Jeff D. Jenson – Founder & Director, Utopian

Jeff D. Jenson is founder and director of Utopian, a short-term vacation rental management company headquartered in Park City, UT with operations in Aspen and Breckenridge, CO, Palm Springs and Coachella Valley, CA, Austin, TX, Wine Country, CA, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii. In addition to Utopian, Mr. Jenson has been a financial consultant to emerging and public corporations for over twenty-five years. He is a seasoned entrepreneur and has started many companies including Solar Nation, Inc. and as a partner in Karts & Kisks Management, which operated specialty retail outlets in shopping malls throughout the U.S., selling Proactiv skin care products, and which ownership interest was subsequently purchased by Guthy Renker.

Mr. Jenson graduated from Westminster College in 1992 with degrees in aviation and business management. He is an avid sportsman who enjoys hunting, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, golfing, fishing, and riding horses, and was a competitive swimmer. He maintains his commercial pilot’s license and loves to fly. Mr. Jenson is on the board of advisors of Westminster College School of Aviation. He is married and is the father of two daughters.

Tell me about your early career.
I am a serial entrepreneur and have never had a job. I started working in high school with a lawn care property management business which I sold during college. I started doing investment banking (PIPE) deals in 1991 as I graduated from college and worked in the capital markets sector until 2008. During that period, I took 50+ companies public and assisted in their initial capitalization. In 2002, I was a partner in american kiosk management and ran a company with 50 retail locations in shopping malls across the nation. I co-founded a solar company (Sole Nation) that year and started Utopian in 2010/2011.

How did the concept for Utopian come about?
In 2010, I was trying to decide how to reinvent myself. I took a company public that had a golf centric home exchange program which the transaction was later rescinded and the concept of Utopian was born. I started in Park City where it was immediately evident that a luxury vacation rental model was a good business concept and a weak spot in real estate. The three years prior to that time, I couldn’t find a weakness in the real estate or capital markets sectors.

How was the first year in business?
Rough. I ended the year in the red. I also found that I couldn’t get the inventory to generate rentals and revenue.

What was your marketing strategy?
Mostly VRBO and some third party marketing with wholesalers.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
$487,000 to $1.7 million to $3.7 million in gross revenue.

How do you define success?
Building a team with the same goal in mind, growing responsibly (profitably), and building real estate assets.

What is the key to success?
People, who I define as ideal team players.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
To be humble, hungry, and smart with people.

What are some quotes that you live by?
The above, “Sleep when your dead”, “It’s a startup, meaning work your guts out for a lot of years for little to no money to build a successful firm.”

What are some of your favorite books?
Good to Great, Scaling Up, The Ideal Team Player, Tim Ferriss (all books), Robyn Sharma (all books, but The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari was the first).

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Realizing that I had lost a multi-million dollar net worth in 2009 and that I was starting over. The day I had to call my vendors and employees in and tell them I couldn’t pay them and needed to put them on a payment program.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Fearlessness.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Never give up, and also realize you can’t do it without any money. Find a good idea where cash flows and go for it.

Joni Newkirk – Founder and CEO, Integrated Insight, Inc.

Joni Newkirk is the founder and CEO of Integrated Insight, Inc., an analytics firm helping organizations strategically and operationally out-behave the competition. The company specializes in adding value through analytical support for new business development, business optimization, and research and consumer insights, and is a four-time recipient of the Inc. 5000 award for Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America.

Prior to founding Integrated Insight, Joni spent 20 years with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. As senior vice president of business insight and improvement, she was responsible for managing and driving over $8 billion in revenue for worldwide theme parks and resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney. She oversaw industry-leading decision analytics within market research and consumer insights, forecasting, pricing, revenue and profit management, and industrial engineering. During her tenure at Disney, Joni led key initiatives that resulted in step-change growth including “Magic Your Way”, a sweeping change in revenue strategy built on consumer wants and needs, and “Back to the Basics”, a refocus on guest service as a key differentiator.

Prior to joining Disney, Joni held management positions in planning and development at both Lockheed Martin and Orlando Regional Healthcare System. She holds a BA in Statistics from the University of Florida and a MS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida.

