Russell’s Ramblings

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

The Legacy We Leave


Jeffrey Johnson, a student at Hough and one of our Future Business Leaders of America, is going to be a strong force in the business world.

Incentives and rewards are important to drive people beyond what they thought was achievable. As I write this column, athletes who have trained all of their lives, are competing for the Gold in the Winter Olympics. Imagine if you can, any sport without a championship or the workplace without an opportunity for a “bonus.” We are a competitive society that likes to win and we strive to be recognized as the “Best of the Best” among our peers.

This past month, while attending a Davidson Town Board Meeting, I had the opportunity to thank Commissioner Jim Fuller for his term of service on the Lake Norman Chamber Board. Jim had missed the Annual Banquet when we recognized other Chamber Board Members, and those who have gone the extra mile, with plaques recognizing their achievements and service to our community.

Mayor Rusty Knox quipped, “That will look really nice among all your other awards Jim.” Mayor Knox, like many of the visitors to Jim’s office, have seen the recognitions and plaques that speak boldly of Commissioner Fuller’s legacy of leadership.

I read a story once about a man named James Dobson whose goal it was to become his school’s tennis champion. He felt proud when the school placed his trophy prominently in the school’s glass trophy cabinet for all to see. Years later, someone mailed him the trophy. They had found it in a trash bin when the school was remodeled. Dobson realized, “Given enough time, all your trophies and plaques will be discarded by someone else.”

As I look up on the walls of my own office, with its array of plaques and pictures, there is a small silver plaque presented to me by the Future Business Leaders of America. The plaque is a recognition of our support of Hough High School’s Career Days.

Pic 2 Career

2017 Pine Lake Prep Career Day  

“Career Day” is an opportunity for business owners, managers, professionals, and employees to counsel and advise young people as they look to post-secondary education or perhaps to enter the workforce at graduation from High School.

This month the Lake Norman Education Collaborative, Economic Development Corporation, Visit Lake Norman and Chamber will work with Pine Lake Prep, Hough, and Hopewell High Schools to host Career Days and Speed Networking Events with students. Information on these events can be found on the Chamber’s website at

The two or three hours spent with a student could be that spark that ignites their career. One morning or an afternoon’s gesture may impact a lifetime.

Commissioner Fuller chuckled for a second at Mayor Knox’s statement. Then I watched as Jim silently sat down the plaque, gazed across the crowd and began to thank the businesses and volunteers who work hand in hand with our town to make the community a great place to live and work.

He, like many other servant leaders understand well, it’s not what we receive for being the best – but what we become by doing it.

We have within our ability the opportunity to prepare the future generation with the insight, skills, and confidence to build on the foundation we have built working hard, working smart, and working together.

What some may fail to realize is all of the achievements will eventually be surpassed, all of the records broken, and most of the reputations will eventually fade from memory. However, the lives we touch along the way and the difference we make in leaving this place better than we found it, will not!  And that is the legacy we leave.

Bill Russell

Check the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce website at for area Career Days and Education Events.

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Lake Norman Chamber Education Collaborative | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Millenials – Our Next Generation

Bill Russell introduction at the Winthrop University Men's Leadership Conference

Introduction at the Winthrop University Men’s Leadership Conference

In May, I had the opportunity to speak to our Hough High School Future Business Leaders of America at their year-end ceremony about leadership and commitment.  More recently, I was having dinner with a close friend and her nephew Brian.

Brian is a rising tenth grader and we touched on school, summer activities, and movies before our conversation turned to football. Brian plays linebacker for his high school football team and I listened intently as he discussed his sport.

It’s been a long time ago since I was a tenth grader but I still recall the fun I had in neighborhood pickup games.  When we couldn’t play outside, we crammed into my room and played electric football on an aluminum game board made by Tudor.  My players were hand painted to look like the Green Bay Packers and when you turned it on, the board would vibrate and hum sending the players bouncing in all different directions.

Today, Brian plays Madden NFL on a Play Station 3 with state of the art animation which looks like it is taking place in real time.  Technology over the last four decades has advanced so that today, Wii U has a glove you can slip on to play your favorite outdoor sport – tennis, golf, baseball – in the privacy of your home on a hi-def TV.

