Determination. Ambition. Hard work. Perseverance. Those are just some of the characteristics these 11 young business professionals have in common. They've overcome challenges, started up businesses, taken over companies and are proving they have the skills to be the next generation of leaders. All under the age of 40, the Rising Stars share their stories and tell us what has made them a success at Lake of the Ozarks.

Mackenna Bennett   |   22
Owner of Relevé Dance Academy

Background: Started dancing at Relevé Dance Academy, under the direction of Kim Generally, when she was eight years old. Began teaching at the studio when she was 16, and continued to teach at Relevé while attending the University of Missouri, Columbia. While at Mizzou, she was a member and choreographer for the Golden Girls.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
My experience with the Golden Girls really helped lead me to the career that I am blessed to have!
In my industry relationships are everything. My clients are families and kids, so personal relationships and connections to my customers has helped me to better serve them and their needs. Patience and compassion are necessary when working with children, and those characteristics have created such a special bond between my students and I.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
The dance studio business is built upon passion and creativity. Therefore it is an emotionally-driven business that can be hard to assess with clarity when setting/striving for goals and/or dealing with conflict. Balancing that creativity with structure can be a challenge, but is essential for staying on track for sustainable progression.

Biggest accomplishment?
One of my proudest moments is when my dance piece “Two Roads,” danced by the advanced Relevé dancers, achieved the overall highest score at a dance competition. They scored the highest out of 400 different routines. It was such an amazing moment for my students, and seeing their hard work pay off like that is just priceless. Another moment that was pivotal in my career was staging the production of “The Wizard of Oz” in June of 2018, alongside my sister and co-worker Kendal Surdyke. We created something that elicited such a positive reaction from our community, and it left us all so inspired!

What is the secret to your success?
Hard work and focus. I grew up watching my parents work so hard in the boating industry and was taught at a very young age that anything worth having in life requires dedication and hard work. I started working for my parent’s business during the summers when I was 14. I learned how to carry myself professionally, work with others, deal with costumer conflict, and witnessed firsthand how a successful business is supposed to run. Working boat rentals and the gas dock on a 4th of July weekend at the Lake will teach you some VERY valuable customer service skills!

Future goals?
Expansion and accessibility. I would love to expand so I can better serve the community and their desires for the art of dance in the Lake area. I am also trying create more accessibility through the scholarship program we have in the works. Supplying the gift of dance to those that usually would not be able to receive it is a huge goal of mine.

Advice for other young professionals?
Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams or goals are out of reach or too big. Ambition is necessary for success.

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
I am skilled in old process black and white fine art photography. My photographs have been shown in several galleries in Missouri, Colorado, South Carolina, and Ohio.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
I would not have these current opportunities if it weren’t for my business partner/husband Mason Bennett, my parents Greg and Ginger Surdyke, and my right hand/sister Kendal Surdyke. I owe my success to them!

Julie Bradbury   |   32
Owner of Anytime Fitness in Osage Beach, Jefferson City and Lebanon

Background: Bachelor’s degree from College of Charleston in exercise science and master’s degree in exercise science from Southeast Missouri State.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
I think my education has played a big part. It’s very easy to become a personal trainer these days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is actually qualified. I have an extensive education in anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics — which are fancy ways to say that I’ve learned about how the body works and moves. I’ve studied how exercise can be used to help not only “healthy people,” but how it can be used to treat disease, illness, injuries, etc. I think this helps me understand where our members are coming from and what we can do to help them meet their goals.
I am a very compassionate person.  I truly care about others and want to do everything in my capability to help them better themselves.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?  
My biggest challenge is trying to balance “doing it all.” As a young business owner, I am trying to raise my family and grow my business at the same time. While it is a daily battle, I couldn’t do what I do without an amazing support system. We have amazing teams at each of our clubs that handle the day to day responsibilities, and I couldn’t do it all without them. My husband, family, and friends are also always ready to step in to help with my son or any other needs.

Biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishments are in the small successes I see with our members and my personal training clients. They are the reason I’m in this business and when I hear their success stories it makes it all worth it! Their stories range from getting a good report from their doctor, to coming off medication, to losing weight, to being able to balance long enough to get dressed without sitting down. Hearing about their accomplishments is the thing that makes me proudest professionally.   


What is the secret to your success?
Our success has come from putting in a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication. I treat my business like one of my babies: I give it a lot of attention, love, sweat and tears!  

Future goals?
This year we are focused on perfecting our day-to-day systems and experiences. Our company has continued to grow over the past few years, and now it’s time to focus on making our clubs the best that they can be. This means focusing on the details of what we do every day to ensure our members are having the best possible experience.

Advice for other young professionals?
Surround yourself with supportive and positive people who help you be the person and run the business that you want.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?   
None of this would be possible without my husband, Cole.  He is the rock behind all the craziness that goes on in our lives!  He is my husband, business partner, and support system.  We love our sweet Jack and are excited to add a baby boy to our family this summer!

Ciarra Dobbs   |   26
Insurance agent and owner of Senior Insurance Solutions

Background: A true Lake native, born at Lake Regional hospital and a School of the Osage alumni. She grew up working on gas docks and swimming in the Lake. After graduating from Westminster College with a degree in business and communication, she returned to the Lake and has been a licensed insurance agent for six years. In 2018, she started her own agency specializing in Medicare.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
A combination of ambition and genuineness. I truly care about, not only the best interests of my clients, but also them as people. People respect being relatable, and investing and caring past what you can sell them or the money you can make off of them. At the end of the day, I do my best to build a relationship and develop a friendship that goes a little deeper than just being their “Medicare lady,” and I feel l have succeeded in that. I have gained a lot of new clients but more importantly, many new friends. I’m honored to know them.
Behind the scenes, ambition is a huge contributor to my success. I have been raised by entrepreneurial parents who have built successful businesses from the ground up. It has always been a goal of mine to follow in their footsteps and make them proud.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Learning that it’s okay to not win them all. It’s been a lesson I’ve learned since starting my business. Not everyone is going to pick me to be their agent. Some people will doubt me because of my age, some people are going to “click” better with someone else. And that’s okay. The people who are meant to cross my path will. For every “no” there are 10 “yes’s” out there waiting. Go find the yes’s! Don’t dwell on the no’s.

Biggest accomplishment?
Having “Owner/CEO” behind my name.

What is the secret to your success?
I honestly don’t think there is a secret to success. It takes grit. Old fashioned hard work. And for me, that’s what makes the success so much more humbling and rewarding. I am building the foundation of a long-lasting business but I started at zero. Hard work is the key to success, but that is no secret.

Future goals?
To be known as “that Medicare gal.” I want the people of the Lake area to know the services I provide and how I can help them. I want my marketing footprint to be strong enough to pull that off.
Also, have a family, see new places, make great memories! Live life on my terms and in the best way — we only get one go at it.

Advice for other young professionals?
Take a chance on YOU. I had so many doubts and talked myself out of starting my own business pretty much every way possible. But looking back now, the hardest part about the entire process was having the courage to try. Taking a chance on myself has been the single best decision I have ever made in my life. I would encourage other young people out there with the entrepreneurial itch to do the same thing. You won’t regret it.

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
I am an outdoors-woman. I enjoy to hunt with my husband - my favorite animals to hunt are dove, turkey and deer. I love going with him and being outdoors in the early mornings.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for my parents, thank you for providing for me and raising me to be disciplined and driven so that i had choices and options. And an even bigger thank you for not making decisions for me or telling me what to do, even when I was begging you to. Making my own moves and choosing my path has made me who I am.
To my husband, who from day one has shown unwavering support and love and stood beside me me 110%, thank you. I love you.

