Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Influential Role of Community Engagement in Technology Innovation

 The Influential Role of Community Engagement in Technology Innovation 

This article underscores the crucial role of community participation and investment in underpinning and preserving local innovation economies. It places a particular emphasis on initiatives such as GO Virginia, The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), RAMP, and the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). These organizations, through their facilitation of community engagement, financial resource mobilization, collaborative co-creation, and enactment of supportive policies, substantially reinforce the regional innovation economy, societal cohesion, and overall well-being.

Integration of Specific Initiatives into the Local Innovation Economy

RBTC plays a critical role in fostering a culture of support for innovation and entrepreneurship in the local community. Through its active role in promoting emerging technologies and educational initiatives, it helps cultivate an atmosphere conducive to risk-taking and creative problem-solving.

Mobilizing financial resources for the innovation economy is a cornerstone of initiatives like GO Virginia. This state-funded initiative provides a platform for collaboration between private sector leaders, local government, and higher education institutions, leading to job creation and the promotion of private sector growth.

RAMP, as a technology-focused startup accelerator, exemplifies the promotion of collaborative co-creation and knowledge sharing. It fosters dynamic collaboration among community members, entrepreneurs, researchers, and policymakers, leading to the generation of innovative solutions tailored to local and regional challenges.

VIPA plays an instrumental role in the development of supportive policies and incentives that encourage community participation. Through resources like early-stage capital, strategic consultation, and entrepreneurial support, VIPA helps to empower communities and promote growth in the local innovation economy.

Call to Action

While initiatives such as GO Virginia, RBTC, RAMP, and VIPA are laying the groundwork for a thriving local innovation economy, the broader community's participation is crucial for continued success. Community members are strongly encouraged to invest in the startup community, become actively involved, and participate in various events supported by these organizations. Your contribution, as an integral part of the community, will be instrumental in shaping our future.

The success and sustainability of local innovation economies hinge significantly on active community engagement and investment. Organizations such as GO Virginia, RBTC, RAMP, and VIPA exemplify the transformative power of community participation in fostering a supportive culture, enabling financial resource mobilization, promoting collaboration, and aligning policies with community interests. This paper serves as a call to action, urging all community members to contribute actively to these collective efforts. Together, we can induce lasting change in our local innovation ecosystems and shape a future that benefits us all.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Embracing the Unconquerable: Understanding the Complexities of Change

Human history is filled with transitions, disruptions, and transformations driven by technological advancements. The shift from horse and buggy to cars, gas lamps to electricity, slide rulers to calculators, pen and paper to word processors, and gas-powered vehicles to electric cars change how society functions. While these advancements often bring inarguable benefits, there is often a general reluctance to change. In this paper, we explore the reasons for such reluctance and offer strategies to facilitate smoother transitions. We also discuss the potential impacts of such changes.

Resistance to Technological Change: An Evolutionary Perspective

Technological advancements can increase efficiency and convenience. However, it has been repeatedly observed that individuals and societies resist these shifts. This resistance can be attributed to various factors, including fear of the unknown, loss of control, and disruption of routines.

When Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile, many individuals were skeptical. The horse and buggy were a familiar, controllable, and predictable mode of transport. On the other hand, cars represented an unknown entity, raising fears about safety and reliability. Similarly, the shift from gas lamps to electricity was met with resistance due to concerns about safety, unfamiliarity with the new technology, and disruption of established routines.

Additionally, technological changes often bring a sense of lost control. For example, the transition from pen and paper to word processors was about more than just changing the writing medium. It represented a shift in how individuals interacted with their work, managed their time, and even perceived their roles. With computers came the digital sphere's possibilities and vulnerabilities, making many lose control over their information.

What Role Does Partisanship Play in Technological Changes

Partisanship, or strong political alignment, can significantly impact the acceptance and adoption of technological change. Advancements in highly polarized societies may be viewed through a partisan lens, leading to differing attitudes and resistance levels.

Partisanship can both help and hinder technological change. On the one hand, partisan support or endorsement from influential political figures or parties can bolster the acceptance and promotion of technological advancements. It can provide a platform for advocacy, resources, and policy support, accelerating the implementation and diffusion of new technologies (Clegg, 2017).

An example of positive political influence was the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union fueled a competition to achieve technological superiority. The space race was a direct result of this rivalry, with each superpower vying to be the first to achieve significant milestones in space exploration, such as launching satellites, sending humans to space, and eventually landing on the moon.

The intense partisanship between the two nations served as a catalyst for significant advancements in aerospace technology. Governments on both sides invested heavily in research and development, leading to breakthroughs in rocket propulsion, materials science, computing, and many other fields. The partisanship-driven desire to outpace the opponent resulted in remarkable advancements and laid the foundation for modern space exploration.

On the other hand, partisanship can also create obstacles and resistance to change. Political divisions and ideological differences can lead to skepticism and opposition to innovations supported by rival parties. In such cases, the resistance may be driven by political motivations rather than a genuine evaluation of the technical merits or drawbacks (Clegg, 2017).

An example can be found in climate change and renewable energy in contemporary political debates. The issue of climate change has become highly polarized in many countries, with differing political ideologies and vested interests influencing the policy decisions and public discourse surrounding this topic.

Partisan divisions can sometimes impede the development and implementation of technological solutions to combat climate change. For example, suppose a political party or group is financially aligned with fossil fuel industries. In that case, they may resist policies and investments in renewable energy. The prioritization of short-term economic interests over long-term environmental concerns can hinder the adoption of innovative technologies and impede progress in tackling climate change.

What is the Impact of Technological Change

Change has a profound and multifaceted impact, affecting society as a whole and the lives of individuals. It brings about transformative shifts in various aspects of society, influencing infrastructure, productivity, education, work practices, and even personal identities. However, it is important to consider both the pros and cons of technological change to understand its full impact.

Societal Impact:

The shift from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles exemplifies the transformative power of change on a societal level. This transition revolutionized transportation, leading to the construction of extensive road infrastructure, changes in urban planning, and the emergence of the modern automotive industry. Automobiles brought increased mobility, changed travel patterns, and facilitated the development of suburban areas (Wachs, 1984). While providing convenience and efficiency, these changes also had downsides, such as increased traffic congestion and environmental concerns related to pollution and carbon emissions.

The transition to electricity had a profound impact on domestic life and productivity. It enabled the widespread use of electric appliances, lighting, and machinery, improving living conditions, increasing convenience, and enhancing productivity in various sectors. The availability of electric power transformed industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, leading to significant advancements in production processes (Nye, 1992). However, it also raised concerns about safety, particularly during the early stages of adoption, as people had to adapt to new electrical systems and understand potential risks.

