Define leadership.
Vulnerability, honesty, transparency, planning, strategy … with a bit of focus, and goals. If you merge all those things together, you can really do some great things, because you’ve got to get people to trust you and then see your goal and vision. One thing I forgot is to understand peoples’ strengths, because it helps you actually get to the goal. So if a person’s good at something, you can see that (something) and put it in the right place where you need it to be.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Danny Getman, my business partner, is one of the first leaders who ever trusted me and believed in my dreams. It isn’t about his personal dreams. He more so poured into my dreams which made me feel accountable to him.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
One of the most important decisions I make is who I keep (on my team) from a culture standpoint. I have a very good team and I try to keep them protected, so when we introduce new people, I think it’s very important for me to screen them properly.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Honesty. I think every good leader should possess the characteristic of being honest. It’s the only way to success.

Is there one behavior or trait that you are seeing derail more leaders’ careers?
Showing favoritism. When you’ve got a team, you really can’t favor anyone. What the team forgets is that we’re human. We all have feelings. We all have emotions. The moment your team sees favoritism exhilarated towards another person more, jealously and envy subconsciously develops that will destroy your team overnight.

What do you do for fun?
I like to make music. That’s one of my big things, making music, and then I travel a little bit. Believe it or not, on my off time, I like to do projects. I love to see stuff being accomplished from start to finish, so lately, I’ve been doing construction.

What’s your “go-to” spot to eat lunch in Southwest Michigan?
Erbelli’s Pizza. I love pizza, When I really want a good pizza, I either go there, or call for a pickup.

If happiness were the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Sharing my experiences and speaking with people to help them make a change.

I feel like our subconscious mind controls a lot of our day. We question ourselves without having the courage understand if a feeling is correct. As transparent as I am, I would share my subconscious mind, as well as my experiences. I believe it could relate to a lot of people, which would, in turn, help them build their confidence and make a change. Initially, what stops us from moving forward is our subconscious mind. It’s nothing that we ever speak to. It’s just more, “I don’t think I’m going to do that.” You hold it inside. When you learn to get somewhat of a control over the subconscious mind, it ignites you in a way that is incredible. It’s something that you’ve got to consistently season over and over because we were created by habit.

If you could go to dinner with three people who would they be?
Mark Cuban. Bill Johnston. Sean Combs.

What are three things that you cannot travel on business without?
I can’t travel without my suits and a nice pair of shoes for sure. My phone and my laptop. But, the secret sauce is my hair grease.

Oh, and if I have one more, it would have to be my cologne. You have to smell good, because you have about ten seconds to make an impression.

Briefcase or backpack?
Soft Briefcase.

Who would you most like to meet?
Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’sThe Profit.

How do you get your most creative ideas?
At night, when I’m taking my shower before I go to sleep, the ideas roll in. I think it’s because everything is so quiet. When everybody’s asleep, the most creative ideas come to me in the shower. I don’t know if it’s because I’m relaxed or what, but the ideas gel quickly. I seem to get most of my best thoughts at night when everything’s quiet.

What inspires you?
Change. When you stop to reflect upon the changes that you’ve made, it makes you want to keep going and keep pushing. That keeps me fired up! I grew up a little in poverty for a portion of my life and, to see where I started from to where I’m at now, that makes me want to just create more change. Not just for me, but for other people. Change is very inspiring.

What are your daily routines that keep you developing as a leader?
Every morning, I pursue 20 minutes of motivation. I choose between Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Anthony Robinson, Zig Ziglar, and Napoleon Hill. Those guys are the originators to me. I’m sure there’s another originator before them, but they keep me honest. They say “it” exactly how they feel “it” is. I have a 35-minute drive to work: I listen to 20 minutes of motivational talks, and then I spend the last 15 minutes making calls. Then, I’m ready!

What is your favorite leadership book?
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. The book showed me how to deal with emotions. Throughout college and school, they don’t teach you how to deal with your emotions. They teach you how to deal with the workforce. They teach you how to run a business. But, nobody teaches you to deal with how you feel.

What’s the App on your phone that you can’t live without?
Email. Every five minutes it’s buzzing and I’m on it. I check my email through my phone more than my laptop.

How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation?
I share my daily motivations with my team. And, I give my workers one-on-one time. They may be going through something personally that I can help them get through. By sharing with them my motivational messages, without really getting into their personal business, I can let them know that I care.

When someone starts working for me, I let them know out the gate, “Listen, you’re going to make mistakes. I don’t expect you to be perfect. But, I’ll tell you just like my football coach told me. He said ‘Listen, you’re going to jump the line, and we’re going to get a five-yard penalty. You might as well jump as hard as you can, and hit the other guy.” So I say, “If you make a mistake, make it with 100% confidence. It’s okay. You did it wrong but you did it real, good wrong.”

Doing it real, good wrong lets me know that you’re willing to move forward, and we’re going to get it right. It’s not a long-term issue. It’s cool to make a mistake. It’s going to happen, regardless. That’s life. I try to break that barrier right away, and then we’ll just build on that.

What are you doing to ensure your continued growth as a leader?
I attend seminars, read a lot of books, and I talk to leaders around the community whom I view to be really good leaders. Like Mark Schupan, Harold Zeigler, Mike Stoddard, Josh Weiner, Albert Little, and Von Washington Jr. When I touch base with them, it keeps me sharp. When I think I’m right, they give me a whole other line-up. They keep me honest.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
What excites me the most is that we’ve been through such a depression. When you hit the bottom, you can’t do anything but go up, so all of the opportunities are flowing in now. I know I feel it. Within 10 years, 15 years from now, Southwest Michigan is not going to be the same. It’s going to be incredible because all the resources are funneling in. Philanthropists are stepping up and doing some incredible things. When you’ve got a team of people like that in this state, you have no choice but to go up. It’s going to be incredible.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
A true leader doesn’t relax very long. When you become too relaxed, the glue starts coming apart. If you have a deadline, or a goal to meet, everybody’s counting on you to lead that race. I’ve known just from my personal leadership that workers tend to work just as hard as you, and if you show some hard ethic, they’ll try to outwork you.

One of my policies is, at my business, “Nobody outworks the boss.” It creates a little competition, good competition. When I jump in with my team and do some folds, they say, “Oh, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.” It just helps fire everyone up. Big time!

What is your “Life Quote?”
“I am powerful and in control of myself and my life.” It comes from the book, The 40 Laws of the Alpha Male.

I get it sent to me on my phone, every day, at 11:00 a.m. Sometimes, as you go through your day, life beats up on you. Work and emotions drain you. You have got to stay fresh. Every time you wake up, you get a brand new opportunity to start over. So, the time of 11:00 a.m. is perfect for me: I’ve gone through a few things in the day and, I have the power and control over myself and my life.

There’s also one that I got one from my track coach years ago. I don’t know where she got it from. I was on the line getting ready to run the 110-meter hurdles. She came up to me and said, “Hey! Repeat this: I believe in me and my abilities.” How can we survive in this world, if we don’t believe in ourselves?


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