Tell me about your early career.
My first five years were spent at Orlando Regional Medical Center focused on long-range planning. I had a great mentor, Ann Ashmore, who taught me how to write. The analytics came easy, but telling a convincing story to gain approval for future medical services was just as much art as science. After the hospital, I joined the network planning team at Lockheed Martin (then Martin Marietta) and stayed there for almost five years while I chipped away at graduate school classes and finally earned my MS in Industrial Engineering.

Living in Orlando, I knew all about Disney parks as a guest, but never thought about joining the company until I read an advertisement for a manager of operations research position. It fit both my educational background and work expertise so well, it was as if the ad was written for me. And so began my twenty years with the mouse. To take full advantage of those Disney benefits, I immediately had three children.

How did the concept for Integrated Insight come about?
I love to invert problems to look for viable solutions from a different angle. Literally diving into the work with my team and bringing new strategies to life is what excites me most. For a long time, I was certain I would retire from Disney doing just that. But continuous, increasing responsibility pulled me farther away from what I loved most, and with worldwide responsibility, I was frequently away from my family. The thought occurred to me that I could add significant value to other organizations through consulting, so I took the plunge and Integrated Insight was born.

How was the first year in business?
Liberating, enlightening, scary as hell – everything I thought it would be. I wanted to go back to “doing the work” and clearly, I was, including everything my superb assistant Linda and the IT department did for me previously. Having a great business partner helped. Scott Sanders and I left Disney together and it has been a remarkable nine year partnership. It also helped having a business plan prepared – something I worked on for a couple years prior to leaving Disney – and our first client lined up before we took the leap.

What was your marketing strategy?
Networking was our primary marketing tool. We spent a good six months developing our story – who we were, what services we provided, and why a company would want to hire us. This not only fed our website, but it helped as we began networking. Our non-Disney contacts were minimal given our 20 year history each, but other Disney colleagues who had ventured out before us quickly connected. Our analytical horsepower was a perfect fit with their design and/or operational expertise. Today, we enjoy a great deal of business from repeat clients and referrals in addition to continued networking.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The first year we did a little over $200,000 in revenue, but by year three, realized over six times that much and have continued to grow at a great pace ever since. For the past four years, we’ve made the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America which is no small feat considering our product is intellectual capital and our growth is dependent on hiring even more, really smart people.

How do you define success?
Making a significant, positive difference. Whether it be for family, our clients, our team, or the communities to which I belong, I’m successful when I’m making a positive difference.

What is the key to success?
Do what you love and love what you do.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Take risks. Specifically, calculated risks. When I look back over my career, I can see where I’ve been willing to take risks that others have not. Fear will always be peering over your shoulder. How much you allow it to drive your decisions is really up to you.

What are some of the great quotes you live by?
“Make little decisions with your head, big decisions with your heart.”

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

What are some of your favorite books?
As for books, I’m a Malcolm Gladwell fan, but Outliers is probably my favorite. I also like The Five Faces of Genius by Annette Moser-Wellman, and a couple of books by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton have resonated, particularly The Knowing-Doing Gap and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur?
Are there easy ones? Pinch me. Seriously, the toughest days are the ones when it is next to impossible to see how you’ll get through the workload, meet your deadlines, and still produce exceptionally high quality results. That said, those days exist in corporate America as well. You just feel more of the burden personally, as an entrepreneur.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
First, faith. I truly believe God is with me in whatever I do. Second, confidence. It goes back to that calculated risk. If the plan is well thought out, it will work. That doesn’t mean ignoring new information or not addressing issues as they arise, but staying focused on the end goal is what makes it happen.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Have a rock-solid business plan. Test drive it with others who have expertise in your field. Know the risk and mitigate what you can without giving up on the vision. Be objective in your evaluation. Once you feel confident you have what it takes, tune out the naysayers and stay focused on your goal. Don’t let others chip away at your confidence. Work through the setbacks – not everything will work precisely as planned – but don’t give up. The risk is well worth the reward.

Douglas Kegler – Founder & CEO, CollaborateMD

Douglas Kegler, CEO, founded the company CollaborateMD (formerly XGear Technologies) in 1999 just before publicly launching the industry’s first Internet-based practice management and electronic medical billing software, ClaimGear.

In the mid-90s, Doug saw that the healthcare community was in dire need of an improved practice management and medical billing solution. With years of experience as a computer programmer and software engineer in the healthcare sector, he knew that a better solution existed.

Kegler had begun writing several DOS and Windows-based dental and medical billing programs in 1989, but found a common problem with system built by software companies: medical practices and billing companies had to install, maintain, and support their own servers, databases, and connections with the clearinghouse or insurance companies, which greatly increased costs. Moreover, software in the medical field was cluttered with hundreds of menus, making them difficult to navigate, impossible to maintain, and altogether too expensive for practices with less than 25 physicians.

As his interest in finding a better solution turned into a determination to design and develop the software himself, Kegler paid the bills with a “day job” that was still supporting a Windows medical billing application written in Pascal for a large billing service company in Syracuse, NY. Meanwhile, the rise of Web applications throughout the banking, trading, retail, and media industries in 1997 intrigued Kegler, and undoubtedly served as the catalyst that drove him to choose the speed and flexibility of the Internet as the foundation on which he would later build his software.

Still in the brainstorming phase, Kegler solicited feedback from both a well-known neurologist who had used a medical billing program Kegler wrote in 1993 called Quicfa, and his Syracuse-based billing service client. Both expressed interest in the idea but shared hesitations about transferring data over the Web due to concerns about security.

Kegler turned away from creating a browser-based application in early 1998, fearing it would be too slow, as most users were on dial-up modems at the time. Instead he chose a Java client/server application which enabled him to maintain the software, database, and clearinghouse connections from his company. Making these changes would enable his customers to focus solely on medical billing, practice management, and patient care. The system would be designed with intuitive screens and easy-to-navigate menus, making week-long training sessions a thing of the past.

Continuing into 1999, Kegler worked non-stop on weekends and nights to design and develop his Internet-based system. As he neared completion of his first beta version, he contacted his two previous clients from Syracuse, NY, who both agreed to test the system.

Kegler distributed a press release in May of 1999 informing the healthcare sector he would soon release the first Internet-based medical billing software. The official version publicly launched in January 2000. The Syracuse-based neurologist liked the system so much that he signed up as a client, and is still a client today. Once the system was built, Kegler realized he needed to make it affordable to billing services and practices of all sizes. He established a low set-up fee to cover implementation and a low monthly fee to cover the costs of system usage, software updates and maintenance, customer support, and clearinghouse fees. The end result was an easy to use, affordable, accessible, and online medical billing and practice management solution for the healthcare industry.

Tell me about your early career.
When I was still in college (1989), I wrote a billing program for a dentist in a small town next to mine. This work helped me get my first job after college working at a company that sold and supported a server-based practice management software system. This job laid my foundation of knowledge for the medical billing industry.

How did the concept for CollaborateMD come about?
My wife and I were on our flight to Ireland for our honeymoon, and this is when I came up with the idea for the company. In my original concept, the company would not only provide the revenue cycle management software but also perform the revenue cycle services too. But after further thinking, I realized it would take a lot more money to hire staff to perform the services side of the business, and decided only to do the software side.

How was the first year in business?
The first year of business was exciting and stressful at the same time. We had just bought a home, we had an 18-month-old, and had twins on the way. Throw in starting a business out of your house and needless to say, there wasn’t much time for sleep.

What was your marketing strategy?
Since the beginning, we have always utilized the Web for our marketing and growth. Back in the early 2000s, not many companies like mine was using the Web to advertise, which was both a blessing and a curse. Customers liked the SaaS pricing model, but were not sure about trusting their data in the “cloud.”

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company didn’t grow too fast, regarding dollars in the early years. My first-year revenue was in 2000 was $2,800, and it took five years to reach $1 million in 2005. It took another ten years to reach $10 million in revenue.

How do you define success?
I define success by satisfied and happy customers first, then satisfied employees, and last, growing revenue and profits.

