Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC
(BSA), announced today the company’s continued expansion with the addition of Sam J. Jenkins, Managing Director, to its Memphis location and Blair R. Badham, Managing Director, to its Birmingham office.

“We’re excited about our continued growth in both Memphis and Birmingham and are pleased to add two accomplished professionals to our team,” said President and CEO Matt A. Thornton.  “Sam and Blair have extensive corporate and investment banking expertise, and they will be tremendous assets to our team and to the clients we serve.”

Sam Jenkins

Sam Jenkins

Jenkins has more than 35 years’ experience in corporate finance and investment banking, including a 28-year career with First Tennessee Bank.  As Executive Vice President of corporate banking, he led and managed the bank’s efforts to attract and maintain Middle and Corporate Market clients across the country, helping develop and implement marketing and business development strategies. Under Jenkin’s leadership, the Corporate Banking Group was ranked first company-wide for overall Contribution Income (NIBT), Contribution Income per FTE, Treasury Services Sales, Deposits Acquisition, Derivative and Loan and Ancillary Fee Production for 2005-2008.

Jenkins joins the BSA team from Capstone Financial Services, a Memphis-based corporate advisory firm he founded in 2009 to serve commercial and corporate clients, community and regional banks and private equity capital providers across the Southeast. He holds a B.A. from the University of Alabama, with a focus on finance and banking, and an M.B.A. from the University of Memphis, where he graduated first in his class.

Badham brings over a decade of experience in corporate finance, strategy and operations to the group.  Previously, he served as Director of Business Development for EBSCO Capital, the investment division of EBSCO Industries with $300 million in committed equity capital.  Headquartered in Birmingham, EBSCO Industries is a privately held conglomerate comprised of over 20 businesses and more than $2.5 billion in annual revenue.

Blair Badham

Blair Badham

During his time at EBSCO Capital, Badham established the firm’s business development function and was responsible for deal origination, investment opportunity analysis and the overall marketing strategy for the firm, an effort that led to the successful sourcing and closing of a number of new platform and add-on acquisitions.

Prior to his tenure at EBSCO Capital, Badham served in multiple capacities for Jemison Metals, a Birmingham-based steel service center, where he helped the firm grow by expanding its presence with Fortune 500 manufacturers.  Badham began his career in commercial banking, where he worked in the commercial and industrial lending group at First Commercial Bank for five years.

Badham earned a B.S. from the University of Alabama and an M.B.A., with honors, from Samford University’s Brock School of Business.

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Boyce Adams, Jr.

When I starting writing this column in 2008, my goal was to share positive stories about leaders making a difference in the state of Mississippi.  I have had the good fortune to interview inspirational leaders from around the state.  Great leaders “pay it forward,” and I have always tried to help them do that by sharing some of their leadership insights. It has been particularly exciting to visit with young and energetic leaders who are on the rise. My interviewee this week, Boyce Adams Jr., is one of those leaders.  Adams is president of Columbus-based TheBiz, a start-up business accounting software company, and he serves as vice-president for Marketing and Sales for its sister company BankTEL Systems.  BankTEL is a true Mississippi success story.  With over 1,400 clients, it is an Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Technology Company and was named one of the Deloitte Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies in 2014.

Adams grew up in Columbus and went on to Vanderbilt University in 2007 where he was an Ingram Scholar,  which emphasizes academic excellence, leadership, and community service.

After college, Adams worked at the White House in the Office of Presidential Personnel and later as special assistant to the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. He then returned to Mississippi in 2009 to join his father, Boyce Adams, Sr., at BankTEL.

Adams’ leadership and entrepreneurial skills were evident early.  In high school, he decided he wanted to learn to fly.  After obtaining his pilot license, he decided to recoup his investment by becoming a flight instructor.  He shared: “While it was not always easy convincing a middle-aged person they should learn to fly from an 18-year-old, it was a great lesson in challenging the status quo thought that age was the only measure of a person’s abilities, knowledge, or experience.”

Adams is a problem solver.  He explained, “There are always challenges in life whether it’s business or anything else.  I’ve always looked at ways to solve problems instead of dwelling on them. I like to take a step back when I’m involved in a project and determine perspective. Why are we doing this? Is it working? Can we do it better?”  These type questions help eliminate waste and inefficiency, and allow Adams and his team to focus on providing greater value to their customers. Adams honed these problem solving skills while working at the FAA.  He noted, “I learned from the administrator of the FAA how to take time after completing a task to reflect on it and learn how to improve upon it for the next time.”