Michael Duncan   |   39
Store manager of Duncan Diamonds and Fine Jewelry

Background: School of the Osage graduate, bachelor’s in general business with emphasis in finance from Missouri State University.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
If I said I remembered my first day working at Duncan Jewelry I would be wrong. I guess you could say I was born into the business. My first memory of any semblance of a job is picking up cigarette butts in the parking lot for a penny a piece. It was the 80s, and it seems like every other person must have smoked based on the number of pennies I earned. I was a hard-working kid and stuck with it through those humble beginnings. Over the years I have thought about how beneficial that experience was as a lesson learned. I still keep a clean parking lot to this day. I thoroughly enjoy the jewelry business and I have never really wanted to be anything other than a jeweler.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
We have been able to thrive in the face of adversity by sticking to our core values. Every customer that we are fortunate enough to have walk in our door has a certain expectation in mind. My team feels that if we can meet and exceed those expectations, we can be successful and help strengthen the community in some way. We place such an emphasis on customer service. I want the Lake area to continue to thrive, and to do that the customer service industry at Lake of the Ozarks must keep bringing people back and attracting new faces by providing a positive and satisfying experience.

Biggest accomplishment?
The one that stands out the most is when it became clear that I had earned the amount of trust from my parents that it would take to assume almost all responsibilities of operating their business. That is something that I don’t take lightly and continually strive to reinforce the confidence that they have in me.

What is the secret to your success?
For me it has been the old adage “slow and steady wins the race.” It has always worked for me. I find it helpful to remember this while taking my time with important decisions and move forward methodically. I always try to do what I think is the right thing, and believe it will guide me through difficult situations. Being relatable is something else that helps me work towards success. My broad array of interests helps me gain a bit of knowledge on something that can help me connect with almost anyone.
I think there are keys to success and for me the key is to do what I do best, and do it the very best I can every day.

Future goals?
Purchase the business from my parents and continue to develop and adapt to the changing times. Increased community involvement is a future goal of mine that is taking on an elevated role in my life. I want to be able to donate more time and resources to causes that will benefit the Lake.

Advice for other young professionals?
Surround yourself with good people, and actively choose to have a positive attitude. Be nice to everyone you come in contact with. You never know what someone else might have on their plate. A sincere smile and some empathy go a long way.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or mention?
I would like to thank my parents Jim and Marybeth Duncan for being wonderful role models. Also, I would like to say hello to my amazing wife Jenna Duncan who is always my reason to try and be the best husband and father that I can be. Jenna is a dental hygienist and the mother of our two beautiful children, our four-year-old son, William, and two-year-old daughter, Lainie. Those three truly put a spring in my step and twinkle in my eye.

Cierra Grein   |   29
Owner of The Grein Team powered by Keller Williams Lake Ozark Realty

Background: Born and raised in the real estate industry and Lake Ozark local. Parents owned their owned real estate team for over 30 years. Her childhood was spent doing open houses and showing property with her parents, and working the front desk at an early age. At the age of 18 she received her real estate license, and in 2017 obtained her brokers license. Moved to Kansas City for college and worked at a large real estate team for four years. She took a sabbatical after college to travel and explore working as a deckhand on sailboats, catamarans, and yachts and lived in an ashram studying and practicing yoga. She returned to the Lake to pursue her dreams of having a mega real estate team, and now works with her Mom, Tonia.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
Having a positive mindset and not being afraid of failure. Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling and all careers, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward.
Time is the most precious commodity, so I have learned to be present in all my conversations and actions. If you are present and fully engaged you can give whatever you are doing your 100 percent.
I am always trying to come from contribution in my personal and business relationships. And being a constant learner so I can be an expert in my industry.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been time management. When you have so much going on and so many moving parts it’s hard to stay focused. I have learned it’s more powerful to say “no” to things instead of “yes” all the time. You can’t give your 100 percent when you have made too many commitments. Leaning how to protect my time and not let my schedule run me.

Biggest accomplishment?
Going independent and starting my own real estate team. It made me learn every detail of being an entrepreneur and business owner. It challenged me to build a strong foundation and implement systems and models that will set myself and other team members up for success.

What is the secret to your success?
Being true to myself and living a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are our vessels and we must take care of them and do regular maintenance to make sure that vessel can take you to reach your highest goals.

Future goals?
Having a nationally-ranked real estate company. Purchasing real estate investment properties all around the world. Being a motivational and public speaker to the public about real estate, and health and wellness. Make a positive difference in the world.

