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NEW Summit focuses on hard truths of 'new normal'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010  
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Nearly 800 Network members examined the challenges and opportunities presented by the "new normal” at the NEW Leadership Summit 2010, Sept. 27-29 in Charlotte.

After an eye-opening Network video on the Summit's theme, futurist Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, opened the Summit’s general session with a wide ranging discourse on the road ahead for the industry. "We are not going through a recession,” she emphasized, "but a permanent transformation.”

According to Weiner, "We are heading into a metaspace economy, and there will be massive disruptions as we transition. The financial crisis was really a tech crisis, because everything was linked together in grids, and that made us more vulnerable.”

"Everything today is temporary,” Weiner said. "All the promises are out of the system. The average young person today is going to be fending for themselves for 70 years.” Many goods and services are becoming commodities. She urged the audience to focus on eight "metaspace” growth areas of the future, including bioscience, outerspace and the virtual economy in cyberspace.

The two-day event started Monday afternoon with "The View” on Networking, a standing-room-only workshop with all four past Network presidents: Helayne Angelus of Kalypso, Kimberly Betts of Deloitte, Michele Hanson of ExecuInsight and Alison Kenney Paul of Deloitte.

The workshop was followed by the Network’s Annual Members Meeting, a Regional Officers Meeting and individual receptions hosted by Walmart, Dean Foods and other firms attending the event.

The evening concluded with a gala reception and buffet that included special remarks by CVS Caremark President and COO Larry Merlo, a dessert party and a Silent Auction, which raised more than $11,000 for the Network’s scholarship fund. Direct donations raised an additional $6,000, including $1,000 donated by Kimberly-Clark and $1,000 by the Southeast Frozen and Refrigerated Food Council.

Emotional closer

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Consuelo Kickbusch closed the Summit with an emotion-filled keynote. "Let’s not believe that as women we are weak or emotional or not capable of taking on battles,” she said. "Never apologize for being a strong, determined woman.”

Recounting the prejudice she encountered as a poor Hispanic girl living on the U.S.-Mexico border, Kickbusch said, "Life is not fair. But I learned to forgive. Let them [your enemies] go.” She urged the attendees to look past materialism. "You can be wearing $2,000 and still feel like a $1.99,” she said. "We must dress our souls for success. The greatest leader is one who lives a legacy, not someone who leaves a legacy.”

The three-day event also included SuperSessions led Bill Fournet, corporate strategist and president and CEO of the Persimmon Group; Kevin Coupe, journalist, author and industry blogger at; and DeLores Pressley, a consultant and coach specializing in building relationships.

Author Fawn Germer hosted a general session roundtable discussion with Network members from the Baby Boom, Gen X and Millennial generations, who provided different perspectives on the recession and how it has challenged them as leaders and individuals. Panelists were Dorlisa Flur of Family Dollar, Ashley Harris of Kraft, Maia McNair of Food Lion, Evelyn Paschal of Accenture and Latriece Watkins of Sam's Club.

Nearly 100 attendees extended their Summit by attending one of two optional events. During The Retail Safari®, attendees visited Bloom, a "different kind of grocery store”; Family Dollar, one of the nation's largest convenience and value retailers; IKEA, the self-service home products retailer; Trader Joe's, a chain that combines shopability with competitively priced store-branded products; and a remodeled Walmart supercenter.

Other members enrolled in the one-day Deep Dive Career Day, exploring ways to leverage their unique work styles to maximize business relationships, improve communications, increase effectiveness and build strong mentor partnerships. Deep Dive Career Day participants will take part in nine in-depth conference calls that extend the program though November 2011.

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