PORTLAND -- At the height of the Occupy movement in Portland two years ago, banks were among the focal points of the protests.
Ray Davis, CEO of Umpqua Bank, decided a conversation with some of the protesters couldn't hurt. As he outlines in his new book on leadership, the conversation actually helped both sides.
Davis told KGW Monday he believes where there is a problem, it’s best to confront it head on, rather than burying it. He said talking things through leads to positive results.
His book, "Leading Through Uncertainty," was born during the Great Recession, when banks and most other business were facing very difficult times.
As Occupy Wall Street moved through Main streets across the country, Portland was right in the thick of it.
Top Story of 2011: Occupy Portland
Though his bank was among the targets, Davis said he thought many in the movement were decent people with good motives. So he set up a meeting with two occupiers—against the advice from some others at the bank—just a day before a planned protest of Portland banks.
“There were some people that were protesting that had some legitimate protests,” Davis said. ”We didn't have to agree with them but they were legitimate protests. I think there were people out there that took advantage of those good people out there, and that was unfortunate.”
Davis said people both sides of that conversation learned something about each other.
And on November 17, 2011 Occupy Portland protesters did demonstrate. But they walked right past Umpqua. Davis hesitated to say whether going out on a limb and meeting with the occupiers made the difference.
Afterward, Umpqua donated $25,000 to help clean up the Portland parks where the occupiers had stayed.
His book is on shelves now. The proceeds benefit the Family Development Center in Roseburg, a non-profit agency helping children at risk.