20 Under 40
VP of Business Development, Veterans United Home Loans
My goal is to identify and take action in ways that make our community, our company and our business partners more veteran-friendly. With our business partners, this has meant making sure that they too are helping veterans and military spouses use their VA Loan benefits.
Years lived in Columbia:
Bachelor of Journalism, University of Missouri, and MBA, University of Missouri.
When I graduated from Mizzou, the first time around, I went to work for a national advertising firm called Moroch, which worked with McDonald’s restaurants on their regional advertising — everyone in marketing should work for an agency and have clients, because you learn so much. Then I went back to Mizzou to get my MBA, and followed that up in public service, working for State Treasurer Clint Zweifel on communications and policy. In the office, I had a chance to work a lot on housing policy, so when I moved over to Veterans United Home Loans, it was a perfect fit. Today, I work on business development efforts for the company and get to be with hundreds of great people who just want to help veterans find a place to call home.
That’s easy, my dad. It’s a cliché, but somehow he continues to get smarter with age.
What don’t people know about your job?
People don’t always know that trust is such an important part of a business relationship. When you are working with a business partner, it has to be about more than money. The money is important, but if you are working with someone you trust, someone who tells the truth and someone who wants each organization to get a win, you will have a good partnership.
What is the best thing about your job?
Working with 1,800 people, 1,400 of them in Columbia, who come to work thinking about how their job will help a veteran or military family find a home.
A favorite recent project?
We partnered with realtor.com to create a veterans guide to homeownership that lives on realtor.com. This is an educational resource for veterans and military spouses looking to purchase a home. Veterans United has always been focused on educating the military about home buying, and realtor.com is a leader in helping people find the place they want to call home. It is a natural fit for our two brands to work so closely together. It will help hundreds of thousands of veterans buy a home.
What was your New Year’s resolution in 2015? Did you accomplish it?
This is a daily resolution, and will remain the same for the rest of my life — be a better dad. I think I am getting better at that, but there are days where you think you aren’t that great at parenting. That certainly is not fair to my boys — but then again they wouldn’t learn much if I were perfect. It’s safe to say they’re learning a lot! Having a four-year-old and a two-year-old is just the best, and they are so loving that I cannot wait to hang out with them.
What are your specific professional goals for 2016?
Identify and build new partnerships where Veterans United can talk with more veterans about how we can help them buy a home. The challenge is choosing who we partner with and how deeply, because you want to make sure the companies you work with reflect well on your brand. And, with all the creativity at the company and the commitment to resources, I feel great about succeeding.
What about your day do you look forward to most?
Working with coworkers to meet goals. It is so much more rewarding to accomplish something when you can celebrate with others, and it really doesn’t matter what it is. We’ve had a good day when we move a project forward together, or when someone else has a big victory and we can celebrate together.
What motivates you?
Improvement. It took me a while to realize that it’s OK to not be as good today at something as you will be tomorrow or five years from now. I used to think you were as good as you would ever be right now and that was what people expected from you. When I realized that was way off, my motivation became more about improvement. It’s amazing to think that used to seem like such a negative.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I always wanted to do commercial real estate development. When I was dating my wife, I told her I wanted to build an apartment building and name it after her — The Nicole. Maybe I was just trying to impress her. Maybe one day I will do that, but I am very excited by what I do now.
I have a great chance to work with our company’s private-charitable foundation quite a bit. Veterans United Foundation has given me the chance to work with Welcome Home Inc. and the Columbia Housing Authority on the new veterans campus. It is a tremendous undertaking that I believe is an essential piece to ending veterans’ homelessness in Columbia. Previously, I was also secretary of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. We have such a rich history here, and I had the chance to work with several citizens committed to figuring out how best to preserve it. Serving on a board or commission at the city, county or state level is great way to get more involved and understand how we, as communities, come together to have discussions, make decisions, and act.
Accomplishment you’re most proud of?
I will share one that is personal instead of professional. When I went back to get my MBA, I met this woman on the first day of orientation and thought she was funny, smart, thoughtful and attractive. She continued to reintroduce herself to me for two weeks before I finally said I was growing tired of having the same introductory conversation. I ended up marrying Nicole, and to this day, she swears the first conversation we ever had was the one where I asked her to stop introducing herself to me. But I have a picture to prove we met earlier. We’ve been married seven years now. I am very lucky.
What do you do for fun?
Over the past few years, I have focused on making my sons into Kansas City Royals fans. It was good timing. William is 4 and Benjamin is 2, and they love going to Kaufmann Stadium, getting a hot dog, peanuts and a lemonade, and hanging out. I am pretty lucky. Besides ball games we live right next to the library and Grant School, so we take advantage of each. I am quite adept at going down very narrow slides and climbing on jungle gyms at this point.
What is your guilty pleasure?
The past two years I have gone to four World Series games at Kaufmann Stadium. Never thought I would go to one, let alone four. I certainly spoiled myself.
Greatest lesson learned?
Take a long-term perspective to the relationships you have in life. You may work with or know someone today, and that person will fade out of your life for a bit. But one year, two years or 10 years later, you will be working with that person again. I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self that I would be working with some of the people I knew then.
Want more 2016 20 Under 40? Check out Chris Rosskopf’s Q&A.