It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this, but I certainly had no idea my tenure as Chairman of the Oklahoma Venture Forum would be such a wild ride. Thanks Coronavirus! Our unofficial theme was “you CAN do that in Oklahoma” which has proven true each and every day.
We started the 2019-2020 session off in a great way with our membership drive in August of last year in a beautiful loft on Film Row filled with exotic sports cars. I had the honor of introducing my friend, personal hero and true American patriot Major Ed Pulido, US Army (ret.) who spoke with us about creating opportunities from major setbacks. Major Ed (as he is most known) is living proof of overcoming obstacles to become an even better version of yourself. On the 17th of August 2004, Major Pulido hit an Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D) or roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Due to the extensive injuries to his left knee, doctors had to amputate his left leg. Major Ed did not let the loss of his leg, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or PTSD from the explosion stop him or even slow him down. In fact, he uses it as motivation every single day. The list of Major Ed’s accomplishments and efforts supporting veterans and military families over the last 15 years is way too long to post here. Major Ed is a shining example of overcoming your darkest days.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum as an organization, our members collectively and each of us individually cannot control the COVID-19 pandemic or the massive impact on our personal and professional lives. But we can react to it. We can work together to create positive outcomes from unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty. We can adapt, collaborate, and marshal our resources to rescue not only our business interest but the economies of our cities, state, and nation. The time for smart, capable, and experienced business leaders working together on solving the problems created by COVID-19 is now. OVF members joining with our local governments, civic and non-profit organizations can and will put us all back on the right path to opportunity and economic freedom.
Last week, we observed the 25th anniversary of the tragic event that occurred in Oklahoma City on April 19th, 2005. The Oklahoma City bombing revealed to the whole world what those of us who live here already knew. We are collectively stronger than anything that tries to destroy us. Many call this the “Oklahoma Standard”. I love that. A terrorist attack, oil bust, dust bowl or pandemic will not stop the people of this state from getting up every morning and doing the work necessary to provide for our families and our neighbors. We do what is right, we do our best and we never give up.
Despite COVID-19, OVF continues to provide information and connection for the Oklahoma business community. In April, we held our first-ever virtual Power Lunch meeting with a presentation via Zoom from COOP Ale Works CEO Daniel Mercer. Attendance online while maintaining social distancing was better than expected, we a great amount of positive feedback. I want to personally thank everyone for participating or watching the video afterward if you could not attend the event in real-time. To end this roller coaster of a session, we will hold our annual Venture of the Year & Most Promising New Business event on May 13th via Zoom as well. All our finalists will be involved, and our winners will deliver acceptance speeches in real-time. Our keynote speaker is internationally renowned futurist Scott Klososky, Founder of Future Point of View. Klososky will be leading an interactive presentation that will fully utilize the online format. We may not be in the same room together, but we will be enlightened, entertained and challenged by Klososky’s presentation.
As I wrap up the 2019-2020 session, I want to give a few shout outs. The first goes to OVF Executive Director Ché Loessberg. She has made my year as Chairman run smoothly as possible and she has worked extra hard the last few months to ensure everyone receives the maximum value of OVF membership. A big shout out to the Venture of the Year & Most Promising New Business award sponsors Mariner Wealth and the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma. Specifically, Joe Hendrix and Kitt Letcher for continuing to support the VOTY / MPNB event despite all the changes from the traditional format. A great example of working together during tough times. Also, a heartfelt Thank You to the board of directors, executive committee and every member or guest who attended OVF events this year. It has been my honor to work with all of you this session. I cannot wait to do it one more time on May 13th, even if it is from separate locations.
We will end the 2019-2020 session the same way we started, with our unofficial theme of “you CAN do that in Oklahoma” along with a collective can-do attitude, unbridled optimism, and support for anyone who needs it. That is the Oklahoma Standard.