Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lance Armstrong’s Right Hand - Bill Stapleton

Since I heard the news that one of my close friends has cancer, I have worn one of the yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands the Lance Armstrong Foundation produces. This brilliant idea to show your solidarity with those affected by cancer has turned out to be one of the greatest fund-raising ideas ever. More than 60 million have sold since 2004. You can join the movement: 100 bands for $100. The simple message “live strong” is a true inspiration expressing the same spirit as the ancient New Zealand Maori expression: “Kia Kaha” – Stand Strong.

To Stand Strong against the odds brings me to my friend Bill Stapleton. Bill has been Lance Armstrong’s agent since 1995 and is a man of ferocious loyalties. When others stepped away as soon as Lance was diagnosed with cancer and expected never to ride again in 1996, Bill stepped up. He left his legal partnership in Austin and steadfastly supported Lance and LIVESTRONG. Bill and I have discussed how LIVESTRONG could transform into a Lovemark that would live on when even the greats like Nike had become a memory. I certainly believe the potential is there because every day I see evidence that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. I am keen to continue this conversation with Bill, who is not only passionate and smart. For a start, he was smart enough to marry a bright optimistic and energetic bon vivant – hello Patty. Bill also has a great sense of humor. He told me he had a tank of live piranhas in his Austin office. Not bad self awareness for a lawyer!