Adams also has learned the importance of facing your fears.  He said, “Fear is the biggest impediment to achieving goals. Nothing is perfect and learning from mistakes is an important part of striving for success. Even the best leaders make mistakes, sooner or later. How I respond to those mistakes is what determines whether or not I’m an effective leader.”  He encourages leaders to give young people opportunities to grow and atain their goals. Adams emphasized, “In this fast-moving world of technology and practically instant access to information, listening to ideas and input from younger members of your business or organization is very important. Keeping younger members of your team involved will allow them to develop leadership skills and also for you to gauge what’s on the horizon in your organization.”

Adams has helped his company grow from 500 clients to 1,400 clients in 50 states and more than 15 countries.  I am encouraged not only by the success of Adams and his businesses, but also by his commitment to service in his community.  Leaders like Adams will shape Mississippi’s future. I look forward to it.

Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, February 5, 2015.

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A critical function for leaders is to define the situation at hand for their organizations.  Napoleon is quoted as saying, “The role of the leader is to define reality and give hope.” Similarly, famed GE CEO Jack Welch’s once said, “Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be.” Defining reality includes the need to “confront the brutal facts” as business guru Jim Collins would recommend. I see too many organizations that deny reality and adopt blind hope as a strategy.  Being able to face reality and address it head on takes courage and perseverance.  It is easy to deceive ourselves as leaders.


Doug McDaniel

We must be vigilant in gathering the true facts of any situation – not just what we want to hear.

Doug McDaniel, President of McDaniel & Register, Inc., is a committed leader in his industry and community and has consistently strived to help objectively define reality and focus on what is most important in the organizations he has been involved.   McDaniel is a native of Jackson and an Ole Miss graduate. He credits the influence of his father and his early leadership positions in high school and college with fueling his interest in leading and serving.

After college, McDaniel worked for KPMG before beginning a career in the financial industry with Merrill Lynch in 1984.  After later working for A.G. Edwards for a number of years, he joined EFP Wealth Management which proved to be very successful and was later acquired by Stanford Financial.  McDaniel noted that dealing with the fallout of Stanford’s demise was certainly challenging as a leader.  Through support from family, friends, and clients, McDaniel pressed through that trying time and has built a very successful financial services business at McDaniel & Register.

“Don’t confuse process with progress.”

A man of deep faith and conviction, McDaniel has dedicated his time and resources to serving as an active leader in numerous community organization.  In particular, he has served as Chairman of the Board at Jackson Prep, Chairman of the Deacons at First Presbyterian Church, and Chairman of the Board of YBL (Young Business Leaders).  McDaniel was also a founding member of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.  In these leadership positions, he has become a student of how to unleash the potential of high impact boards.  He wisely pointed out that too often we boards have very talented members, but the full potential of the wisdom and experience of the members’ goes untapped.

McDaniel pointed me to Harvard professor Dr. Richard Chait’s work on governance and boards.

Chait’s books have helped shaped McDaniel’s view of how to be a more effective leader.  He shared two influential quotes by Dr. Chait, “Why chase the amoeba when you have a whale in the swimming pool?” and “90% of the work of governance (leadership) is defining reality.”

McDaniel also shared a story about watching an interview years ago of Jim Barksdale when he was with Netscape by Lou Dobbs of CNN.  Dobbs was asking Barksdale about how he managed the company in the complex and fast moving world of technology.  Barksdale answered the question by stating, “The main thing, Lou, is to keep the main thing the main thing!”  McDaniel also shared a very important consideration for leaders and boards, “Don’t confuse process with progress.”  In other words, just because a group followed an efficient process for a meeting does not mean that anything was actually accomplished.

I appreciate leaders like McDaniel who lead with conviction because they know who they are and their priorities.  I know he will continue to positive difference in the organizations he is involved.

Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, January 22, 2015.

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Martin Willoughby

The New Year brings a sense of renewal and change.  Studies show that almost half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately only about 10 percent of those will actually achieve their goals. As you might imagine, resolutions to improve health and finances rank at the top of the wish list.  One of the key ways to achieve resolutions is to let them become a habit.  Psychologist Williams James noted, “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”  While it is frequently said that it only takes 21 days to make a new habit stick, my review of the scientific literature on the subject indicates that it takes our brains closer to 60 days to actually rewire around a new habit.  As we enter 2015, here are a few leadership ideas to consider making a habit.

