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The live interviews for 12 People are hosted and catered by Hilton Garden Inn.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
The live interviews for 12 People are hosted and catered by Hilton Garden Inn.

Opinion: Welcome to the 13th year of 12 People

Editor's Note

Posted online

It’s no easy task selecting the 12 People You Need to Know each year.

Our list runs pages long, collected throughout the year from news stories we publish, suggestions from readers and a little anticipation of the news to come.

For that last note, we knew we had to select someone entering the medical marijuana industry. Jamie Tillman of CBD store Canna Bliss LLC is that entrepreneur rolling the dice on the new business frontier.

But there’s so much variety in this 2020 class of 12 People.

Now in its 13th year, the editorial live interview series tells the stories of those doing important work in our community, and it makes connections with top-level businesspeople that otherwise might not be possible.

That latter description actually doesn’t fit Daniel Ogunyemi of Court Appointed Special Advocates. I mean, he’s a master networker. Seriously, where haven’t you seen Ogunyemi? Chamber events, Leadership Springfield, nonprofit fundraisers and on TV spots – not to mention the social media presence.

The real question is what motivates this 24-year-old aspiring family counselor to get out and meet so many people? Is this what the next young professionals in our community will look like?

We’ll see.

With 2020 being an election year, we wanted to cover some politics. Enter state Sen. Lincoln Hough, who represents the city of Springfield. I’m excited he’s taking some time out from session, for his interview in April, so we can have a more meaningful conversation in real time with the legislation unfolding. Oh, and he’s also a cattle farmer. It remains to be seen if he’ll wear cowboy boots or oxfords to the live interview.

Those are just some teasers of the full dozen. I’ll also be interviewing the deputy legal counsel of a publicly traded company nearing $10 billion in annual sales. Yes, that’s Springfield startup darling O’Reilly Automotive Inc. and its legal specialist Tamara de Wild.

Then there’s nonprofit newcomer Joe Daues who’s taking the reins of Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks as it enters its 20th year. Something to watch, he’s got his eye on collaboration with his nonprofit peers. Sounds like maybe a movement to become less competitive and more collaborative – a la Springfield’s budding craft brewery scene.

Speaking of that, we’ve got one of those, too. The work of Curtis Marshall at Tie & Timber Beer Co. is creating a subcommunity in the Rountree neighborhood. It’s about more than beer to him.

We ask a lot of these sources. I view it as an exchange: We want to tell your business story and share your expertise with our audience, and we expect certain details to come out during the process. Then, there’s the print interview, photo shoot, coordinating schedules and appearing on their big day next year. It really is a hot seat for some – answering questions for over 30 minutes in front of a live audience.

But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard how fun the process was for these sources or how much it stretched them or advanced their corporate or organizational messages. And the audience members value the high-level engagement of inserting their questions or thoughts and the opportunity to exchange business cards with the 12 People. Many buy event season passes for this reason.

Much thanks to annual series sponsor Arvest Bank, which has signed on from day one. Bank officials get it.

I hope to see you out at the interviews throughout 2020. And to hear your suggestions for the class of 2021. It’ll be here before we know it.

Springfield Business Journal Editorial Director Eric Olson can be reached at


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