Author: Leton Harding

Letters From Leton: What Can’t You Do This Week?

Vacations give you a different perspective. They take you out of the normal – physically and otherwise.

I have a few stories that I will share during the coming weeks, but I want to start with one that inspired me as I did my morning walks.

One morning, I saw a man being rolled out in his wheelchair. It appeared to me that he had MS (similar to the famous physicists Stephen Hawking among others).

As I walked on, I didn’t think much more about the man and the helpers who were taking him outside – that is, until he passed me on his 3-wheel bike!

At first I was confused. Was this the same fellow I had just seen in the wheel chair?

I realized it was.

I don’t know the man’s story, where he came from, nor what affliction he has.

What I do know is that he has the constitution to not quit. To get his bike ride on.

As you go through the week with challenges, hectic days, work demands, I hope you will take a minute to think about this man and consider, “What Can’t YOU Do this Week?”.

I hope the answer that comes to mind is, “There is nothing I can’t do this week!”

– Leton

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“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: The Greatest of All Time!

If you are of a certain age or into sports, the title above strikes a bell with you: Muhammad Ali – who called himself and was called by others, “the Greatest Fighter of All Time”.

Ali did and does arouse many emotions from folks – from the brash Cassius Clay winning his first championship to the Muhammad Ali who went to prison versus fighting in the Vietnam War to the legend who surprised the world by lighting the Torch at the 1996 Olympics.

I recently heard a story as told by Roy Firestone, a former ESPN reporter and author, about Ali’s visit to a nursing home once.

During his visit with the residents, Ali and his entourage (6 or 7 folks) came into a room with a 98 year old man. The man had lost his legs to diabetes, was hard of hearing, and had cataracts.

A member of Ali’s group asked the man several times if he wanted to meet the Greatest Fighter of All Time. The man did not respond.

Ali and his group were turning to leave when the man in his wheelchair gradually turned around, moved towards Ali, and slowly said, “I know you. You are the Greatest of All Time.” Ali puffed out his chest, smiled and said, “Yes I am”. Then the older gentleman said, “You are Joe Louis.” (Another legendary boxing champion).

A member of Ali’s entourage started to correct the old man when Ali stopped him and proceeded to move with the old man to a corner of the room where they visited for a time.

When Ali returned to his group they asked why he had not allowed them to correct the old man. Ali responded by saying that since the old man thought Joe Louis was the greatest of all time and thought Ali was Joe Louis, why should he not allow the man to have a fond memory of meeting one of his heroes?

In life we often have the opportunity to “correct people”. Or perhaps we don’t know something and “become defensive” when others offer advice or assistance.

But when a man of renown can bow to a 98 year old man whose name history may not ever remember – there is a lesson in humility there for all of us.

– Leton

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“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Bacon, Egg and Cheese – Bacon Extra Crispy!

What is your favorite Biscuit from Hardees?

The other morning, Jenna was mentioning to me a lady who works at the Wise Hardee’s. She shared that every time goes by, the lady is cheerful, helpful, and happy. I have noticed her too.

Think about this lady’s morning. Up at 3:00 AM (likely). Off to work in the dark. Cars lined up 10 deep (often) plus the restaurant lined up inside. Orders flying around including special orders (Bacon extra crispy).

Jenna told me that she mentioned to the lady one day how she seemed to enjoy her work, smiling, happy, and that she appreciated the uplifting comments.

Take some time to think about the value of being part of the PVNB family. A solid bank with a 132 year history of serving customers and the communities we live in. What’s not to smile about!

Oh – and by the way, if we notice how friendly and helpful folks are at Hardees (or other places we shop) do you think our customers notice how friendly and helpful we are (or are not)? 

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Proud Appalachian

I recently attended an event in Bristol of a regional group that has been working on a name that could be used to market the entire region (East TN, SWVA).

The name “Tri-Cities” is basically limited to Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City, and there are many “Tri-Cities” around the country (for example, Tri-Cities in Virginia is Colonial Heights, Petersburg, and Hopewell).

During the session, they explained that after much research and input from many folks (including people from as far away as Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte), the top choice they were leaning towards was “Appalachian Highlands”. This past month that was made official.

At some point in the meeting and during the discussion afterwards, it was mentioned that some economic development officials were generally opposed to using the name “Appalachian”. They viewed “Appalachian” as a negative term that would create marketing issues.

To say that this flew all over me (a good Appalachian term) would not do it justice.

I arose to say that we should be proud of our culture, our people, and our mountains, and any “negative” connotations of the term “Appalachian” come from a lack of knowledge about it on the part of those viewing it negatively. I have also heard (from others that I shared this story with) that our younger folks may not have the same perspective as these older economic types.

To put it bluntly – we are what we are – and we should work to promote the many positives in our region (beauty, quality of life, cost of living, geographic safety, friendly people) and fix what is challenging (lack of jobs, drug addiction).

I guess some folks think it would be easier to call ourselves something else.

Me – Call me a proud Appalachian!

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Is it Ok to F.A.I.L.?

Over my life I have had different experiences where I was so afraid of failing that I hesitated to do something.

When I was younger, it was getting out on the dance floor, asking a girl I liked to go out on a date, or standing in front of folks and talking (yes, that is true especially for a boy who stuttered).

Over time I learned that I was missing out on so many things in life, so I decided that there was one thing worse than failing – that was not experiencing life!

I was reminded of my hesitancy recently while reading a post on LinkedIn about what F.A.I.L. means – First Attempt In Learning!

How many of us have really succeeded the first time we tried something new – hitting a golf ball – playing a guitar – cooking a meal – learning a new skill?

As we get older, are we more afraid of failing? As a young person are we afraid that in trying something new, our fellow Bank employees, family or friends will know that we are not “perfect”?

At our Bank, I hope we create an atmosphere that allows you to fail – for without failure, learning and growth does not occur.

We work in an industry that has changed and which will continue to change immensely.

To truly succeed as a person, as a banker, and as a bank – we must be willing to fail – and that is a good thing.

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Katrina Get Out Of My Bed!

With the news of Hurricane Dorian, I was reminded of the terrible storm Katrina.

A number of years ago, I heard a President of a Bank from New Orleans talk about how his bank “survived” Katrina – at least the passing of the storm – but he knew he was in trouble when he was walking on a street near his Bank, and a trickle of water ran past his shoes (like George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou?). He had a sinking feeling in his gut that the levies north of town had been breached, and soon the entire area was flooded, after the Hurricane passed through.

Facing potential danger focuses one’s attention, but most days we do not have a looming storm to cause us to get prepared. In fact most of the time, we are kind of lackadaisical about being prepared.

  • Recently Aaron Hicks presented to the Board the first draft of our Business Continuity Plan crafted by many. We want to be prepared!
  • During Loan Committee we often ask what kind of life insurance or disability insurance the customer has. We want them to be prepared!
  • We have implemented many systems (online banking, mobile banking, MobiMoney , e-alerts, e-statements) so our customers can be prepared to guard their money!
  • We offer Investment Services so our customers can be prepared to retire comfortably or send their kids or grandkids to school!  

There are many stories from our youth (The Ant and The Grasshopper, The Three Little Pigs) that remind us that being prepared is valuable and something we must stress around here – for our employees and customers.

Oh – the reference to Katrina Stay Out of My Bed – a song by the Red Stick Ramblers, a Cajun–Fusion band that played on my iPOD the other morning as I watched the progress of Dorian on the TV during my treadmill excursion.

A wonderful song with a great beat and a chilling story of a storm we would all like to forget, yet a reminder of the need to be prepared!

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Let’s Get Rid of Air Conditioning

I think we should get rid of air conditioning. Are you with me?

Now, I suspect I know the answer to that question (after a hot and humid summer).

The question you are thinking (perhaps) is, why would Leton want to get rid of air conditioning?

It is all for Castlewood State Park in Missouri (or what was a Park) on the Meramec River.

You see, in the early 20th Century, the Missouri Pacific River would haul folks (10,000 a weekend) who lived in hot St. Louis (with all of the  summer heat and smoke from factories) to the Meramec River so that they could cool off at the Castlewood Park. The park was open from 1915 to 1940, with its heyday in the 1920’s.

What led to the closing of the park? – Evil Air Conditioning!!

See, with the invention of air conditioning, people could stay in the hot cities, so the desire to travel to a state park to take a dive in water went away.

So I figure if we get rid of  air conditioning, places like Castlewood State Park can reopen, and things can be like they were!

I suspect that the folks reading this and shaking their head “no” to getting rid of air conditioning will doom my idea.

Well I guess we could draw other parallels for getting rid of air conditioning.

Maybe if we get rid of computers and the internet, more folks will buy local goods, and places like Sears, Payless Shoes, and the Limited can re-open.

