I have noticed that there is a certain drive that motivates great leaders to try harder, reach further, and persist in the face of challenges. Famed football coach Lou Holtz once said, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”  We all have challenges in life. The question is how we handle them.  Do we press on and remain positive or do we “throw in the towel.” Author Napoleon Hill noted, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”

Michelle Phillips, Vice President of Operations with Bladder Health Network, LLC (BHN), is one of those leaders who is driven to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles life may throw her way.  Phillips grew up in Richland, Mississippi and married and started a family just out of high school.  With bills to pay and young family, she decided to pursue nursing so she earned a degree from Hinds Community College.  She spent the early years of her nursing career at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and with Dr. Ken Perry.


Michelle Phillips

In 2001, she received a call from Dr. Bob Harris whom she had met earlier in her career to come work at Women’s Specialty Center. Phillips noted, “Dr. Harris really helped me develop as a leader.  He provided me opportunities to lead in a clinical setting and took time to help me develop my long term goals.”  She also credits Dr. Harris with helping her to always take the high road as a leader and remain calm under pressure.

In 2009, Phillips had the opportunity to work full time for Bladder Health Network, LLC (BHN).  BHN works with ob/gyn and urology clinics around the country to provide cutting edge medical care for patients suffering from incontinence. Phillips shared about former BHN CEO John Spivey, “I originally was managing the clinical operations of the company, and John helped me to expand my business skills and assume broader operational responsibilities.  He is a great people person and modeled for me how to be an encouraging leader.”  Today, Phillips is a senior executive with the company and manages all day to day operations including overseeing over thirty nurses and technicians.  She shared, “I am passionate about what we are doing at BHN because we are helping patients improve the quality of their lives.”

Phillips, formerly a single mother, is now re-married with a family of five.  She noted that it has not always been easy juggling life’s responsibilities, but that she has learned from the challenges she has faced and grown personally and professionally.  She said, “I always encourage people to never let adversity stand in your way. You can achieve whatever you want if you are willing to work hard enough towards your goals.”  As a leader she believes in establishing clear objectives and allowing her team to have the freedom to act independently. She said, “I am definitely not a micro-manager! I try to treat people with respect and expect the best from my team.”

Too often as adults we abandon our dreams and simply go through the motions of life.  I am encouraged by Phillips’ drive and passion for excellence.  It is rare in life that anything worth doing is easy.  Phillips reminds us that we can courageously pursue our dreams in life and not let let’s challenges defeat us.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 2, 2014.] Read More

Joel Bomgar is the founder of Bomgar Corporation, a leading provider of enterprise remote support solutions.  The company had an ownership change in May when TA Associates, a global private equity firm, acquired a majority interest in the company.

MW: Joel, what has life been like for you after the Bomgar ownership change?

JB: Life is fantastic! My wife and I have baby #4 on the way in early November, and I’ve really enjoyed having the time to pursue an interest in public policy while still being very engaged in Bomgar as well as having time with my wife, Rachel, and our children.


Joel Bomgar

MW: What now is your role with Bomgar Corporation and how are you staying involved with the company?

JB: As chairman of the board, I continue to be involved in strategy, without the need to be involved in tactics or execution. That allows me to focus on vision and assist in numerous other ways where I feel I can add value.

MW: Being the founder of Bomgar Corporation, I’m sure you want to see the company thrive. Where would you like to see Bomgar go from here?

JB: We have spent the last 11 years building an incredible technology platform and worldwide sales and marketing reach with more than two hundred employees worldwide. Those ingredients provide a lot of opportunity for the future in addition to maintaining our #1 position in market share worldwide for enterprise remote support technology. My hope for the future is that we leverage all those assets to maximize their value while keeping and growing our #1 position in the marketplace.

MW:  Along with your involvement as the chairman of the board of Bomgar, what else are you doing with your time?

JB: I’ve spent a ton of time studying a wide range of public policies both nationally and locally and also a lot of time studying economics and human behavior. If you understand economics as well as how people respond to incentives and how public policy alters behavior and often creates unintended consequences, it becomes a lot easier to understand what public policies will work and which ones won’t.

MW:  What made you interested in public policy?

JB: Back in the mid-2000’s, I read the public policy primer “Governing by Principle” put out by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. It was the first time I had read and understood the fundamental elements of what makes government and society work and that started me on the public policy knowledge quest. Since that time I’ve spent literally thousands of hours studying economics and public policy, including listening through lectures on history, philosophy, intellectual history, Austrian economics, and finance from the Teaching Company great courses series. All of this intellectual investment has resulted in me being even more interested in public policy than before.

