Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Communication Skills

Just found this list on my LinkedIn page. I am sad to say that I am guilty of several transgressions against etiquette here and will strive to do better. Take a moment and see how you stack up, but wait til I finsih talking (my biggest issues are numbers 5 and 6, what about you?)

11 Ways To Improve Your Interpersonal Communication Skills:

1. Be the first to make an introduction. Say hello first, offer a handshake, if a handshake is not an option, then at least a head nod and a smile.

2. Smile when engaging with others when appropriate.

3. Maintain steady eye contact while communicating with others. If this is uncomfortable, look just between their eyes and they won't know the difference. It's fine to glance away from time to time, but make sure they are your primary focus.

4. To improve your interpersonal communication skills, Listen, listen, listen. People will notice if you actually listen to them, and respond to what they are talking about rather than focusing on your agenda and what you have going on inside your head.

5. Don't Interrupt! This is HUGE. Let them finish their sentence, even if you are tempted to finish their thought or idea. When you interrupt, they feel unimportant.

6. When someone is wrong about something, or incorrect about a fact that you know the truth about don't feel like you need to correct them, unless the topic is of major importance. Some people just need to feel like they are right, and letting them feel this way will make them feel good and help avoid a stressful situation or uncomfortable argument.

7. If someone reads something or sees something and feels that it is important enough to tell you about it, let them tell you. Even if you already know about it. I cringe when I hear someone say something like "Hey this article I read said that we are supposed to get 3 feet of snow this month." Then the other person says..."Yea, I already know." You are making that person feel like you are "more informed" than they are and that you are better. Just say something like, "WOW that would be a lot of snow!" and leave it at that. They don't know that you are more informed that they are.

8. To improve your interpersonal communication skills, know that the most beautiful sound or word in the English language to any individual is that persons own first name. Use other people's names when communicating with them A LOT.

9. Choose your words wisely. Once a word escapes your lips, you can never get it back. Think before you speak, and make sure what you are saying is appropriate. The words you say actually steer your destiny and create your world you are living in. Saying sorry or that "you take it back" doesn't really mean much. Once you've said it, it's out there.

10. Never Criticize, condemn, or complain. It makes other people defensive, and it won't be welcomed.

11. Lastly, to improve your interpersonal communication skills, talk in terms of other people's interests. People are selfish by nature, they want to talk about what is important to them.

Chris Swope
Your Internet Wealth Strategy Coach

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Promoting Stokes County

We continue to make progress in our efforts to spread the good word concerning Stokes County. We have established Visitor Information Centers at each of the three main libraries in the county: Danbury, Walnut Cove and King. This allows us to provide information on activities and events to our residents and visitors alike. This has been accomplihed at very little costs to us, thanks in part to a grant from the Piedmont Triad Partnership. The brochure racks seem to be well received and a great deal of literature is being picked up. The assistance provided by the library staffs is greatly appreciated.

We will be participating in a business expo at the Benton Convention Center, Thursday April 22. The Stokes County Economic Development Commission recently joined the WS Chamber of Commerce and we are taking this opportunity to provide information on the county and many of the businesses that are located here. We know from our web analytics that many of our visitors to the county are from Forsyth County and we need to do a better job in raising the awareness level of what we have to offer and to provide our guests every opportunity to stop and spend their time and money in Stokes County.

Our grant application to expand broadband coverage has been submitted. Now the waiting begins. While we await a decision from the feds, we are planning on the best strategies for implementation and developing alternatives if we do not receive funding. We are hopeful but not content to leave our destiny in the hands of others.

Wish us luck let us know if you have any questions or ideas.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Show on Tap in Stokes County

Promoting Stokes: Foothills Hayride celebrates the county’s musical accomplishments—past and present
by Leslie Bray Evans, News Editor1 day 12 hrs ago | 99 views | 0 | 2 | |
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Stokes County is being put on the musical map.

Or rather, Stokes County has been on the musical map and big red arrows are being drawn to make the public aware of that.

Already the county is a lure for those who want to hear good music. Some of the drawing cards are the Stokes Stomp, Jomeokee, Fourth of July celebrations, Pickin’ at Priddy’s, as well as the municipal festivals such as Kingfest and the Walnut Festival.

Yes, the present is sparkling and the future looks bright.

But that isn’t all that a group at the Stokes County Arts Council wants the public to know. They have begun a program called the “Foothills Hayride” which will market Stokes County as a 12-month musical destination and publicize the county’s musical heritage as a qualifying factor.

“In Stokes County, we have a story,” says SCAC Executive Director Eddy McGee. “It’s time for us to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got our own history here.’”

According to McGee, other areas and surrounding counties emphasize their musical heritage in an effort to establish their region as a longstanding hotbed of musical prowess. “They tell their story,” McGee points out. “It’s time we tell ours.”

