Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Find Your Brilliance

I’d like to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to tell you about one my personal highlight's of Kscope 13 which was held back in June in New Orleans. Every year ODTUG announces who the keynote speaker will be well in advance of the conference. Most of the time, the speaker is a person of note; interesting, relevant, sometimes even inspiring. And then there are those times when, frankly, I’m not particularly interested in them or what they have to say. But this year was different. At the end of January, ODTUG announced that the Kscope 13 keynote speaker would be Doc Hendley.

Who is Doc Hendley, you ask? Well, from my perspective, Doc Hendley is one of the most inspiring and truly extraordinary individuals I’ve ever come across. And after meeting him and having the privilege of spending time with him in New Orleans, I’m proud and truly humbled to be able to call this man a friend. He is truly extraordinary, which is ironic when you consider that Doc thinks of himself as “just an ordinary, regular, everyday guy.”

Let me tell you, Doc is anything but. This is the story of how a boy who grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina saved thousands of lives all the way across the globe and in the process, proved to himself and everyone else that one person – even an ordinary regular everyday person - can do something extraordinary.

Doc was “just a bartender” and musician who worked and played in nightclubs in Raleigh, NC. In fact, bartending was the only job he’d ever had. But in his own words, he was “dying to make a difference in this world.” In 2003, standing behind the bar, he heard that polluted water kills more children globally than HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis combined, yet at that time, no one aware of this crisis.

So what did Doc do? In his words, "He got angry, he got pissed off, he took action." And he did it the only way he knew how. He tapped into the "marginalized people in his community, the bar crowd, the regulars"  – the people that everyone else said were too ordinary - to create Wine to Water, an organization that would take him to the site of the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world – Darfur, Sudan, and eventually to 9 other countries. Doc lived in Darfur for a year, and taught the locals how to clean their water and utilize their own resources to keep it clean.

Ordinary guy? I don’t think so.

I watched his TEDx talk on YouTube before going to Kscope13. I was so moved by what he’d done, so overwhelmed, and so energized, that I made everyone in my company watch it before the conference. I wanted every person who worked for me to hear what Doc had to say, and to understand how we all can change the world if we try.  I love Doc's commitment to his cause and I hope we remain friends for a long time to come.

I know my commitments don't allow me to travel the world helping others like Doc does on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean I can't help.  We decided that Applied OLAP could help support the efforts of Wine to Water and so I presented Doc with a $5,000 check as our small contribution. During his keynote speech, Doc demonstrated, again, how one person, one donation, can change the world. I’m pledging to find a way to make a difference in the world too.

After all, I’m a regular ordinary every day kind of guy too.

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