MW: What specific areas of public policy are you researching?

JB: I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand and solidify the underlying historical and economic foundations, but ultimately I’d like to have a thorough understanding of every area of public policy that affects Mississippians in a significant way, especially those areas where the state spends the most of the taxpayer’s money. For example, just five areas of the general fund budget represent more than 80 percent of where the money goes. Those five areas are elementary and secondary education (nearly 40 percent), post-secondary education (about 15 percent), interest payments on the debt (7 percent) and Department of Corrections (6 percent). I’d like to thoroughly understand every aspect of those areas as well as any other area that affects Mississippians.

MW: Why, in your opinion, are those areas important to you and Mississippi?

JB: The three criteria I use to determine what is most important and where we need to focus are:

–   What affects the most people and in the biggest way?

–   Where are the most financial or other resources going?

–   How much room for improvement is there in that specific area?

When you look at each area of public policy through those three lenses it becomes much easier to focus and prioritize where time and energy should be spent relative to making Mississippi better and moving our state forward.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, September 24, 2014.] Read More

One of the great joys I have in writing this column is that I get the opportunities to meet a wide variety of leaders.  Some have been leading for decades and are in a stage of life where they are mentoring others while others are in the building phase of their career.  Having studied the lives of so many leaders, I like to think that I am able to spot leaders on the rise.  My interviewee this week, Tyler Harrison, is one of those young leaders that I believe will be making his mark. Harrison, a native of Monroe, Louisiana, is the owner of Harrison Homes, a residential construction company in Madison, Mississippi.


Tyler Harrison

A talented athlete, Harrison played junior college baseball before continuing on to Delta State where he played his junior and senior year and graduated with a degree in business.  Following a dream to be in the construction industry, he went on to earn a second undergraduate degree at the University of Louisiana at Monroe in construction.  For the next 12 years, Harrison worked as a construction project manager with Brasfield & Gorrie, a large Alabama based construction firm and Mid State Construction, a Mississippi based firm.  During this time, he had the opportunity to work on large scale projects such as expansions at Baptist Hospital, St. Catherine’s Village, and Jackson Academy.  He also worked on a large condominium project in Houston, Texas.  Harrison noted, “B&G and Mid State both approach business relationships with honesty at the top of the priority list.  That’s something that’s ingrained in their culture, and is also ingrained in me.  They also provided me many opportunities as a young leader to learn and develop as a leader.”

Pre-2008, it seemed like everyone I knew was trying to get into the construction business whether qualified or not.  Most of those people have returned to their old jobs or moved on; however, Harrison decided to follow his passion and step out of his fast track trajectory as a commercial construction industry leader and start his own homebuilding company.   He explained, “My initial interest in construction rooted from an interest in homebuilding.  This seemed like the right move for a long time.  I enjoy time at home and love thinking about the aspects of a home that can make it better or more enjoyable for a family.”  As any entrepreneur knows, it is never easy launching a new business, but Harrison’s experience, leadership style, and commitment to excellence have allowed him to develop a thriving business quickly.

Harrison shared that his baseball days have been influential on his character and leadership style. He shared, “Playing college baseball taught me to be a team player, to take constructive criticism, and push through tough times.” He also emphasized the life lessons he learned from his family that have prepared him for this journey.  “My dad has a work ethic that is contagious.  He will not cut corners and always finishes what he starts.  While my maternal grandfather died when I was young, he was a colonel in the air force and was regarded highly because of his achievements and humble nature.  My paternal grandfather was a successful small business owner in southern Arkansas, who was very diligent, yet quiet and humble.”

Harrison is a humble “hands on” leader.  He explained, “I have always been impressed with people who lead by example, and I strive to lead by example rather than by portraying myself as better than, or above someone else.  I strive to help those around me succeed, but continue to work hard and stand firm to ensure my own success as well.”  For other aspiring leaders he emphasized the importance of learning from others and becoming a working “not only a leader but also a teammate.”  I am always encouraged to be around talented leaders who have the courage to follow their dreams.  I expect we will see Harrison making an impact in the community for years to come.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, September 19, 2014.] Read More

Great achievements in life are never solo endeavors.  Sometimes we forget that.  We can be like the turtle on the fencepost.  As the story goes, “if you’re walking along a fence and spot a turtle sitting atop a fencepost, you know it didn’t get there by itself.”  True leaders have the humility to recognize the important role that other people have had in their lives.  Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”  My interviewee this week, Josh Gilreath, is one of those leaders who has accomplished great things as a leader but humbly recognizes that he is standing on the shoulders of others who have developed him as a leader.  Gilreath is the new State Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in Mississippi.  Gilreath is following in the footsteps of Bill Buckner, who passed away in May of this year after a lengthy illness and leading the organization for 27 years.