Just Say No

It’s tough to say no. We might offend someone or miss an opportunity.  A friend of mine describes the need to “chase shiny things” versus staying focused.  However, great leaders know that the ability to say no is critical.  As Gandhi said, “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”  Leadership expert Tony Schwartz similarly emphasized, “Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times.” We have more options than ever and countless opportunities vying for our attention.  It is more important than ever to be purposeful about what we say yes to.  However, this is no easy task.  We often have to say no to many good things.  However, unless we say no to the “good” then we will never be able to focus our time, talent, and energy on the “great.”

Show Appreciation 

Studies have shown that for knowledge workers, money alone is insufficient to motivate performance.  Dan Pink summarized this research in his book Drive and noted that workers are best incentivized by creating an atmosphere of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  In addition, I believe that people need authentic and genuine appreciation.  As I interview employees in organizations, I am amazed at the number of them who have never been shown appreciation in any form.  Appreciation is like a gift.  There is no reason as a leader to be stingy with this gift.  Whether a subordinate, co-worker, or a boss, I highly encourage people to get in the habit of showing appreciation.

Follow Up

I believe one of the most difficult aspects of leadership today is living by the motto “say what you are going to do, and do what you say.”  As I was beginning my career, a wise businessman told me that if I would do good work, return phone calls, and do what I said then I would always have plenty of work to do.  I believe there is great truth in his advice.  As leaders, we need to make a habit of being excellent at follow up and execution.  In addition, if you have people that you are delegating to then you need to be very intentional about follow up.  One of my early mentors kept a legal pad where he wrote down every promise someone gave him regarding delivery on a project or task.  If you missed a deadline, you could expect an immediate phone call from him.  My observation was that his team knew that when they were assigned a task and deadline that he meant it.

I hope these ideas will be an encouragement to you to be the best leader you can be in 2015.  I look forward to sharing more stories about the leaders doing great things around Mississippi in future columns.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, January 9, 2015.] Read More

There is no magic formula for being a great leader. Each day brings new opportunities and unforeseen challenges. To excel as a leader takes wisdom. President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.” My interviewee this week, Gary J. Herring is one of those leaders who brings wisdom and experience to the important role of training tomorrow’s leaders. Since 1987, Herring has been Head of School at First Presbyterian Day School in Jackson.


Gary Herring

A native of Brandon, Herring grew up in a family of educators. He earned an undergraduate degree in business from Ole Miss and went on to get a Masters of Business Administration from Auburn and Masters of Education in Curriculum and Supervision from Mississippi College. Herring shared, “I believe that my background in accounting, personal management, and finance prior to coming to education was essential in becoming an effective leader in education. Running a school requires the same combination of principles as running a business (i.e. the management of people, money, and facilities for the accomplishment of set goals and strategic plans).”

Herring credits his predecessor Joe Treloar with helping to shape him as a leader. Herring said, “Treloar was a true southern, soft spoken, giant of a man. I spent a year under his tutelage. Every morning he would sit me down and explain how decisions were made and the reasons behind them.” Herring continued, “My father was a teacher and principal in Brandon. He was a godly example of how one treats other people.” Herring has great perspective on the role of education in our society. He shared the old proverb that says “we educate our children not for today or tomorrow, but for seven generations in the future.” Herring explained, “No matter if we are public school administrators or Christian school leaders, we must realize that we educate for eternity.”

A man of faith, Herring begins each day seeking wisdom through study and prayer. He said, “I try to follow the principles that I find in Proverbs. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10). Herring also relies on old fashioned “good sense.” He explained, “Sometimes I find that common sense is the best solution to difficult issues. There are times where rules and policies do not fit certain circumstances, and I must use my God-given common sense.” Herring also believes in not asking anyone to do anything that he is not willing to do himself. He said, “I don’t ask anyone to go where I am not willing to go ahead of them.” Herring also recommends hiring talented people and not micro-managing them. He said, “I believe in hiring very competent people and letting them do their jobs without interference.”

Herring believes in genuinely caring for those with whom he works. He shared, “Other people will accept your instruction or correction if they believe that you care about them. Parents will support an administrator’s decisions they don’t particularly like, if they know he or she loves their child. I believe the same is true for employees. You must care about them personally and demonstrate that.

