Russell’s Ramblings

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

Grandmama Tillie’s Chow Chow Recipe

Chow chowIngredients

4 cups Green Tomatoes

4 cups Cabbage

4 cups Onions (Vidalia) *

12 Green Peppers – Hot & Bell  (Hot sweet Bananas) *

3 cups sugar (Original recipe! – I cut back on sugar, no more than 1 1/2 cups) *

1/2 cups salt

1 tablespoon Celery Seed

2 Tablespoons Mustard Seed

1 1/2 Teaspoon Tumeric

4 cups Vinegar (Tillie used white vinegar.  I prefer Apple Cider and just a splash of Balsamic for additional flavor) *

2 cups water

Chop vegetables up and let stand overnight in salt. Rinse vegetables and drain 24 hours later and then combine other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes.  Seal in hot sterilized jars.

  •  I take liberties with the original using the Apple Cider and Balsamic Vinegars (just a splash of the Balsamic as you do not want to discolor the batch. I also add just a touch of fresh garlic to each jar and always use vidalia onions.  For a slightly hotter batch, cut a slice of hot pepper and put in the jar before sealing.

Mama (Sarah Feemster Russell) says you should always let the batch set up a couple of weeks before serving.  I tend to put a small jar in the fridge I’m tasting from.

This is the recipe that Jim and Tillie Feemster passed down – my grandparents. Enjoy!

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planting Seeds – our harvest of hope

Garden 1

Our garden

Spring! It’s the time of year I look forward to most of all. While I spend my weekdays working at the chamber, I look forward to those weekends when I can travel down to our family farm in Rock Hill and work in the garden that I have toiled in for almost five decades.

My passion for gardening began as a little boy when my Grandfather Russell first had me plant watermelon seeds in his garden. At the age of seven, I was creating little hills with my small hands, dropping in my precious seeds, and waiting for that day when I could plunge my fingers into a delicious Crimson Sweet.

Granddaddy didn’t confess up front all the work that went into harvesting that plump juicy melon. Instead, over the years, he broke me in slowly. By the age of 16, I was helping both Grandfathers (Russell and Feemster) with their gardens. Typically, on Good Friday (but never rotten Saturday), we planted our seeds and sometimes our plants that yielded the corn, tomatoes, beans, melons, squash, cucumbers, and peppers that we hopefully harvested later that summer.

A few weeks ago, I listened as a couple of local entrepreneurs shared the challenges they faced with their small business and I couldn’t help but realize the similarities between those aspiring entrepreneurs and any determined farmer.

First and foremost, it all starts with that single seed. For many entrepreneurs it might begin with a credit card and a dream sitting at a kitchen table. I still remember Jim Engel, the President of Aquesta Bank, sharing how the Lake Norman-based bank started in the basement of his home. Like most entrepreneurs, he began with a vision, surrounding himself with a close knit team, facing challenge after challenge, on their journey to success.

Both the farmer and the entrepreneur will put in long hours and hard work and for a farmer the heat, weeds, and critters will challenge you every step of the way.

Garden

Bill Russell working the garden.

Farmers can usually recount the one good year versus all the bad. They must be patient and optimistic, realizing that perhaps next year can be better than this year.

As a farmer, you pray for good weather, and in some years it seems, the sweat and tears were about the only moisture that kissed the soil that whole summer. Yet, the risks should never be obstacles from pursuing your dream. They are merely steps along the way and we learn from each and every one.

Entrepreneurs face a new challenge every day. Challenges which require perseverance and creativity. There are no shortcuts to success. Instead, they toil each day, creating new relationships, and nurturing existing ones.

Perhaps there is no better example of entrepreneurship than Tom and Vickie VanWingerden who immigrated to Huntersville from The Netherlands. They started their business in 1972 with a 20,000 sq. ft. greenhouse on Old Statesville Rd. That 1 acre plastic covered structure has blossomed today into Metrolina Greenhouses which employs 725 people year round and another 600 seasonally. It is also largest single-site heated greenhouse in the United States at 162 acres under roof. Quite an accomplishment for a farmer and entrepreneur!

My grandfather was never a wealthy man. Just an old country farmer who toiled from sun up to sun down. Yet, he taught me a great deal – not just about farming, but life.   Anyone can plant a seed, but it takes a farmer or an entrepreneur to envision what it can become. It takes passion, perseverance, and yes, luck. But in the end, the fruit of our labor is the harvest of hope.

