The Profesional Web Site Of Landon Blake

After hearing an Econtalk podcast with Ryan Holiday on recognizing the contributions that others make to our success, I resolved to regularly consider men and women in my life who helped me reach important accomplishments or develop as a professional. Today I want to recognize my mentor Kris Nehmer.

Introduction

I started working with Kris as soon as I graduated from college, in the Spring of 2003. At the time, Kris was the second-in-command for the land surveying department at KSN Engineers, in Stockton, California. Since that time, the company has grown with an additional office in West Sacramento, and Kris now manages all of the land surveying operations at KSN.

What Kris Taught Me

Kris Nehmer is the licensed land surveyor who mostly strongly influenced my own development as a professional (followed in a close second place by Brett Setness). It was Kris who taught me the majority of my office skills as a land surveyor. Things I learned from Kris included:

  1. How to use AutoCAD.
  2. How to process and adjust raw survey field data.
  3. How to manage a project.
  4. How to prepare a proposal (including a scope-of-services and fee estimate).

Kris Nehmer is the licensed land surveyor who mostly strongly influenced my own development as a professional.

A Geodesy Master

Kris is also (in my opinion) the best geodetic surveyor west of the Mississippi River. I was blessed to have an opportunity to learn from a land surveyor with a superb understanding of GNSS and geodetic control surveys. No one else can explain the challenges of datum conversions between NGVD 29 and NAVD 88 like Kris. The quality that sets Kris apart form other geodetic surveyors is his emphasis on the practical and pragmatic. Kris showed me how to take the academic concepts of geodesy and apply them to real world land surveying to get stuff built. I had a fantastic opportunity to learn geodesy from a great teacher and man who valued the need to accomplish real work every day.

The quality that sets Kris apart form other geodetic surveyors is his emphasis on the practical and pragmatic. Kris showed me how to take the academic concepts of geodesy and apply them to real world land surveying to get stuff built.

The Most Important Thing I Learned From Kris

The excellent grasp of Geodesy isn't the most important element of what Kris taught me. The most important thing I learned from Kris was how to show a real personal interest in your employees. From the very beginning, I could see that Kris was sincerely committed to my growth and success as a land surveyor. He never held back his knowledge from me. He regularly met to help me study for the land surveying licensing exam. He gently prodded me to achieve professional goals. He fully supported my effort to become a Certified Federal Surveyor.

I had never been asked that sort of question, or had any boss concerned about my progress in that way.

One of my most memorable visits with Kris was the first time he sat me down in his office and asked me to define a list of professional goals for the following calendar year. I had never been asked that sort of question, or had any boss concerned about my progress in that way. It is a quality that I try to imitate in my own land surveying practice now, and a question I will never forget.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kris has played a key role in making KSN a success civil engineering and land surveying company. The land surveying profession is blessed to have a mentor and teacher like Kris in their ranks. I was blessed to spend the first 12 years of my career learning from men like Kris Nehmber, Brent Boitano, and Brett Setness.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kris has played a key role in making KSN a success civil engineering and land surveying company.

Kris is a good husband, good father, good manager and a great land surveyor. He has claim to a huge part of my professional success.

Landon

 

 

Today’s world of social media and personal branding can lead a person to become too focused on their own skills, abilities and I occasionally catch myself failing into this trap. I was recently inspired by a couple of podcasts to make a practice of applying more humility in my own life. This includes recognizing the role others have played in my modest success as a professional and a land surveyor. (The first podcast that inspired me is entitled “Robert Frank on Success and Luck”. The second was entitled “Ryan Holiday on Ego".)

I’d like to buy out a few moments a couple times each month to deliberately practice the quality of humility, and the recognition of others. (This could be important accomplishments by others or their role in my own success.)
I wanted to start this new habit with a short post about the most important influences in my professional life.

  • I’ll start with my wife Monique Blake. She plays the most important role in tactfully pointing out my personality flaws and encouraging me to reflect the conduct of the man she loves. No other person has a bigger impact on my effort to be a good and kind human being.
  • My mother Julie Blake and my father Randy Blake both had a huge role in shaping the professional I am today. My mom taught me a love of reading and instilled strong moral values. My father taught me how to be a hard worker, how to walk like a man, and how to defend and protect those people placed under my care. My father also showed me an example of a worker that strived to be the best at his practiced craft. (My dad was, arguably, one of the best heavy equipment operators and heavy construction foreman on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.)
  • Dave Dorsett and Bob Beall were my professors in college. Dave accomplished the impossible task of helping me to acquire a love of mathematics and to see that it was a practical tool. He also taught me how to research, understand, and apply common law. Bob Beall introduced me to photogrammetry and GIS.
  • Darrel Ramus, Kris Nehmer and Brett Setness were my supervisors at KSN and my most important professional mentors. Kris Nehmer taught me all I know about geodesy and geodetic control, including how to read and NGS datasheet and the difference between NAVD 88 and NGVD 29. He also taught me the basics of proposal writing and introduced me to business development. Brett Setness taught me how to be a boundary surveyor, which included how to read and interpret land descriptions. He also beat out of me the desire to completely upend long-established neighborhoods with my boundary surveys. (Brett did some nurturing of my inner conservative as well.) Chris Neudeck, one of the owners at KSN, introduced me to the system of levees in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and showed me how to be an expert witness. Chris Martin, a land surveyor at KSN, allowed me to experience being a teacher and mentor.
  • Randy O’Dell, the owner of O’Dell Engineering, showed me what it meant to be a civil engineer that understand and respect the land surveyors he works with. He moral values and character are second to no other engineer. He demonstrated to me what careful and thoughtful business decision making looked like. Dylan Crawford and Chad Kennedy, also members of the leadership team at O’Dell Engineering, showed me what a real business development and marketing program looked like, and allowed me to participate in it. Dylan Crawford also gave me an opportunity to grow as a leader and to learn difficult lessons about managing a large and geographically distributed team of land surveyors.
  • Finally, I’d like to thank Russ Roberts, the host of EconTalk, a free podcast on economics. More than any other person he has explained to me how the world around us really works, has made me a better business man, and has given me a love of economics. If you haven’t listened to his weekly podcast, you are wasting your commute time.

Look for more posts in the near future about the impact others have had on my life and on the great things they have accomplished.

Landon

www.landonblake.com
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3938 Kimball Lane
Stockton, California
95206