Recommended Reading: Keith Sanford

Contributed photography by Thom Benson / Keith Sanford, president and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium

Keith Sanford has been president and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium since 2016, after working in a variety of roles at First Tennessee Bank over 36 years, including serving as market president. A graduate of Washington and Lee University and The Graduate School of Banking of the South, he was named Chattanooga Area Manger of the Year in 2014. Sanford has served as a volunteer and board member for many local nonprofit organizations, and is founding director and chair of the Tivoli foundation, as well as board chair of Chattanooga Tourism Co.

What books have you read and recommended to others that influence your leadership style?

Early in my banking career, I read books no one else wanted to read on economics and financial analysis. Then as I became more of a salesperson, I read Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and several sales strategy and relationship-focused books. Recently with my change in careers, I read the book "The Zookeepers' War" by J.W. Mohnhaupt, which was turned into a movie about the heads of the East and West German zoos during the Cold War.

What books have you recently read for pleasure that you're telling others about?

I am currently reading Barack Obama's new book "A Promised Land." I read anything by Jon Meacham, and I like biographies, history, and historical fiction. For beach reads, I do spy-type books like those of Clive Cussler. My freshman year roommate at Washington and Lee is a horror novel writer, Douglas Clegg. I read some of his, but they give me nightmares. I am in the middle of a Cussler book, also.

My wife gets mad at me because the top of my dresser has about 40 books that I am either somewhat reading or have bought to read. She now makes me get rid of one for every one I bring home. Thankfully, our church has a place for book recycling that Alice Lupton started. You bring your previously read books and leave them, put a few dollars in a bowl for someone else's book and the money raised goes toward scholarships at our nursery school. I also prefer hard-backed books. My children gave me a Kindle, but I hated it. I also read three real newspapers every day, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, of course, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I have online subscriptions to The Washington Post and the above three, also.

What is next on your to-read list?

Meacham's biography on John Lewis, "His Truth is Marching On," which is sitting on the stack on my dresser now.