company. Tell me what that job entails for you.

Rodney

That job has been my life job. It's been the fun job. That's been one that is sentimental to me, important to our family.

In 1962, my grandfather had opened the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf in a time when Fisherman's Wharf was really sort of a working waterfront and not the tourist attraction that it is now. He had opened the Wax Museum really out of default and I'll give you the quick story.

He had bought an empty warehouse, which was a chicken feed warehouse. He sat on it. And, you have to remember, in the 60s being an Asian American family, it was really frowned upon for him to purchase property outside of Chinatown, frowned upon for anyone to purchase of Chinese descent outside of the Chinatown area. So he took a chance. He saw this abandoned warehouse.

All of his friends said, "Tommy Fong, you are crazy. What are you doing going down there? You're going to get roughed up." My grandmother advised him not to do this; this is not a good idea. And, sure enough, my grandfather, a very smart and insightful and little bit stubborn man, went ahead and bought this warehouse and it sat vacant. And it continued to sit vacant. And pigeons were landing on it.

And eventually someone from the Seattle World's Fair was closing up the World's Fair and had this Wax Museum exhibit and asked him if he could rent space in that building. And my grandfather said, "Well, gosh, you know, come on in. My wife's giving me a heck of a time here. I'll take anything."

This gentleman opened the Wax Museum. He had a line out the door and it was a complete success. And then, he got taken away in handcuffs for tax evasion and a bunch of different things. And the famous story is my grandfather calls my grandmother and says, "Hey, they just took Richard away in handcuffs, and there's a line out of his darn Wax Museum."

And so my grandmother, being a Chinese merchant said, "Well, you know what, he owes us some back rent. So start taking the money. Sell those tickets. I'll be down and help you figure it out." And she came down with cigar boxes and shoe boxes and figured out how to take over that business.

We formally acquired it and from there continued with the build out of the Wax Museum with better displays, wax figures, but then really started an empire of building candy stores, ice cream stores, retail shops, t-shirt shops, arcades, haunted houses, other attractions like Laser Maze. That had survived 50 years and we still operate the real estate there.

More recently, over the last five, six years, I had transitioned, and actually on our 50th anniversary closed our own family Wax Museum and leased the space out to Madame Tussauds out of London, who has a phenomenal wax museum show and so they operate the show for us now in the building that we occupy.

So long winded story about real estate, real estate management. But you know, real estate in San Francisco – a difficult but also an intriguing place to be – can be lucrative in value but not lucrative in cash flow. And so you hear the the phrase of people being "real estate rich but cash poor". That is certainly true for a lot of folks in San Francisco.

If I can transition for a little bit and talk about real estate ownership in San Francisco and how it is in certain cities like New York, where there are many families just like us, who are small businesses, not big empires. And so we talk about now, in COVID-19 world, where tenants are having a difficult time, landlords are having a difficult time. And that conflict and that rub. We're all in this together right now and there's no reprieve for the tenant. There's no reprieve necessarily for the landlord.

Some of the proposed legislation that the Chamber's working on – and this is how it all ties together – it may be being a little heavy handed to landlords and allowing tenants for them to forgive their leases, and dropping personal guarantees, is gonna be really impactful for a lot of small owners in San Francisco who are not big conglomerate, not big REITs, but just small family businesses.

Beth

Yep, just like you said, "You may be property rich, but cash poor," and so then if the rent is not there, and the leases are broken, it has real economic impact.

Rodney

That's right.

Beth

Tell me about your childhood and being in a family like this that was so entrepreneurial.

Rodney

Well, I haven't met anyone else who's grown up inside of Wax Museum. I haven't met anyone else who's carried Brigitte Bardot's body down the sidewalk of Jefferson Street half-clothed and not really understanding what that was all about. Thinking that was normal.

Beth

"What's that kid doing!"

Rodney

(lauging) Or Elvis Presley's head only going down Jefferson Street. So it was a very unique and fun experience growing up in an entrepreneurial environment. We were opening and closing businesses every summer in a different business. And so imagination and creativity was sort of the norm at the kitchen table. Thinking about and wondering and using travel with my grandparents and my parents to understand cool things that were happening in Europe or Asia and sort of trying to, as best we could, bring them back to San Francisco.