Bill Russell, Huntersville

The above post ran as a column “Idea Exchange” in the March 29, 2017 issue of The Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper page 33.

April 4, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Business of Education

The uncharacteristically warm days these past few weeks had me climbing into the attic to retrieve my summer clothes in anticipation of the spring and summer days ahead. Grabbing what I thought to be a box of summer shirts, turned out instead to be old scrapbooks and albums.

First G

Mrs Hope – First Grade Class Finley Road Elementary, Rock Hill, SC  1966

Feeling nostalgic, I found myself perusing through a worn binder filled with grade school pictures and most of my early report cards. I laughed when I read the comments from my first and second grade teachers who cited “Billy is much too talkative” and “Billy is a really busy boy,” which was polite southern speak for “Billy simply cannot stay in his seat!”

The truth is I was a very bad student in elementary school and there is a real place in heaven for those teachers whose patience was extremely taxed teaching such an immature and talkative kid. It was not until high school that I hit my stride and found a love of history, political science, and writing. I have to admit, there are times I wish I could go back and thank those women who persevered with me. I wish I could express my gratitude to Mrs. Hope and Sellers whose names I still fondly recall fifty years later.

Education is the foundation of our economic and business development at the lake.  Perhaps no single issue impacts commerce more than our workforce development. The strength of our American economy hinges on our public and private school systems as well as post-secondary education and vocational training.

Recently in a Chamber meeting of Corporate CEO’s and entrepreneurs, they pointed to a lack of a skilled workforce as a challenge to their success. They stressed it is critical that we develop our talent and prepare our young people who will soon enter the workforce.

This Thursday, March 16th, the Lake Norman Chamber will have an opportunity to hear from both our current and incoming Charlotte Mecklenburg School Superintendents when we host our Education PowerLuncehon at NorthStone Country Club.  It will be an opportunity to thank Dr. Ann Clark for her service as well as welcome new School Board leader Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

The following day, Friday, March 17th, the Chamber will host a Focus Friday with our area Charter and Private Schools at the Chamber. Both events are a chance to hear how our educational leaders are developing our future employees.

This past week we have held School Career Fairs at both Pine Lake Prep (3/7) and Hough High School (3/8). It was a chance for area businesses to meet with students and help them prepare for their vocational future.

027

Future Business Leaders of America – Hough High School

Joseph Addison once said, “I consider the human soul without education like marble in a quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colors and makes the surface shine.”

Looking at those handwritten notes from my teachers brought a bright smile to my face and a little tug on my conscience.  We can all mentor a student, provide a business internship, participate in a career fair, and donate to a school fundraiser. That is the responsibility we have to the future and the obligation we all have to the past.

Bill Russell

The above column appeared in The Lake Norman Citizen (March 1, 2017 page 39) as Take Time to Mentor a Mind of the Young.

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New beginnings

surfside January is a month of new beginnings. Some of us may head into the New Year lamenting the fact we came up short in our goals for 2016. Others of us plunge into the gym and say to ourselves this is the year I am really committed to getting in shape.  Perhaps as a business owners, we look at 2017 as the year we will turn the corner and have “Our best year ever!”

Regardless of whether we were successful in hitting benchmarks set in the past or we came up short in our personal or professional goals, now is the chance to have a clean slate ahead and recognize that often the only limitations we have… are those we impose upon ourselves.

In 2017, the Lake Norman Chamber will focus on the entrepreneur – those men and women who shirk the traditional boundaries and institutions with a vision of creating something unique and innovative. It is that very spirit of entrepreneurship that has shaped the Lake Norman business community allowing us national accolades in magazines and media outlets. Whether it is a recognition as the most desirable suburban community, a great place to do business, or simply one of North Carolina’s Top Towns – it starts with a common vision and a commitment to fulfilling that goal.

As we work to create programs that foster entrepreneurship, we also acknowledge our 30th Anniversary as the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Our chamber was started in 1987 by business leaders with vision who saw our community, not just as it was, but the region that it could become.

I recently asked Lake Norman Chamber founder John Cherry, “Is the 1,000 member organization we have today, what you and the other business leaders envisioned three decades ago?” John replied, “We knew our real strength was working together. The Chamber has always been more than a networking group hosting seminars. It is an organization that promotes our story to other regional business and elected leaders to achieve our mutual objectives.”

