Innovation in an Era of Accelerating Technologies


One of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists

The democratization of innovation is a disruptive process with rapid creation, violent destruction, many winners and many losers. Despite the apparent chaos, we can discern predictable patterns. The pace of innovation itself is doubling every decade.  The overall price-performance and capacity of every form of information technology grows exponentially, generally doubling in a year or less.  As information technology achieves each new level of price-performance and capacity, new applications become feasible and existing business models lose their viability. The rate of change is now so rapid that even three to five year business plans need to consider that every level of an industry will undergo major changes during that period.

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called "the restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes magazine, he was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the "rightful heir to Thomas Edison." PBS selected him as one of the "sixteen revolutionaries who made America." Ray has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times best sellers The Singularity Is Near and How To Create A Mind. Kurzweil will provide insight into fostering innovation in an organization, and how to bring inventions to market. He will explain how the law of accelerating returns and the exponential growth of information technology are accelerating opportunities for innovation. In this talk, he draws upon his own history of innovation which led to his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, founded by the U.S. Patent Office in 2002.

Leadership & Management: Taking Command


Former University of Texas System Chancellor, Retired four-star admiral, 37-year veteran of the United States Navy and best-selling author

Admiral William H. McRaven, is a retired U.S. Navy Four-Star admiral and the former Chancellor of the University of Texas System.  During his time in the military, he commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command.  His career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  He commanded the troops that captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Phillips.  McRaven is also credited with developing the plan and leading the Osama bin Laden mission in 2011. 

As the Chancellor of the UT System he led one of the nation’s largest and most respected systems of higher education. As the chief executive officer of the UT System, McRaven oversaw 14 institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, and staff.  

McRaven is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues.  He currently serves on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the National Football Foundation.

During this session, McRaven will share lessons and insights on authority amidst turmoil and instability, the force of teamwork and personal initiative, resilience in the face of opposition, and the unconditional importance of never giving up.


Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve the Impossible


First Female NFL Referee

Sarah Thomas changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport—football—when she became the first female NFL referee. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible. Since her addition to the NFL's roster of referees, she has become a trail-blazing inspiration to women everywhere, embodying the notion that with a belief in self, inner drive, hard work, preparation, and a mindset of being the best you can be, no barrier or ceiling is impenetrable.

Officiating her first game September 13, 2015 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, Sarah’s hat, whistle, and flag are now on display at the NFL Hall of Fame and serve as a testament to this historic achievement. No stranger to being the first or breaking gender-barriers, she was the first female referee to ever work a major college football game, to officiate a bowl game and to referee in a Big Ten stadium.

Drawing on her pioneering career path to the biggest professional sports league in America, Thomas will give attendees key takeaways from her journey that help men and women alike tackle challenges and come out on top.


Foodservice Distribution: A C-Suite Perspective



John Tracy
Executive Chairman
Dot Foods, Inc.


Terry Walsh
Southwest Traders, Inc.


Rich Wolowski
President & CEO
Gordon Food Service


Kellie Janssen
Henry's Foods, Inc.


Jeff King
President & CEO
Reinhart Foodservice, LLC


Don’t miss this meeting of the minds as C-Suite Industry Leaders engage in a candid conversation about building successful organizations while highlighting the constraints and pragmatic approaches to move a business forward. Attendees will come away with the knowledge and tools to return to the office with a competitive edge.

Scope of Discussion:
  • Navigating the minefield of regulatory compliance
  • Competition for talent amidst changing demographics
  • The impact of technology and how it is changing the foodservice distribution industry.
  • Looking ahead – reinventing your strategy, biggest long-term challenges