Editor’s Note: Members of the Salt Lake Chamber are visiting Washington, D.C., this week to interact with and learn from key thought leaders in our nation’s capital. Vice President for Business and Community Relations Ryan Evans is writing a three-day travelogue to share activities with other Chamber members. Learn more about the Chamber’s DC visit at www.slchamber.com/dc.
The Salt Lake Chamber’s DC Delegation was the recipient of a welcome surprise for our dinner meeting on Monday. The group traveled to Hillsdale College to hear from Sen. Mike Lee on the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Rather than hear a talk on the constitution from Sen. Lee, we were honored to have Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas give his perspective on the Constitution and its importance to our country, going so far as to say that he felt we may have lost our country if not for the ratification of this great document. He challenged the group to take this anniversary of the Constitution as an opportunity to not talk about what it should say, but what it does say. He commented, “… many people tell me that they know their Constitutional rights, but rarely do you hear someone say that they’ve actually read the Constitution.”
Following dinner, Sen. Lee led the group in a game of “Constitutional Jeopardy,” which proved to be a fun way to learn more about the Constitution… and to say it was competitive between teams to win would be an understatement. It’s not very often that one gets to hear, in an intimate setting, from a Supreme Court Justice, but even more rare to play a board game with a justice and a United States Senator.
A big thank you to Sen. Lee and his staff for a wonderful evening.
Tuesday morning’s meetings began as the group first heard from Dee Allsop, Ph.D. of Heart + Mind Strategies talking about why values matter when pitching your product, whether it’s an actual product, a service or your platform as a politician. When looking at the upcoming presidential elections right now, Allsop told our delegation the three most important things to voters are jobs, reducing the deficit and health care. Candidates need to not only address those issues, but appeal to the values Americans hold surrounding these issues. An example from the private sector would be the “Got Milk” campaign. While catchy and well known, that phrase didn’t help sell any more milk until paired with the health benefits of milk.
The second speaker of the day was Professor Michael Czinkota, who teaches international business and trade at Georgetown’s graduate school of business. (Above is a video introduction of Professor Czinkota by Lew Cramer, World Trade Center Utah president & CEO.) Czinkota spoke to the group about new policy issues in international business. Specifically, he discussed challenges facing U.S. companies, a changing paradigm for international trade and key policy emphases.
At lunch, the group engaged in an active conversation with the three-term, former governor of Michigan, John Engler. Engler is the current president of the Business Roundtable, a think tank of chief executive officers. Engler pointed out that a consensus of CEOs feel the recovery is moving too slowly and that unpredictability in Washington is hard on business. Business just needs to know what field they are playing on and they will succeed. Engler took questions regarding the lack of action in the nation’s capital, the auto bailout, the lack of bipartisanship in Congress, pension reform, job creation at the state level and Sarbanes Oxley.
After lunch and the conversation with Gov. Engler, the group had the choice of two different optional tours- Eastern Market or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Those that went to the bureau saw the expression “Show me the money!” in action… literally hundreds of millions of dollars were being printed and on display as we toured the facility.
The evening’s activities include dinner at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse and an evening tour of the Capitol with Congressman Rob Bishop.
All of these experiences, combined with the business friendships enriched by time spent together, make the Salt Lake Chamber’s DC trip an extraordinary experience.