Jessie Veeder, speaker, writer and singer/songwriter from Watford City, opened the 2018 Fusion Conference in Bowman, North Dakota (Google it…. amazing little town of 1,600) with words of inspiration, gifts of song, and a reminder to dedicate our time at the conference to learn where we are truly from – not just a geographic area. She shared her ‘from’ list, which included from a hardworking mom from the open country, from immigrant grandparents with the audience of over 200 participants from across the state. Veeder’s message set the tone for two days of speakers sharing their inspirations, their challenges and opening up on how every person can go back and create a story of success in their town.
This is the second year Teran Doerr, Economic Development Director for Bowman County, brought together motivational, inspirational, and leadership speakers from across the region to collaborate and learn. In the TEDx style format, speakers delivered messages regarding how to build small businesses, nonprofits, and community in very rural areas.
“The impact of Fusion has extended far beyond Bowman County,” she said in an email interview. “Not only are we building up our residents here, but we are building up the residents of our North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana region. Business owners, employees, and community activists are empowered to make their impact on their work, community, or society exceed expectations.”
In rural areas, we can easily fall into a mindset of “never us.” Teran has proven through this conference and her numerous activities that success can be part of our dialogue. Sometimes our “from” is the best part of our abilities. “Fusion was developed as a personal, professional, and community conference because all three aspects are vital to each other. We don’t want just one part of your life to survive, we want all of you to thrive,” she explains.
Kevin Brown, a motivational speaker, who spent a couple decades in sales and management leadership presented a keynote based on how to become a “Hero” in the community and be “The Choice” not just a choice in the marketplace. His philosophy of the difference between staying in business and becoming successful is taking 100% responsibility for the outcomes. “Nobody notices normal,” Brown emphasized. “If you are chasing customer service you will fail, you need to exceed expectations and be committed to being the best version of yourself.”
The evening included local food and wine and more networking with community leaders and speakers.
Thursday included a panel of young entrepreneurs from across the Dakotas. Many of their stories of success were driven by the passion to provide a better future and fuel their passions. From a young slime creator, who overcomes supply issues in rural North Dakota to a lawn service provider who is working his way through the police academy to four young farmer entrepreneurs who started a local pumpkin patch. All of these young people showcased the future of communities in rural America built on their “from”.