Reputation vs. Revelation (Feedback)


I read Gwen Moritz’s Oct. 23 Editor’s Note, “We Look Like Turkeys,” with keen interest. As a University of Arkansas graduate and former Razorback football player, I have retained strong ties to the state.

My response to her thought-provoking column is in two parts. Part One is what I think about the outside reputation of Arkansas. Part Two is my observation of the business climate in the state and in particular northwest Arkansas.

Part One, the reputation: When I was in New York City in the late ‘70s, I was asked at a social gathering, “Where did you go to college?” My answer drew groans and sympathy from the Gucci-wearing guests. At the time I was not bothered because I knew they were unaware of life outside the Hudson River area. As time moved on, I heard more and more positives as I traveled the world.

I believe that Arkansas is balancing negative views of the state with the positive attention generated by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the recent $120 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation to the University of Arkansas for a School of Art and the money committed by Wal-Mart, J.B. Hunt and Tyson Foods to technology advances.

I think of it as “let people think they are the smartest person at the card table and we are happy to take their money (humbly).”

Part Two, the revelation: For the past 40 years, I have worked in executive search and I am currently a partner in a firm specializing in finding C-suite leaders for national and international technology and enterprise companies.

Four months ago I traveled to northwest Arkansas to determine if it would be a good place to establish a branch office. Wow! What a reception! Gratefully receiving business referrals from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, I met with several companies and was enthusiastically welcomed at each stop.

I returned to Fayetteville for two weeks in September and met with more businesses. I was blown away by the energy and clear thinking I encountered. I expect to return again in January to help clients determine their 2017 leadership needs and build my firm’s brand.

During my business career, I have lived in two countries, seven states and now the Houston area. As a consequence, I have grown to understand diverse business cultures. I predict that Arkansas and in particular northwest Arkansas will be nationally recognized for leading innovation and entrepreneurship within the next three years, as measured by investment and awards.

Here’s to a bright Arkansas future.

Cary Stockdell
Montgomery, Texas