Community//

“Everyone makes mistakes.” With Ben Ari & Joe H. Smith

I have often heard people from my congregation at my church, my family members at reunions, my wife’s brothers and sisters, all have said to me you are an angel or “you are a good man, a great husband, you know? The way you look out for and take care of your wife, Barbara.” But […]

I have often heard people from my congregation at my church, my family members at reunions, my wife’s brothers and sisters, all have said to me you are an angel or “you are a good man, a great husband, you know? The way you look out for and take care of your wife, Barbara.” But for me, I think that because of my Christian values and beliefs and knowing what I committed too on our wedding day. I am only doing what I promised Barbara. You know what? Now that I think of it. It could even be that I am the most positively impacted by taking on this cause!


As a part of our series about Making a Social Impact, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joe H. Smith of the ‘The Smith Perspective Project’.

‘The Smith Perspective Project’ is about an incredible family that has proudly and bravely dealt with the effects of a brain tumor to the mother that has left her to be a quadriplegic. It is a story lead by Joe H. Smith that challenges your life perspective which will hopefully make you question how you look at your own life in a different way. The documentary film, produced by James Bonato, defines to the deepest degree what it takes to be a real man. It is a film that can move an audience to its core.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

This is Joe Harold Smith and I was born in Simpson County, MS — The 8th of 9 siblings. I grew up in small farming community that consisted of large, very closely knit, families that embodied trusted, committed and supportive Christian family life.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? Can you share the story with us?

I lived in household lead by my mother (Irene), father (Walter Jr.) and grandfather (Walter Sr.). They modeled for me and my siblings how to live strong, committed, and supportive lives. Like most kids, my parents were a key influence as they always encouraged us to do our best. By doing your best this creates a mindset and pathway to your best life. I also had amazing teachers: Math, Mrs. Puckett, and Chemistry, Mr. Watts. They both encouraged me to pursue what I enjoyed most, that being problem solving. Well, here is what happened. A question was asked in Mrs. Puckett’s math class and I was one of the few students that got the correct answer, Mrs. Puckett got really excited which lead to further conversation after class. She shared with me that over the years her son was one of the few students that had answered this challenging question. Long story short, Mrs. Puckett said her son became a math major and after graduating college, had landed a great job with an amazing company named IBM. I did a little research and determined that IBM and computers were the way to my best future, thus beginning my journey to becoming a computer professional with IBM by year 1983. Mrs. Agnes Puckett was the key to planting the seed to my professional life. The funny thing about this story is I was visiting my hometown of Magee, MS several years later and guess who I bumped into on the street? Yes, it was my Math Teacher, Mrs. Puckett. She actually remembered me and said her Son was still working for IBM. She was so excited to tell me that he was doing very well. He, Bernard Puckett, had become a remarkably successful corporate executive.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The most interesting mistake in my career was when, a few years into my career, the guy that hired me asked if I was interested in an eventual management position. I quickly told him ‘no thank you’ and that I wanted to stay strictly technical. My thoughts were that I did not want to deal with the headache of managing people on projects that I had had the pleasure of working on thus far; high stress, lots of overtime and I did not want the additional responsibility. I found out later by saying no, what was considered a great mentorship opportunity had been missed and never returned. I learned from this that before you say no to a possible growth opportunity, make sure you find out more about it before you pass on something that might lead to new directions. I also learned since then that our network of people are the most important assets that we have.

In our work, we often focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

I am a leader of a BNI Networking Group as well as take care of my family, am a musician for work and am building a movement that is important to me to share about perspective. I do take care of many, including the love of my life, my wife Barbara, care of myself is key as I need to be the best me. Routines keeps me on track, I have always been active in sports as far back as I can remember, which embedded active routines into my life. I played college football and at IBM played basketball and softball on extremely competitive intramural leagues. I completed the marine core marathon 2 times in my thirties. I now walk 3 miles or more 5 to 6 times per week and stretch frequently.

I attend church services regularly and sing in the Gospel and Praise team choirs. I love to read inspirational books and I listen to lots of podcasts to get a heavy dose of positive possibility thinking into my system. I also look for creative ways to implement positivity into my family’s life, for instance, most days I do a devotional reading that has a bible scripture component along with a short practical current life application. My immediate family is my heart and providing my love and support to them is my life’s mission!

Ok super. Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I was educated in the public-school system there in Magee and graduated from Magee High School. I earned a BS Degree from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. In 1983 I moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland to take my dream job working as a software developer (computer programmer) for a company called IBM. At I IBM, I met the love of my life, Barbara, through a mutual friend. We courted/dated for several years and married in 1988. We have been blessed with two children, Jharol and Jhalen. Barbara and I had a plan for professional careers that would support our ideal family dream of at least three children. We were well on our way to full filling their plan when the unthinkable happened. Barbara was stricken by a crippling brain tumor that changed everything for us and our plans were suddenly changed. “The Smith Perspective Project” is purposed to share our perspective on how we have, and continue, to deal with the ups and downs of life when difficult life circumstances/challenges present themselves. Through the documentary, ”The Smith Perspective” producer James Bonato helped us share our story. As it is our desire to encourage, inspire, and possibly stimulate hope, where hope may have been lost. After all, it really is all about perspective!

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

When James Bonato, the producer of our documentary film, ‘The Smith Perspective’ and I meet, he clearly was interested in sharing my story and putting it to film, as he had a deep desire to make a difference in the world and I felt sharing my story would do that for us both, let’s just say, the timing was right. We all have purpose in life and James and I collaborated in making that happen for each other. Two paths meeting up, unintentional but had great justification.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I have often heard people from my congregation at my church, my family members at reunions, my wife’s brothers and sisters, all have said to me you are an angel or “you are a good man, a great husband, you know? The way you look out for and take care of your wife, Barbara.” But for me, I think that because of my Christian values and beliefs and knowing what I committed too on our wedding day. I am only doing what I promised Barbara. You know what? Now that I think of it. It could even be that I am the most positively impacted by taking on this cause!

What are your 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It is ok to get it wrong at times because the experience of problem solving helps one to learn.
  2. Sometimes the people closest to you, be family members, friends, or teammates may be the least likely to support you. This could lead to disappointment and broken relationships
  3. You will never be smart enough to not make mistakes. When I started, I thought some people could literally walk on water.
  4. Your network of people is your most powerful and valuable asset because none of mankind can do great things without the help of others.
  5. When sowing, the reaping does not always come in a predictable time frame or season.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thank you so kindly for the opportunity to present ‘The Smith Perspective documentary and The Smith Perspective Project’. These Projects allow me to share important lost values to anyone and everyone and then from there the message can be shared forward. Seeing things from the Right Angle is so incredibly powerful — and it begins with Perspective!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

1. “Watch your thoughts; they become words,

Watch your words; they become actions, Watch your actions; they become habits, Watch your habits; they become character, Watch your character; it becomes your destiny “

~ Frank Outlaw

2. My favorite bible verse is Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

What are the best ways our readers can follow you online?

Please check our website at: TheSmithPerspectiveProject.com and follow us on our social media pages: Please follow us on Facebook Instagram and Twitter @TheSmithPerspectiveProject

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO of Maplewood Senior Living & Inspīr”, With Gregory D. Smith

by Carly Martinetti
Thrive Style//

Mika Brzezinski: Why You Need a Fashion Uniform

by Mika Brzezinski

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.