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Steve Glenn


Steve Glenn gets giddy when he talks about work.

Almost a giggly, middle school girl kind of giddy. He listed off the agenda for his Friday afternoon, consisting of an assortment of phone and in-person meetings extending from 12:30 until after 6:00 that evening.

“Doesn’t that just sound like a fun day?!?!!” said Steve as he looked up from his calendar. He wasn’t being sarcastic or overly optimistic, he just loves his work.

No, Steve doesn’t give away puppies for a living, he’s a business owner and entrepreneur. More specifically he’s the owner of Executive Travel, Headwind Consumer Products, four True Value hardware stores, a Batteries+Bulbs franchise, a few shopping centers and a Subway in his hometown of Pawnee City, Neb.

It’s a lot, but it doesn’t stress Steve out because it didn’t happen overnight. 

Steve started his first company, Executive Travel, after reading a book titled, ‘How to start a travel agency.’ He started out in a small office where his desk doubled as the top of a 4-drawer filing cabinet.

Steve sold travel door-to-door, slowly building his business and coming up with innovative ways to make travel more accessible. He even gave away computers to his customers as a way to excite them about travel and technology. People thought he was crazy, but Steve saw how intrigued people were with his out-of-the-box methods, and his business boomed.

“I’m disruptive,” Steve said. “Doesn’t that sound like a bad thing?”

Being disruptive has fueled Steve’s daily excitement to try to new things, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his fair share of failure.

Steve said he’s started more than 40 different companies, and a handful of them have been duds, but that’s fine by him. He sees failure as part of the creative process and he’s taught himself how to deal with failure head-on.

He learned how to fail from his experiences as a Husker football player, businessman and political candidate. Each season showed Steve that there was always someone faster, stronger, smarter or more popular than he was. It didn’t feel good, but Steve realized that he could either be defeated by those realities or learn from them, and he chose the latter.

Steve directly attributes his success to his ability to fail, pick himself back up and try again. He’s not afraid to fail, and he challenges others to do the same.

But what stood out the most about Steve’s story is that he knows who he is and who he’s not.

Steve is not a Type-A boss and he doesn’t try to be. He’s more of a visionary, and hates the idea of a plan with no flexibility.

He’s a big picture kind of guy who knows how to dream big, take risks and push the envelope.  He’s not very good at focusing his own thoughts, but he’s an extremely thoughtful and inspiring mentor.

Steve doesn’t claim to have all the answers, he doesn’t boast about his success or any of his skills. Instead, his story is about knowing what he loves, doing what he loves and staying aligned with his passions.

Blake Lawrence


This might sound cliche, but Blake Lawrence’s heroes are his parents.

His mom is a well-known Kansas City anesthesiologist and his dad is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City.

But these prestigious positions have nothing to do with why Blake admires his parents – they are his heroes because they have shown him how to make his story matter.

Blake looked up from his desk and pointed to a poster on the back of his door, “That’s me,” he said.

It was a photo of a Husker football player.

It was hard to recognize Blake in the photo, what with the helmet, red jersey and pads, but Blake said when he played football he felt like he had found what he was meant to do. He described how he carried around a football since he could walk, and had grown up being known as ‘Blake Lawrence the football player.’

But Blake doesn’t play football anymore.

In October 2009, he went from being a starting Husker linebacker to a former player because of numerous concussions, and suddenly he was no longer ‘Blake Lawrence the football player.’

His dream and identity were gone. Now what?

Blake said he sought out his parents for advice as he frantically began searching for his next steps.

More than words of encouragement, Blake said he found their own stories as the best fuel for moving forward.

Before his parents became a doctor and CEO they were high school sweethearts who became teen parents. The two got married and raised their family together for a few years, before divorcing when Blake was 4 years old.

However, the labels of pregnant teen and single parent didn’t stop either of his parents from pursuing what mattered. For Blake’s mom, it was becoming a doctor. She balanced life with two young boys and the demands of medical school. For Blake’s dad, what mattered was helping others. He worked low-paying jobs at a runaway shelter and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program long before he was ever promoted.

Yes, they went on to become well-known in their fields. They both remarried, giving Blake two additional parents who he loves and admires, but that happened because they made a choice early on. They chose to let their decisions, not their circumstances, dictate their lives and shape their identities.

And as a 20-year-old college student, Blake had a similar choice to make.

He decided that just because football couldn’t be his dream anymore, didn’t mean he was out of options. Especially in the context of what his parents overcame, Blake said he had no excuse for not pursuing another goal. 

Blake quickly saw that finding unique ways to solve problems was a strengths of his, which led him to launch Hurrdat, a social media marketing company, in 2010.

Three years later he and a few friends started opendorse, a company that connects marketers with athletes to build stronger social media campaigns.

Some might question how fast Blake pivoted from football to the entrepreneurial world, but to Blake it just made sense. As a kid, he and his brother were always finding ways to turn a quick profit. They bought and sold candy bars on the playground and even started a basketball league where they promised kids new shoes and a ride to games – needless to say this endeavor was quickly shut down by the principal – but that kind of innovative thinking set the stage for Blake’s future.

Blake knows how to see a problem and find a solution. Much of his story is about finding what matters in the midst of disappointment, and choosing to move forward.

Blake is 26 years old, and a lot of his story is yet to be told. But if it continues to be about building great companies with people who care, that’s what matters most to Blake.

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