Change has also reshaped educational practices and the nature of work. The shift from slide rulers to calculators and from pen and paper to computers revolutionized how mathematics is taught and performed. Calculators and computers increased computational speed, accuracy, and the ability to handle complex calculations. They facilitated data analysis, streamlined tasks, and transformed how individuals interact with information (Cuban, 1986). However, these changes also raised concerns about over-reliance on technology, the potential loss of manual calculation skills, and the need to adapt to digital platforms and software.

Individual Impact:

Change directly impacts individuals' daily lives, influencing their routines, professional skills, and personal identities. For example, transitioning to electric cars requires individuals to adjust their driving habits, plan for the availability of charging infrastructure, and potentially adopt a new identity as an environmentally conscious consumer. This transition offers benefits such as reduced reliance on fossil fuels, lower carbon emissions, and potential cost savings. However, it also requires adapting to new technologies, understanding charging mechanisms, and potentially overcoming range limitations (Schuitema et al., 2013). Furthermore, individuals may need to acquire new knowledge and skills to maintain and operate electric vehicles, impacting their professional development and employability.

Pros of Technological Change:
  • Increased efficiency and productivity: Advancements often increase efficiency, allowing faster and more accurate completion of tasks and processes. This can lead to higher productivity levels and improved overall performance.
  • Enhanced convenience and quality of life: Innovations frequently aim to provide convenience and improve the quality of life for individuals. From labor-saving devices to digital services, these advancements offer new ways to accomplish tasks, access information, and connect with others.
  • Improved access to information and resources: Technology has made information accessible and available at our fingertips. The internet and digital platforms have democratized knowledge, allowing individuals to access vast amounts of information and resources from anywhere in the world.
Cons of Technological Change:
  • Disruption and adaptation challenges: Technological change often disrupts established routines, processes, and job roles, requiring individuals and organizations to adapt. This can lead to temporary disruptions, resistance, and the need for reskilling or upskilling to navigate the changes effectively.
  • Job displacement and economic inequality: Automation and technological advancements can lead to job displacement in specific sectors as machines and AI systems take over repetitive or routine tasks. This can result in economic inequality and job insecurity if individuals are not adequately prepared for the changing job landscape.
  • Ethical and social implications: Technological change raises ethical considerations, such as privacy concerns, data security, and the impact on social dynamics. Issues related to data privacy, algorithmic biases, and the concentration of power in the hands of technology companies require careful attention and regulation.
Change has a profound impact on society and individuals, bringing both benefits and challenges. Understanding the multifaceted nature of this impact is crucial for navigating transitions effectively, addressing potential drawbacks, and maximizing the benefits of technological advancements. By considering the societal and individual implications, we can shape the trajectory of change to align with our values, priorities, and aspirations.

Can we Overcome Resistance to Change?

Understanding resistance to change is crucial in mitigating its impacts and facilitating successful transitions. Strategies for overcoming resistance often involve education, communication, and a gradual transition process. By addressing concerns, providing information, and allowing individuals to adapt at their own pace, resistance can be minimized, and acceptance can be fostered.

One powerful approach to overcoming resistance is through education and communication. By providing comprehensive information about the nature of technological change, its benefits, and its ethical use, individuals can better understand and dispel fears and uncertainties. For instance, in the early 20th century, public demonstrations were organized to showcase electric lights' safe and effective use. These demonstrations helped alleviate concerns about the safety of electricity and played a crucial role in accelerating its acceptance (Nye, 1992). Similarly, educating the public about the benefits of electric vehicles and the environmental risks associated with fossil fuel reliance can reduce resistance to the transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric cars in contemporary scenarios.

A gradual transition is another effective strategy for overcoming resistance. By introducing new technologies in a phased manner, individuals can adapt at a manageable pace, reducing resistance and facilitating smoother transitions. For example, the gradual introduction of calculators in educational institutions allowed students and teachers to adapt to the new tool slowly, mitigating resistance and incorporating calculators into everyday practice (Cuban, 1986). Similarly, in the context of transitioning to electric cars, providing opportunities for individuals to gradually adapt, such as through the availability of hybrid vehicles, can facilitate acceptance and reduce resistance.

Additionally, it is essential to address the specific concerns and fears that individuals may have regarding the change. Resistance can be minimized by providing reassurance, addressing potential drawbacks, and highlighting the long-term benefits. For instance, when transitioning to electric cars, addressing concerns about range anxiety and the availability of charging infrastructure can help alleviate resistance. Emphasizing the environmental benefits, such as reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality, can also create a more positive perspective and garner support for the transition (Schuitema et al., 2013).

Overcoming Resistance to Change and Fear: Call to Action

To navigate technological transitions effectively and overcome associated fears, the following call to action can be adopted:

1. Education and Communication: Informing people about the nature of change, its benefits, and its ethical use helps dispel fear and uncertainty. Education was pivotal in overcoming initial resistance to electricity and can be equally impactful in promoting AI (Nye, 1992; Rogers, 2003).

2. Gradual Implementation: Gradual integration of new technology, as seen with the calculators' introduction, allows individuals to adapt at a manageable pace, thus reducing resistance. This phased approach can be equally effective with AI (Cuban, 1986).

3. Empowerment: Providing individuals with the tools to understand and engage with new technology can help alleviate the sense of lost control. Empowerment can come through training, resources, or platforms for dialogue (Marakas & Hornik, 1996).

4. Highlighting Benefits: Focusing on the potential benefits of the new technology can create a more positive perspective. For example, emphasizing the environmental benefits of electric cars was instrumental in promoting their acceptance (Schuitema et al., 2013). Similarly, highlighting the potential for AI to increase efficiency and productivity can help garner support (Bughin et al., 2018).

5. Addressing Job-related Concerns: Addressing job-related fears head-on by providing skill upgrade opportunities and demonstrating how AI can complement rather than replace human work can help mitigate resistance (Arntz, Gregory, & Zierahn, 2016).

Overall, overcoming resistance to change requires a combination of education, communication, and a gradual transition process. By providing information, addressing concerns, and allowing individuals to adapt at their own pace, resistance can be reduced, and the acceptance of new technologies can be facilitated.

The Next Chapter of Resistance - Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI, the frontier of current technological progress, is a field that faces its own unique challenges when it comes to resistance. As with previous technological transitions, the introduction of AI is met with various forms of resistance driven by fear of the unknown, loss of control, and potential disruption to jobs and routines (Bughin et al., 2018). The transformative capabilities of AI, mainly its capacity for autonomous decision-making and its potential to replace human jobs, contribute significantly to these concerns (Arntz, Gregory, & Zierahn, 2016).

