The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership looked far and wide for the right CEO to guide the organization into the future. If these last few weeks are any indication, the extensive search was worth the effort. St. Pete is a puzzle we're solving together and speaking with Mathis for the first time is like picking up a piece and laying it effortlessly in its right spot. He just fits. His presence is a well balanced mix of the qualities the Downtown Partnership itself embodies: honoring legacy while driving change. Best of all, the take-aways from his Influencer profile are building trust, working together and cutting through the b.s. - that's our kind of Catalyst.
Years in St. Pete
Far less than 1 year – I’ve been here for about 2 1/2 weeks.
Organizations involved in
St Pete Partnership and I’m trying to get to know a lot of organizations.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Even having only been here for a short amount of time, I’m so enthusiastic and excited about what this community does. I’m excited about the people who live here – working with those people and getting to know them. I’m trying to talk to as many people as possible right now – acting like a sponge – trying to understand how this community works – what this community’s values are and thinking about a role I can play in adding value to what is already a really exceptional place.
Why St. Pete?
I was speaking at a conference and we asked the concierge if there was a good beach to go to so we could spend a day as a family on the beach. He suggested St Pete Beach so we packed up our 9 month old son and came down and spent a day here on this peninsula. Through the years as we’ve come back to Florida, we’ve always taken time to come to Pinellas County and to St. Petersburg and to the beaches. So I have this chronicle photos of my son and me on the beach from 9 months to 4 years and 6 years and 10 years. We’ve always had a relationship with this community and that was really important in our discussion to come here as a family.
What is one habit that you keep?
I’m in my mid 40s and facing getting older, so about three years ago I started running Spartan races. I usually do the Super which is an 8 to 12 mile obstacle course race. Last year I did one every month. It’s not a daily habit, but the daily habit that results from these Spartan races is that I try to work out every day. Having a looming obstacle race helps me get up and eat a little more healthy.
Who are some people that influence you?
Locally, Melissa Seixas who is the Board chair, has been a huge influence. I have learned so much from her over the past several months. She’s really an incredible leader for this community and I see a huge amount of growth I’m going to get from that association.
Nationally I’m influenced by people who like to bring other people together. I’m interested in people who aren’t particularly partisan. I’m a fairly political person but not super partisan because I think there are good ideas on the left and on the right. And good people on the left and on the right. So I’m influenced by people who are doing good work and are trying to make a positive impact on the community they live in or on the world, but who aren’t particularly ideologically driven. I think that productive middle is where the future of success lies for me and a lot of people.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I really value trust and building relationships with trust. If you trust someone and you like them, you’ll go out of your way to find ways to help them. If they mess up you’ll make excuses for them. You’ll celebrate their success. You’ll look for ways to give them opportunities to succeed. If you don’t like someone or don’t trust them, it doesn’t how matter how good they are or what they do, it just slows everything down. That lack of trust makes it impossible to move forward. So that’s something I really value a lot and try to live my life in a way that I am trustworthy, and work with people I can also trust.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I don’t have time for a lot of b.s. any more. I find that the older I get, the less willing I am to put up with silliness or pettiness. It’s a function of getting older, but it’s something I wish I would have known earlier in my life, that you you don’t have to put up with b.s. or people being lame. You can insist on people acting with integrity and working together. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everybody. I just have a lot less patience for that then I did 3 years ago.
I don’t know what’s next. I have a lot to do here in St. Petersburg. I just got here in the last month. There is a lot of opportunity trying to figure out how to build on this incredible foundation. How to add my value to the Partnership and then how to have the Partnership add value to the larger community. That’s really what I’m focused on right now and I hope to have some really good answers. There’s a great quote from a basketball coach who encouraged his players to move very quickly but not to be hasty – not to be rushed. That’s really what I am trying to do – to be effective and efficient but not to rush into anything. I want to be thoughtful about what I do and the value I might bring to this community.