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Austin Garrett, 28
Commercial Lines Insurance Specialist, Nixon & Lindstrom
After high school, Austin Garrett found himself at a crossroads. He’d had a job since he was 12, and college wasn’t an option. So, he joined the Army. After re-enlisting he was assigned to the Army Evaluation Task Force, where he tested state-of-the-art weapons technology, parachuted with the Golden Knights and tested early versions of drones.
After his second round of service, Austin decided to take advantage of the VA’s offer to pay for college. After a semester in flight school (“They said they weren’t going to pay for all of that,” he says) Austin enrolled at Missouri State University to study economics.
During college, Nixon & Lindstrom CEO Trevor Crist spoke to Austin’s business fraternity, which led to an internship with the insurance firm. As part of his job, Austin meets with business executives to tour commercial facilities. “It’s kind of neat to see all those businesses that have been there since I was a kid, and get to meet with the CEOs,” Austin says.
An entrepreneur at heart, Austin hopes to invest in a business of his own by the time he’s 30. He is also in training to be a Wish Granter for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and is active in Rotaract, the Network and the Business Power Network chapter of BNI. Austin has two kids, Paxton, 3, and Pearl (called “Sissy”), 1.
Job title and where you work: Commercial Lines Insurance Specialist at Nixon and Lindstrom Insurance
Education: I graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Economics, with a minor in Risk Management and Insurance; and another minor in general business.
City or town where you live: Springfield
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
There were actually two events that led me to my current position. I had just finished up a class in risk management that I needed for my business minor at the time, and I decided I really enjoyed learning about insurance and picked up an additional minor in Risk Management. Then our current CEO, Trevor Crist, had come to speak with a professional business fraternity I was in (Alpha Kappa Psi) as a professional speaker. He talked about how he had gotten into the industry and where it had taken him in his career. It really interested me, so I began calling and sending emails showing my interest in an internship type role. Finally, after about nine months of harassment he found me a position to work at while I was finishing up school.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I’m constantly looking to the future and continuously making new goals for myself. I want to make the most of any opportunity afforded to me and help others as much as possible along the way. I really enjoy what I do and the day to day interactions I get with some great people help to enhance that motivation.
3. Are you single/married, and do you have any kids?
I have two beautiful kids. A boy named Paxton who will be 4 in May and a little girl named Pearl (we call her Sissy) who will be 2 in August. I also have an overly hyper German shepard mix I rescued named Missy that is about 18 months old.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I like to spend time with my kids. My son is getting at the age where I can do a lot more with him which is really exciting. I also like anything outdoors. I love to golf, fish, work out and play just about any sport. I am also involved in a lot of different organizations and clubs, so I do a lot of fundraising and business networking during the week.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations?
I am a wish granter for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I am on the charitable work crew with “The Network” through the Chamber of Commerce. This year we are focusing on raising money and volunteering with Great Circle. I am on the Casino Night Committee in Rotaract, and we do a lot of volunteer work for Great Circle as well and do various other fundraising events. I am on the golf tournament committee with Springfield’s Best, and we are raising money for New Beginnings throughout the year as well.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations?
As mentioned above, I am in Rotaract, the Network, and The Business Power Network chapter of BNI. My agency is also a member of Springfield’s Best and the Springfield Contractors Association to name a few. I am also a member of Catholic Business Network of the Ozarks (CBNO). I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of inspiring and successful people through all of these organizations.
7. How would you define the secret to success?
I think the secret to success is sticking with something that you enjoy, being honest, and to never give up or stop working. You could work the line at a fast food restaurant and if you stuck with it long enough I believe you could make a good career out of it, and find your own path to success. I believe it’s also important to help and motivate others along the way. Giving back to the community and treating people with respect will always pay back in dividends.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
I really enjoy all the people I get to meet and be around on a day-to-day basis. I never thought three years ago that I would get the benefit to interact with such a unique mix of business leaders and other great people involved in the community. I’m lucky to have the trust of so many business-owners that count on me to protect their businesses. I also love that my job opens up a lot of opportunities to get out and network; and is flexible with my schedule since I am involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. It’s not your regular 9-5.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
I grew up here and then moved around a lot when I was in the military, and I can really say that there’s no place like home! I enjoy the people in the area as well as our geographical location. Springfield is a great “little/big” city.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Grow up and get your act together! Don’t miss the many opportunities that are waiting for you!
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
The first thing I could remember wanting to be was a fighter pilot like Will Smith in “Independence Day”. But actually, for most of my childhood I wanted to be an attorney which sounds a bit odd, but I did for several years.
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
- Ability to help and inspire others.
- Hard work and never giving up.
- Doing the right thing no matter what.
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
It is without a doubt due to all the people I’ve been lucky enough to have as friends that inspire me to do better. I’m actually surprised I got this because there are so many other incredible people out there under 30 that I really admire and respect.
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
I am just continuously looking to meet new people. It’s exciting to look back and see what I’ve done and who I’ve gotten to meet thus far, so I look forward to seeing what’s in the future. I am also working on getting my Certified Insurance Counselor designation and taking ongoing training classes to gain more knowledge in my field.
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
I enjoyed my involvement on the Casino Night committee. It was great seeing what a huge success it turned out to be! Everyone worked really hard trying to gather items for the silent auction and putting everything together. Right now, I’m looking forward to seeing how we do for the golf tournament since I’ve played in several before, but have never worked on the organization side of things. Finally, I’m interested to see how things go over the next year while working with “The Network’s” charitable work crew!
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
My children make life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without coffee and 100 emails.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm still cool to my kids!
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would give some away and invest.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is the honor / more to come.