Fear of the unknown plays a substantial role in resistance to AI. The advancement of AI technology introduces concepts such as machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks that may be unfamiliar and perceived as unpredictable. This lack of understanding can create apprehension and skepticism, as individuals may find it challenging to comprehend the inner workings of AI systems and the implications of their decisions.

Loss of control is another significant factor contributing to resistance. AI's ability to make autonomous decisions and learn from data can lead to concerns about relinquishing control to machines. Individuals may fear the potential consequences of AI systems making critical decisions without human oversight and worry about the potential biases or errors embedded in the algorithms.

Furthermore, the potential disruption to jobs and routines generates substantial resistance. The automation capabilities of AI raise concerns about job displacement and unemployment, particularly in industries where machines can efficiently perform repetitive or rule-based tasks. Workers worry about their future employability and the need to acquire new skills to adapt to the changing job landscape driven by AI technology.


Resistance to change is an inherent part of the human experience when faced with technological transitions. However, by adopting strategies rooted in understanding, gradual implementation, and strategic communication, we can effectively address this resistance and pave the way for a more positive future. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities that require us to apply these strategies with even greater urgency and thoughtfulness.

Understanding the sources of resistance to change is crucial to navigating technological transitions' complexities. Fear of the unknown, loss of control, and concerns about job displacement are common factors that contribute to resistance. By acknowledging and addressing these concerns through education and open dialogue, we can alleviate fears, dispel misconceptions, and foster a deeper understanding of AI's potential benefits.

As we navigate the path forward, embracing AI and technological advancements, we must do so with a commitment to inclusivity, equity, and shared prosperity. This requires concerted efforts from policymakers, industry leaders, educators, and individuals to address the potential risks and ensure that the benefits of AI are accessible to all segments of society. By fostering an environment that encourages collaboration, lifelong learning, and responsible innovation, we can create a future where technology empowers us to tackle the grand challenges of our time and build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Resistance to change is a natural response to technological transitions, but it can be overcome through understanding, gradual implementation, and strategic communication. Embracing the potential of AI and other emerging technologies requires us to apply these strategies with unwavering commitment and foresight. By doing so, we can navigate toward a future that harnesses the transformative power of technology for the betterment of humanity, ensuring that no one is left behind.


Clegg, C. (2017). The Psychology of Change Management. The Psychologist, 30(9), 58-61.

Kosel, J. C. (2002). The Automobile and Society. Transport Reviews, 22(4), 477-496.

Nye, D. E. (1992). Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology. MIT Press.

Marakas, G. M., & Hornik, S. (1996). Passive Resistance Misuse: Overt Support and Covert Recalcitrance in IS Implementation. European Journal of Information Systems, 5(3), 208-219.

Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920. Teachers College Press.

Bughin, J., Hazan, E., Ramaswamy, S., Chui, M., Allas, T., Dahlström, P., Henke, N., & Trench, M. (2018). Artificial Intelligence—The Next Digital Frontier? McKinsey Global Institute.

Arntz, M., Gregory, T., & Zierahn, U. (2016). The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 189, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition. Free Press.

Wachs, M. (1984). Autos, Transit, and the Sprawl of Los Angeles: The 1920s. Journal of the American Planning Association, 50(3), 297-310.

Rosen, E. (2000). The Transformation of Work in the New Economy. Sociological Quarterly, 41(1), 81-103.

Schuitema, G., Anable, J., Skippon, S., & Kinnear, N. (2013). The Role of Instrumental, Hedonic, and Symbolic Attributes in the Intention to Adopt Electric Vehicles. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 48, 39-49.

Chui, M., Manyika, J., & Miremadi, M. (2016). Where machines could replace humans—and where they cannot (yet). McKinsey Quarterly.

Ford, J. D., Ford, L. W., & D'Amelio, A. (2008). Resistance to Change: The Rest of the Story. Academy of Management Review, 33(2), 362-377.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail

I had the privilege of attending a great lecture on the Lost Appalachian Trail, with a special focus on the Meadows of Dan area. The lecture shed light on a forgotten piece of our hiking history. One standout feature was a National Geographic article from 1949! It offers a deep dive into the history of the trail, especially from page 233, which talks about the trail through the Meadows of Dan. If you're interested, you can find the article here:

If this piques your curiosity, you should definitely check out "Virginia's Lost Appalachian Trail" by Mills Kelly. Mills, a history professor at George Mason University, is not only an accomplished historian and a lifelong hiker but also has personal roots in the region - he was born at the old Roanoke Memorial Hospital (now Carilion Clinic) and lived briefly in Franklin County. His book offers an in-depth look at a 300-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that most hikers today still need to remember.

Exploring the Lost Appalachian Trail is such a unique way to connect with our history, culture, and nature. So, why not delve into these resources or even go on a walk on the trail? You never know what fascinating insights you might discover along the way!

#AppalachianTrail #HikingAdventures #HistoryLovers #MillsKelly

Here’s What Happens When Your Lawyer Uses ChatGPT - A cautionary story

From the New York Times -

This incident illustrates AI's potential and limitations in the legal field. While AI technologies like ChatGPT can be powerful tools for aiding in legal research or drafting tasks, it's crucial to remember that they are not infallible and must be used responsibly.

ChatGPT, being a language model, generates responses based on patterns it learned from a large text dataset. However, it doesn't "know" anything in the traditional sense. It doesn't have access to a database of specific documents or cases, and it doesn't have the ability to verify the truth or validity of the information it generates. Hence, it's expected that it would not be able to correctly cite court decisions, as this requires access to a current and specific database of court cases, which it does not have.

It appears that in this situation, the attorney relied on ChatGPT to provide and verify legal information without fully understanding how the technology works or its limitations. This is a cautionary tale for other professionals who may wish to use AI tools in their work. While AI can help automate certain tasks and improve efficiency, it is not a substitute for professional judgment, expertise, or the necessary checks and balances in legal work.

It's also important to note that AI tools, such as ChatGPT, continually evolve and improve, with updates aiming to enhance their reliability and usefulness. I think ChatGPT’s last model update was around September 2021; even the most sophisticated AI tools should not be relied upon for critical tasks without human supervision and verification.

