Happy Wednesday, y’all!
Apparently, the groundhog has not seen his shadow and we are in for an early spring! This year has already held so much possibility, and I cannot wait for what the rest of it will bring. For this week’s segment, I wanted to interview someone who has always encouraged me to pursue the possibilities in life. I first met Mr. Steve Horrell when I was just a nervous junior making a presentation to Belmont’s Board of Trustees as Student Body President. He approached me after and shared that we had an interesting thing in common: both of us had served as President of SGA. That initial conversation gave way to many more thoughtful discussions and a mentor who has undoubtedly shaped my life over the past few years.
Mr. Horrell, a Nashville native, currently serves as the President of Horrell Properties, Inc. He graduated with a BS in Business Administration and a BA in History from Belmont in 1972. While at Belmont, Mr. Horrell was SGA President and the founder of the Belmont Reasons, a popular band. After graduating, he continued his work with Belmont as president of the Alumni Association, a chair of the Development Committee, and a board member for 30 years. In addition to giving back to his university, Mr. Horrell has also been incredibly active in the Nashville community. He served as the only male chair for the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee and has been a board member for 15 years. He also has served on the board of Genesis Academy, Boy Scouts, and the Green Hills Alliance Board. Mr. Horrell’s leadership also includes serving as Nashville’s Rotary Club President, chairing the Planning Commission for the city of Belle Meade, and being a part of Leadership Nashville. His passionate involvement stems from his deep faith, and he is currently a member of Woodmont Baptist Church. I had the chance to visit Mr. Horrell at the office his family has had for over 40 years to ask him a little bit about his story.
Who’s one person who’s significantly impacted you and shaped who you are today?
Without a doubt, my wife Kay is that person. Now, I know it sounds cliché, but it is true! She moved up here from Athens, Georgia, and I met her at church. I was singing in the choir and could not help but notice this good-looking woman sitting with her mother. It wasn’t long before we started dating, and six years later, we were married. Kay opened my life and mind to thinking beyond my “comfort zone”, and she knew I could transfer leadership potential to help organizations and others. With her “push”, I was ready to act, and sure enough, I received a call from a friend at church—Sallie Bailey—who was the chair of the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. She knew about my real estate background and asked me to assist them. I joined the Board and 13 years later was named Board Chair. The Girl Scout opportunity led to Leadership Nashville, The Downtown Rotary, and other opportunities to serve. It started with Kay.
Tell me about a moment in your life when you knew that what you were doing mattered.
It was at Belmont! In high school, I was a good student, but I never pursued or was offered any real leadership roles. After going to The University of the South for my freshman year in college, I transferred to Belmont for my sophomore year. My close friend Randy Smith was serving as the SGA President, and through a series of lucky events, Randy asked me if I was willing to serve as the next SGA President. Six months later, I was elected President. This was truly the beginning point in my life when I knew I could reach out to others to serve. Just as my wife was instrumental in my life, so was Randy Smith. Sometimes, all we need is a little “push”.
Ever since those days at Belmont, one opportunity after another came along and I simply couldn’t resist! In most of those situations, I became the chair or the leader. I am convinced that Jesus calls us to be servants to others. Giving back should be second nature and not a forced reaction.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
There’s one thing I do look back on and wish I had done differently. I graduated on May 5th of 1972 and walked into this office on May 8th. I wish I had gone to another major city and worked in real estate there in order to give myself a better background instead of just working with my dad. It ended up working incredibly well, but if you have a chance to take a leap of faith, do it! The easiest thing to do is to graduate and then coast—never coast. Push yourself.
What’s one thing about Nashville that makes it a city you’re proud of?
It’s educational background. Nashville is known as the Athens of the South, and to me, that is the most important aspect of this city. If you think about any of the universities here, there are hundreds of companies and influential people who have come out of these places and done great things. Without that background, I don’t think that we would be where we are today. From a pure economic standpoint, as these universities grow and Nashville is seen as an educational mecca, we will attract more talented people. When I graduated from Belmont there were 834. We matriculated 7500 this year, and I can only see that continuing to grow.
What’s one area of growth you see for the people of Nashville?
Whenever you’re wrapped up in a booming city, it’s kind of like a runaway train—everyone wants to get on board and be part of the growth. But at the same time, we can’t lose sight of those who need help. I’ve been involved with quite a few organizations who are trying to meet the needs of our neighbors, because that’s what Jesus would tell us to do. Jesus would honor the success, but to whom much is given, much is required. Sometimes it can be overwhelming with the number of social causes or issues demanding our attention, but this piece of advice has served me well: stop trying so hard to be everything to everybody and instead focus on being something to somebody.
I’m so glad you got a chance to hear from a man who’s inspired me with his contagious personality and dedication to service. Belmont and Nashville are lucky to have you, Mr. Horrell!
Thanks for joining me this week and stay tuned for next week’s Power of One Wednesday!