What makes us who we are?
It’s not one single moment or one single person. And it can’t be all in our genes.
I believe it’s the cumulative impact of our family, our chosen loved ones, teachers, mentors, employers, co-workers and our daily experiences.
Good or bad, every interaction and person we come in contact with has shaped us.
Imagine you are seated at a table. If we could see our full selves, there would be a line, miles deep behind us, of all the people who helped us become who we are.
These 40 young professionals are no different. Each has a unique story and path and, I’m certain, would proudly produce a list of names of the people they would thank for their mentorship and encouragement – but likely also their criticism and honesty.
As a fellow young professional, I couldn’t help but see myself in some of these stories. I think you’ll relate, maybe to your younger self or someone you aspire to be.
For me, my mother was my first editor. No matter how late into the evening I completed a paper, it would be edited in the morning. My father was the first storyteller I knew. He has some of the best personal stories I’ve ever heard. My first professional boss gave me the confidence to learn my craft.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how we become who we are, as my grandfather passed. He was a hunter and fisherman, and he retired young as a senior buyer for a department store. Not much in common there. But I do share his love for a good meal, meaningful conversation and family history. His story helped shape who I am.
As part of putting together this special issue, I communicated via email with each of this year’s honorees, asking questions to learn more about who they are. Some answers were fun. Many were poignant. A common thread pointed to the value of relationships. The people who helped them get a job, taught a valuable lesson or served as a source of inspiration.
These 40 young professionals are some of our community’s best and brightest. And behind each name is a line a mile deep of the people who helped shape them. Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees. Thanks for giving your time, talents and treasure to our community.
Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Christine Temple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based Advance Auto Parts opened its first store in Springfield; Natural Grocers made its Springfield debut; and a business owner with experience in the insurance, financial planning and digital marketing fields entered the restaurant industry.
Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.