What is the key to success?
The key to success is creating a product that doesn’t exist yet or improving a product that hasn’t been improved in a very long time. In my case, medical billing software had been around for 20+ years already, but I saw the challenges in the current products and realized I could overcome a majority of disadvantages by creating an online version of the same product.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Always tell the truth and trust your gut. I don’t mean I would lie to people previously. I mean that sometimes I wouldn’t provide them with my true feelings about a situation. For example, when a vendor or associate would say, “We should do this or that,” I would smile and say “We can look into doing that,” even though I really didn’t think it was something we should do. A better reply to the person would be, “I appreciate the input or idea, but I don’t think it’s the best fit for the company because of X.”

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The toughest day I’ve had is when I found out the person trying to raise investment money for me in the early 2000’s was providing false revenue numbers to prospects. After I found out, I was worried I would lose my first round of investment money and have to lay off my three employees and move my office back into my house. Luckily, after I told the investors what he did and provided the actual financials, they decided to keep their investments with my company.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I have a very positive attitude and believe that everything will work out in the end. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had any stressful or high anxiety days!  Those happened many times over the past 17 years. I just took a breadth and told myself we will be okay and made a plan to get through the diversity.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Listen and always take input from others, whether in person or from reading articles. You don’t have to use the advice or input, but the more you are informed, the better decisions you can make. But most importantly, as the leader, you need to be able to make decisions! No one wants a leader that is wishy-washy and can’t make a decision.

Jim Richards – Co-Founder & President, Capstone Consulting

Jim is the co-founder and president of Capstone Consulting, and has helped companies develop and enhance their internal development processes and projects, advising them on all aspects of the software development process. Jim works with key customers on how best to implement technology to provide real business value.

Jim has over 20 years of experience in developing and leading software solutions. He is experienced in all phases of software development, and performed most roles on software development projects, including architect, software engineer, discipline lead, scrum master and project manager.

Jim enjoys working and spending time with his family, and has a heart for international missions and local mercy ministries.

Tell me about your early career.
I grew up on a farm where my parents raised crops and livestock. I enjoyed the farm life but felt a call to more analytical work. I studied computer science in both undergraduate and graduate school. I started as a software developer, then moved to a technical leader, and finally a project manager. As I was working in large corporations, I realized the job security bent with the winds of market, so I decided to try consulting.

How did the concept for Capstone Consulting come about?
As I was working as a consultant, two divergent themes played out that I couldn’t reconcile without starting something new. One is the consulting world has its own set of ethical and integrity challenges that often aren’t handled well. In addition, I wanted to work at a place that strove for integrity and had strong values, preferably based on a Christian ethos. The second theme I had the opportunity to help setup computer schools in Romanian orphanages. This required time off in the order of several weeks a year. Most firms would not allow either of these themes and none would allow both, so we launched Capstone Consulting.

How was the first year in business?
It was slow and tough, but rewarding. Running the business, invoicing, cash flow, ensuring clients were happy, getting new clients, and still working in the business made it an exciting but heavy year. We stayed true to the two themes and had a good time at it. I remember having an early invoice being paid at just over $20,000 and it was a great experience. We grew from just myself to adding a new team member.

What was your marketing strategy?
Word of mouth. Since we had a reputation, we continued to lean on past relationships and success. It allowed us to focus on our services delivery and not too much on marketing.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We grew from two people the first year to around ten the second year. The next two years we grew to about 25 people. Then, the dot com implosion happened (2001-2002). We had very difficult times, but grew immensely from a business process perspective.

How do you define success?
Providing value while enjoying what you are doing. If you don’t provide value, eventually, you won’t enjoy what you are doing.

What is the key to success?
Focus on the thing or few things you are good at while adapting to what the market needs. It’s very tempting to expand into areas you don’t know anything about, but more times than not, you will fail. The balancing act is to adapt into things where you will succeed.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Personally, that I am a sinner who is in need of a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus Christ. From a business perspective, that at best, I’m a steward and need to act responsible. I don’t have control over that much, but with what I do, I strive to do well.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Surely goodness and mercy, will follow [pursue] me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.” – Matt 7:12

“Think in terms of the art of the possible.” – Glen Tindal

What are some of your favorite books?
The Bible, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
We lost a large contract and had two invoices rejected by the same client in a single meeting. Overnight, we went from positive to struggling to survive. We had layoffs. The blessing was that all of our people found great jobs, which meant they were great people. It made me realize, I am steward, and I don’t have control over much.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
That I get to work in a Christian-based business that values people and integrity.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
If you want to make a lot of money, go get a job in corporate America and make as much as you can and save most of it. If you want to do what you love, be an entrepreneur, but don’t tie success to money.

