Patrick Duffy is an aficionado…of life. He grew up in the sixties on Chicago’s tough Southwest Side – the product of a Jewish mother and an Irish Catholic father. He checked into the Betty Ford Clinic, in his twenties, for alcohol addiction (he’s been sober since). He went on to become the CEO - Chief Experience Officer - of several companies, specializing in sales and leadership training in fine jewelry, retail, and hospitality.
Duffy, an art enthusiast, has collected over 350 pieces from around the world. He was President of the Las Vegas Art Museum Board (now closed) and sat on the boards of the Smith Center and the Neon Museum. He curated The Odyssey: A Visual Art Experience at the Town Lodge Motel for the Life Is Beautiful Festival.
Known as a generous benefactor of nonprofits and social justice causes, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada named Duffy their 2015 Person of the Year.
Duffy’s exuberant and gracious demeanor highlights his philosophy that laughter is the grease of life and respect is the great equalizer.
Describe your upbringing in Chicago.
I grew up in a rough area — Irish, Italian, Polish etc. My mother was a homemaker and a nurse; Jewish. My father — an Irish Catholic Police Commander who enjoyed his liquor. I was their first-born son. I went to Catholic grammar school during the week and Hebrew school on Sundays. Conversation around the dinner table was interesting to say the least. It wasn’t an easy time. I remember escaping the whole ordeal pretending to be Endora in the TV show Bewitched.
Do you practice a religion today?
No formal practice of either Christianity or Judaism – though I enjoy the holidays…and I have a mezuzah on my front door. I choose to practice ‘life’ through the basic tenets of both religions, which is to take care of one another; treat each other with respect and kindness.
You hold equal passion for art and manners. Where does that come from?
My first partner of 21 years, Wally Goodman, who passed away. He taught me everything about art, art history, and civilized living; which is all about good manners, understanding, listening, and, at the end of the day, doing the right thing. A genetic pool void of manners turns into a genetic puddle. The two tie together because art provides life’s visuals and culture provides life’s manners.
What do you say to those intimidated by art and art museums?
It’s unfortunate that all too often artists, and even gallerists, come off as elite snobs. Globally, the art community has not made love for art a user-friendly experience. They have to realize that there is no monopoly on art appreciation. I think it’s important to view art as enjoyment. Make it about what you like or do not like. What speaks to you. When buying art, what do you want to surround yourself with each day that brings you joy.
You’ve enjoyed a successful personal and professional life. What are the essential values?
Be real. Live with authenticity… toward yourself and those around you. Live with passion. Be aware of and embrace your faults; and celebrate, with joie de vivre, your strengths; and be willing to share both with others.
Tell me about your new business venture, The Patrick Duffy Group, Ltd. (PDG).
I’m offering, to small and medium size businesses, the curriculum I used — The Meaning of Yes — and successes I achieved with large corporations. The idea is that customers are investments. Our team spends time getting to know a business, their staff and customers, to create individualized solutions and custom-made training programs to turn customers into loyal brand ambassadors. It’s a ‘customer first’ approach to offering five-star service. The return on investment is increased sales and revenue. I do this by personally offering my skill-set at reasonable prices. It’s a winning platform. I believe I can be the differentiator that will separate a business’s service and product from the competition.
You’ve overcome and triumphed in your life. What advice do you have for those who struggle with their sense of self?
Don’t let the adult outside overwhelm the child within. Don’t define yourself by your baggage. And go about your day respecting everyone. Consideration for others will inevitably pave the path for understanding and acceptance in just about every situation you encounter.