As the top executive of Wynn Resorts’ local operations, Bob DeSalvio has plenty of challenges on the horizon. He’ll oversee the construction of Wynn’s massive $1.7 billion gambling palace in Everett and the hiring of roughly 4,000 workers he’ll need to run the place.
But DeSalvio has already cleared one of his job’s biggest hurdles: making nice with City Hall.
DeSalvio traded terse letters with Gina Fiandaca, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s transportation commissioner, in June over the status of Wynn’s road improvement application with the city. The casino will be built next to the Boston line, and Wynn wants to pay for changes to the traffic flow on the Boston side, in Charlestown’s Sullivan Square. But for much of last year, the Walsh administration was antagonistic, fighting the casino mogul in the press and in the courts.
DeSalvio’s relationship with Fiandaca improved in November as a result of the first meeting of a state task force aimed at addressing traffic issues in the Sullivan Square area. That’s when, DeSalvio says, he met Fiandaca in person for the first time.
“You know how it is when you finally meet somebody face to face,” DeSalvio says. “We had a long talk after the first meeting.”
A Superior Court judge dismissed a city lawsuit last month aimed at blocking the casino, but DeSalvio says that action had no bearing on his discussions with Fiandaca.
“It goes to show that letters and e-mails [often] don’t cut it,” DeSalvio says. “You need to meet people face to face to understand what their issues are.”
Laura Oggeri, a City Hall spokeswoman, says the discussions between Wynn and the Walsh administration have been productive: “We are optimistic that we will soon work out an overall plan.”
Maine law firm expanding Boston presence
Pierce Atwood’s roots are in Maine, but its fastest growth these days likely will happen here in Massachusetts.
Dave Barry, the Portland-based law firm’s new managing partner, says he’ll expand the firm’s Boston office at 100 Summer St. by about a third this summer, to nearly 40,000 square feet. There are now 35 lawyers, out of 135 throughout the firm, at the Boston office, and Barry expects to add others this year.
“Because of Boston’s role as the economic hub of New England, we just feel that a significant presence is important there,” says Barry, who took over as managing partner from Gloria Pinza on Jan. 1.
Pierce Atwood arrived in Boston with a modest office in the 1990s, primarily to serve one client: student loan firm First Marblehead Corp. That relationship eventually ended, but Pierce Atwood started to develop its own roster of clients in the Boston area. Other New England offices are in Augusta, Portsmouth, and Providence. (The firm also has offices in Washington and in Stockholm.)
One important thing that could make Pierce Atwood stand out among Boston’s legal giants: its rates. Barry says his firm charges considerably less than the typical rates of many major Boston firms.
“That’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful in recruiting [in Boston],” Barry said.
#MyJokeForJimmy is a hit
In this space several months ago, we told you about the surprisingly youthful winner of the Jimmy Fund Big Ideas Contest, which asks the public to make fund-raising suggestions for the Boston charity that supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The victor was 12-year-old Maxwell Surprenant, a sixth-grader at Monsignor Haddad Middle School in Needham.
His idea — selected from more than 200 entries — was a social media campaign in which people would take a video of themselves telling a joke, share it on social media, pledge to make a donation, and challenge their friends to do the same.
Surprenant’s idea, the My Joke for Jimmy Challenge, is now a reality, and it’s gradually making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #MyJokeForJimmy.
Prominent contributors so far include comedians Lenny Clarke and Gary Gulman, actress and Watertown native Eliza Dushku, sports radio host Gary Tanguay, state Representative Angelo Puppolo Jr. (who makes a cringe-worthy political pun), and Friendly’s CEO John Maguir e (whose joke, involving a Popsicle and an ice cream cone, brings out his inner 2-year-old).
Suffice it to say this is not sophisticated humor, as evidenced by Red Sox player Brock Holt’s joke. Question: “Why do sharks only swim in salt water?” Answer, delivered with a devilish grin: “Because pepper water makes them sneeze.”
HubSpot’s alter ego
If you were one of the 14,000 people who attended HubSpot’s last customer conference, you might have been lucky enough to catch a presentation from consultant, author, and all-around thought leader Orlando Scampington.
Scampington doesn’t make many public appearances, but it’s not because he’s a busy startup investor or jet-setting executive. It’s because Scampington is actually the comedic alter-ego of Tyler Littwin, who works as an art director at HubSpot.
Littwin created the character after finding it harder than expected to write a standup comedy set for an amateur open-mic performance. But soon enough, Scampington morphed into a way to parody the cultural quirks of the tech and business worlds.
There are a few keys to a Scampington presentation. He discusses extremely broad concepts, but delivers them “as if he’s the one who’s discovered some secret — like, ‘Leadership is really important,’” Littwin said.
Having one of your employees poke fun at the entire idea of business conferences seems like a slightly risky idea for a company putting on one of those conferences. So why did HubSpot decide to let Littwin try out his satire at its most important event of the year?
“I always think whenever there’s an elephant in the room, it’s good to go straight to it,” said HubSpot’s Laura Fitton.