A top water lawyer warned of a pending disaster in the Delta.
A chamber executive shared a message of political hope for California.
A business leader said passion drives profitability.
And humorist Will Durst poked fun at a range of subjects, from President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to the public nudists of San Francisco.
The Leadership Forum Thursday included facts, fun and moments of humor and inspiration. Sponsored by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, the forum drew a near-capacity crowd to Hutchins Street Square. It included breakfast and lunch, the featured speakers, multimedia presentations and numerous networking opportunities.
“We hope today is a chance to sharpen your sword — and deepen relationships,” said Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the chamber, as the day began.
Mark C. Thompson: Passion and purpose drive success
Growing up in the Bay Area, Mark C. Thompson said his father left the family, his mother was limited by polio and his big brother was stricken with seizures. It was his responsibility to help his brother get through the seizures, which sometimes turned violent.
During one episode that was particularly difficult, Thompson said he saw sunlight. It was a turning point.
“I told my brother he couldn’t live like this anymore. And I didn’t want to live like that either. I told him we were going to get him some help,” he recounted.
The determined Thompson did find help for his brother. Eventually, his father returned to the family. His mother was able to get a better job.
“The crisis drew us together,” he said.
Thompson is former executive with Charles Schwab, co-founder and CEO of Richard Branson’s Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and the author of “Success Built to Last.” He was the forum’s keynote speaker, pacing the stage as a multimedia presentation played on a giant screen behind him.
Succeeding in business, like dealing with crisis, Thompson said, requires determination and a sense of purpose.
“It is one thing to achieve success. It is another to make it last,” he said.
He outlined several goals to achieve long-term results: Treat customers not just as clients, but as partners; do not ignore the personal touch, especially in an era of digital communications; and do not let internal politics kill your organization’s sense of innovation.
Thompson presented a video of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, talking about the importance of taking risks and being willing to fail.
“Without fiascoes you will never achieve success,” Kamprad said.
Thompson stressed the importance of sharing a vision with colleagues and used Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, as an example. He said Jobs, until late in his career, was reluctant to trust and invest in his workers. Instead, Jobs was known as a brusque or even demeaning boss.
But later in this life, faced with what proved to be a terminal illness, Jobs changed. He gave colleagues more power, gave them more trust, and the company flourished because of that.
“He knew it could not be just his vision, but his employees’ vision that would sustain success,” Thompson said.
Passion can be difficult to quantify, Thompson said, but it is essential to success, too.
Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, told Thompson that someone trying to build a business without passion seldom succeeds. Buffett said too many people talk about pursuing a passion only after their make money.
“He told me that’s like delaying sex until old age,” Thompson said.
Buffett said passion is what leads to success, monetary and otherwise.
How can you tell if someone is passionate about their pursuit?
“If you are passionate, you bore people at cocktail parties,” he said.
Contact Editor Rich Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.