The Men Making It Happen

Meet The Professionals Behind The Business

Patrick Poling

Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Manager

Southern Oak Wealth Group


What attracted you to a career in finance, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I was drawn to the industry because of the opportunity to help people at all stages of their lives – from saving and spending the most efficient way to how to have a worry-free retirement. I truly enjoy the challenges that we face every day, and we welcome the hardest questions from our clients as it often gives us a chance to dive into something new. There’s nothing mundane about it!

What advice would you give others who would like to go into the financial sector?

The best advice I can give is to work hard and be a sponge. You’ll never stop learning and you’ll never know everything in this business. So, being comfortable with being uncomfortable is good. If you spend the time researching and constantly building your knowledge base, you’ll be an asset for your clients.


Don Griffin, MD

Nashville Cosmetic Surgery

Plastic Surgeon


Why did you decide to become a plastic surgeon?

I am a third-generation surgeon from a small town in south Louisiana. I have many memories of my father and grandfather taking care of people in our community and spent many afternoons after school or on weekends at their offices while they were taking care of their patients. Outside of the office, I remember on multiple occasions the sheriff would come and get one of them at our duck camp on Pecan Island in the middle of the night (before email and cell phones) because a cornea became available for a corneal transplant (my dad), or someone was injured and in need of emergency surgery (my grandfather). 

What do you like to do in your free time?

With my limited free time, I enjoy combining activities with friends and family with my passion for spending time outdoors, both duck hunting and on the water. During duck season, my happy place is in a duck blind!


Jeffrey L. Culbreath, D.D.S.

Diplomate of the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Tennessee Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons


Why did you decide to become an oral surgeon?

After dental school, I completed a General Practice Residency, where I was heavily involved with the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery residency program. The more time I spent learning from the attendings and residents, the more I developed a passion for the complexity and attention to detail that this specialty requires. I have so much gratitude for those mentors who guided me toward a profession I love.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I believe showing compassion and empathy for why someone presents to our office is important. Another reason I love what I do is because patients place a great degree of trust in our hands. With that trust comes an expectation of performance. It demands my very best. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spending time with my amazing, beautiful wife, Lily, and our two boys; Lewis (6) and Conrad (4) is always at the top of my list. From my time as a Naval Officer, I’ve had an affinity for the ocean, so that’s a favorite. I also enjoy doing triathlons in the summer and love watching our two boys get into sports at their age. Being able to help coach them with some of the other parents is a special thing.


Spencer A. Haley DDS

Tennessee Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Oral Surgeon


Why did you decide to become an oral surgeon?

I have a background in agriculture and animal science, and I got into veterinary school, but I decided I really wanted to do surgery.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I love doing surgery, teaching and helping the community. I love interacting with patients and their families because you're not just dealing with one person, you're dealing with a husband or the parents, or the aunt or the uncle. It's hard to get people to see an oral surgeon because we're kind of the last line of defense. Most people have already seen their dentist, and they're in pain, so before we can even do surgery, we have to get them to trust us and instill confidence that we know what we're doing.

What advice would you give to others who are thinking of going into oral surgery?

I think everyone should try everything they want to do. If you don't try it, you never know if you're going to do it or not. You don't know what you're missing. So, I encourage younger folks to go out and visit as many hospitals, surgery offices, or dental offices as they can. I have externs and surgery residents from Vanderbilt visit me.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I've been fortunate enough to help the Tennessee Titans and I’m very active with the Nashville Predators hockey team. That got me into going from rodeoing and cheerleading in college to being a youth hockey coach for the past 17 years with my kids and multiple families.

I also love being outdoors and whenever I’m not here in town, it’s great spending time with family at the lake.


Cook Tillman Law Group


Russ Cook, Partner

Why did you decide to become a lawyer, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Both my father and my grandfather were estate planning attorneys. I learned at an early age that estate planning is a family business, so that personal approach permeates everything we do. We are building life-long relationships with every person that trusts us to serve them in this way. Each client comes to us with unique needs and circumstances. My passions are research and solving complex problems, and estate planning allows me to exercise both in building these relationships. 

Aaron Morales, Associate

I chose to be a lawyer because my skills will remain in high demand as new technologies and automation grow.  Every day I enjoy my work because I get to chase my curiosity. 

Josh Tillman, Partner

What advice would you give to others who would like to go into the legal profession?

Learn to ask good questions and really listen. There’s an emotional purpose behind every client’s decision to come see you. In estate planning, it may be concern for the well-being of a child or hope of avoiding a painful family squabble after the loss of a parent. Sometimes saving taxes is the goal, or simply obtaining the comfort of knowing a plan is in place. Technical proficiency may be commonplace, but genuine care for your client and solutions tailored to their true needs will set you apart from your peers and make fans of those you serve.


Alex Fasching, Partner

Find your niche. The legal field is broad, so it’s essential to identify which areas of law interest you the most. Particularly with estate planning and administration, the laws are so complex, and it will serve you and the client well to focus on these areas and become the expert in your field. Then, find your balance. The legal practice can be demanding, so be sure to take care of your mental and physical health as well. Finding a balance will help you achieve long-term success and enjoyment in the legal profession.

[Page 6]


Steve Hood

Shower Doors of Nashville

Business owner/founder

How and why did you get into the shower door industry?

I've been in it my whole life. My father owned his own shower door company. Instead of offering a wide range of products, I decided to focus just on shower doors and be a specialist and do that one thing better than everybody else.

We're fairly new to Nashville, but I owned a shower door company in Texas for 17 years, which I sold. We're the only company in Nashville that just does shower doors. All the others are glass companies.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I love doing something that's so pretty when we're done with it. We often hear, “Wow, that's gorgeous!” Everything is custom made and there's true craftsmanship in what we do. I also get to meet many cool and interesting people here in Nashville.

Jonathan Trusty

Managing Director, Senior Wealth Advisor

Southern Oak Wealth Group

What attracted you to a career in finance, and what do you enjoy most about it? 

The two most important parts of helping people are taking ownership of the problem and not giving up easily. I wasn’t always able to help, but I learned from each failure, whether my own or someone else’s. Over time I came to understand my contribution was to help people understand their money.  

What advice would you give to others who would like to go into the financial sector? 

If you’re trying to find a first step, take any job dealing with money. Don’t move on from a job until you’ve stopped learning and mastered that skill. 

Once you’re done growing, move on to another job. If you want to make it a career, always remember you work for your clients and not some company.

“I really enjoy serving others, and my profession gives me an opportunity to do that.”

Related Businesses

Related Articles