Friedman, Gingrich to Headline Blanchard Leadership Forum

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich headline a slate of well-known speakers for the 2008 Blanchard Leadership Forum Sept. 8-9 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

Registration is open online at or by calling 706-568-5101. The cost is $299 for the entire forum or $199 per day.

Gingrich, author of 10 fiction and non-fiction New York Times best-sellers, will speak on “21st Century Leadership: Moving from the World that Fails to the World that Works.” The topic reflects his latest book, Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works. He’ll sign copies of the book following the presentation.

Friedman will present “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” based on his recent book of the same title, which examines “the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy.”

The forum’s theme, “Leadership in a Flat World,” is taken from Friedman’s 2005 best-selling book analyzing the progress of globalization, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.

Now in its third year, the forum is named for and directed by retired Synovus CEO and Chairman of the Board Jim Blanchard and presented by CSU’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development and Synovus. The event’s mission, said Blanchard, “is to give people an opportunity to meet and learn from the best leaders in the world.”

The full line-up of presenters for the conference is:

  • Newt Gingrich, “21st Century Leadership: Moving From the World that Fails to the World that Works,” 1 p.m. Monday followed by 2 p.m. book signing

  • Jim Blanchard, “Vision,” 2:30 p.m. Monday

  • Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, “Creating a Culture of Preparedness,” 3 p.m. Monday

  • Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Sears Ward, 8:30 a.m. Tuesday

  • Business author Daniel Pink, “A Whole New Mind,” 10 a.m. Tuesday

  • Leadership expert-author John Maxwell,“The 5 Levels of Leadership,” 11 a.m. Tuesday

  • Tom Friedman, “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” 1 p.m. Tuesday, followed by 2 p.m. book signing (includes Maxwell and Pink).

Friedman, who joined the Times in 1981 as a financial reporter specializing in OPEC and oil-related news, has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University and has received honorary degrees from several universities. His foreign affairs column, which appears twice a week in the Times, is syndicated to 700 other newspapers worldwide.

Maxwell has sold over 13 million books, and his organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. He speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders and audiences as diverse as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League and ambassadors at the United Nations.

Pink, a best-selling author, is an expert on innovation, competition and the changing world of work. His latest book, A Whole New Mind, charts the rise of “right-brain thinking” in modern economies and explains “the six abilities” individuals and organizations must master in an outsourced and automated world.

Honoré’s decorated service career culminated in a final assignment as commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters - Homeland Security, U.S. Northern Command. He subsequently led the Department of Defense response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Sears is the first woman to serve as the Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice. In 1988, she became the first black woman to serve as a superior court judge in Georgia.

The forum opens at 11 a.m. Monday, followed by lunch at noon and includes an optional evening concert on Broadway Street in downtown Columbus. The following day opens with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast and includes lunch at noon.

Blanchard, who also will deliver closing remarks before Tuesday’s 2 p.m. book signing, began his service with Synovus in 1970 when he was selected as the top executive at Columbus Bank and Trust Company, a position previously held by his father, James W. Blanchard. He served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named chairman of the board in July 2005.

For more information, call 706-568-5101 or go to