And the story of Stokes is one that even its longtime residents may not be aware of.

Like the day the legendary Carter family was passing through and their car broke down. Some Stokes County folks came to their aid; in exchange, this founding family of country music performed for their benefactors.

Lester Flatt at one time owned Jomeokee Musical Park in Pinnacle. He held his Pilot Mountain Bluegrass Festival there. Word on the street is that Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs came through Stokes years ago to add to its musical resume.

And that’s not all.

Few remember that the Godfather of Soul, James Brown himself, performed at London Gym in the mid-1960s.

“Stokes has a reputation,” McGee states.

He recalls talking to bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent at a concert in another state. When he mentioned Stokes County, Vincent exclaimed, “There's something in the water down there!” According to McGee, Vincent was referring to the incredible musical talent that has come, and is coming, out of Stokes.

There’s Alan Bibey, a Stokes County mandolin player who has been internationally acclaimed. There’s native son Lou Reid who moves in the upper echelons of bluegrass circles. And don’t forget Ronnie Bowman who played with the Lonesome River Band and has written numerous hit songs, including two that hit number one for Brooks and Dunn and Kenny Chesney.

Also helping to put Stokes County on the musical map are more recent names such as two Walnut Cove natives—Matt Dylan (Flinchum) who is suddenly taking the country music world by storm and Heather Berry who is becoming known as a bluegrass voice to be reckoned with, to mention a few.

McGee and the other SCAC members who are organizing the Foothills Hayride have multiple goals in mind. The premier one is the marketing of Stokes County as a year-round musical venue par excellence. McGee is pleased that this ties into what the Travel and Tourism Committee is doing under the direction of Stokes County Economic Director Alan Wood and the Economic Development Commission.

The Foothills Hayride is not a one-time event; it is a continual tool to market anything musical in Stokes County. Even weekly music jams around the county could be promoted through this new program, says McGee.

“People long to be a part of that, but they don’t know how,” McGee speaks of the regular bluegrass pickings, chicken stews and other gatherings where good music is a draw.

“It’s one of our greatest cultural assets,” he adds, “and we take it for granted.”

The Foothills Hayride will be marketed statewide and regionally in ways that include websites dedicated to tourism. The program has its own website as well at www.foothillshayride.com which is updated daily. “It is still a work in progress, having only been live since early February,” McGee cautions.

The 2009 Stokes Stomp in September was the first event promoted under the banner of the Foothills Hayride. “It was the start of getting the word out there,” McGee explains.

The next big event they are promoting is the Jomeokee Musical Festival at Jomeokee Campground in Pinnacle, which takes place Friday and Saturday, May 14-15. Musical groups and artists such as Grasstowne with Alan Bibey, Rich in Tradition, Steep Canyon Rangers, John Cowan, and Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice will be performing. Local groups such as Blues Creek, the McGee Brothers, and a host of others will also be part of the entertainment.

Individual events, such as the Stomp and Jomeokee, will remain individualized, thus not losing their personal charm, but will gain greater exposure through the Foothills Hayride marketing package. The Hayride will soon become part of Blue Ridge Music Trails which promotes musical events in North Carolina and Virginia. In the past, Stokes County has not been included in this marketing of great music in the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills.

The Foothills Hayride has multiple corporate sponsors, such as the R.J. Reynolds Foundation, Wachovia Foundation, Southern Community Bank and the North Carolina Arts Council. McGee is on what he calls “a daily search for grants.” He works tirelessly at this endeavor, rationalizing, “If it takes more than once of knocking, then that’s just the way it is.”

Since Stokes County has no foundations of its own, McGee has to go out-of-county to raise money for things such as the Foothills Hayride which is just one of many things the SCAC promotes. He sees fundraising as “a relationship, not a ‘one and done.’” He raises funds for programs that will have a permanent impact on the local community, which is what funders, as good stewards of their money, want to see.

“You’ve gotta have a story to tell,” McGee details selling Stokes County programs to outside funders. “You’ve gotta be positive and you’ve gotta be persistent.”

He is enthused about this latest program for which he has helped raise funding. “I’m excited for Stokes County,” McGee says. “What better way to honor my family’s name and other musical families’ names! We’re out there representing what went before.”

And that is another primary goal of the Foothills Hayride—to preserve Stokes County’s musical heritage. Even the name Foothills Hayride was chosen by the committee to evoke memories of days gone by.

“‘Hayride’ is a term from our past,” McGee elaborates. He recalls the Louisiana Hayride, a radio and television show years ago, which featured musical artists such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

McGee feels that Stokes County’s own hayride can draw on the past as well.

“We want to encourage Stokes County residents that have a story that needs to be told,” McGee urges people to come forward with their remembrances of musical events in the county’s past. His group is compiling these stories on their website as part of their marketing efforts.

All it takes is a call or an email to the SCAC to tell the story or set up an interview. McGee and company hope to utilize high school students to help document these stories.

