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10 people I admire (that probably don’t know it)


When you ask people who they admire, the usual suspects enter the picture pretty quickly.

Mom or Dad.

A brother or sister.

A grandparent.

A coach.

A former teacher, perhaps.

What most of those people have in common centers around two elements: blood relation, or someone in an authority position.

If you were to ask me that question, I’d probably go down the same road. I admire both of my parents (for many reasons), my wife, my brother, a few former coaches and teachers. Heck, even a former pastor I had in my childhood days.

But professionally, that list goes a little sideways.

For me, the list of people I admire professionally isn’t limited to those in authority positions. It’s kinda all over the board.

And, it’s a list of people that might surprise most–including the people I admire. So, I thought I’d share it here today:

Tom Martin, Converse Digital

Tom Martin

I’ve gotten to know Tom a bit by hanging out with him at a number of events around the country the last few years. Most recently, we both spoke at the Solo PR Summit in Atlanta last year. Every time I hear Tom speak (three times now), I’ve come away blown away. He’s without question one of the top five speakers I’ve seen live. He’s FULL of great ideas–every time. And, as an added bonus, he’s a down-to-earth, salt-of-the-earth kinda guy. I admire a lot about Tom Martin.


Jennifer Kane, Kane Consulting

Jen Kane

Much like Tom, Jen is probably one of the best speakers I’ve seen live. Outstanding, in fact. I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with Jen, too, last year at Social Media Breakfast. And, what I admire most about Jen is her quick wit and her ability to tell it like it is. There’s no sugar-coating it with Jen. Sometimes I struggle with that just a bit, so I really admire people who just come out and say it.


Len Kendall, CentUp

Len K

I have had the great opportunity to get to know Mr. Kendall a bit better this year as he’s been working with me closely on a couple client projects. On that end, he’s been fantastic. Beyond fantastic, really. Len also left a full-time, well-paying job to start his own start-up last year, CentUp. As someone who did the same thing (kind of–I didn’t launch a “start-up”, per se, but same process really), I admire anyone who’s willing to follow their dream. Especially people who leave “safe” jobs to pursue something they can’t see or touch–but something they know is out there. (Note: Photo courtesy of John Morrison: http://gallery.subism.com/)


Sarah Panus, Sleep Number

Sure, Sarah’s a client. Sure, this could be perceived as “managing up.” But, it’s not. I’ve worked for and with Sarah now for the better part of four years. And over those four years, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more kind, welcoming, warm, upbeat person. Just the kind of client you’d want to work with. And, just the kind of person you’d want to call a friend.


Brian Bellmont, Jen Bellmont, Shelli Lissick, Bellmont Partners


I started working with Brian, Jen and Shelli four years ago when I started my business. They were my first partners–and clients, in a way. I will be forever in their debt. But, what I admire most about these three is their commitment and blue-collar work ethic. I’ve sat and watched as they’ve built a growing agency from scratch the last four years. One that is about to burst on the Minneapolis/St. Paul scene (too late!).


Susan Beatty, Bremer Bank


I’ve known Susan for years through our PRSA work–and our love of sports (sadly, she’s a Packer fan–you can’t help her). But, what I’ve come to admire most about Susan is her ability to be a connector–something I don’t see done all that well very often. Susan’s one of the best in our town (MSP). She’s been more than generous with me, over the years, when it comes to who she knows and connecting me with people and organizations. But, more importantly, I see her doing it in other areas of her life. Always connecting.


Allan Schoenberg, CME Group

Allan S

Admittedly, I don’t know Allan all that well. I’ve met him in person only a few times. But, we started a blog together a while back (B2B Voices, which he runs now) and we keep in contact via social media. Here’s another guy who’s easy to admire–I know a lot of people do. But, what I admire most about Allan I learned early on–his desire to give back. Allan was an early #happo partner, when he was still living and working in Chicago. He also established a scholarship in his name at Central Michigan University, where he attended college. By itself, that’s pretty cool. But, Allan takes it one step further, getting together with the kids (and parents, in some situations) who earn the scholarships each year and keeping in touch with them through the years.


Natalie Bushaw, Life Time Fitness

Natalie B

One of the few college friends I keep in touch with, I’ve now known Natalie (pictured at left above) and her family for more than 20 years. Wow, that’s not fun saying that 😉 From the moment I met Natalie in college I knew she was different–in a good way. I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with her over the years and watch her career grow–and watch her flourish as a Mom (if you know Natalie’s family story, it’s quite incredible). Natalie’s a great connector. She’s an amazing PR leader. And above all, she’s an incredible person. Not much more to say…



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