Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a section name below to jump to those answers:
- Before the Event
- During the Event
- After the Event
- Virtual Event
- COVID-19 Precautions
- General Event Information
- Contact Information
Q. Do I need a ticket?
A. Yes. Only those with tickets are permitted. You must show a ticket before entering the event. Table numbers are on the tickets, so please keep it with you at all times for seating and security.
Q. How do I purchase tickets for the event?
Q. When will I receive my ticket?
A. If you purchased an individual ticket, your ticket will be at Will Call by last name the day of the event. If your company purchased a table, you should have received an email asking about your Will Call preferences.
Q. Do you offer refunds for tickets purchased?
A. No, tickets are non-refundable but are transferrable.
Q. I purchased a ticket and am unable to attend. May I transfer my ticket?
A. Yes, you may give your ticket to someone if you are unable to attend.
Q. Do I have reserved seating?
A. Yes, your ticket will have a table number on it.
Q. How will I know where to sit?
A. Your ticket will have your table number on it. You must sit at your assigned table, as there are no extra seats available. If you enter after the program has begun, please go to your assigned table. There is no open seating.
Q. Are children allowed?
A. It is not recommended that children under 13 attend this event.
Before the Event
Q. What is the dress code?
A. Business attire is recommended.
Q. Is the venue typically warm or cool?
A. With the production elements and number of attendees, the event space tends to be cool. We suggest that you bring a jacket to use as needed.
Q. What do I need to bring to the event?
A. All you need to bring is your event ticket, if you've already received it. We will provide water bottles, pens and an event program. Large bags, purses and computer bags may be subject to security screening.
Q. Will there be nametags?
A. We will have some paper nametags available, but you are encouraged to wear your company or business name badge.
Q. When should I arrive at the venue?
A. Registration opens Tuesday at 8 am and the program begins at 9 am.
Q. Where should I park?
A. Self-parking is available in the Trade Center parking deck. The facility has wheelchairs available for those who have difficulty walking, as the facility is quite large.
Q. Is the event handicap accessible?
A. The facility has ramps and wheelchairs are available through the Trade Center office if you have difficulty walking. The facility is quite large and there can be a lot of walking to and from the ballrooms.
During the Event
Q. Is there a security screening?
A. If you arrive with large bags, purses and computer bags, you may be subject to a screening process. You should maintain possession of your ticket at all times for security reasons.
Q. Will the room be set to accommodate social distancing?
A. We have capped attendance around half of our normal capacity. We plan to seat 4 people at each 72" round table, which usually accommodates 10 people. Tables will be placed 7-feet apart and there will be 8-feet between each row of tables.
Q. I bought a table of 8. How will that seating work?
A. If you purchased a table of 8, you will still receive 8 in-person event tickets. There will be 2 tables of 4 with your designated table number.
Q. I want to purchase a book on-site and have the author sign it. Are there restrictions for the book signing?
A. We have 2 authors who will sign books in Foundry B during the event. Per their contracts, all participants in the book signing room are required to be masked at all times.
Q. What forms of payment do the book sellers accept?
A. Cash, check, credit and debit cards.
Q. Are cameras and recording devices allowed during the presentations?
A. Flash photography and recording devices are not allowed, per speaker contracts.
Q. Will there be Internet available?
A. Wi-Fi is available through the Trade Center office, accessible by selecting The Forum from the wireless options.
Q. Is the event on social media?
A. Yes! The Forum has Facebook and Instagram pages (@TheForumatCSU). The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn (@CSULeadership). We encourage participants to engage through social media throughout the event.
Q. What is the event hashtag?
A. #TheForumatCSU #LeadershipReinvented #BestAndBrightest #CSULeadership
Q. Are there opportunities to purchase DVDs?
A. Unfortunately, not. Speaker contracts do not allow recording for resale.
After the Event
Q. Can I get Continuing Education credits or SHRM PDC credits?
A. Yes, we will send you a certificate with the hours of credit you have earned through your attendance after the Forum upon request.