When employees hurt, you must hurt with them.” There are thousands of children that have been positively impacted over the years by Herring’s leadership, vision, and wisdom. I am thankful for servant leaders around the state of Mississippi like Herring who are on the front line in developing tomorrow’s leaders.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, December 18, 2014.] Read More


Freddie Bagley

Most leaders know the importance of creating high-performance teams within an organization. However, the challenge is actually moving from theory to execution in creating winning teams.  Great leaders know how to mobilize teams and lead them to accomplish their full potential.   In their book, The Wisdom of Teams, Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith describe a high functioning team as with one with “a number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they are mutually accountable.” My interviewee this week, Freddie J. Bagley, Chairman of Community Bancshares, Inc., is one of those leaders who has harnessed the power of teamwork to achieve tremendous success.

Bagley, a native of Forest, first learned about building great teams as a student-athlete at Forest High School. He credits his high school coaches and teachers including Ken Gordon, Ken Bramlett, and Milton Walker with teaching him that, “a good team that works together will always defeat a team of stars.”  Bagley went on to East Central Community College where he was an All-Star quarterback, and then Mississippi College where he graduated with a degree in Mathematics.  After a brief teaching and coaching career, Bagley was recruited by Thomas Colbert to join Farmers and Merchants Bank (now Community Bank) in 1976.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Bagley has the spent the last 38 years developing as a leader and helping the organization grow from a $17 million dollar bank to one with over $2.5 billion in assets.

Bagley is a purpose driven man with a clear set of priorities – faith, family, and career.  He has lived out these priorities by being an active leader in his church, and an engaged parent to three children (and now three grandchildren).  Bagley noted, “Through my faith and family support, I have been able to pursue a fulfilling career in banking.  I do feel that God has led me to where I am, and I have been blessed, there is no question about it.”  Bagley credits Colbert (now Senior Chairman of Community Bancshares, Inc.) with helping him develop as a leader.  Bagley shared, “Thomas believed in young people who wanted to accomplish things.  He let you learn from your mistakes, then would help lead you where you needed to go by well-placed questions and suggestions.  He always made you feel like to you could anything or everything.  He was a great encourager to me.”

Bagley explained that his philosophy has been to put the customer first and treat each one with dignity and respect.  He said, “To have a customer focused business, you must have the best people all working with the same purpose in mind.”  He also shared, “One thing that I learned at an early age about leadership is that you have to give up some of your personal goals to accomplish team goals.”  Bagley has put these principles into practice over the years with great success. Today, Community Bank through its family of companies has 41 offices across the South with over 670 employees.  In addition to his leadership at work, home and in the community, Bagley is also a leader in his industry.  He is currently serving as the 126th Chairman of the Mississippi Banking Association.  He noted, “The MBA has a top notch staff and as an association, we have to keep finding things that we can all agree on.  We must remain unified and work together on the things that are important to Mississippi banking.” I am sure Bagley will continue to bring his team-based philosophy to this role as well as his other leadership positions making a positive difference for the state.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, December 4, 2014.] Read More

As a young businessperson, one of the most influential books on my thinking was Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” One of the seven habits he described was to “begin with the end in mind.” I continually come back to this important idea. As the old expression goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there.” If we don’t know where we are heading in life or business, then we are simply consumed in busyness with no clear purpose. We are like Taz, the Tasmanian devil Looney Tunes cartoon character, whirling around in a frenzy of motion. Okay I know I may have dated myself a little with that reference, but at least my younger readers have access to YouTube and can check out Taz!


Martin Willoughby

As much as we might want to deny the fact, we are all mortal and have seasons of life. Businesses similarly have seasons as well. There are the exciting startup days when passionate entrepreneurs try to launch businesses into existence. For those businesses that survive this phase (most don’t), they hopefully enter a nice phase of growth as they scale toward their full potential. At some point, most businesses plateau and begin a gradual decline until they reach some end point such as dissolution, bankruptcy or sale. Of course, mature businesses can have seasons of growth and renewal as well, with new products or services, and a very small number of companies will eventually become publicly traded.

I used to do a fair amount of estate planning. I found that most people don’t like to talk about planning their estates. I get that. Making plans for dying is not exactly on anyone’s Top 10 list of fun things to do. Similarly, I find that very few business owners spend much time talking about the inevitable transition of their business. Since there is still a 100 percent mortality rate, the question is not if, but when, a transition will occur in a business. Business transitions are not all triggered by death. For example, the triggering event could also be a partnership dispute, disability, divorce, or simply a desire to work less or retire.

