32, Vice President of Total Business Solutions, Inc., Portsmouth
Contributions to the business community:
The Portsmouth Partnership Executive Board, Recruitment Chairman; Young Executive Symposium (Yes!), SP Richards Company; Vann H. Lefcoe Leadership Development Program; Groupe Lacasse VIP Office Furniture Dealer Association
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Jones Memorial Golf Tournament Committee, The Portsmouth Assembly, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show, Virginia Tech Monogram Club (Football Alumni)
How do you define success?
Success is knowing that I put forth my best effort as I turn off the lights at the office, having a loving wife and family by my side when I return home and knowing that no matter what comes along, we can be confident and optimistic because we have done everything with integrity.
What person or experience has made the biggest impact on your life?
Without a doubt, my parents have made the biggest impact on my life. My mom and dad started Total Business Solutions out of our house in Chesapeake. Dad would call on customers by day, and the two of them would package office supplies by night. Thirty years later, although our processes have evolved, and we have added a sister company, Creative Business Solutions, we have not strayed from the principles that founded our family business. As my brother, John, and I are transitioning into our new roles, our parents are still encouraging us, guiding us and giving us the confidence we need to succeed in our professional and personal lives.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Earning a scholarship to play football for the Virginia Tech Hokies. I walked on my sophomore year of college to be the next long snapper. After the first tryout, I was participating in my own gym clothes, without a locker or mention of my name in program, waiting on the sidelines hoping to catch Frank Beamer’s eye. I progressed to the practice squad, then the dress squad, and then my opportunity came my senior year against Nebraska. My first snap hit the punter right in the numbers, and I even made a tackle on the first play. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Captain Cody Grimm presented me with the game ball during post game speeches. Every game after that, I was the starting long snapper for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Shortly after being named the starter, Frank Beamer awarded me an athletic scholarship.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received from a colleague or manager?
Many of my friends, customers and coworkers tell me that I do things exactly like my father. I don’t think there could be a better compliment in the world.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Other than the typical fireman and police officer, I wanted to be a Ghostbuster more than anything. When there was something strange in the neighborhood, “who you gonna call?” That’s right, Matt Tuttle. So, if you want to discuss office furniture or how to get rid of those monsters in your supply closet (Staples and Office Max) “who you gonna call?”
Name a book that has inspired you professionally.
Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work and Succeed with Any Type of Boss by Mary Abbajay. Mary teaches the skill of “Managing Up” which is defined as “becoming a leader no matter where you fall in the office hierarchy.” There are actions that you can do at entry level positions that have huge impacts on the entire company. As a mid-level executive, strive to be everything to senior executives to prove you can be the leader that they need on their team. Once you get past the mindset of where you are seated and start focusing on how you can be the best person to ever occupy that seat, that is when you will reach your full potential.
What is your best time management hack?
Time management is all about finding your balance. Instead of focusing on completing the 50 tasks for that day, try to find a balance in your day. I believe every day you should focus on three things: 1. Something that makes you money (perfect your craft); 2. Something that keeps you creative (Mine is Improv Comedy at the Push Comedy Theater); and 3. Something that keeps you physically active (I enjoy golf and my Bowflex Treadclimber). When you combine all of those into one day, you start to feel more energetic, you start thinking positive, and you will gradually see yourself becoming more productive. This isn’t an overnight change, but gradually you will see yourself with extra time for yourself to have fun!
What’s your favorite restaurant for a lunch meeting in Coastal Virginia, and what do you order when you go there?
Gosport Tavern in Olde Towne Portsmouth. My go-to lunch order is the French Dip! If it is an after-work meeting, they also offer craft beers on tap, and you can earn your MBA, Masters of Bourbon Appreciation.
What do you think is Coastal Virginia’s biggest challenge?
We need to think of our region as a collective group, instead of individual cities. It is said if you want to go somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
How can Coastal Virginia better retain its younger population?
Having lived in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and New York City before moving back to Coastal Virginia, I know that millennials crave entertainment and convenient transportation. The presence of arenas and venues for shows, comedians, sporting events and concerts is key to getting young people excited about living in Coastal Virginia. Anything that attracts locals, as well as out-of-town guests, will stimulate the economy and present opportunities for development and redevelopment. The importance of safe and reliable public transportation is crucial to ensuring that millennials can get to their destination on time and care-free.
What’s something that gives you hope for the future?
My heart is in Portsmouth. I hope that Portsmouth continues to make positive changes and grows into the prize of Coastal Virginia. When I was young, my most cherished memories were when my grandmother would take me to Portside, the ferry dock in Portsmouth, to take the ferry across the Elizabeth River to Waterside. It is my hope that the push for development that is prevalent in Norfolk and Virginia Beach reaches the shores of Portsmouth so that one day I can take my children and grandchildren for memorable rides across the river.