Commingled Conversation: Barry Caldwell

Commingled Conversation: Barry Caldwell

A light-hearted Q&A with the senior vice president, government affairs and corporate communications, for Waste Management

It is clear that Barry Caldwell, senior vice president, government affairs and corporate communications for Houston-based Waste Management and the subject of our monthly Q&A, has a sense of history. Witness his chronology of favorite TV shows stretching from “I Love Lucy” to “Burn Notice,” or his long-running love affair with the L.A. Lakers and their storied rivalry with the Boston Celtics. Yet despite Caldwell’s demonstrated knowledge of a range of subjects, his chosen superpower indicates he’d still like to know more…

Waste Age: What is your pet peeve?

Caldwell: Non-customer-focused service or retail workers.

Waste Age: What is your idea of the perfect day?

Caldwell: No clue until I experience it, but I expect it includes my wife and kids.

Waste Age: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Caldwell: 1) Give it your best shot then walk away, but be honest with yourself about having done everything necessary to give it your best; and 2) You can’t play well if you’re afraid to make a mistake.

Waste Age: What was the last book you read?

Caldwell: “Portrait of a Spy” by Daniel Silva.

Waste Age: What is your favorite movie?

Caldwell: “Chinatown” with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

Waste Age: What is your favorite TV show?

Caldwell: There’s no single show. Just start with “I Love Lucy” and “Beverly Hillbillies,” move to the early years of “Monday Night Football” (with Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and “Dandy” Don Meredith), then go to “Hill Street Blues,” “Cheers” and of course “The Cosby Show” and “The Sopranos,” right up to the current “Burn Notice,” “White Collar,” “Suits” and “Damages.” There are plenty more.

Waste Age: Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Caldwell: I’m just not a rock n’ roll guy; I’m more jazz and R&B. But my wife is a big Beatles fan – loves “Hey Jude” – and has tremendous respect for the Rolling Stones as the best business managers in the history of rock n’ roll.

Waste Age: What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve ever come across?

Caldwell: Even for a corporate schmuck, no particular piece of trash stands out.

Waste Age: Do you prefer the beach or mountains?

Caldwell: Beach.

Waste Age: What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Caldwell: The companionship of close family and friends.

Waste Age: If you could invite three people — living or dead — to a dinner party, who would they be?

Caldwell: Madam C.J. Walker (inventor, business executive and first female African American millionaire, earned selling her hair care products), Ida B. Wells (publisher, newspaper editor, suffragist and my heroine) and Duke Ellington (jazz legend – for the “party” part of dinner).

Waste Age: If you weren’t serving in your current role, what would you like to be?

Caldwell: Coaching kids to play basketball.

Waste Age: What is your favorite sports team?

Caldwell: The L.A. Lakers. I grew up in southern California and go back to the Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor days. I’ve always relished the fierce competition with the Boston Celtics from Chamberlain and Russell to Magic and Bird, and to Kobe and Pierce/Allen/KG today. And I don’t like the fact that the Celts have the upper hand in this storied rivalry.

Waste Age: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Caldwell: Omniscience.

Waste Age: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?

Caldwell: Doing the canopy walkway at Kakum National Park in Ghana. I’m not a fan of heights, especially on a flimsy, open-air rope bridge 130 feet off the ground.

Waste Age: What’s the one talent you have that not many people know about?

Caldwell: This probably should remain undisclosed, but my wife says I’m the only Type-A personality she knows who can fall asleep anywhere. While just “resting my eyes,” I’ve missed the end of too many cliffhanger evening sports finals, and more theatrical and musical events than I care to admit, and awoken too many times to scrunched-up reading material. Apparently, that’s a talent.

If you have suggestions for future interviewees, send them along to [email protected].


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