What is the best advice you received when you were beginning your career? Zack Wilson, the executive director of High Plains Food Bank, said to me my first week on the job, “You are going to see and experience things that will shift your thinking,” referring to seeing people in need as people, not percentages. That little statement has shaped me in ways I could not have imagined.
How do you use social media to grow your network? I think doing social media right is the first thing one must do. When you leverage the medium properly you can see tangible results. I look at what colleagues are doing, follow along their journey, and a lot of the time I reach out and connect with them. Community managers are some of the most fun people, and getting to know the folks behind the innovative companies in our community has been a huge professional development tool for me.
How do you maintain balance? I work hard during the day, and then go home. And I don’t worry about work. I never feel bad about leaving on time, and never complain when I work outside work-week hours. I have found it all balances out in the end. Time spent with my wife and kids always balances me.
What has been your wisest investment? My education! Now, I’m not saying a four-year degree is the requirement, but I chose an affordable school with a great program when I attended WTAMU. I have never once been denied a job because my degree wasn’t up to “pedigree.”
How has your past work experience shaped you into a leader? In such a highly polarized world I can either hide behind my beliefs, ideals and opinions, or look to see what is really happening. The jobs I have had have changed the way I see things. I lead from a place that’s inclusive, not exclusive. I have found that people are people – those who are economically disadvantaged or wealthy, a high school drop-out or Ph.D. candidate – everyone brings something to the table.
What is the best part about your job? I have always believed if you can change a child’s life you change the future. At No Limits No Excuses, we are creating a culture in our community that says everyone has the opportunity to pursue certification or a degree after high school. The most effective way out of poverty is education; we are changing the future of Amarillo.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and private life? Amen for mentors! I have had mentors in both arenas all along the way. In fact, without their investment in me I would not be the person I am today. When someone helps you navigate the world, it’s empowering.
Which living person do you most admire and why? Truthfully, my wife has this one locked down. If you’ve ever met her, you know she is quick to love, fearless and full of wisdom.
Which over-used word or phrase makes you cringe? “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” This one gets me every time! Maybe it’s the Millennial in me, but I like working in an environment where teamwork is emphasized and creates a culture of value for everyone.
What is your business philosophy? In my line of work you have to stay humble. You are essentially asking for money all the time. Yes, the money will and does change lives, but you have to get yourself out of the way. (I’m still a work in progress.)
Which quality do you most value in an employee? Confidence. That may seem to contradict the above humility statement, but confidence brings people to the table and makes them interested in what you’re doing.
What personality trait has most helped you succeed? Empathy. When you can see the motivation, you can understand the person. It takes time, and it’s messy work, but I believe you have to be empathic to others and not project your wisdom, perspective and upbringing onto them.
Who is your favorite author? I don’t read a lot – I know that’s totally awful – but I have dyslexia so reading takes me four times longer. I listen to a lot of “TED Talks” and podcasts. Have you listened to the “Serial” podcast? It grabs you quick and pulls you in!
What did you learn from your best boss? That I’m going to make mistakes, and it’s OK. I thrive in that environment because I am allowed to see things differently. That kind of leadership fosters innovation! Your worst? Being a boss is a terrible way to lead.
How can Amarillo improve its business environment? Education. That’s the end game for No Limits No Excuses – to create a community with skilled laborers that are attractive to new industry. The more students that earn postsecondary credentials, the more economic development we have in Amarillo.
Most important tech tool: Siri! When I say, ‘Hey, Siri, remind me at 10 a.m. tomorrow to call someone.’ She does it, and she doesn’t huff or get mad. If you understand technology’s role to create efficiency, you can do more things in less time.
Best time management tool: The IF app by IFTTT. It’s revolutionized my world! You set up recipes like: “If I upload a photo to Instagram, tweet it.” But you can also use it to track time spent on tasks.
I can’t live without my: Quad-Grande Americano.
My favorite thing about Amarillo is: the willingness of the citizens to help others.
Most unusual job or task: In college I was a barista. I only drink black coffee now!