Valdosta Daily Times

February 9, 2014

A Gathering of Eagles

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — For eight years, Wiregrass Technical College’s annual Gathering of Eagles has provided an avenue for local business leaders to gather, to network and to learn, both with other local leaders and with guest speakers.

This year is no different.

The Eighth Annual Gathering of Eagles is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, and it gets started with keynote speaker Bill Boggs.

Boggs, who is currently a correspondent for the PBS TV show “My Generation,” is a four-time Emmy Award-winning TV host. Throughout his career, he’s hosted a variety of shows, from news, food and financial shows to history, travel and comedy shows.

In his 2007 book, “Got What It Takes?” Boggs distills decades of interviews, analyzing what advice and lessons his guests have had on their success and the reasons behind these successes. He’s interviewed everyone from Donald Trump, Sir Richard Branson and Renee Zellweger to Brooke Shields, Norman Lear and Bill O’Reilly.

“The concept of the book is to see how people made it to the top,” said Boggs.

The book and the interviews cover a lot of ground, from the importance of taking risks and coping with stress to knowing when to reassess your options and reconsider your career.

For Boggs, the biggest takeaway from his book is the importance of adaptability.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve taken away ... is the constant need to be able to adapt. You wouldn’t want your doctor not to be learning. Adapting and changing is more important than ever.”

Along with adaptability, Boggs places great importance on constantly learning. Since the publication of “Got What It Takes,” his work as a professional speaker has taught him a lot about communication.

“If I were to write a second book, it’d be about how to communicate as effectively as possible, as a leader, as someone in charge of people.”

After a break for lunch and networking, the afternoon session will get under way. While past Gatherings have broken into congruent sessions in the afternoon, this year everyone is staying together for the afternoon, which will start with keynote speaker Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“I’ll be talking about the importance of  being academically prepared as well as being experiencely prepared,” said Wheelan. “About my career path and the lessons I’ve learned from it.”

Wheelan brings with her the experience of a 40-year career in education and administration, as well as a long list of awards and honorary degrees.

The afternoon continues with speakers drawn from the local community, with Valdosta Mayor John Gayle; Dario Orlando, the owner of Steeda Autosports; Thompson Kurrie Jr., a partner with the Coleman Talley Law Firm; and Dr. Tina Anderson, the president of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, speaking on their business experiences.

One of the big draws for the Gathering of Eagles every year is the size of it. Attendance is capped at 200 guests, creating a smaller, more engaging atmosphere as opposed to larger business symposiums.

“It’s really a time to focus on you and how you can benefit yourself and the business you work for,” said Angela Crance, special assistant to the president at Wiregrass.

“To network ... and improve business and leadership skills.”

With it selling out every year, this year looks to be no different, though there is still a handful of tickets available.

Those interested in attending can register through Wiregrass’ website or by calling Crance at (229) 333-2124. Tickets are $199 each for the symposium, or $250 for the symposium and a sit-down dinner with Boggs the night before.

Money raised from ticket sales goes toward helping students, offering scholarships and providing funds for program equipment.