Photos by Patrick Thompson
How jumping from a plane with the Navy SEALS, taking leaps of faith in business and providing a platform for leaders to share their stories go hand in hand.
On paper, jumping out of airplanes and eating funny-flavored jelly beans don’t appear to be effective tactics for leadership growth. That is until you see the bigger picture.
This month, Allegro Group Founder and CEO Kara Jorvig puts the lens on her own leadership journey while highlighting the first season of Coffee With Kara and discussing leadership evolution with Spotlight Founder and CEO Mike Dragosavich.
Kara Jorvig: We’ve heard some great stories from people this year. Wouldn’t you agree? Our last one with Joni Wheeler from CoreLink, she’s one of the most incredible leaders that I’ve met and is so humble. Every person that we’ve showcased this year has been incredibly humble and grateful for the opportunity and quiet about their success. It’s not to showboat what they’re doing, it’s to teach and empower others.
Mike Dragosavich: If you’re not humble and you’re an entrepreneur or high-level executive, you’re not telling the truth because this stuff is not easy.
Jorvig: We wanted to do something different with this series. I remember specifically wanting to collaborate with leaders who weren’t always public or didn’t always put things on social media. They were flying under the radar, but there was a lot of conversation and interest in those people. To have a cup of coffee with someone you admire or maybe even aspire to be like in some ways as a leader, but to be able to share that story with so many others is really cool.
Dragosavich: All I remember is eating puke-flavored jelly beans during the Charlie Nelson interview!
Jorvig: The concept is to take people outside of their comfort zones and to show that leaders, even high-profile leaders that have huge responsibilities or people who might be in the public eye, actually have a sense of humor and are fun. They are willing to help others and bring others along in their professional careers and journeys. I think that’s pretty special. We’ve had a lot of fun this year. It’s been a huge opportunity and I’m really grateful for it.
Dragosavich: I was just sitting here through the process thinking, ‘Should I call an attorney about liability forms because each interview is getting more dangerous as we go. There’s some symbolism there.’
Jorvig: The chairman of the Fargo Airsho called me and asked, ‘Hey Kara, would you ever jump out of a plane with a Navy SEAL?’ My immediate response was, ‘No, would you?’ And then I got off the phone and started thinking to myself, ‘How many times in my life have I not pursued an opportunity or taken a risk just because I was scared of doing it?’ Then I stopped and thought, ‘You have to do this. This is an absolute opportunity of a lifetime.’ It was a life-changing experience for me. So now I’ve been awakened, so you might have to get some insurance on me because I don’t know what I’m going to do next.
One of the things I most admire about you, Mike, is your mentality. ‘Jump and build the parachute on the way down’ I’m the type of person that would like to have a plan, so when I think about someone just taking me off the back of a plane, and the fact that he said, ‘We’re going to do a backflip out of the plane,’ I didn’t have a plan and truly had to trust. I believe that’s what I’ve really had to work on as a leader and entrepreneur, that I can’t control everything. Sometimes you need to put someone on your back that has more experience and can help you along the way.
Dragosavich: I love the term of jumping out of the airplane and building the parachute on the way down. I live by that. As you grow, you have to be a little more calculated. For me, it’s how do you not underestimate the complexity of leadership and strategy and continue to learn and get better every single day.
Jorvig: I am confident that the best opportunities are on the other side of fear. If we can figure out how to get to the other side of that, whether someone has to push you out of a plane or you figure out how to make the jump on your own, that’s what I’m most passionate about in life right now. Making sure people do the things that they really feel they’re meant to do. ‘Do you have the courage to do it?’ Sometimes you need to be pushed, but at the end of the day, you make the choice on whether or not you go up in the plane.
“I am confident that the best opportunities are on the other side of fear.”
What I’ve learned through experiences and working with leaders, both through my business and personally, skills like tenacity and resilience are actual skills that people have to work to build. I don’t wake up every day ready to jump out of an airplane. Tenacity, resilience and confidence; these are all barriers that leaders face as they’re growing their businesses, transitioning their careers and as they’re advancing.
Dragosavich: I’m a huge fan of this area because of the people and their roots and how genuine they are. It’s very inspiring. To hear them open up more about that, you can feel more comfortable. Other people are going through the same overwhelming thoughts every minute of the day. We’re overwhelmed because we have the opportunity to do amazing things. Then it’s just like, ‘Wait a second. I’m not really overwhelmed anymore. I just have a lot of great things I can do and accomplish.’ I love what I do. That’s what we’re all looking for. We want to love what we do.
Jorvig: Living out your passion, you should have fun. Coffee With Kara this year has been an absolute highlight for me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have spent time with a lot of cool people. The day I jumped out of an airplane, I was like, ‘I can’t believe this is my work right now. How cool is that?’. The next level of leaders and the next generation of North Dakota workforce is looking for a purpose and to work with leaders who are passionate. It’s more about the ‘Why?’ and ‘Who am I doing it with?’ than ever before.
Dragosavich: We always hear this business power phrase “KPI” (Key Performance Indicator). We want our business to have predictability and want to inspect what we can expect. All the cliché things. So, how can I put KPI’s on myself? I just want to know as much as I can to predict and have an understanding of my own key performance indicators.
Jorvig: That’s exactly the work we are committed to at Allegro Group; working with leaders on these topics. We built a framework of ‘Awareness. Alignment. Action. Accountability.’ that focuses on professional and personal KPI’s. The better you can understand yourself, the better choices you will make and the more successful you and your business will be.
Dragosavich: Coffee With Kara; we absolutely love teaming up on this. At this point, we’re thinking about how we expand on it. Jorvig: There are resources, people and information right here at home. We just have to make it more accessible. Mike, you continue to provide a platform for people. I also want to continue to provide a platform for people to make connections to opportunities. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all through people.
Coffee with Kara: Season 1
- Lisa Borgen, VP of Administration, American Crystal Sugar
- Charlie Nelson, President, KLN Family Brands
- Archit Shah, Franchise Owner, Orangetheory Fitness
- Chris Myers, United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota
- Joni Wheeler, CEO, CoreLink
- Mike Dragosavich, Founder and CEO, Spotlight
Go to FargoInc.com and visit Fargo INC’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to watch an expanded interview. To view all the previous Coffee With Kara episodes, go to fargoinc.com/tag/coffee-with-kara.