Patrick Adams

‘It’s the little things that matter’

Credit union CEO recounts a life-changing heart attack.

September 17, 2018

A few years back Patrick Adams, CEO of St. Louis Community Credit Union, suffered a heart attack—and survived. He shared his story Friday at the co-located CUNA Technology Council and CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council Conferences in San Francisco.

If possible, he suffered his attack under the best of possible conditions:

  • There was a defibrillator onsite at the YMCA where he was working out.
  • A U.S. Secret Service Agent was also working out. He knew how to use a defibrillator.
  • Scheduling snafus resulted in Adams and the agent being at the gym at the same time.
  • A fire station and paramedics were nearby to assist Adams.

One of the things that Adams took away from the episode: It’s not necessarily the big things that make the difference in our lives.

“I’m convinced the it’s the little things that matter,” Adams says. “I’m never going to write a book or be on Oprah. I learned early on that I’m going to enjoy the little things.

Adams says it’s about conscious and active thought. “How many of you have driven somewhere and not even realized how you got there? We’ve got to pay attention. Do you even know what you like, what you really like? I love bacon. I love whip cream—straight out of the can. It’s the little things.”

More profoundly, Adams understands what matters. “I love people, and if you’re in the credit union business you have to love people,” Adams says.

Leaders have an opportunity to raise their organization cultures, but they can only do so by guiding the people they work with—by “transcending the org chart,” Adams says.

“Leaders know the passion to live well is grounded in people.”

Click here for more conference coverage from CUNA News, and get live updates on Twitter via @cumagazine, @CUNA_News, @CUNACouncils, and by using the #TechCouncil and #OMECouncil hashtags. Learn more about the CUNA Councils, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at