As Stephen Gillers, the legal ethics professor at New York University School of Law, indicates, there is an ongoing debate among lawyers about the value and dangers of AI software. This incident will likely serve as a key example in that debate, highlighting the need for user understanding and caution when using these technologies. It also underscores the importance of continual learning and adaptation in professions like law as new technologies become increasingly prevalent.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Concerns Regarding Lack of 5G Service by Verizon in Roanoke and Lynchburg - Isn't 750,000 Potential Customers Enough?

Federal Communications Commission 

445 12th Street SW 

Washington, D.C. 20554

May 27, 2023

Dear Commissioners,

I hope this message finds you in good health. I am writing to express a serious concern on behalf of the residents of Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia, pertaining to the apparent lack of commitment by Verizon to upgrade its service to 5G in our region.

The transformative potential of 5G technology is no secret. It is understood and eagerly anticipated by consumers and businesses alike. However, in our region, we are yet to experience the benefits of this technology due to the lack of implementation by Verizon, one of the leading telecom providers.

While other areas are making strides toward a technologically advanced future, we find ourselves being left behind. This disparity in services, particularly in an era of such rapid technological progression, is disappointing and detrimental to our communities' social and economic development.

Please allow me to remind the FCC that the bandwidth Verizon and other carriers use for these services comprises public airwaves. As such, we, the public, have a right to voice our concerns regarding how these resources are utilized or in Verizon's case, how they are noticeably absent.

The citizens of Roanoke and Lynchburg are more than mere subscribers; we are stakeholders in this digital landscape and should, therefore, expect more from our telecom providers. This expectation extends beyond the boundaries of customer service to include the provision of advanced and equitable infrastructure.

Therefore, the FCC should call for all major telecom providers utilizing these public airwaves to publish their deployment schedules transparently. This initiative will not only foster accountability but also give the public an understanding of the progress made in providing 5G services.

Furthermore, it would be reasonable for the FCC to consider imposing sanctions on carriers who have held licenses for three or more years and have made no progress in upgrading their services in the areas for which they hold the licenses. A possible sanction could be the forfeiture of the license for the under-served area.

I sincerely hope that the FCC, as a guardian of public interests in the realm of telecommunications, will take our concerns into account and make the necessary interventions. The residents of Roanoke and Lynchburg eagerly await the realization of a 5G future and trust that the FCC will assist us in holding our telecom providers accountable.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Amos

P.O. Box 39

Union Hall, Virginia 24176

cc:  Senator Mark R. Warner 703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

Senator Tim Kaine 231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Representative Morgan Griffith 2202 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Letter and Draft Bill Proposal to Representative Griffith Concerning a Balanced Budget

Dr. William E. Amos
Union Hall, Virginia 24276
May 24, 2023

The Honorable Morgan Griffith
2202 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Griffith,

I am William Amos, a retired high-tech executive living in Union Hall, Virginia. Today, I am writing to express my deep concern about the ongoing budget debates in Congress. As a concerned citizen, I recognize the complexities surrounding this issue and appreciate the diligence you bring to our national deliberations. However, we need to shift our focus to a more structured dialog about spending and planning.

The perpetual gridlock around budget negotiations is concerning. While most states, businesses, and individuals are required to maintain balanced budgets, the Federal Government operates under different rules. This disparity does not align with many Americans' fiscal responsibility expectations.

A budget should be a tool for planning and compromise, a manifestation of strategic thinking that anticipates future needs and contingencies. Yet, our current political climate appears increasingly vulnerable to factional interests, pushing us closer to financial instability and potentially enabling other currencies to become the global benchmark.

Therefore, I propose that we seriously consider the introduction of a bill requiring a balanced budget. This proposal should preserve the essential components of debate and compromise but necessitate that these processes unfold within a defined timeline and follow established rules.

I acknowledge the concerns raised against a balanced budget amendment, namely the need for flexibility during times of war or economic downturn. However, with thoughtful planning and specific provisions for such emergencies, we can address these concerns while upholding fiscal responsibility.

I have drafted an outline for such a bill, which is attached for your consideration. I would appreciate your insight and feedback on this proposal and urge you to consider bringing this issue to the forefront of congressional debate.

Thank you for your service to our country and for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing about the steps you plan to take regarding this crucial issue.


William E. Amos


BILL Proposal

To require a balanced budget for the United States and enact additional budgetary reforms.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the "Federal Balanced Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023".


(a) FINDINGS - The Citizens of the United States find that:

Fiscal responsibility is essential to the economic prosperity of the United States.

A balanced budget will contribute to financial stability and sustainability.

A biennial budget process can improve long-term planning and efficiency in government spending.

(b) PURPOSE - This Act aims to establish requirements for the federal budget to ensure fiscal responsibility by mandating that the United States government not spend more than its projected revenues and by enacting a biennial budget process.


In this Act: (a) The term "fiscal biennium" refers to a two-year period consisting of two consecutive fiscal years. (b) The term "projected revenues" refers to the total expected incoming revenue for the United States for a given fiscal biennium, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates. (c) The term "budget outlays" refers to the planned government spending for a fiscal biennium. (d) The term "deficit spending" refers to the amount by which spending exceeds revenue over a particular period, typically a fiscal biennium.


(a) The United States shall not engage in deficit spending. (b) Any debts incurred to cover deficits in the revenue of the United States must be repaid within the next fiscal biennium. (c) Debts incurred to cover deficits shall be at most 1.15% of the total projected revenues for any fiscal biennium.


(a) Beginning with the fiscal biennium following the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit a budget for each fiscal biennium to Congress. (b) Congress shall only adjourn or recess once a balanced budget for the fiscal biennium is enacted.


(a) Revenue estimates shall be carefully calculated and agreed upon by the President and Congress. (b) If, during a fiscal biennium, the Congressional Budget Office projects that total revenues for the fiscal biennium will be less than total budget outlays for the fiscal biennium, the President shall submit a revised budget to Congress within 30 days. (c) The revised budget must reduce outlays to ensure they stay within projected revenues.


(a) A 'Rainy Day Fund' will be established, into which a certain percentage of surplus revenue shall be deposited in years of economic growth to offset potential future budget shortfalls. (b) The specifics of the 'Rainy Day Fund', including the percentage of surplus to be deposited, the conditions under which funds can be withdrawn, and the management of the Fund, will be determined by Congress.


(a) If a balanced budget is not enacted by October 1 of the first year of the fiscal biennium, an automatic reduction of budget outlays will occur, starting at 5% and increasing by 1% each week until a balanced budget is passed. (b) In the event of such a reduction, the President shall take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that the United States does not default on its debt obligations, consistent with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.


