Beyond the Boardroom

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Keith Woods

Author: Mallorie Kerrigan
June, 2018 Issue

Keith Woods is chief executive officer of North Coast Builders Exchange in Santa Rosa. He’s best known locally for his public speaking and frequent Master of Ceremonies work for many local organizations; his 13 years as president and chief executive officer of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce; leading the effort to start the Santa Rosa downtown market; and for helping the 1200-member Builders Exchange become a strong voice for the construction industry. Woods dabbles in golf and even had a hole-in-one a couple of years ago at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club. “It’s the first time I ever put a “1” on a scorecard without another number behind it,” he says. Woods lives in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Santa Rosa, and considers his 31-year-old twins, Kevin and Kelly, to be close friends of his.

What’s your favorite quote?
As Stephen Covey once said, “You can’t talk your way out of problems that you behaved your way into.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done, and would you do it again?
There was this one wild night in Las Vegas when I ordered a cheeseburger with Monterey Jack instead of Cheddar. I don’t know what got into me, but Vegas does that to a guy.

If you were a dinosaur, which would you be?
A Thesaurus, because they were unusually well-spoken beasts.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Other than raising two great kids, leading the effort to start Santa Rosa Downtown Market 28 years ago. I organized a delegation of civic and business leaders to visit the San Luis Obispo market, which was one of the first of its kind. We went to SLO in April and held the first Santa Rosa market three months later in June. It wasn’t easy.

Share your favorite birthday memory.
Ten years old, living in San Carlos. My mom took me on a train trip, just the two of us, up the Peninsula to San Francisco to have dinner and see a movie at the Roxie Theater. It made me feel really special.

What’s your favorite ride at Disneyland?
No contest—Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you could change one thing about the culture we live in, what would it be?
I would end the pervasiveness of drugs and drug addiction throughout society. It’s a scourge and a curse that plagues young and old alike in every ethnic group across the country. I hate drugs with every fiber of my being.

Have you ever helped a total stranger?
When I was a Boy Scout, I helped an elderly woman cross the street, but didn’t realize she had no intention of crossing the street, and she kept whacking me with her cane. It created quite a scene.

What’s your favorite childhood candy?
Three Musketeers was always my go-to candy bar.

What’s one of your nicknames?
My buddies and I decided to make up rap star nicknames for each other a couple of years ago. Mine was KWoody, and they’ll hit me with that once in a while.

What’s your most memorable airplane flight?
San Francisco to Moscow in 1998. When I was a chamber executive, I was asked by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Chamber to spend 10 days in Russia, training former generals who were becoming chamber executives. During the layover in Frankfort, Germany, I fell asleep and missed my connecting flight to Moscow. It ended well when they reluctantly stuffed me into a Lufthansa flight to Moscow the next day. At least I learned some German. Dummer Amerikaner, apparently means “Stupid American.”

What was your first job? How much were you paid?
At 21, fresh out of journalism school, I was hired as communications director for the Pomona Chamber of Commerce. I only made $700 a month, but it sure seems like I had more extra money back then, than I do now.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I do 100 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, followed by a five-mile run before I whip up a broccoli smoothie. Yeah, right. A personal trainer once told me to start my day with Pilates, but it didn’t work. I thought he said pie and lattes.

Do you prefer a good debate, or keeping the peace?

I prefer a good debate. What’s it to you?


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