That Time I Spent a Week with Rex Tillerson

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Key Speakers At Ceraweek 2012

This is a post from Emily Roden, the smarter and more attractive Roden, about her brief few days with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State…

Nine years ago, I showed up to the Denton County Courthouse for jury duty and got myself picked for the job. A young girl had accused her mom’s boyfriend of sexual assault and the case was being brought to trial. If you’ve ever served on a jury trial before, you understand the almost immediate, yet very temporary bond that ties 12 strangers together who are randomly chosen from each of their private lives in order to fulfill a very solemn public purpose.

One of our first tasks was to choose our jury foreman. Perhaps it was his business suit, his impressive stature, or his charisma, but almost everyone in that jury room suggested that this middle-aged man with greying hair was likely the most fit for the task.

“Thanks, but I decline. I’m not interested in the spot light,” he told us. I didn’t think anything of it.

I had just bought my first BlackBerry and used my breaks to catch up on all the emails I was missing from my week at the courthouse. I recall leaving the jury room on a break with this man and remarking how busy I was and how much work I had to do. He smiled as he sat and read the paper.

From the first day of jury selection, we all noticed another suited man always present in the courtroom. His presence was intriguing due to the ear piece in his ear. While grabbing lunch at Denton County Independent Hamburger on the square the 2nd day of the trial, we noticed this mysterious man dining with our fellow juror who declined the foreman spot. The intrigue grew and it was the talk of the jury – who were these men?

Finally, during a break in the jury room, one juror had the nerve to ask; “Who are you? And what do you do?”

Our fellow jury member was reading the paper again and pointed out an article with Exxon in the headlines.

“I work for them,” he said humbly. “There are a lot of people in this world who hate me for what I do, so they give me and my family guys like that to protect me.”

I immediately felt embarrassed for complaining to him the other day about how much work I had to do. It didn’t take long before a few internet searches revealed that I was serving on this jury with the CEO of Exxon Mobile, Rex Tillerson.

The trial concluded and it was time for the jury to deliberate. The story was heartbreaking and the facts of the case were clear enough to make the majority of the jury convinced of the guilt of this sexual offender of a little girl. But the defense did a good enough job to create a couple of hold-outs. As our deliberations came to a close, it appeared we might have a hung jury.

That’s when Mr. Tillerson began to speak. Humbly, delicately, and without an ounce of condescension toward those who disagreed, he began walking us all through the details of the case. I even recall being moved by his thorough explanation about the nature of doubt and the standards set forth by our justice system. With great patience, this man who strikes multi-billion dollar deals with foreign heads of state brought our scrappy jury together to bring a sexual predator to justice and to deliver justice for a scared and deeply wounded little girl.

A local nonprofit was instrumental in fostering that young girl through this process, providing her counseling and legal help. I was so struck by their mission that I toured their facility the week following the case in order to learn how I could donate and volunteer to their cause.

On a whim, I decided to reach out to Mr. Tillerson to encourage him to do the same. I found an email for him online and sent him a note, touting the role this agency played in our trial and urging him to consider supporting the great work that they do. To my surprise, I received an email back thanking me for my note, my jury service, and ensuring me that he would contact the agency. I later received a call from the director of that nonprofit to let me know that Mr. Tillerson followed-through and gave a generous donation.

I didn’t vote for Trump. This is not an endorsement of Mr. Tillerson for Secretary of State. I’m sure that the coming days and weeks will be filled with speculation and political discussion over this clearly controversial pick for Secretary of State. I certainly appreciate those concerns and the process that ensures significant scrutiny for this important position.

But during a news show tonight, I heard the term “corrupt” applied to this man who I spent five days with back in 2007.

