This week I attended Frank McKenna’s Annual Business Networking Golf Tournament at the Fox Harb’r Golf Resort. Frank organizes this tournament each year to bring business and government leaders together in an intimate networking setting at Ron Joyce’s (co-founder of Tim Horton’s) exclusive golf resort in Nova Scotia. The event is a who’s who of maritime business leaders with a generous sprinkling of Canada’s top Bay Street executives. It’s the type of event that any public affairs/public relations advisor would be thrilled to attend.

The focal point each year is a major thought leader that Frank brings in to speak about major issues of the day. In the past we have heard from former Canadian premiers, and prime ministers, former US presidents, and even Wayne Gretzky!  This year’s guest was former US Vice President, Al Gore. The speaker’s comments are off the record so I cannot share with you what Mr. Gore said. I was intrigued though at the obvious differences in style between Mr. Gore and last year’s guest former president George W. Bush.

Mr. Gore is obviously a very intelligent man, with an enormous array of accomplishments. In addition to being vice president to Bill Clinton – he is an author, an academy award winner and currently, the chairman of the hottest company in the world, Apple Inc. While Mr. Gore was very complimentary about Canada, I was struck with how much more key messaged he was than George W.Bush, at last year’s event.

While last year Mr. Bush was open, honest, transparent and self-effacing, Mr. Gore was controlled, cautious and safe. I learned very little from Mr. Gore that I had not read in the media, while with Mr. Bush I felt I had gained some deep insights into why he acted the way he did on some key issues. It was also obvious that while Mr. Gore might be more ‘learned’, Mr. Bush was the superior politician, and for me it was easy to see why he defeated Mr. Gore in their presidential election. Last year, Bush regaled us with a number of stories about what it was like to make the transition from president to a guy that walked his dog Barney and picked up after him like everyone else!

It was a privilege to meet and talk to both men and a testament to Frank’s enormous network that he was able to convince leaders of this caliber to speak.  The whole experience reminded me once again of how important it was from a business standpoint to maintain my networks. Leaders from virtually every single industry in Canada and a number from the US were there. Each one had their own challenges to overcome and opportunities to exploit. There was much there to engage a public relations and public affairs advisor!  I hope I am invited back next year for more networking and insights with some of the world’s most interesting leaders.