Brock Nicholas played "just about every sport" growing up, but his two best were basketball and golf.
The latter, Lennar's Division President for Orlando, believes, has value well beyond the bunkers and fairways.
"Golf teaches people how to be ethical and have integrity in business," Nicholas told GrowthSpotter. "On a golf course, there are rules about etiquette, who goes first, when it's okay to make noise…. It's also an absolute show of accountability – because there's no team to blame, there's no running from a bad day. You have to own it."
And what of outside interference? Swooping birds, noisy beer carts?
"External factors are present in business, as well," he counters. "So, the lesson is that you're in a lot more control of what's happening to you than you think. You have choices. You see things coming. You can wait for the noise to pass before taking that shot."
Nicholas' early career, in fact, had him on the course often, not as a player (professionally, anyway) but in various roles for Troon Golf. He traveled the world – the Bahamas, Europe, Hawaii and beyond. It was after a stint in the Aloha State, when a new project brought him to Tampa, when he met his wife, Sari.
After a brief move to Connecticut the warm-weather natives returned to the Sunshine State to start their family.
Nicholas isn't Floridian, however. He grew up in the southern California suburbs, but it was hardly Bel Air. His family worked hard to get by, but they were rich in teamwork and love.
"Despite not having much and seeing my folks struggle, one of the things I learned is that the foundation for success in life has a lot more to do with non-financial benefits than otherwise."
This profound life experience, however, didn't much inform his association with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida at the outset, though it's likely figured in as his involvement – Lennar is a big supporter – has evolved and grown.
"I was a board member," he explains, "and I was going through the motions – raising money, attending dinners – without a lot of emotional connection, just trying to fulfill my duties."
And then Nicholas met two teenage boys, 17 and 15 at the time, whose tough circumstances prompted him to get more involved. Their interaction made it personal.
A father of boys himself (twins Jake and Parker are now 12) it was important to him to help see these kids through this difficult time.
"Often, we take it for granted when family units are together and parents are pushing kids to do the right things…. Not every child is born into that circumstance.
"And as I interacted with these kids in this very stressful moment in their lives, what occurred to me is that they seemed unafraid. It was remarkable…. These two had each other, and while they weren't okay with what was going on, they weren't devastated. It didn't throw them off track. They continued going to school. They were mature and focused. And I thought, 'How did they get to be like this?'"
It prompted Nicholas to delve deeper into what the Boys & Girls Club provide in terms of stability, a family environment, things that many of its members are missing at home.
"If these two kids could figure out not only a way to survive this painful, emotional time, but get through it powerfully – with confidence – then no amount of stress in their future, in business life, would likely be a problem. They would be able to move on and conquer great things."
Nicholas has followed the pair from afar in the years since.
"They went on to get educated, to hold down solid jobs, to have respectful relationships with women – all the great things you'd want to raise young boys to do."
This was years back and forever changed his level of involvement with the Boys & Girls Club. Today, he serves as Chair.
"I live a perfectly boring and uneventful life, which I'm really proud of," he laughs.
"I spent so much time away working that my wife and kids and I just love hanging out together…. And though I'm very busy, I do feel like because of how many good things have happened to me and my family, what the community provides for us in business and how we're able to employ so many people, I try my hardest to do my part for kids in Central Florida."
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