How the
Northwest Connects

Rob’s Parting Thoughts

I heard that two of the most important words we’ll use in life are Done and Next. After 22 years of excitement, challenge, and reward in building NoaNet, my wife and I decided it was time for me to be done to allow space for what is next: focusing on family and new experiences. I depart NoaNet in gratitude, feeling very fortunate for the cast of thousands that helped make NoaNet what it is today, and for the opportunity Greg Marney gave me as employee #1.

In the late 1990s, rural communities were shrinking. Their young people leaving for the metro areas for better opportunities in the quickly evolving Information Age. We intended to enable rural citizens the ability to survive and thrive in rural areas …and we have been successful in our task. NoaNet has transacted over a billion dollars in rural investment in our backbone and our member-partner networks, have led data center investments in Central Washington, and are now the primary carrier for the State’s 911 system.

To serve our mission, NoaNet was built fundamentally differently than other telecoms. We launched as a virtual corporation when it was unheard of to do so. This allowed our staff to work virtually from the communities we were seeking to serve. Our non-profit status allowed us to build a culture that wasn’t all about the money, unlike much of the telecom marketplace engaged in speculative M&A activity. I’ve been so fortunate to have had a career that I’m passionate about and that serves a purpose bigger than me, or any one of us. It has made all the difference.

As I head to what is next, I want to share the areas I’ve grown the most and that has benefitted me through my career and in life:

  • Self-care: Take care of your body, mind, and soul. Never stop challenging yourself to become a more excellent human.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Drop the ego- it’s not about you. Be kind and respectful and leave everyone better off than when you found them. You can be the light in a dark room.
  • Adaptability: With the explosive and exponential growth in technology and with cultural change, perpetually work on your ability to pivot, evolve, and adapt to new and changing circumstances.
  • Service: Selflessly be “in service” to others and initiatives that do good for all.

Lastly, I am filled with gratitude to those who made this all possible. Thank you to the many board members and owner representatives that have served NoaNet. Thank you to the many staff that put up with me and my constant drive to do it better and more efficiently. Thanks to the vendor relationships that enabled NoaNet in good times and bad. Perhaps most importantly, thanks to the many customers who trusted in me and in the NoaNet idea.

What NoaNet has accomplished is truly amazing and beyond my wildest dreams. I leave at a time when the organization has strength in the marketplace, is financially solid, and is led by strong leadership with our board of directors and executive team. What a blissful time to be done, and I am looking forward to what is next. May the force be with you!