Mixed Reaction to Bush Speech

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Mixed Reaction to Bush Speech

By Michael Garry - 01/15/2014
George W. Bush, who has kept a decidedly low profile since leaving the U.S. presidency in 2009, made a rare public appearance at the NRF Show this week, delivering a keynote address, titled “A Presidential Perspective,” that left some attendees underwhelmed.
 
“It was typical Bush — lightweight,” said Cliff Conneighton, senior vice president of marketing, hybris software, a division of SAP, who was one of several vendors queried by RIS News as they left the presentation in the North Hall of the Javits Center Monday morning. Bush’s keynote was closed to the press.
 
“It wasn’t very good,” observed Steven Dahan, head of business development with SweetIQ, Montreal.
 
Conneighton said that Bush — the only U.S. president to earn a Masters in Business Administration (at Harvard) — tried to correlate the importance of relationships in politics and diplomacy to dealing with customers in the business world. But another vendor who attended the speech, who asked not to be identified, said Bush’s keynote “had no retail bent.”
 
The only connection between Bush’s remarks and the conference, observed Dahan, came when the ex-president commented that since this was a marketing event, he would market his 2010 book “Decision Points.” “He said the more people who read his book, the better his retirement.”
 
One attendee, Jennifer Ardery, product marketing manager at Kronos, said she found Bush “entertaining, personable and honest,” adding that “he admitted that not everyone agreed with him.”
 
As if to underline the unusual nature of his appearance, Bush stressed that “he wanted nothing to do with the ‘ex-presidents club,” said Dahan, adding, “He said he misses nothing about the presidency except flying on Air Force One.”

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