David Jezek is the driving force behind one of St. Petersburg's largest and most well-known nonprofits, the St. Pete YMCA. Following in the footsteps of his father, Jezek is the second in his family to work for the YMCA, his employer for the past 35 years. Jezek is at the pinnacle of his career, accomplishing big things in the St. Pete community towards public health, education, and community service. As Jezek looks toward retirement, his lifelong service for a cause greater than himself doesn't stop him from looking for a place most in need of his gifted leadership.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
YMCA of the Treasure Coast, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, YMCA of the Capital Area
What gets you out of bed every day?
What I do at the Y. When Friday comes, I’m excited about the weekend, but there’s just not enough time in the day or the week to do everything I’d like to do, and then Sunday when I go to bed I’m excited for the next day. I’m blessed to be passionate about what I do. I’ve been doing it for about 35 years, so I can’t recall ever dreading going into work. I know that’s pretty special.
Why St. Pete?
Well I had the opportunity to be with the Y, at the time for 25 years, and it was time for me to take on a CEO role. It became open and we came down to the city and went to Beach Drive, and were very impressed with just the two restaurants that were there. I’m thinking, ‘this is a really cool city!’ We checked it out and made sure that we were comfortable living here. That’s a part of the journey – it’s making sure you enjoy where you live and work, and I just fell in love with it from the first day.
What is one habit that you keep?
Working out. It’s like a meal for me, if I miss working out I get a little grumpy.
Who are some people that influence you?
My dad had a huge influence on me both as a man growing up and professionally because my dad worked for the YMCA. I’m a second generation YMCA professional.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
There’s a book by Collins, Good to Great, it’s a bestseller. In the book there’s what’s referred to as a ‘hedgehog concept.’ It asks, ‘what are you passionate about?’ ‘what are you best at?’ and ‘what drives your economic engine?’ That’s business related, but from a personal perspective, ‘what gives you the standard of living you aspire to have?’
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Just enjoying it and taking it all in. I would say I’m at the tail-end of my career after 35 years, knowing that retirement is somewhere in the future. Just really taking a deep breath and enjoying the accomplishments that we share as an organization, and recognizing the advancements we’ve made and appreciating that more.
There’s always a next. Obviously we’ve got a lot of projects ahead of us for the Y, but for me personally it’s important that I know where I’m going in my retirement. A lot of people finish their career and they go, ‘okay now what?’ I’m continually looking at what the next chapter will be, ‘encore career’ so to speak. I feel like if I have good health and I still want to make a difference, then I should. I don’t play golf and I certainly don’t want to sit around and watch TV all day, so ‘what is it that will continue to get me out of bed in the morning?’ something I’m passionate about, that’s what I want to do.