Professor David Hart has a story that most OKWU students have never heard. Recently, he took a moment with the Eagle to tell that story about what it really is like to live the American dream, and what it is like to truly focus on God’s will.
Eagle: Where did you grow up?
Hart: I grew up in a little town North of Boulder Colorado called Estes Park with my grandparents. Estes Park was a tourist town, so 9 months of the year it was very boring. Looking back it was a great place to raise your children. But the same movie played there for about a month, and only on Saturday nights.
Eagle: How did you get into your profession?
Hart: I went to Arizona because I got tired of cold weather. I was a pre-med major originally, so I went to Arizona State (mostly because it was warmer than Estes Park). About 6 weeks into the program, I got tired of the Biology Department so I went over to the Liberal Arts school, grabbed my file, and walked over to the school of business and joined.
At the time, I was working at the Holiday Inn of Tempe because I knew the hotel business. I was a night auditor, but my first class was at 7:40 and I would stay there till about 10:30 when my last class would end.
I got my career when a real-estate broker came in one day and started talking to me. He really liked my personality and told me to check out real-estate school. I started going to school and studying at night to get my real-estate license, [and] I passed the test. After that, I started working for a Century 21 office. I did that for 3 months and decided that the Regional Director I was working for didn’t really know what he was doing and that I could do it better. So that’s when I went down to the regional office and told the guy I wanted to buy a franchise.
With some convincing, I bought my first franchise. Within a couple years, I was the number 1 in the Century 21 office not only in the region but number 4 in the world in production.
Eagle: How did you accomplish this?
Hart: I was just driven and blessed. The Lord blessed me with a lot of good talent, and I knew right off the bat that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew how to find good people.
Eagle: How old were you when you made it big?
Hart: I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 30 and I had already done it when I turned 25. I started a real estate office, my own mortgage company, an insurance division, a development division, and an investment division.
By the time I was 30 I had my chest cracked open for the third time and I realized that I needed to make a major change in my life. That is when I decided to sell everything and move back here. The Lord kept telling me that I needed to make some changes and if I kept living that lifestyle I wouldn’t live much longer.
Eagle: What do you teach at OKWU?
Hart: Finance and economic classes.
Eagle: What is your favorite part of this job?
Hart: Getting to engage with the students. Whether if it’s asking questions about life, spiritual life, or Dr. Weaver’s strategic class, that’s what I really enjoy. I have a lot of pain and health issues that I go through and if it wasn’t for this I’d probably just sit around at home feeling sorry for myself. This is what keeps me going, it really does.
Eagle: What is the hardest part of your job?
Hart: Trying to keep up with the ever-changing technology and the weather fronts in Oklahoma.
Eagle: How have you seen God use you through your knowledge and teaching of business finance and economics?
Hart: God has touched me in so many different ways with so many different people. I usually hear from students who have graduated who get into a tough spot at their job and they contact me. I like how OKWU tells the students that they will run into these conflicts and once they graduate they do. I’ll get that text message at work and they have run into that conflict. I always answer them back, “what do you think you should do?” You know what? Every single time they respond with how we talked about it in class. One person lost their job over that. But God looked after her and she ended up working at a Fortune 100 company, $25,000 more than her last one, better benefits and a better environment. God enriched her with the right decision. I was happy that she asked me, even though I knew she knew the right answer.Tell me that God doesn’t work here.
God has touched me in so many different ways with so many different people…Tell me that God doesn’t work here.
Eagle: What is one thing from your spiritual life that stands out to you as something that can encouraging or inspire others?
Hart: I, for years, never listened to that. For me, it was about my health issues and I was too stubborn to listen to him. God was telling me to slow down and change my direction. I could have millions and it won’t mean anything when I’m dead. I got wrapped up into materialism and success, and letting my health be the failure of that.
I thought BMW’s and owning a big house were more important than all the other stuff. When I finally woke up to that realization and looked back at all the signals the Lord was sending me, I realized I was still a Christian, I had just lost my focus.
I went back to the time when I had the honor of picking up Billy Graham when I was still working at the Holiday Inn. He was going to speak at Arizona State and was staying at the Holiday Inn. His only request was that the TV be taken out of the hotel room. He did not want to be distracted with the media. Instead, he would pray, reflect and prepare for his sermon. Billy Graham didn’t want a limousine and was fine with the Holiday Inn van. So I was the one who got to pick him up and spend 15 minutes with him. He was such a kind, gentle man. Here I was such a young guy who was embracing the Lord but hearing his worldly views. He was such a humble man. When I reflected on that, I wondered how I let my head get so big. I was always approachable, I just got tied up with the big house and the multiple cars. Billy Graham could have had anything but never requested it. And I had always wanted to be the Billy Graham of business. I later wrote Billy Graham a letter and was surprised when he wrote back saying he remembered me.
Professor Hart has guided innumerable OKWU students throughout college and parts of life after that. His desire to be the ‘Billy Graham’ of business has shown to those he teaches. He is a prime example of a professor at a university, ‘Where Jesus is Lord’.