Russell’s Ramblings

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

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

Put me in Coach

USC Coach Steve Spurrier with Bill Russell

The word “coach” means different things to different people.  To the athlete, it is the person who pushes them to perform at their very best.  The coach motivates and inspires the athlete to operate at peak performance, often in the framework of a team, but on occasion, in an individual effort.  These special advisors are no different than the business coach who works with individuals to discover untapped talents, to achieve goals and objectives, once thought unobtainable without their counsel. 

People at the top of their game, the best in their profession, still need a coach.  Some might be surprised that the greatest golfer in our lifetime, Tiger Woods, still has a coach that pushes him to be the very best. No one reaches the top on their own – often you need a successful network and perhaps many different mentors and coaches for you to be the very best you can be.

Bill Walton

Recently, I was in Washington, D.C. attending a legislative conference with the U.S. Chamber and meeting with our federal delegation.  Past Lake Norman Chamber Chairman John Hettwer and I saw a poster that indicated that former NBA player Bill Walton was speaking on Technology and Innovation, and we decided to attend.  Walton met John and I at the door and the event organizer took note of the name tag I was wearing when he said, “It’s not every day we have Bill Walton and Bill Russell in the same room.”  I’ve become accustomed to the kidding I get bearing that famous name.  I often retort back, “I’m sure the former Boston Celtic ‘Bill Russell’ gets his fair share of being mixed up with the nationally renowned chamber executive.”  Well, perhaps not, but if the NBA Russell is a legend, I’m at least a legend in my own mind.

Walton had some great advice that he shared with us that afternoon. Much of it was lessons taught by his mentor and UCLA Bruin coach, the legendary John Wooden. Walton reminded each of us, “It’s the skill, timing and position not the size and strength that counts.”  He also shared, “it’s not how high you jump – but when” and perhaps one of his better gems “never mistake activity for achievement.”  

Coach Ray Parlier with incoming S.C. State Jaycee President Bill Russell

As I listened to the words of Bill Walton, I could not help but think of the mentors that have served me so well over my career.  I am fortunate to have had a business coach, a political coach, and a spiritual coach.  However, one that perhaps made the most impact on the field I have chosen is Coach Ray Parlier.  Ray was the Athletic Director of Furman University and a Past State President of the South Carolina Jaycees.  Parlier was a former football trainer that rose through the ranks to become a driving force in Furman’s national championship run in the late 1980’s.

“Coach” would have me placing little sticky notes on the refrigerator and the bedroom and bathroom mirrors with goals he expected us to obtain – and obtain them we did.  Those reminders, which I once thought unobtainable, became my focus.  Ray was my first coach who pushed me past self-imposed barriers to reach my potential.  Perhaps his greatest advice in leading a non-profit, whether a chamber of commerce or a civic organization, was simply to “love your people.”  Before you can lead them, you have to show them that you care.

Political Advisor Charlie Madsen

My life has been full of mentors – Charlie, Chip, Ray, Joni, Dad and the list goes on and on. I can think of no greater reward for anyone than having made a difference in someone else’s life… helping them chip away the stone to unveil the beautiful statue within. Bill Walton closed that afternoon with a line that Wooden impressed on the young men that he led to their countless national championships, “Make each day your masterpiece.”  The Lake Norman region is our canvas, painted each day by the countless numbers who call this community home. Painted not by a single artist but all those whose dreams are bigger than their visions, and their actions – which are louder than their words.

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment