MARSHALL - Two years ago, Glenn Bader was given a free ticket to attend a leadership conference broadcast live from a church in Morris. The experience made such a positive impression on Bader, vice president of marketing at Ralco Nutrition, that he wanted to bring the high quality program back to his own community. Along with Doug Wing and Wade McKittrick, Bader was instrumental in doing just that.
"I was amazed," Bader said. "For $99, I was shocked at the quality of the program and thought, how do we bring this to Marshall?"
Last year, about 70 people in the Marshall area had the opportunity to experience the leadership conference locally. And this year, the 2012 Chick-fil-A Leadercast program, with speakers like John Maxwell, Tim Tebow, Soledad O'Brien and Marcus Buckingham, is expected to reach hundreds of people throughout the area.
"They've been doing this for about 15 years," Bader said. "This is the third year I've been part of it. It started actually as an event for John Maxwell and Chick-fil-A came on board as the title sponsor a few years ago. It's grown ever since."
The one-day event is held live in Atlanta, Ga., and broadcast live around the world, including a video feed Friday at the Schwan's Community Center for Performing Arts at Marshall High School.
"There's a few hundred locations and like 125,000 people who watch it live," Bader said. "This year, we purchased a satellite, so we have a really great video feed. We're not streaming over the Internet."
The conference is focused on leadership development.
"It's about how to develop leadership skills in our people and our employees in the workplace," Bader said. "Individuals who choose to attend will be challenged, inspired and encouraged to improve their leadership skills."
Bader also pointed out that the event is not just for managers.
"It's an event for everyone," he said. "We are all leaders and we all make choices every day that impact our businesses, our families, our churches and our community."
A growing number of area businesses have become sponsors, Bader said, with the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce and the Legacy Foundation leading the way. Wing, who is the senior pastor at Grace Life Church, serves on the Chamber board, while Bader serves on the board for the Legacy Foundation.
"We have a passion for it and love seeing all the groups coming around it," Bader said. "It's a good fit for the Chamber because they want to build Marshall and southwest Minnesota, to have thriving businesses, but also good leadership in the community."
The two event organizers stressed that no one business in the area profits from the sale of tickets for the event. It's the community that benefits, they said.
"Everything we're making is in an investment to get more people there," Bader said. "We just want to get the word out there and help build the leadership in our community."
Wing reported that almost 200 tickets were spoken for already for this year.
"We're shooting for 400," he said. "The neat thing about it is that it's good for large companies like Schwan's, U.S. Bank or Ralco, but an individual, it would be good for him, too."
This type of leadership and training, Wing said, could help organizations throughout all levels. And, the cost of the experience is affordable, he said.
The sponsors not only enabled organizers to secure a location and equipment, Bader said, but also allowed them to give away a number of tickets to the next generation of leaders.
"We're most excited about giving away 50 tickets to high school juniors this year," he said. "There are 35 from Marshall and then 15 from area schools who are getting to attend for free. They went through a selection process to determine the kids to bring."
There are also special rates for area pastors, campus leaders, agricultural leaders and veterans of the armed forces.
"We're trying to reach all different aspects within the community because it takes many different aspects to make a healthy community," Wing said.
This year's theme is "Choices," featuring a variety of presenters on topics such as "Finding Your Edge at Work," "15 Laws of Personal Growth," "Choices Made by Historical Leaders" and "The Choices You Make While Leading Your Family."
The event runs from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday. During lunch and break times, local representatives from platinum sponsors - Ralco, U.S. Bank, United Way of Southwest Minnesota, Bremer Bank and Lyon Contracting and Development - will form a panel group. For the second straight year, McKittrick will be the program emcee.
Tickets can be purchased through Wednesday by calling the Chamber at 507-532-4484 or ordering online at marshall.webconnex.com/leadercast.