5 Minute Interview: Cordell Parvin
Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Cordell: My name is Cordell Parvin. I practiced construction law helping contractors for 35 years. For the last 6 years I have coached, mentored and taught lawyers in law firms throughout the United States and Canada. I enjoy seeing the lawyers I coach become more successful and fulfilled in their careers. They pass it on to young lawyers in their firm. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to hear: “You have made a difference in my life.”
Alvin: Pick any man in the world as your role model who would it be and why?
Cordell: That question is easy. I would pick Coach John Wooden who passed away earlier this year. The reason he is a role model is because he was the most successful coach of all time, but way more important than his coaching is how he lived and how he taught the players he coached to live. Coach Wooden was a man who lived his life based on his Christian values. He said: “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”
John Wooden was my role model and what I said is accurate. But I also wanted to add that my dad shaped who I became and who I am today. He encouraged me to think big and to believe I could become more than I ever dreamed. He also encouraged me to take risks and not just be content with where I was at that moment in my life. He encouraged me to follow my passion. He had a passion for three things: (1) Art, (2) United States history from the Civil War to the end of the 1800s, and (3) the piano.
Fortunately for him, he was also very talented in those areas and there was also a market for his talent. When he was drawing or painting, studying history or writing about it, or playing the piano either by himself or for an audience, you could see the excitement and pure joy in his eyes. I was not blessed with any of those talents, but I was blessed with a passion for teaching, mentoring and coaching and I still do it today. So, even though John Wooden was a role model, my dad was the greatest influence in my life.
Alvin: When you were a construction lawyer in your opinion what skills or talents were most essential?
Cordell: I believe that to be a successful construction lawyer you have to have a burning desire to understand the construction industry and the people who are in the construction industry. You have to pay attention to what is going on and anticipate what the potential problems or opportunities might be for your clients. As author Daniel Pink points out these are right brain skills.
Alvin: What do you wish to accomplish 1 year from today?
Cordell: I want to travel the country and Canada and teach more lawyers to become more valuable to their clients and potential clients and I want to continue coaching lawyers in firms throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, I want to complete a book I have been working on for several years and get it published.
Alvin: What has been your largest step to manhood?
Cordell: Becoming a father with both my wife’s life and our baby’s life in jeopardy. I have written about this in an article titled: Strategy for Career and Life. October 9, 1978 was the coldest October 9 in recorded history in Roanoke, Va. I had been married for eight years and had practiced law for seven years. Although I had a good life and career, the events of that day brought me to a crossroads that motivated me to map out my future success and create a plan for how to achieve it. That morning, I took my wife, Nancy, for her weekly visit to Dr. Julian Meyer’s office. Nancy was seven and a half months pregnant.
Early in her pregnancy, she was diagnosed with toxemia/preeclampsia, a pregnancy-induced hypertension. Women with toxemia not only have elevated blood pressure, but also face health risks for liver and kidney damage or failure and eyesight problems. Dr. Meyer had warned us that Nancy’s blood pressure would continue to rise over the months of her pregnancy, and, to our dismay, it did. Nancy’s blood pressure was 200/155. Dr. Meyer said, “Ready or not, today is the day we have to take this baby, otherwise you are risking permanent damage.” He told us he was not certain if our baby would be born alive or whether she would be born with birth defects.
At 7:40 that night, our daughter Jill was born. She weighed 3 pounds and 7 ounces. She was so small I could hold her in my hand like a doll. Nancy’s blood pressure went down, but her white blood cell count also went down. One specialist after another was called in to diagnose the problem. On the 10th day after Jill was born, the doctors were getting ready to take Nancy’s bone marrow to determine if she had leukemia. All of a sudden, Nancy’s white blood cell count started to rise, and soon she was able to leave the hospital. After about four weeks, we were able to bring Jill home from the hospital.
During Nancy’s pregnancy, Jill’s birth, and Nancy’s extended stay in the hospital, I felt totally out of control. I was just a “bit player” in the most important drama of my life. In this experience, I learned a great deal that created the strategy for my career and life, which I have shared with young lawyers over many years.
Alvin: What has been the best advice you’ve received about being a man?
Cordell: Again this would be advice from Coach John Wooden. He said: “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”0