The Greatest Lunch Ever!

While it’s been years ago, I want to share about a friend who during our relatively short time of knowing one another, had a significant influence on my personal and professional life.  Preston McMurry, Jr., is the Chairman/Corporate Values Sheppard of McMurry. At that time his firm was one of the top ten marketing firms in the United States.

I first met Preston at an alumni event in 2011 at The Ohio State University, being seated at his table with the Dean of the College of Social Work, Tom Gregoire. After dinner, I was asked by one of the Coordinators if I was available for lunch with Preston the following day, and suddenly my schedule became “open”. The impact of meeting Preston for lunch that next day has been in and of itself “life and Agape enhancing”.

During lunch we talked about Preston’s history as an OSU football player under Woody Hayes, and how it felt to be a member of team that won the 1957 National Championship. As our conversation moved to his profession I learned more about him, and of his business model. I asked Preston the question of what he perceived as the “core value” to the success of McMurry. Without hesitation, his direct, and yet simple response was “loyalty”!

“Loyalty”!!  You’ve got to be kidding me!!  Simple in theory, vital in practice……yet, how does one establish a unified foundation of loyalty? Preston shared that he believed that he was 100% loyal to those he worked with, and expected them to be loyal not only to him, but also to the mission of McMurry.  His tone indicated that at no time was the wavering from this core value to be tolerated.

I was then confronted with the fact that I may had been searching for answers related to building a “positive, professional, and progressive” culture in virtually all the wrong places. Truthfully, I had become increasingly discouraged by the actions of others, and began thinking that maybe it was time to move on. Further, I had continually beaten myself up when the result of what I had strived to happen, did not.  Much like the definition of “insanity”, I kept doing some of the same things over and over, expecting different results?!

After lunch with Preston, and with the help of a “coach”, I re-defined the personal and professional expectations of me as a leader, the expectations of my co-workers, and especially the expectations of the Leadership here at Agape related to a core value of “loyalty”.  As I’ve come to see, loyalty cannot be a “kind of, maybe, would be appreciated” consideration in my personal life, and here at Agape!

The result has been amazing!  I believe strongly, and have communicated almost daily that we must affirm and demonstrate this core value of “loyalty” to one another as Co-workers, to our Professional Care Providers, Referring Agencies, the community, and the youth we are entrusted to serve.

The vision here at Agape is foundational upon “serving families, youth and each other with excellence”. Agape has, and will remain dedicated to loyalty and “slamming the doors wide open” to anyone who desires this type of serving environment, and welcome you as we serve together all who are entrusted to our care.

In closing, I cannot thank Preston, and my “coach” enough for their time and continued encouragement and guidance. Is “loyalty” the answer to the challenges that are before us? Not entirely, however “loyalty” has been, and will continue to be foundational at Agape where each day we will continue our journey of “serving with excellence”!

Be safe,


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