2012 Oklahoma Conference on Manufacturing

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
We have two dynamic and nationally-recognized speakers on tap for our keynote talks. Michael McMillan and Gus Whalen bring a wealth of experience and sensational presentations to this year's Oklahoma Conference on Manufacturing.

Michael McMillan

·         World leader in creative thinking
·         Best-selling author
·         Frequent media guest

Michael McMillan has a well-deserved reputation for creative thinking and delivering innovative results. Early in his career, Michael founded a visual communication firm that soon attracted a client roster that read like the "Who’s Who of Business." Fortune 500 corporations, small entrepreneurial businesses, sports and music legends, non-profit organizations and institutions have sought Michael’s creative guidance to deliver effective solutions with award-winning results. His work has been recognized by major design, marketing, advertising and communication organizations around the world.

In addition to his corporate work, Michael’s creative direction on Michael Jordan’s New York Times best-selling pictorial autobiography, Rare Air, established a new niche in retail publishing. He followed this success with several more award-winning coffee-table books including Mario Andretti, The NBA at 50 and John Deere’s Genuine Value.

After 20 consecutive years of growth, Michael sold his firm and began sharing his unique insight on creative thinking with business leaders, entrepreneurs and diverse organizations of all sizes. He is a perception catalyst and self-described truth seeker, inspiring others to question, think and see differently—balanced with respect for existing culture and frameworks.


Sometimes the path to success isn’t a path at all. Based on his best-selling book, Paper Airplane: A Lesson for Flying Outside the Box, Michael explores the power of creative thinking and shows the results you can achieve by having the courage to take action. This talk will open your eyes to the wonders of creativity, innovation and positive change. Through thought-provoking stories and examples, Michael provides valuable insights on creative thinking, questioning the norm, and taking action.

This presentation sparks imagination, encourages people to believe in their ideas, and helps organizations build a culture of innovation. Since the beginning of time, creative thinking has separated the survivors from those unable or unwilling to see new possibilities and make change. Creativity has always distinguished the winners from losers, and in today’s business world this statement has never been truer. Creative thinking is our most powerful human asset—it’s foundational for innovation, problem solving, survival and progress.

 Topics include:

·         Strategies for taking action on ideas that achieve breakthrough results.
·         How to know when the status quo is losing its status.
·         The psychology of expecting the unexpected.
·         The power of keeping a personal notebook.
·         How to trust your vision and insights and embrace your creative power.
·         The power of purpose and passion.
·         How labels and categories skew reality and influence our thinking.
·         Distinguishing the map from the territory…and why your success depends on it.
·         How to establish a culture that embraces creativity and change.

Gus Whalen

·         Chairman of the Warren Featherbone Company
·         Best-selling author
·         American manufacturing advocate

This presentation relates the real-life evolution of The Warren Featherbone Company, founded in 1883. That evolution has seen the company in agriculture, banking, philanthropy and manufacturing. Crisis has helped reinvent the company. That reinvention has often been non-linear, based not so much on what the company has done, but on what is at the core—its DNA. Today Warren Featherbone has helped create Featherbone Communiversity located in Gainesville, GA.


In his presentation, he paints a larger picture of corporate transformation. This includes adapting to change, innovation and investment in people. Of particular interest to Gus Whalen is manufacturing, philanthropy and education, which he believes have worked together to help strengthen communities across America.

California's giant sequoia trees stand over 300 feet tall despite their extremely shallow roots. They grow in communities called groves and support each other by hooking at the roots just beneath the surface. Gus believes that like the sequoias, people grow best in communities where we are all “hooked at the roots.”

Featherbone Communiversity is a learning community, which provides collaborative, cross-generational learning through a unique alliance among educational institutions. It is the first of its kind in the United States. Partner institutions are Brenau University, Lanier Technical College, Georgia Tech University, the University of Georgia, and INK (Interactive Neighborhood for Kids).

In 1993, Gus Whalen re-established the Warren Featherbone Foundation, originally founded in 1917, to increase public awareness of the importance of interdependent connections in business and society. His four books have reached a wide audience and Gus is frequently invited to speak to diverse audiences including corporations, associations, educators and government groups.

Gus initiated Georgia Manufacturing Appreciation Week and the Georgia Manufacturer of the Year Awards in 1995. A thousand people attend the annual awards banquet, which is co-sponsored by the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Technical College System of Georgia.


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