While I might be impressed by this amazing technology, Brian and the Hough High School business leaders, products of the millennial generation, are rather unfazed. The millennials are emerging as the largest generation ever (80 million strong today in the United States alone) and will soon dominate our retail and service markets as well as the emerging workforce which will shape commerce worldwide.

They are a generation for whom connectivity has always been a constant.  They grew up with the Internet, smart phones, and high speed computers where the world is simply a key stroke away.

Last month, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce held an informative luncheon on “Motivating Millennials.”  Deanna Arnold with Employer’s Advantage pointed out there are tremendous cultural changes taking place in the workplace with the emergence of the Y Generation and the millennials.  This is a demographic where everything is immediate and the Internet provides billions of options. While Boomers like myself are loyal to rules and policies, and Generation X simply blended in, the millennial generation is a product of their environment and their environment has always changed daily.

They have lived in a time where the next version of everything was simply around the corner. Have a new IPhone?  The next model is simply six months away with likely updates every month.

The millennials also grew up in a culture where there are no winners and losers.  According to Arnold, “Everyone gets a trophy.” While there is individual recognition, everyone is treated the same. One of the positives is that diversity in the workplace and community is simply not an issue for a millennial.  They do not understand why anyone would make a big deal out of differences.

According to a Reason-Rupe poll, Millennials are entrepreneurial with 55% saying they would like to start their own business and that they believe (61%) that hard work is the key to success.  Millennials also have a positive view of profit and business competition.

When it comes to politics, Millennials believe more strongly in state and local governments, but largely shun party labels.  They care much more deeply about issues than they do candidates.

There is little doubt the next generation of business and community leaders will rewrite the rules when it comes to business and commerce. Studies show that the Millennial Generation needs detailed instructions regarding outcomes. Once provided, get out of the way and let them get it done.

That night after speaking to Brian, I reflected on my encounter with the young business leaders from Hough High and thought about when I was in tenth grade with my life before me.  One of my mentors was the late Senator Bobby Kennedy who was just 42 when he left an unfinished life.

Bobby reminded us, “Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and then the total — all of these acts — will be written in the history of this generation.”

Very soon, America will feel the power of her young people. The millennials are our legacy. Shaped by the experiences and culture of their time with a history that has yet to be written.


August 5, 2014 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Fraternity, Social Causes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber President e-Brief Newsletter 11/09/12

Chamber Members and stakeholders:

Bill Russell

Lake Norman Chamber Member Survey

The campaigns are over, the ballots counted, and the election results are in.  Now it is time to look at the challenges ahead and create action plans to solve the issues related to our economy, taxes, business regulations, healthcare, energy, defense and more! 

In the meantime, if you have not already participated in the Chamber’s 2012 Elected Officials Survey, please do so.  We would like to acknowledge the most “Business Friendly” commissioner in each of the three North Mecklenburg towns.  While their selection does not mean the remaining commissioners are not focused on business, we do want to thank those who really put thought and time into soliciting business feedback on the votes they cast and look out for your particular business.

These votes are confidential and no one will examine individual votes, merely the vote total.  The survey has been emailed to the membership.

Luncheon on Thursday to thank Elected Officials

Join us Thursday, November 15th at River Run Country Club in Davidson as we hear from Mayors Swain, Tarte and Woods on the achievements of their Town’s in 2012 and the look ahead.  We will salute all our elected officials as well as recognize the three (one in each town) who have been voted on by our membership as the most “Business Friendly.”  The cost is $16 for members and is complimentary to our elected officials.  The luncheon is sponsored by EneryUnited.

To register, sign up online with your user name and password or call the Chamber at 704-892-1922.  You can also email Jack Stevens at

Huntersville Bonds Approved

Huntersville’s bond package of transportation, infrastructure, and parks and recreation improvements were approved this week by voters.  The bonds, approved by approximately 66% of the voters, will allow the town to make $30 million in needed improvements.  At a Focus Friday event this fall, newly elected NC House of Representatives member Charles Jeter indicated all of the improvements were critical and the bonds were the least expensive way to pay for them.  The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to endorse the bonds.

