Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Dustin: I actually dropped out of high school my senior year and never went to college. I was a big baseball player when I was in school, with scholarship opportunities around the country. When I got hurt, my only option was to go straight into the workforce. Without a college degree, I had to start at the very bottom of each position I held and climb my way to the top. A good work ethic and attitude will take you a lot further than you think as long as your coachable.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Dustin: Immediately after leaving high school, I started working in real estate mortgages. I spent seven years building my career and working my way up in the industry, despite not having a college education. But that all came crashing down during the 2008 mortgage crisis. Suddenly, people in my industry were being laid off left and right, and there were no other finance jobs that would have given me the same stability. It was around this time I hired a moving company to assist with a crosstown move and lost $35,000 worth of personal goods due to damage. Together, these experiences essentially forced me into finally opening up my own business, specifically a moving company, which was an industry I was convinced I didn’t want to be a part of. It was those setbacks and challenges that set me up and pushed me toward the success I have today.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Dustin: I really believe leaders need to take a great deal of ownership in everything they do, especially motivating and inspiring employees. To me, the best way to take your leadership to the next level is by serving others. Generosity breeds reciprocation with massive authority. The more we give our employees, the more they are willing to give the organizations they serve. Make sure to create a pathway to opportunities for employees to advance in your company. Establish a culture that says, “We care,” by rewarding them when they do well, coaching them when they need help and, above all else, staying invested in their work and lives. However, the leader should never leave you when you leave the office. What’s just as important (If not more) is to be a leader in your faith, your family, your community, and business partnerships.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
∙ Cultivate and maintain relationships. Relationships make the world go round no matter what business you’re in. You will find success based on the relationships you create and the ones you choose to deepen over time.
∙ Always work from a service mentality. This means putting your customers and employees before profit margins and doing what is right, even if it isn’t easy.
∙ Create an unforgettable customer experience! If you’re truly passionate about creating the best experience possible for your customers and your business partnerships, your team will be too.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Dustin: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was to always be a student of the game. No matter how successful you become, you should never stop learning, especially within your industry.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward? Dustin: We all have our own charitable organizations that we’re passionate about and choose to support. Get involved in one that has a great mission for helping others in need and do whatever you can to make an impact together.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Dustin: My #1 hobby is creating experiences with my two little girls who are 5 and 7 and spending as much time with them as I can. The life of an entrepreneur constantly pulls us in many different directions but it will never pull me away from my family or being the best Dad that I can possibly be.