Maybe if we got rid of direct deposit, online banking, remote deposit, mobile banking, ATMs, and Debit Cards, we could get more folks back into the Bank.

I don’t think those things will happen, so we will need to adapt to a new world of banking and competition and deliver it with superior service and friendliness!

Well, at least we will have air conditioning to keep us cool as we sweat out the details of the future.

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Rise To The Challenge

After a strenuous early afternoon of hanging curtains at the Jonesville Office, I took Tammie (my bride) out for lunch for the work she had done in the office.

We were in line at a local restaurant, and there was an older lady ahead of us.  As she reached the end of the line to pay for the sandwiches, she started writing a check (drawn on our Bank).  The cashier said, “I’m sorry we do not take checks anymore.”   The woman looked somewhat shocked and bewildered.

I stepped up and introduced myself and told her lunch was on me and that she could stop by and see Rachel, Crissie, or Jeff and get a debit card any time, and it would only take 5 minutes or so to get one.

She was pleased but wanted to write me a check for paying. I told her no and thanked her for her business.

Upon returning from lunch, the lady was in Rachel’s office, had gotten her new debit card, and wanted to pay me.  I again told her no.

She told me that she was 86, and she and her husband had banked here for a long time and that many times without Browning Wynn’s (the original) help, she and her family would have gone hungry and…

That we were, are, and would always be her Bank!

Recently, we have had a number of folks in our communities impacted by mine closures due to Bankruptcy of the coal companies.  We pray that they will re-open.

The struggles for these folks will be difficult.  It will be challenging for us to find ways to help out our customers without putting our Bank at excessive risk.

We will find ways to meet this challenge as we have since 1888.

I still get questions from others in our profession as to why I choose to work in a community bank in a mostly rural area.

Perhaps our friendly customer I met at lunch could explain it to them for me.

– Leton

 

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“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: What’s In A Name?

Do you remember the first time you saw your name on a nameplate? There it was on your station or desk telling the world who you are. Perhaps it was your first business card sharing where you worked and what you did. If you were like me, a certain pride swelled up inside of you.

Maybe your parents stressed to you that what you did had an impact (positive or negative) on the family name.

In our daily activities, we have the opportunity to learn and use our customers names. When they come into our office we call out their name and welcome them to the Bank. Or use their name several times on the phone when they reach out to us for help.

As I meet with new customers, one of the primary things I hear is that they like how we use their name – that we know them and that they are not just a number. That they feel at home at our Bank.

Names are a powerful thing and we need to always remember that.

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.

Letters From Leton: Don’t Kill That Moth!

Wednesday nights I often listen to a show called “The Moth Radio Hour” that features story tellers (I have been trying to learn to come out of shell as a public speaker).

On a recent episode, Les Strayhorn told a story regarding going to school in North Carolina as a black man during integration in the 1960’s. I listened intently; I have some friends who went through the same experience.

He shared that his father, a farmer, had volunteered him to be one of the first students to get on the bus to make the 5 mile trip to the new integrated school. The bus driver set him and his cousins on the front seat “to cut down on trouble.” In spite of this, he was constantly harassed, especially by a certain fellow. The fellow used foul language and threatened him physically.

Les spoke to his father about the options for dealing with the bully, including fighting. His father stressed that as one of the first black students at the school, he needed to set the example, and getting kicked out of school for fighting was not an option. His father told him to pray and an answer would come.

When Les learned that the other fellow was going to try out for football, an idea came to him: he would try out for football and take his frustrations out on the field.

Sure enough, the two met often on the field during practice as Les, an offensive lineman, maneuvered himself to confront the bully, a defensive lineman. After a few weeks, the bully quit the team, and Les was ready to do so as well since he had completed his mission. When the coach learned he was quitting, he told Les he could not quit because with his talent, he could play in college (and get off the farm). Les continued to play through high school, then college, then in the NFL as a running back for the Dallas Cowboys and other teams.

Later in life after retirement, Les thought about his father’s guidance and the young fellow who challenged him. He realized that without the challenge of the bully, and trying to find a way to deal with it, he would likely not have played football, and thus the rest of a successful career would not have occurred.

Each day we are challenged. Some days the challenges rise to frustrations or even anger. Often when we get to the other side of a challenge, we see that it was the challenge and how we reacted that led to our growth – both as a person and as part of a business like Powell Valley National Bank.

Embracing challenges and change make us all stronger – as people and as a Bank.

– Leton

____________________________________________________________________
“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.