Advice for other young professionals?
You, as a human being, have an inherit meaning. You are a meaningful being and have an obligation to yourself and others to be true to yourself and be the best version of yourself. Be a good human!

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
My passion is scuba diving. Certified at the age 10 and with over 150 dives logged I am currently a Rescue Diver and working my way to be an instructor. This is my retirement plan.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention? 
Huge shout out and recognition to my parents Mike and Tonia Grein. I grew up watching them work so hard, always working long hours. They showed me what true GRIT is. I am so thankful for the lifestyle they exposed me too and it just gives me more drive to achieve the great heights of success. They told me everyday that I can be whoever I wanna be and they will love and support me all the way. I can’t wait to continue to make them proud.  

Kalise Lischwe   |   30
Owner of Kali’a Maluhia SUP Yoga, group fitness instructor at SQeZ Juice and Health

Background: My love for yoga and the water inspired me to combine the two and open a paddleboard yoga business to share my passion with others.
Completed teacher training in April 2017 at the SUP Yoga Center in Saint Augustine, Fla. and in November 2017 studied at Voler Aerial Arts in Kansas City Mo. to receive an Aerial Teacher Training certificate.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
I have an ability to take people out of their traditional fitness comfort zone and challenge them to learn what their bodies are capable of. A friend of mine has called me a “balcony person.” She said “sometimes you will meet people in the basement of your life trying to bring you down. Other times you meet people in the balcony of your life cheering you on and raising you up even higher, trying to bring out the best in everyone around them.” I would like to think that is a true description of who I am, not only with my friends but also in my business as an instructor trying to bring out the best in my students. It has always been my motto that fitness is a journey not a competition, and I will be here on the balcony for each of my students cheering them on.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
When I started my business I didn’t want to think like a small business. I wanted to make things happen and deliver an experience. I call it finding bliss on the water. Flying through the air in a bungee fitness class or in the aerial cocoon. My mentality at first didn’t match my teaching confidence. I knew the material but finding my voice as a teacher takes time, practice and finding a flow that sets you apart from other instructors can be a difficult journey. I practiced, practiced, practiced by taking videos of me teaching fake classes and running through them. Several friends let me practice with them on the water and at SQeZ Juice and Health. I started showing up in class as a yoga human not a robot. I realized my authentic style won’t be for everyone and that’s okay. I attract the students who are meant to be there!

Biggest accomplishment?
My proudest moments have been continued growth throughout the years. The first year I started with six yoga paddleboards and had a successful season. I added three more the second season. At SQeZ Juice I’ve opened the first aerial hammock yoga classes and bungee fitness classes at the Lake. I’ve enjoy seeing the word getting out in the community and growing larger every year.

What is the secret to your success?
Embracing and knowing my value, openness to learning from my mistakes and keeping my mindset on where I want to be. What you think you become!

Future goals?
I’m currently working on adding a paddleboard yoga weekend retreat, providing additional local workshops, and a few years down the road I want to add Acro Teacher Training to my education.

Advice for other young professionals?
You can manifest anything you put out into the universe. Have confidence, know your value, work hard and believe in what you are bringing to your community.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
My husband has been a solid rock for me, my parents, of course my children, my community, and friends! I am so lucky to have such a solid supportive foundation!

Nathan Reid   |   36
Insurance agent and owner of Reid & Associates, LLC - American Family Insurance

Background: Started with American Family in 2011 in Jefferson City as an agent in training mentoring. When Jerry Frank retired in 2012, American Family asked Nathan to come to Osage Beach and take over the agency at the Lake.  Associates degree from State Fair Community College; a bachelor's degree in sports management & business administration, and a MEd in athletic administration, both from William Woods University.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
A strong work ethic, leadership to guide our team of agents, care and compassion that our clients are covered properly, and a competitive spirit to give it our best effort every day.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
A healthy work/life balance is always a challenge. I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife, a four-year old, twin two-year olds, and another one on the way, so making sure I’m there for my family is a main priority. To achieve this balance, we have replaced receptionist positions with full-service licensed agents, so our clients are always taken care of, even when I’m with family, in a business meeting, or working remotely outside of the office.

