The Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & EXPO's final full day of events was packed with industry and motivational speakers, important association business sessions and a rocking banquet celebration that closed out the historic meeting.
Sheldon Peterson, chief executive officer of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, kicked off the Closing General Session with an address about rural electric coop's reliance on broadband as they implement smart grid applications in rural communities. Peterson commended NTCA for leading efforts to create smart rural communities with broadband-enabled applications and encouraged NTCA members to coordinate with electricity providers in their communities to enable greater use of telehealth and modern utility monitoring.
Inspirational author and speaker Sally Hogshead kept the crowd engaged with a talk on what she calls "the art of fascination," a scientific system to influence others based on each person's brain's hardwired patterns. Attendees were instructed to take a short "fascination" test, and Hogshead revealed the results of those tests during her speech, sharing with the audience how their own personality traits can be better leveraged to improve relationships with coworkers, employees and customers. Hogshead's lively presentation was filled with examples from her work with clients including Nike, Coca-Cola and MINI Cooper.
During the NTCA Business Session, NTCA members received an update on the association's strong financial standing and conducted two votes to make changes to the organization's bylaws and to unify with longtime partner OPASTCO. NTCA members voted to support both the bylaws changes and unification. With those votes, commercial company members of NTCA will now have an equal opportunity to vote along with co-op members, and the organization will be restructured to six regions (from the current 10) by 2015.
The meeting wrapped up with a banquet dinner, during which several NTCA members received awards. Paul Berg , chief plant officer for Dakota Central Telecommunications (Carrington, N.D.), received the Key Employee Award. David Smith, a combination technician from Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative (Circle, Mont.), received the Heroism Award for his selfless acts during a series of near-fatal car crashes. O'Neal Miller, Jr., chief executive of financial operations for Horry Telephone Cooperative (Conway, S.C.), received the Management Achievement Award. And Harry Thomas, board member and president at Venture Communications (Highmore, S.D.), received the Director Life Achievement Award. David Herron, chief executive officer and general manager of West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (Abbeville, S.C.), received the Manager Life Achievement Award.