As a kid, I always looked toward more talented people for inspiration or guidance. Whether I was learning the next trick I would take on with my skateboard or how to create a certain style in the videos I was creating. I was always sure there was someone that I could learn from. I was always looking for mentors with skills that would help accelerate my abilities in anything I did.
By now I had kind of given up on my grades
This mentality was carried through college as I leaned on my then-girlfriend, turned fiance, now amazing wife, as I struggled through classes. She was my mentor that helped take my plummeting GPA from a measly .92 to around 2.9 just in time for graduation. I had aspirations that I didn’t feel would be dependant on my GPA and by now I had kind of given up on my grades. I really just needed to get my diploma. Her support none the less meant the world to me and has continued into everything we have accomplished together.
The first professional mentor I had was Aaron Smock. Whether he knew it or not, his creative talents inspired me ever time I came into the office. I dissected the things I wanted to learn. I’d pull him from his work to show me things I could not figure out on my own. His mentorship combined with my ability to learn software quickly lead me down the path of motion graphics. A muscle that to this day, even as CEO, you will find me flexing from time to time.
The beginning of my business career
When it came to business, I had exactly zero formal training or education in the practice. I knew the basics of what Google could teach me. That wasn’t going to cut it though if I wanted to take Pixel Labs to the level of creative success I had imagined. This is when I met Dan Beenken at the UNI Small Business Incubator. He challenged every idea I had, ever expense I thought I needed, and pushed me towards building Pixel Labs properly. He introduced me to some of the most important mentors I would have as I started to grow Pixel Labs. Laurie Watje, Patrick Luensmann, Katherine Cota, Trace Steffen, Derek & Jessica Balsley and countless other people who had been doing it well before me.
I am thankful for each and every one of the mentors I have had throughout the years. 🙏
I’m thankful for each of their talents, guidance, and patience throughout my numerous calls, emails and texts. Without you, I would not have the business skills I have today. I can not stress enough, no matter how good you think you are, put your ego to the side and find people you can learn from. This sort of humility will lead to a growth you never thought possible.
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Zach is the CEO of Pixel Labs, Father of three little ones, and Husband to Samantha.