Biggest accomplishment?
Earning the 1000 App Club Award because it embodies everything that we have been working towards. When we started in 2012 we helped 300+ new clients per year. We are now helping 1,000+ new clients each year, plus helping 4,000 existing clients with all of their insurance needs. It makes me so proud of our team. It takes a team of business professionals working together to help so many people.

What is the secret to your success?
A strong team and treating each client like they’re your only client. I’m constantly looking at ways to improve our business and help our clients. One example of this was in 2018 when we opened up a second office location so that we would be closer and more convenient for our clients, giving them an office in Lake Ozark and one in Osage Beach.

Future goals?
Our immediate goals are to continue helping as many people in the community as possible. We will be assisting more business owners with their business insurance, as there are a lot that we’ve found that are uninsured or underinsured currently who need our help. We will also be helping more families realize the importance, necessity, and benefits of life insurance. Then, we may need to hire additional agents so that as our client base grows, we can continue providing an excellent customer experience. As we grow, we may need to look at the possibility of a third office location so that we can even better serve the entire Lake community.

Advice for other young professionals?
Write down your goals and what you want to achieve in five years, and how you can get there. Don’t burn any bridges. Whether it’s a relationship where you are a customer or in a job situation, be gracious for the opportunity and know that it’s just part of the journey. People change, situations change, jobs change, companies change, locations change. That person you may not agree with today may be your biggest customer years later.

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
My Dad has been an American Family Insurance Agent for 35+ years, and I enjoy playing sports! In High School I was 2x All State in baseball and All District in soccer, and received collegiate scholarships for baseball & soccer.  After high school I turned to softball & volleyball. Co-Ed Volleyball is my main passion now, and we travel around the state and play in tournaments. I run the Lake of the Ozarks Volleyballers Facebook Group where we try to share any upcoming volleyball leagues or tournaments with the community.  Our team took the bronze medal at the Show Me State Games in Volleyball recently and individually, I also got the bronze medal for miniature golf at the Show Me State Games.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
I have a loving and supportive wife Bethany who is a sign language interpreter, 3 year old son Easton who loves baseball, 18 month old son Emerson, & his twin sister 18 month old Alaythia.  Baby Reid #4 will be here in July!

Rob Shields   |   31
Owner of NautiFish Rum Bar and Missouri Grown ReLeaF

Background: Started NautiFish six years ago when he came to the Lake area with his parents to start a business with them and be closer to his grandmother. Since that time, he has purchased the restaurant from them, so they could retire. He has a bachelor’s in business and marketing from Wall College of Business from Coastal Carolina University. He partnered with the Lake of the Ozarks Idiot’s Club, a non-profit that supports youth in the Lake area and hosted events for the organization.
He opened Missouri Grown ReLeaF in 2019, and is striving to become the largest vertically-integrated medical/recreational marijuana company in Missouri. Their goal is to help people in need, decrease opioid abuse and educate the community on the health benefits of cannabis.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
First and foremost, I am a people person. I really enjoy the interaction and friendships. I understand that in the hospitality industry, it is what separates my business from the rest. I promote listening, interacting, and becoming friends with customers and staff.
I always have my eyes and ears open for ways I can help to grow the community. I recognize the value of job creation for the area and take personal responsibility to mentor disadvantaged youth. We employ 30-40 people during the season, and I take pride in training and developing employees, not only to work in the restaurant, but to provide life skills. I also feel that setting an example by traveling and exploring encourages continued education at every opportunity.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Keeping up with the ever-evolving restaurant and entertainment industry at the Lake. We maintained our status and cliental by continuing to learn better practices, improve our facility and stay true to our values.

Biggest accomplishment?
Some of my proudest moments have been seeing my staff grow from high school kids in Camdenton, to young adults in college. Getting to be there through the process is very rewarding. And getting though our last reality TV show. We were a part of two shows produced by major networks. One was based on the kitchen and cooking aspect of the restaurant, and the other is based on life at Lake of the Ozarks. Those were big projects.

