About a week before we announced this year’s Voices of Vision speaker, I started teasing the BIG news on Twitter. Of course, now that you’ve (probably) heard it is Shaquille O’Neal, it makes sense why we used the “big” catchphrase. Not only is Shaq literally big, but so is his name recognition, so is his persona, so are his accomplishments, and so is this news.
We’re not sure we’ve ever had so much excitement over a speaker for a Chamber event ever! We sold out floor seats within 24 hours and had to open up stadium seating. Shaq’s name is so recognizable, and it’s been a joy for our Chamber staff to have this level of fun promoting something.
Of course, you also know Shaq mostly for his accomplishments in the NBA. He’s a four-time NBA Champion, 15-time All Star and three-time Finals MVP. He’s played for 20 years with six teams and was named one of the most influential athletes by Forbes.
The thing about Shaq is that he seems to transcend sports. It may be his first claim to fame, but now he’s proven himself as such a busy and recognizable entrepreneur that even your grandma probably knows who he is. I see him on a commercial almost every time I turn on the TV! But when I started learning more about his business accomplishments, that’s when I was really impressed. His list of accomplishments as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and family man are worthy of attention. And there are several surprises in that mix! Did you know that he owns more than 150 Five Guys restaurants, just bought a Krispy Kreme, and was an early investor in Google? I invite you to check out my column in the August issue of Fargo INC! magazine to learn more, and take this fun quiz to test your own Shaq knowledge.
But one thing I wanted to make clear was that we decided to hire Shaq not because he’s another sports guy. Yes, in prior years, Joe Theismann and Terry Bradshaw graced the Voices of Vision stage. And yes, we have always had men in the past.
We searched high and low for the right fit for this year’s Voices of Vision speaker. We tossed around so many names and ideas that I lost track. The one name that continued to stand out was Shaq.
I have no doubt that Shaq will not disappoint. The level of buzz over this news already is encouraging. We hope that you understand and sign up to hear from this amazing businessman, investor, mentor and all-around star. This series has big shoes to fill, and clearly, Shaq’s size 23 shoes do just that.
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