Every year, we have an opportunity to highlight so many amazing members of our business community. Take a tour with us through a handful of the awesome people whose photos were featured in the magazine this year.
Last year, your business went through an acquisition. What advice do you have for other founders out there going through the same thing?
Keep your focus on your team. If the acquisition is one that benefits everyone, it will lead to a smooth and successful transition. Our team helped us build this business. Our culture is one that stresses a focus on a work/life blend that promotes opportunity professionally and flexibility personally. We have always felt that this contributes to our client-centric business model. Why not expect the exact same thing for your team when going through an acquisition? We kept this at the forefront and continue to do so today regardless of the logo at the entrance.
The restaurant industry, like most industries, faced some unique hurdles with supply chain issues in 2022. What are some things you did to address those issues?
Supply chain issues were crazy. At one point it was looking like the entire nation was going to be completely out of chicken breasts—which when running a chicken restaurant is not a good issue to have! We were contacting all of our suppliers to figure out who could get them in stock the quickest. The price fluctuation was insane. Paper goods were another tricky thing, all of a sudden everyone was out of paper bags and a few other items. There were also random things like Mayo and Thai Chili Sauce we were outed on. And Booze, random things or imported items, an aluminum shortage. It’s all been crazy! It all came down to checking with multiple suppliers, and brokers, or contacting the source directly and in worst case making some modifications to recipes. We still aren’t back to where we were pre-covid—we have brought on new software to help us track price fluctuations better and we are just prepared to be adaptable to change! Our team has been amazing through it all too and have been really good about modifying and substituting as needed!
What challenges did you see becoming more prevalent for the community in 2022?
At United Way, we have a unique, community-wide perspective of all the challenges our neighbors in poverty face. By connecting our community’s leaders and experts and utilizing various types of data, we find and focus on the solutions that will have the biggest, long-term impact.
One challenge we anticipate becoming more prevalent in 2023 is an increase in the number of families and children experiencing poverty. Poverty is more common than many of us realize. Right now, locally, one in nine people live in poverty. Children have an even higher rate of poverty at 1 in every seven—that’s around three or four kids in a classroom. We know that statistic will increase in the coming year as economic challenges increase, budgets tighten and we continue to work through workforce gaps.
Families who were barely making ends meet before are now making even harder choices like whether to pay rent or buy groceries for their family, pay their utility bill or get medication for their children. However, there is a positive side to this. At United Way, we see time and time again our generous and caring community step forward to help our neighbors overcome challenges. Poverty impacts all of us and when we work together, we can make sure families living in poverty have the resources and tools they need to break the cycle of poverty—which leads to a better tomorrow for all of us.
Executive Director, CCRI with CCRI clients
What has been your favorite memory at work in 2022?
My favorite memories at CCRI are always related to the big life moments I get to be a part of with the folks we support. In 2022, that looked a little different. It involved supporting Lane, a gentleman who called CCRI his home for 42 years, to live out his last days at CCRI. His health declined significantly in a short period of time which led to a terminal diagnosis. Thanks to a fully accessible home the community built for Lane and “the guys”, along with the incredible support of his CCRI team and Hospice, he was able to spend his last days at his home at CCRI surrounded by everyone he considered family. Lane lived a beautiful, meaningful life full of joy that he shared with others so it was very fitting he finished his last days surrounded by the love he so selflessly gave.
You have multiple business ventures, a modcast (modified podcast) and are a husband with five kids. What tips do you have for time management?
I have a lot of irons in the fire. When it comes to time management, I don’t think I have any real secret. I like to prioritize my workload into five critical tasks that need to get done each day. This is a tool I learned from several mentors over the last few years. Essentially, these five tasks are must-do items that will move me forward brick by brick and are crucial tasks that must be critical to business, growth or advancement. Once I accomplish these tasks each day, the rest of the day consists of a non-urgent workload that I try not to allow to stress me. It’s like having open time to do whatever or sometimes nothing at all. In short, that’s one of my best and favorite tools to utilize when it comes to managing time and workloads. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I try not to pretend I have a whole host of tasks that need to be completed in one day either. Instead, I take a brick-by-brick, one-day-at-a-time approach. When I have a very heavy workload, as I tend to have from time to time with all the different hats I wear, It is really easy to find myself not getting anything done at all due to being overwhelmed and stressed. When I’m able to break things down into a handful of tasks that are completed at a time, I seem to make more consistent progress on a daily basis.
