A Thank You to My Mentors

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.