What I Learned From Jim King

FullSizeRenderThe past week has been difficult for our city because one of its most influential leaders of the past few decades passed away. But for me, I also lost a great friend and mentor.

My first contact with Mr. King was a phone call to tell me my CPEs were late for my CPA license – he had checked the registry – which tells you a lot about his expectations and belief that things should be buttoned up at all times.

Since early in my career I have been blessed to feel, like many, that I was under the ‘Jim King Tent.’ We became close over a personal matter that joined us in a trusting and intimate way, and bonded us as kindred spirits forever.

Through the years he took my wife, Sony, and I to Derby when we still lived in Florida. He and I had regular lunches, discussed how to improve our city, watched U of L games and shared political fundraisers. Every time I was with Mr. King, I learned life lessons to remember.

Here is my list:

Lesson 1 – You can successfully serve your family, business and city at the same time.

Lesson 2 – You can hold strong views grounded in personal experience, but still meet people halfway – which he did for me several times when I needed him most.

Lesson 3 – You can build a great legacy without a head start. Personal or professional, his achievements were always carried out with passion, diligence, and great planning.

Lesson 4 – There is no time for excuses or failure to execute – Mr. King overcame obstacles with amazing tenacity, never thinking about failure.

Lesson 5 – Do your homework because details always matter. Mr. King spent countless hours reading every loan, city ordinance and financing obligation; his technical business acumen built a lasting bank and saved our city millions of dollars. It was all in the details.

Lesson 6 – You can lead the people and still be one of them. Mr. King had great charisma and a scary memory so he maintained relations with ease, but his crowd was never just the powerful and influential – it was always everyone.

Lesson 7 – Be Present. When you were with Mr. King, he looked you in the eyes, ignored his phone, asked questions and made you feel like your issue was his issue to solve together.

Lesson 8 – Support your children’s dreams at all costs. Mr. King supported, pushed, and challenged his kids. He protected them but also taught them everything he knew about leadership and responsibility – which was a blessing to watch.

Lesson 9 – Always go “all in.” Mr. King relentlessly pushed himself and everyone around him. When he believed in anything, there was no “I’ll try” – it was a quest to make sure it happens no matter what!

Lesson 10 – If Mr. King really liked you, you were blessed. I knew I could go to Mr. King for personal or professional counsel, and would always receive unconditional love.

At our last private lunch we talked about the illness briefly, but we talked more about his love for his beautiful wife, Debbie, and how he kissed her differently now. We talked about future hopes for his family, and dreams still unfulfilled for our great city. Like always, we held hands and prayed for a miracle to beat his cancer, thanked God for abundant blessings, asked God to protect our loved ones, and to guard our children’s souls!

My life was changed by Jim King. Now that he is gone I am just going to try and live his life’s lessons, which I learned up close and personal!

A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 23 edition of Business First of Louisville.

Redeeming Cuba: Historical Perceptions Through a Pop Culture Lens

IMG_6061We are all stamped mentally with our own personal imagery of Cuba in a peripheral way. We really cannot escape it: the epic stories of Fidel Castro’s meteoric rise, the Bay of Pigs disaster that, in the end, accelerated the communist legend overnight and created New Age Communism.

People of my generation grew up fearing the Cold War and the Iron Curtain like nothing else, often having childhood nightmares because our parents told us a complicated story at the dinner table that the world almost ended over a 9-day period, because Cuba let Russia aim active missiles right at our backyards. Literally, with only a few communist fingers tapping buttons, it would have been the end of the world as we know it.

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Becoming a CNA: A Pivotal Moment

Being a CNA is something we all should do to make us see the world through a new lens. I think about all the possible inflection points in life that really change how we view the world. My mind races through life events – getting your first paycheck, getting a degree, your first residence that is truly yours, losing a loved one close to you, making your parents proud, holding your child, seeing the ocean, etc.

But on my life’s reflection, becoming a CNA ranks up there among my life-changing events. ‘Why?’ you may ask. The nerves I felt walking in my first resident room, the fear and anxiety of failing to deliver great patient care, the exhaustion upon completing my shift knowing both mentally and physically, I had nothing else to give. It was also the crossing into someone else’s intimate world and trying to earn their trust, the classes that helped me realize just how much each CNA knows and the sense of private pride and joy when I did great work.

I felt both God and my deceased parents were watching over me, knowing I was doing God’s work like they both aspired to do.

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Unveiling Our New Healthcare Tree Of Life

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If you ever doubt the Kevin Bacon “six degrees of separation” theory, you just need to sit in a packed lobby in the coolest building in our city (known as Nucleus), and get ready to unveil the Health Enterprises Network Family Tree of Health-Related Companies.

The magical intersections are everywhere and as Malcolm Gladwell contends, you realize no one was really, truly self-made, because we all had unique opportunities. In Louisville, the original healthcare pioneers gave us a rewarding and deeply meaningful career path from day one. I stood there knowing it was only possible because of healthcare giants like Wendell Cherry, David Jones, Hank Wagner and so many others.

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Bill Frist Takeaways

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At this year’s NIC (National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry) Conference I was provided an opportunity to speak on a panel with Clint Malin, of LTC Properties REIT, on using market intelligence for predictive modeling purposes.

Due to our history with the NIC, the president and CEO Bob Kramer invited me to eat with the legendary Senator Bill Frist, who is a world-class surgeon, former senate majority leader, Modern Healthcare’s second-most influential leader, a Harvard alum, son of HCA founder Dr. Thomas Frist, great father and so on. And, he is considered to be one the preeminent healthcare thought leaders in the world. At lunch, Senator Frist actually knew quite a bit about the Signature Revolution because of our deep Tennessee roots and the recent Bordeaux partnership with the city of Nashville, where Senator Frist has deep roots for decades.

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