Business Works Tuesday November 13, 2012   8:00am -9:30 am

Topic:  Business: What Has You Concerned? 

2012.- It has been a long road. An election year, economic uncertainty, balancing your own budget (never mind the government’s). What has you concerned? November’s BusinessWorks will host a roundtable discussion of Chamber member’s local issues. To participate, please email your concerns by Friday, November 9th to: We will dedicate an eight minute time limit per concern to the top five submitted. If you attended any of the previous panel discussions, you know this format was an overwhelming success!  The program takes place at the Chamber and is sponsored by Boatsman Gillmore Wagner, PLLC,

Sponsorships Now Available for Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo is scheduled for Friday, March 8th at Davidson College Belk Arena.  This year’s event will be chaired by Sharon Simpson, Lynn Marshall, and Bill Russell but we are looking for volunteers who want to help plan and assist with the event.  If you have ideas on how to improve our Expo or just want to help on the event, email Bill Russell at  

In the meantime, we are seeking sponsors for next year‘s event:  The Presenting Sponsors are Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive.  Gold Sponsors are sold.  They are MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital.  We are now seeking Silver and Bronze sponsors.  Download information on Sponsorship Levels and send back the Sponsorship Registration form or call Bill Russell about more information at 704-892-1922.  Sponsorship in the Expo is a great way to promote your business – Let our members tell you why!



Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Vocational Training Program Needs Your Support!

Denise Clark, the Job Coach at Hough High School is seeking local businesses to serve as job sites for the purpose of teaching high school juniors and seniors with disabilities, job skills.  The students attend William A. Hough High School and are in the Occupational Course of Study Program.  The program focuses on job skills development and preparation for post-graduate employment.  To fulfill these requirements, the school partners with local businesses on a weekly basis, for approximately 2 hours, between the hours of 9:30am to 1:45pm.  This unpaid, but valuable work experience, is how you can help us contribute to the success of our students.  Please call or email Denise for more information, or to set up an appointment.  or call 980-344-0514  See the letter link for a more detailed description along with the Vocational Training Agreement.

For what its worth

New False Alarm Code in place for Cornelius Business

This past month, the Town of Cornelius adopted a new code (Chapter 99 Alarm Systems) which it hopes will dramatically reduce false alarms and increase response times by police on actual calls, thereby saving municipal resources. Owners of an alarm will have to register their system with the Town of Cornelius  and pay $10 for a permit every year. Alarm owners 65 and older will have their permit fee waived.

Current alarm system owners will have until Jan. 1, 2013 to apply for and be issued an alarm permit.  I had the chance to speak on this issue this past week, although the public hearing on the matter had passed.  There were three concerns I shared with the Board of Commissioners. 1)  According to the new code, an apartment with one resident is treated the same as a large business which might have as many as 100 employees or more.

It just strikes me that a facility that has as many as 40 different people who could activate an alarm should be treated differently than an apartment dweller.  I realize a response to that scene does not vary between an apartment or a large corporation, but I do believe the circumstances are different.  2) There is a $10 annual fee.  The fee covers the registration of the alarm.  It is quite understandable that the town should cover its costs in setting up the account, and $10 is not a significant amount of money, but once that account is set up… why is there an annual charge?  Like most things in government – does the $10 become $20, the $20 later $50?

3)  Perhaps the biggest concern was the notice.  While it was reported on the Town’s website, published on the agenda, and made many of the papers – few in the business community knew anything about it and none of the larger commercial real estate managers I spoke with who have multi tenants in their buildings.  I told the Town Board that the Lake Norman Chamber supports any measure which expedites response time and protects our homes and businesses.

Looking at this code, it is not an unfair code and certainly a very positive step for the community.  I just think with business input and more wide spread feedback from the town’s stakeholders – it could have been a great code.  I closed my comments letting the town board know there are 803 businesses in the Town of Cornelius and 301 are Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce members.  It is our job to keep you informed and we take seriously our charge to be the voice of business.

Bill Russell, President

November 9, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment