Adams: Love your people

Near-death experience gives CEO a deeper appreciation for family, staff, and members.

March 22, 2019

Patrick Adams is alive and well and eating bacon.

That wasn’t a likely prospect five years ago when he suffered a massive heart attack while exercising and was clinically dead for three minutes.

The traumatic experience gave Adams, CEO at St. Louis Community Credit Union a new appreciation for life, especially the people in it. He shared his story at the 2019 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference Thursday in Las Vegas.

“I died in the best possible place: a YMCA with a working defibrillator where a Secret Service agent trained in life-saving skills was working out, and a fire department across the parking lot,” he says. “It was good to die there. Every night since I think, ‘What am I supposed to do with the gift I’ve been given?’”

Adams’ answer: Love the people in his life, both at home and at work.

This outlook has transformed the culture at St. Louis Community Federal into one with a deep appreciation for staff and members.

“In our culture, we talk about love all the time,” he says. “I want to take culture to the highest level. We’re in the people business. Are you investing in corporate culture? Are you making deposits in a health culture—or is your attitude taking withdrawals?”

Adams is thankful for his employees, and lets them know that.

“I admire people for what they do,” he says. “You need the other people in your organization. You have great people doing great things. Do you have a culture where they can excel? Or are you focused solely on the numbers?”

Adams uses the analogy of Justify, the Triple Crown-winning race horse, who weighed 1,300 pounds. “The jockey weighed only 125 pounds, but rarely used the whip. He let the horse run. Do you let the horse run—or are you whipping it all day?

“I pray for two things: That my last meal isn’t yogurt and that I don’t die at work. We’re so busy doing life that we’re not living it. Living long doesn’t beat the Grim Reaper—living well does.”

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