March 2017 On The Cover Special Section

Next Generation Leaders


Written By: ALYSSA RAMOS

The word millennial is a double-edged sword. This demographic has received an equal share of both acclaim and criticism. It’s a generation that has yet to be fully understood, but there are those who showcase the best aspects of what it means to be a millennial. In this issue, Business has highlighted young professionals in the Gainesville community who transcend any label. These individuals exemplify this generation’s propensity for activism and learning. Through their endeavors, they seize opportunities with the creativity, ingenuity and drive needed to enrich our community.

WADE SWIKLE is the president of 2 College Brothers Moving and Storage. He founded 2 College Brother’s parent company, Smarter Moving Solutions LLC, in 2012 while pursuing his Master’s in entrepreneurship at the University of Florida. Aside from his daily involvement in the company, Swikle runs a ‘passion project’ focusing on personal and business development called Attain Anything. Wade and his company actively support Tyler’s Hope, the United Way of North Central Florida, Stop Children’s Cancer and Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, among others. Swikle is a Chamber of Commerce diplomat, member of the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors, Builder’s Association of North Central Florida, the North Central Florida Apartment Association and a part of a local BNI chapter.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Success is achieving the goals that align with your personal values and having the financial capability to live life on your own terms.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LABEL “MILLENNIAL”? DOES IT DESCRIBE YOU? IF SO, HOW? IF NOT, WHY NOT? WHAT DO YOU LIKE/ NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
To me, it is nothing but a buzzword given to generalize a group of people in my generation, often characterizing them as lazy, entitled and unprofessional. I can tell you that though these people exist, they exist in every generation, and it is unfair to consider an entire generation, race or demographic as people in any particular way. There will always be those who challenge the status quo and rise above their peers. It is important for older generations not to find a scapegoat in the state of the world’s affairs, but to take responsibility for creating their own circumstances, and then work to find a way to improve them. If I were to give myself a label, it would be hungry.

XAVIER RICHARDSON has been an academic advisor at the University of Florida Innovation Academy for two years. Graduating from UF, Richardson received a Bachelors of Arts in English and music performance. He is currently working on his master’s in entrepreneurship at UF’s Innovation Academy. Richardson is a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and Startup Grind, but he also involves himself in various volunteer organizations such as the UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability, Veteran Entrepreneurs Program, Gator Consulting for Entrepreneurs and Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
To me, success is waking up determined and going to bed satisfied. It’s knowing that with each new day, I have a brand new opportunity to create and add value. My motto is to always be adding value. I seek to be confident at the end of the day that I’ve done just that.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LABEL “MILLENNIAL”? DOES IT DESCRIBE YOU? IF SO, HOW? IF NOT, WHY NOT? WHAT DO YOU LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
While I’m not a big fan of labels as they can be confining, “millennial” is a term I embrace. We are bold entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, non-conforming change agents who have one aim – to make the world a better place. This is me in a nutshell. I believe fifty years from now we will look back and say that millennials contributed to the creation of some of the world’s most transformative services and technologies, and I will be proud to have been a part of creating tomorrow, today.

BRITTANY FERGUSON takes on the role as director of Customer Happiness at Fracture, a Gainesville photo décor company. In 2006, Ferguson graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism from the University of Florida. In 2016 she was a part of the winning team for Empowering Women in Technology Start-Ups (ewits®). In addition, she’s been part of several professional organizations such as the Alachua County Emerging Leaders (ACEL). Currently, she is a member of Support Driven: a community for Customer Support Professionals.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
I define success as a process. I can’t accept that anything is ever 100 percent complete to be put completely out of sight and out of mind. My teammates are always hearing me ask, ‘how can we improve the current process, and how can we make it better and more efficient?’ I always enjoy the challenge of improving and learning from experiences.

WHAT IS THE BEST AND WORST DECISION YOU HAVE EVER MADE?
The best decisions I can make are the instances where I take a chance, challenge myself and push my limits. I’m never disappointed in the long run, even at my failures. Taking risks and jumping at opportunities provides us with a very powerful insight to ourselves that we may not have known to exist within us. That being said, I would consider that the worst decisions I have made were not taking advantage of opportunities due to having doubts in myself and my abilities. It’s very easy for our minds to shift into this kind of uncertainty, and it’s something I am always trying to keep in perspective.

