March 04, 2014

Making an Extreme Difference

People want to do the right thing, and I’m not necessarily talking only about the ethical or moral thing. Let’s be a little more thoughtful – a little more personal than that. When I say we want to do the right thing, I mean: we want to make a decision & take a course of action that will give the best outcome, for not only ourselves, but for those around us.  But what is the right thing? How, in any present moment or circumstance, do we know what the right thing to do is, or even what course of action a single person or group of people could do, to make a difference?  These are just my thoughts and one example to consider.

I am a firm believer that the impossible is possible.  Space exploration, modern medicine, major technology advancements, etc.. are all major events in which no one ever imagined possible. In contrast to these, there are much more seemingly insignificant events; for instance, the vast world of exhibitor conferences, where thinking outside the box could make a difference.  For years people have flocked to conferences where vendors and exhibitors pay extraordinary prices for floor space, booth kits, giveaways, and elaborate parties and dinners for registered participants.

Think about it.  Do the t-shirts, flying monkeys, light-up pens, post-it pads, binders, and stress balls really make a difference in the buying habits and decisions of key decision makers?  Of course not, yet those items consume thousands of dollars of marketing spend that ends up, many times, in the grandkids’ toy chests never to be seen again.  So, how does this tie back into doing the right thing?  What if companies took a different action towards exhibit halls and conferences?  What if we took the marketing dollars that we normally spend on frivolous items and used them to take action and do something better for the community?

At Extreme Networks, we are doing just that.  I believe we should be helping those who need it more and “Paying ‘IT’ Forward”.  The first such event takes place at this year’s KYSTE Spring Conference.  It is an Educational Technology Conference in Louisville, KY that our company has been attending and supporting for over 10 years.  Historically we have done almost everything under the sun to promote our company and our partnership with the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  There is not a single conference “extra” or booth “give-away” we have not thought of and tried over the course of this decade.  And while fun, none of it really ever made a difference to anyone.

This year our company is going to “Make an Extreme Difference” by partnering with Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY, and reallocating our marketing budget (plus a little extra), to donate mini iPads on behalf of the KYSTE members to Kosair Children’s Hospital for their patients, the students who don’t have the opportunity to be in the classroom or to use technology on a daily basis.  This is our first step in doing the right thing…

We are sure this will not spark any transformational shift in the conference world or in exhibitors’ focus on chachkies and free cheap stuff for every person trying to fill up their conference bag with “stuff” never to be seen again, but we want to do something different; something that seems better and just feels right.

We announced this to our customers in an email last week, and we received glowing responses from several customers, asking how they could help and sharing their excitement in the program.  And it feels great to know that it’s not just me who wants to make a difference—it’s our customers too!  Those of us in the education community all have one thing in common: we all want to make a difference in the lives of children.  By “Paying ‘IT’ Forward”, we can make an Extreme difference together!”  This is the first of many conferences where we intend to do the right thing for those who need it more than us.

If you happen to attend KYSTE this year, please join us in this effort by coming to our booth, signing the wall, and showing your support. That way you can be a partner in helping us move to make an Extreme difference, one child & one family at a time.

About The Contributor:
Jonathan KidwellDirector of Educational Sales

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