Skip to main content

Jordan Sauer


Jordan Sauer wasn’t so sure she had a story to tell.

Sitting in her quiet living room, with her toddler napping upstairs, she explained that her life is pretty ordinary. It’s not dramatic, overly adventurous or glamorous – but that’s not what makes a story worth telling.

Over the past 28 years Jordan has worked to understand her story. There have been highs and lows, moments she wishes she could re-do or experience in a new way. Mostly, Jordan said a lot of her past has shaped her future.

Jordan grew up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska in an athletic family. Both of her parents played collegiate sports and Jordan’s height and athletic abilities made it natural to follow in their footsteps.

In middle school, she tried everything from track to basketball and volleyball. She liked the pace and competitive nature of basketball, compared to volleyball which seemed a little too tame. But in high school, Jordan took volleyball a little more seriously. She proved herself as a strong player and attended summer training camps at UNL.

During one of the camps she met UNL head volleyball coach John Cook, who took her aside to ask her if she’d ever thought about playing collegiate volleyball. It wasn’t something Jordan had even considered or thought was possible, but her conversation with coach Cook got her thinking.

From Jordan’s perspective, playing volleyball at UNL was a long shot. She knew she wasn’t the most skilled player, which was why she was surprised when she received another call from coach Cook.

He explained that he thought she was a strong athlete and hard worker and he offered her a walk-on spot at UNL. There was no promise of playing time, just the opportunity to build her skills and be part of a world-class program. Jordan took it.

Her freshman year was difficult. She was far from home and adjusting to her class load and the pressures of being a collegiate athlete. Jordan said she quickly realized she was definitely one of the weaker players on the court. She lagged behind during practice and was often told to shag stray balls instead of doing drills.

She said coach Cook joked about the fact that she didn’t say a single word during the first month of practice, which probably wasn’t far from the truth. It was intimidating and even a little embarrassing, but Jordan said she chose UNL because she knew it’s where she would become the best player she could be, even if she never stepped on the court during a game.

Over the next two years, Jordan said she grew as both a player and a person. She gained confidence in herself with the help of her teammates, and began to see herself as part of a team. She may not have been the best player on the court, but this fact didn’t make her feel inadequate, it just pushed her to work harder.

Toward the end of her sophomore year, one of her teammates was injured and Jordan stepped up to fill her spot. It was a big moment, and there was a lot of pressure, but Jordan faced the pressure by focusing on playing. She continued to get playing time and made it into the starting lineup. Jordan was becoming a more noticeable player and her confidence grew each game.

But during her junior year things shifted. There was new leadership, new players, new drama and instead of stepping up, Jordan stepped back. She was passive and withdrawn, which impacted her attitude and her playing. Her coaches pointed this out, but Jordan didn’t think it was a big deal. She didn’t see what was happening to herself and her team because of her attitude. Jordan went from being a starter to barely playing toward the end of the year.

She attributes her attitude to a lack of maturity and an inability to take responsibility for her actions. When Jordan finally stepped back and saw this, she knew she needed to do something about it. She apologized to her coaches and team members and then made it a point to make her final years different.

Jordan says she still thinks about that year of her life. Her bad attitude was so silly, but also serious because of the way it impacted the people around her – and the scary part was that it took nearly a year for her to notice.

Her selfishness blinded her to the needs of others, but it taught her that life isn’t just about herself. This lesson transferred to the volleyball court as she finished out her last two years of playing and earned her Master’s degree in education.

But it’s a lesson Jordan carries with her into her role as wife, mother, friend, substitute teacher and coach. She has seen the reward of investing in others in a way that brings life to her own story and allows her to see others more clearly.

Playing college volleyball wasn’t an adventure Jordan dreamed about as a kid. It was something she tried because she was encouraged to do so. It taught her about who she was, who she didn’t want to be and who she could become.

Jordan said every so often someone at the grocery store looks at her sideways or asks if they’ve met her before. Sometimes she explains why they might recognize her and other times she just laughs it off.

Even though people might recognize Jordan as a former Husker volleyball player, she’s so different than the tall, middle blocker they saw on TV or at games. Her experience as an athlete set her up to think long and hard about her weaknesses and strengths and how to use those to live a story that’s worth telling.

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.

Close Menu
Follow along and be the first to know about our work, story series and general happenings.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.