(a) Congress acknowledges that entitlement programs, including but not limited to Social Security and Medicare, represent significant financial obligations. (b) To ensure the long-term financial stability of these programs, Congress shall review and consider reforms such as adjusting the retirement age, revising benefit structures, or altering taxation structures as it pertains to these programs but shall cause no harm to current retirees or individuals eligible for retirement within the next five years of the signing of this bill.


(a) A Bipartisan Budget Reform Commission is hereby established. (b) The Commission shall consist of members of Congress, private sector experts, and representatives from interest groups, with an equal number of members from both major political parties. (c) The Commission shall study the federal budget deficit, explore opportunities for budget reform, and submit a report to Congress with its recommendations. (d) Congress shall consider the recommendations of the Commission in its budget deliberations.


(a) Congress proposes a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, which shall be forwarded to the states for ratification per Article V of the Constitution.


This Act shall apply to the budget for the fiscal biennium beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Start-up Comparison: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform

Organizations across the globe are leveraging cloud computing to streamline operations, innovate, and deliver superior value to customers. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) have emerged as the three leading cloud computing platforms, each offering various services encompassing compute, storage, networking, databases, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Each platform has unique strengths, benefits, and weaknesses, and understanding these is crucial to making an informed decision that aligns with organizational goals. The decision can significantly impact factors such as the organization's technical ability, go-to-market (GTM) strategies, and the robustness of its partner network. It’s essential to consider your long-term strategy due to switching cost. Even with a robust multi-cloud container strategy, switching costs may be high if your organization leverages one of the native services these vendors offer, so do your homework.
When selecting a cloud provider, organizations often consider factors like technical capability, cost, implementation support, and, if you are a partner, go-to-market (GTM) opportunities. Each component is unique, so your weighting may be different. A note of warning, if you are a partner and expect any of these organizations to put your product on their price list and sell for you – walk away from the light now. It’s not going to happen. Most of these organizations will offer compelling joint marketing opportunities, events, and write-ups. Still, unless you have a product like ChatGPT, you are likely just one of many they are partnering with, so set your expectation accordingly. At the end of the day, all of these organizations want customers and partners to help them increase usage. This is how they make money, and they need to be paid for bringing this innovation to market, so think about what you want out of the relationship and if it is realistic.

Below are thoughts on each platform (the listings are in alphabetical order – not order of preference).

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS is the most mature platform in the cloud computing space, given its early market entry. AWS's comprehensive range of services and robust GTM strategies have allowed it to maintain its position as a market leader.

Technical Highlights

AWS is a comprehensive cloud platform that offers a plethora of services, including:

  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for scalable computing
  • Simple Storage Service (S3) for robust storage
  • Relational Database Service (RDS) for managed relational databases
  • AWS Lambda for serverless computing
  • AWS CodeStar for application development and deployment
  • Amazon CloudFront for content delivery
  • Amazon Route 53 for domain name resolution
  • Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) for messaging
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) for queuing
  • Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF) for workflow orchestration
AWS is a practical choice for organizations of all sizes looking to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud. It offers a wide range of services that can be used to build, deploy, and manage various applications and services.


  • Extensive Range of Services: AWS's service offering is the most comprehensive, which covers compute, storage, networking, databases, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
  • Strong Partner Network: AWS's partner network, including independent software vendors (ISVs), system integrators (SIs), and managed service providers (MSPs), is well-established and diverse.
  • Good GTM Strategy: AWS invests heavily in marketing and sales, consistently introduces new services and features, and has an extensive sales force.


  • Cost: AWS can be more expensive than its competitors, particularly for certain services.

AWS offers many compelling services, and its technical staff is good in the initial presale phases through implementation. They are slightly ahead of Azure in terms of implementation and ongoing support. I’ve been amazed at how far AWS has come in creating compelling GTM offerings for its partners and customers. They have become an aggressive ecosystem player.

Microsoft Azure

Azure, the fastest-growing cloud computing platform, capitalizes on its integration capabilities with Microsoft's suite of products. Its GTM strategies focus on large enterprises and government agencies, sectors traditionally comfortable with Microsoft products.

Technical Highlights

Azure is notable for its seamless integration with Microsoft's on-premises products like Windows Server, SQL Server, and Active Directory. Other Azure services include:
  • Azure Virtual Machines for on-demand, scalable computing resources
  • Azure Blob Storage for scalable cloud object storage
  • Azure SQL Database for managed, intelligent SQL in the cloud
  • Azure App Service for building and deploying web and mobile applications
  • Azure Functions for running event-triggered code
  • Azure Machine Learning for building and deploying machine learning models
  • Azure Data Factory for building and managing data pipelines
  • Azure Data Lake Analytics for processing large-scale data sets
  • Azure Data Science Virtual Machine for building and deploying data science models
Azure is a comprehensive cloud platform that can be used to build, deploy, and manage various applications and services. It is a practical choice for organizations of all sizes looking to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud.

  • Microsoft Product Integration: Azure's seamless integration with Microsoft's on-premises products like Windows Server, SQL Server, and Active Directory offers a smooth transition to the cloud for existing Microsoft customers.
  • Partner Network: Azure maintains a broad partner network, similar to AWS, that includes ISVs, SIs, and MSPs.
  • Innovation: Azure prioritizes innovation, continually introducing new services and features.
  • Maturity: While rapidly growing, Azure does not match the maturity of AWS in terms of the breadth of services and market presence, but they are making good strides.
  • Specific Target Market: Azure's GTM strategies primarily focus on large enterprises and government agencies. Microsoft has excellent start-up programs, but over the years, their focus is shifting to larger players.
Microsoft wrote the book on developing an ecosystem. This is a no-brainer if you are a Microsoft shop looking for solid integration with their on-premise offerings. If your organization already has a comprehensive Enterprise Agreement, this may be another consideration. You can expect outstanding standing presale support in terms of implementation and ongoing support, but much of the implementation is done by their partner network. Usually good, but your mileage may vary. I’ve had good and bad experiences.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Thanks to its innovative services and a strong focus on open-source technologies, GCP is gaining traction as the newest entrant.

Technical Highlights

GCP prioritizes open-source technologies, and its services include:
  • Google Compute Engine for high-performance virtual machines
  • Google Cloud Storage for unified object storage
  • Google Cloud SQL for managed relational databases
  • Google BigQuery for petabyte-scale analytics
  • Google Data Studio for data visualization
  • GCP also offers a wide range of other services, such as:
  • Google Kubernetes Engine for container orchestration
  • Google Cloud Functions for serverless computing
  • Google Cloud Dataproc for big data processing
  • Google Cloud Dataflow for streaming data processing
  • Google Cloud AI Platform for machine learning
GCP is a practical choice for organizations of all sizes looking to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud. It offers a wide range of services that can be used to build, deploy, and manage various applications and services.