Josh Gilreath

Gilreath grew up in Amory and graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in biological engineering.  He worked as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State under Coach Jackie Sherrill,  and went on to join the coaching staff at Indiana University.  His faith led him to leave coaching and join the FCA staff back at Mississippi State where he served for eight years before launching the Pinelake Church Starkville campus.  Shortly after Buckner’s funeral, the Mississippi FCA State Executive Board approached Gilreath about becoming Bill’s successor.  Gilreath shared, “Next to my dad, I can’t think of anyone who has invested in my life more than Bill. The Board shared with me that they had several conversations with Bill, and it was his desire for me to follow him in the FCA ministry, should I sense God leading me that way.”

Gilreath emphasized the impact his family has had on his life and development as a leader. He noted, “My dad was influential in me coming to Christ, and he always expected me to be my best.  If I started something, he expected me to finish.”  He also shared that his grandmother who worked until she was 83 modeled a strong work ethic as did his grandfather who also taught him that your word should always be your bond. Gilreath shared that one of the many things that Bill Buckner taught him as a leader is to have a personal “Board of Directors” for your life to challenge you and hold you accountable.  Gilreath credits his high school football coach Bobby Hall with teaching him to believe anything is possible, and former Mississippi State Coach Sylvester Croom with teaching him about integrity. He credits Pinelake Church Senior Pastor Chip Henderson with teaching him how to lead other leaders.  Gilreath says that he learned how to have a sense of humor as a leader from his wife.  He shared, “She is fun and loving.  I can be too serious.  She reminds me of the importance of having fun and having a sense of humor. We all need to laugh at ourselves.”

All of these influences and others have shaped Gilreath’s philosophy and character as a leader.  He believes in leading with vision and emphasizes what could be and should be if you lead towards it.  To help young leaders find their true passion and calling he challenges them to answer the question, “If money didn’t matter what would you do?”  Gilreath brings a wealth of his experience to his new position. I know that Gilreath and the 31 dedicated full time staff members of FCA Mississippi will continue to positively influence thousands of students and coaches every year around the state.

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

One of the most powerful things that a leader can do is to speak vision into an organization and individuals.  President Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”  Vision lifts our sights.  It helps us to reach for loftier goals and accomplish greater tasks. I often think about the verse from Proverbs “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  I find that organizations without vision are simply going through the motions.  It is the ability to translate vision into action that truly distinguishes great leaders. Author Joel Barker noted, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”


Dean Wendy B. Scott

Wendy B. Scott, the new Dean of the Mississippi College School of Law (MCSOL), is one of those leaders with the ability to turn vision into reality.  She experienced the power of vision first hand as a child growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her family settled after her father retired from the Army.  As one of three daughters, she was heavily influenced by her mother who spoke vision into her life.   Dean Scott shared, “From a young age my mother poured herself into me and my sisters and cast a vision for us that we should grow up and be successful professionals making a difference in the world. To this day, she continues to speak encouragement into my life.”  Dean Scott has certainly lived up to her mother’s vision.  She went on to get her undergraduate degree at Harvard and her law degree from New York University Law School.

With her academic credentials, Dean Scott could have pursued many career paths.  She chose the path less taken to follow her passions to make a difference.  She worked for nine years in employment law helping those less fortunate.  She worked at the Legal Action Center of the City of New York, as an associate at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in New York City, and directed litigation as the associate counsel for the Center for Law and Social Justice, a community law office in Brooklyn, New York.  During this time she began teaching law at Hunter College, Brooklyn Law School, and CUNY Law School and discovered how much she enjoyed working with students.

She decided to pursue teaching full time and served in administration and as a professor at Tulane and North Carolina Central School of Law before joining MCSOL.  In her new role, Dean Scott is meeting with faculty individually to hear their vision for the Law School.  She shared, “One of things I have learned as a leader is that the vision for an organization has to be a collective one.”  She has a passion for excellence and is a firm believer in the power of the team.  Dean Scott noted, “My predecessor Dean Jim Rosenblatt built a great team, and I am fortunate to inherit such a talented group of leaders.”  She believes in recognizing and rewarding successful teamwork and has emphasized that to the staff.  For young leaders, she encourages them not to simply chase money, but to truly consider their dreams and passions and have the courage to pursue them.

