John Spence offers ISPA attendees essential strategies for business success

Industry Conference Keynote

John Spence

John Spence is a business adviser, strategist, consultant and former chief executive officer of an international Rockefeller foundation. He has been named three times as one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in America.” His latest book, “Awesomely Simple,” captures the lessons he learned from consulting with more than 500 business clients.

At the age of 26, John Spence became chief executive officer of an international Rockefeller foundation. While he learned a number of business lessons during that time, his mentor Charlie Owen taught him one he will never forget.

Each Monday, Owen would give him a book on business. By Friday, Spence had to deliver a book report. Inevitably, Owen would ask what three things Spence took away from the book. He was then held responsible for implementing those ideas.

“That was the big turning point for me,” Spence says. “I learned ideas are nice, but useless without action.”

Spence—the ending keynote speaker at the International Sleep Products Association’s 2015 Industry Conference March 4-5 at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Florida—continues that long-standing habit of reading, absorbing ideas and then implementing them. He estimates he reads 120 business-related books a year.

The ideas he gleans from the research in those books, coupled with his years of experience as both CEO and executive educator, have led to a successful career helping people improve their companies.

Recently named one of Inc. magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers, Spence offers audiences essential business strategies for turning ideas into action. He has presented workshops, speeches and executive coaching to more than 300 companies worldwide, including Microsoft, IBM, GE, Abbott, Merrill Lynch, AT&T, Verizon, Qualcomm and State Farm, as well as dozens of private organizations, government offices and not-for-profits.

The fundamentals

At ISPA’s Industry Conference, Spence will discuss business excellence and how to run a successful company. The author of a number of business books, including “Awesomely Simple,” Spence wants to make success more straightforward for business owners.  

“I was seeing so many businesses make running a company too complex,” he says. “They become confused, overwhelmed and intimidated.

“There are some fundamental things business owners have to do well,” he says.

He likens a business to a cake. If your batter tastes terrible, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks on the outside, he says.

“Let’s get the formula to make the batter great.”

His formula for business excellence includes four critical elements. He writes it this way: (T+C+ECF) x DE = Business Excellence

  T stands for talent, you must have great people.

■  C is for culture, both the winning culture employees want to be part of and the ownership mentality.

■  ECF equals extreme customer focus, a differentiator in a highly competitive world.

■  And, finally, DE represents disciplined execution, what he calls the single-biggest problem for companies today. Disciplined execution is taking ideas and turning them into action.

Attendees will hear about each of these elements in more detail. Spence hopes that those who hear his talk will find one or two great nuggets and apply them.

He is most happy when someone says they applied one of his ideas, and it helped solve a major problem.

2015 ISPA Industry Conference
March 4-5
Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club
St. Petersburg, Florida

Spence offers free slide presentations, YouTube videos and an opportunity to talk directly with him, if help is needed.   

He’s still in touch with some people he presented to 15 years ago. Spence enjoys knowing he’s played some small role in their business success.

“I love to help people,” he says. “I want them to be successful.” 

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