  • Open Source Focus: GCP's priority for open-source technologies makes it ideal for organizations keen on leveraging open-source solutions.
  • Good Partner Network: GCP also boasts a robust partner network, including ISVs, SIs, and MSPs.
  • Customer Success Focus: GCP dedicates substantial resources to ensure customer success with various programs and support mechanisms.
  • Newness: As the newest platform, GCP lacks the widespread adoption of AWS and Azure.
  • Niche Market: Similar to GCP's go-to-market strategy primarily focuses on startups. While they are focusing more on larger enterprises, GCP lacks many of the GTM and ecosystem components that Microsoft and Azure have.
Decision Matrix

To aid in the decision-making process, the following matrix outlines AWS, Azure, and GCP across seven key criteria: Innovation, Cost, Maturity, GTM Strategy, Partner Network, Initial Support, and Ongoing Support. The matrix serves as a general guideline and should be adjusted based on the organization's specific needs. The scores range from one to five, with five being the best.

Case Studies

To provide a real-world perspective, let's consider three case studies.

  • A finance company chose Azure primarily because of its seamless integration with existing Microsoft products, which it has already used extensively. This integration allowed for a smooth transition to the cloud. Azure's robust security features, crucial for a finance company dealing with sensitive data, were also a deciding factor.
  • A healthcare organization opted for AWS due to its maturity and extensive range of services, including those specifically geared toward healthcare providers. AWS's HIPAA-eligible services and strong data encryption capabilities ensured this organization could meet its regulatory compliance needs.
  • A Supply Chain Management start-up focused on analytics selected Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as their platform of choice. GCP's robust analytics tools and commitment to open-source technologies made it an ideal choice for a start-up specializing in analytics. They were able to leverage GCP's BigQuery for real-time analytics and Cloud Pub/Sub for real-time messaging, allowing them to offer innovative services to their customers.

Future Trends

The cloud computing industry is continuously evolving. AWS, Azure, and GCP are constantly innovating to improve their services and offerings. Trends such as edge computing, serverless computing, and AI integrations are expected to shape the future of these platforms. Therefore, organizations must stay abreast of these developments when choosing their cloud platform.


The best cloud computing platform for an organization will depend on its unique needs, including the types of services required, the size and complexity of the organization, budget, technical expertise, future plans, and GTM if you are a partner. Therefore, organizations should carefully evaluate each platform to ensure it can effectively fulfill their needs and requirements.

The Decision Matrix presented in this paper outlines AWS, Azure, and GCP across seven key criteria: Innovation, Cost, Maturity, GTM Strategy, Partner Network, Initial Support, and Ongoing Support. This matrix, combined with the case studies and insights into future trends, aims to facilitate informed decision-making for organizations navigating the complex landscape of cloud computing platforms.

Finally, all three platforms are excellent in their own right, so it's essential to do your homework upfront due to the high switching costs involved. This paper underscores the importance of securing everything you need, from defined technical assistance with milestones to GTM strategies with dates, stated outcomes, and robust implementation KPIs defined before signing a contract. Failure to do so may cause buyer's remorse later. As the choice of a cloud computing platform is critical in today's digital landscape, I hope this paper will serve as a helpful guide for your organization.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Coming Disintermediation of ESPN

The way we consume sports is evolving rapidly, shaped by technological advances, changes in consumer behavior, and shifts in the broader media landscape. Amid this flux, the potential emergence of a direct-to-consumer model in college sports stands out as a trend of particular significance, with profound implications for all stakeholders in the industry (PwC, 2021).

As more and more colleges and conferences explore new revenue options, the direct-to-consumer model is emerging as a disruptive force that could reshape the sports media landscape. This shift may disrupt the roles of established networks like ESPN, ESPN+, the ACC Network, the Big 10 Network, and the SEC Network, which have traditionally served as intermediaries between colleges and their fans.

A report from PwC highlighted the growing trend of disintermediation in media and entertainment, pointing to the increasing control creators have over the distribution of their content (PwC, 2021). In college sports, this could translate to colleges bypassing traditional networks to establish direct relationships with their fans, creating personalized viewer experiences, and monetizing their content more effectively.

This trend is already taking shape in other sports. Front Office Sports reported that some high school basketball teams have begun experimenting with direct-to-consumer broadcasts (Front Office Sports, 2023). These early adopters are trailblazing a path that colleges may soon follow.

However, a shift of this magnitude will likely take 10 to 20 years, given the complexities involved and the long-term contracts many colleges have with traditional broadcasters. Despite this, the long-term trajectory is pointing towards more significant disintermediation and the colleges, conferences, and networks that can adapt to this change will be best positioned to thrive in the future sports broadcasting landscape.  Let me put it another way, the organizations that understand how to market and sell their product will win – just like 99% of the goods sold in America today.  In essence, start thinking today about your marketing campaign and how you are going to build your digital sales force or agency.

For traditional networks like ESPN and others, the implications of this shift could be significant. To maintain their relevance and value proposition, they may need to pivot towards becoming platforms for aggregated content from various colleges in a direct-to-consumer services model or seek partnerships with existing streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and YouTube. They may need to redefine their roles in a landscape where content is king, and they no longer have exclusive control over the content.  The name of the game will be subscriptions to content and advertising – not massive 20-year TV deals.

In this new era, smaller colleges or those without the resources to establish their platforms could find value in partnering with larger streaming providers or aggregating their content. This will allow them to enjoy the benefits of a direct-to-consumer model, such as a closer relationship with fans and a larger revenue share, without the need for substantial upfront investment based on a more aggressive revenue-sharing model.

As we move towards a more disintermediated future, the power of a brand will become increasingly important. A compelling brand, whether the Green Bay Packers in the NFL or the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia, can maintain a global fan base despite being in smaller markets (Harvard Business Review, 2022).  These facts weaken the network's “market size” debate.  Moving forward, size doesn’t matter; brand recognition and reach are the primary drivers.

Transitioning to a direct-to-consumer model has challenges, including substantial investments in infrastructure, content production, marketing, and navigating a complex regulatory landscape. However, the potential rewards - increased revenue channels, deeper fan engagement, and more control over content – may make it a journey worth considering.


