A leader’s passion is contagious. It can attract other passionate people, and it can spark a flame in people who might not otherwise be passionate. – John Maxwell
Today, we – the Southwest Michigan First team – are taking over the Always Forward blog for a very important purpose: to celebrate Ron! This week, Ron is celebrating his 10 year anniversary with Southwest Michigan First. We can’t even begin to explain all of the amazing work Ron has done for our team, our region and our state in those 10 years. He has truly changed people’s lives through the creation of thousands of jobs.
To celebrate Ron’s 10 year anniversary, we’re sharing 10 things you might not know about our fearless leader. Here’s an inside look at the leader we are blessed to serve alongside.
1. This you probably know, but family is really important to Ron. Not just really important, the MOST important. And not just his own family, but all of our families as well. Every year, Ron opens his home to our team to host our annual team retreat. We spend the day doing creative things and having new experiences in Southwest Michigan, but we always end up at the lake to eat dinner, play in the water and relax with our families. One of the only times we’ll ever get “yelled at” by Ron is if we neglect our families for work. This is what our Choose to Cheat strategy is all about.
2. Ron always reminds us to make ourselves a priority too. When we are sick, he always says, “Take care of you,” or, “Can I bring you anything?” And he means it. When we work late, he will stop by our desks and say, “Go home. Work will be here tomorrow.”
3. One of the things that Ron is into right now is essentialism. He is about collecting memories and experiences, not stuff. One example that we all witnessed recently is that Ron cleaned out his ENTIRE library collection of books. He let the team take home whatever books they wanted and then packaged up the rest to donate to a local thrift store. There were hundreds, if not thousands of books that Ron has now passed on to build someone else’s leadership.
4. Two words: Jelly beans. Ron has recently added a dish of Jelly Belly jelly beans to his desk. We aren’t sure if it is a nod to Ronald Reagan or if he just wanted a little “Bob Goff whimsy” in his life. Either way – we love snacking on them during one-on-ones with Ron!
5. Here’s another inside look at Ron’s desk décor. We know Ron loves us, and loves his family, but he REALLY loves his dog Truman. He even keeps a picture of Truman on his desk at work – in fact, it is the only picture on his desk. But we understand, and love Truman too. After all, he is the world’s greatest dog!
6. Ron has taught us all to adapt and overcome. Anytime there is a challenge or setback, instead of giving up or focusing on the negative, the advice from our leader has always been to evaluate the situation, make changes where we can and above all else – overcome. We rarely take “no” for an answer and as cliché as it may sound – “can’t” really isn’t in our vocabulary. This advice has made us better teammates, economic developers, leaders, spouses and parents.
7. Instead of micromanaging, Ron will always ask us: What does great look like? It challenges us to step up our game to the next level – until we achieve great. As long as we are doing great work, he sees no reason to be involved in every decision or project.
8. Ron loves barbecue. He even had BBQ from Texas flown to Michigan for a special occasion once. You could say he is a barbecue connoisseur! We know he loves it so much that we surprised him with a barbecue lunch yesterday to celebrate his 10 years at Southwest Michigan First
9. Another one of Ron’s loves is hunting – quail and duck. Each year to celebrate Mardis Gras, Ron makes homemade gumbo for the team and, this year, his secret ingredient was the duck he shot! It was oh so delicious (and adventurous for some of us).
10. The last thing we want you to know is that Ron is one of the kindest souls you will ever meet. Ron will stop to help anyone on the side of the road by offering a ride or calling someone on their behalf – and has done so more times than we can count. He would literally give someone the shirt off of his back if they were in need. We are touched and inspired by his generosity.
There you have it – an inside look at the leader who has devoted the last 10 years to building this great community of Southwest Michigan.
Ron, from the entire team, congratulations on this milestone anniversary. Thank you for choosing to share your leadership and talent with us. Here’s to another decade!
P.S. Thanks for helping us celebrate Ron – if you’d like to share your congratulations with him directly, you can drop him a little note or email here.