WATERLOO — In July 2018, Eric Johnson, law partner at Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, P.C., was elected to lead the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber board of directors.
Johnson will chair the regional economic and community development organization through its 2019 fiscal year.
What drives you?
First, I’ve always found satisfaction in accomplishing tasks. I don’t know the origin of that, but I wake up every morning and feel like my cup is empty and feel a need to fill it. Whether you call that a strong work ethic or a need for therapy, might depend on the person or situation.
Second, I have a desire to help others. I would credit that to both my upbringing from my parents as well as my Christian faith.
Third, I am competitive. By nature, I like to succeed. I’ve noticed as I have aged, that competition is not as much with others, but has evolved into simply trying to be the best version of myself.
With those factors, I find my focus gravitates toward: (A) work in trying to help clients solve their problems or prevent future problems; and (B), helping my community. I am grateful for what I have and what I feel my community has given me over the years.
What was your biggest accomplishment in 2018?
Professionally my role as an attorney is to be an adviser and hopefully to be a key member of my client’s team. I had the opportunity in 2018 to work with many clients in accomplishing their goals, some bigger projects, some projects not as big from a dollar or notoriety standpoint but all important to the clients involved. While I don’t take credit for those successes, I hope to take credit for being an integral part of my clients’ team.
Community-wise, I think my role with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance currently and this past year as chair has been rewarding. We have taken this time of change to do some introspection, try to refocus and then execute on that new plan. We are trying to take what is a good idea, and organization and make it better. I am fortunate to have a good board and great staff to work with on those.
What are your goals for 2019?
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My goals for 2019 are really the same as for 2018. Continuing to assist clients in successfully completing their projects and also helping to better my community.
From a personal standpoint, my goal is to continue to find that illusive balance in my life between business and home, work and play, etc.
What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business/education?
I think we have a great framework in the Cedar Valley on which to build. Of course, in my mind, the bedrock for that is John Deere and UNI. We are fortunate to have both of them as anchors in our community. There are many others that also serve to make our community great. In education, Hawkeye Community College, Wartburg College, Allen College and all of our K-12 school systems throughout the Cedar Valley. In business, we have great businesses like Bertch Cabinets, Viking Pump, and the list could go on forever.
However ultimately, I think that you need to look at the people of the Cedar Valley as its greatest resource. I moved to the community in 1991 with my wife Lori, and we didn’t know anybody. We have found the people here to be welcoming, diverse and resilient. They truly are the lifeblood of the Cedar Valley.
What lessons you’ve learned in your career journey?
I have learned a fair number of lessons because I have made a fair number of mistakes along the way. Two that stick out to me are the following:
1. Surround yourself with good people. Certainly, that applies in the professional and work situation. I have been blessed to have great co-workers. However, I have seen in more than one situation the results when people don’t surround themselves with strong co-workers. It’s also applicable in your personal life. Just like your mom told you, “Be careful who you choose for your friends.” That advice is timeless.
2. Deal with your problems head on. My professional life centers around problems, helping clients avoid them or helping them resolve them once they have occurred. Problems are universal, we all have them. However, ignoring them never, or very rarely at least, works. It’s best to simply deal with them immediately the best you can, and then keep moving forward — something which I have to remind myself of on a daily basis also.
Like all advice, easy to give, hard to live.