Former Wal-Mart executive John Aden says he has seen business people at their best and worst.
"I've worked with some of the best business people and leaders around the world for a couple of decades now," he said. "The best leaders have the ability to help people reach their full potential in the work place and even in life."
The 39th annual Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast will be May 2 at 7 a.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. See www.chattanoogaprayerbreakfast.org for more details.
The former chief executive of Mac Tools and onetime leader of Wal-Mart's $50 billion-a-year general merchandising business will speak at the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast on May 2.
Aden, 50, said there are key moments that define people as leaders.
"Learning from those moments in our lives and in others' lives is important," he said in a telephone interview.
One observation regarding top leaders is that they "lead with values," Aden said.
"Their values matter," he said. "One moment that was most impactful was when I started to realize how impactful values are in the workplace, how they made a difference to the bottom line and people's lives."
Aden was born in Seattle and studied economics at the University of Washington, later joining snack maker Frito-Lay and its leadership development program.
In 2000, at age 33, he became president of hand tools supplier Mac Tools, which he termed "a turnaround" and "character building."
He stayed there seven years before becoming a senior vice president in Wal-Mart's international operation where he oversaw its supply chain and the team that performs and integrates acquisitions.
Still later, he joined the retailer's U.S. business as an executive vice president in merchandising.
Aden said he stayed at Wal-Mart for about eight years and then decided to work with private equity companies and help management teams on joint ventures or acquisitions, as well as spending more time with his family.
Tom Francescon, a vice president for the prayer breakfast sponsoring committee, said organizers of the prayer breakfast expect more than 2,000 people at the Chattanooga Convention Center event.
The breakfast goes back to 1978 when Watergate scandal attorney turned evangelical Christian leader Chuck Colson addressed the group.
Francescon said the event has grown from several hundred people the first year to its current attendance mark.
Originally called the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, it came about nearly 40 years ago after attorney John Stophel, American National Bank President John Wright, Chattanooga Armature Works President John Steffner and Christian Business Men's Committee President Ted DeMoss met with Mayor Pat Rose. Their aim was to have an event to encourage morality and ethics in the lives of people in positions of leadership in business, government and the professions, according to the committee.
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