Russell’s Ramblings

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

A Lesson I Learned from Coach – Ray Parlier

The below article was written for the August issue of FLAME.

I am not sure there is a single principle more important than simply loving your people. I’ve always enjoyed reading books by John C. Maxwell, and in one of his books he had a statement from President Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Ray Parlier

Pictured Ray Parlier (Center), former Athletic Director of Furman University with Bill Russell (Left) and Robby Dawkins (Right) who both led the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce as National Presidents. Parlier, who died in 2017, left a Legacy of Leadership on thousands of young people as a Coach and Mentor.

In 1985, I met a man named Ray Parlier. Ray and I were very involved in the South Carolina Junior Chamber (Jaycees) and later he would lead the state organization as President. He also became one of my political advisors when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

While Ray was extremely successful in the Jaycees, his real impact was shaping the lives of kids at Furman University where he served as Athletic Director during the time when it claimed its only National Football Championship. Ray’s influence on me was profound, but his greatest lesson was to love your people. If you demonstrate how much you care about the people you lead, they will follow you anywhere. People always came first with Coach Parlier and he was a master at making you feel special.

He called until it was too late to talk on the phone. Then he would switch to addressing postcard after postcard thanking folks for the smallest things. Ray was a fierce competitor and he believed everyone had a place on the team. The quarterback who made the perfect fade pass was important but so was the trainer who conditioned the players. Ray gave out more plaques and incentives than anyone I ever met and sometimes it was the smallest tokens that people desired the most. It was not the size of the reward but the appreciation for the job well done. I am not sure I ever saw as many grown men hug each other as they did under the leadership of Coach. He made you feel good about yourself and your effort.

Someone recently asked me to what I attributed the success of the Lake Norman Chamber I lead here at Lake Norman. Location is a critical factor for any business, but it really benefits those who make their home at the lake.  We have businesses that work their plan, take advantage of our networking events, and our outstanding personal growth and business programming. However, the thing that sets our chamber apart, which enables us to be the “Best of the Best”, is our appreciation of each other. You must show folks how much you care. It is the foundation of leadership.

I still remember a Saturday morning in Charleston, S.C. when I had just been elected President of the South Carolina Jaycees. Coach Ray Parlier put his arm around me and hugged me tight. He then looked deep in my eyes, with a wide smile across his face and reminded me, “Bill, love your people and they’ll love you back.”

As I look back on a life that has spanned six decades now, that may well have been the single best advice I ever received.

Bill Russell

 

 

 

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the list

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Steve Gilliland, Motivational Speaker and Best Selling author at the Lake Norman Chamber Small Business Event

This afternoon, while waiting for an appointment, I picked up a recent copy of TIME Magazine’s List of the 100 Most Influential People in America.  I was disappointed again to see that I wasn’t listed. Actually no one I know personally was listed but as every seasoned South Carolina Gamecock fan will attest to – There’s always next Year!

It did make me think about something motivational speaker Steve Gilliland spoke about at last month’s Small Business Luncheon. He asked the 150+ people who attended the event to create a list of what five people (outside of your family) have most influenced your life and left that indelible mark.

It didn’t take me long to ponder. In 1985, I met a man who profoundly shaped who I am and what I do right down to the core. Ray Parlier certainly didn’t look the part. Ray, with ears two sizes bigger than his head and cheeks that always seemed flushed, was the picture of a country boy right out of Bristol, Tennessee. He also had a stutter when he got excited, which seemed to be most of the time!

Put Ray in a room of 100 people and he might just be the 100th person you’d pick to lead your organization or business. However, leave him in the room alone with the group and come back an hour later, and he’d be the one that they would all be huddling around.

Ray began a career as a trainer for the Furman University Paladin Football Team. He went on to be an assistant coach before becoming Athletic Director for the team that won a National Championship.

When he wasn’t coaching, he put in time with a civic group called Jaycees where he led

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Ray Parlier and Bill Russell at the 72nd Annual Meeting – US Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees)

our organization as state president. I had the great  fortune to serve as his Vice President. Ray loved to cite Vince Lombardi quotes and he had us all memorizing the lines that became our mantra – none more important than “Winning is not a sometimes thing…. It’ s an all the time thing…”

As any great coach does – Ray pushed us to excel and reach past the limitations we imposed upon ourselves.  We set goals together, but Ray always seemed to squeeze more out of me than I thought possible.  But perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from Ray was to love your people. If you demonstrate to the people you lead how much you care about them – really care – then, they will help you reach the goals you set, no matter how difficult the task.

This month, the Lake Norman Chamber will hear from just such a man, the new head football coach at UNC Charlotte.  Coach Will Healy, in his first year with the Forty-niners, will discuss how leadership is not about a title or designation, its about the impact you make on the people you lead – whether in the boardroom or the gridiron.

Like Coach Parlier, Coach Healy is a Champion having served as Team Captain on the University of Richmond 2008 FCS National Championship Team.

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Coach Will Healy – UNC Charlotte 49er Football Coach

When I was elected National President of the United States Jaycees, Ray Parlier, along with my father, was by my side. I will never forget the hug I received from Furman’s Athletic Director. His cheeks were a bright pink.  His misty eyes reflecting the bright lights of the stage, and with a smile from ear to ear said, “Remember Bill, love your people.  They’ll love you back.”

It wasn’t hard at all for me to list five of the most influential people who have shaped my life. However, Steve Gilliland left us with one more important thing to consider as he concluded his remarks at our Small Business Luncheon –

“Are you on somebody’s list?”  

W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM
President

June 4, 2019 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment