ConvergeSouth 2011 Leaders: Five Questions With Sue & Rob

I have the fortune of serving on the board of directors for  ConvergeSouth. On October 6-7 in Greensboro, NC some of the brightest minds in technology, business, and creativity will dare I say converge to share and teach on topics such as Web Dev, Mobile, WordPress, Social Media, SEO, Blogging, and technologies for small business and nonprofits. We are also holding a PitchCamp for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. This year’s event is shaping up to be a great one and as a way of introducing the speakers, this is the first in a series of posts on ConvergeSouth 2011. Click [register] if you would like to attend. 


To kick off the series, a few of the leaders from this year’s conference are taking the Five Questions Challenge.

Dr. Sue Polinsky serves on the board of directors and is the current Treasurer for ConvergeSouth. She also happens to be the event’s co-founder and lifeforce. Sue is President of the Greensboro based Web company, TechTriad.

Rob Ainbinder is the conference chair for the 2011 event. He is one that is making sure the conference rocks you sideways. Rob is the internet marketing coordinator at Hafele and a whiz when it comes to SEO and  SEM.

Q1 Sue: This year ConvergeSouth is starting a new chapter as a nonprofit organization run by a board. Looking back on the first generation of CS conferences, what have been your highlights?

 Highlights: First and foremost, the volunteerism by the ConvergeSouth “gang” over the years and watching the gang grow and change. And then in no particular order:

a. NC A&T State University’s unbelievable hospitality for ConvergeSouth – including rooms, tech support, facilities (tables & chairs), security, and graciousness & thoroughness. Kudos especially to Dr. Nita Dewberry and Ms. Willene Rucker and many more.

b. Scoble. Although CS2005 had a LIST of soon-to-be famous people and “blogger-cons” were the model, Scoble’s 2006 keynote was just a turning point in the way Silicon Valley’ers viewed ConvergeSouth. They started to take it seriously. (see my disappointment that local elected folks don’t.)

c. Jason Calacanis hiring “Subway Girl” during his keynote

d. Watching technology grow & change during our 7 years. Tons more Macs, incredibly easier wifi connections at A&T, tweeting the backstory, and a set of younger early-adopters who showed me how much I still have to learn about social stuff.

e. Tom Lassiter’s video workshop. The best single workshop ever on video, blogging and video blogging. Evah.

f. Don Moore’s streaming the conference in 2010. How impossible it was in 2005 and how relatively easy it was in 2010 (if you’ve got Don’s talent and equipment).

g. The change from a blogging-focused conferenced to a Web-focus and watching new rock stars emerge as presenters, panelists and keynoters.

h. Diversity. It was our goal and we accomplish it every year. “The most diverse conference I’ve ever attended,” both Scoble & Calacanis said during different years.

i. The guys endorsing Brad Miller (D-NC) (who ALWAYS attends CS) at CS2006 while Elizabeth Edwards (z’’l) was co-keynoting about building online community and how it helped her recover from the tragic death of her son. It hit Daily Kos in 60 seconds & went national. It was a bold moment.

j. When David Wharton said he was going to start blogging again and 300 people clapped.

k. When I learned I was right when I said Greensboro had TECH TALENT. Just look at this year’s presenters; more GSO’ers than ever before because we have the talent!

Q1 Rob: You have adventurously taken the role as conference chair and organizing many of the speakers. What are you most excited about for attendees with this years crop of speakers and sessions?

Rob: Thank you. It continues to be quite an adventure! I am most excited for attendees to hear from Mark Schaefer, noted Social Media and Marketing professional and also Duane Forrester of Bing. To be able to bring this caliber of presenter across many sessions to Greensboro speaks volumes about our volunteers, a willingness of the community to leverage contacts and the history of the conference.

Q2 All: What is your vision for the future of Converge South?

Sue: CS will be “taken over” (also “given away”) to the younger generation of onliners. They’re not solely bloggers (the original CS focus); they Foursquare in before they say hello. They’re amazing, talented and need to move CS into the many directions that emerging technologies will dictate. I’d also love to see (but have given up most hope) the City of GSO and its City Council, Mayor and County Commissioners acknowledge that the South’s first tech conference was born in Greensboro. Maybe one day they’ll even attend and our Mayor won’t dis the conference as “something about computers” and if I hear “pajamas” again, I’m going to have to hurt someone.

Rob: For the future of ConvergeSouth I see many things happening this year which I think we can build on for the future. In particular, I am happy to see PitchCamp continue as a resource for Greensboro/Triad entrepreneurs as well as establishing  CultureXChange as a way to inject fashion, music and art into the conference while introducing more people to the ConvergeSouth experience. In addition, the Non-Profit track is a great addition to the schedule.

Q3 All: If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

Sue: I’d like to understand all the new technologies enough that I could wrap my mind around what I’m not using that I should and what’s cool but not for me. In other words, I want to be Scoble, who managed to make his last name into a title. But really super? To be the voice inside someone’s head before they make a decision (usually a moral one). This comes from the now-gone time of my life where I thought I knew everything. Then I realized I didn’t. But I’d like to be the person who always sees the big picture and knows what’s going to happen next and tries to influence the decisions of history (not always on a grand scale, either). I think I’d need a new cape.

Rob: I want to fly! Air travel has become a chore and Superman always made it seem so easy.

Q4 All: If you could have dinner with two people from history, who would they be and why? 

Sue: Martin Buber, a 19th-20th century philosopher about whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation (it was about Radical Evil and Radical Goodness and no one on the planet besides me would want to have dinner with him) and my hero of heroes: Mickey Mantle. I want to have a beer with him. And a steak.

Rob: If I could have dinner with two people it would be Architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Master furniture maker Gustav Stickley. Their artistic vision, aesthetic and ability to establish a trend as style are fascinating to me.

Q5 All: Higher Klout Score: Bugs Bunny, Micky Mouse, Kermit, or Homer Simpson?

Sue: Bert & Ernie. Hands down.

Rob: Higher Klout score? Hmm… Homer. He’s way more social (at the donut shop).

If you haven’t registered yet and would like to attend, you can sign up [here].


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