It started on an elevator ride.

“Hello, I’m Muhtar Kent.” (Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola)

“Hi, Muhtar, I’m Meagan Priselac. It's nice to meet you.”

(Freaking out inside because I obviously know he’s my CEO!)

“Nice to meet you as well. So, are you an intern here this summer, Meagan?”

(Chuckle to myself)

“No, sir. I used to be a few years ago. Now I help run your social media.”

(Granted, I’m 24.. so I technically could still be an intern.)

“Ah very well, I think we should get to know each other.”

“Yes sir, I think we should, as well.”

Fast-forward a week later. I receive an invite to meet Mr. Kent one-on-one. Excuse me, what? I do a little happy dance in my cubicle (finger guns a'blazin), gather my composure and click "accept."

We met briefly to discuss his Twitter account and future social media opportunities. All went well.

The random encounter on the elevator, the unexpected invite to his office and our nice little meeting were all perfect timing. To be honest, you couldn’t have timed it more perfectly since we were both heading to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles for Coca-Cola the following week. That’s where the adventure began. 

Special Olympics Torch Run

This time it started with a selfie stick.

It was Mr. Kent’s first event at the Games, exactly one week ago today. He participated in the Santa Monica, Calif. Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics with officers and Special Olympics athletes. Mr. Kent carried the torch first before handing it off to the officers.

Prior the run, he arrived early to meet everyone. He smiled for photo opps and embraced his fellow runners before the run of show.

4:40 p.m. PST. Time to run.

And for me, time to get to work. My task? Periscope our CEO running via The Coca-Cola Company account @CocaColaCo. That meant running alongside the group with my selfie stick fully extended to capture it all. (Totally not awkward looking at all)

I opened the app, ready to invite the world to run with us.



Meagan torch run
Me with the selfie stick filming the run. Oh and my VP, Ben Deutsch in the back. 

And then… no service. NO SERVICE?!?!  

Yeah. So that happened. Or didn’t happen. But you bet I still ran with that selfie stick the whole time to film it. And although the quality of the video is not necessarily “watchable” (you live and you learn), watching Mr. Kent interact with everyone during the run took away my frustrations. We all want to capture everything in “real time.” Today’s world is consumed with being the first to break news, the first to make a witty tweet from a trending hashtag, etc. 



Muhtar Torch Run

But watching Mr. Kent run with this group of enthusiastic men and women was the ultimate reminder to enjoy the moment. He danced when the athletes danced, chanted the law enforcement officer’s chant, and never once stopped smiling. Seriously, not once. He laughed and encouraged his fellow runners the entire half mile stretch until reaching the finish line at the Santa Monica Pier.

You bet I still wish the Periscope would have worked. I’m a social media specialist for the company (NOT an intern) so it’s kind of my job… and my idea in the first place. But the experience was a great reminder, from a fantastic leader, and now dare I say friend, to live life as its happening.



Muhtar playing badminton
Mr. Kent and athlete Brian Hooper from Ireland celebrate a point. 


Unified Badminton

Over the next few days, Mr. Kent engaged in a few other events for the Games. And I, like his shadow, followed along for Twitter opportunities. But it was his final event that really stood out to me, a game of badminton.

Mr. Kent competed in a Special Olympics Unified Sports game where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities play together. Mr. Kent and his badminton partner Brian Hooper from Ireland, teamed up against Coca-Cola CMO Marcos de Quinto. 



Muhtar plays badminton

Mr. Kent and his partner won, and the entire match was captured on Periscope. Fans around the world watched and cheered as the leader of Coca-Cola became a leader for Unified Sports. 

As he wrapped up his goodbyes with all of the athletes, he began to make his way towards me. "Thank you, Meagan," he said.



Muhtar and Meagan
Mr. Kent and I after the Torch Run on the Santa Monica Pier. 

Yep, Meagan. My real name. Not "the intern." Not a generic, "Thank you, you..." Nope. A "Thank you Meagan."  

I gave him a big hug and thanked him in return. 

It's not every day your CEO makes you and every Special Olympics athlete feel like a star, but Mr. Kent, you certainly succeeded. 

Thank you. 

Meagan Priselac is a multimedia journalist on Coke's global digital communications and social media team. Follow her on Twitter at @mpriselac. 

Read more Journey coverage of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.