Have you ever sat with someone who’s kind of a big deal only to find them incredibly humble and down to earth?
I have many times (luckily).
(CEO Knier & Associates, Founder of ASPE)
I have had the pleasure to work for not one, but two amazing people at ASPE. Like I mentioned in my previous post about David Mantica, I am where I am today because the people at ASPE took a chance on me. Those people where David Mantica and Steve Knier.
Steve Knier is an incredibly successful entreprenuer. He has created and sold multiple businesses during his career, including American Research Group (ARG) and ASPE Training (where I work). Steve is also a highly successful commercial real estate investor around the Raleigh area. Today, Steve uses his success to invest in and mentor start-ups of all shapes and sizes.
Lucky for me, my work at ASPE gave me the opportunity to get to know Steve rather well, learn from him and get a glimpse at how he juggles all of this. That continues to inspire me.
But what I feel so lucky about is having had the opportunity to work for one of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll find in business today. Like David, Steve builds businesses around people. He is incredible with numbers and products, but his ability to connect with and understand people is something special.
Where as David can be the outspoken Italian who can dominate a room or a discussion, Steve Knier has a subtlier approach. He is usually somewhat soft spoken and deliberate with his well-chosen words. He is reserved in the emotion he displays during meetings, and in general is very calculated, which can be shockingly intimidating.
But those that know him, know that he is one of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet. A true family man, if one of his grandchildren is in the office, it’s hard not to smile when you see his face light up upon seeing them. Despite his work ethic and many ventures, he regularly takes family trips with his kids and grandkids. He works hard, long hours, but also enjoys life outside the office. That in and of itself is inspiring.
And as cliche as it may be, Steve has always treated his businesses as family. He invests the time to get to know everyone at his companies. He is the antithesis of the closed-door, corner-office CEO. His door is actually almost always open. He is always available and more importantly, he makes a point to walk around and mingle with people at all levels of the business.
For instance at ARG, Steve had a standing early morning meeting at a local diner. Everyone knew he would be there during that time before work and that they were welcome to stop by and talk to him about anything they wanted. That kind of openness and availability is rare.
So, what I think I find most inspiring about Steve is the fact that he’s one person. I think many of us, myself included, live two lives. There’s the person we are at home, with our significant other, with our kids, with our friends and family. And there’s the person we are at the office. At times, and in some circumstances, those can be two completely different personalities.
Personally, over the years, at work I’ve developed a driver personality that wants to get to the point, is focused on results and hates inefficiency. However, at home, I can be a much more laid back personality that wants nothing to do with decisions. I can be much more harsh and abrasive with words at the office as I rush to decisions. Not something I’m proud of.
But that’s what is so inspiring about Steve. I believe he’s the same person. His principals, his morale and his actions stay the same. He treats people with respect, knows they are all important and invests his valuable time in connecting with them.
He’s incredibly genuine and one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet. He’s not flashy, and you’d never know he’s as successful as he is. You might see him in a suit at the office or just as easily in a t-shirt, drinking a beer at a baseball of football game.
I especially love that Steve introduces himself to every waiter, bartender or server that waits on him. He gets their first name as well, addresses them that way and often engages them in conversation. You can see on their face the impression in makes, especially from someone of his status. That has always made an impression on me.
He builds teams, and families, of people he believes in and his businesses are successful because of it. I’ve been at a handful of events over the years that brought together people from past companies of Steve, and one thing always seem to be true. They all look back on those times as some of the best.
They loved the company. They loved the people. And most importantly, they all love Steve.
That is something we can all inspire for in this disconnected, dog-eat-dog world.