My driver pulled over at the corner of 3rd and Spring in Downtown LA and I walked to the door of Spring. From the grimy sidewalk, I opened the door, and entered an ethereal space—starkly contrasting with the setting just outside.
Before completely appreciating the space, I was thrown. Am I early? No, it is 6:23 p.m., and our reservation is at 6:30. (I looked to be the literal first patron in the establishment.) I suppose it is a Tuesday.
The hostess placed me at a tiny table in the middle of this wide-open restaurant—right between a giant fountain and a giant tree. I’ll take it, I thought. The water dancing in the fountain was loud—but also peaceful.
A waitress quickly asked what I’d like to drink. I nearly ordered a glass of Pinot before catching myself. The night might require a bottle. I texted Kyndell immediately to confirm; yes, a bottle of Pinot would do.
I first met Kyndell a year ago[i] at an attorney mixer at Drago Centro[ii]. She approached me, introduced herself, and complimented my bag. Instantly won over, I decided the energy was right; we had only talked for a moment, but hit it off nonetheless.
When Kyndell walked into Spring, the restaurant was still completely devoid of other patrons. I reserved the whole space for us, Kyndell joked; perhaps a proposal was impending, I continued.
A bottle of the 2012 Pierre Bouree Fils Cote de Nuits-Villages[iii] beat Kyndell to the table by just a moment, so we gladly began enjoying immediately.
Kyndell is a lovely brunette standing at 5’4, but seeming much taller. When I posed this to her, she said, “It must be my big personality.”
Kyndell commands a strong jawline that matches her strength in personality and presence. Her eyes are big and open and gaze unapologetically outward. To round her out, she possesses a high, sweet voice.
About half the bottle in, the waitress wondered if we wanted any food. Oh, yes, we should look at menu. Let’s start with a baguette and olives and get it together. I destroyed most of the baguette, while Kyndell handled the olives. Friendly chatter included Kyndell mentioning that she had recently emptied out her storage unit and moved into a new apartment. She was impressed with how well she had packed her good china: each piece meticulously enveloped in its own bubblewrap home, and then tucked safely into a box with its companions. She had specifically remembered doing this on a lunch break during an excruciatingly busy time in her work life years ago.
Once we had fully caught up on the day’s happenings, we slowing delved in to the topic of the night: her. Kyndell is a Vice President at Mercury Public Affairs[iv], where she lobbies on behalf of major, well-known businesses in Los Angeles. She thus spends a lot of her time talking—her voice must be a true asset in that regard.
Kyndell always wanted to work in politics, although she did not always know in what capacity. As a kid, she did not necessarily know the options available for a life in politics aside from actually attaining an elected position.
That said, Kyndell affirmatively pursued paths (such as law school[v]) that she knew would lend to a career in politics. Even with her destination out of focus, she put her all into her work each step of the way. This habit of intensity has now led Kyndell to a place where she wants to be. Conveniently, although not by accident, Kyndell has now been on every side of the political arena in which she operates.
Kyndell landed a highly desirable job at Disney upon graduation from law school. She spent six years there as a Senior Manager in the Public Affairs Department, and a Manager in the Government Relations Department prior to that. I could have inquired as to the experiences that Kyndell believes made her transition to Mercury possible. However, recalling her unconventional “interview process,” I requested she please retell that story in detail.
One day, while picking up a to-go order for lunch near her downtown apartment, Kyndell walked past a boutique in her building. Kyndell had always wanted to shop there, but whenever she had previously walked by it had been closed. Seeing it open, Kyndell had to stop in and try on a dress.
Mid-change in a dressing room, takeout bag of warm food on the floor, Kyndell received a phone call from a friend. Was she downtown? Yes. Could she meet now? Sure…
Kyndell ran out of the store, rushed upstairs to her apartment, threw down her food, threw on good shoes, and ran down to the corner the caller had indicated. Up pulled a pickup truck (what?), and in she went. The driver was a friend at Mercury with whom she had previously met to discuss the next steps in her career. The passenger, on his Bluetooth headset, didn’t even say hello.
Once the passenger completed his conversation, he asked Kyndell when she could start. What? She knew who he was – a colleague of her friend from Mercury. However, they had not talked money, or title, or anything else traditionally discussed prior to a start date. Kyndell was not even sure to what she would be saying “yes” by virtue of saying when she might be available.
I am laughing and enjoying my wine throughout this whole story. From where I sit, not one component is normal.
Kyndell and I finally order dinner. Baguette and olives gone, we were steadily killing our bottle of wine and quite ready for some food. We shared. To begin: the escargot. Next up: the strozzapretti pasta with braised rabbit. (Both were delicious.) Upon finishing those dishes, we told our waitress we needed at least one more thing—let’s do a cheese plate.
Returning to the backseat of the pickup truck—Kyndell said yes. She would finish out the year at Disney, and begin this new chapter of her professional life in January 2017.
For someone as organized and Type A as Kyndell, I find it shocking and hilarious that she made her latest career move in the backseat of a pickup truck during a spontaneous DTLA rendezvous. However, this demonstrates one of Kyndell’s greatest attributes. Kyndell is the girl from book club who – if she hasn’t finished the book – will frantically read reviews and articles discussing the book so that she will be able to intelligently contribute to the conversation. (This happened.) At the same time, she bobs up and down with the currents of her life, navigating each maze upon approach and with a smile on her face.
By now our bottle of wine was gone, and I was already reflecting on the night. I kept coming back to one moment early on in our evening: “I’m so rad,” Kyndell exclaimed. True; but what got her attention? —The fact that a few years prior she had wrapped her chinaware in bubble wrap, piece by piece, and had packed it away in boxes so neatly.
[i] June 2016
[ii] An Italian restaurant in Downtown LA.
[iii] Burgundy, France
[iv] Mercury is a global, high-stakes public strategy firm.
[v] Kyndell holds a BA from USC and a JD and MBA from Chapman.