As we begin the next iteration of Innovate Carolina, I want to communicate just a few things to our broader group regarding who we are, our purpose for being here and our plan forward.  On the heels of our very successful Innovate Carolina Conference, I’m honored to assume the role of President knowing that I get to continue to work with our board and engage with our members.  I’ve been in Charlotte for 13 years, with my wife and three children, working in product development, innovation, process, coaching and now consulting and entrepreneurship.  I’m honored to be able to work with our community to give, learn and share.

I’d like to start by saying thank you to Nheeda Enriquez and the rest of the PDMA Carolina’s Board for maintaining such great passion and enthusiasm for our organization.  Passion lies at the heart of doing anything well and we as an organization are truly lucky to have long-standing active leaders who continue to be involved year after year.

Passion creates purpose and it’s important for us to have one, discuss it and demonstrate it.  In our world of brand focus, we often forget that a brand is far more than a logo.  The logo is what brings back the memories of all the positive or negative experiences you’ve had with a company and formulates them into a singular judgment on whether it’s one you love, hate or towards which you are ambivalent.  The experiences of a company, together with its communications, ultimately constitute their brand perception.  It’s what we say and it’s what we do that matters.

Our purpose is still a bit vague, but I can say that it is grounded in just a few words and that those words apply in multiple contexts:

·       Persistence…

o   Over time – We strive to ensure that our community lasts, grows and transforms

o   Throughout the year - Innovate Carolina is a great event every year, but membership implies continuity, not singular interaction.  We are committed to providing high quality, interactive opportunities throughout the year.

·       Integrity…

o   To each other – we are a community built on the premise of sharing for the purpose of betterment, both of ourselves and each other.  We want a safe environment to be collegial and open, not competitive and opaque

o   To our community – we live, work, thrive, give and take inside the broader community encompassed by the membership of PDMA Carolina.  We are innovators who create products and services for our families, our neighbors and many we’ll never know.  Integrity means caring for those whom you are serving and providing the very best you have to them every day, to authentically improve their lives.

·       Inspiration…

o   In ourselves – we want to take each and every member back to the first day, the day when you were fired up and couldn’t wait to get going.  If that’s today for you...fantastic!  If not, our goal is to help our members remember what they aspire to do through their own time and talents.

o   In others – through us, we can perform that same service for others.  It’s how organic growth really happens.  If you are inspired, you can help others aspire for themselves.  It’s that important part of integrity, caring, that allows you to invest in helping others, as many as you can, to remember or discover something for which they can strive.

I’m often in conversations with different people in different organizations, including ours and our parent organization PDMA International regarding “who our audience is.”    Are we serving practitioners?  Executives?  Entrepreneurs?  Researchers and Academics?  Over the next 12 to 24 months, I hope we can put an end that discussion and start a new one.  In whom do we invoke passion, excitement, curiosity or alignment?  It matters little whether you’re a first year college student with a product idea in your head, a lifetime product development practitioner in a Fortune 50 company, an entrepreneur in a startup, a 20 year innovation executive, CEO or tenured professor.  If the elements of our purpose resonate with you, we’d love to have you come and be a part of us.  If not, that’s great too, as clarity will allow you to pursue that which resonates with passions of your own. 

We hope that you feel connected to us – in our passion and in our purpose.  There’s much more to come this year both in local meetings, activities and our annual conference.  In the meantime, here’s how you can get involved with us:

·       Innovate Carolina on LinkedIn

·       Innovate Carolina on MeetUp

·       Innovate Carolina on Twitter

We look forward to your enthusiasm, interaction and participation with us as we strive to create a valued and interactive community within PDMA Carolina.