Nancy E. Parsons – Co-Founder, President & CEO, CDR Assessment Group

Nancy Parsons is an expert in leadership development, talent management, human resources, and assessments. She is the president & CEO of CDR Assessment Group, Inc. (CDR), which she co-founded with Kimberly (Brinkmeyer) Leveridge, Ph.D. In 1998. Together, they developed the break-through CDR 3-Dimensional Assessment Suite®, an ideal coaching tool which has been translated into five languages for global clients. The CDR 3-D Suite measures leadership character traits, inherent risk factors for derailment, and drivers and rewards.

Nancy provides executive coaching for the C-suite and leaders across all sectors, facilitates strategic executive team development, and instructs “Authentic Leadership” workshops. She designed and continues to instruct the CDR Executive Coaches’ Certification Workshops for internal and external consultants. Nancy has authored more than 30 articles, and has presented at international, national, and regional industry conferences.

Previous to forming CDR, Nancy served as corporate HR director for Sun Pipe Line Company. She served also served in HR roles at Cordero Mining Company in Wyoming and Sun Ship, Inc. formerly in Chester, PA. She also served at Williams Energy in Tulsa as a Sr. OD Consultant prior to forming CDR. In 2013, Nancy became a member of The Alexcel Group, an elite international alliance of executive coaches and leadership development experts and serves on select projects with CoachSource.

Nancy is married to William C. Parsons, MD, who serves as the chief medical officer for Phillips 66, and they have four grown children who all have launched successful careers. Three are married and they have one granddaughter born in 2014. For fun, Nancy enjoys her three spoiled rotten dogs (two King Charles Cavaliers and an American Water Spaniel), painting and mixed media creations, Jazzercise, entertaining friends and family, water volleyball, cooking, and supporting the Philadelphia Eagles (meanwhile, her husband is a Dallas Cowboys fan).

Tell me about your early career.
While I was ranked fifth in my high school graduating class of over 430 students outside of Philadelphia and I was a top student athlete, I did not go directly to college. At that time, no one in my family had ever attended college. I started as a corporate legal secretary before being hired at Sun Ship, Inc. for an administrative position in their purchasing department in Chester, PA. After a month of crossing union picket lines to get to work, I was promoted to an HR position in 1979 at the shipyard. In 1982, I was promoted to Sun’s coal mine, Cordero Mining Co., in Gillette, WY then to Sun Pipeline as an HR manager in Tulsa in 1986. By 1989, I was promoted to director of HR for a 13-State area. I attended evening classes to eventually earn my BA in Management in 1986 from Eckerd College. I also organized activities that brought the Florida-based university to Gillette, WY.

When I served as HR director at Sun Pipe Line Company, I was responsible for talent development and performance management along with labor relations and other HR generalist responsibilities. Back in the late 80s, I developed and introduced 360 instruments to our executive team and realized that leadership and organization development was my passion. After leaving Sun in 1991, I became a consultant, certified in teaching coaching skills for leaders, and designed various training and coaching initiatives. I was personally mentored by Robert Hogan, Ph.D. in the mid-90s to use personality and motivational assessments.

In 1998, Kimberly Leveridge, Ph.D. and I formed CDR Assessment Group, Inc. with our mission to “revolutionize leadership” with our new assessment tools. We are still on that quest and our assessments and services are used by global organizations in every industry. Our tools are available in five languages today.

How did the concept for CDR Assessment Group come about?
My business partner and I knew that we could develop and launch new assessment tools that focused exclusively on developing leaders, and we thought we could design those that were better than what was available on the market. So, that is what we did. Leadership then, and today, is largely broken when you look at the performance data. It is our mission to fix those lackluster performance results. This is the topic of my upcoming book, Unvarnished Leadership.