What is interesting is that I always felt and loved and was compelled to continue on that work with my grandfather and my father, and had no reservations about working at the Wharf since I was eight and staying until I was 48. There was never really expectation for anyone in the family to do that. I happen to enjoy doing that. And I think they gave me the creativity and the latitude to explore other things.

Beth

And did you explore other things?

Rodney

Right after high school, I went to San Francisco City College and enrolled in the hotel and restaurant management program. At the time, I very much, and still am, intrigued by food and intrigued more so by serving food and entertaining people than the food itself. I thought I wanted to be in the restaurant business. And then I started lifting those very, very heavy pots and those very heavy pans, those heavy, huge bags of flour, and realized that there was a whole lot of heavy work there and you weren't going to get too much promotion. And the money, even in the 80s, was not huge, unless you maybe opened your restaurant some day or you had some sort of control of the finances of the restaurant business.

So I sort of retreated from that dream and then went back full time with my grandfather and my dad, and really took the path that, "Hey, you know what, if I stay with the family business, maybe there's some day I'll be involved in the food industry. Maybe there's some day I can help create that, help serve people." And, lo and behold, through all the other things I've been doing, whether it's the Port Commission or Planning Commission, or even now the Chamber of Commerce and working very closely with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and literally today working on the Shared Streets Program, and bringing outdoor dining into the streets of San Francisco. Hey, I'm being satiated by that through a different venue.

And so when one path, one dream may not be the end result that you thought, but if you stay on that same path of creativity and get there somehow, some way, something will take you there. Some other wind will shift and pick you up and take you there.

Beth

I think that's the essence of even what we're trying to share here on Career Curves, this idea that there isn't a single, linear path for getting where you're going. Or, like in your story, it's not even a single path at a time. You may even be on multiple paths that are that are leading someplace.

Rodney

That's right.

Beth

So you mentioned already that your parents and your family weren't putting pressure on you to join the family business. Were there any times that they actually went the opposite way and perhaps even doubted whether or not you were going to have what it took and have the right makeup to be in the family business? Did they question that ever?

Rodney

(laughs) I think any family who has one person doing the most of the work, the others question and so that still happens, I'm sure.

I had a difficult time in high school. And maybe one of the reasons that I have so many "ands" is that I actually function better doing more than one thing at one time. Multitasking might be the common phrase; ADD may be the other common phrase. And so sitting in a classroom, sitting still was a difficult thing for me. Very much felt a hands-on need and benefitted by watching someone do something and trying to repeat that rather than read books and books and books about it.

It's a learning difference. It's a learning style. I think that we all, nowadays, are much more attuned to how you take in information. So, I think becoming attuned to that very early on and realizing that the way I learn was the way I do, helped me get through. And I think my parents and family understood that.

Beth

Tell me about the career journey, even within your family business. What kind of jobs did you have? I know if I look at your LinkedIn profile, it's gonna say "President and CEO" but you didn't start there.

Rodney

No.

Beth

So tell me about that kind of journey and how you built a career within a family business, and just navigated those experience?

Rodney

Yeah, it's a good question. I think my path has been so weird in that a lot of it was trust from my parents who were running the business. There's a need to do something and I just felt compelled to get up and do it. Whether that meant cleaning up something, whether that meant moving something, whether that meant buying, purchasing something that was better for the business, or just putting some blood sweat and tears into it. Or as I began to understand what management was and inspiring other people – not telling them what to do, but sharing a vision, sharing a goal, getting people excited being a cheerleader many times, "Hey, we can do this, guys. Let's do it. It'll take us 10 minutes. Those are all lessons and, I think, they were hands on lessons.

Beth

It sounds like you were really comfortable working alongside the people in your businesses. What happened when you needed to actually become the leader of this business? Was it hard to get them to see you as a leader in what had been your parents' company?