All I know is that this man holds one of the most powerful positions in the world and clearly has the means and ability to side step his jury responsibilities, served as a normal citizen without complaint or pretense. I know that a scared little girl who was finally convinced to come public with her account of abuse was inches away from a decision that would have sided with her abuser, yet this man put his negotiation skills to a very noble use and justice was served. All I know is that this man and his myriad of aides could have ignored an unsolicited email from a girl in her 20s suggesting that he donate to a local cause, but he took the time to respond and opened up his pocket book.

My five days with Rex Tillerson is all I know about this man and his character. And in light of the recent news, I thought this a relevant story to tell.

  1. Ernie Stripling says:

    Thanks for this testimonial. There are great things happening in the USA right now. The dark cloud of the last 30 years is being lifted and people with strong moral convictions and leadership are being called on to change our country for a new and brighter more stable future. Ms. Roden, you have come forward to testify that Mr Tillerson could have shirked his jury duty but instead showed his moral and civic duty to do his best. In this world of “corrupt” media that punishes and disparages individuals who want to make a better place for the next generation just because they don’t wear the same ideology is wrong. Thank you for speaking up for a better tomorrow.

  2. Thank you very much for writing this testimonial. I hope may people read this and appreciate Mr.Tillerson as a humble man more than capable of serving as Secretary of State

  3. Tommie Lee says:

    I think God has put the man in the presidents office that will bring God back to America and one who truly cares for this country. He along with Tillerson is giving up tremendous salaries to serve and should not be judged even before they get a chance to serve. I think hope is coming back to this country and the Democrats should stop with all the fake news and accept it.They might be pleasantly surprised

  4. Arwen says:

    What a beautiful article. I am going to share this with my Facebook friends. Thank you for being brave enough to write this despite the potential leftist liberal backlash that you might receive. A man that can handle the responsibility of being CEO of Exxon Mobile and handling all the international aspects of business while maintaining humility and family life in my opinion has the qualifications for the job of Secretary of State.

  5. Mike Byrnes says:

    I’ve been researching Mr. Tillerson and this wonderfully enlightening personal observation is consistent with what I’ve found. I’m feeling a lot better knowing the Mr. Trump has a person with Mr. Tillerson’s ethics and skills at his side. Trump will need this sort of character close at hand in the years to come.

  6. Suezette Griffin says:

    thank you for taking the time to write this telling piece. It becomes more difficult to cut through the muck being slung by the left.

  7. Ann Criel says:

    Sounds like a great addition to the Trump administration

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have also seen Rex in person when he gave a talk at my university. I was intrigued. He has integrity, contrary to what might be thought of as a CEO. I believe the media will be shooked (in a good way) by the Secretary of State nominee.

  9. Penny Young says:

    I think the team that Trump is putting together is awesome. Rex Tillerson will be perfect. A good man, with integrity and real world experience. So much more qualified than recent ones in the same position. Integrity, a word that seldom can be used in the same sentence as most politicians.

  10. Mark Brickey says:

    Thank you for the momentary insight into this man’s character.

  11. Pamela says:

    This is so enlightening. I knew nothing of this man until now. President Elect Trump really knows how to pick the right people. God bless him and all the people he picks for jobs in his cabinet.

  12. Dan B says:

    I know Rex thru his dedication to the Boy Scouts of America serving as president.
    He lives by the Scout Law. A Scout is trustworthy,loyal,helpful,friendly,courteous,
    kind,obedient,cheerful,thrifty,brace,clean & reverent. He is a welcome addition
    to the US government. I support his nomination for Secretary of State. Compare
    him to Hilary !

  13. Darryl Uhrig says:

    Thanks again for this testimony. It warms my heart to know that little girl saw justice. Your incite helps me to understand Mr Tillerson and his values as he moves forward as our Sec of State. Thanks Again! God Bless

  14. Tina Marie says:

    Thank you for this article. The humanistic side to people of power matters. I look forward to watching Trumps team members in action.

  15. Eugene Geraldo says:

    God bless those that still can come forward with the right thing to say about those that are deserving. Our country has sure changed and we no longer have a truthful government. Politicians have become a dirty name. We are guided by a corrupt Media, Hollywood, and a government that has become an asylum of self serving leeches.