I have found that there are some common reasons why people put off thinking about succession/exit planning for their business. Probably the most common is simply the tyranny of the urgent. The pressures of the “now” take precedence, and long-range succession planning stays unattended to in the important, but not urgent, bucket of things to do. Others are uncomfortable discussing this topic with family or partners, so they simply don’t. Some owners simply don’t have the advisors around them to properly think through the issues. Successfully operating a business and successfully transitioning a business are two different things and usually require different skill sets.

Chris Mercer, founder of Mercer Capital, presents a compelling case in his book “Unlocking Private Company Wealth” that there is a tremendous need for business owners to better keep the end in mind and consider ways to diversify their wealth away from their closely held business. For more than 75 percent of business owners, their business represents more than 50 percent of their net worth. Mercer points out that most people spend more time professionally managing their liquid wealth (e.g., stocks, bonds, etc.) than they do their illiquid wealth (their business). Managing your business is not exactly the same thing as managing the asset of your business. By viewing your business as an asset, you can reshape how you view your expected returns and target performance.

I have summarized below a few considerations when thinking about the transition of your business:

Do You Have a Plan for Involuntary Transitions?

I’m amazed at the number of successful businesses that don’t have a written plan for involuntary transitions like death, divorce, disability and shareholder disputes. While you can’t plan for every contingency, it is highly advisable to make sure that you plan for some common situations that can occur. This is typically done in the form of a buy-sell agreement with the owners of the business. I also recommend that business owners (particularly sole owners) have written instructions on how they want the affairs of the business to be handled and keep critical information easy to find. I lost a business partner at a very young age, and I learned first-hand how important this type of planning is for the business and the family. It is easy to procrastinate on these issues, so don’t delay!

Do You Have a Plan for Voluntary Transitions?

I regularly visit with business owners who desire to spend more time away from their business to better enjoy their family and golden years. The challenge is to define a target date for a transition from the business and what that transition actually means. I find that some people want to always stay engaged with the business while others would like to hand off the keys and sail into the sunset. It is important to clarify your personal goals so you can plan for a successful transition.

Have You Identified Who You Would Like to Take Over Your Business?

Is there a family member who has the aptitude and interest, an employee or perhaps a third party? Answering these questions will be critical to developing a realistic plan for succession. Most importantly, you want to begin as early as possible in your planning. I find many family-owned enterprises plan three to five years in advance. If you are behind in your planning, the best time to start is today!

Do You Know the Value of Your Company and Your Financial Needs?

Many business owners don’t really know the value of their business. Savvy owners often have an annual appraisal to see how their asset is performing. It is important to be able to look objectively at your company’s valuation. Remember, a business is only truly worth what someone will pay for it.

I also encourage business owners considering a transition to carefully evaluate their cash flow needs. Often, owners fail to consider all of the “perks” that they enjoy as the owner of the business that they would not have if there were a different owner. I recommend a thorough review of the cash flow needs of owners so that they don’t find themselves cash poor after a transition.

It is easy to mistake succession planning as a transaction rather than a process. In reality, business owners should be treating their business as an asset and actively managing that asset in addition to managing the business. They should consider their investment returns and whether they are growing their wealth. In addition, proactive planning for the inevitable transitions that will occur is simply the prudent thing to do. There is a tremendous amount of wealth that will be transitioned in the upcoming years (estimated to be as high as $ 10 trillion). This is an important topic that I hope thoughtful business owners will actively address.

[Originally published in Pointe Innovation, the quarterly publication of Innovate Mississippi, in its Winter 2014 issue.

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Native Mississippian and motivational guru Zig Ziglar once said, “Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.”  Based on my observation of successful leaders, I would wholeheartedly agree with Ziglar’s conclusion.  These leaders have discovered their true passion and are living “on purpose” with focus and determination.  Mission driven individuals inspire others to greatness and to make a difference.  My interviewee this week, Patricia (Patti) Gandy, is the type person Ziglar was referring.  Gandy is living out her passion each day as the founding Director of the Mission First Legal Aid Office which was established by Mississippi College School of Law and Mission First, Inc. to provide legal services to qualified residents of Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties.


