Running a business can be a lonely job. That’s why entrepreneurs are drawn to groups like the Young President’s Organization, Vistage, EO and the Birthing of Giants programs.
Yes, belonging to groups like these gives you a chance to share and learn from the experiences and best practices of our peers. But I’d say that’s only 30% of the equation. What makes belonging to these groups, and attending their events, so powerful is the people you meet, talk and go out to dinner with. The real takeaways are the relationships you build throughout your life and are then refreshed when you get together with each other.
The same is true of The Gathering of Games, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary May 9-11 in St. Louis – an event I’d like to share with all of you.
I’m proud of the lineup this year, which will include a variety of informative breakout sessions and standout speakers like Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing and Brian Scudamore, founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? You’ll also find people like PBS business reporter Paul Solman, George Gendron, the former editor of Inc. magazine, and, as always, business writer extraordinaire Bo Burlingham, mingling in the audience as well.
But when I look back at the past 20 years, I’m humbled to think about the thousands of relationships from all walks of life that we’ve been able to build through our annual Gatherings. Like Ping Fu, founder of Geomagic, who shared her message of survival and hope. And Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, who taught us about vision. There was Terry “Moose” Millard of Southwest Airlines, who talked about courage and Bill Strickland of Manchester Bidwell Corp., who inspired us with his undying love of the human spirit. John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods shared how he conquered the impossible while Richard Teerlink, CEO of Harley-Davidson, drove his bike onto the stage and talked about lifestyle. And who could forget Chris Sullivan, founder of Outback restaurants, sharing how he built balance into his life while Steve Sheppard, who after retiring from Foldcraft, where he built restaurant furniture, has since taken open-book management global through the Winds of Peace Foundation.
There’s also our friends and champions of the Great Game community, dedicated people like Alan Kent, Linda Hobbs, Ed Dorian, Glen Thoroughman and Corey Rosen, who continue to make the journey to the Gathering every year. They all share similar values in that they have shown that they have a great capacity to love their associates by developing businesses that allow anyone the chance to grab the brass ring. It’s the chance to meet and connect with people like this who have been so giving over the past 20 years.
While I have countless fond memories of the Gatherings gone by, the theme of this year’s reunion is “20 years of looking forward.” That means it’s time for all you newcomers to the Great Game to come and join us old-timers in creating an experience with people who share similar values like transparency, involvement, ownership, openness, an eagerness to learn and grow, caring about people and giving back to the community when it comes to running your business.
Give yourself a break and clear your head by spending some time with a group of joyous people. Come and recharge your batteries, make some new friends and maybe learn a thing or two you can bring back to your business on Monday morning. It will be worth the trip.
I look forward to seeing you there.
PS – I almost forgot to mention Norm Brodsky, the most widely photographed executive alive today!
*To learn more about The Gathering of Games, visit the conference Website.