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May 2019

 Fostering local business venture growth since 1987.

With great distinction, the Oklahoma Venture Forum honors the Chickasaw Nation with this year’s OVF Chairman’s Award for Economic Impact presented by Insperity. The bi-annual award will be presented to Governor Bill Anoatubby, who will receive the award on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation.

Bill Anoatubby is the current governor of the Chickasaw Nation and has served in this position since 1987. Prior to his governorship, Anoatubby served as lieutenant governor in Overton James’ administration for two terms.

“Learn to make do with what you have, and then create some new things.”

Here’s a line of advice from Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby: “Learn to make do with what you have,” says the leader who is receiving the honor on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation, “and then create some new things.” That wisdom is evidenced in the tribe’s government, management, and investments.

“Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI) is a federally chartered corporation owned by the Chickasaw Nation,” explains the Governor. “We had to acquire the support of our people to form the organization back in 1996. So we sent out around 15,000 ballots, and the charter was approved.”

“We started out small. But we’ve grown and today we’re approaching around 40,000 registered voters. We have more than a dozen subsidiaries with over 2000 employees in 40 states.”

Some of those employees reside in places like Marietta, a rural community in southern Oklahoma. In 2004, when the Chickasaw nation learned that the town’s local manufacturing facility was about to shut down, the tribe stepped in and acquired the business. “We took the leap,” recalls the Governor of the time when 50 employees almost lost their jobs. “We kept the business going and were actually able to expand it.”

Today CNI operates Filtra-Systems out of the plant in Marietta. “One of the products, and it’s very exciting, is the Scout Mobile Water Filtration System,” says Governor Anoatubby. “It can recycle up to 10,000 barrels of produced water, which is water utilized in drilling and fracking operations. The water can then be reused instead of being sent to the disposal well.”

Another subsidiary of CNI is Corvid Technologies. “The engineers at Corvid work with supercomputers. They do predictive modeling for different entities from NASCAR to the US government.”

“For example, the computer programs developed at Corvid show what effect an IED has on a vehicle. This saves the government money because an actual vehicle doesn’t have to be used.”

“This is not only a good business to be in; it’s also a growing business. We expect to add 350 employees in the years to come.”

Long term investments that deliver positive economic impacts are clearly important to the Chickasaw Nation and its leader; after all, Governor Anoatubby has invested more than 30 years in tribal leadership. While making do in order to create new is one of his guiding principles, due diligence is another. “We probably invest in about 1% of the opportunities we evaluate,” he says. “We always ask if the business will support the economic goals of our Nation and improve the quality of life for our people.”

There is one investment opportunity, though, to which the Governor and his tribe regularly say ‘yes.’ “We fund over 5000 scholarships today,” he says. “And now we are seeing young people coming back to work with us. They have all kinds of expertise, from business to finance to investments. So we’re very thankful for that.”

Governor Anoatubby is also thankful for the Oklahoma Venture Forum. “Some of the work that’s been done by our people is being recognized. It’s very nice that the OVF would give our Nation this economic impact award.”

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Chairman's Award for Economic Impact Title Sponsor

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 33 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Traditional Payroll and Human Capital Management, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees.  With 2018 revenues of $3.8 billion, Insperity operates in 73 offices throughout the United States.

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Keynote Speaker 

Changing Leadership Roles:
Piyush Patel Headlines OVF’s May Economic Awards Banquet

by Lori Williams

We are excited to announce that our Keynote speaker will be Piyush Patel, Speaker, Angel Investor and Best-Selling Author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work. Mr. Patel has 20 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and is the former CEO of Digital-Tutors.
Piyush Patel is on a roll. Five years ago he achieved a $45 million exit for Digital-Tutors, the company he launched with a $54 investment. Today he is a bestselling author of a book about building an exceptional workplace culture. He is also a speaker and angel investor. How did this entrepreneur achieve such success? His book, Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, outlines his process, but it really could be summed up in one phrase: Roll changing.
“Big problems happen when you ignore little problems because they start to compound,” says Patel. “Changing the toilet paper roll is the smallest litmus test in an organization that shows how people treat each other.”

“People ask me all the time: ‘Piyush, why do you obsess about that?’ And I say it’s because I see my core value broken. The core value of respect. In the boardroom and in the kitchen, everyone’s going to be respectful. But how do people act when nobody’s watching?”

It was three years into the launch of Digital-Tutors before Patel and his wife Lisa realized the need to hammer out a list of core values for their business. (They titled those five values The Rules of Our Game.) But that might never have happened if the entrepreneur hadn’t encountered what he calls ‘the valley of death.’ “There are hundreds of those times,” he says. “It’s when you’re not growing, cash is tight, you struggle with culture and with customers.”