Rodney

That is a very intuitive question. When you're given responsibility at a young age, a lot of people think that, "Hey, this kid was born with a silver spoon," and they don't really understand the hard work or the weight that goes behind that responsibility. To that point, I was given a lot of responsibility at a young age and even managing people who are much older than me at a young age. That also means that you don't get invited, you're the boss always. You don't get invited out to the happy hour. And you have to keep a certain decorum, relationship distance with your employees.

And so while there were a lot of fun times that happened in all the different businesses and organizations, I wasn't necessarily invited to those. I have no regret to them. But it's not like you're running with your crew and partying the same way that you would.

So there's different different advantages and disadvantages of that. But yeah, this is different.

Beth

You mentioned before your learning style being one of doing things by experience. As you were rising in your family businesses and taking on more responsibilities, I'm sure you would have jobs and responsibilities that you'd never done before. How did you learn the things that you needed to learn, whether it was taking on more operations or taking on more management, or whatever it would be? How did you handle stepping into roles you just had never done before?

Rodney

I think because I am dyslexic and just picking up a manual was not the best and first choice, that talking to people and admitting that, "Hey, you know, I don't totally understand this. I don't mean to ask a dumb question, but can you explain this to me?"

And, it has made me a very good listener. It's made me not bashful to admit, "Hey, this is not my world. I know nothing about it. You know a lot about it. Share. I bet you'd be happy to share because you are so involved in this," and people seem to respect that. I think there's a level of like "fake it till you make it" but also there's an honesty if you don't know something, just ask. People are more than willing to share that information with you.

Beth

Sometimes that level of honesty can be hard as a leader. Are there any other mantras or philosophies that guide you as a leader?

Rodney

Try not to micromanage. I tell this to myself every single day: don't be a micromanager. I know it's your nature, but try to resist. Let people shine. Tell them you're giving them ownership.

Just today, before coming to this podcast, I had a team meeting with all of our staff at the Chamber and I said to them, "I want you guys to brainstorm. I want all of us as a Chamber family to brainstorm about what's the Chamber going to be like? What's Chamber 2.0 in San Francisco gonna look like? And it's your Chamber, and it's my Chamber, and it's our Chamber. And I want you to take ownership in it to bring out your passions, bring out your own interests, and hobbies," and let them run with it because that's how things are really executed. Things get done when people really believe in them. So, I want to try to be influential to them. Be a cheerleader to them personally, professionally.

And, I'm going to ask them questions, too. When I don't know the answers, I will certainly go out and find the best person out there to help us.

Beth

Now, I just met you today, right before we started this conversation, and it seems to me that you have a real superpower around building relationships because I felt connected to you very quickly. Does this resonate for you? Is this in fact a superpower that you have?

Rodney

It honestly may be a superpower when you are required to try to fit in. If you are a little bit different as a high school kid, going to maybe an all boys school, it can be a little bit challenging. If you maybe are of a different skin tone, in an environment, you have to fit in. So, being that chameleon, morphing, breaking the ice, breaking the awkward barrier that even very confident people in the majority setting still have. Being a little bit self-deprecating is a good icebreaker and, honestly, I want to understand people very quickly. I want to understand what drives them and I'm just curious about that.

Beth

It's interesting because it sounds like the outcome of that is that they then accept and welcome you, but it's not like you're leading with that. It's more like you're leading with the, "I want to get to know you and your ideas."

As you were working in the family businesses, you did decide to get involved in work in the public sector and pick up some of these "ands". Tell me about that. Why did you decide to get involved in more and how did you make that happen?

Rodney

It really is one thing and that is a love for San Francisco. It's a love for the geographic environment of San Francisco, the natural environment, but also the built environment. It is a love for the people that have been here, the people that are going to come here. It is a love for that creativity of San Francisco.

And what I think is maybe a little bit interesting and different is my great grandmother was born here in 1849 and so our families have continued and still do live in San Francisco. Many of the people who come to San Francisco come with this great passion, fire, creativity, anger, to change the world. And in a weird way, we've just grown up with that. And so, it is us. Right? It's nothing we aspire to be. It's just us.

Continuing that in a very difficult time in the modern world, in the modern San Francisco. We are evolving right now as we're speaking, even to something we don't know exactly what that is. San Francisco will never always be exactly the way it was, and that's part of the beauty of it.

