Exeleon Magazine

Graeme M. Keith III: An Icon of Transformational Leadership

Graeme M. Keith Exeleon Magazine

The concept of a ‘transformational leader’ has long been a fertile ground for stereotypes.

A stoic and hard-charging captain of the ship; the strong and charismatic CEO; the pioneering visionary; or the unstoppable force of creative energy.

These stereotypes exist because we see them and read about them. They get the press headline, inspire biopics, make waves, and prompt conversations.

However, beyond these pre-determined stereotypes, there exists a few leaders who are truly genuine with their thoughts and actions.

These leaders go above and beyond to listen, innovate, ideate, and translate a vision into reality.

Meet Graeme M. Keith, a third-generation leader, Development Partner at The Keith Corporation (TKC), and the Chief Operating Officer of MedChat.

Graeme is an example of a transformational leader who has gone beyond the stereotypical notions of leadership and forged a unique pathway of success in his journey. Fittingly, Exeleon Magazine covers Graeme M. Keith III as the face of its latest Transformational Business Leaders issue.

‘I Try to be the Weakest Link’

Both at MedChat and The Keith Corp., as well as all the other companies he is involved with, Graeme has integrated a philosophy that echoes his leadership style and approach.

He mentions, “All of the companies I’m involved in have a very similar philosophy: I try to be the weakest link on the team. If I am the weakest link, I feel like we’re going to have a very competitive team.”

Graeme inherited this philosophy from his time competing in, and winning, mud runs and adventure races across the country and believes it to be applicable for all forms of business.

“If you want to be faster, train with faster athletes. If you want to be smarter, spend time with smarter people. If you want to be more successful, surround yourself with people who are more successful than yourself.”

At TKC, there lies an incredible team of dealmakers, project managers, accountants, administrative professionals, etc. At MedChat, there is a dedicated team of developers and engineers, alongside an extremely talented sales, implementation, and customer success team.

Graeme makes sure to surround himself with these people as it enables him to improve and grow, as well as increase the likelihood of a successful venture.

He explains, “One of the greatest misconceptions about leadership is that it’s the leader who drives the results, but in my opinion, it’s the exact opposite. The leader may chart the course, but it’s the team that is most responsible for the outcomes.”

Graeme Keith_Exeleon Magazine

Sports and Leadership

For Graeme, his philosophies related to leadership stretch back to his sporting days. It was through sports and athletics, he learned the disciplines of hard work, persistence, mental toughness, and the importance of a short memory.

“Sports have always been a huge part of my life and many of the most important lessons in life, I learned through sports,” he recalls.

During his time at Wake Forest University, Graeme was a member of the #1 nationally ranked Demon Deacon basketball team.

As someone always objectively in touch with reality, Graeme admits that he was not blessed with prodigious athletic ability and was rarely the most talented person on the team.

However, he had an incredible work ethic that could challenge even the most talented athletes. “You may beat me because you’re better than me, but you will never beat me because you outwork me.”

Following his career of organized sports, Graeme was determined to further challenge himself; physically, mentally, and emotionally. And he did so through 24-hour Adventure Races, Ironman Triathlons, and more such activities.

Among the list of things he has learned from sports and as an athlete, he emphasizes persistence to be one of the greatest things. “Always show up, even when you don’t feel like it. The law of compounding effort shows that small, consistent efforts make a huge difference over the course of a year.”

Standards of Excellence

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, TKC is a privately held, full-service commercial real estate firm. With its ever-growing portfolio and footprint (TKC has projects in 36 states and 5 countries), TKC stands out for its absolute commitment in delivering the highest level of service to its clients.

Since joining TKC in 2011, Graeme Keith III has been actively involved with multiple divisions of the company, including property management, IT, marketing, brokerage, and development. Over the past 10 years, he has completed well over $500 million in deals and spearheads multiple projects across the United States.