MIKE GARRETT is the director of Sales and Marketing for Gainesville-based Solar Impact, the 2nd Vice President of the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association and the Founder and Event Coordinator of Tree Fest. He also served locally on the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce Business Advisory Council, the Gainesville Energy Advisory Committee, the Wild Spaces & Public Places Citizen Advisory Committee, the Gainesville- Alachua County Cultural Affairs Board and is a graduate of Leadership Gainesville Class No. 38.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
I am still figuring that out, but I suppose it’s at least when what you do and what you say you’ll do are in harmony.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LABEL “MILLENNIAL”? DOES IT DESCRIBE YOU? IF SO, HOW? IF NOT, WHY NOT? WHAT DO YOU LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
It describes me in that it represents a generation that is coming to adulthood in one of the most politically, economically, environmentally and culturally turbulent times in history. Some millennials grew up using chalkboards and typewriters and through the rise of the internet, others grew up with smart boards, laptops and an internet so pervasive that your fridge now has Wi-Fi. And I think there are some differences between those two groups, that calling them millennials fails to capture.

NADIA ALCIDE is the founder and president of Simply Sociable, a boutique administrative consulting firm established in 2014. She is a double graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism and a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship. In her spare time, Nadia volunteers for the Special Olympics of Florida and enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
I wouldn’t define success in terms of money, but I define success in terms of happiness and in terms of enjoying what you’re doing. So, you enjoy what you’re doing, and you’re also making a positive impact. Yes, we need money to live, however, that shouldn’t be your main goal when you’re trying to reach for success.

WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
It sounds cliché, but my mother inspires me. I say that because I come from a family of entrepreneurs and my mom is an entrepreneur as well, and she has always come up against the “big boys,” if you will. She has always held her own and has showed me to hold my own. And to read and look into matters, and not believe whatever somebody’s telling me. That’s really helped me go far, because I just don’t take somebody’s word for it all the time.

KELLEY ADAMEC graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations in 2013. Working in the UF Health Office of Development since 2013, Adamec started out as development coordinator fundraising for its pediatric programs, moved to the Children’s Miracle Network team in 2014 and was then promoted to Senior Development Associate of Annual Giving. Adamec manages the UF Health grateful patient direct marketing program and multichannel special fundraising campaigns. In addition, she works as a consultant for the UF Health Cancer Center and UF Health Jacksonville on strategic annual giving initiatives. She’s also involved with her local church, Greenhouse Church.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
When I think of success for myself, I think of a drop of water that causes a ripple in the water around it. Success for me would not only be doing something that affects me in a positive way, but also my sphere of influence and the entire community around me. How can I leave this place better than I found it?

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LABEL “MILLENNIAL”? DOES IT DESCRIBE YOU? IF SO, HOW? IF NOT, WHY NOT? WHAT DO YOU LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
I won’t deny that I love a good selfie, but I truly feel like my generation is so much greater than the negative connotations that come along with the label of an entitled “millennial.” I am proud and embrace being a millennial! When I hear that label, I think of my peers who are innovative, connected, adventurous, educated, aware and quick to adapt and learn. I see a generation that cares about social justice and has a chance to exert their influence and use technology and social media as a huge platform to have its voice heard and drive positive change in the world.

AMIR RUBIN is the co-founder and CEO of the 3D mapping software company Paracosm. In 2003, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida. He returned to Gainesville, where in 2013, he founded his tech start-up. Rubin is also a member of the Gainesville Tech Council and works as the assistant coach of the UF fencing club in his spare time.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Being fortunate enough to have time and resources to do what you love, and I don’t just mean work-related. Whether your passion is your work, your hobby, spending time with your family or a balance of all the above, being able to focus on what is important and meaningful to you is success in my book.

WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
People who relentlessly pursue excellence in whatever they do. Scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, educators. The internet has brought the ability to learn and share from peers and experts around the globe and as a result we are entering a golden age of creativity. I’m excited to be along for the ride!

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