Voices of Vision, a program that brings well-known and influential speakers to the Fargo-Moorhead area, has invited former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw to talk about his take on success in business.
This is not the only year that Voices of Vision has brought a big name to this area. According to Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce, the whole concept of this program is based on bringing well known and respected speakers to the Fargo-Moorhead market. Whitney started the event when he became CEO of the F-M Chamber of Commerce.
“The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is a bi-state, regional federation of over 2,100 private, public and non-profit member firms representing more than 94,000 people,” according to the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber website. “The Chamber advocates for a strong metropolitan community and supports the interests of its members, which are located in Cass and Clay Counties and beyond.”
This year Voices of Vision invited Bradshaw to the community. Bradshaw was a quarterback for the Steelers in the 1970’s, a Fox sports commentator, author and musician. Bradshaw will be talking about his understanding of business success.
“One person said to me that [Bradshaw’s speech] is the best business message that he has ever seen anyone present on,” Whitney said.
Bradshaw will be using his career in football as the main focus in his speech today from 12–1:30 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza and Suites and Conference Center in Fargo. There are already 900 people attending and there is a waiting list of 300 people.
“Part of his message is talking about his career in football from a standpoint of how he had to communicate to his players. He relates that to how you can be successful in business,” Whitney said.
According to Whitney, even though Bradshaw is mostly known for his career in football and work as a sports commentator, he is an extremely motivational speaker with a great message.
In its first year, the Chamber invited Oliver North, a former Lt. Colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps in Iran to present. According to Whitney, he was a popular and a controversial speaker at the time because of his actions in Iran.
According to an online biography, North was a part of the National Security Council of Ronald Reagan. It was during this time that he partially participated in the sale of weapons to intermediaries in Iran in exchange for U.S. hostages. North is currently a military correspondent on Fox news.
In the second year of Voices of Vision, journalist Bob Woodward came to present. Woodward was one of the reporters asked to investigate the Watergate story.
For the third year, Joe Theismann, quarterback for the Washington Redskins came to present and last lear, Jeb Bush presented. Bush was the governor of Florida and he is the son of former president of the United States George H.W. Bush and brother of former president George W. Bush
“They have come from all walks of life and they represent different parts of what they have done in their career,” Whitney said.
He stated that because the speakers come from various areas in their careers, their sometimes controversial messages provoke conversation in the F-M community.
Whitney said that Voices of Vision affects the Fargo-Moorhead community in a variety of ways. It puts the city in the spotlight, he said.
“Every speaker comes into our community with some sort of preconceived notion and they always go away extremely blown away in terms of stories they hear from people,” Whitney said.
The speakers are also surprised by the amount of attendants at the events and by how well the event is produced by the Chamber.
“It makes them go away with Fargo-Moorhead in the back of their mind and it’s not anything like they think it is,” Whitney said.
Whitney said that the Fargo-Moorhead chamber would like for college students to be more involved in the Chamber and more of them to come to their events. Whitney feels it’s important for student to know what is happening in their community.
“I still hope that there is an opportunity for us to work with some of the schools as we continue with this program,” Whitney said. “We hope to continue to grow and build on that opportunity.”
Whitney mentioned that the Chamber is beginning to have good and improving relationships with Concordia, Moorhead State and North Dakota State. Concordia in particular is part of a new program with the Fargo-Moorhead chamber that should be launching next school year in August. The program, Youth Entrepreneurship Academy, teaches students from 9-12 grade to become entrepreneurs.
Concordia will serve as one of three college sponsors and hosts for the program. Students will go through a 30 week program to learn how to start a real business.
“The reason we like this is it’s not taught by teachers or professors,” Whitney said. “It’s taught by real business people that have actually gone through the process of succeeding, failing and doing a business plan.”
According to Whitney, the colleges like this program because it provides exposure to the college campus. Whitney likes the program because it highlights the larger business issue at hand. According to Whitney, people hear everyday from the Chamber members that business is good, but because of our lack of an available workforce and our inability to retain employees, businesses are unable to obtain the type of workers that they need.
Whitney hopes that this years Voices of Vision will influence people in a positive way and that the audience will leave having learned something about business.
“I hope the people will go away motivated,” Whitney said, “go away learning some skills to deal with peers and business, and that managers and leaders will go away with good ideas in how to continue to motivate employees to work hard.”