“Then you figure it out and you grow and then you hit another valley of death again. Entrepreneurs need to realize it’s a process. The character of your people shows up in the valley of death because those parts are hard. This is where great businesses are built.”

If it sounds like a roller coaster, then you get the idea.

The values derived from that valley of death are on page seven of the book, but here is a takeaway from page eight: “Those five values,” says the author, “transformed my company from a place I hated to go into a place I loved to call home. They also turned Digital-Tutors into an online training powerhouse.”
Another thing that kept Patel rolling in the right direction was to focus on a goal. “I call it the North Star,” he explains. “For Digital-Tutors, that meant becoming the ESPN of our industry, that is being the brand equity for people in the movie and video game industry.”

“So when we hit those valleys of death, we asked ourselves, ‘Will this help us become the ESPN, or does this divert or cloud that process? That became one of our litmus tests.”

The North Star answers the ‘what we do’ question, but what about the ‘why’ do we do it? It’s about role changing.

“If your role is to make sure to take care of your core tribe, they will take care of your larger tribe every time,” he says. “We did what we did in order to improve the lives of our people and the people who use our products.”

“The order here of our people over the people who buy our products is extremely important. We didn’t put our customers first.”

Dial back to the first paragraph to see how that ‘why’ worked for this CEO. Then add in this fact: Digital-Tutors served big-name clients like LucasArts, Pixar, and Disney.

While taking care of those customers, Piyush Patel kept taking care of his team. “At each of our monthly staff meetings, we went around the room and let each person tell about how another employee exemplified one of our five values. Each story was tied to a specific value, about a specific person, and related to a specific event.”

“Our monthly meetings gave me the chance to check all the dials and gauges. Deeper than that, though, it gave us all a chance to affirm not only our values but our significance to each other.”

“We do this all the time with our families. We tell them we love them even though they already know it. We need to do the same thing in a business setting.”
“Think of it as an investment in the long-term health of your tribe.”

Thank you to our Award Sponsor,

Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma

Better Business Bureau® of Central Oklahoma, was founded in 1930 and serves over 50 counties in Oklahoma. Through different programs and methods, your BBB serves as a resource for businesses large and small and has adopted a focus of helping businesses grow.  With more programs and resources launching each year now more than ever is the best time to explore accreditation. 

Why become a member? 

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Chairman's Perspective 

Brad Rickelman

Meridian Technology Center
May 8th at the Oklahoma History Center is our Chairman’s Award for Economic Impact event, and I want to see you there. It is a great ending to our year of luncheons and events.
We are very pleased to be able to present the Chairman’s award to the Chickasaw Nation and its Governor Bill Anoatubby. Most of us are very familiar with the various business operations owned by the Chickasaw Nation. I find it fascinating how the tribal leadership and business development team work towards meeting their mission to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people. They are not only interested in a good business they also need it to be sustainable and provide for the overall quality of life.
Tribal leadership understands that gaming and casinos are a valuable contribution, but one which depends critically on a regulatory environment which could change at any time. Being able to develop long-term returns from the resources gained through this happy circumstance is a difficult mission. Observe how many of the oil-rich Gulf States still depend essentially on a natural resource – oil – for the vast preponderance of their wealth and influence.
And in Oklahoma, we too are recipients of natural resources which allow the state to flourish. Oil, natural gas, agriculture, mining, all are extractive industries which have brought wealth to us since our state was founded.
The question is: where do we go from here? The Venture Forum was created in response to the banking crisis, and the concomitant business crisis, of the 1980s. If we could develop more entrepreneurial businesses in our state, that could help us weather whatever occurs in our extractive economy.
Now 3o years later, we still are dependent on oil and natural gas for the prosperity of our state. Because tax collections are higher this year, there will be more money for our legislature to budget, but if oil and gas prices decline, we go back down the same hill as before.
In this, my ninth chairman’s report to you all, I am more convinced of the need and role for a Venture Forum to help grow our entrepreneurs and their business. And it is an ongoing process. That is why I am concerned by a small but noticeable dip in our luncheon and after hour’s event attendance. If we are to continue our mission, we need to develop the next generation of those interested in strengthening the entrepreneur ecosystem of Oklahoma.
I look forward to seeing you – and a guest! – at an upcoming OVF event. Remember that if you have someone you feel should attend one of our events, and you cannot afford to bring them as a guest, tell me and I will make it happen.

OVF 2018-2019 Events Calendar

Chairman's Award for Economic Impact Presented by Insperity

May 8th, 2019

Oklahoma History Center

Membership Kick-off

August 8th
Location To  Be Announced


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