Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Climbing the ladder of success

Dad & I riding in Fort Mill (SC)

I’ve been one fortunate guy in my professional career.  I cannot begin to describe how much fun it is to work at the Lake Norman Chamber with some of the most creative, energetic, and generous business people in the Charlotte region.  A couple of months ago I attended a fundraiser for Triple Cross Ranch which helps instill confidence in young people with special needs riding and working with rescued horses.

It comes on the heels of the Ada Jenkins Ice event which raised well over a hundred thousand dollars for our outstanding outreach center.  Add to that the Chamber’s Habitat Build and the generosity of Wells Fargo and our many other businesses and you understand what I mean about the generosity of our business community.

Prior to going to work at my first Chamber of Commerce 19 years ago, I was active in a service organization called Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce).  I had no grand plan to lead the organization other than serving as a local president like my dad did in 1965.    Through hard work and a great deal of help by many people working together, I was fortunate to climb the leadership ranks of the organization eventually being elected national president in 1992.  I travelled to 47 states and seven countries speaking to Jaycee chapters across the nation.

Meeting with the Montana Delegation in Portland, site of the 1992 Convention

Years later, I had a young man ask me how a local Jaycee becomes national President.  As I talked about the lonely nights traveling hours by car to meetings as a state officer to a membership night only to find a handful of people and no prospects in the room – or turning around the next night and driving four more hours to train officers to find 3 or 4 people had shown up – how demoralizing that could be.

However, it was all worth it seeing new clubs and chapters making an impact in their community or an individual who might have been one of those handful I spoke of one day becoming a business, community, or elected leader because we encouraged and pushed them to be their absolute best.

As I spoke to this young man, I saw him glancing all around the room, not listening at all to what I was trying to tell him.  He was more interested in who he was going to talk to next.  He wanted to be the best but he was  not interested in the journey – just the destination.  That journey is the dues we all have to pay to get there.  There is no elevator to the top of success.  You have to climb each step one at a time, working hard every step of the way.

There are simply no short cuts to success.  That’s why sports teams practice each day leading up to the game.  That’s why successful business men and women seek out business coaches, mentors, executive training and never stop in their search to learn and be better each day.

As I mentioned, I simply love what I do.  Each day I get a chance to work and learn from the very best.  People who dare to reach for the stars every day and even if they fall short of the sky, they clear the tree tops and leave the ground far behind.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Great Day at the Lake

Bill Russell, CCE

One of my mentors, Gene Martin, was noted for a charge he would give aspiring young business leaders, when he encouraged us to – “Do what we love, love what we do, and deliver more than you promise.”  Those few words have become a philosophy that I try to put into place daily and I have often used the same message when I meet with young business and community leaders.     This year marks my 19th year in the association management field.  Essentially, I have the unique opportunity to perform in a job that allows me to work with business and community leaders as we make our region stronger and our communities better than we found them.

I have always enjoyed civic service, advocating on behalf of people and businesses, and speaking to groups about how they can bring about positive change for our community and nation.  No, I take that back – I love it!   Perhaps no day better illustrates that than Friday August 27th.  It began like any other day as we convened a program of our Focus Friday and a very informative session on Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities from their executive director Barry Gullett.  Barry was joined by Jim Duke who led a Mayor’s Task Force on the water rate challenges we were experiencing earlier this year in Mecklenburg County.

Duke did an outstanding job of demonstrating what local citizens can do when they organize together in a constructive manner bringing about changes in CMUD’s operations.     The program adjourned and I went straight into a meeting of our Pubic Policy Committee where Hilary Broadway of Allen Tate Realty and I outlined the Chamber’s advocacy positions we would take to Washington, DC a few weeks later.

Ada Jenkins Check Presentation

Then it was off to a meeting of the Regional Roads Committee, an organization of 17 other regional Chambers of Commerce, as we heard presentations from CATS to Gene Conti, our N.C. Secretary of Transportation.    I hurried back up to the lake for a check presentation from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation to the Ada Jenkins Center for $60,000.  The community outreach center offers 19 programs and services including the free medical clinic, food pantry, school tutoring, and much more.

Leaving there, I rushed off for a ribbon cutting and a grand opening of a new Huntersville business – the Comfort Suites – before heading back up to the Chamber for a meeting of the Lake Norman Kiwanis Aktion Club.     Aktion is a club for young people over the age of 18 with special needs.  I am fortunate to be their club advisor and help facilitate their meetings as the young people get together once a month to socialize and conduct projects.

This particular meeting we enjoyed pizza together provided by Brooklyn South, a great Chamber member, as we wrote letters to the men and women serving overseas in our military.     Perhaps few days go by that each of us do not lament about the economy or how things are just not going our way.  However, each month I have the opportunity to witness one of God’s miracles as a young person, who has every reason in the world to complain, reminds us life is so precious.

Aktion Club of Lake Norman

There is no discussion of shortcomings or disability, just the bright smiles of these kids and their laughter when they get together.  I listened as they read the words from their cards and showed us their own particular handiwork.  Their crayons filled with love, compassion, and innocence.     As I drove home that night, thinking of those kids as they poured their hearts out in words and colors on their greeting cards, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.  I couldn’t help but believe that the hour I spent with them that evening was God’s gift back to me.

It’s the reason I do what I do and just another great day at the lake!

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , | Leave a comment