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Don Keogh speaking at the Irish American magazine Hall of Fame. Photo by: Irish America

Irish American leader Don Keough calls for Irish Diaspora minister

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Don Keogh speaking at the Irish American magazine Hall of Fame. Photo by: Irish America

Who do you consider inspirational figures?

Father Ted Hesburgh at Notre Dame. He is an absolute inspiration; still a simple priest. His most important moment in his life is when he says Mass.

I took him to Latin America once. We called on several heads of state. The minute I brought him in there they paid no attention to me. He spoke to them in Portuguese, Spanish and charmed them all.

He was an incredible visionary who served six presidents on issues such as civil rights and immigration and built one of the great universities. There were those who said a Catholic university could never reach the heights of academic excellence, but Father Hesburgh knew differently.

Warren Buffet still tap dances to work every day. He has arranged to give all his wealth away, but he’d be rich in every important way with or without it.

He lives a very simple life. We have been friends for decades. I lived across the street from him in Omaha many years ago and he still lives there, in a modest house, like the man.

Outside of my own father, of the people I have worked with Warren Buffett stands out. He is a learning machine, a great philanthropist. He has kept an amazing sense of humility.

What is the best life lesson you have learned?

The life lesson I have learned is that wealth has nothing to do with money. It has to do with family, with friendships, with knowing and learning from interesting people, people who make a difference. If I didn’t have ten dollars I’d consider myself one of the wealthiest people in the world with the friends and family I have had.

I say to my grandkids, you need to be an interesting person, and not just learn how to move your thumbs around an iPhone or iPad. No one wants to be around uninteresting people I tell them. Young people today don’t want to be vulnerable. They want to be cool, the worst possible thing to be.

I tell them you need to go through life saying this is who I am comfortable in my skin, for better or worse. Take me for what I am.

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