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Brett Coffee

Name
Brett Coffee

Honor
SemperComm Foundation supply of communications equipment and software to small overseas remote U.S. military bases

Business/Employer
Computer Systems Center Incorporated (CSCI)
6225 Brandon Avenue, Suite 520
Springfield, VA 22150
(703) 866-4000

E-mail
Brett@BrettCoffee.com

Education
BA, University of Illinois
JD, Fordham University
LL.M. University of San Diego School of Law

Who was your most important mentor and how did that mentor impact your career?

The one person who has probably had the greatest impact on my career is my grandfather, Allen Blair. His ethical stance was uncompromising, and he set the tone for my professional and ethical grounding. He remains with me every day despite passing a decade ago.

What do you consider your biggest personal accomplishment and why?

During 2009, I have lost almost 40 pounds after too many years of riding my desk instead of my bike. I was considering a run for office in 2009, but had to reconsider when my company needed me. My wife then challenged me to finally compete in a triathlon this year. Re-learning to swim was a major challenge. In eight months I’ve gone from barely making it across the pool to open water two-mile swims.

What is the best bit of advice you ever received?

When I was in high school, a teacher described trying to finish a closet project in the master bedroom. The teacher’s wife saw how frustrated he was at finishing the moldings, and told him they were inside the closet and no one would ever know if it didn’t look perfect. He replied, “I’ll know.” That made a huge impact on me. The second best bit of advice is closely related, and is regularly repeated by my wife: “Honey, why don’t you just call the [insert skilled craft]?”

How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?

Time management and goal setting are important, but having an understanding spouse is probably the most important aspect of finding balance. My wife and I are both busy professionals, but are still able to follow our personal passions: traveling and competing as runners, cyclists and triathletes.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what field would you have entered?

I probably would have entered the sports business. As an athlete, so much of your focus is on the minutiae of athletic excellence that it becomes a natural progression. I still find sports fascinating; maybe someday I’ll still be able to combine law and sports.

What is your favorite book or movie and why?

It’s hard to choose just one, but the book that ended up changing my life was Barbarians at the Gate, the classic tale of the RJR Nabisco takeover battle lent to me by a law school roommate. Because of this book, I changed my focus from litigation to corporate law and transactional issues.

What are two facts about you that most people, including your closest friends, may not know?

Many of my friends know that when I was younger I was a pretty good bike racer, training at the Olympic Training Center and winning a bunch of races. But I was the last kid in my elementary class to learn how to ride a bike – it took me until second grade. Also, most people don’t realize that although I grew up in Illinois, my family has been in Virginia for several hundred years. My grandfather, Larry Coffee, left Bedford to find work during the Great Depression; when the war came, a work accident kept him from joining as one of the famed Bedford Boys. My wife was a Virginia native, so when we met everything came full circle.

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