Five Questions with Mike Meece
Q: You began the work of setting up President Bush’s personal office before he even arrived in Dallas. Can you walk us through what that was like – the important steps you took to help get the post-presidency underway?
Blake Gottesman and Jared Weinstein did all the hard work and really assembled the original OGWB team. Brian Cossiboom, Ashley Hickey, Logan Dryden, Caroline Nugent, Justine Sterling, David Sherzer, Charity Wallace, Molly Soper and a whole host of others were way more instrumental than I was in the formative stages. My main contribution was raising the average age in the office - and I sacrificed a lot of personal time to attend all Cowboys home games.
Q: What are some of the oddest requests you’ve fielded for President Bush?
President Bush does get a lot of requests, the vast majority of which are very respectful. Every now and then someone asks for something a little unusual - like the time a nice lady from a nearby rural town asked if she and her husband could leave their car in President and Mrs. Bush’s driveway while the couple went on vacation. “We’re flying out of DFW and don’t know anyone else in Dallas,” she explained. A more memorable moment for me wasn’t really in response to a request though. A few years ago, President Bush learned from a friend about a Dallas kid whose dad died shortly before a father-son golf tournament the two had been scheduled to play in. President Bush called to comfort the grieving mom, and then played in the tournament with her son. As far as I know, that’s the only tournament golf President Bush has played in the post-presidency. I’ll always remember it, and I bet the young man will too.
Q: What are the most common misperceptions about the post-presidency?
I think the most common misperception of the post-presidency is that it resembles anything like retirement. President Bush’s low-profile approach sometimes leaves the public impression that he’s been down in Crawford clearing cedar for the past nine years. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not being leader of the free world certainly makes for a less stressful daily existence, but President Bush has been extremely active since leaving the White House. To him, working “banker’s hours” means getting to the office by 7 a.m., which he does most days when he is in town. He’s built one of the great philanthropic enterprises on earth at the Bush Center, continues to speak to millions around the world on a regular basis, is a three-time New York Times number one best-selling author, mountain bikes, golfs, and over the past five years has become a serious semi-pro painter well on his way to master status. There’s not a lot of shuffle board and dominoes being played down here in Dallas.
Q: Aside from President Bush, who in the Administration has had the biggest influence on your life?
Too many to count or name, really. Working in the White House was a big honor, and the chance to learn from Karl Rove as a member of his staff was an invaluable experience. Ed Gillespie once told me nobody turns information into it positive action better or more efficiently than Karl, and based on my observation I think Ed had it right. I’m also lucky I had a chance to serve and get to know Don Evans, who gave me my first Administration job at Commerce. Nobody’s done more for President Bush before, during or after the Presidency than his best friend Don. He’s a spectacular Chairman of the Bush Center, and is a role model in life to me and countless others.
Q: Tell us about your new venture?
I’m going to be the Chief Operating Officer of N2 Capital Management, a global long-short equity fund based here in Dallas.