March 6, 2012
Panel Discussion: Rusty Gordon, Chris White, Todd Williams
Priorities & Intentional Living – Session Summary
PANELIST: RUSTY GORDON
Rusty Gordon, an original Atlanta high tech entrepreneur has led numerous successful business turnarounds, startups and acquisitions over the last 30 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Silk IS, the Chairman Speedtracs, and the Chairman QuickVault. His past includes CEO and leadership roles at companies that include Knowlagent, IFLEET, Automated Design Systems, Choice Retail Systems, and Peachtree Software. Rusty has also applied his business building skills to many local technology associations and non profits as a senior officer or board member. These include the Technology Executive Roundtable, Teacherlaptop Association, High Tech Ministries, and Southeastern Software Association among others.
Mr. Gordon received his Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from Auburn University in 1975 and was recognized by Auburn as the IE outstanding alumnus in 2002. He is the lay leader of Roswell United Methodist Church and for the last 19 years has focused his service on senior high and young adults in the metro Atlanta area.
He and his wife, Ann, of 30 years have three children.
PANELIST: CHRIS WHITE
Chris has been mentoring men in ministry and business across Atlanta for over 30 years. Currently, he serves as President and CEO of Leadership Ministries, an organization he founded in 1986. In his role he is focused on equipping men to be faithful leaders in their marriages, families, businesses, churches, and communities and to teach them to equip others to be the same. The organization sponsors weekly bible studies attended by hundreds of businessmen in Buckhead, Alpharetta, Perimeter Center, and in Nashville. He also leads Leadership Development Companies, assisting executives with strategic planning, personnel selection, executive communication, life and career planning.
Prior to his current role, Chris spent 10 years at IBM where he was a top sales person in New York City and an area sales manager in Philadelphia. It was during his time in Philadelphia that he and his wife came to faith in Jesus Christ, in large part through the ministry of Art and Nancy Demoss. In 1980 Chris and his wife came to Atlanta and started to experiment with new forms of Christian ministry to men.
He and his wife Suzanne have been married for 43 years and have three adult sons.
MODERATOR: TODD WILLIAMS
Todd Williams has nearly 25 years of business development and leadership experience. Currently, Todd is president and co-founder of The Leaders Lyceum, a management consulting firm dedicated to personal and leadership development. His role is focused on managing business operations and technology support for the Lyceum.
Todd spent six years as an executive with The Home Depot and is a graduate of the company’s Accelerated Leadership Program. He held positions within their strategic business development, business operations and business process improvement groups. In one role, Todd led a team in the creation of a new business unit, building an 11-store/two market concept. As the business leader, he managed from startup to a nearly $70MM operating unit with over 300 associates in just over 18 months.
A graduate of Michigan State, Todd has been a long-time, active proponent of strong public education having served as past president of the Riverwood Foundation in support of Riverwood International Charter School.
Todd and his wife Celia have been married for 27 years and have three teenage kids. They actively serve as leaders in the middle school and elementary age programs at Buckhead Church.
Question #1: In the last 30 years, what is one thing that you’ve done wrong that you would like to share?
• With my first business, I worked 365 days in year one. In year 2, I worked 364. The next year, I took Sundays off.
• Big failure = I failed to realize that time was my most precious resource
• After the navy, I spent 10 years doing something I didn’t enjoy and wasn’t particularly good at only considered the money
• Big failure = I failed to realized that money is a great resource, but a terrible master
Question #2: Considering that failure, what was the biggest catalyst for change?
• Started realizing that I wasn’t able to please everyone
• Figured out that I had to define my purpose before setting my priorities
• Highly recommend the book “The On-Purpose Person”
• After selling my first business, I reevaluated my life and prayed for a return to purpose
• My key realization was to “submit and listen to God”
• I then learned to manage time as “precious” versus “scarce”
• During the initial 10 years of my career, I fully realized the “Peter Principle” where in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence
• After 12 of my team members threatened to quit, my boss called me into his office and told me that I was a terrible leader
• My key realization = pain is the greatest teacher
• I took time to pray and reflect on “Who am I?” and “the meaning of God” and my wife and I found Christ when I was 36 years old
Question #3: Can you be specific about how you apply intentionality to your life/work?
• Constantly studying, learning and searching to understand the bible
• Seeking ‘wisdom keepers’
• Being persistent and intentional about my community understanding that my community has an exponential impact in my life and I will rise or fall with my peer group
• Fathers, be intentional about making sure your kids hang out w/ the right crowd
• Created a life purpose statement
• Book recommendation: “Success, Motivation, and the Scriptures”
• Realized that balance is a myth
• “Good can become the enemy of great”
• The strongest Christians are rarely balanced – must be lopsided to the Lord
Question #4: What recommendations would you have for the fathers in the room?
• Watch out who your kids hang out with
• Connect your children with another man that you highly respect
• Train your children as if you won’t be around tomorrow
• The work of the devil for high capacity people is busyness
• Focus on your biggest influence during the Halloween years (ages 5-12)
• Just make sure to keep them alive before and after Halloween years
• The most strategic relationship you have is with your wife
• Good kids will come out of good marriages
• Your kids live in the space between you and your wife