On the first morning of the convention, Seibert entered the green room before his keynote address. Always distracted before a speech, he sat at a table and leafed through his text making a few margin notes. The speech was titled "Highwire Act" in the printed convention agenda, and the chairman would be playing on the metaphor regarding the skill and courage required of every Penney DM.
Before Seibert knew it, a small entourage of upper-middle managers had spontaneously gathered around him ”something he always hated but was too Penney-polite to quash. Then, making things worse , he remembered something and made a quick suggestion that elicited the following agreement:
"Good idea, Don."
"Yeah, really, Don."
"Why didn't we think of that?" There was forced laughter as Seibert heard the beginning of his introduction from the wall speaker and rose. He nodded and smiled as he rolled up his text and then realized, much to his further dismay, that all of the other men wore blue blazers and gray slacks ”as he himself did.
Seibert could and often did easily act and think in two separate directions at once. Now, hesitating at the edge of the stage with a benign expression, he angrily thought, "Doesn't anyone in this company think for himself anymore?"
"And so without further ado let me present: The Boss!" said the man at the podium, milking the moment. " Donnn Seibert!"
The Boss strode to the podium with hands raised and a wellfaked smile on his face. They were giving him a standing ovation ”and nobody had a clue that he was secretly shocked. Not at the standing O, which he could endure. But because he now faced a ballroom filled with men in blue blazers and gray slacks!
Seibert was followed by the head men's buyer, who introduced Lee Wright, a promising young fashion designer who had just signed on to produce an exclusive line of young men's apparel for JCPenney. His remarks were brief and lively, and then he cued a carefully choreographed men's fashion show. J. C. Dunn looked out from the wings with mixed feelings. He thought the Lee Wright line was good for the company, but he now regarded the whole scene in front of him without much confidence. Gaunt young models coached to show attitude with no smiles were strutting to loud, edgy music in front of a room full of middle-aged men in blazers. Those were the people who would take JCPenney "fashion forward"?