I met a “rock star of the management world” on Thursday night. At least that’s how a fan of Dr. Ken Blanchard was quoted describing him. At first I had no idea what that meant. To me authors are authors, but by the end of the night I had added him to my list of famous rockers.
For 2 months during my last semester of college I was immersed in the mind of Dr. Ken Blanchard. I quickly read his latest book at the time titled, Lead Like Jesus, and was in the habit of doing daily research on Dr. Blanchard. I was trying to absorb as much as I could about his life and his thinking. I read of his other bestselling books and explored the inner workings of The Ken Blanchard CompaniesÂ®, which he established in 1979. I was enthralled with his take on the subjects of ethics, management and leadership. He is truly a guru on these topics. What led me to this study of Dr. Blanchard’s work was a competition being held by the W Publishing Group, which is the publisher of Lead Like Jesus.
The competition was opened to universities and colleges around the country in which students were to create and implement a marketing plan for Dr. Blanchard’s book, Lead Like Jesus. The prize for winning the competition was a $5,000 scholarship for the School of Business, and a speaking engagement by Blanchard. I along with two other students, Garret Gronberg and Jay Lunceford, was selected by marketing professor, Dr. Kerianne Roper, to compete in the competition. After two full months of a research, planning, promoting, and working with businesses such as Mardels, Waldenbooks, and Amazon, we submitted our plan. Almost a month later we received word that we had won.
I hoped that I would be able to attend Dr. Blanchard’s speaking engagement with the school, whenever it might be, and a few months ago I received a personal invitation to the OC Associates Dinner, in which Dr. Blanchard was to be the keynote speaker. Thursday night, before leaving my house for the OC Associates Dinner, I started wondering what it would be like to hear Dr. Blanchard speak and to meet him personally. Would he demonstrate the passion for his work, that is so evident in his writings? Would he be, “insightful, and powerful,” as his friends, colleagues, and clients have characterized him? I can truthfully say that Ken Blanchard met and exceeded my expectations. Because of the night’s order of formal presentation, I didn’t get a chance to meet with Dr. Blanchard until the end of the evening, while he was signing books. As soon as he found out that I was one of the students who won the competition, I was greeted with open arms. I didn’t have a book for him to sign, but I told him the story of how during the competition I gave my copy of his book away to a newspaper journalist from one of the local papers so that she would do a writeup on the book and the competition. He quickly motioned for one the people selling books to hand him a copy from the table. (They were out of Lead Like Jesus, so I was given The One Minute Manager instead.) He signed the book and we took some photos together; Dr. Blanchard was looking like a management rock star to me more than ever!