Q. Will I have the opportunity to give feedback and suggest future speakers?
A. Yes! We will send an event survey after the event.
Q. Do I need a ticket for the virtual event?
A. Yes, you must purchase a virtual event ticket to access the live stream.
Q. How do I log in?
A. On August 31, you will go to our virtual event page. Enter the password you received prior to the event. You will then be able to view the live feed.
Q. Are you offering a virtual event test to make sure my link and password works?
A. Yes, we will do a test run from 1-3 pm, Monday, August 30. Log in using the instructions above. If you can see and hear the test, you will be able to see and hear the live event.
Q. Which browser works best for the virtual event?
A. We have tested the event on Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Microsoft Edge and they each work fine. If you are using Internet Explorer, you may have issues.
Q. My password didn't work. What should I do?
A. If you copied and pasted your password, check to make sure there is no space or trailing space after the last character. For example, if the password is ABC123, sometimes it will paste as ABC123_, where the pink space represents the trailing space. Delete that space and try the password again. If that doesn't work, try typing in the password exactly as it was sent to you. It is case sensitive.
Q. Can I share the password with others?
A. Each password is unique to your registration. Please do not share it with others.
Q. I missed a speaker. Can I view it at a later time?
A. Per speaker contracts, we are only able to leave the event up for 7 days. It will be accessible with your unique password through Tuesday, September 7. After September 7, it will no longer be accessible.
Q. Are masks required during the event?
A. In accordance with the policies of the University System of Georgia, masks will be requested for both vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees but are not required.
Q. Are vaccinations required for attendance?
A. In accordance with the policies of the University System of Georgia, vaccinations are not required for attendance.
Q. Are negative COVID tests required for attendance?
A. No, we will not require a negative test for admittance to the event.
Q. Are rapid tests being done on site for admission/registration?
A. No, we are not conducting on-site tests of any kind.
Q. What about meals? How will that work?
A. Snacks and drinks will be available throughout the event in common areas and attendees may bring them into the ballrooms to enjoy at their table. For lunch, we planned the Dine Around Uptown Columbus with distancing in mind. Participants will have 120 minutes to choose a lunch venue alone or with a smaller group, many of which have outdoor dining options.
Q. Will transportation be available during the Dine Around?
A. Yes, CSU transportations will be available to take attendees to the restaurants and back to the Trade Center from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. CSU drivers will be masked and all riders are required to wear masks.
General Event Information
Q. What is The Forum?
A. Founded in 2005, The Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, is the premier leadership event in the region and offers an intimate setting with some of the best and brightest minds in the world. Held annually in August, the event draws more than 1,000 attendees.
Q. Where can I find additional information about the event?
A. Please visit https://theforum.columbusstate.edu/.
Since its creation in 2006, The Forum, hosted annually by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, has been successful in fulfilling the vision of bringing the best and brightest minds in the world to Columbus. From its beginnings as an on-campus event with four speakers, the forum has grown into the single largest gathering of business and civic leaders in Georgia.
History In The Making
At his pending retirement, James Blanchard, then chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corp., had a vision to bring the best and brightest minds to Columbus. In 2005, The Forum was established and Blanchard's vision became the "marching orders" for the Cunningham Center team.
The inaugural event was hosted on Columbus State University's main campus and featured four speakers and 300 attendees. The team quickly realized the demand required a much larger venue and moved the forum to its current location, the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
Past speakers include Zell Miller, Newt Gingrich, Dan Cathy, Thomas Freedman, George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Randall Stephenson, Condoleezza Rice, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Mark Cuban, Sara Blakeley, Sheryl Sandberg, Colin Powell, Dan Amos, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Alan Mulally, among others.
As the event grew in popularity and caliber, the team looked for ways to incorporate the students in the experience. In 2014, they began partnering with CSU's Student Affairs to host a remote simulcast for current and prospective students.
The tenth anniversary forum, held August 24-25, 2015, hosted 13 speakers and 1,250 attendees. The Bush family was Monday night's keynote speakers. The event, themed "Leadership Legacy," brought back favorite speakers from past forums, including John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard and Daniel Pink, and introduced new speakers Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon Sinek and General Stanley McChrystal, among others.
