By Maria Jones
One of the many benefits of exhibiting at INPEX is the educational opportunities available to all exhibitors through the George Foreman Inventors University (GFIU). INPEX is home to the GFIU, where exhibitors can learn about various topics like overseas manufacturing, intellectual property or public relations and gain knowledge from industry experts and successful (and even famous) entrepreneurs every day during the show. In addition to the handful of educational seminars, INPEX’s GFIU also features a keynote speaker. Past keynotes have ranged from talk-show hosts and Sharks from ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, to widely-recognized business leaders and famous Heavyweight Champions. These are just some of the many motivational keynote speakers from past INPEX shows.
You’re sitting at your desk, when a new idea pops into your head. Not wanting to forget it, you quickly reach for a Post-It note to scribble down your thoughts. Without the genius of inventor Art Fry, the Post-It Note would not be a reality.
When Art Fry began working for 3M Company, formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, in 1953, he spent most of his time developing real solutions to customer issues. That is where he came up with his idea for the Post-It Note.
As INPEX 2004’s Keynote Speaker, Fry gave the exhibitors at the Inventor’s University insight into the world of innovation and building a business. The inventors had the opportunity to hear the success story of a man with such a simple, yet world-changing idea.
Women around the world were looking for a way to smooth and tighten their figure underneath their clothing, a problem for which Sara Blakely, graduate of Florida State University, entrepreneur and former stand-up comedienne, developed a solution.
Blakely is the founder of SPANX, the patented footless, body-shaping pantyhose. She appeared on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” in 2000, and has since given the world over 40 body-slimming products.
In 2006, Sara Blakely spoke to the exhibitors at INPEX about what is truly involved in running a business. She gave the inventors insight on patenting, marketing, branding and sales. As the keynote speaker, she represented a brand that has made an impact on women around the world and inspired the exhibitors of that year’s show.
Cookies are a staple in pantries, grocery stores and dessert menus all around the world. Wally Amos used that as inspiration when he developed his renowned product, the “Famous” Amos Cookie.
In 1975, “Famous” Wally Amos decided to try to brand his gourmet chocolate chip cookie as an entertainment personality. He was able to turn his dream into a reality when his first store opened in Hollywood California, where he sold only cookies. His delicious cookies and enthusiastic personality contributed to his success and national fame.
As the Keynote Speaker at INPEX 2008, Amos spoke to the exhibitors about his climb from an upbringing in an unstable neighborhood to his entrepreneurial success as a widely-recognized household name. Exhibitors had the opportunity to learn from someone who not only launched a successful product but was able to turn his product into charitable work.
The George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine can be found in stores world-wide and has become a popular way to cook healthy meals or grill all types of foods. Two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman became the pitchman for this famous grill in 1994. From then on, it has been a household name.
From a young age, Foreman was dedicated and driven to succeed. Not yet an entrepreneur, the boxer focused his time on training, which led to winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
After his boxing career started to slow down, Foreman became a spokesperson for Meineke Car Care Centers and, of course, the famous grill. Foreman even went on to launch a line of environmentally friendly cleaning products, personal care products and shoes for diabetics.
Lucky exhibitors of INPEX 2016 had the opportunity to listen to George Foreman’s moving and motivational keynote address. Foreman spoke of his longtime friend, the late Muhammad Ali, and how the famous fighter was the perfect example of never giving up on one’s dreams. Exhibitors were inspired through Foreman’s impressive comeback story about choosing to invest in himself when no one else would.
The keynote speakers at the annual INPEX shows have been selected with care, as they represent the entrepreneurial spirit. Although the speakers range in industry and background, their keynote speeches all ultimately share the same message: to persevere and to believe in oneself.