In the past month, the profession of pharmacy has lost two very prominent leaders; Thomas Temple, longtime executive director of the Iowa Pharmacists Association; and Dominique Jordan, president of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and former president of the Swiss Pharmacists Association (pharmaSuisse). I had the good fortune to know both of these gentlemen and I learned lessons from them that I thought would be worth passing on to those who read this blog. This is a tribute to both of their legacies.
Dominique Jordan and I first met in Hyderabad, India, albeit briefly. A very kind man with a warm smile, he was welcoming to this first-time FIP World Congress attendee. The interaction was unremarkable save that on reflection, the kindness that Dominique expressed to me as an unknown pharmacist on the world stage was genuine. And as the years passed, I got to know Dominique even better as we interacted year after year at the World Congress. My observation was that Dominique had two things in spades: passion for his profession and compassion for his fellow man.
In an interview with FIP staff, Dominque was quoted as saying, “If you want to open your mind, to grow, to understand your neighbour and to keep motivated, then it’s important to meet people from different backgrounds, sharing their thoughts, experiences, fears, and solutions.” There’s a lot in that sentence that speaks to core lessons for all our lives.
First, we’ve got to work to not just listen—but to understand our neighbor. Doing so requires an opening of our mind. I find today that there are lots of folks who simply do not have open minds—and make no attempt to understand their neighbors. We are all on this planet to help each other and to make the world a better place—and that starts with intentional decisions on each of our parts to listen a little harder and understand a little deeper. Dominque’s words resonated with me today as I reflected on his life and legacy.
The second thing in Dominique’s words that stands out to me is the concept of sharing in the thoughts, experiences, fears, and solutions of other people from other backgrounds. Life is a shared experience. We simply don’t do life alone, but in community. Living in community means not just enjoying celebrations, sporting events, and food, but truly sharing the thoughts of others, their experiences, and even their sorrows and disappointments. This is a profound truth that should ground us.
My first memorable interaction with Tom Temple was during my executive residency in 1996. At that time, APhA co-sponsored an executive residency in association management with the state pharmacy associations. This was a really great program because not only did I get the benefit of learning from the APhA staff, I also had the joy of mentorship from some of the greatest state pharmacy association leaders in America. Tom Temple was one of those mentors. And mentor did he ever!
One thing I learned from Tom was to pursue relationships and what you love with passion and intense focus. Nothing in life is more important than the relationships we have with others. Tom actually demonstrated this to me in several ways. First, when I started my program Tom would have regular mentoring calls with me—check-in calls just to see how I was doing and to support me. Then when it was time for me to do my state association rotation in Wisconsin, Tom made the drive up to Madison twice in 3 months to spend a weekend with the then–WPhA CEO Chris Decker and me. We played golf, enjoyed a sip or two of bourbon, and talked constantly about the future of our profession. These guys both dreamed really big dreams—and it was clear that not only were Chris and Tom colleagues, they were dear friends. Tom made me feel like I was a part of that close connection, even though I was only on the scene for about 3 months. From that point forward, every time I’d see Tom he would give me a hug and express enthusiasm about getting to spend a little time together.
Tom Temple also had a unique ability to make everyone who was in his presence simultaneously feel as though they were the most important person in the world and feel like the conversation in that moment was the most important conversation he’d had all day. When Tom was with you, he was truly with you. I know that this is an impact Tom had on many people—I’ve observed it directly in some of the pharmacists who consider him a mentor. A prime example is someone like Kelly Brock, the CEO of the Community Pharmacy Foundation—I know Tom is so proud that she’s learned this lesson better than most—I always leave her presence feeling better about myself and feeling as though I’ve been heard. Honestly, I could do better in this area, and am grateful for the mentors in my life who give such good examples to help me be better.
Tom Temple put his state association on solid financial footing, as any great association executive would do, and he also ensured that his association collaborated closely across all the national organizations. He brought people together. Dominique Jordan did the same on the international stage, raising the prominence and influence of FIP by being a convener and collaborator. We’d all do well to learn these lessons of collaboration more carefully and closely—whether corporate entity or association, we are not in competition. We are all part of a pharmacy family—we are one. One FIP. One American pharmacy family. For every pharmacist. For all of pharmacy.
Gentlemen, your legacy lives on in all of us.