Jim Roth: Authentically Original
Photo by J. Christopher Little
Anyone who has ever met Jim Roth knows there’s much more beneath the surface of the Oklahoma City attorney and former state Corporation Commissioner. Roth, an attorney at Phillips Murrah Law Firm, is an ardent champion for the advancement of cleaner energy for our state and country. At the same time, he knows what time of night the karaoke is just getting good at Cookie’s. We never got to hear any show tunes, but our conversation with Roth was full of high notes.
What’s your hometown? Prairie Village, Kansas. It’s on the Kansas side of Kansas City.
What brought you to Oklahoma City? I moved here to attend law school at OCU.
Did that experience lead you to run for public office? Yes. I am a huge fan of OCU’s concept of servant leadership.
Is running for public office a risk worth taking? Definitely. The whole idea of running for office and serving your neighbor is what’s so special about America.
What’s the coolest purchase you’ve made recently? My CNG Chevy Avalanche! I’m filling it up for $9 a week. I’m very excited about that, both financially and philosophically.
What song on your iTunes account has had the most plays? Recently, it’s been “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins.
What do you believe that most people don’t? That there’s a spiritual energy that connects us all.
Do you indulge a guilty pleasure of any kind? Yes. A nice glass (or two) of Pinot Noir. I also love the ice cream ball from Cheever’s.
What do you wish you’d started doing long before you finally did? I wish that someone had taught me the concept of compounding interest at the age of 16!
When will you go against popular opinion? I really don’t have any qualms about doing that. I don’t mind standing alone on an issue.
What do you value most in your friends? Honesty. Kindness.
Do you have a favorite hole-in-the-wall in Oklahoma City? Well, that depends on the time of night. If it’s, say, 1 a.m., I love Cookie’s for funny karaoke. By that time of night, let’s just say “America’s Got Talent” has wrapped!
What do you wish you’d never sold or given away? I once sold a cool, kitschy lamp that belonged to my grandmother. It was an Aladdin lamp with a rawhide tan lampshade. I’ve thought about that lamp often.
What should people try or experience at least once in their lifetime? Understanding different religions and faiths. Learning where people are coming from.
What do you bring to a crowded room? A smile.
What’s the last book you read? It’s random, I know, but I recently read Dante’s “Inferno” (by flashlight) while I was spending some time in the wilderness in Canada.
That’s not random at all. Which circle of hell does the Canadian wilderness represent, exactly? No kidding!
What’s the one thing you’ll accomplish in 2014? I’ve been talking about building a barn on my property for a couple of years – maybe this is the year. Professionally, my goal is to grow in new ways. I’m about to go to Africa for my work, and I think that’s a step in the direction of that goal.
What were your teachers wrong about? Well, I got a LOT of check marks for being a talker. It turns out, you CAN be a classroom talker AND be successful.
And how do you define success? Falling asleep tired and feeling grateful for the work.
What lessons did your parents teach you? My dad taught me how to live on a budget. My mom taught me not to settle. She also encouraged me to try new experiences, which I think fueled my love of travel.
What’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Organized religion.
What kind of penmanship do you have? The kind that suggests I don’t waste time!
What’s not worth getting worked up about? Obamacare.
Is there a character trait you’d gladly give up? Being 15 minutes late for everything! I was born nine days late and I’ve been running late ever since.
What character trait is one of your best? I think I’m a kind person.
What are you most grateful for? Having an open heart, thanks to my parents who taught me to be accepting and nonjudgmental of other people.
Where should I eat this weekend? I’m a believer in “buy local, eat local,” so I would recommend Packard’s for lunch and The Mantel for dinner.
Do you have a nonprofit shout-out? I serve on the board of the United Way because it’s an organization that touches all lives in some way. I also love The Winds House in central Oklahoma, which provides housing and other services for HIV-infected individuals, as well as for their families.
Have you ever made a bargain with yourself about something? Yes – at the age of 22, I made an agreement with myself that if I lived an authentic life and accepted myself for who I am, life would work out.