I want to be very clear that while I'm a historian and a lover of San Francisco, it's not that I want to turn the clock back to 1982. It's not that I want to turn the clock back to 1981. 2021, '22, '23 are going to be very different and they're going to be unique, and we have a chance to shape that. We all do.

There was there was a radio DJ named Scoop Nisker on one of the local stations, KFOG, and he always ended his newscasts with, "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own," and that always stuck in my head. And I tell my friends who are complaining about something, "Well, you know what, that's cool that you don't like it, but you know, there's plenty of places to volunteer. They could use your professional expertise, your fire, your passion. Show up to a public meeting. Show up to public comment. You don't have to get paid for everything. You can get incredible enjoyment, maybe even more, by doing things for free, because it's your passion, rather than feeling like it's a transaction or an exchange for $1 or for stock share or whatever."

Beth

Now, I would bet when you suggest this to most people that they say, "I don't have time." You, on the other hand, have figured out a way to have the time. How have you done that?

Rodney

We always have time. That's about as bad as an excuse as "I don't have time to work out." We always have time. You have more energy and mental capacity than we all think we do. And if it's something you love, you'll find the time.

Beth

And are you by any chance raising children at the same that you're doing? We can add that on as well?

Rodney

Yeah, I have two kids in their 20s who are in school. Darlene and I live in San Francisco and have been blessed with a great family.

Beth

And yet, you still found the time for the volunteering and the getting involved.

Rodney

Yeah, yeah.

Beth

So, you have had a career that looking from the outside – again, as somebody who's just met you – I would look at and say, "Here is, without a doubt, a highly successful individual, both in the public sphere and in private enterprise." You mentioned, a bit lightly, earlier that you struggled in high school, and so I would imagine that there are a lot of people sitting in high school or those early stages who might be struggling and think that they can never be where you are now.

I'd like to understand a little bit more about what those struggles were that you had in high school and how you pushed through them to be where you are today.

Rodney

I think I'm at a particular age to be able to answer that question well, right now, being able to look back on some learnings.

As I mentioned before dyslexia really sort of troubled me through grade school all the way through high school, and the parts of college that I attended. In the 70s, 80s, probably talking about dyslexia from a parent to a child was not something that most parents at the time wanted to admit. Or even be frank about the diagnosis.

Beth

So you and your parents weren't having your open conversation about it?

Rodney

We were not having an open conversation, however, every day after school, I went to some sort of learning center or some sort of motor skill testing center, thinking that maybe it was a bio-mechanical related trouble that I was having difficulty sitting still in school. This is probably before the ADD diagnosis and all the other things that are out there now.

You know, those things are all formative. When you have difficulty reading in a classroom and other kids are making fun of you, because you're standing up at the chalkboard and you can't read, and they're snickering and then they're giving you a hard time at recess, that can hurt terribly. And so just persevere through that.

Now, at 54 years old, part of my reason for taking this job, one of the small reasons, is to face my fears. So now, I am forced to give speeches daily, sometimes four a day, and have to read reams of material and prepare for that. Reading in public is a huge fear of mine, but that also means I have to put the time into it. So doing homework and rehearsing four days before, then three days before, then two days before, an hour before. Syncing it down to the three main topics. Visualizing it, not word for word because to my eyeballs it just looks like a big thing of mashed potatoes. If you see my notes, they look like emoji storyboards where I draw a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge because I'm talking about the Golden Gate Bridge, and I'm talking about dollar signs because I'm talking about something economic related. That kind of storytelling has to be calibrated in my mind.

To your question, though, facing fears is probably one of the best lessons that I can encourage anybody, young or old, to do. It's not so bad. And, people won't laugh at you more than they did in sixth grade. And you know what, you have the power right now and the confidence to tell them to shut the heck up.

Beth

You've been so involved in San Francisco. There are a lot of people that you know. There's probably a lot of people you know who are going to listen to the podcast and they may even say, "I've known Rodney for a long time. I didn't know he was dyslexic. This is the first time I've heard him talk about this." Why is this the first time you're really talking about it?