At the Chamber’s upcoming Annual Gala on Friday, January 20th, we will recognize extraordinary individuals, businesses, and organizations who are shaping the very fabric of our regional community. That same day, we will also host Focus Friday with area nonprofits to discuss how we can work together to be the change necessary to tap the hidden talents of our citizens which elevate communities from good to great.

Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks said, “I believe life is a series of near forbes-image-of-starbucks-howard-schultzmisses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see and pursuing that vision.”

Schultz would tell you, a successful entrepreneur may not even be able to count their failures. They simply regard their challenges as a stepping stone in their eventual journey to success.

As we all embark on a new year filled with unbridled opportunities, we will certainly be faced with near misses and perhaps a setback along the way. The great news is we don’t have to accept any short coming as a limit to our success.

2017 can be a year of renewed vision and commitment where there is simply no limit in what we can accomplish by working hard, working smart, and most importantly working together.

In the end, … it’s all up to us!

January 2, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Viewing life through a different lens

diversity-4

2016 Diversity Chair Chris Hailey and Lake Norman Chamber President Bill Russell

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am an avid football fan. On any given Saturday or Sunday, I’m usually sitting back watching games when I see a real bone-headed play that leaves me thinking, “What was that all about?”

Granted the play has been stopped, we know the result and, in many instances, we watch replays over and over from every angle. Knowing the outcome, many of us become sports geniuses — hence the term “armchair quarterbacks.”

Several years ago, I had the opportunity, through our Leadership Lake Norman program, to tour the Criminal Justice Center at the Central Piedmont Community College Merancas Campus in Huntersville. There I was allowed to participate in a firearms simulation on which our law enforcement officers are required to train. Participants are provided a firearm equipped with a laser that registers actual hits and misses in a simulated environment.

In some situations, subjects in the video are innocent bystanders. In others, in the blink of an eye, the bystander became an armed assailant. The actual time you as a law enforcement officer have to ascertain the threat and act are mere seconds. My simulation involved terrorists who had taken hostages on a passenger jet in flight. I laughed it off and went home after I hit an assailant, a bystander and the fuselage of the plane perhaps dooming all of the passengers. For me, in that room with that make-believe gun in a simulated environment, it was little more than a video game.

Out on the streets, it’s anything but.

The last few days in Charlotte, and last few months nationwide, have seen tensions between law enforcement and the public reach a precipice. As I personally struggle to understand why we have reached this point, my good friend and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Diversity Chairman Chris Hailey asked me to “step back away from my ‘whiteness’ and see the world through a different lens — that of an African-American man.”

What some of us may see as a single incident is for many a tipping point of years of frustration, anxiety and fear. While there can be no excuse for looting, violence and lawlessness, there must be a way to confront the feelings many minorities are experiencing.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Lake Norman Chamber Diversity Council will host a Lunch & Learn session at the CPCC Merancas Campus with Brandi Riggins from Charter Communications. She will discuss race relations and how we can continue to come together as a community. The Diversity Council will also host another community forum later in the month.

In the meantime, the Lake Norman Chamber will salute our public safety officers who put their lives on the line for us each and every day — our police, fire and EMS officers along with the Crime Stopper of the Year. That event takes place Thursday, Oct. 20, at NorthStone Country Club.

Unlike football, our police officers have no instant replay and no way to truly know what’s in the mind of the person they stop or try to apprehend. They have no ability to look back on what they could or should have done. They have only the moment. It’s real time.

One thing I do know for certain: none of our officers are out there looking for confrontation. They simply want to serve and go home safe at the end of the day to their families.

My friend Chris asked me to see life though a different lens. The reality is I’m not sure I ever really can. But I do know, I need to try. I pray to God that we all try.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Social Causes, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heroes come in many form

SuperI recently read a book entitled Hollywood Kryptonite about the life and tragic death of Hollywood actor George Reeves. Reeves is perhaps better known as the “Man of Steel” – the actor who played Superman in the 1950 television series – The Adventures of Superman.