Patti Gandy

Gandy’s resume is put together almost as if she was destined for her current role. However, she is quick to explain that there was no grand plan, but instead, a faithful commitment to doing each job well in her journey.  A native of Jackson, Gandy received her associate’s degree from Hinds Community College and soon found herself employed as a receptionist for a law firm which led to her becoming a legal secretary.  While still in her 20s, she went on to become president of the Mississippi Legal Secretaries Association.  As she approached her thirtieth birthday, she decided it was time to complete her undergraduate degree which she did in business at Mississippi College.

To pay her way through school, Gandy freelanced as a legal assistant and ended up helping connect other legal assistants with job opportunities. Upon graduation, she decided to create a business (The Gandy Agency) to provide legal assistants to law firm.  She built a thriving business over an eight year period.  As she considered the next decade of her life, she decided to go to law school at Mississippi College School of Law where she was a top student. Upon graduation, she clerked for the Mississippi Court of Appeals before practicing with Butler Snow, LLP for a number of years. In 2006, Patti accepted the position of Mission First Legal Aid Office.

Gandy shared, “I reflected on what I was passionate about and realized that I truly enjoyed helping the poor and needy.”  She continued, “As I look back, I realize that God was preparing me for each opportunity.”  Leaders like Gandy understand that leadership is journey, not a destination.  Based on the role model of her father, Gandy sought to be a good steward of the job at hand and strived to be a servant leader.  She said, “My Dad also taught me the importance of connecting with his employees on a personal level and being genuinely interested in their lives.”

She bases her leadership philosophy on trust and respect. Today she works with hundreds of professional volunteers to help them live out their faith by using their skills to help the poor with legal aid.  Last year, the organization and its volunteers made a difference in the lives of over 1,500 people.  The organization has been a big success and complements the work done by Mississippi Volunteer lawyer Project and similar organizations.  Gandy’s main focus is on recruiting, motivating, and encouraging the volunteers and keeping the organization aligned with its mission.  She regularly speaks to communities around the state about how to set up similar programs.  In 2014, Gandy was recognized for her accomplishments and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by The Mississippi Bar.  I am encouraged by Gandy’s commitment to excellence and her courage to follow the path of an “on mission” life.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, August 15, 2014.] Read More

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  Most of us start out life with big dreams.   Too often the challenges, and even routineness of life, can cause those dreams to fade away.  However, some people are able to retain that ability to dream and often they go on to change the world. To truly make an impact, you not only need to dream big dreams, but also have the ability to turn ideas into action. Colin Powell noted, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Whether in the business world, government, or non-profit sectors, great leaders point followers to ambitious game changing goals and motivate people to take action!


Stan Buckley

My interviewee this week, Stan Buckley, is one of those visionary leaders. He is currently Executive Director of BUT GOD ministries, a faith-based 501(c)(3) organization.  Prior to his current role, Buckley served as Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Jackson, one of the state’s largest churches.  Buckley, a native of Natchez, did not start out in full time ministry.  The son of a pastor, he pursued a career in law after graduating from Mississippi College School of Law.   After working as a lawyer for several years, he left the practice to follow a call to full time ministry. From 1995-2011, he pastored three churches including First Baptist of Jackson, and he went on to earn his Master’s and Doctorate in Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 2011, Buckley had the vision to found BUT GOD ministries with an initial focus on making an impact in Haiti. The organization focused on building a sustainable community in Ganthier, Haiti and has achieved remarkable success.  In the last three years, volunteers from around the world have partnered with native Haitians to start a medical/dental clinic that has seen over 24,000 patients, build over 50 houses, an orphanage, and a church.  Buckley shared, “In May of this year we began construction on a second Haitian community in the mountainous village of Thoman. This village is located about an hour’s drive from our current community where approximately 6,000 people live with no primitive housing, no electricity, no running water, no jobs, no medical care, and not much else.  The success of BUT GOD ministries in building sustainable communities has attracted attention from leaders from around the world including back in Mississippi.

Buckley credits his father Gerald Buckley who served as a pastor for 50 years in teaching him how to rally people to a cause.  “He was not afraid to take a chance, try something new, and risk failure. He also taught me to stand firmly for what is good and right and to respect, but not fear, others.”  Buckley advises future leaders to not be afraid to attempt something new or different. He emphasized, “Nothing great has ever been accomplished by the weak and the timid and those afraid to take a chance or those satisfied with the status quo. Spend your life doing something that matters.”  Buckley cited Teddy Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”  I am inspired by leaders like Buckley who have the ability to dream big and the courage and perseverance to turn those dreams into reality.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, July 27, 2014.] Read More