Define leadership.
Observation brings understanding. Understanding brings tolerance. Tolerance brings direction. Direction brings followers.

To me, that’s what leadership is. Observation is the ability to observe what’s going on—the ability to observe in any sector of leadership. Observation brings understanding—understanding of perspective. That brings tolerance and that brings direction and that brings people to follow you. Leadership is about following.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
In our family-owned business, it’s my dad. If I was fair, and I am fair, my mom too had a very interesting impact on my leadership.

My dad developed in me this concept of tolerance or understanding and, through understanding, you can get people to better their life. In our world, the key to this is that we’re helping people reach the next station in life. We manage 180 different business owners who are trying to get their businesses to the next level. My dad gave me the ability to get people to that next level of understanding.

My mom brought a different perspective that you don’t typically think about in leadership. She was an art major. She’s a very creative person. Creativity is so critical in leadership. The ability to think creatively is a whole different concept. The ability to have an eye for what you want is super huge in leadership, super huge, because that’s what causes people to follow you. Is what you have the creative approach, that innovative approach? She taught me to think like that.


Define leadership.
Leadership is being a developer, raising up your team, and empowering them to learn new things and develop themselves.
Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
One person is a guy who works here. His name is Andy Short. He’s made an impact on me as a leader because he’s so trustworthy. He’s so transparent and you know, with anything that comes out of his mouth, there’s no smoke and mirrors behind it. He’s totally committed to his team. I’ve never actually worked for him—I’m on the Inclusion and Diversity Council here, and he used to be a leader on it. You want to do well so that you make him proud. He instills that in people.

LEADER2LEADER: Denise Crawford

Define leadership.
The ability to inspire and motivate others towards a common goal.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Dr. Allen Kogan. He’s always with me. He was my first real boss in the professional world out of school. He took me under his wing, mentored me, and was a really, really solid good person. The most profound part was just having the ability to watch him and see how he interacted with others as a leader.

He was the chief of staff. He was, at that particular time, over the psychiatry department. Throughout this mentoring process, he would constantly coach me on various situations. In a difficult situation with the doctor, he would say things like, “You always want to end on a positive note. Remember it’s never personal.” It would just be very quick and to the point. He would regularly summarize any interaction. Whether if it was very intense or even if it was positive, he would say, “Never forget the true focus. Never forget the patient.” He was just very humble and profound.


Define leadership.
Leadership is mobilizing others to make a change, process, or environment.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My boss in college, Dr. Damon Arnolds, was the first adult in a position of power that would sit down and ask my opinion and challenge how I thought about things. He really wanted to have a conversation that would push the envelope. A lot of our conversations were based around racial inequality or socioeconomic inequality. He was the first guy who really got me opening my eyes to something that I didn’t know or see or grow up in because I grew up in Vicksburg. There wasn’t a ton of diversity. There were socioeconomic disparities, but it wasn’t really that obvious, I guess, so I kind of grew up in a charmed environment. He was the first guy that really challenged that and challenged my thoughts on giving back.

LEADER2LEADER: Jeremiah Smith

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.

LEADER2LEADER: Stacey Hamlin

Define leadership.
Connecting people, and then being able to inspire them to make your vision come to life.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There isn’t one person to whom I can attribute impact, honestly. I think it’s been my own internal drive and the people who I’ve surrounded myself with in school, after school, and at my job. I think I have picked up things here and there, but I always wanted to be a leader. It was really something, an internal drive that I had.

LEADER 2 LEADER: Sydney Parfet Attorney/Partner LAKE, PARFET, & SCHAU, PLC

Define leadership.
Learning from others. Guiding others. Mentoring others. Listening to others.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandma, Martha Parfet. She is a modest, quiet leader, and she has made a tremendous impact in the community and continues to so every day in a caring way.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
The growth and the development that’s occurring here. I think it’s really becoming a place for young professionals to establish a family and to create a life.

LEADER 2 LEADER: Troy Clay President & Chief Executive Officer MNO-BMADSEN

Define leadership.
Establishing trust among a group of people that you are doing the best you can to carry forward under a given vision.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There’s no doubt at all that it’s Jesus Christ. I’m a person of faith. First and foremost, that’s who I answer to and it’s who leads me. I have been blessed with some mentors and people who have influenced my life and we have great leadership within the tribe that influences what I do, even on our board of directors as well.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
I see a real commitment in terms of planning and action by leadership to inspire more leaders and to do what we can to make the best of this area.


Define leadership in 10 words.
A leader is committed to an organization’s goals and vision.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandfather was a civil rights leader in Chicago. When I was growing up, he had a talk show, and I would watch from the background as he interviewed community leaders. They talked about desegregation in Chicago and about other community issues. I didn’t realize my grandfather’s impact on me for many years. From listening to him, I learned the importance of being involved in community work, and I passed this lesson on to my kids.

LEADER2LEADER: Jamie Clark — President of Clark Logic

Define leadership in 10 words.
Thinking, understanding, listening, developing, working.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My dad, because I got to work with him every day, I got to have lunch with him every day, and dinner with him too, if that worked out. He taught me more than I even understood, and I didn’t look at it ever as leadership but, when I look back, it’s more leadership and wisdom than I could have gained from any book, tape, function, or leadership forum.

(269) LIST

(269) LIST for May/June 2017
Small Business Resources!

See who else made the (269) List!


Good Reads
1. Phil Knight – Shoe Dog 2. Damon Mogavero – The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants are Transforming How America Eats

See who else made this issue’s life list!