What excites you most about our entrepreneurial community heading into 2023?
The FM startup community is starting to gain serious traction and I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store. There is more investor activity than we’ve ever seen; universities are investing resources into entrepreneurial training; accelerators like gener8tor, ILT Studios, and Builders and Backers are established in the region; and the community is supporting startups and founders by attending events like StartupBREW, Prairie Capital Summit, and TEDx in droves! It’s an exciting time to start, invest in and champion a business in the greater Fargo metro. Cheers to our thriving community in 2023!
What did you change within your business in 2022?
What did I change within my business in 2022? Almost everything! When it comes to business one of my mentors, Donald Miller, says, “Pour gasoline on what’s already burning.” I’m a Mental Fitness and Business Coach. What was “burning” for me in 2022 was the mental fitness aspect of my coaching services. Whenever I talked about mental fitness people would lean in to listen and want to know more. That prompted a major pivot for my business. I filed a new trade name with the state of North Dakota. I now do business as The Mental Fitness Guy. I reworked my customer journey to meet my customers where they were leaning in. Most importantly, I created a new subscription service, the world’s first Online Mental Fitness Gym for Small Business Leaders. This new brand has made a huge difference for the better for my startup. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for The Mental Fitness Guy. It is really starting to take off.
Your business moved into the Fargo Market this year. What advice do you have for other businesses entering the market?
The best advice from my learning experience in the FM area marketplace is to do your homework on all of the media options available. Everyone will come to you claiming to be the best in their particular platforms, promising results, but we have found that there are definitely companies that do things better than their competitors. Really study your customer demographics and pick the best advertising companies that dominate their field and your target audience!
What is a valuable business lesson you learned in 2022?
In 2022 I added Health Insurance as an additional benefit to my full-time employees and was able to keep some key employees happy. My lesson was to keep investing in your employees and surround yourself with good people. If my employees are happy, I will be happy as well.
PRx has moved so many times in its existence, how does it feel to finally have a beautiful facility that will, hopefully, be home for some time now?
Hopefully is right! After moving seven times in a little over nine years, it really does feel incredible. Being in a fun-filled facility that truly fits our culture and has room to grow is a true blessing. Something we certainly could not have accomplished without the hard work and dedication of our amazing team.
We have a great business community in Fargo, but what are some things you think we can improve on in 2023?
When businesses make decisions to expand/locate to a market, they want to be in places where foundational business risks are removed or significantly reduced. Some of the risks are in the areas of transportation infrastructure, water security, flood mitigation, workforce pipeline and utility services. One of our biggest current risks is the water supply for the region and Red River Valley. Getting funding and full construction of the Red River Valley Water Supply project is a critical area we are working to improve.
For those who live and/or have visited our region, they understand what a great place this is for business and to live. But, we know that is not the case with so many people who we connect with outside our market. The only way to improve on that is to be very proactive in our messaging and telling authentic stories about our market and getting the word out about what we have to offer. That is and should be an ongoing effort and a team effort between major organizations, such as the CVB, EDC, Chamber, Folkways and others and providing our citizens the information to make them great ambassadors for the region
What excites you about the business community for 2023?
Our business community’s competitive drive and hunger to succeed make me very excited for our future. During challenging times or uncertain moments, our community rallies together to create opportunities, solutions and partnerships to ensure the success of our region. 2023 will present many defining moments and critical decisions, and I am excited to see how our community will continue to innovate and work together. I am also looking forward to the continued growth and traction of major regional workforce initiatives. Our efforts today, and over the next year, will set up our region for the future. Let’s keep making big things happen, building solutions, thinking innovatively, partnering intentionally and creating a lasting impact.
What are you most excited about within your company in 2023?
We’re wrapping up a pretty exciting year, having opened three brand-new mixed-use infill projects in downtown Fargo. These new projects have allowed us to welcome hundreds of new residents and some great new businesses to the neighborhood. As our region’s walkable urban center, downtown Fargo continues to build off its momentum, and it’s an exciting place to be.
Looking into 2023, I am most excited about our two new projects kicking off through our Great Plains Opportunity Zone Fund II. RiverHouse is a multifamily project on 4th Avenue North along the Red River. Construction is just getting underway, and the finished project will include 115 living units of different sizes, some with gorgeous views of the river. We designed RiverHouse with access to outdoor recreation in mind and are very excited for the City’s plans to revitalize the riverfront.
