Letters From Leton: I’m Thirsty – Pass Me Some Knowledge

One of my favorite pictures of all time is of my son in his blue cap and gown graduating from preschool at Abingdon Presbyterian. A broad smile graced his face while his hands were wrapped around a diploma like an upright baseball bat. A perfect picture if there ever was one of the happiness and pride of completion.

This past Friday I had the great privilege of addressing the graduating class of the 2021 Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management. Folks who invested three years of hard work that included home study problems, dealing with COVID19, and then tackling the challenge of SIM Bank (where you and your team run a bank for a week) would be rewarded with a diploma for their efforts.

As I prepared for my first ever speech to a graduating class, I thought about what set this group of bankers apart from others. Why had their bank managers selected and recommended them at this stage of their career to attend the School?

I suspect there are many good reasons for doing so; however, one common characteristic stood out to me – Their thirst for learning and knowledge coupled with their desire to be better the next day than they were the day before.

With this thought in mind, I challenged the 2021 group to be the greatest class that has ever graduated from the School:

  • To be leaders (and supporters) of their fellow bankers, both inside and outside of their Bank.
  • To be involved in their communities.
  • To become active in the legislative and regulatory activities of their Association (something we should all be doing regardless of what we do).

Near the end of the ceremony as I handed diplomas to the graduates (behind a UVA Wise face mask), I could see so much in each student’s eyes. Relief. Happiness. Pride. It was interesting how much you can learn from a person’s eyes during a slightly different graduation ceremony.

Each day every one of us can grow in ourselves. Our jobs. Our philosophies. We just need to have a thirst, a desire, for learning.

For many, that thirst for learning is as much a part of who they are as any other part.

Well, all this talk about learning has gotten me thirsty for some knowledge… Gotta Google the desert sands of the Sahara and their effect on slowing the creation of hurricanes.. at least that is what the Weather Channel lady said.

Stay safe and get vaccinated.

– Leton

PS – Congratulations to our graduates, Brent Mullins and Tiffany Collier. Brent finished in the top 5 of his class, and Tiffany’s team won their division contest for Simulated Bank. Very proud of our folks!!

Photo of Brent Mullins, Leton Harding, and Tiffany Collier after Brent and Tiffany graduated Bank School


“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.