Many of the kids in my neighborhood would gather around their TV sets at 3:30 in the afternoon after school to see Superman, typically rescuing Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson, as he fought to preserve “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

My mother even went so far as to sew capes for a little boy in the neighborhood and myself as we pretended to be super heroes. While we couldn’t fly, we did jump on our Schwinn bikes, our bright red capes blowing in the wind as we pedaled from neighborhood to neighborhood, secure in the notion we were real American super heroes.

This past month, a different set of heroes emerged at Lake Norman. They didn’t don red capes and blue tights with a big yellow letter “S” on their chest.  But they were actual heroes none the less.

A community forum was held at CPCC Merancas Campus to discuss community policing and bringing our community closer together. A national unrest between law enforcement and the community at large is playing out in communities across the nation.  While the major protests have not been as widespread in our region, panelists comprised of our Davidson and Huntersville Police Chiefs along with CPCC, Charlotte Police, and FBI did share the “real fear minorities have of law enforcement.”

It took courage to open up about how an African American man feels being stopped by a white police officer at night at a routine traffic stop or the deep wounds of racial prejudice, which could have occurred decades ago, but are still lurking under the surface today.

Pic 7 Splash Pad

Huntersville Mayor John Anerall, Kiwanis Governor Dawn Hodges, and Bill Russell – Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce 

Just a week later, community, business, and elected leaders gathered at the Splashville Park as the Lake Norman Kiwanis and the Town of Cornelius PARC Department unveiled a new Splash Pad in Smithfield Park. The Kiwanis Club, assisted by the Park Board, have raised nearly $150,000 in donations for the recreational attraction.

The driving force behind the Splash Pad is Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla. John was president of the Kiwanis Club several years ago when the Kiwanis looked at creating a water park for children. Ironically, the club which is for the most part made up of Caucasians, chose to locate the park in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Cornelius – Smithfield. It also wasn’t lost on me at the dedication of the park, the corporate donations which came from Huntersville and Davidson for this regional collaboration.

This month, the Lake Norman Chamber will recognize Corporations, Small Businesses, Non-profits, and Individuals who both practice and promote diversity in the workplace at our Annual Diversity Luncheon to be held Thursday, September 15th at River Run Country Club in Davidson.

These Champions of Diversity are working to bring our community and region together when so many others still seek to drive us apart. Overcoming prejudice and racism is a daunting task. Many of us still wrestle with generational attitudes when it comes to race, gender identity, cultural, and even generational diversity.

We all need to take to heart the words of Mother Teresa who said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Fifty years after watching my first Superman episode, I’ve come to realize it doesn’t take a man of steel who can leap tall buildings or be faster than a locomotive to be a genuine hero.  It can come in the form of a civic club member, police officer, or community volunteer who simply wants to leave their community better than they found it.

Heroes are just everyday people. They may not be able to change the world but they can impact one life at a time. Creating ripples which speak to our hearts and forever touch our souls.

Bill Russell

September 1, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Social Causes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Service Above Self – I’m Accepting the ZERO K Challenge

Zero_K_Flyer_finalOn September 7th, I’ll be 57! To celebrate this milestone in my life, I have accepted the North Mecklenburg Rotary Club’s ZERO K Challenge. I know many of you are asking why undertake such an arduous challenge so late in life.  Sure – it’s going to take some extra training to get into shape, to get my mind prepared, and not just compete – but actually take the Gold in the ZERO K.

That said, I am reminded of the Rotary Credo – Service Above Self. Sure, I could stay at home, preparing if not already getting started for the Carolina – Miss State Tailgating the following Day – September 10th.  But you simply have to put community service first.

In a way, I have been preparing for this event most of my adult life.  When some of my friends were running 3K, 5K, 10K… and yes, some competing in the Iron Man Marathon – I decided long ago I didn’t desire to be an Iron Man – I wanted to be a Sixty Minute Man.

While my buddies were out pounding the pavement in their sneakers, I was sitting back with a cold Brew listening to the Tams, the Catalinas, the Embers… and yes, the General himself and Chairman of the Board. Rather than sweaty socks and running shoes – I much preferred the sand under my feet, shagging to the tunes of my favorite beach music with a Carolina Girl.

I don’t take the Zero K Challenge lightly.  I have already begun the difficult training required for the event which takes place September 9th 5:30-9 pm at the Oak Street Mill in Cornelius.

