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Men of Influence

Local Leaders Share Their Tips for the Next Generation of Business Leaders

Article by Provided

Photography by Santora Photo Co.

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

With business experience comes a great deal of wisdom, and those who have been in business for any length of time can tell you that learning always comes before success. So, to help get the next generation of business leaders set on the right path, Greeley Lifestyle asked local leaders to consider their own unique perspectives and share their best advice for those just starting out.

Troy Nickerson 

Head Wrestling Coach, University of Northern Colorado Athletics

One thing my father always preached to me was to find something you love and to go all in on it.  Whatever that is, and because you enjoy it, you will never work a day in your life.   If you can truly be exceptional at that task, you will be successful.  And no matter what that task is, if you are exceptional at it, you will make money doing so.  This advice has shaped my life and is never truer than today.  Another trait that I learned early on was the value of hard work.  I believe that hard work can often beat talent through being resilient.  One of my favorite quotes is from Armand Hammer, “When I work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, I get lucky.” 

Raymond C. Lee III 

City Manager, City of Greeley 

Leadership, in its purest form, is about people and having their best interests at heart.  It’s about serving and providing direction even when the path isn’t clear.  Leadership is about growth, vision, perseverance, and influence. Some advice about leadership that was provided to me in my career and that I think stands for the next generation of leaders isknow when change is needed; seek commitment and not compliance.  Make decisions with your people in mind and at heart. Celebrate success and inspire excellence in people.  Align passion with purpose and embrace discomfort.  Show gratitude in everything you say and do. One thing I always share with leaders, and I truly believe in, is that the most successful leaders must be there for their people and actively participate in their own continued development. The best leaders are always willing to grow and learn.

Duff Knott

Owner, Realty ONE Group

Everyone experiences setbacks and hardships, and it's natural to feel overwhelmed by these challenges. But the good news is that adversity can be overcome.  It’s important to cultivate a mindset of resilience and to never give up! Set goals, make a plan and put that plan into action! Remember that setbacks are not failures, but rather opportunities to learn and grow. Focus on your strengths and the positive aspects of your life and business.  With determination and a positive growth mindset, you can overcome any obstacle and emerge stronger than ever before.

Michael Mathews

Board of Education, President, Greeley-Evans School District 6

All the advice I am able to offer future leaders or anyone else can be reduced to one word - grace. There are a number of character traits that enable success in life, but almost all depend on the ability to both give and receive grace. True humility is rooted in the knowledge that you are a person who needs grace. Honesty and integrity flow from the belief that when you acknowledge your failures, you will receive grace. If your life is shaped by grace, you will not only be a more humble and honest leader, but also a person of empathy, patience, forgiveness and compassion.

Craig Rasmuson

CEO, Syrcuit Energy Solutions

No matter what business you are in, absorb everything you can from the leaders of that organization and embrace the things they do well, allowing that to shape you for how you’ll lead when you earn a leadership role.  Stay true to your values and sincerely treat people how you’d appreciate being treated, and good things will evolve from that culture.  Be willing to learn a new space, hitch your wagon to good and like people, then perfect your business model and out-work the competition.   Lastly, I would share that all tough business discussions need to take place in person.  Today’s technology has made it easy to hide behind an email or a text.  Don’t be that person, have tough conversations face-to-face.

Jeff Neel

Executive Director, Northern Colorado Youth for Christ

Building bridges between individuals and communities is the first step toward deep contentment in life. To build bridges, it is necessary to focus on areas of agreement rather than disagreement. By doing so, people can come together and work towards a common goal. These bridges serve as pathways toward significance, as individuals can walk together in unison and find meaning in their collective efforts. As they move towards significance, they can help others find healing and meaningful communities to belong to. Through this process, individuals can experience their own healing and find a sense of belonging, leading to a life well-lived and a significance that brings joy. Overall, breaking down barriers, building bridges, and walking together toward significance can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life for individuals and communities alike.

Andy Feinstein

President, University of Northern Colorado

I have learned some of my most important leadership lessons from my background in hospitality management. Through my education and work experience, I have realized the significant benefits of having a service orientation. I also believe that building strong connections with people throughout my organization and beyond is paramount to success. When someone shares a negative experience, my service recovery mentality helps me find a better path forward, as does being an active listener. Seeking to understand the needs and perspectives of others has helped me move detractors to allies. Most importantly, I recognize the value of surrounding myself with a strong team. Much of my success as a leader has been achieved by supporting others and recognizing their unique contributions so that we can work together to achieve our shared goals.

Shawn Osthoff

President, Bank of Colorado 

Do your best in whatever position or situation you are in as this creates future opportunities.  Learn from your mistakes and keep in mind that a positive, can-do attitude will help you to overcome many challenges and obstacles.  Look for ways that you can help others and your community as it benefits all concerned.  The future is bright and opportunities plentiful if you are willing to put forth the effort.

Scott James

Weld County Commissioner

My advice to aspirant leaders is simple – remember that the greatest leader who ever lived washed the feet of those who followed Him. Have a servant’s heart. To quote Tim McGraw, always stay humble and kind. Know those you desire to lead and help them achieve their goals. Collaborate. Cooperate. Build consensus. Listen more than you speak. Let the words of your mouth and the works of your hands be for good. Elevate. Inspire. Clearly communicate the vision and the destination and then lead by going and doing. Remember that boldly aspirational beats wildly confrontational every time. So be aspirational!