In what city did you grow up? I was born near Pittsburgh — my dad worked for U.S. Steel. He was transferred to the Gary Works operation when I was two, so I grew up in Merrillville, Indiana.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A sailor. My dad was a “frogman” in the Navy and my uncle was a nuclear sub commander.
What famous person would you most like to meet? Walt Disney. What a creative guy that was able to turn dreams into magical reality.
What do you actually do at your job? As CEO I wear many hats, but my fundamental role is to oversee the corporate vision, strategy and day-to-day operations in pursuit of corporate objectives. This is extremely fulfilling because of the quality of our staff and the leaders we have developed who now do much of the heavy lifting. Another key role has been preparing DC for an eventual transition to new corporate leadership. It’s very gratifying to build and work with our executive team to prepare them to lead.
What was your first job? My very first job was a paperboy, but my first job that I received a paycheck for was a short-order cook at an A&W Root Beer stand.
What is your biggest pet peeve? Someone who spends way too much time on their phone in a social situation instead of being present.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to cast as you? A younger Tom Selleck — it’s a mustache thing.
What would you choose as your last meal? Filet mignon, mashed potatoes, green beans, a glass of cabernet and banana cream pie.
If you had a time machine, where and to what time period would you travel? I’d love to go to the United States a hundred years in the future, and understand the issues they will be dealing with and how our actions today could impact that.
Who would you like to see perform in concert? I would have loved to see Led Zeppelin.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Japan. It has natural beauty and a truly unique culture. The people there seem to be very courteous and hospitable. There are big, modern cities with a real density of living to check out; 23 world heritage sites, castles, temples, shrines and zen gardens.
What does your workout regimen consist of? I assume trying to throw my weight around at the office doesn’t count. I use an elliptical, lift some weights and do core/stretching exercises. I also enjoy being outside working in the yard.
Where will you go on your next vacation? My wife and I are going to Egypt for our 30th anniversary.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? “Life is like a donut. Don’t stare at the hole.” Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have and be grateful.
What skill would you like to master? I played the drums in high school and college. As my schedule lightens in the future, I would like to pick that back up.
What age do you wish you could permanently be and why? Mid-to-late 30s. You’re still physically in your prime, have a bigger perspective of life and priorities, and have a little money to do things.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? I was at a ritual event in Russia and we were informed before we attended that we needed to eat whatever we were served, or it would be an insult. They served us stallion gonads.
What is the most productive time of day for you? Early morning. I usually arrive at the office by 6:00 a.m. and often get more done between then and 8:00 a.m. than the rest of the day. It also allows me to plan, prepare and prioritize my time with a fresh head and fewer distractions.
If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing? I would travel a lot with my wife, but would still work at something I loved.
Describe yourself in three words. Strategic, driven, action-oriented.
What book has had the greatest impact on you? In my life, the Bible. In my career, “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander. As I approach the next stage of my life, “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley.
What is the first movie you ever saw in a theater? Jaws.
What is your favorite part of your job? Architects, fundamentally, are problem solvers. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide a solution to a client that solves their problem, exceeds their expectations and perhaps makes the world a better place.
What do you love most about Fort Wayne? I really love the fact that any and all of us in this region have the opportunity to make a real difference in our communities.
What is your dream job? I think I’ve had it for years; I love what I do, how we’re doing it and who I do it with.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (living, dead, famous, real or fictional)? Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and my great grandparents who emigrated from Russia.
What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island (other than food and water)? I’d need a big sharp machete, a magnifying glass to start a fire and a lot of rope. I’d also stow a picture of my family in my pocket.
What profession would you never try? Bull riding has never had any appeal.
What’s one thing you can’t live without? A to-do list.
If you could give your 15 year-old self advice, what would it be? Leaders are often required to make difficult decisions that can’t please everyone. Afterwards, half the people affected think you’re the best and the other half think you’re a bum anyhow. “As a leader, trust yourself to do what you think is right and not what will make some people happy.” There is nothing more discouraging than making a decision that you thought would be popular, but that you personally feel is the wrong answer and then end up in that situation. So, do what you think is right; that’s why you’re there.
What is one important skill you think everyone should have? Personal finance skills.
What would you do with your 15 minutes of fame? Probably embarrass myself.
If you had to teach someone one thing, what would you teach? How to tie a great tie. In college, fraternity brothers would leave their ties on my bed the day of dances, photos, etc. for me to tie for them. So, I started giving pledges a demerit if they couldn’t tie one well and then let them work it off by having me teach them how to do it right.
What is your earliest memory? Standing in front of a black and white TV with a room full of adults watching the parade for JFK’s funeral. I can remember the boots being backwards in the stirrups on the horse.
What trait or habit in yourself do you deplore? I’m not very patient.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? What are they? I love a glass of wine at the end of the day.