Alongside TKC, Graeme M. Keith is the COO of MedChat, which is a modern Patient Access & Messaging platform utilized by hundreds of healthcare organizations. The company helps teams easily deploy custom chatbots that enhance communication and automate workflows.

As a transformational leader, he makes sure to integrate his philosophy of building great teams that buys into the strategy/direction of the company. For this, he claims a leader needs to earn the trust of their team.

“Faith is belief in something unseen and, often, team members can’t necessarily see the vision that the leader has. So, the leader must build trust with their team so that they can have faith in the direction their Leader is charting.”

The Journey

Just like anyone else, Graeme’s journey has had its share of good and bad days. “The peaks are high, but the trenches can be rough,” he says.

When Graeme first entered the business world, he recalls riding on a roller coaster of emotions. With time and experience, he has learned to stay steady throughout the highs and the lows and maintain a positive attitude.

He further mentions how grateful and fortunate he is to have a great relationship with his father, who has seen the highest of highs himself. He makes sure to grasp and apply the incredible wisdom that his father imparts onto him daily.

“My father believes it’s ‘wise to learn from experience, but it’s wiser to learn from the experience of others’ and freely shares the lessons he’s learned with me. Without my father, there is no way I would be where I am.”

However, amidst the positives in his journey, Graeme mentions that he would prefer to enjoy the journey a little more if he were to start again. He explains, “I am hyper goal-oriented, which lends itself to passing a lot of milestones without taking the time to celebrate or enjoy them.”

Every day in the life of Graeme brings forth a different experience, a different challenge; one which he loves and embraces. “I may be negotiating a lease in the morning, sending out invoices for MedChat at lunch, developing a go-to market strategy for a new venture early afternoon and presenting at a non-profit Board meeting after that.”

Graeme loves the diverse nature of his job and working hard comes naturally to him. However, he makes sure to be consistent every day when it comes to spending time with his son. “The single constant I have every day is spending several hours with him and it’s the highlight of my day, every day.”

Graeme realizes work-life balance is crucial in today’s fast-paced world. “If you don’t have it, you can’t operate at a high level for a prolonged period of time.”

At the same time, he admits work-life balance looks different for everyone but finding what recharges you is a fundamental piece to operating at a high-level on a consistent basis.

Graeme Keith_Exeleon Magazine_Cover Page

Words of Wisdom

When asked to give advice to aspiring and emerging leaders, Graeme mentions two things:

  • Keep your head down and focus on your end goal. Despite what you may see on social media, there are no shortcuts to success.
  • Your reputation and character are precious and should never be put on the line. No amount of success is worth risking them. Thomas Paine said it best: “Character, unlike money, is much easier kept than recovered.”

Graeme’s innovation thesis is simple: “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.” In order to do that, one has to limit their implicit biases associated with the industry to think creatively and ask yourself a lot of “what if” questions from a macro industry perspective.

He shares an interaction he had with a well-known venture capitalist in Silicon Valley to highlight this further: “When you create change from within an industry, you create evolutionary change. When you create change from outside an industry, you create revolutionary change” because you don’t have the same legacy constraints through which you’re evaluating the problems. Often times “because we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do something and can be the largest impediment to progress and innovation, so we try to evaluate our industry holistically de novo on a regular basis.

Going Forward

Professionally, Graeme believes his love for innovation and creating something will drive him towards new and exciting opportunities. Moreover, he mentions “I think the web3 movement has the potential of being the most disruptive movement since the creation of the internet and I hope to be involved in that space in a meaningful way.”

From a personal standpoint, Graeme has a lot of goals that he wants to achieve and tick off his bucket list. “They run the gamut from hiking the entire Appalachian Trail to seeing Mavericks or Jaws (big wave surfing spots) from the water to driving 200mph in a car and making someone’s lifelong dream come true.”

Read the Digital Version of the Cover Story.

Visit The Keith Corporation Website.

Connect Graeme M. Keith on LinkedIn




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