  16. SeeingSeer says:

    That was a really nice read. I hope Mr. Tillerson does a great job for this country as an WHOLE.

  17. PolitiJim (@PolitiJim) says:

    Much Respect to you Mrs. Roden. I appreciate your integrity risking the derision of some.

  18. Madge McNamara says:

    Thank you for sharing this information about Rex Tillerson. It’s good to know information about these folks we will never really know. It appears God may have a hand in the selection of this man. Praying for our country to have more good people like him.

  19. Josephine Lord says:

    Loved this story. Ms Roden, thank you for writing it. Sounds like he’s a very good man and citizen.

  20. m says:

    <3 thanks for sharing this.

  21. Gary Beach says:

    At a time when nearly everything that is good about this country is under attack, and when good men and women will not run for public office because of the withering attacks on their character, it is more than refreshing to hear about a man of character who is willing to suffer the label of “corrupt” in order to serve our country. We stopped being civil toward those who disagree with our Constitution a long time ago, but we have a chance now to overcome those who would see this country become politically correct to the point of failure. Imagine a world without America.

  22. Stephen Brandt says:

    Thank you Emily Roden for your comments regarding Rex Tillerson. While I’ve never met the man personally, I’ve heard good things about him from my brother who works for Exxon pipeline and since retired. I also know that you get to the top of a corporation only two ways. The corporation will grow and prosper if it has good leadership, but will fail under bad leadership. Given that Exxon has such a good name, in spite of their global size, only got that way through good leadership. That is a good testimony for its leader.

    While I was surprised at Mr. Trump picking him for the job, given his close ties to Russia, he strikes me as a man who can separate personal feelings from public duties. He is also a skilled negotiator. That also makes him a good fit for the SOS position.

    From the people Mr Trump is collecting to get America running well again, I think he’s doing an excellent job.

  23. Dylan J says:

    A very powerful story. I have no reason to doubt its credibility nor any reason to doubt his protective nature over children.

    However, “Political Corruption” does not mean “100% Evil All the Time”.

    Men can be saints in some aspect of their lives and uncaring in others. We’re all like that. As the CEO who’s worked at Exxon Mobile for 41 years, he has a clear directive; to make his company as much profit as possible. That’s been his mindset for almost half a decade.

    On it’s own, that isn’t inherently a bad thing. In fact, 99% of the time, that’s good. It becomes an issue when these people have the power to make laws. When they have the power to start wars.

    Exxon Mobile now has the second most powerful position in the world (the vice president doesn’t actually do anything). Mattis is the new secretary of defense. While I’m glad he was picked over some of the other more clinically insane candidates, he has made his intentions clear. He wants war with Iran. Combine this with the fact that Trump has stated and restated multiple times that he wants to go back to Iraq to “Get the oil so we can pay ourselves”, it all points to one logical conclusion.

    We’re going to war again. I hope I’m wrong and just misinterpreting, but I don’t think I am. We’ll topple the Iranian government, slap a “Democracy” sticker on the gaping wound and claim that we’re liberators.

    Then the new terrorist groups will form. Except instead of Sunni terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, they’ll be Shia. It’s trading totalitarian evil for chaotic evil.

    Again, I know Tillerson is not evil. He’s objective. Unfortunately his objective is to maximize revenue, not to create peace. It’s just a little frustrating that so few people recognize what’s happening considering the same exact thing has happened so recently.

    • MMinLamesa says:

      I’m so glad that those of us who are just too damn stupid recognize that Trump is selecting people to get us into another endless war. Which is kind of strange as he campaigned for 18 months on exactly the opposite. Seems like I heard him say many times that he wanted our military to be the strongest ever so that no one would be foolish enough to challenge us.

      He often said Peace Through Strength-seems to me that’s how you “create” peace.

