In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 30, 2023

In a Word: Chuck Potter on a midlife crisis that led him to Mayo, leaning on the Mayo ‘army,’ more

By In the Loop

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.

Chuck Potter was a business owner and the founder of Colours Flower Market in Rochester. Potter had turned 40 on a Monday in 1998, but he was feeling less than celebratory.

It turns out that what he was feeling was more than a case of the Monday blues.

"I was having a midlife crisis," Potter says. "I needed a change."

During a routine flower delivery to the Mayo Foundation House that day, a staff member casually mentioned an open supervisor position and asked if Potter had applied for it. That's the first Potter had even heard of the opening.

"I applied on Tuesday, interviewed on Wednesday and was hired on Friday," he says.

That chance encounter with the Mayo staff member has led to a 25-year (and counting) career at Mayo Clinic.

Potter is now a director of Historical Properties at the Mayo Foundation House — the very place where, some may say, fate intervened.

He says his favorite part about where he works is sharing the heritage of the Mayo families and stories from their homes, the beautiful surroundings he works in and the support of his colleagues. And all the curveballs that get thrown their way.

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: The amazing collection of artworks we are surrounded by. Mayo Clinic is very fortunate to have many wonderful benefactors who have great collections and are willing to share them with our patients. During the pandemic, I helped work at the Information Desk in the Gonda lobby. To work next to the Chihuly every day was pretty cool. I also have to admit I had to walk down and look at the Warhols pretty regularly.

The chance to work part-time at the Information Desk was great. Working in Historic Properties does not give us much patient exposure. It's quite the opposite. The Information Desk was very humbling — an opportunity to see and hear part of the patient experience — a very valuable lesson learned.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): My continued work with so many to keep the Historic Properties current while maintaining the heritage the brothers and their families have left for future generations.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read: This is the hardest question for me. I am not much of a sitter and prefer to be a doer. Thus, I don't do a lot of reading. In discussing this with one of my colleagues, he shared that he listens to books while he does projects at home. I think I may have to give this a try.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: It takes an army. Use your resource. You have an army available. Together, we can do most anything. I have always been fortunate to have that army available, and they have always come through for the properties and events.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: A former Mayo employee, Dr. Craig Radford, and his wife, Lynn, had this advice: Give back. My wife and I met working on a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House. We also have chaired and worked on fundraisers for the Gift of Life House. Giving back to our community and those surrounding it is better for all. We have instilled this in our daughters. I have encouraged staff to do so as well, and they have in so many ways. 

Most memorable Mayo moment: There are so many. Several parts of the Ken Burns documentary, "The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope, Science," were filmed on the Historic Properties. Meeting and working closely with Ken's team was certainly one of them. Hosting events with national and international guests always increases stress, but it provides great rewards. It is a real honor to meet and welcome these people to the founders' homes. Being able to travel with the Development team and bring the Historic Properties team to other locations to share our hospitality and services will never be forgotten.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: 80s pop.

Favorite space on campus this month: Whichever space I am working on. I have been very fortunate to be involved in the renovation and restoration of the Historic Properties. In 2009, I was asked to set up the Wilson House to be used as a meeting venue similar to the Foundation House. In 2012, the same chance came along. This time it was called, Mayowood.  Working very closely with colleagues in Facilities, this project has provided many unique opportunities. Currently, our focus is on the ballroom. In the beginning, the structural engineers had given this room a "zero load capacity." Progress has been and continues to be made.

People who inspire me: Dr. Edward Rynearson and his wife, Lida. When I was 16, I worked for them as a groundskeeper at their home. They quickly became "grandparents" to me. They had a very small Datsun, and he loved to wash the car. One day, I asked him why he liked to wash the car so much. He answered, "The car can be filthy dirty. I can wash and clean it and stand back and say, 'I did that.' Instant gratification." He shared that, with patients, he could see them and treat them, send them home and he may never see or hear from them again. He had continued communications with many of his patients, though. Mrs. Rynearson taught me to arrange flowers — another true passion of mine.

Also, my wife, daughters and their husbands. They often remind me how lucky I am to have lived the life I have and continue to live. The opportunities to meet so many people, be involved in many projects which I have truly enjoyed, and to be able to share the heritage of the Mayo Brothers every day.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Reopening the Historic Properties following the pandemic. Many opportunities to take a new look at our processes, service style and levels, menus — overall everything we do — were given to us by the pandemic. Staff changes led to many questions and new ideas. It was hard to have the properties closed, but many unexpected positive changes have happened.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.: Dr. Charlie and Dr. Will. I get to come to work in their homes every day and share their family stories with many patients, staff and guests.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: The warmth, kindness and caring attitudes of the staff.


Tags: In a Word, Staff Stories

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