David A. Jones was the founding Board Chairman of Endeavor in Louisville and has been instrumental in building the foundation for Endeavor in our region. Over the past 3 years, he has donated well over 100 hours of mentorship to entrepreneurs locally and globally. Mr. Jones co-founded Humana Inc., a health insurance company, in 1961 and served as CEO for 37 years and Board Chair for 44 years. Today, Humana serves over 13 million customers and employs over 50,000 people. This interview was originally published in the 2018 Endeavor Louisville Impact Report.
What was your initial reaction when you first learned about Endeavor?
I had been involved in various entrepreneurial activities over the years, but they were all disorganized. As I received information about Endeavor and its mission, and the work that goes into finding entrepreneurs to fit the model, I thought it could work well here.
What do you think is the most valuable part of the Local Selection Panels and the Endeavor selection process?
Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch to people who have been there before. It has to be a little scary, yet it is also a great opportunity. When you get together the kind of group Endeavor has, there is an abundant amount of wisdom, experience and a true desire to help.
Reflecting back on your experience as both Board Chair and as a mentor, what have you enjoyed most over the past three years?
It has been really exciting to see these entrepreneurs gain confidence, build stronger organizations, create good jobs, and ultimately work towards creating the Humanas of the future. We, too, started as just a tiny company. The most amazing thing about these successes is that they are all improbable, and yet they happen all the time.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Make absolutely sure you have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish, and that you serve the needs and values of a customer. All business activity is legitimized by one goal, and that is by providing service to a customer. If you’re not doing that, you’re not going to get there.
Any final words of wisdom?
Life is not about place, it’s about people. Anything in the world can be accomplished from wherever you are.
We would like to thank David A. Jones Sr. for his tremendous support as the founding Board Chairman of Endeavor in Louisville. He is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere, and we are fortunate to have had his guidance and leadership as we launched Endeavor in our region.