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Despite nationally known speakers Sarah Palin and Howard Dean headlining the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Perspectives 2010 forum, it was the lesser-known speakers who had a greater effect on the audience.
Terrence McNamara, a Sacramentan in the construction industry, said he found management consultant and author Marcus Buckingham to be the most interesting.
“I’ve been coming to this for seven years, and it’s always the speaker you’re not interested in seeing who has the biggest impact,” he said.
Buckingham offered his views on dealing with strengths and weaknesses. Traditionally, Buckingham said, people tend to think that weaknesses need to be worked on.
According to Buckingham, however, strengths should be reinforced.
“Strengths are your areas of opportunity – not your weaknesses,” he said, adding that “a weakness is an activity that consumes us, even if we’re good at it. Strength is an activity that makes you feel strong.”
In figuring out how to enhance performance in areas where people feel strong, Buckingham said they will be better at their jobs and more fulfilled in life.
The second speaker of the day was Food Network personality Chef Jeff Henderson.
Henderson told his story – how he went from being poor in Los Angeles to building a $35,000-per-month drug empire to being thrown in prison and eventually reforming and attaining the American Dream through hard work.
“I wasn’t arrested, I was rescued,” Henderson said.
After thrusting himself into the lives of the successful, Henderson found that “the only difference between the haves and the have-nots are the ones who have the knowledge and information and the ability to do something with it.”
Dean, a former Democratic Party presidential candidate, said the biggest threat to the United States is the budget deficit.
“Great countries collapse and die not because of external threats,” Dean said. “They do it because they lose the will to fight internal threats, and that makes them unable to deal with the external threats.”
Dean advocated stopping government growth and increasing taxes, as well as creating more manufacturing jobs in America.
In the upcoming midterm elections, Dean predicted that, of the contested seats, the Democrats will hang on to four seats in the House of Representatives and three to four seats in the Senate.
“Our candidates are better than the Republican candidates,” Dean said, referring to their political skills as much as his thoughts on their views.
On the subject of health care, Dean said that he views the current national health care plan not as reform, but as an extension of a system that was already in place.
“This bill was not groundbreaking. It was not reform,” Dean said.
Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, disagreed with Dean on how to generate wealth in the economy, calling for permanent tax cuts to spur investment and business growth.
“My kid is not your ATM,” Palin said, referring to a sign she liked at a tea party gathering. “I love that message sent to Washington, D.C.”
Where Dean had forecast the health care system evolving to a system similar to government-run ones in Canada and Europe, Palin said a free-market health care system is the only way to be successful.
The health care bill is “the mother of all unfunded mandates,” she said. “It’s gotta go. It’s gotta be replaced by true, free-market (reform).”
During her speech to the mostly full house of about 2,000 people at the Sacramento Convention Center, Palin applauded Republican Senatorial Candidate Carly Fiorina and questioned if incumbent Democratic candidate Barbara Boxer has done anything to earn votes.
“She spent 28 years in Washington to show...what for it?” Palin asked.
Palin also said California has the opportunity to lead the United States in government reforms by figuring out a way to deal with the state budget. She compared California’s budget problems to those of the federal government, and she said that Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman is the woman to do it.
“We can, we should do all that we can to make America remain that shining city on a hill and know that our best days are yet to come,” Palin said.
Audience members interviewed by The Sacramento Press after the event said it was a good experience.
“I thought it was terrific,” said John Frisch, a commercial real estate manager in Sacramento who has come to Perspectives for 14 of its 16 years. “One thing I love is there’s always surprises – one to two speakers you’ve never heard of, and they turn out to be nuggets.”
For Frisch, Henderson was that nugget.
“He was terrific,” Frisch said.
DeAnna Mackensen, an interior designer from Yuba City, said she thought Buckingham’s tips on focusing on strengths were very informative, and she plans to put his tips to real-world use in her business.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.