Living well: What high performing leaders do to remain at the top of their game

Blake Hickman

Blake Hickman

Blake Hickman Construction
Marvel Enthusiast, eight-year business owner, political campaigner

What do you do to stay at the top of your game?

“I try to complete a lot of research. I read, watch relevant industry material, and try to bring new ideas to our area before anyone else is doing it.

“Recently we completed a metallic epoxy flooring for a client. I made a post on social media, and immediately started receiving inquiries for the same thing.

“I grew up having to buy my own shoes and clothes since I was 14 years old. At the time I hated my parents doing this because none of my friends had to do the same. Now, I thank them because it taught me the skills and grit needed to succeed in owning my business.

“We love helping people with what they love most. Their homes. We’ve seen excellent growth in our commercial work over the last year. We pride ourselves on being creative.

“I draw inspiration from the east and west coasts. If they are doing something, I try to be the first to do it in our area. The way I try to stay at the top of my game is by being real, raw, and genuine. Building people’s dreams and goals is like a giant spider web. To be a part of that is rewarding.”

Jake Fish

Jake Fish

Team Fish-Realty Executives
Marine veteran, world traveler, commercial Realtor, Dad

What does ‘if you can’t tone it, tan it” mean?

(Following laughter)

“My wife and I recently took a trip out of the country. During quarantine I may have put on a couple pounds. Knowing we would be in a beach location and likely taking pictures I asked her what we should do?

“Her response: ‘If you can’t tone it, tan it.’”

What are things you like to do to stay at the top of your game?

“I like to practice intermittent fasting. I create small windows of time daily where I can eat. It’s done wonders for my concentration and focus throughout the day. I enjoy working out and find if I don’t do this I am not as polished at handling situations that come up. I like to turn on the stair climber and zone out. Glutton for punishment? I don’t know. Sometimes lifting weights, boxing, or jumping in the pool, I feel I make better decisions after getting this energy out. I am better at helping my real estate and commercial clients when working out regularly. This translates to how I treat everyone — my wife, my family, etc.

“I also enjoy following other people who are high performers and modeling their daily routines and practices. My supplement regimen and diet has been a journey. I avoid sugar. I avoid almost all carbs. Lots of veggies. Lots of fruit. Lots of meat. I cook for my family almost every single evening. I cook all the meals in our home.

“Travel is important. I was born in St. Louis and moved to Cape when I was about 5 years old. I love Southeast Missouri. It is the best place to live in my book. That being said, travel is important. Learning and experiencing other cultures is vitally important.

“I am a commercial Realtor, and therefore undoubtedly situations will come up where my customers become stressed (referring to when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line). Staying at the top of my game is something I am intentional about in helping others in high stress situations. Time is limited so I make sure to protect it.”

Melissa Stickel

Melissa Stickel

180 Fitness + Community Partnership of Southeast Missouri
Ph.D.*, entrepreneur, coffee lover, “Boss Lady”

What do you do to stay at the top of your game and perform at a high level?

“I like to be tired (physically) at the end of the day. I can be guilty of not doing enough self-care. I am always trying to find my next project. I get a lot from DIY (Do It Yourself) projects at my home. I enjoy woodworking and working on stuff either at the gym, work or home.

“I don’t have many vices in life. I don’t watch a lot of TV or the news. Coffee and my mustang are probably my only vices in life. I like to drink coffee all day every day. Because I could be guilty of being called a workaholic I like to spend the time I do have outside of work doing what I love. It keeps me sharp.

“I like to read, enjoy a hot bath, or go cruising in my mustang. Riding around in my play car with the top down brings me joy. It says, 'Boss Lady' on the side of it.

“When I need to check out I will. In fact, this weekend I’ll likely be checking out and going to a cabin to finish my dissertation (Melissa is a few pages away from receiving her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration).

“What helps me stay at the top of my game is the joy I receive seeing other people succeed and grow. Especially if I had any part of it.”

Laura Ritter

Laura Ritter

Ritter Real Estate + Preferred Property Management
Lifetime learner, listen first, Mom, smile without ceasing

What advice would you share with people for staying at the top of their game?

“I believe you should not be afraid to change. Change brings about growth. Education is key. Anything I have ever read, every seminar, webinar, I have learned at least one thing to apply. Listen to others. I love working as a team to hear others suggestions and thoughts. We all have different backgrounds, ages, etc. So soak that in and learn. Don’t get comfortable! That can potentially stop you from maximizing yourself and your own achievements, goals and dreams.

“Spend time with like-minded individuals. Start your day with the right mindset. Some mornings while I am getting ready to leave my home, I have motivation programs playing in the background. Walk out that door ready to take on the world.

“My children are grown now, but I made them my first priority when they lived at home. I would like to think that played some part in who they are today and their growth.

“Have negativity around? Get away from it. Don’t let that stump your growth, your potential! Don’t be afraid of failure. It happens, learn from it. Lessons are made all throughout life. If you don’t practice being a lifetime learner, you aren’t going to grow and yearn for more. Get in the habit of putting responsibilities first. Get a notebook and write your goals in it. I started my journal on Jan. 1 with the title: “Day One or One Day.” Those were powerful words to me. Review your goals daily. Don’t change the goal, change what you need to get there on the date you set!

“Get involved in your church and community. Keep up with the latest trends so you do not get left behind. Don’t forget self-care, you may struggle with work/home balance, but you will get there especially when you become accustomed to taking care of responsibilities first.

“Learn to be a leader and also learn where to delegate. Do not worry about anyone else’s opinion of you. Often this is a form of jealousy. Keep moving right along. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. That took me a little while and now comes easier, but you must take that first step.”

Keri Vandeven

Keri Vandeven

Scooters Coffee
Family, Mom, coffee expert, intentional sleep

Can you share what helps you continue to perform at a high level?

“I always keep my family first. In life the order of importance for me is God, my husband, kids, then work. I have found if you do this, your life will be full. I try to make sure to take care of my body by walking in the mornings, drinking plenty of water during the day, and including veggies and fruits in what I eat.

“For personal development I listen to podcasts, read, and make time to dream. I have a strong faith and prayer life. Managing my business when things come up, I try not to react too fast. I don’t let stuff linger, but I don’t react too quickly when making decisions.

“Find the silver lining and consciously choose to see the positive. Be intentional about taking breaks (once a week Keri makes time to spend with her husband, Bart. Every quarter they take a trip to unplug for two to three days).

“I am intentional about sleep. Being well rested is vital for performance. Staying hydrated is important. I use time chunking to complete tasks. Having blocks of time where I focus on specific tasks allows me to accomplish more. I do not look at my phone during these times, and strictly focus that hour or amount of time needed on completing my tasks.

“My advice for others is look at where you want to go. I am proactive with my team, positive or negative. If we receive praise from a customer, I immediately share this with the worker who did a good job. The same goes for negative feedback. Communication is key and makes the whole team better.

“Performing at a high level requires enjoying where you are at. It is a choice. Choose to enjoy where you are currently at while working toward where you want to be. Learn as much as you can along the way.”