Phil Smart: Rick Justus's best friend

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Phil Smart Sr. served as a volunteer at Seattle Children's for 46 years, from 1961 to 2007, spending most Wednesday evenings on the Rehabilitation Unit. He was also the Children's Santa Claus – known fondly to patients as "The Real Santa Claus" – for 26 years. He was so involved with patients and the hospital that our volunteer office was named the Philip M. Smart Volunteer Office in 2004.

Even after "retiring" from volunteering he came in on the first Wednesday of every month to drop off Beanie Babies in the Emergency Department. He also continued to serve as an ambassador for Children's, even speaking to the Seattle City Council on behalf of Children's Building Hope expansion.

Phil referred to Children's patients as his "teachers" and to the hospital as a "Miracle House." He says he witnessed many miracles over the years, which are the subject of two self-published books and a DVD titled Angels Among Us. He contributed all proceeds to the Philip M. Smart Sr. Endowment for the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

"Phil's presence in our office was always a special treat and he was welcomed by all – those who knew him well, and those who may have only heard of him," says Alison Garrison, volunteer manager. "He loved the opportunity to welcome new or prospective volunteers to his 'Miracle House' and he would always find time to share something special with each person. I always looked forward to our time together where he would share a special story with me, or – as he sometimes referred to them – a 'God Wink.' These stories, short or long, sometimes bittersweet, were always entwined with inspiration. My day was always better after his visit. He was loved and admired by everyone here in the office."

The legacy Phil leaves behind includes the Phil Smart Sr. Guild, benefiting Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Phil and Helen Smart "Unknown Child" Endowment for International Patients, which provides funding so Children's pediatric specialty expertise can benefit children who reside in other countries.

"Phil is the gold standard as a human being," says Doug Picha, president of Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Foundation. "He embodied what it means to give back and set a whole new bar on how to live your life. He took great pleasure in giving himself to the children we serve here at the hospital."

Over the years Phil received several awards for his volunteerism and service to the Seattle community, including the YMCA A.K. Guy Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in 2011; the Stanley O. McNaughton Champion of Freedom Award in 2008; and the First Citizen Award from the Seattle–King County Association of Realtors in 1994.

"It is a tremendous loss for the Seattle Children's family," says Peggy Habegger, honorary trustee and former president of Seattle Children's Hospital Board of Trustees. "One of the greatest rewards of my decades-long affiliation with Children's is my friendship with Phil."

Rick Justus and Peter Daniels: A Life-Altering Conversation

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I will never forget the day I received a call from billionaire Peter Daniels.

I said, "Peter, thank you for calling like you said you would."

He said, "It's good manners." In response, I said, "I deal with so many arrogant startups and small businesses that lack manners. They could learn a lot from you."

Our conversation turned to legacy. We spoke at great length about leaving a lasting legacy for 7 generations. 

This conversation changed me. I reflect daily on how to live and leave a lasting legacy. 

Peter, I've enjoyed our conversations. I honor you. 

Legacy Leader: Aung San Suu Kyi

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After Rick's first trip to Myanmar (Burma) in 1988, one of eight trips, the 8888 Uprising completely changed the trajectory of his life.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been his hero ever since, and taught him that being a stand for something can impact a nation and the world.

My greatest hero

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When I was a little boy, a man approached me and said something that completely changed my life.

He said, “Son, reading makes a broad man, writing makes an exact man.” In that moment, a seed was planted. Over the years, I increasingly longed for this exactness.

That man was my father.

A few years ago, mom and dad moved back to the United States from Japan. I will never forget the day my dad said, “Son, I want to learn from you.”

He’s still my greatest hero, and I am profoundly honored that he and mom are co-chairs in King & Justus.

Please hear this. Reading makes a broad leader, writing makes an exact leader.

Commit to exactness.

The refining of clarity exponentially increases your effectiveness.

I’m writing another book and textbook in 2018.

What will you write?

How will you hold yourself accountable?

Sir Richard Branson Takes Off His Pants

Sir Richard Branson has inspired so many, and he is both our honorary Legacy Leader and Chief Inspiration Officer. He inspired Rick Justus, the founder of King & Justus, at the lowest point in his life to create a global brand that is obsessively committed to saving humanity 20 years.

Legacy Leader: Dr. Jay Strack

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Dr. Jay Strack is a dear friend and one of our Legacy Leaders. A conversation with him in the shark tank at SeaWorld was one of the catalysts for our pursuit of the "quantified 20-year quantum leap."

Watch how he is shaping a new generation of great leaders...