It begins which proper nourishment – a fried Bologna sandwich (three slices – extra thick)005 with Duke’s Mayonnaise piled high. It’s necessary to properly coat both sides of your bread with at least 4 to 5 teaspoons of the Pride of the South! I top it off with fresh jalapeno peppers and tomatoes from my garden and two slices of Vidalia onion.  The onions and peppers should also be fried up in virgin olive oil.  I use my Gandmother Feemster’s cast iron skillet to give it just that special flavor. Texas Pete also gives it a robust kick.  Several splashes are recommended.

A good fried up bologna sandwich should be chased by a smooth brown liquor drink.  For my northern friends who are unfamiliar with the term brown liquor – I mean a great bourbon.  In this case, I’m training with Russell’s Reserve.  No – its not my special bourbon but one that I really like – a single barrel bourbon from the fine folks at Wild Turkey. Some may ask would Jack Daniels work just as well?

Perhaps, but for training purposes I think bourbon over whiskey to get the mind right. Other preferred bourbons: Jefferson Small Batch, Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek to get the blood flowing.

Not everyone can expect to reach their maximum endurance in their first ZERO K and I don’t take it lightly. My experience in Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at Winthrop and the United States Jaycees have helped prepare me for this moment – and yes, I feel up to the task.  Many are called – but few are chosen.

So yes, I am competing – and I will take home the Gold in the first annual North Meck Rotary Club ZERO K Fundraiser to help raise awareness for the 9/11 Monument.

John Kepner, the president of our Rotary Club wholeheartedly supports my rigorous training and diet for the event.  John might I add is also the owner of one of two Huntersville Funeral Homes and Crematoriums and he along with Sam James deeply appreciates the business.

So – are you up to the challenge?  If so, Join us – you can register for the ZERO K here.

August 31, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Fraternity, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Portrait of a Life well Lived

Ask anyone who knows me well and they will likely tell you I am a creature of habit. A typical work day begins with cups of coffee, looking through email, scanning the headlines of various news sites before I turn to social media and catch up with the unfiltered discussions of the day.

Last Friday was a day like many others as I perused Face Book, looking over the rants on I77, comments on the new Beach at Ramsey, and upcoming events over the weekend. I also took note of the birthdays and sent notices to those who were celebrating their special day.

That night was the annual Symphony at McGuire and for those of you who went, you may recall the brief intermission taken to allow for the bad weather to pass.  I took that opportunity to check out Face Book on my phone and there, among the many posts, was one which said that Donna Mitchell was losing her fight with cancer. She was one of those who I had written happy birthday earlier that morning.

It was perhaps fortunate that the darkness had fallen on McGuire as the symphony began to play again. It hid the anguish on my face and the tears which filled my eyes.

I wasn’t particularly close to Donna or her sister Tabetha, though both are chamber members. They joined a couple of years ago with their business Cork & Canvas and celebrated their ribbon cutting at the Chamber.

Donna Pic for Cluttered DeskIt was on a January night last year that the two ladies sauntered up to my table at a Lake Norman restaurant and presented me with a cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Donna explained they were celebrating Donna’s daughter’s birthday. It was something they did each year to remember Destin who passed away in a tragic car accident a few years ago.

Last fall, I read a post on Face Book from Donna as she shared they had found cancer and she was being treated at Novant here in Huntersville.  I asked Tabetha would it be okay to drop by and she indicated Donna would love it.

When I poked my head into the room, Donna was hooked up to an IV Machine. She apologized for how she looked as the chemo had taken a toll on her long locks of golden hair. But what I saw was the radiant smile that I remembered each time that we had met.

We spent the next hour talking about the highs and lows of life. Her low – the tragic death of her daughter. The pain of losing a child and the grief she carried. She had stopped painting, a gift she inherited from her father. But it was the love of her sister Tabetha who encouraged her to move to the lake and start a business with her that filled her life again.

Donna’s love of painting and Tabetha’s entrepreneurial spirit launched the Cork and Canvas painting parties as the two sisters helped people around the lake find their hidden talents.

Then the unexpected – the unwelcomed thief who steals moments and brings pain – cancer.

I followed Donna’s ordeal mostly through her posts on Face Book. When I recently read she was at Wake Forest and undergoing treatment, I thought about stopping by on my visits to Raleigh. But like so many of us, time also seemed to get in the way.  Maybe next time!

