Movers & Shakers Share How They Decided to Pursue the Careers They’re Working in Today and What They Think is the Most Important Characteristic a Leader Should Possess

David King, Owner, King Jewelers

On His Career

I never had an interest in working as a gemologist. I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I studied chemistry and English literature in the hopes of attending medical school. Instead, I ended up taking the Wharton route and worked on Wall Street after graduation. After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, I moved back home to Florida to be closer to my family and ultimately fell into the family jewelry business.

On Being a Leader

A leader needs to be empathetic in order to be successful. It’s important to be able to relate to people in a realistic, humane and down-to-earth manner. We sincerely care about our staff, their families and, of course, our clients more than we care about selling a diamond or watch. We are an integral part of many lives, and that makes what we do even more special on many different levels.

Gil Kentof, Doctor of Chiropractic

On His Career

As a teenager living in Jacksonville, Florida, I injured my neck and back in an auto accident and was helped by Dr. Steven Warfield, a chiropractor who was a family friend. He, along with a chiropractor I worked for in my early 20s, inspired me to pursue a career in chiropractic. I was amazed by the results I personally received, and the philosophy that the body can heal once balanced and interference on the nervous system reduced. 

On Being a Leader

I think its important for a leader to listen! He/she must also show the team that he’s personally OK with doing what they do—doing whatever is needed to make things work: answering the phone when its busy, typing a letter and even sweeping or taking out the trash! They see a leader that leads by example and isn’t afraid to work.

Andrew Vaughn, Director of Marketing & Communications, Williamson County Chamber of Commerce

On His Career

I don’t think I ever decided to be a marketing and communications director. I started my career in England as a journalist, which led me to being asked to run the publicity department for CMT (Country Music Television) when they had a London office. That led me to Nashville where I worked for several record labels doing marketing and then returned to content creation for Gibson Guitars. My position at Williamson Inc. allows me to use all the skills I learned for a role that I’m passionate about since I really feel we can make a difference to Williamson County.

On Being a Leader

A leader has to care. All the management skills in the world will mean nothing if staff do not feel valued, included and liked. We all want to belong and fit somewhere. I believe anyone working for me will feel at home and respected.”

Eric Stuckey, Administrator, City of Franklin

On His Career

I was inspired by a public administration class taught by a city manager during my undergraduate studies, which led to me doing a master in public administration degree specifically geared to city managers from the University of Kansas. As part of the degree, I did internships in city offices.

On Being a Leader

Through communication and listening, a leader needs to articulate three things and give people the opportunities to address them:

  1. Vision and developing this together with stakeholders.
  2. Values, both of the organization and of public service to build community.
  3. Understanding the environment in which we live. For Franklin, the biggest challenge is response to growth while preserving its traditional characteristics.”

Charlie Jess, Owner, Cool Springs Powersports

On His Career

I actually stumbled across my career path by accident. After many years in the luxury segment of the automotive industry, I was recruited by the owner of a Harley-Davidson franchise. He needed someone to implement sales processes within his existing operation. With the collaboration of others, that business developed and grew to a level beyond expectations. Years later, he sold the business and that ultimately guided me to Cool Springs Powersports. 

On Being a Leader

Through the years, my leadership style has evolved. Earlier in my career, I confused leadership with exemplifying authority. This style created many problems as well. While there is no imperfect management style, I have found, a coaching style of management yields greater results. Communication is the single most important characteristic a leader can possess. An effective leader communicates well, sets realistic goals and does so while demonstrating character and integrity.