Feb. 16, 2021
AN INTERVIEW WITH Jon Heine President of Houston Market, Veritex Community Bank
What were your biggest challenges of 2020? Without question the biggest challenge was pivoting from the playbook we had to begin 2020 in order to quickly address the immediate needs of our clients, colleagues and communities. Working with our customers to provide loan payment deferrals and PPP loans through the SBA Payroll Protection Program (Veritex Bank provided over $400 million to 2,100 clients in Round 1) became the immediate priority. This involved a Herculean effort from over 120 of our colleagues in various departments of the Bank who raised their hand to assist not because of an opportunity, but out of obligation to the communities we serve.
What's the secret to staying hopeful and forward-looking in tough times? Faith, Family and Friendship. Constantly reminding yourself and others, as with all things, this too shall pass. I think as Houstonians, we have a noticeable edge when it comes to perseverance as many of our friends and families were tested with another form of crisis — Hurricane Harvey — just a few years ago. We lived up to the moniker of Houston Strong!
What did you learn about yourself, your business or your community that might inspire others? First, how Truth and Transparency are never more appreciated by your colleagues and customers than in a time of crisis — especially when there are so many unknowns. This has been a part of the Veritex Bank culture from the very beginning and I'm extremely proud of the fact we stayed true to these core values.
Secondly, I learned that in our effort to "social distance" and with half of our  employees working from home, the crisis brought many of our employees closer together. I have had numerous colleagues tell me they have better relationships today with their colleagues than ever before. I will give technology credit for an "assist," but it comes down to people and relationships. Whether they work in an office, in a branch, or at the kitchen table, if you have the right people working together, they will band together to accomplish anything.
What's new for 2021 that you're excited about? Having just been recognized by Fortune's Top 100 fastest growing companies in the U.S., we are planning to continue with that theme in 2021 by adding new team members in our Commercial Banking and SBA lines of business in both Houston and Dallas. In addition, we are very excited to announce we will be adding a Memorial City area office in 2021 for our commercial banking team. This will be a game changer for our colleagues and clients that live in and around the area. With a growing team, we are able to serve more customers with the Veritex experience of local decision making and custom business banking solutions with a trusted banking relationship.
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Oct. 25, 2021
People + Places
HOUSTON GRAND OPERA officially opened its first live season of shows in two years with a bold, colorful presentation of Bizet's Carmen followed by a fabulous crimson-tented dinner on Ray C. Fish Plaza just outside the theater.
The show, kind of a Fatal Attraction for the 1800s set amid the bullfights of Spain, stars Carolyn Sproule in the title role; veteran Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford directed. Before the curtain went up, new HGO general manager and CEO Khori Dastoor made welcome remarks to the black-tie crowd at the Wortham.
The dinner after was fabulous. "Chairs Betty and Jess Tutor welcomed guests to an alluring setting by The Events Company bursting with the same jewel tones of Ashford's production and accented with touches of black Spanish lace — a nod to Carmen's femme fatale dress," said an HGO rep. "City Kitchen Catering presented a colorful three course feast inspired by Carmen's Seville setting — poached shrimp and jumbo lump crabmeat salad with piquillo pepper remoulade [and] pan-roasted Red Bird Farms chicken breast with apricots, pistachios and a Madeira reduction."
For dessert: a tarta de Santiago with almonds, white chocolate mousse and coffee ice cream. Sherry was also served.
The event netted nearly $500,000, with VIP guests including Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynn Wyatt and Hallie Vanderhider.
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Oct. 25, 2021
SOME SAY, "LIFE is a bitch and then you die." I say, life is a coach and then you thrive!
Since you were born, life has been coaching you. Life coached you to never give up and to use your assets. It taught you that you don't have to crawl through life, that if you keep trying, if you use the assets that are around you, like a chair, a table, a helping hand, you can stand and you can stand by yourself. And that, even though you fall flat on your butt, you can get back up and stand longer and longer. Then one day you're walking, then running, as if you'd been doing it all along.
Life coached you that, an iron could be hot even when it's not plugged in. Life coached you to test the water because it, too, can be hot or cold. Life coached you to be aware of your surroundings, to look twice before you cross the street, to measure twice before you cut. Life will also coach you, if it hasn't already, to seek knowledge in your day-to-day journey, to learn the lesson from each experience in your day because knowledge is the result of experience.
You acquire knowledge from your education and experiences in life. And the more education and experiences you have in life, the more knowledge you will have obtained. However, reader-based knowledge is not as strong as experienced-based knowledge. Neither is as strong as the combination of the two.
In the movie Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams is sitting on a park bench with Matt Damon, looking over a river, when he states: "If I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling." A classic scene that cements the idea that knowledge comes by both experience and study. I will call it "educaperience."
Some individuals have knowledge the size of a postage stamp and others the size of a mid-west farm. Almost everyone can become knowledgeable but not everyone can be wise. Wisdom is the application of putting knowledge to good use. Knowledge is knowing what to do, wisdom is how to do it. Wisdom is acknowledging that there is a lesson in the knowledge/experience you just had and that the lesson should not be deleted into the trash bin of you mind.
A friend of mine was driving and using the car's GPS to get to a destination while talking on his cell and missed his appointed exit on the highway. Not a big deal; because of "recalculating" he was able to exit off the next ramp and circle around and still get to his destination. While driving down the access road, an individual pulled out of a parking lot and broadsided his car. After getting the full details from him I asked, "So what was the lesson you learned?"
"What do you mean? I didn't cause the accident," he said.
"You didn't?!" I replied. "You were in heavy traffic, using your GPS, talking on the phone, and you missed your exit. Had you not missed your exit, you wouldn't have been on the access road and get hit." Of course, you can say that had he got off the correct exit that he might have been involved in a greater accident. However, wisdom would say, "Although I have knowledge, through experience, on how to drive and follow a GPS and talk on the phone, it would be wise to try not doing all three at the same time!"
There are two types of knowledge — general knowledge and specialized knowledge. The simplest way to define them is that general knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. Specialized knowledge is an inch wide and a mile deep. But they are both ineffective without having the wisdom on how to best utilize the knowledge. Be wise enough to accept all things that happen to you and to learn the lesson from your experiences. Thrive and become wiser.
We just spent almost two years listening to the most knowledgeable, wisest people on Earth about viruses and disease. Yet their knowledge today is much stronger than it was two years ago. I just hope they learned a lesson and not try to rationalize their mistakes.
Remember this, no matter how much knowledge you have, use your wisdom to know that you don't know what you don't know.
Peter Remington is an executive at Houston CityBook and also a business consultant and life coach. For more information on him and his Prepare 4 More, visit here.
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