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Opening keynote Michael Bender gives strategy insight

Posted By Robert Wray, Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Vice President and President of Walmart's West Business Unit, Michael Bender, gave a powerful and well-defined opening keynote speech. Yes, he's worked in marketing, strategy and sales roles for massive brands like Pepsi Cola and Victoria's Secret. But did he bombard us with fancy charts and graphs? No. 

"I'm a guy who likes to keep things simple... I want to bring a message of leadership characteristics, talk about relationships," Bender says. 

He goes on to outline points in his extensive career that helped him understand how to build strategic frameworks inside large companies. "Make sure there is an alignment of initiatives and an openness to different points of view within your team," he says. One way of accomplishing this is truly knowing the people you're working with, and making sure your team is fully committed to making the end goal(s) happen.  

What about innovation? Sure, but approach it responsibly. Keep things clear and as simple as possible. Be bold but avoid confusion.

Teamwork: That means investing in your people and having a true interest in developing their talents. How many of us have experienced just the opposite? Good leaders, Bender thinks, is to keep learning from others. "I consider myself a work in progress," he says. "That's why I'm here today." 

Oh, and watch your ego. Be authentic and able to laugh at yourself. "As much as I love what I do, I won't let it be my sole identity," Bender says. "I'll always give 110% to my career, but I cultivate my personal interests--family, friends and many other things--so I can be fulfilled." 

True words of wisdom. 

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