Dean Scott brings a wealth of experience and a vision for making a difference to MCSOL, and I know that she will be a positive influence not only on the law students, but also the community and the state.

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

One thing I have noticed about truly effective leaders is that they are able to keep good  perspective and know how to effectively handle stress.  They are “cool” under pressure.  We tend to think in extremes as it relates to stress.  The goal is not to eliminate stress from our lives or we will never grow.  Sports psychologist and executive coach Dr. James Loehr noted, “Stress pushes us to expend energy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Then comes a period of recovery and healing—and growth.”   However, too much stress with no perspective can lead to trouble as well.  Author James Allen said, “The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”   My interviewee this week, Mike Morgan, is one of the most effective leaders I have ever observed in keeping perspective and remaining calm in the face of uncertainty.

Morgan, a Clinton native, served as CFO, and later as President, of Bomgar Corporation until he recently accepted a position as a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Morgan received a bachelor degree in accountancy from Ole Miss and later a MBA from Mississippi College and a Certificate of Professional Accountancy from the University of West Florida.   Morgan, a licensed CPA, began his career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen and later worked for LDDS Communications as a Corporate Development Manager.  Prior to joining Bomgar in 2006, Morgan had served as CFO for Touch One Communication, Trinsic, and American Healthtech.


Mike Morgan

Morgan shared, “Stress management doesn’t get enough attention as a leadership quality.  At every level of the organization, you have employees that really care about what they are doing and employees that don’t care.  The ones that care feel stress, because they want to do a good job.  Those are the ones that perform and rise up through the organization.  They get more responsibility, so they feel more stress.  There is a healthy level of stress that keeps us pushing forward.  But there is an unhealthy level of stress that kills performance and can consume people.  A leader has to recognize the level of stress of his high-performing employees and help them keep it from becoming unhealthy.”

Morgan also emphasized that perspective is also important for a leader.  He noted, “Being able to discern what really deserves your time and attention, and helping employees discern what really matters is a big part of leading.” Morgan shared with me additional wisdom for future leaders, “Employees need to know you believe in them and you have high expectations.  They will want to live up to the expectations.  When its game time, you don’t hear coaches nitpicking every little flaw of the team.  The pregame talk is all about believing in the team and setting high expectations.  On Monday you review the film and make some corrections, but pretty quickly you are back to building folks up.”

Morgan helped entrepreneurial founder Joel Bomgar lead Bomgar Corporation through eight years of high growth which led to a successful recapitalization by TA Associates in May.  After helping with the transition, Morgan decided to pursue teaching full time.  He had previously taught part time as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College and Holmes Junior College.  Morgan shared, “I am very excited about the opportunity at USM to work with students and help prepare them for their future. In my brief tenure so far, I have been very impressed with the institution and the quality of students.  They are going to keep me on my toes!” I am excited that these students will benefit from not only Morgan’s expertise in finance and accounting, but also as an extremely effective and balanced leader.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, August 29, 2014.] Read More

Mississippi, the home of literary greats such as Faulkner, Morris, and Welty, arguably has had more than its fair share of people talented with the gift of words. Joe Stradinger, Founder and CEO of Edge Theory, and I recently discussed this cultural history.  We joked that perhaps the soil is richer here in Mississippi.  Joe’s company is tapping into this tradition in a very exciting and unique way. They are marrying innovative technology with the rich Southern tradition of conversation to achieve measurable results for companies in the realm of social media marketing.  Joe grew up in the Mississippi Delta and earned his accounting degree from Mississippi College before traveling the world as a business consultant with Arthur Anderson.  In 1998, he started Musicforce.com, an online Christian music site, which was an instant success and was acquired by Gaylord Entertainment shortly after its launch.  After working for Gaylord Entertainment and launching Gaylord Digital, Joe went on to success in real estate projects before returning to his knack for technology innovation.


