Procrastination and WDS

Yes, it is evident by looking at my blog that I’ve not been meeting my own goals for writing. Although I have two draft posts from February and March, I’ve been relatively inactive lately. This doesn’t mean there aren’t ample topics I want to address. It just means I haven’t prioritized my writing to allow for it. That will change.


I just returned from the 2015 World Domination Summit and it was, again, an amazing weekend. I WILL blog about this very soon, but, for now, let me encourage you to look into this fantastic weekend chock full of goodness. The speakers were amazing and they included (not a full list) … Jon Acuff, Jeremy Cowart, Lewis Howes, Asha Dornfest, Vani Hari, and, of course, the Kid President !

Kid President
The Kid President at WDS 2015

All of the speakers were honest, informative, and moving. But, I have to say, this year the single greatest experience I had was meeting people whose stories, experiences, and goals moved me. For whatever reason this time, and I’ve been to WDS three times previously, I experienced a greater connection to many of the other participants. And, it made for a greater experience for me. So thanks to you who welcomed me back, who asked about my goals/dreams, and who shared your own journey with me.

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WDS 2015
WDS 2015 Closing Party

More to come …

The ERC takes top honors at NC Tech Awards for Communications Technology

The ERC was awarded the 2014 top Communications Technology company at the NC Tech Awards last Thurs (Nov 6) in Raleigh. As the Executive Director, I am very proud of this award. It is more important because so few people are really aware of just how much the ERC does in the communities it serves.

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Sure, the ERC supports the four sectors named on its website (education, healthcare, government services, and economic development), but what does this mean? It means the ERC works with communities from Franklin to Sparta to enhance student’s access to broadband. It means that doctors at clinics or hospitals have access to important patient data that is kept/maintained elsewhere. More importantly it means that in emergency situations, doctors can request specific patient information including xrays, MRIs, and other images from regional healthcare groups to best serve critical patient needs. It means that local, regional, and state government branches can get the highest level of broadband speed, reliability and uptime. It also means that government can connect its facilities across a city, county, or the entire region at significantly reduced costs without the loss of quality service. Last, it means that the ERC supports numerous public safety networks and plays a critical role as a technical community advocate. This, and more.

The ERC is an open access network. We not only make available our resources to other telecommunication and cable companies, but we also look for opportunities to create partnerships where we both benefit. In this case, our role is to provide vital infrastructure to enable these other companies to serve the ‘last mile’ in a financially feasible manner.

All of us at the ERC will continue to support economic developers as well as community, business and policy leaders in advocating for a better tomorrow. This can be accomplished in many ways. For one, we continue to expand our network by constructing millions of dollars worth of new fiber optic infrastructure. Our goal is to reach as many underserved areas as possible, and then partner with other groups – local or national – to expand coverage options at competitive prices. What we ultimately want is to increase the adoption of technology. And the ERC believes that this will create opportunity.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a word of thanks to the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA), all of the judges who voted for the ERC, all our partners in this process, all ERC customers who have worked with us over the past 12 years, and last but not least a special thanks to the ERC employees – past and present – without whom this would not have been possible.

Congratulations to the ERC !

The ERC was named a finalist for the Communications Technology Company award by the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA). The NC Tech Awards, held on November 6 in Raleigh, will highlight and recognize the “companies and individuals who have characterized excellence, innovation and leadership” in technology across the state.  The Communications Technology Company award highlights a product or service that demonstrates industry leading performance and/or achieves a milestone of notable success.

The ERC is very proud of its long-term association with NCTA, and especially of this award nomination. Congratulations to the ERC team!

Return from WDS

I returned yesterday from Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (“WDS”), a gathering in Portland, Oregon, of people who want to change the world. It’s basically a long weekend experience focused on community, adventure, and service. It is entrepreneurial. It is creative. It is a community devoted to making both personal and social change.

This year was special, though. It was my second WDS, and I was unsure of how I would perceive the weekend and events. Making it more challenging, but simultaneously more special, was the decision to bring my fifteen year old son with me. By seeing WDS through his eyes and discussing his perceptions, I was hoping to find greater inspiration … and also share it. This decision made my WDS experience much more profound. Let me explain.

At my first WDS, I participated in the events, attended the sessions, looked to feel the blatant enthusiasm that surrounded me, and I kind of did, but it wasn’t genuine. I really didn’t connect with it as much as others. Sure, I was motivated by the speakers. Loved listening to all of them. I was absolutely able to see the gems, but for me they were in the rough. And it was especially odd because some of my most admired colleagues from Asheville were also in attendance. While good, it wasn’t great. Regardless, I registered for WDS 2014.

Upon arriving with my son, we did some obligatory Portland sight-seeing (Voodoo Doughnut, Adidas, and Powell’s Books). Friday morning brought with it a yoga session where, with 807 excited and amazing people, we shattered the world record for the longest yoga chain! I expected to meet people, but I didn’t expect to make my first conference friend because of my t-shirt (I wore a guitar store t-shirt and met a player). My son, who didn’t participate in the yoga, joined me for lunch then registration.

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Our excitement was building but for me it meant more to watch him engage in conversation. They typically went something like, “what do you do and why are you here?” For me, I want my son to craft an extraordinary life. What a better place to start to develop his thoughts on his future than with 3000 independent and creative people? That was exactly what I hoped he would get out of WDS.

When the sessions started both my son and I were enthralled with AJ Jacobs who charged us to not focus on the few things that go wrong when so much is going right. The speakers continued to bring relevant messages. A couple favorites were Jadah Sellner and her charge to “take imperfect action”, and Michael Hyatt with his design-driven life.

We discussed meetups but largely stuck to the concert hall to listen to the speakers. As we struck up conversations with other attendees, we developed a special kind of an elevator speech of what we were doing. More importantly, it allowed him to hear everyone else’s story (~ies). But I was not only watching my son. This year, I was really participating. I was making notes of ideas to follow-up on, concepts I want to explore, and authors I need to make time to read. I was open to more people and they returned this with their own openness. I made connections.

For us the weekend concluded with the closing celebration, but on Sunday night when my son asked me if he could come back, I can’t tell you how proud I felt. Not only did I bond with my son in a way I had not yet experienced, not only was I able to serve my son as a guide, but I was also able to witness a glimpse of the man he is going to be. He was brave to join me for a weekend not truly understanding the purpose. He was open minded to listen and take the many messages to heart. He was smart to take advantage of all the information available to him. And, I was impressed with his ability to choose the events he wanted to participate in. I thought I was giving something to my son by bringing him with me to WDS. But the gift given in return has impacted me profoundly more than I envisioned. This year, I got it .. and I am very excited to return next year.

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