Define leadership.
Inspiring, always learning, educating, optimistic, listening, caring, compassionate, appreciative, team-focused.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandmother. She instilled in me, from early on, to always be a good person, treat other people the way you want to be treated, and to work hard; anything worth doing is worth doing right, by giving it 150 percent.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
How to affect the future of the organization—whether it is a new product or service that we’re exploring, or going into a new market. Everything that we do affects both our internal and external customers, and how we service both. I always want to make sure that my team feels well taken care of and appreciated for all the hard work they do, so they feel like they have desire to always go above and beyond for our customers.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

What’s the biggest challenge that you see facing leaders today?
Finding talent.

Is there one behavior or trait that you are seeing derail leaders’ careers?
Not getting buy-in from their team.

What do you do for fun?
I try to stay pretty active, but of course, my standbys from a personal point, are anything with my family and friends. I love people. Beyond that, I love anything electronics or technology-based, as well as cooking and golf. I’m just getting into the latter and really enjoy how it pushes me to continue to be better.

What’s your “go-to” spot to eat lunch in Southwest Michigan?
Water Street Coffee Joint. I usually get my coffee, (have a) lunch meeting, and I’m in and out.

If happiness were the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
I love a good joke. I enjoy sharing them as much as hearing them.

If you could go to dinner with three people who would they be?
Number one is always my wife; any one of my children—they’re all growing up too fast; and, if I could ever catch up with him, my friend, Tim Terrentine.

What are three things that you cannot travel on business without?
My cell phone, my computer, and some nice threads.

Briefcase or backpack?
Neither, because I’m digital. I just don’t haul stuff around. It’s all on my phone or a laptop in the cloud.

Who would you most like to meet?
Martin Luther King Jr. It’s so obvious what a great leader he was, and a compassionate person. I would like to gain some additional understanding and appreciation, in person, to see what I could learn from that experience.

How do you get your most creative ideas?
I would dare say that they just happen. Everything seems to be on the fly and inspired by a great conversation with somebody, seeing something, or even a visit to some place. And they’re certainly not all my ideas, either. A lot of times, one of our team comes up with a good solution to something and we run with it. I would rather try and fail, than regret not trying an idea that could have been resulted in something great!

What inspires you?
The short answer is competition: to be the best at what I do, no matter what it is. The extended version of that is happiness. If it is service-related or affects somebody else, I prefer being over-the-top in terms of customer service, attention to detail, and giving 150 percent. This commitment pushes me to always strive to do better in order to make our team and customers feel appreciated and happy.

What are your daily routines that keep you developing as a leader?
Every morning and/or afternoon—and this may seem like a no-brainer—but it’s touching base with our team to get a pulse on how their morning is going or how the day went. And to some degree, it is about truly just asking a team member, “Hey, how did things go today on this project?” Listening is also important to gauge if they are doing okay, as is offering assistance if they need anything.

What is your favorite leadership book?
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Happiness drives so much in our world.

DESIGN NOTE: Italicize book title.

What’s the App on your phone that you can’t live without?
Well, there are two. One is my calendar. If something doesn’t go on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. Easily a close tie with that would be my home automation app that we use—Control4. That allows me to control everything in my home: security, lights, locks, shades, temperature, TVs, and audio/video. You name it.

How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation?
By never taking life too seriously. It really is more about, when a mishap should occur, understanding that things happen. When someone on our team might be having a bad day, I like to be there with something to pick them up, whether it’s just lending an ear or sharing a good joke, and letting them know no matter how tough it is right now, we’re here, we’re together, we’ll get through this. And they do the same thing for me. I may be the one signing the paychecks, but they inspire and motivate me too.

What are you doing to ensure your continued growth as a leader?
Always learning. Whether it’s from my team, mentors, seminars, webinars, or books. I’m always learning.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
I see things continuing to get better and better. To me, it’s exciting because, when I moved here eight years ago, I thought it was already a wonderful community. To see how things have changed even more during that time has been amazing to me, and I feel so fortunate to call this place home.

What do you think are the most pressing challenges are facing leaders today and why?
I think that the most pressing challenge today is talent. With the large group of individuals that are heading into retirement, there are not enough Millennials taking their place in equal numbers to fill all those jobs. This leaves us without a surplus of talent to find folks.

What’s one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Probably the biggest mistakes that we, as humans, tend to make are those based on assumptions. We assume that based on a historical trend, that we’re going to have X amount of business. We assume that based on the work we’ve done for X number of customers that we’re going to have those receivables come in an X number of days. We assume that because we’ve taken good care of our team, they’re going to be with us forever. We assume everything to a degree.

What is your “Life Quote?”
The good ole Yoda quote of, “Do or do not, there is no try.” That’s the way it is for me. I give it my all.

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