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John O’Leary welcomes Jimmie James on the Live Inspired Podcast to share about persistence, unshakable determination, breaking barriers, and the power of chasing our dreams.

Jimmie James is a radiant symbol of possibility.

Born into poverty in 1959 in the Jim Crow South, Jimmie was one of eight children raised by a devoted single mother. From humble beginnings, he was determined to shatter every expectation by being the first person in his circle to graduate from high school.

This dream was only the beginning as he then soared through college and launched into a transformative 33-year career at ExxonMobil. His climb from an entry-level engineer to a globe-trotting executive proved that where you start doesn’t dictate where you end up. And as he transitioned into retirement, Jimmie laced up his golf shoes and set out on a new adventure—playing all of Golf Digest’s Top 100 golf courses in America within a single year.

Today, Jimmie shares his remarkable journey as he teaches us about persistence, unshakable determination, breaking barriers, and the power of chasing our dreams.

My friends, this conversation is about more than golf or overcoming adversity. It’s a beautiful reminder to keep swinging, keep dreaming and keep believing that anything is possible.

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  • Jimmie’s mother raised her eight children to be productive, contributing citizens in society, and often was criticized for her approach to parenting and the level of independence she gave.
  • His mother raised him on simple principles: Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t talk bad about other people.
  • In a small sawmill community of East Texas, Jimmie only ate what they either grew, raised, or trapped and lived in a shack with no plumbing, no electricity, no natural gas.
  • “Life is found at the intersection of aspirations and adversity.”
  • “Others shouldn’t be defining what someone else is capable of.”
  • Jimmie rejects the idea of “we’re only as strong as our weakest link” and instead believes that as a society, we can make up for someone else’s weaknesses with our strengths.
  • After connecting over a John Grisham book in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, Jimmie married Erika and had two children.
  • When transferring from ExxonMobil’s headquarters in Virginia to Texas, Jimmie was told, “you can shoot animals, or you can shoot par.” His wife bought him golf clubs and lessons.
  • Knowing he couldn’t go from working at a hundred mile an hour pace job to an idle retirement, Jimmie launched the audacious goal of playing at Golf Digest’s Top 100 golf courses in America within a single year. Across 33 states, 87 of the courses were private, 12 resort courses and one public course.
  • A desire for a different life: Although him and his seven siblings grew up in poverty, but not a single one of then spent a single moment as an adult in poverty.
  • Pre-order a copy of Jimmie James forthcoming book Playing from the Rough here.

Did you enjoy today’s episode?

You’ll love my conversation with Kelvin Beachum. As a two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, Kelvin Beachum grew up rural Texas in a family hovering around the national poverty level. Yet, with his parents’ guidance, he learned to share whatever excess they’d have with the community. Hear a bit about his role as an offensive lineman and far more about his gratitude toward society and compassion towards others on Live Inspired Podcast ep. 482.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The Bible, and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. The fascination and splendor of even the most simplest of things.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. The hard drive or the computer that has all the memories and photographs of the experiences that we've shared as a family.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ask him, "how in the midst of such a storm were you able to find that hope?"
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Always make the best move.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Don't fret the small stuff because at the end of the day, what really matters is what we actually do for others.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He never quit. Never settle for average.