Most of the people at the University of Lethbridge’s Student Development Conference have never met Ken King, yet the president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames, says he feels like he owes them something.
“Pay it back, pay it forward, however you want to describe it,” King said during a speech at the conference Thursday evening. “I think it’s a very happy obligation and one that I look very much forward to, every chance I get.”
King said he rarely turns down the opportunity to speak with students and that he enjoys sharing his experiences as he hopes to have an impact on someone else’s story in progress.
“I was very fortunate. I had lots of mentors – maybe some accidental, and some otherwise,” he said. “They had a very formative role in my life. It meant a great deal to me. Mostly because they probably believed in me more than I believed in myself… and I always thought it would be cool if I could play that role with a young person.”
King said he finds millennials to be underrated. He said there’s a lot of misconceptions associated with the generation.
“I just love breaking all that stuff up and saying, ‘Hey, whatever you think people are saying or writing about you, it’s junk. This is a talented, well-educated, thoughtful, socially active group of people.'”
The audience, made up of mostly millennials, appreciated King’s vote of confidence.
“Us millennials, we learned from their generation,” University of Lethbridge student Jacquelyn Walker said. “Really, we can’t be that bad.”
“He sees millennials as having natural leadership abilities,” marketing student Jordie Prestie said.
The theme of the conference was “be bold, be better, be you” but King snuck in his own message.
“Learn from your mistakes, understand growth, find people that believe in you, spend your time with good people, don’t spend your time with bad people, research companies before you get involved with them.”