McGee encourages other counties to do the same. He notes that the term “Foothills” in the program’s title obviously relates to the location of Stokes County, but he adds that it also encompasses surrounding counties. He hopes it inspires other counties to market themselves.

“I would love to have a Foothills Hayride in Surry, Wilkes and other counties,” McGee says.

But for right now, he and the Foothills Hayride committee are focusing on blowing the dust off Stokes County’s spot on the musical map of the past and highlighting its place on the current map.

McGee is passionate about the project, “Stokes County has an incredible musical past and incredible musical present that we need to promote, to celebrate.”

A past and a present that should lead to a future of good music ringing through the hills and hollows of Stokes County.

For more information on the Foothills Hayride, call 593-8159 or visit www.stokescountyarts.com.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ninth Annual Little Folks Celebration

Many Community Partners Join
Ninth Annual Little Folks Festival

Stokes Partnership for Children (SPC) will be celebrating the national Week of the Young Children with the presentation of the ninth annual Little Folks Festival scheduled for Saturday, April 17, 2010 at Walnut Cove Elementary School, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This fun filled event focuses on the promotion of early care and education, school readiness, family support and health as it relates to young children and their families. Parents will be able to learn about the wide variety of available resources in Stokes County by visiting information booths of local agencies serving Stokes County. Local businesses offering enrichment programs for children will be showcasing their services and providing information as to how children can get involved.

SPC partnered with East Stokes Outreach Ministries and the Town of Walnut Cove to promote the event and to acknowledge the importance of the welfare of Stokes County’s young children and families. According to SPC Executive Director, Cindy S. Tuttle, “Marchelle Brown, Director of East Stokes Outreach Ministry contacted SPC concerned that many of the families that visit the ministry are unaware of the available services in Stokes County. In light of this, she asked to partner with SPC to present the Little Folks Festival in order to help spread the word regarding available programs and services that are in Stokes County. Town officials of Walnut Cove joined her and were also interested in offering support. One way the town did this was by putting information about the event in the town’s water bills. John Hodgkin, Mayor of Walnut Cove issued an official proclamation supporting the national Week of the Young Child. We are very pleased to have their support.”

Other partners will include the Stokes Family Health Center and Healthy Carolinians of Stokes who will sponsor the Healthy Baby and Maternity Fair, along with the Stokes Family YMCA who will sponsor the YMCA Healthy Kids’ Day. To top it off, Once Upon a Blue Ridge will offer interactive activities featuring drama and music for children, sponsored by the Stokes County Arts Council. “Folks are going to love our event this year,” said Cindy Tuttle. “We are excited to have so many community partners. There will be so much to do!”

Kids can also look forward to indoor and outdoor fun activities, including an inflatable slide, moon walk and obstacle course, costume characters, arts, crafts, music, free books, prizes, games, face painting, children’s storytelling and more. Children will be able to climb on board a big yellow school bus and visit actual school classrooms. All children under the age of twelve in attendance will receive a free book. Drawings will be held for exciting door prizes just for young children. The Knights of Columbus, Good Shepherd Council will provide hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. Drinks and other treats will be served. The best part of the Little Folks Festival is that all this fun is FREE! Donations will be accepted. Funding for this event is provided through Stokes Partnership for Children’s annual fund drive and private donations. For more information or to make a donation call 336-985-2676 or visit www.stokespfc.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mutt Strut

A great project for a wonderful cause. Thanks to the dedicated folks with the Stokes County Humane Society for their hard work in creating this event.

First Annual “Mutt Strut in Stokes” Walk-A-Thon

Walk the walk and start making a difference in the number of pets born each day who will never know the love of a family or have a home of its own. Too many animals, not enough homes. Spaying or Neutering your pet is the answer! The Stokes County Humane Society wants to help the citizens of Stokes be a part of that solution. Funds raised from this event will go directly to help those who need this important procedure, who are unable to pay for it.

Step 1: Register! Fill out and mail in the Registration Form or visit stokescountyhumanesociety.com to register or mail your registration information to SCHS, PO Box 102, Danbury, NC 270016.

Step 2: Raise Funds! Collect pledges to help raise awareness for animal overpopulation in our county and everywhere. Animals are being turned over in record numbers. Do your part, even if you don’t own an animal, you are still affected!

Step 3: Walk the Walk! Come join us for a fun filled day for the whole family! Vendors, food, contests, lots of prizes and tons of information for the whole family to enjoy! If you have a pet, you won’t want to miss this event!

Mutt Strut in Stokes 5K Walk/Run
Saturday, May 1st 2010
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Central Park in King NC

Raise over $100 in pledges and earn a cool limited edition SCHS T-shirt!
Each walker will have their name registered to win a handmade county quilt by master quilter Kelly Wood!
from wxii12.com