Be humble. Be kind. Be a good friend.

Lesson 4: Be humble. Be kind. Be a good friend.

This column is part of a 2024 series celebrating learnings from NST’s 50 years in business.

While humility as a quality of successful business leaders has received increased attention over the last several years — along with the concept of servant leadership — it was inherent in leaders from NST’s past long before it became fashionable.

In his unpublished novel, “Defeat Is a Natural Habit,” Dave Nuffer wrote, “resolved that all members do their inspired best to step down hard on arrogance and all the misery it creates.” Dave exemplified this, mindful to squash feelings of inflated self-importance, never separating himself too far from his simple desert roots, and doing all he could to uplift those around him.

Former NST CEO Kerry Tucker too embodies humility. I had the great honor of traveling side-by-side and coast-to-coast with Kerry for more than a decade. He is soft-spoken, reserved in what he says and when and how he says it, and incredibly thoughtful in numerous ways. “Because he’s my friend,” was rationale provided to me for why we were engaging in a variety of activities from flying across the state to go to a dinner event, sending a generous gift seemingly for no reason, doing a pro-bono project or investing well beyond what a client budget allowed. While these decisions didn’t net positive financially, few could argue Kerry’s ways didn’t build strong friendships and benefit those around him.

I’ll never forget how he empowered me by trusting me with big projects early on in my career. And how he lifted me up after I crashed and burned on a pivotal planning effort, or how he stood up for me when I needed support. I’ll also never forget how hard he fought for my inclusion with historically male-dominated groups reluctant to engage with a young female like myself, or how he developed and executed a plan to set me and the agency up for success over the long haul. He’s a friend I’m lucky to have and whose kindness influenced how I strive to engage with others professionally and beyond. Kerry’s network of friends runs deep and when they need support for their businesses, NST is often on speed dial. No doubt, his graciousness and concern for others benefited NST significantly, while enriching lives like my own.

While our work lives are just part of who we are, let’s face it, it’s often a big part. Our colleagues can be more than just co-workers or mentors we learn from to hone our craft, but also people we turn to during life’s ups and downs. In my more than two decades at NST, I’ve made some great friends here. Some of them started while I was an intern and continue to this day. Many of these friends have left NST, but the friendships continue. These friendships represent more than “work friends,” they are a much-needed community.

In his book “Is this All There Is,” Kerry wrote “there are periods in our (agency’s) history when confidence crossed the line of arrogance and humility danced in and out of our company culture.” The best times, no doubt, are when humility, kindness and friendship radiate.

Read about other lessons learned during our 50-year journey.