What is the secret to your success?
Staying true to our values, friends, family and the best customers at the Lake. To be honest, I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of my family and customers who I now call best friends and family.

Future goals?
Keep improving NautiFish and learning better practices.

Advice for other young professionals?
Network, network, network.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention? 
My family Bob, Mary, and Caitlin Shields; my brother, Aaron Buff Norman; our customers/friends that are now family; Roger and Diane Baldwin; Margie and Tim Poe; Jeremy and Lisa Cain; Dave and Debbie; Mike and Jeni Nelson; Steve karrasch; Jodi Coffman; Al and Laurie; Ethan and Angela; The Poly Lift Family; Thomas Hughes and Michaella; Matt Sutcliff – Bare Bottom Resort; Dave and Melissa Klutz; Dennis and Michelle Hock; Eric Miller - Miller Law Firm; Danny Mitchell – FabriTech; Econo Lift
and Bruce Boyer.


Erik Svoboda   |   39
Principal and owner of Rock Island Insurance and owner of ReeceNichols Lake of the Ozarks.

Backround: Grew up and graduated high school in Nebraska. Joined the military and was in the service for seven years. Moved to the Lake of the Ozarks and worked at Village Marina and MarineMax as a boat salesman. Became a licensed insurance agent and has been in the business for 11 years. Opened Rock Island Insurance in 2016. In 2018, he acquired ReeceNichols which is managed by his father, Frank.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
I’m very sociable, very likable, very promised and upfront and I get along with everybody. I haven’t met a stranger. I’m straightforward and honest. I find it very difficult, and I don’t see the point, in lying. It’s way harder than being upfront.
I also work hard. Growing up in a small town and on a farm I believe had a large impact on my life. The farm and military background helped establish my work ethic.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Starting new. It’s a big challenge — just working hard and knowing that I’m going to make it … have to make it. And continuing to know every day I’m going to make things happen.
When I was offered the opportunity to purchase ReeceNichols, I really didn’t know much about real estate. There’s been a lot of learning but I really enjoy that. We’ve been able to keep all of our realtors and have implemented a lot.

Biggest accomplishment?
Outside of my family and children, having my own business is exciting and very rewarding.

What is the secret to your success?
It might be cliché but hard work. Treating people like they want to be treated. Knowing that not everything is not going to go your way and that is okay too. It comes back to being honest and upfront with people. Even if it’s something you know they don’t want to hear.

Future goals?
Our goals are to create the best possible work environment where people are excited to be, and clients are overwhelmed with customer service at both Rock Island Insurance and ReeceNichols.

Advice for other young professionals?
Do it. Go for it. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I wish I would have done it sooner. Find your niche. Find what you like and what you are passionate about. I know it’s crazy, but I like insurance. Almost every day is different and I learn something new.

Mike Swift   |   34
Licensed realtor, co-founder and creator of the Get Down Guide Magazine, co-founder of Sky Vibes Drone Video & Photography

Background: Grew up in Eureka, Mo. and played football at Westminster College in Fulton on academic and athletic scholarships. Moved to the Lake and became general manager of the new Horny Toad Entertainment Complex, then the GM at Shady Gators opening one of the first pool bars in the Lake area, Lazy Gators. Hired to coordinate and promote events and parties at Franky & Louie’s, Tucker’s Shuckers and Paradise. Received real estate license in 2015.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
The time I spent promoting events, parties, bars and creating the Get Down Guide I wouldn't trade for anything. The knowledge, patience, and support from great people I met along the way have had a huge impact on my success.
I've learned through all of this that I hate losing, and will do everything in my power to learn from my mistakes and overcome them. Clara Decker has been with me every step of the way, from opening and running Lazy Gators to entering one of the most cut-throat businesses to be in at the Lake. We have taken the blueprint we learned from our experience in the bar business and applied it to real estate. We try our very best to be "extra" in everything we do. Our goal is to use our extensive knowledge in video, photography and use social media to promote a property. In three short years, we have grown the largest social media following on both Facebook and Instagram out of any other team at the Lake and use that to showcase and market all of our listings.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?  
Knowing a lot of fun people is a blessing and a curse. There is never a shortage of amazing people asking you to hang out or do something extraordinary, especially during the summer. It's so important to have fun, but the hardest part is knowing how to walk that fine line between productivity and a good time.

Biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment was taking the idea of the Get Down Guide from scribbles on a bar napkin at 3 a.m. and turning it into a 120-page publication that promotes over 40 bars, restaurants and events at the Lake of the Ozarks. It has become the number one party publication at the Lake with over 10,000 copies printed every year. Growing up in St. Louis County, the Lake was always such a magical place to me, so it's been amazing to be able to have an impact on it.

What is the secret to your success?
Clara Decker! It's been great transitioning from the restaurant and bar business into real estate with her. It’s so important to have someone on your side that pushes you to be the best version of yourself.  I'm pretty excited about our future in real estate at the Lake. 

Future goals?
To be the number one real estate team at Lake of the Ozarks.

Advice for other young professionals?
Take risks even if you fail. Failure is a part of the process. Know that no matter how great the idea is execution is everything. Spend zero percent of your time on things that don't matter. And no matter what you do, put in the work. Work smart and be patient.  

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
I'm an Ordained Minister and have married four couples (who are all still together). I am also much faster than Brant Morrison.

Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
My Mom, Mary Swift is going to LOVE this!


Jaimie Wheat   |   37
Director of Medical/Surgical Services at Lake Regional Health System

Background: Started with Lake Regional in 2004 as a receptionist at the Camdenton Medical Center. Offered a chance to cross train as a medical assistant with providers, knowing that a nursing career was the end goal. Started a second job at a local nursing home to obtain C.N.A certification. Graduated from nursing school in 2009 and started off as a graduate nurse on the medical/surgical observation unit. Transferred to the emergency department and completed a BSN. Took a supervisor role and accepted the medical/surgical nurse manager position before being promoted as Director of Medical/Surgical Services. Education includes an associate’s degree in nursing from Columbia College, bachelor’s in nursing from Central Methodist University, and master’s in nursing leadership and administration from Walden University.

What skills/characteristics do you have that have allowed you to succeed?
Communication, transparency, integrity and accountability. All are very important when working in healthcare.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Life in general. Raising two kids, working full time, and going to school was a challenge in itself. I had a good support system including family and friends. I would not have made it without their support.

Biggest accomplishment?
Completing my master’s in nursing, becoming a successful manger and then being promoted to a director all within the last three years.

What is the secret to your success?
Determination and always having an open mind.

Future goals?
Professionally, this past year I have met all my short term and long term goals. It is a new year and time to start over and see where the future takes me.

Advice for other young professionals?
Failure only makes you stronger. Get back up and keep fighting for your goals. Take as many opportunities as you can. It may open up a door that you didn’t realize was there. Set realistic short and long-term goals.

What else should we know about you?
My husband Jason and two children, Haley and Logan, have been my rock and support system more than they realize. Raising two kids who are very active and keeping us busy, we had to divide and conquer. Which usually meant I was sitting at the ball park with my computer working on submitting last-minute assignments or papers. Keeping the work, school and life balance is important, even if your family is the reason why you are continuing on, those special moments cannot be re-lived.

Hidden talent or little known fact about yourself?
I love to plan and organize events, fundraisers, and/or family/friends gatherings. I think I could be an event planner in another life if nursing didn’t work out for me.
I also love to work on DIY projects, even if they turn out to be a Pinterest failure.
 


Do you have any family you’d like to mention?
My husband Jason and our 2 children Haley and Logan. They have been my rock and support system more than they realize. Raising two kids who are very active and keeping us busy, we had to divide and conquer. Which usually meant I was sitting at the ball park with my computer working on submitting last minute assignments or papers. Keeping the work, school, and life balance is important, even if your family is your reason why you are continuing on, those special moments cannot be re-lived.

* Pick up a copy of the March/April issue of Lake Lifestyles magazine for this features, and more. For more information, call 573-346-2132.