Front Office Sports. (2019). BallerTV.  Retrieved from

Harvard Business Review. (2022). Building your own Digital Brand. Retrieved from

PwC. (2021). US edition: Entertainment & Media Outlook 2022-2026


Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Needed Renaissance of AM Radio: A Confluence of Social, Regulatory, and Technical Revitalization

 The Needed Renaissance of AM Radio: A Confluence of Social, Regulatory, and Technical Revitalization

AM radio, a pioneering force in broadcast communications, has been an essential medium for disseminating information and entertainment for several decades. However, its appeal has been progressively diminishing due to social, regulatory, and technical challenges. Nevertheless, this scenario presents an opportunity for a significant revival.

The decline of AM radio can be traced back to significant changes in content, notably the reduction in locally focused programming. Many AM station owners made strategic decisions to move away from content that directly catered to local communities, often replacing local news, events, and issue discussions with syndicated programming. These changes left a void of locally relevant content, reducing listeners' connection with stations.

The Federal Communications Commission's abolition of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 exacerbated the situation. This doctrine, which required broadcasters to present contrasting views on controversial issues of public importance, ensured a balanced discourse on the airwaves. Its repeal led to increased broadcasts favoring extreme political views, either heavily liberal or conservative. While this trend may have appealed to specific audience segments, it risked alienating listeners seeking balanced discourse.

Compounding these programming shifts, religious content on the AM band has considerably increased. While serving an essential audience, the sheer volume of these broadcasts reduced the variety and balance of programming, possibly leading potential listeners to turn away. 

There are also technical hurdles beyond the social and regulatory issues. AM radio suffers from lower audio quality and higher interference susceptibility than FM and digital platforms. It can disrupt listening experiences.

The way forward for AM radio lies in addressing these challenges head-on, beginning with a comprehensive reevaluation of programming strategies. Stations must reclaim local relevance by providing content that caters directly to local communities. This can be achieved by restoring local news and events coverage and providing a platform for local voices and issues.

The content balance also needs to be addressed. Stations should strive for a fair representation of varying political views, ensuring their broadcasts do not skew overwhelmingly toward one political ideology. Furthermore, while religious programming fulfills a vital need, maintaining a balance with other types of content can broaden the appeal of AM radio.

The next critical step towards rejuvenating AM radio is to embrace technological advancements. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) offers a promising solution. DRM operates on existing AM bands but provides superior audio quality, comparable to FM, and is more resilient to interference.

The transition to DRM, however, necessitates a significant investment from station owners in new transmission equipment and DRM-capable receivers. While the upfront costs are considerable, the long-term benefits of audience reach and satisfaction could make the investment worthwhile.

Another technical solution lies in optimizing signal coverage. Modern signal processing techniques and advanced transmitter designs can improve signal strength consistency across the service area. Additionally, better frequency spectrum management and eliminating clear channel privileges go a long way to solving many of our problems.

Furthermore, stations should continue integrating AM radio with digital platforms like internet streaming that can help AM stations reach global audiences. This move would particularly resonate with the digital natives who are used to accessing content on-demand on their digital devices but, once again, focus on local content.  If you continue to put garbage content in your feed, you will suffer the same fate, and no one will care.

While the current state of AM radio may seem precarious, its potential for revival is significant. Its challenges are undeniably considerable, spanning social, regulatory, and technical domains. However, these challenges also present opportunities for transformation and innovation.

Revitalizing AM radio necessitates a concerted effort from stakeholders to recognize the importance of their involvement. Station owners must take the lead in reevaluating programming strategies and prioritizing local relevance. This may require investments in talent, resources, and community engagement initiatives. Stations can rebuild personal connections by providing content that reflects the local community's interests, concerns, and diversity.

Moreover, regulatory bodies and policymakers can play a crucial role in supporting the revitalization of AM radio. Policy changes that promote diversity, balance, and local programming can create a favorable environment for stations to thrive. Incentives and support programs can encourage stations to invest in new technologies like DRM while fostering partnerships between broadcasters and local communities.

Financial support from local communities and advertisers is equally vital. Recognizing the value of AM radio as a platform that serves essential needs, such as local, regional, and national emergency communication, communities can contribute through sponsorships, donations, and active engagement. Advertisers, too, should recognize the potential of AM radio as an effective advertising medium, especially when paired with engaging and relevant programming.

Looking ahead, it's important to acknowledge that the challenges and discussions surrounding AM radio are not isolated to this medium alone. FM radio, as another essential broadcast platform, may face similar content-related issues in the near future, so it’s important to take a hard look in the mirror today if you are a radio owner. 

Rejuvenating AM radio requires collaboration, innovation, and investment from various stakeholders. By addressing the underlying failures in content diversity, technical limitations, and community engagement, AM radio, in general, can reclaim some of its relevance and serve as a valuable medium for information, entertainment, and local connection.

The potential benefits of revitalizing AM radio are significant for listeners and stakeholders. AM radio can provide a distinct and vital voice in the media landscape, offering local perspectives, diverse programming, and a reliable platform during emergencies. To seize this opportunity and secure the future of AM radio, stakeholders must act decisively, embrace change and work together to create a thriving broadcasting ecosystem.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Running Down a Dream - RBTC Technite Keynote

Today we live in an era of remarkable technological wonders, a unique intersection between history and the future. Advancements are not just changing our world; they are reshaping it faster than we ever imagined possible. 

Growing up, some of you may have watched cartoons like The Jetsons.  Jane would talk to her friends using telepresence devices.  George traveled to Spacely Sprockets on a self-flying device, and they had a robot named Rosie who helped around the house.  

Fast forward 40 years and many of us use Zoom or Teams for telepresence; chances are your car has many self-driving features (not quite there yet, but getting closer), you probably have a Roomba that is vacuuming your office as we speak, and chances are a BOT answered several questions or perform functions for you that you are unaware of.

If you look around the region, consider the self-driving trucks developed by TORC or the extraordinary advancements in healthcare championed by organizations like Tiny Cargo. These innovations are not mere flashes in the pan; they herald a new age of relentless transformation.

So where does the rest of Region 2 of Virginia fit into this era of rapid change and progress? We stand uniquely poised to seize opportunities in burgeoning market segments like Healthcare, High Tech Manufacturing, and Transportation, including Autonomy, IT, and Agriculture. We should take immense pride in our journey thus far. 

But let me remind you: the journey is far from over. We must maintain our thirst for progress, our hunger for what lies ahead.

The Lynchburg-Roanoke-Blacksburg region, led by the transformative efforts of organizations like Verge, RBTC, Go Virginia, and RAMP, is poised to step boldly into a future defined by innovation, intellect, and a community that thrives on diversity. We stand on the cusp of a thrilling epoch, transitioning from our sturdy industrial roots toward the infinite frontiers of technology.