Rodney

It's something I've been ashamed of my whole life. This is actually the second time that I've announced that I never finished college. We talk about the expectations of family – and it did and didn't happen with my family – but I think just through our society, you are supposed to finish a four year degree. You are supposed to maybe attend and complete a master's program. You are supposed to be somewhat of a team sport player. And those don't work out for everybody.

But at 54 years old now, what the heck? If I can share a lesson and be an inspiration to somebody else, do it. Live your own life. We're always gonna hold back things, but, you know, who cares?

Beth

Excellent. So, I think this is a perfect transition actually into the final four questions that I ask everybody.

And the first one would be, what would you say is the smartest career move that you made whether intentionally or accidentally?

Rodney

I actually think taking this job late in professional life as the president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has been the best career move I've made.

Beth

Why is that?

Rodney

All of the other things that I have done prior just bubble up into this one particular moment in time, where it feels common sense to me. In a weird way, I feel like I've been here before. I'm comfortable with even tough negotiations because I've been here before. Unfortunately, I'm comfortable having do some layoffs because I've been here before. Making tough decisions because I've been here before. All of these life experiences add up to this one particular moment in time.

Beth

If you could have one do-over in your career, what would it be and why?

Rodney

Free throw that I air-balled at the Jewish Community Center. Didn't even hit the rim.

Beth

Oh, man! Was there any money on the line for that one?

Rodney

Just pride. That's priceless.

Beth

Well, maybe somebody here will be listening who will go, "Wait, we're running a competition," and we can get to that do-over and you can get that shot.

If you could go back in time to your young self, what career advice would you give your younger self, knowing what you know now?

Rodney

I would give anyone the advice: whatever you do, it's not going to be the last thing you do. For whatever reason, our stigma is that you're going to pick a career or job, and you better love it because it's the last thing you can do. That alone can be paralyzing.

I'm not saying jump from job to job, but whatever you choose to do is just not going to be last thing and it'll lead to something else. So be bold. Take chances. Things are always reversible. There's less permanency in life than we think there is. And there's less time in life than we think there is. So just go for it.

Beth

I just want to bottle all of that up. All of that.

How do you define success for yourself? Last question.

Rodney

Friends.

Beth

Excellent. Well, I'm a new friend.

There's so much that you've shared that has been just running through my head as we've been talking and so a couple things I just want to share with you.

One is that when I was about 12 years old, I was at Fisherman's Wharf and went to the Wax Museum, and that was my first visit to San Francisco. So, thank you for making the city a part of my childhood memory and giving me that chance to experience this kind of magical, crazy place that is and was San Francisco. So I was in line. I was one of those people.

Another thing, too, is you said at one point that as wonderful as San Francisco is, and as much as you love history, you're not looking to take it back where it was. I just have to point out that you mentioned that the table conversations you had in your family, were always about looking at what was going on in the world and saying, "How do we bring that to create new magic in San Francisco?"

And I think that's still what you're doing, that same thing of saying, "Yes, I honor the history, but we're still living in today, and how do I take all of my experiences, my wisdom, what's happening in the world, bring that to San Francisco. Bring that to the community and make it the best place it can be for all of us." I just think it's kind of magical to see that family conversation being even represented today.

Rodney

Thanks for noticing that. I hadn't thought about it that way.

For whatever reason, if you'd asked me what piece in time I would go back in time in San Francisco, it would be the 1915 International World's Fair & Exposition.

Beth

You weren't here then.

Rodney

I wasn't here, but it was a sampling of the whole world and the best of the world right after the 1906 earthquake. And it was put on to prove that San Francisco was back and the Phoenix had risen. This is out of the fire.

This is exactly the time we're in now. And this is also one of the things that I love about San Francisco, we all do, is the cultural differences. Whether it's food, people, style, religion, practices, celebrations, festivals, fairs. That is all the melting pot here in San Francisco. So, yeah, let's keep it going.

Beth

Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I've loved our conversation and it's been wonderful getting to meet you.

Rodney

Thank you very much.

Beth

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