What are the 15 words you want to be remembered for when you complete a business deal or at the end of your life of doing deals?
That was the question a businesswoman asked as she began to share about the impact a mutual friend and business partner had on her life. She continued,
“David Winfield Clark, a man of highest integrity, kindness, humor, purpose and dedication to family and community…”
Those are some 15 words! She went on to say that their relationship started somewhat antagonistically. It was Dave’s exemplary qualities, especially within the construction industry notorious for businessmen who could not begin to fill any of those words, that helped them forge a 40-plus year business and friendship relationship.
Dave was a proud Nevadan who built a 100-million-dollar construction company. He had the foresight early on to bring in a partner 20 years his junior with a planned retirement age built into the deal. Along the way he and his partner decided to create an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). By the time Dave left this earth, he had not only honored his commitment to his partner by retiring so he could pass on the role of CEO, but he also lived to see the company he created go on to be owned by its employees.
One of the funniest moments in our consutling relationship and friendship was when we were deep into planning Dave’s life after his construction company, Clark and Sullivan. He told me about wanting to create a sports car company. Not wanting to detract from his BHAG, I suggested that maybe he should start with buying the Porsche he had been saying he wanted. I soon learned that he supposedly went home and told his wife Sue that “Andrea said I need to buy a Porsche!” We both laughed about that for many years.
I have used this space before to honor many people I love and lost. I share about Dave for a different reason.
We are living through a time of great disruption, not only in business, but every aspect of life as we understood it. Yet, the words that described how Dave lived his life would apply today as easily as they did over his 80 plus years on this earth.
Living a life of high integrity, kindness, humor, purpose and dedication to family community is a goal we can all strive for. You don’t need for me to tell you that many of those words were also showed up as his character strengths in the VIA.
Imagine what business and life in general would be like if we all achieved Dave’s life standard?
Dave was in my dissertation study, a client, an investor in our first hotel, and most of all a friend. We traveled the world together. I knew him well and under as many different circumstances so I can attest his character never vacillated. The 15 words his family chose to describe him are some of the truest words ever written about a man. Dave, you will be missed. I will hold out hope that the intrigrity you exhibited in business will be a guidepost of us all.