WednesdayÂ morning, at the unspeakable hour of 6:30 AM (yes, folks, AM), around 500 + Northern Virginia Technology Council members and guests gathered to slurp coffee, wipe the sleep from their eyes, network and have breakfast with Republican Presidential Candidate/Former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney.Â Â I was impressed with the strongÂ showing in numbers and theÂ level of executives who came out en force.Â There wereÂ the usual suspects: John Lee, Sudhakar Shenoy, Gary Nakamoto, Gary Shapiro, Craig Chason, Deepak Hathiramani, Cory Starr, George Newstrom andÂ John Love,Â all of whom areÂ onÂ the elite and long list of the NVTC Board of Directors.Â It was fun to seeÂ old and new faces.Â Â That is,Â of course, after my first cup of caffeine.
Who is this Mitt Romney?Â All most ofÂ usÂ knew of him was that heÂ is a Republican Mormon.Â The media has done a fabulous job of getting the American public all in a tizzy that here we have a woman,Â black man, and a MORMON for goodness sakes,Â with their hats in the ring to run our country.Â Well, we were about to find out who this Mormon was.Â
(*Photo by Laurie Black Photography at the McLean Hilton breakfast)
First and foremost,Â as I read Governor Romney’s bio,Â IÂ learned that this man was one smart cookie, AND he was one ofÂ “us”.Â By us, I meanÂ worked his entire life in the private sector.Â He was not aÂ career politician.Â Â Mitt made a huge mark in the corporate world when he founded Bain Capital in 1984, which is one of the nation’s most successfulÂ VC and investment companies.Â (Ever heard of Staples? orÂ DoubleClick? or Brookstone? how about Domino’s, Sealy, or The Sports Authority? ah ha. Exactly!)
This was the first timeÂ Mitt has spoken in the Commonwealth since announcing his candidacy.Â When he stepped up the the podium, we all felt a particular presence. He was tall, handsome, clean cut, and extremely genuinely well-spoken.Â His delivery was impeccable. He spoke clearly straight fromÂ the mind.Â It was impressive.Â His content was very intriguing and ideal for this audience at this time of the morning.Â He kept it lite and business focused.Â He discussed how since he came from a “data driven, highly analytical, debate intensive background”, it was a total 180 when entered into his four yearsÂ as MA Governor.Â Mitt’s philosophy is concentrated on ensuring that this great country remains the world super power.Â His father gave him some profound food for thought:
“There is nothing more vulnerable than complacent success.”
MittÂ shared with us challenges the US faces regarding the above quote and some answers as to how we can continue to be the super power we are today.Â One of the challenges he mentioned was the rise of Asia as a competitor.Â Another, we spend too much money in DC (Fed govt) and way too much on oil: $1 billion a day.Â Healthcare and schools must be brought to a higher standard.Â And of course, the big white elephant in the room, the conflict in the Middle East.Â His answers were: technology, assistance in the educational world with awarding the best and brightest, not just the low income children, with scholarships as he had in his home state.Â Middle income families should be able to save money and not get taxed on capital gains nor dividends.Â
Several times, the focused audience laughed with the Governor, but also clapped at a few inspiring comments.Â He earned a standing ovation as he walked in and after he finished answering all questions.Â Interestingly enough, his track record speaks for itself.Â Mitt inherited a $3 BILLION budget gap when he entered the MA Governor office, but was able to balance the budget every year without raising taxes or increasing debt.Â (Reminds me of that Kevin Kline movie “Dave“) I think also with his strong successful background the private sector, he makes for an experienced outside the box (ouch!) thinker.Â
Mitt’s closing comments left us with a feeling of thoughtfulness.Â “The strength of this country is the American people.Â We are what makes this country great.”
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a platform for profiling people who "make it happen" in the Capital region, reviews & topical blog posts. She launched Punch Enterprises, a connector consulting business in 2015 and Pacific Punch based in LA, in 2012. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, VA. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.