Bestselling author Bill George: West Michigan Policy Forum is ‘serious about getting things done’


GRAND RAPIDS, MI – When best-selling author and Harvard Business School professor Bill George takes the stage at the West Michigan Policy Forum today, he’ll be talking to a hometown crowd.

He grew up in East Grand Rapids, a block away from where President Gerald R. Ford lived when he wasn’t in Washington D.C. Two years ago, George attended his 50th East Grand Rapids class reunion.

George is the author of four bestsellers including “True North” and “Authentic Leadership.”

The former Metronic CEO will close out the policy forum’s first day with an inspirational speech for the 600 attendees who will wrap up the conference mid-day Thursday by casting their votes for a new agenda and listening to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Grand Rapids is in many ways better than he remembers it as a teen. 

“The downtown when I left was disintegrating,” said George. “Stores were closing up and everybody was going to strip malls.”

He credits the families of Amway founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel for teaming up with city leaders to bring back the community. It’s that kind of civic leadership that is at play with the statewide conference, he says.

“I’m pretty impressed with what the West Michigan Policy Forum is trying to do,” said George. “We have to figure out how to make a better community rather waiting for Washington to come in, or waiting for the federal government to change.”

George says he is impressed with the substance of the topics being addressed at the conference, from health care policy to higher education.

“It’s not just the perch and preach, they are serious about getting things done,” said George. “You have policy forums all around the country that are just chat fests. But this is serious. I’m excited to be a part of it.”