      Maybe you should start paying attention to what the man has been saying instead of “recognizing” something non existent.

    • Bill K says:

      You have made some statements here which are pretty obviously speculation, but end by saying essentially that the world is doomed and not many of us are aware of it.
      You sound like a rational person, so I would like to respond in kind; I suggest that you have been watching and/or reading the very biased “news”, which tends to be mostly liberal. Please try to get your information from sources other than the ones you frequent, and try to do it with an open mind. I know, it’s difficult these days but I think it’s possible.
      Watch what happens in the next couple of months and I think you’ll feel better and more hopeful about the world situation.
      Merry Christmas…

    • JPMcL says:

      If Mr. Tillerson is a humble and good man and willing to submit himself to the most annoying and time-consuming of the demands of good citizenship by doing his duty as a juror, despite being the CEO of a giant organization and the wielder of the power that that position gives him, what makes you think he will not also do his civic duty as Secretary of State? It is not as if power will corrupt him, as he does not appear to have been corrupted by the immense power inherent in being the Exxon CEO, and the power he will have as Secretary of State is likely less than what he had as CEO of Exxon.

    • You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but it is so disheartening to read after so many uplifting comments. As to wars, does it not have to be declared and authorized by congress? SOS and SOD have immense power but both nominees have worked in environments that have structure that would constrain them from doing what you suggest. Let the winner of the election pick his team, let them do their jobs, under your watchful eyes before condemning. God bless America,and the people that are trying to make America great again.

  24. Mary Bell says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. It contains valuable information that we would have no other way to obtain. I appreciate what you have done–especially if you were not a Trump supporter to begin with.

  25. Russ Port says:

    Mr. Tillerson sounds like a perfect candidate for Secretary of State. I will look forward to see the results of Trumps consideration of Tillerson. Thanks for sharing this insight full piece about his service in a jury. I have served in two jury’s and know very well the workings of that process. He is a good citizen to have helped in the consideration of said case. Good luck to him in his opportunity to be Secretary of State if he so desires.

  26. Frank says:

    Roden’s message – very impressive. Thanks

  27. David Pinsen says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Regarding his bodyguard, ExxonMobil started that after an Exxon executive was murdered during a kidnapping attempt in New Jersey in 1992:

  28. David says:

    This testimonial is consistent with everything I’ve witnessed and heard about Rex. I worked for EM for about 10 years, and Rex is described as one of the least pretentious, yet most thoughtful and insightful persons to have ever run EM. He is excellent at relating and negotiating with the lowest paid employee, all the way to the most powerful leaders in the world. I think he’s an excellent choice as SoS, and will represent the US very well.

  29. Dub Horn says:

    We need to hear more stories like this.

  30. claire Cunningham says:

    Thanks for printing this.

  31. Sean Jacobson says:

    Ms. Roden, thank you so much for this post. I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump either, and I have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson. But this post gives me hope. It provides evidence that he is a thoughtful, humble, kind, and civic-minded gentleman. You didn’t have to come forward with this information, or write it so well, but you did — thank you for serving all of us by giving us the benefit of your unique experience.

  32. Kyle Olbert says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Rex Tillerson is a good man. I hope all people who care about our country & our world will vigorously defend this good man against those who will surely seek to slander him & cast aspersions on his character.

  33. Edna Bambrick says:

    Why does doing the ‘right thing’… what any other normal decent human being would do, make someone, anyone exceptional? A one week snapshot of any human’s behavior or ethics is insufficient to make any assessment of what that person does day in and day out for the 1000′s of other weeks of their life. 11 other people were on that jury, they did the right thing also. And many other people already donated to this cause without requiring a prompt of another before doing so. I don’t know Rex’s record but if he were the clean, honest and decent human that can represent all of our interests would he be the kind of person that needs round the clock security? Would he accept awards and do deals with Putin, who we know has killed people, rigged elections and at wholesale levels depletes and pollutes the earth merely to stack worthless amounts of wealth in his account instead of using it to help his fellow citizens ? No thanks. These people – the ones that claim and portend to serve us and serve on our behalf. It’s time they are held to the carpet and are accountable for all of their weeks.

