Danny Mitchell – the retired leader of the GodwinGroup – died last weekend. He was a remarkable business leader, a tireless volunteer in his community and at his alma mater, Southern Miss and a loyal and steadfast friend to me and many others.
During his 30 years of involvement at the GodwinGroup, he helped grow the business from a small ad agency with fewer than 20 employees and capitalized billings of $2 million into a nationally respected agency with more than 75 professionals and capitalized billings exceeding $50 million. When he retired from active involvement several years ago, he left a solid succession plan in place with a team of partners and staff capable of not only sustaining, but continuing to grow the business – a true testament to his legacy of leadership.
Over the years his company worked with Mississippi’s largest corporations – a blue chip list — and with others all over the South and the nation – in helping position their success in public relations and advertising. He knew how to recognize talent and bring it on staff – and when he couldn’t, he forged strategic alliances to leverage greater success for all.
Danny was truly about win-win, which is what sets a great leader like him apart.
So many times when a business leader like Danny leaves us so suddenly, we focus almost entirely on his professional achievements including the many honors he received such as being inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame and the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame and for receiving the Silver Medal Award from the Jackson Ad Federation for his lifetime achievements in his profession, just to name a few.
But while success in business and giving back to the community and his state were his calling – with involvement in too many organizations and initiatives to mention — they weren’t his true passion.
Danny’s real passion was his family. And this is what is so often overlooked when we write about those who are so successful in business.
Danny was a true partner with his wife, Patty. They were team mates, soul mates and best friends. His love for his wife – and his children – Amy, Ben and Emily – was ever present. He talked often about his children and their achievements. He was proud of them, but he also respected them for their choices and how they pursued each of their unique opportunities in both life and career.
He enjoyed the recognitions he received for his professional success, but he most enjoyed reminiscing about coaching his children and others in soccer…or about making a difference in charity work, most recently with the Make-A-Wish Foundation…or about a recent win on the tennis court.
In his faith…his family…and his approach to business success…Danny struck a true balance, providing a model for all of us who hope to be remembered not just for what we did…but for how we lived our lives. Danny Mitchell lived his life well…in true service to his faith, his family and his community. He also had fun, which is what life is truly all about.
» Blake Wilson is President & CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, serving as only the third executive of the State Chamber of Commerce in over 60 years.