Joe Stradinger

As social media was just ramping up, Joe saw its potential and was on the leading edge of thinking about how to apply it to help businesses grow.  He consulted with companies like Viking Range and Home Away on how to authentically engage and connect with customers.  Joe’s research and work in this field led him to launch Edge Theory (formerly known as Leadify) in 2012.   Joe noted, “I realized that the true power of social media is not in likes, follows or favorites.  Instead, social media has the greatest impact and the greatest return from the indexing of content that occurs daily across hundreds of search engines and content aggregators, effectively raising authority and disseminating content to thousands of people who will never like nor follow a business’s social media accounts.” He continued, “Companies pursuing authentic conversation (beyond the overt repetition of self-promotion) can connect with thousands of people before they ever think about a company or search for a product or service. Every day, a business can connect consumers with their interests.”

He contrasts traditional search engines where people already know what they are looking for with what he does which he describes as a “Find Engine.”  Interestingly, he helps companies connect with customers before they are even customers.  Joe calls these “pre-customers.”  His company does this by helping clients create and engage in conversations with these pre-customers around their passions and connecting them with his client’s location, features, & unique value.  Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale recognized the potential of this new company and now serves on the Board of Directors.  The company is quickly scaling its business and now has offices in Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York in addition to their headquarters in Jackson. They have clients on three continents which include well-known brands as Neiman Marcus, Match.com, Mayo Clinic, and Travelocity as well as Mississippi based Trinity Apparel, University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Mississippi College.

I am always on the lookout for great companies on the rise in Mississippi, and I was excited to learn of Edge Theory’s aggressive plans for growth.  Joe’s energy and passion are contagious.  In addition, I was struck by his pride in his Mississippi roots.  As he travels the globe evangelizing for his company and this innovative marketing model, he is often asked how he could create a company like this in Mississippi as opposed to the normal technology centers like San Francisco, Austin, or Boston.  When he explains Mississippi’s history and knack for the art of conversation, he is able to say, “There is no place I would rather be!”

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, August 22, 2014.] Read More

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

In February of 2005, I was practicing in a two person law firm when my law partner and good friend Jesse Harrington passed away.  It was a time of great difficulty, and I considered what path to next take in life.  I distinctly remember someone sharing with me to not make any drastic changes for at least a year.  That was great advice. Towards the end of that year, I had the opportunity to get to know a young talented attorney named Patrick McCraney.  Patrick was several years younger than me, but had a great resume as an Ole Miss graduate and a law degree from Washington & Lee.   He had recently served as President of the Jackson Young Lawyers and was building a reputation as a real estate and business lawyer.


Patrick McCraney

The son a prominent Jackson physician, Patrick was the youngest of four high achieving siblings.  Out of law school, he had an entrepreneurial drive which led him to explore some different avenues to combine his love of the law with his passion for business.  Some may describe that entrepreneurial drive as an affliction, if so, it is one that I have suffered for most of my life.  With a similar drive to help businesses grow and prosper, Patrick joined my law practice and over the next several years built a thriving practice. Except for a brief stint as a general counsel of a real estate company, Patrick focused on building his client base and continuing his leadership development including being a part of the inaugural class of the Mississippi Bar Leadership Forum and serving in leadership roles with Young Business Leaders of Jackson and the Capital Area Bar Association.

When I stepped away from practicing law day to day and assumed my current role with Butler Snow Advisory Services, Patrick took the leap to form his own law firm which today is McCraney, Coco & Lee, PLLC.  It is with great satisfaction that I have watched him develop as a leader in the law and build a thriving law practice.  I know first-hand how challenging it is to start a practice from scratch and juggle the demands of taking care of clients as well as running the operations of a law firm.

Patrick credits his parents with modeling for him the qualities of a leader.  He noted, “My father demonstrated consistency, priorities, faithfulness, discipline and compassion.  He had zero fear of being ‘unpopular’ in our world if that meant doing what he believed was right for our family or our well-being/personal development.”  His mother also assumed multiple leadership roles in the community, and he shared, “She clearly demonstrated that leadership roles were to be embraced and you should serve when called upon if at all possible within the context of your schedule and priorities.”

For future leaders, Patrick encourages them to “Be yourself!”  He shared, “You can certainly learn from and emulate others, but everyone’s leadership style is unique.   Lack of authenticity is very transparent and easily detected.   As much as people are drawn to authentic leadership, they are equally repelled by disingenuous actions and attitudes.”  Patrick also emphasized the importance of being a good listener and noted, “You can’t truly lead others when the only perspective or viewpoint you hear is your own.”   With four young children and a law practice to manage, Patrick keeps a very busy schedule; however as modeled by his parents, I expect that we will see continued commitment to leadership in his profession and the community.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, August 11, 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