James H. Blanchard
Chairman, Board of Advisors, JBA Capital, LLC
Retired Chairman of the Board and CEO, Synovus
Blanchard began his service with Synovus Financial Corp. in June 1970 and served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named Chairman of the Board in July 2005. Blanchard retired from Synovus in October 2006. In 2011, he partnered with the Jordan Company, a Columbus-based real estate and investment firm, to create Jordan-Blanchard Capital.
BBA, The University of Georgia, 1963
LLB, The University of Georgia, 1965
- Chairman and CEO, Retired, Synovus Financial Corp.
- Lead Director, Total System Services, Inc.
- Emeritus Director, Columbus Bank and Trust Company
- Retired Lead Director, AT&T Corporation
- Director, W.C. Bradley Co.
- Director, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
- Chairman, Global Teen Challenge Advisory Board
- Chairman, Florida/Georgia Teen Challenge Board of Directors
- Director, World Leader's Group
- Director, EQUIP
- Member Emeritus, Terry Dean's Advisory Council, University of Georgia
- Member, Building Terry Campaign Cabinet, University of Georgia
- Member, Lead Like Jesus National Advisory Board
- Member, Georgia Historical Society Board of Curators
- Trustee, Columbus State University Foundation
- Past Trustee and Past Chairman, Georgia Research Alliance
- Past Director and Past Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable
- Past Director and Past Chairman, BITS (formerly Bankers Information Technology Secretariat)
- Past Director, American Bankers Association
- Alumni Merit Award for distinguished and loyal service, The University of Georgia, 2015
- Impact Award for "Building Better Lives," New Horizons Community Services Board, 2014
- The Sue Marie and Bill Turner Servant Leadership Award, The Pastoral Institute, 2013
- Divine Servant Leadership Award, Lead Like Jesus, 2012
- 2010 FinTech Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia
- 2008-2009 Honorary Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable Scholarship Foundation
- Designated First Presidential Fellow, Columbus State University, 2009
- Charter Recipient, Georgia Ethics in Business Award, 2009. The award is now known as the Blanchard Award in Business Ethics
- Southeastern University Doctorate of Humane Letters, 2009
- The Eddie Sams Award, University of Georgia Golf Team, 2008
- Rozier Dedwylder Leadership Award, Uptown Columbus Inc., 2008
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia, 2007
- Woodruff Award, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, 2007
- VanLandingham Award, Georgia Council on Economic Education, 2006
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award, Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Educational Foundation, 2006
- "Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame," Georgia Trend magazine, 2006
- "25 Most Influential People in Financial Services," US Banker magazine, 2005
- Beta Gamma Sigma International Honoree Award, 2005
- "Georgian of the Year," Georgia Trend magazine, 2003
- "Most Respected CEO" in the state, Georgia Trend magazine, 1997
The Blanchard Ethics in Business Award
The live oak, Georgia's state tree, is a perennial and universal symbol of rectitude and the symbol of The Blanchard Ethics in Business Award. The first Award for Outstanding Stewardship and Ethics in Business was established in 2009 and awarded James Hubert Blanchard. Known since then by the name of its first recipient, the award recognizes outstanding stewards of business ethics and corporate responsibility for success in these areas.
To recognize outstanding stewards of business ethics and corporate responsibility in their successful careers and to demonstrate the need for business support of education at all levels.
Nominees are individuals with records of outstanding business success and ethical behavior, which records are well known to the judges. The award winner has been an outstanding steward of business ethics and corporate responsibility over a long career.
The winner of the Blanchard Ethics in Business Award will receive appropriate recognition at The Forum. His/her name will be inscribed on the award.
Leadership Institute at CSU
The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is a university-based consulting group that provides expertise and training in leadership development, team building, assessments, executive coaching and strategic planning. Founded in 2005, the Leadership Institute has worked with more than 150 organizations and helped develop thousands of leaders. For more information on how we can help your business, group or organization, visit leadership.columbusstate.edu.