Employer: I’m the owner/president of Holm Court Reporting & Video
Education:North Side High School, Fort Wayne; Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies, concentration in business and communications, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne
Community organizations: The Brandon Foundation, which is an after-school mentoring/tutoring program. The Brandon Foundation is a non-profit organization that prizes ethical behavior and integrity while providing educational empowerment with Christian spiritual foundations.
Hobbies: Attempting to lower my handicap in golf, football instructing, cooking, recreational ice hockey and fishing
Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne. Honestly, I always thought I would end up living my adult life outside of northeast Indiana after I was done playing football. However, I fully committed to being here long-term after making the decision to start Smith Academy for Excellence with my dad and brother. I then met my wife not too long after that (who also is from here). Both of us feel called to serve this community together in hopes of being a part of the holistic development in the community of Fort Wayne.
What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I’ve had the unique privilege of getting to work with my family both at Smith Academy and Holm Reporting. As an educator, it’s exciting to watch a young person with an array of specific academic and social needs realize what they are capable of when given the right tools. Serving with my family at Smith Academy has produced some of the best memories of my life! As a court reporter, I’ve gotten to work with truly some of the best attorneys in the Midwest, which I believe is a testament of our continual growth as a city here in Fort Wayne. Like many, I’ve always been fascinated with the justice system. Each case brings something new!
What does success mean to you? I believe success is defined by measuring the equation of an individual’s personal ability, capacity and ceiling as it relates to achieving goals. Most of us know what we’re able and capable of doing. Some folks aim even higher because they want to be great! For me, I believe “success” lands somewhere in the mix of attaining those lofty goals and accomplishing what I know I have the ability of reaching.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I’ve always wanted to do something in business and own a company. I recall simply wanting to be the best at whatever I chose to do. My family would all tell you that I’ve been an entrepreneur, however, since about the age of 8. I also wanted to be like my dad as an educator and coach. I was very ambitious!
Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? J & N Lawn Services. I learned some great lifelong skills and lessons for a couple of summers working under a great man who was willing to show me firsthand how to successfully run a small business.
Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I would honestly say that each one of my family members have been my biggest supporters in their own way. I couldn’t just pick one. My wife, Caty, pushes and supports me in going after all my goals/projects. My dad and brother were crazy enough to do something that hadn’t been done before with me and believe in our vision. My mom was literally my first, formal teacher. She has always believed in me when I would question myself. My sister, Angela Dixon, has literally run alongside me and been in my corner for all my crazy ideas that have now come to fruition. Each of the above mentioned are my heroes!
What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Without question, my biggest accomplishment to date has been starting Smith Academy for Excellence with the two men I’ve always studied and strived to model my life after: My dad, Thomas Smith, and my brother, Corey Smith (40 Under 40 Class of 2017).
What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Years ago, I trusted co-workers with business information that I should not have. I had what I thought were good business and personal relationships with them. I was wrong. Lesson learned: Sometimes, you need to get in there and make things happen yourself and keep your cards close to your chest.
What are your current professional goals? I’m going to say, “refer to the last sentence in the previous question.” But I will say this as well: It has always been a goal of mine to help as many young people as possible find their path and become the best citizens they can be to shape our world for the better.
How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I do my best to prove to our clients that we are staying ahead of the latest technology trends within the legal world as it relates to court reporting. My goal is to make every one of our clients more efficient while limiting the amount of time they’re waiting on what they need from us. I am always reading up on relevant information in our industry.
How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Again, I am very fortunate — I’m able to do it all at the same time! We do set aside special time, however, for just family while limiting discussion on the other things.
What do you do to relax? What I call a soak & smoke: Enjoying a nice cigar while sitting in the hot tub and listening to classic jazz and/or neo soul. I’ve also recently taken up puzzling from time to time with my wife.
What book do you recommend? “The Power of Focus” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always had my heart set on a variety of goals, ideas, ventures, aspirations, etc. all at the same time. I believe I was 23 when I first read this book. The concepts/principles described in this book are now great habits I’ve developed and utilize to this day.
Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? I would encourage that young man to act on the financial goals he has for himself much sooner, while still in high school. Read more books on investments and do whatever it takes to become fluent in a second language.