As I think about the New Year, goal setting and resolutions, I also find it interesting how different people have affected my life. Perhaps it was something they said, or did, or maybe simply being around them was sort of an affirmation.
Let me share two examples. One involved the late Ray Danner of Shoney’s Restaurant fame, who also had significant financial investments in Rutherford County. I need to establish, first of all, that I have a penchant for time – never want to be late for an appointment and must arrive early – all to the chagrin of my family and co-workers.
Years ago, when I was with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, I made an appointment with Danner. It is my custom to ask for a specific amount of time when making an appointment, such as, “May I have an appointment for 9 a.m. for 30 minutes?”
Well, I had a morning appointment with Mr. Danner at his office in Nashville. I had specifically asked for 30 minutes. I arrived 15 minutes early, and while talking to the receptionist, he arrived and looked at me, noting that I was early.
I replied, “Yes, sir. I never want to be late, had rather wait on you than be late myself. I’ll be comfortable waiting here in the lobby until you can see me.”
Danner waited until almost the exact second for the scheduled appointment to emerge from his office. He was courteous and engaging as we talked about his early career and business successes, along with the subject that I came to get his opinion on. That 30-minute appointment turned into a three-hour conversation, at Danner’s request. The time spent with him reminded me to always be early for appointments, because many times a person can get more time than requested.
Another possible New Year’s resolution could be to embrace optimism. I call it: “What you see is what you will get.” The former president of Middle Tennessee State University, the late Dr. James Walker, accomplished much during his time in Murfreesboro. I remember back when he was focused on getting MTSU into Division 1 football. One requirement, among many, was an expanded football stadium. The university, the Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Joe B. Jackson, County Executive John Mankin, Rep. John Bragg and many others were members of a task force whose purpose was to explore the idea of a multi-use stadium to benefit MTSU and other entities in the area.
I recall when Boots Donnelly, Bob Parks and those mentioned before, along with some others, met with owners of the Nashville Sounds baseball team to discuss the possibility of a joint venture. La Vergne Mayor Shirley Winfree even suggested that the proposed stadium be located on the Rutherford-Davidson County line to serve the Sounds, MTSU and other possible partners.
Our task force also drove to Louisville one day and met with officials from the University of Louisville because they shared a multi-use facility with a professional baseball team. I remember meeting legendary football great Paul Hornung that day while we were there. A native and resident of Louisville, he was working out in the training facilities. The Golden Boy was one of the stars of the Green Bay Packers during the reign of Coach Vince Lombardi.
Even though the multi-use stadium idea later became a moot issue, the thing I remember most about our fact-finding as a task force was what Walker said. His quotable quote was, “If I had to bet on the sun rising tomorrow morning or MTSU getting a new football stadium, I’d bet on the football stadium.” Walker’s optimism and charisma were inspirational. What he saw is what MTSU got.
In closing, think about some people who have influenced your life. Give them a call. Send a note. Find a way to tell them how important they are. Make it a New Year’s resolution.