  34. Jeff Spangler says:

    Awesome story…..thank you for sharing.

  35. Sylvia B Cockerham says:

    This is a real-life testimony from someone who gets it! I grew up believing in major news sources such as Walter Kronkite, DMN and DT-H. Your testimony speaks more to me than many of today’s mass media sources. You’re talking about the humanity, the education and the empathy of an ordinary human who rose to great heights in the business world. I appreciate your assessment and will share it so my friends will have more information to make up their own minds. Thank you, Emily!

  36. David Patton says:

    Ms. Roden thank you for your succinct observations of a unique situation involving one of those “rich CEO’s”. Many media outlets would lead you to believe these corporate executives only care about themselves and their company stock price. Your descriptions can show’s that men and women in these positions can be thoughtful, knowledgeable and concerned about the world around them We need this type of person representing the United States to the world everyday. Thank you for sharing these valuable thoughts and impressions.

  37. Emily P says:

    Ms. Roden, I appreciate you sharing this story. What I appreciate is the fact you admit you didn’t vote for Trump but you are offering a glimpse into a man, a Republican, a Trump cabinet member, whose decency and humility is compelling. There are very few unbiased comments anymore, including the people on this blog who couldn’t refrain from inserting political comments applauding Trump into an article that is clearly non-political.

  38. I really enjoyed your first hand story of Mr. Tillerson. So many form opinions and GIVE opinions on people they have never even met.

  39. George Yamas says:

    Rex is just a humble guy making $200,000,00 a year running a company which has a poor return on equity.
    But he is willing to work with a dictator, thug like V Putin who is threat to American interests just because it’s in his personal financial interests to do so.

    Great pick for a Secretary of State if you are part of the Russian Government or military but a low point in American diplomacy.

  40. Suzanne Eaton says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful story of a person who obviously feels strongly about his role an a citizen of this USA. I have been a Trump supporter almost from the beginning and am thrilled he has selected this man for the position of Secretary of State. So many of us have been let down by our government because they certainly have not acted that they care anything about the people whose salaries we pay out. Perhaps now we can look forward to a better time with the likes of Mr. Tillerson coming to his role in the government. We have been long overdue tor a more united America. Thank you so much for bringing this article to our attention.

  41. Gaylon Perkins says:

    You speak the truth….I work for Rex. He takes care of his people. We will miss him. I will never forget his story of when he was asked what he does for ExxonMobil, he stated I am a risk manager, that is what we all do daily, manage the risk we deal with daily, to avoid not only the dangers in our business but to protect the assets of the greatest company n the world.

  42. Norman Schlosser says:

    Ms Roden, Thank you very much for your story. I too, had some doubts about Rex Tillerson, even though I DID vote for Donald Trump. Donald has made some great cabinet choices, in hopes of draining the “swamp”. I have been complaining about the “establishment” and their control of the GOP for many, many years. What they do in and for both parties is indeed unconscionable, and despicable to say the least. They are only in government to line their pockets and gain power to control elected officials. I thought that Mr. Tillerson might be one that could be in this category. However, the more that I learn about him, the more that I do like him. Thank you again, for your story.

  43. Joe Smith (@DefendUrRights) says:

    It’s instructive that it takes conservative leadership to think rationally and to insure that justice occurs and egos aren’t involved in decision-making.

