Excellence Over Perfection: Looking Back at Our Stories of Impact

This March, PeopleForward Network’s focus is on “Excellence Over Perfection.” In practice, that reminds us of all the amazing stories of excellence in leadership that have been shared with us by our podcast partners, our extended network, and even by people who just wanted to recognize the greatness they experienced at work or in life. In 2022, PeopleForward Network hosted the 1st Annual Impact Awards. This virtual event brought together hundreds of people-first leaders, innovative business people, and thought leaders focused on the importance of community and commitment.

In kicking off this inaugural event, nominations were accepted for leaders and workplaces who embraced and lived by PeopleForward Network’s core values: Relationships, Excellence, Inspiration, Innovation, and Results. While the 2022 virtual event is over and our team is eager to plan an even bigger, better 2023 event, the stories it surfaced are timeless and warrant spotlighting. Here are some of our favorite (anonymous) submissions:


David Gregory & Brent Knepper are passionate about helping others live their best lives. They are inspiring and real every time you talk to them. They have helped me with new habits, recommended great books, and have the hard talks with me that I need to have. They are 100% genuine and truly care about people, business, and the things they put out there. I would highly recommend them to anyone that wants to continue to grow as a person and in their business or to help a business grow.


Miron Construction lives its core values – one of which is “Digging Deep.” You will not find another group of people who bring more passion to their work but also help communities keep moving forward. They use their competitive spirit to make the most of every opportunity and stay hungry so they can give back to their employees and their communities. For them, it’s about not just constructing building – it’s about their other core value: “Build Legacies.”


Our leaders at The Village believe their role is to serve and provide people with meaningful work. Our culture believes that giving back and contribution is a core value, so much so they give 10% back to their people and 10% back to their communities. It is a company that organizes itself to do this AND curates a local business landscape (ecosystem) that grows other healthy businesses so they can grow and sustain more thriving communities through investments in startups and real estate.


The Watermark Group places its culture at the center of its strategic business plan. Organizational decisions are made through the strategic anchors of their culture. This dedication to nurturing a healthy culture for all stakeholders is evidenced by the commitment and accountability from all of the team members to make valuable contributions in that regard. Partners Mark Vollmer and Jeff Curtis have walked the talk and devoted an abundance of resources to ensuring their team has an irresistible culture!


While Bosma Enterprises is a business focused on providing resources for the blind and visually impaired, they are visionary with regard to developing people to grow the business. Three years ago, a new CEO, Jeff Mittman, joined the organization to lead its growth efforts. Since the day he started, Jeff has relentlessly leaned into growing people to grow the business.


Julie Barker is passionate about equipping organizations with the HR and talent processes to support their goals. She devotes much time and energy to pouring into new and emerging HR and talent leaders, providing wise counsel and feedback. Not only does she do this through the consulting work that her business provides, she is also on the board of Next Gen Talent and works hard to engage her HR and talent leaders in the program.


“If you want to grow a company, you have to grow your people.” And they have done standout things to illustrate this. They are always innovating! Inspired by President Chad Peterman, they’ve even built a school inside their organization to constantly pour into their people and groom new talent to always be growing their Peterman Family of Employees. Chad is a podcaster and started with podcasting for his people to help THEM grow and advance.


Ajit B. Dongree was a compassionate, visionary leader. “Simple living, high thinking” was his mantra. A humble mentor and boss with a gold heart! He led people to success – as a young, fresh professional you need direction and stepping stones, and he gave us both. I remember his words when I made an error: “This shows you are working hard.” He encouraged ideas and appreciated efforts.


Mark Hamilton puts the safety and wellbeing of his employees first and makes business decisions based on what keeps his people as whole as possible and is the right thing to do. Mark led by example and dug into his own coaching work to break past self-limiting thinking so he could show up as a conscious, courageous leader. Mark always has an open door policy and listens to employees.


Tiffany Sauder is invested in helping foster personal growth through business. She listens well, sees beyond the present, and helps think through all angles of a scenario.


Tommy Richardson leads from the heart with such care. When he is with you, he is present and his listening skills are exceptional. He listens and then asks questions before he provides coaching to help you advance. I am sure that one of his greatest joys is watching the people around him advance.


Jen Bauer is one of the most amazing leaders I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with and follow. She cared about me as a human, saw, encouraged, and challenged me to rise to my potential. She modeled what it was to be a GREAT leader and have resilience as a female leader in a male-dominated industry. She always led and lived her life in alignment with her core values. And finally servant. She knew her role as a leader was to serve those within her care.


Greg Douglas truly is one of the kindest, most generous humans I’ve ever met. He cares so deeply about the people around him and loves nothing more in life than to see others grow. He often describes himself as a “farmer” because he finds true joy in cultivating relationships. He invests so much in others and relishes in watching them grow. He lives and breathes servant leadership and I feel truly lucky to have had the opportunity to witness his incredible leadership in action.


Make Baer is such a wise, innovative and caring leader who shows up as a mentor and incredible listener for me and for many. When I think people-first leader, Mike comes to mind. Mike is an excellent connector, taking time to make meaningful introductions that help people advance.


Greg Kippenhan is someone who sees endless possibilities in people and makes everyone around him better. He excels as a pather, husband, and friend. I am truly blessed to be one of the many people who have thrived under his leadership.


If you’ve read this far, you can see the vision and celebration of leadership at last year’s Impact Awards. Soon we’ll start working on the 2023 event, and you can always nominate a leader or workplace who merits recognition. Plus, you can watch the 2022 PeopleForward Network Impact Awards on-demand here.

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