How was the first year in business?
The first year in business was really tough. Making payroll, rent, etc. was difficult while developing new products and finding new clients. Fortunately, at that time, I went without pay but could afford to do so as my spouse was making a good income. Just know that money is often tight during that first year or two!

Also, we opened our business on October 5, 1998, which was a Thursday. The following Monday evening, I got a call from Kim saying she couldn’t work for a bit. While at step aerobics, she had fallen backwards and had broken both wrists. One was pretty severe. We managed through this and still produced our CDR character assessment and CDR risk assessment in 1998, followed in early 1999 by our CDR drivers & rewards.

What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy was insufficient to be perfectly honest. We sold by networking, word of mouth, and due to past customers and people who knew us. We did the brochures, websites, trade shows, speaking, writing, etc. but our marketing budget was really too slim and we never hired a sales person. This was a big mistake. Over the last few years, we have worked hard to implement a much more effective marketing strategy.

If I have any advice for entrepreneurs, it is to focus as much or more on your marketing and sales strategy as you do on your products and services.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We grew at a reasonable pace and were both working moms. We were generally doing okay, but not great. We operated, what I think was, too risk aversive financially and should have focused on financing our growth strategy better.

Our new product development, research, client services, projects, writing, etc. were all top notch, but we just lagged in growth.

How do you define success?
I define success by our ability to reach and develop more leaders, professionals, veterans, and others to gain a deep appreciation for their own talent, gifts, needs, and vulnerabilities. We are able to help clients bring their self-awareness to new levels. I want to continue this service exponentially, even when I step aside.

What is the key to success?
“Energy, tenacity, resilience, loving the work you do, and in my business, finding deep reward in helping others.” We started with this quote and use it to this day.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches but to reveal to him, or her, their own.” – Benjamin Desraeli (edited by CDR for gender clarity)

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Hire and contract with smart, trustworthy and highly-driven people. You want people who enjoy working and who have a fire in their belly. Getting the right people is the most important thing you need to do. We have suffered significantly when we strayed off course on this.

What are some of your favorite books?
My favorite two books are The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni and Good to Great by Jim Collins. The Advantage is a must read for entrepreneurs. Also, Winning at Entrepreneurship by Rod Robertson is a handbook for startups I recommend as well. In fact, I wrote the third chapter, “Assessing Your Entrepreneurial Profile”.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The toughest time in our business was back in 1999 when we had to file a federal lawsuit to protect our intellectual property and save our business. Fortunately, we prevailed but a year of litigation for a new business was nothing short of awful. In the end, it made me physically ill and it was my oldest daughter’s senior year in high school.

Important lesson learned: make sure you file your copyrights, trademarks, etc. properly, as this saved our business. Do what it takes to protect your intellectual property and do not cut corners on this. If your written materials are not certified with the Office of Copyrights (US Government), you cannot recover damages. Fortunately, I had learned this in an entrepreneurial class I took years before we started CDR.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Knowing that we are doing truly great work in helping people in ways no one else is – the depth of our assessments to this day are unmatched. I have always been too achievement-driven in a sense, and when you really love what you do, it is hard to pull back. When faced with adversity, I suck it up and try to learn from it. Previous to the last five years or so, I took setbacks harder. Frankly, I am so accustomed to them that I rarely let them discourage me —at least not for long. My mother used to always say quotes like, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and I have found this to be true. Also, I believe that God has blessed me in so many ways and this gives me strength to push through tough times or disappointments because while we may not always be having the reach or success I would like, we are helping leaders, veterans, and others, every day.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Find the right people. Be sure to have a strong marketing and sales plan. Do not skimp on this! Find help, experts, classes, and books to learn. Build a solid business plan.

By the way, one other thing that I really love about having my own business is that I am constantly learning. I mean every day. It is awesome. I also enjoy the creative space my business allows me. Last, I couldn’t be happier with the people I work with. Our executive coaches and customers are pretty incredible too. Some have been with us since 1999 – all of these relationships matter and help this job be one that I just wouldn’t trade. Now, I still need to improve the marketing and sales strategy and am on that quest now. I also need to work on, instead of working in, the business!