Our second project is a mixed-use infill on the surface parking lot between Renaissance Hall and Old Broadway on NP Avenue. We are grateful to be partnering with the City of Fargo, Global Development, and Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre! Our community recently experienced the loss of FMCT’s Island Park home, and we are thrilled to be partnering with them to build a brand-new theater in the heart of downtown. The project includes a city-owned district parking garage, which will likely catalyze redevelopment at the southern end of Broadway. Our part of the project is approximately 145 apartments with ground-floor retail that would surround the garage, much like we did with the Roberts and Mercantile garages.
I’m excited about the professional expertise and personal passion we have on the Kilbourne Group team going into 2023. We have a great team of people who love downtown Fargo and are passionate about building great places people love to spend time in. I have the privilege of sharing the track record we’ve built with potential investors looking to invest in a vibrant, growing urban neighborhood. It makes me excited every day to be part of this team doing the work we do.
What can you do as a business community to help support our veterans?
That is a fully loaded question! I wish I could write an entire magazine on this because it is so important and there are so many ways one could do such a thing! So, here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about supporting our veterans! First, support our veterans by acknowledgment! If you see someone walking into a store wearing a USMC hat, thank them for their service. If you have the opportunity to attend a veteran’s community event, do so!
Second, find ways to support them throughout the entire year, not just the holidays. You can think big and host different drives such as a food drive or thank-you veteran card drives, but you can always thank a veteran in smaller ways that can have a big impact as well! One idea would be to thank all the veterans and their family members at the end of your presentation. Chances are, someone in the room is a veteran or they know someone who was. This may seem simple, but it can have a lasting impact that shows you care!
And finally, spread the word about the nationwide VBOC program, Veterans Business Outreach Center. We serve those that have served our country! I am honored to have a hard-working team that has hearts of gold, crazy work ethics and amazing abilities to help our clients be successful! Our small but mighty team of three works hard to give back to our veterans by offering business advice. We offer no-cost one-on-one client advising where clients can take their idea from chicken scratch to a full-blown business plan that is lender ready. We offer many training workshops both in-person and online. Not only does my team support veterans through business advising we also serve our veterans in their communities. From being a hub for different drive donations to attending veteran’s events, team VBOC is there to support our community.
So, what can the business community do to support our veterans? Get involved! Start small! Even if it’s just telling one veteran thank you for their service or being a hub for donations, it can make a difference. Often, the small things add up to bigger things, which will help our community continue to do an excellent job supporting our veterans.
You have a unique perspective in that you help businesses with their executive searches. What are some common mistakes you see people make in this realm?
The most common mistakes we see organizations make when hiring a top leader are a result of not having enough role clarity at the front end of a search.
Before a board or hiring manager considers the first candidate, there’s a good bit of work that needs to be done. First, they need to define what “success” for the role would look like. And not just in general, but specifically.
In our work with search committees, we’ve found that most executive roles involve about eight key areas of accountability. A person must deliver measurable results in these areas to be successful and for the job to fulfill its purpose within the organization. A person’s greatness will only lie in about three of those eight. They need to have sufficient capability in all eight but will likely only have mastery in three.
Decide which three accountability areas are inextricable from the success of the job. Out of the eight, which can you settle for “good” on and which three must be “great”?
After the top accountabilities are prioritized, make a short list of the qualities, characteristics, and experience a candidate must possess to accomplish those goals. Notice I said shortlist. That means editing the fluff and clarifying what matters most.
What I see holding most searches hostage is the hunt for the “perfect” candidate. There is no such thing as a purple unicorn in hiring. There will be certain, strategic concessions that must be made. But it is critical to not compromise in the areas that lead to the ultimate goals for the role.
Practically speaking, people are humans. As such, they’re going to have strengths and weaknesses. Avoid using the last person in the role as the benchmark for desirable or undesirable traits. And avoid hiring someone just because you like them.
Always start with role clarity before considering who may be the right person. What business problem will this role need to solve? What are the must-haves from a candidate to solve those problems? Understand that there will be some trade-offs. With each candidate, identify their areas of greatness and determine whether they are sufficient in the remaining areas to predict success in the role.