The best gift? Even for the most successful people, life is about more than business

CEOs reminisce about their most meaningful gift.
CEOs reminisce about their most meaningful gift. Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: What is the best holiday gift you ever received?

My wife surprised me with a custom set of golf clubs. While I was not into the sport and business was my main focus, it was time to enjoy life. Golf has become one of my sporting passions, plus every banker I knew was into the sport ...

That year, we won the Beacon Council inaugural tourney and received a beautiful crystal Tiffany trophy.

Jim Angleton, CEO for Aegis FinServ Corp.


When I was 7, my parents got me an electric race car set. It came in a huge box that was irresistible, so much so that I tore open the wrapping paper to have a peek before Christmas. I then unskillfully closed it back up with masking tape. My parents were not fooled, but they did not punish me. The excitement I felt with that gift has never been matched.

Wael Barsoum, M.D., CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic Florida


The best Christmas gift I ever received was when I proposed to my girlfriend of five years on Christmas Eve, and she said “Yes.” We met while I was bartending at Whistler’s Café in Cutler Ridge Mall. She arrived with an old high school friend, and I proceeded to make them the best strawberry daiquiris in Miami all night. She was teaching aerobics at [a health spa] in South Miami, and we quickly discovered that we were both attending the University of Miami. Shortly after that, I quit the bar scene and got a job at her health club selling memberships. When she refused to date “guys” that she worked with, I moved from that branch to one close by, and she finally relented and agreed to a date. Twenty-eight years later, we are still happily married, with three gorgeous daughters, Ashley, Lauren, and Sofia.

Brett Beveridge, CEO and founder of The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC)


By far, the best Christmas gift I ever received was the news that I was pregnant with my daughter, Gabriella. I was actually hosting a big Christmas Eve party at my house when I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was having a baby girl and I was ecstatic. Needless to say the best part of that party was my “cookie” baking in the oven! She is 20 years old now, and nothing will ever be able to top that moment.

Jacqueline Dascal Chariff, chairman, Continental National Bank and CEO of


My kids, Drew and Dominique, gave me a collage of pictures that chronicled the years of their childhood with me. Many of the pictures from that time period had been lost, and these pictures meant the world to me as it showed us as the close family unit that we were. It is one of my most cherished possessions. They are both adults now, and as I get older, I become more sentimental and connected to them.

Bill Diggs, president, The Mourning Family Foundation


For me, it’s all about effort. Something handmade from my children, something sparkling from my husband. I get as much joy, if not more, out of giving than receiving. There are many ways to show admiration and love. Objects are not what people remember, how you make someone feel is what gets emblazoned in your memory bank. Making the effort to be thoughtful, personal and creative is the ultimate in gift-giving.

Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties

and Goldman Global Arts


For me, Christmas has always been about time. Time with my family, time with my children, time with the people I love most. My wife Melinda blessed me with twins — and every second I spend with them is priceless. They are the most precious gift in my world.

Jorge Gonzalez, president and CEO, City National Bank


In the late 1990s, my then-girlfriend, now wife (Chae) and I were attending Arizona State University. I was in New York visiting my family for the Christmas break. My girlfriend was going to visit my family for the first time over the Christmas break — a very big deal. A massive snowstorm hit the East Coast. Although nearly all flights were canceled, she maneuvered her way to Philadelphia. Nearly all roads were closed, but I was able to get to Philadelphia by train to greet my future bride. She met my parents for the first time, on time. Best Christmas gift ever.

Gregory Adam Haile, president of Broward College


As a child, the best Christmas gift I was given was a silver Schwinn dirt bike with five-spoke Tuff wheels and a No. 7 plate in front, matching my favorite sports number. My parents gave it to me when I was in the sixth grade. It was the first time I felt our standard of living was improving and it was awesome!

Louis Hernandez Jr., CEO of Black Dragon Capital


For me, Christmas is about religion and family. I work all year long on deals and loans and tangible things like borrower’s equity, collateral and source of funds. At Christmas, I look to the intangible. No physical present will ever compare to the gift of having my children at Christmas and seeing them grow.

Agostinho Alfonso Macedo, president and CEO

of Ocean Bank


It was a beautiful blessing that weighed approximately six pounds. My wife, Janie, gave birth to our daughter Erin on Christmas Eve in 1993. The gift of life is as beautiful and special as it gets. Erin, as with all of our children, reminds us each day how blessed we all are.

Let me use this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy, Healthy and blessed Holiday Season.

James “Jimmy” Tate, co-owner and president of TKA-Evolution Apparel and of Tate Capital, and co-founder of Tate Development Corp.


The best Christmas gift that I ever received was a King James Bible by my deceased grandmother, Pastor Iver-Lee Baldwin. She advised me life would be hard but as long as I trusted in the Lord. I could get through any adversity. My grandmother further explained that I could always turn to the Bible and God for the answers I needed in life.

Since then, I have become a firm believer that no matter what you put your mind to, everyone is capable of achieving greatness. I understand that everyone may not have the same experiences in life.

When my grandmother gifted me my first Bible, she also taught me that with faith (in God) and in yourself, everyone has a gift and purpose in this life. You have to believe in you before anyone else will.

Rashad D. Thomas, vice president of business connect and community outreach for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee


The best Christmas gift I ever received was the look on my daughter’s face when she opened her gifts at the age of 9. At Christmas time in previous years, I was a single mother with limited income, but my daughter never judged me for coming up short with gifts. That particular year, I decided to grow up, double down, and take a second job at Toys “R” Us in order to surprise her with more than the one standard gift. When she woke up on Christmas morning, there were so many toys, she didn’t know where to start. The look of surprise and appreciation on her face for that one moment in time said it all. So that Christmas, I received a double gift — teaching myself about what hard work yields, and the indescribable feeling of watching my hard work pay off with the person who mattered most.

Dorcas L. Wilcox, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, Inc.


My most memorable Christmas gift was the year I did not get one. A family in my hometown in rural Idaho suffered a house fire just a few week before the holidays; their home was destroyed and they lost everything. My mom decided we were going to “adopt” them and give them the gifts we would have received. At the age of 9, I thought it was a terrible idea. While the family was in Christmas Eve church services, we filled their van with the gifts, and then hid in our car across the parking lot so we could see them open their van and discover the gifts. They never knew who gave them those gifts. I still remember this experience and the lifelong impact it had in teaching me about generosity and giving.

Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida



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