One on One

Del Davis & Glenn Phillips

People. Talking.

Our conversation between Glenn Phillips and Del Davis centered on the idea of the connections between people and how those connections can become uncoupled. Phillips is a computer company executive; Davis a green and sustainable construction and community consultant. The connections were unexpected but inescapable.
A long-time IT and computer services executive in Birmingham, Glenn Phillips of Forte’ Inc. has seen the effects of miscommunication in his business life. His book, Nerd-to-English, is about the gaps we all face in communication with each other. “I am exploring why the gaps exist, why they are everyone’s fault, and some ideas on what to do about it. We are all nerds about something, whether we admit it or not,” Phillips says.
“In many ways it is a behavioral book for more effective communication. It is based on my experience a little slanted toward business, management and entrepreneurs, but it applies to us all outside of work as well,” says Phillips
Expanding upon the premise of Phillip’s book, Forte’ has added “Nerd-To-English” consulting services, a website and a blog to help clients better understand the hidden risks and available resolutions within their company’s technology efforts.
Del Davis grew up in Birmingham and spent many years working in marketing and business development in the construction industry here, in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. His focus in the past few years has been in sustainable development and smart growth.
Davis is in charge of business development and government relations for Eco-Logic Services, Inc. an independent firm based in Atlanta that has earned a reputation in the Southeast for providing superior strategic planning and consulting services to government entities, elected leaders, nonprofit organizations, social change groups, construction firms, investors and entrepreneurs.
Eco-Logic is a strategic planning and development company that provides professional services in and around green building initiatives. One aspect of the business is working with government to help leaders understand the value sustainability brings to the projects.
“We try to connect the dots between government and business, bringing to bear a lot of the ideas that are swirling through the marketplace regarding energy usage, sustainability, green building and other new initiatives,” says Davis.
To Davis, a green and sustainable city is a community of residents, visitors and working people, who strive to balance the city’s ecological, economic, and social needs to ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment for everyone and for generations to come.
“We try to crack into the silos and connect people to these exciting concepts, and look at things in a new way.” Davis says.

Del Davis: Okay, good, good well I am Del Davis, I am a partner with a small firm. We are a strategic planning and business development firm, we have clients from mid sized companies to some governmental agencies. We often do strategic planning around sustainable development and also we are looking for Smartgrowth and things of that nature. I also do a lot of advocating for community development, smart community development. We have businesses connections, we also have businesses that connect to government.

Glenn Phillips: We have been here twenty years and we do two things. We build technology and do a lot of innovative things. We get to learn about businesses and then we also help management in all sorts of different types of companies understand the risks of their technology. We do a lot of Nerd to English translation. Really to help someone with technology you have to know their business. So we really are a business process company and we do a lot of very entrepreneurial things. We found some bridges to a lot of great ideas here in Birmingham. I keep thinking you know how can we nurture those and grow those.

Del Davis: Its interesting that you say that, about four or five years ago I started really looking at social entrepreneurship as a means to address some of the problems in our community. Well there is also in those problems an opportunity. I mean even you take for instance just job skills training, you know there is a lot of job skills training but some people do it for a particular technical expertise. Well in some people what I find in just my church even, some young guys don’t even know how to tie a tie because nobody has ever showed them.

Glenn Phillips: I find kids that don’t have both parents, they are a little different in what they are getting and the things that they are missing.

Glenn Phillips: Now you are doing things with the mayor; tell me about that.

Del Davis: Sure, sure working with the mayor is very exciting. He has been a kind of a mentor to me because he is always progressive enough to include young people with new ideas. We are getting very excited about some of the major capital projects that are going on, Railroad Park, Fair Park, all the schools being built. Instead of people working in silos, we have emerging ideas and things that are happening, resources that are being spent. We can leverage those to be able to impact more people, because I am firm believer that if the tide rises it’s all about to rise, you know.

Glenn Phillips: Yeah you know with the silos, people want to talk with each other; they just don’t know how. I have done this book called Nerd English and it’s about the communication gaps we have. Everybody things it’s a technical book. But it’s about how we talk among our own group in a language the other group doesn’t understand.

Del Davis: Exactly.

Glenn Phillips: Instead of being sure to present our information the way you are going to understand and be respectful. It’s a sign of respect and I always say you if you can’t explain what you do to a fifth grader, are you really that smart.

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