  44. Barbara Huttmann says:

    Dear Ms. Roden,
    Your writing is so beautiful, I will look you up to see if you are a published author yet. Blessings on you for this outstanding testimony I will share with others, most of whom trust that President Trump will always make the very best choices for his advisors. It is the other half of the country I would LIKE to share this with…my beloved granddaughter is one……but they only listen to the media spouting acrid sound bytes. Still, I will try again, using your words that are far more compelling than any I could devise myself. Thank you so much for this great testimony.
    Merry Christmas to you and your Family

  45. Susan S says:

    Thank you Ms. Roden for taking the time to construct such a well written and impelling experience. Thank you for keeping it non-political as well. This is a breath of fresh air and maybe a turning point on how information gets out there! I miss civil discourse!

  46. David Meyer says:

    Do you not have voir dire in Texas, or were you and the rest of the jury not paying attention?

  47. J. Wilson says:

    I am a liberal and say let this man have the job. Nothing wrong with a non-diplomat or non-politician doing this job. He certainly knows the world and value of relationships and power of persuasion as well as what it takes to be a leader. You don’t always make friends making profits but that’s what his company has done – made money for shareholders and employed tens of thousands of people. Thanks for sharing your story. Just proof the man deserves a fresh look not propaganda from people who have an agenda against him or Trump. Our president-elect is just that the next President. Time to start quieting down the non-sense and pull together as a country like we did after 9/11. Liberals, conservatives, moderates…are you American or what? Prove it.

  48. Mike Kelly says:

    I read your piece on the DMN website and I want to thank you for making an important contribution to my understanding of. Tillerson. I’m commenting here as well as on the website because I’m embarrassed to appear only on the vicious and vacuous comments at DMN. The threat that about to be President Trump makes to the world and to the human progress in our deeply divided society troubles me a great deal. I have thought, reading the brief biographies about Tillerson in the media that he might offer a safeguard against the danger of Trump’s policies and actions. Adding your insight gives me more comfort. Despite Exxon’s position and some of its activities, I view Tillerson as an accomplished person who might act as a balance to an unbalanced President’s administration.

  49. robert burroughs says:

    thank you so much for your story, it simply reassures me that I made the correct decision when I voted for Donald Trump, and that He has made the correct decision in appointing Mr. Tillerson to such an important position.
    Merry Christmas
    Robert Burroughs
    Laurel Mississippi

  50. Gary Holt says:

    Thanks for acting. You fulfilled this proverb and encouraged me to be mindful of doing the same when the opportunity arises.

    Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

  51. toby says:

    Great testimony. I began to wonder after this article how we perceive or feel about a person or issue. When we meet that issue, person, or event in a more intimate way, we get a different conclusion. Then we begin to know how easily we are influenced by news media, comments, or seemly, events that emotionally terrorize us. Only when we honestly take the time to discover TRUTH will be find a peace that will guide us instead of emotions.

  52. Tom says:

    This article shows compassion and integrity. But what was especially striking to me was your beautiful writing style. If you are not already a writer you should be.

  53. Gary Gilliard says:

    Thank you Ms. Roden for a great article. It speaks very well of you that you would step up to tell your story at a time when our country faces such deep divisions. I appreciate your willingness to speak out.

  54. JP Jens says:

    Fantastic essay and a great read, Emily. Thank you.

  55. Tom McCorkill says:

    Thank you for relaying your assessment of Mr. Tillerson. I enjoyed reading the diverse comments made in response. My parents taught me early in life that it was best not to lie; that if you tell the truth you do not have to remember what you said because you know it to be true. This was added to by some early mentors in my career as a top level manager in local government: “when you take a job learn all there is to know about sou you oversee and direct subordinates; find and hire the best people you can, give them direction, and expect the results you need”. To that I add, always treat people as you wish to be treated. Mr. Trump has risen to the top levels of the business world by applying these same principals and I am convinced the people he has carefully selected to surround hi to implement his policies fit the same mold. My experience dealing with those who have risen to the top of major corporations and government agencies is that their success is due to following these same principles. I an thoroughly convinced Mr. Trump, and those who will surround him will truly put America First. Instead of jumping to conclusions let’s put our support behind him and see if he does the right things for America.

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