Take a moment to imagine what the world would have been like if Xerox had realized that the future wasn’t in copiers but in the innovations emerging from the Palo Alto Research Center — world-changing innovations like the Graphical User Interface, devices like the Mouse and modern networking equipment. Without Xerox's short-sightedness, we may not have had companies like Apple and Cisco.  Or consider if IBM had perceived that the future was not the mainframe but the personal computer. Where would Microsoft and Intel be today? Imagine if GOSSIP had been selected as the networking protocol of choice over TCP/IP. We may not have had the Internet as we know it today.  

And, let's not forget the conversation that reshaped our local landscape – what if Charlie Steger, Ray Smoot, Minnis Ridenour, Nancy Agee, and Ed Murphy had not brainstormed about creating the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School?  We wouldn’t have VTC, FBRI, or JLabs in the region. 

The situations mentioned above were not mere hypotheticals; they sparked a revolution of innovation, facilitating exploration, innovation, and shaping the future.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our local visionaries like Venode Chachra, Marty Muscotello, Jay Foster, Russ Ellet, Michael Fleming, Greg Feldman, Kevin Bloomfield, John Heigmeyer, Henry Bass, Bonz Hart, and many more. These individuals dared to be different. They seized the opportunity to lead, dream, and shape our region's destiny.

A new generation of leaders is rising, ready to leave their mark. Leaders like Kim Snyder, Eric Hanson, Amy White, Jason Cline, Joe Nichols, Erin Burchum, Rob Goudie, and Spencer Marsh. Their audacity of vision and courage of conviction will undoubtedly propel us into a prosperous future.

Focusing on innovation clusters like Healthcare, Transportation, high-tech manufacturing, and IT creates a vibrant technology community. We are fortunate to have institutions in Region 2 at the forefront of this charge, including Radford University, Frain Biomedical Institute, Virginia Tech, The VTC, Hollins, Liberty University, University of Lynchburg, Roanoke College, Ferrum, Sweet Briar University, Randolph University, Virginia Western, Central Virginia, New River Valley, and Mountain Gateway Community colleges. New startups like Tiny Cargo, IWT, Kalvaris, Itus, Fermi, Mova, and Code One are emerging, each a lighthouse of hope illuminating a path toward a brighter future.

But remember, as we navigate this journey, the true strength of our region lies in our people. We must cultivate an environment of inclusivity, as organizations like WOTEC (Women in Technology) and Blacks in Technology are doing. The diversity of our people is our strength, amplifying our impact on the global stage.

Now, as we move forward, let's honor the pioneers of the past, celebrate their triumphs, and learn from their journeys. They dared to dream, took calculated risks, and laid the groundwork for the success we relish today.  

But what makes people and organizations great?

As a lifelong learner and student of leadership, I've spent considerable time studying leaders' journeys. I've identified unique traits that set these individuals and companies apart: leadership, vision, innovation, communication, empathy, confidence, accountability, empowerment, and integrity. These are not just words; they form the bedrock of any successful organization.

  • Leadership is about inspiring, motivating, and guiding others toward a shared vision. It's vital in steering our complex world, driving innovation and growth. It's important to remember that leadership isn't a one-size-fits-all solution; it's dynamic, adapting to the stage of development a company is experiencing.

  • A clear vision is like a compass in a ship, providing direction, aligning efforts, and propelling the team toward a common goal. Without a vision, a leader is like a ship adrift, aimlessly wandering in the vast ocean of possibilities.

  • Innovation is the catalyst that keeps us ahead of the competition. It's about finding novel ways to solve problems, reach goals, and think outside the box. It's about embracing change, not clinging to traditional methods.

  • Effective communication and empathy are the building blocks of robust relationships within a team. A great leader is an adept listener, valuing the input and concerns of team members.

  • Confidence, accountability, empowerment, and integrity round out the traits that define a great leader. 

These traits aren't just the icing on the cake; they're the ingredients that make it itself.

Great leaders like Phillip and Caren Merrick, who revolutionized business-to-business communication at webMethods, are found at every business level and industry. Local leaders like Nancy Agee demonstrated the transformative power of compassionate leadership at Carilion Clinic. Dr. Michael Friedlander at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute is shaping the future of biomedical research and education.

And let’s not forget Bonz Hart, whom we will remember tonight as we award the first Bonz Hart Scholarship. Bonz was a leader whose impact has been truly transformative. An individual is unafraid to take risks and who strove to build a strong corporate culture, fostering employee development and teamwork. His exceptional qualities led to his company's success, the trust of his shareholders, and his enduring legacy as a respected figure in the business world.

Bonz, Phillip, Nancy, and Mike demonstrate that leadership is not confined to a single style or approach but a dynamic and evolving process.

As we stand on the precipice of a new era, we need leaders who can navigate the shifting landscapes of business, technology, and society. Leaders who can foster a culture of innovation and risk-taking, inspire and motivate, understand the value of diversity and inclusion, and are prepared to invest in the future. As our region continues to grow and evolve, we need leaders capable of guiding today's businesses and ready to steer tomorrow's startups.

The future is bright but won't be without its challenges. We will need to tackle issues like workforce development, infrastructure, and access to capital. We must foster a culture of lifelong learning, ensuring our workforce is equipped with the skills required for the jobs of the future. We must invest in infrastructure, ensuring our region remains attractive for businesses and residents. And we need to ensure that our startups have access to the capital they need to grow and thrive.

To the budding entrepreneurs among us, I say this: Dream big. Embrace challenges. Take risks. Be resilient. The path to success is often not a straight line but a journey filled with twists and turns, hurdles, and triumphs. But remember, every setback is an opportunity for a comeback.

To our educators,  I say: Continue to inspire. Continue to instill curiosity. Continue to foster creativity. Our future leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs are sitting in your classrooms. You have the power to ignite their imaginations, to empower them to dream and strive for greatness.

To our established business community, I implore you: Remain open to change. Embrace new technologies. Invest in our people. Your leadership will set the tone for our region's economic future.

As we close out tonight, I'm reminded of an old proverb that goes something like this, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

We are on this journey together, and only together can we ensure a prosperous future for our region. We have a community rich in talent, creativity, and resilience. Let's leverage these strengths. Let's chart a course for a prosperous, innovative, and successful future.

We can do this inch by inch, step by step, mile by mile, and dollar for dollar - Let’s go far TOGETHER.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives: Has it Been 45 Years Already?

Reflections Have you ever flipped through an old yearbook, the faded photos and handwritten messages transporting you back to a simpler time...