From the Desk of our VP of CX: Taking a Step Forward

Paul Heckel


For many of us fortunate enough to work with technology for a living, we can recall a seminal moment when something clicked in our heads and we truly appreciated what it could afford humanity.

In 1991, I sat down next to my dad, who was plugging away at an early model IBM compatible PC. On a black screen with white characters (using mailx), he was composing an email to my uncle who lived in California. He explained that with the press of a few keys, the words on the screen in front of me could appear instantly (or as fast as the 14.4k modem could push them) on a similar screen on the west coast.

At that time in my mind, there was only one way to accomplish that task … sending a physical, stamped letter via the US Postal Service. Given what I observed, I was forced to bend my understanding of the world’s physical constraints. I was awestruck. I felt a sense of amazement.

Over the course of my career, I learned so many others had comparable experiences that catalyzed a passion. And in exchanging these stories, what becomes immediately apparent is these “ah-ha” moments aren’t simply one and done. If you know what to look for, they can happen again and again.

This, in many respects, is why we at Solstice pour our hearts and souls into hosting Solstice FWD, our annual digital innovation summit. That is, to create brand new moments of awe and amazement that will distort your understanding of what’s possible and ignite positive change.

For an event that is designed to push us forward, it might seem counterintuitive to dwell on nostalgia. Ultimately it is not the time period that matters…it is the mindset shift that occurs within it. The late Steve Jobs, one of the most progressive executives of our time, noted, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

Helping people see, then connect the dots is what we aim to accomplish at FWD, which will be held June 21 in Chicago this year. It’s one day, with big time, global players taking the stage one after the other.

Instead of the dreaded “expo hall”, we’ve filled the space with interactive experiences born from our R&D capability, Solstice Labs — imagine a blockchain recording human interactions, AI powered neural "networking," and the future of personalization, just to name a few.

I hope you’ll join me on the summer solstice where together, we’ll assuredly create some “ah-ha” moments of our own.

Interested in attending or learning more? Visit or email me at