On June 1st, I read a post where she spoke of her challenge and how much she appreciated the support of so many. I sent her a personal email encouraging her and reminding her she was in our prayers. She thanked me and then sent the little Smiley Face emoticon. That was our last chat and looking back, I cannot help but think how appropriate.  It’s the smile I do remember the most.

The painter’s hands are resting now. Her canvass is complete. A life filled with the bright bold colors of love in the lives she touched and the light pastels that spoke to her lows. Donna was a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter… and yes a painter. Her illness cut short our time together but it left a portrait not of an unfinished life, but a bright splendid painting of triumph over adversity and the realization to seize every moment with broad bold strokes.

Our last words at Novant was for her to get better so she could teach me to paint. Looking back on that moment, I realize she taught me much more than that. It was really a lesson in how to live.

July 5, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Entrepeneur’s Prayer

Bill Russell PrayerHeavenly Father

We come to you with deep humility… in realization by your hands….  all things are made possible.

We give thanks for the challenges of our past which give rise to our entrepreneurship and innovation.

Give us clarity today that we might hear from other’s success.

Provide us vision – to see not what is JUST before us but what can be – when we work hard, work smart, and work together

Let us find confidence in rejection; purpose in our failure; patience in our trials;

AND success in our perseverance.

We ask all this in your name.

Amen

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Zeiss Leaves Legacy on Local workforce

The below column was written exclusively for The Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper and appeared in the April 6, 2016 issue (page 39 – For the Record)
zeissNearly a quarter of a century ago, a man of boundless energy, laser focus, and a commitment to higher education took the helm of Central Piedmont Community College.  In 1992, Dr. Tony Zeiss became just the third president of a community college that today serves 70,000 students a year.

Under Tony’s leadership, the college has grown from one campus to six, including the Merancas Campus in Huntersville. Dr. Zeiss has created a “learning college” whose mission is not simply to transfer knowledge from teacher to student but to create an atmosphere that allows students to discover knowledge, to apply it, and in essence become a problem solver.

Early in my career with the Lake Norman Chamber, I had the privilege to sit down with Beverly Dickson, the Dean of the Merancas Campus at the time. Beverly, who served on my board for six years, pointed out that the traditional four year college, while providing a “college experience,” was becoming unaffordable and less accessible for many students.

Enter Zeiss who understood that employers in the Charlotte region and beyond are challenged to find knowledgeable and skilled workers. Tony and his team set out to create a culture that prepared students for the workforce and deliver area businesses and industry high caliber employees committed to their task.

In 2005, the Lake Norman Chamber partnered with CPCC in a Workforce Development Summit held at the Merancas Campus. Highlighting several of our Lake Norman companies such as Lowe’s and Daetwyler, the theme of the summit was “Get ‘em While They’re Hot.” It was the title of Dr. Zeiss’s book on how to attract, develop, and retain peak performers in the labor shortage we faced at the time.

Tony gave me a copy of the book and made a little notation within its cover. Looking at it the other day, I also noted several turned down pages and highlighted text that I’m often guilty of doing to my favorite books.Zeiss Book

Zeiss writes, “Today’s leaders must learn to think globally, appreciate cultural diversity, develop high technical skills, build partnerships, and share in decision making.” Zeiss goes on to point out the critical skills needed to succeed are – the ability to communicate and create employee support for a shared vision, unwavering integrity, a focus on results, and a commitment to customer satisfaction. More than a decade later, his words are still the foundation for success today.

The campus here in Huntersville trains firefighters and police through their Public Safety program and Criminal Justice Academy as well as collision repair, emergency medical training and general public education.

On April 14, Dr. Tony Zeiss will speak to business and community leaders at the Lake Norman Chamber PowerLuncheon for the last time as President of CPCC. Although I suspect he will still be impacting the next generation of employees and business leaders in other ways.

Joseph Addison once said, “I consider the human soul without education like marble in a quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colors and makes the surface shine.”

The next time you call that electrician to your house, have an EMT respond to a family emergency, have your car repaired at a nearby body shop, or have an accountant work on your taxes, remember that skilled worker may just be a product of our community college system.

Dr. Zeiss has taken a block of marble, shaped our workforce and revealed the community we could be. It’s a legacy of promise and opportunity and the best work of any life.

Bill Russell, Huntersville, NC

Bill Russell is the President & CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce which serves 1,000+ business members in the Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and greater Lake Norman region.

April 12, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment