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Jim Kelly Bringing His Unique Leadership Story to Tallahassee Audience


A pro-football Hall-of-Famer turned business and life coach is in Tallahassee this coming Wednesday (10/5). Jim Kelly is the 4th speaker in the annual “Power Forward” event that is the kickoff to Entrepreneur Month.

Florida State University College of Business Dean Mike Hartline thinks Kelly may be the best speaker yet in the series that began in 2013.

“Barbara Corcoran obviously outstanding, used her own personal wealth and is now helping others,” he recounted. “Steve Wozniack, the ultimate nerd, was there in the very beginning, the tinkerer who managed to become big. Last year with Randi Zuckerberg who was in on the ground floor of Facebook and so riding that wave. What Jim Kelly brings to the table in a lot of ways, he’s the most entrepreneurial of the folks we’ve brought in so far.”

For Cecilia Homison, CEO of the event’s prime sponsor First Commerce Credit Union, Kelly’s saga of personal re-invention resonates deeply. Remember, this is a guy whose entire focus was football from his Western Pennsylvania high school days in the mid-1970s through four standout years with the Miami Hurricanes, followed by thirteen years in pro-football, leading the Buffalo Bills to the Superbowl in four of those seasons.

“He shows the skills that you can take and cultivate life’s success and pull those forward into your next adventure,” Homision said. “He’s recreated himself in business and into the foundation with great success and there’s a lot of exciting stories he has to share about how he’s been able to inspire people to continue to pull forward and follow him in his mission.”

Homison thinks the sum total of Kelly’s experiences and his essential character, have combined to create an inspiring example of what real leadership looks like.

“When I look at Jim Kelly, what I see in business terms is what can be called a ‘Level Five Leader’; someone who really has that very humble persona combined with this tremendous will to succeed and because of that he can cultivate people that can get behind his mission and make it happen.”

Dean Hartline sees another facet to the story. Especially in light of the setbacks in Kelly’s life that easily could have derailed his life. Such as the two times he’s battled cancer and won. And the shattering death of his eight year old son, which prompted Kelly to create a foundation to help others.

“I think one of the things other than leadership that Jim Kelly brings to the table, particularly if you’re talking about entrepreneurship, is grit and determination. So here’s a man who’s overcome cancer, who’s used his personal wealth to create a great foundation and to create jobs for other people and just the grit and determination that it take to succeed in business and sports and business go hand-in-hand,” Hartline explained.

Homison said Kelly’s inspirational message is just a few days away, with his appearance set for this coming Wednesday afternoon at three-thirty in FSU’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

“The First Commerce CU web site has more information about Power Forward. You can go to the Fine Arts Ticket Office web site to get more information about tickets and we would encourage people in business, and I would encourage parents! This is a great opportunity for our young developing leaders to come and hear from someone of Jim Kelly’s stature and success in life.”

A life that certainly has surpassed even the stand-out performances on the gridiron that gave Kelly his initial claim to fame.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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