“Don’t practice until you get it right,” said Daryl “The Moose” Johnston to the crowd at the 57th annual McAllen Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Tuesday night. “Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Johnston, who has three Super Bowl rings, was the guest speaker at the event which filled the banquet hall at the McAllen Convention Center. He was welcomed to the stage by the crowd chanting, “Moose” over and over again.
Johnston captured the crowd with stories about playing for the Dallas Cowboys and his endearing friendship with Emmitt Smith, the National Football League's all time leading rusher. Johnston's leading message of the evening was about how to win and succeed; his stories quietly comparing the game of football to daily business life. He explained that no one can really play football well if they don't love the game. He also explained that you have to be able to trust the person who's playing at your side. If you can't trust that person, then you can’t give 100 percent to your job.
So, how do you win at football or in business? Johnston’s answer is to set yourself up with the end goal in mind and then “practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
There was more to the evening. There was a whole lot more.
Local business leaders, Kirk Clark and Alma Ortega Johnson were honored as the Chamber Man and Woman of the Year.
Clark was singled out as a renaissance man. He walks comfortably in two worlds; a successful automotive dealer and philanthropist who has also made a name for himself in the art world as a painter. Testimonials portrayed Clark as a man who does good things in his community and doesn't look for accolades. “You see him in the news helping out a charitable organization, but he does ten times that amount that no one ever hears about.” said Roger Solis, one of Clark’s business partners. “And not only that, he’ll roll up his sleeves and put in personal time,” Solis continued. Kirk Clark, the artist has exhibited his works around the world. He was recently invited to have a show in Rome. Such invitations are extended only to people recognized by the art world.
Alma Ortega Johnson was singled out as a dynamo. Since moving to McAllen a few years ago she has virtually revitalized one civic organization after another. She president of Wells Fargo banks in the upper Valley. She’s also president of several civic groups which have all prospered under her leadership. “I had no idea what we were in for.” said Dr. John Gerling, a member of the board of the International Museum of Arts and Sciences. “I thought she was going to be just another person on the board, but she has been pivotal in getting several major things done.”
Clark surprised Johnson with a special gift. Clark told Johnson that her name, Alma, means soul. So he presented her with a painting of his interpretation of her “Alma,” her soul.
Also honored was Brian Godinez as the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year. Godinez has been involved with chamber project after project for year after year.
All in all it was a special evening. People laughed, they cheered and they were emotionally touched. After all, the evening was about themselves and their community. Each person in the room has been working to build their community. Each fitting into their own slot on the big team which we call the Chamber of Commerce. They go to team practice every day when they go to work.
No team wins every game. The strongest teams come out the best during a bad season. McAllen has done better than most during the recent down times. I guess “the Moose” is right. You have to practice until you can’t get it wrong.