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Jan 20 2016

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A Leadership Bonding Day

This morning, two days before the storm of the year is supposed to hit D.C., I had an early morning breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., with a small group of other trade association executives. We gather every quarter to compare notes and hear from a compelling speaker. Our industries vary greatly—from rural broadband to the distilled spirits to the confectioner’s association. (Notice that I noted the “fun” groups. There are still others like the land title folks, the stone and gravel associations, etc. that are involved. Not that they aren’t fun, but it’s always easy to talk to the folks who pitch advocacy for alcohol and candy.)

Today, our quarterly meeting was focused on the upcoming 2016 federal elections and trends and intelligence shared by the chamber of commerce. Obviously, there are still so many unknown variables in this race that it has been tough, even for those who make a living making political predictions, to project where some of the races will head, particularly at the presidential level. But I did find some of the observations interesting, including the concept that increased connectivity is needed and valued. Good policy leads to good politics, which leads back to good policies. However, easier said than done, given how few legislators have lately been rewarded for governing from “the middle.” It was also interesting to hear the pundits talk about the “old world” vs. “new reality” in running elections, with the increased focus on the role that social media plays. However, I will note that some things do not change—all politics are still local, even with the ability to make the world smaller.

Since consuming food was clearly on my mind today, I had lunch with the interim head of NRECA, our brethren in the electric cooperative industry. Jo Ann Emerson, the past CEO of NRECA, has been recovering for several months after a medical emergency and will sadly not be returning to the organization. Aside from my personal respect and friendship with Jo Ann, I am sorry to see a (hopefully only) temporary hiatus of efforts to really find paths to partnerships between rural broadband providers and their electric counterparts to bring broadband to those areas served (which means unserved) by larger carriers or even on other economic development initiatives. However, I think the world of the leadership that remains in place at NRECA and will continue to work to make these discussions a priority. I’ll have 24 hours on the ground at the NRECA annual meeting in February when I travel down for the NRTC board meeting held there, and hope to continue to have opportunities to share why partnerships can be so valuable.

I wonder what’s for dinner tonight?


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