Interviews | April 13, 2021
Jim O'Brien Wins 2021 PSDA President's Award
Jim O’Brien has known Artie Collins for years, so he didn’t think anything of it when he received a phone call from Collins a few weeks ago. He answered the call, ready for a chat or catch-up with his friend. But this was no ordinary call.
O’Brien, a partner and owner of GO2 Partners, is a longtime admirer of Collins’ father. He first met Collins at a CEO Summit around the time of the elder Collins’ retirement.
“From that first encounter, we became friends,” O’Brien says.
Now, years later, Collins had called his friend to deliver some unexpected news: he had chosen O’Brien to be the winner of the 2021 PSDA President’s Award.
The President’s Award is given annually to a member in recognition of overall contributions and service to PSDA. It is awarded by the outgoing PSDA president and is a significant honor in the association. O’Brien says he was “very surprised and flattered” to hear that Collins had chosen him to win the award — but his immediate reaction was to highlight the other PSDA members who have worked tirelessly to help the association grow and thrive.
“I asked him to think of someone more deserving,” O’Brien says.
But Collins had very good reason to choose O’Brien for the accolade. O’Brien has been a member of PSDA for 25 years, and during that time he has jumped at the opportunity to help the association every chance he gets. He sends many employees of GO2 Partners to PSDA events and functions, helping disseminate industry-leading information across his business and forging connections with others in the industry. O’Brien has urged other business leaders in the industry to join PSDA, increasing the association’s ranks and reinforcing the sense of community among members. He has also lent his expertise and advice to PSDA leaders.
It’s no secret that 2020 was an enormously difficult year for many people. The coronavirus pandemic forced people across the country to isolate in their homes, separating friends and families as people strove to remain healthy. On top of that, the pandemic caused business interruptions and forced companies to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. O’Brien says he is aware of the mixed blessing of winning an award after such a difficult year.
“I think that long-term strategic planning in prior years, and no small amount of luck, were the difference makers [in 2020],” he says.
GO2 Partners benefited from that strategic planning and luck. The company was able to strengthen its position over the course of the year, leveraging its investments in technology and its “employee ownership culture” to “adapt quickly to the changing markets and workflows,” O’Brien says.
He sums it up succinctly: “We were among the lucky ones.”
Now O’Brien is among the lucky winners of the President’s Award. While he is “happy and grateful” to have received the award, O’Brien emphasizes that there are many members deserving of the recognition among PSDA’s ranks. In particular, he thanked the people who serve on PSDA’s board and on the association’s committees.
“We need to frequently thank them for the generous gift of their precious time that they have given to the rest of us,” O’Brien says.
As for his own award, O’Brien is thankful, but reinforces that he has not done anything in the hopes of winning recognition for it. In his phone call with Collins, he says, they discussed the small ways in which people can help others every single day. O’Brien hopes people continue to help their peers in the years to come.
“As Artie explained his thought process, it reminded me that each of us has a journey through life, which includes many small acts that impact others,” O’Brien says. “Singular acts of kindness and generosity may go unrecognized, but collectively they define us. I hope we all approach our shared experiences in business as an opportunity to help others without the expectation of a reward.”
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