20 UNDER 40: Elements of Success

20 UNDER 40: Elements of Success

June 1st, 2013 by Mary Beth Torgerson in Local Regional News

Photo by PHOTOS BY STEVEN RATAJCZYK

Three Emilys, two unrelated Roses, one Tallman and one Smallman-although similar in name, our 20 Under 40 Class of 2013 is a dynamic and diverse group, completely unique in the ways each individual is impacting and changing Chattanooga for the better.

Elizabeth Tallman • Age: 33

Vitals: Director of Development & Executive Administrator, Bethlehem Community Center • Former Hamilton County Head Start Policy Council Chair • At-Large Delegate, Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club • Mother to Angeleah, 11

Hidden talents: Ballet is my first love. I dance every day. I'm also working on getting my airplane pilot's license.

Proudest professional moment: I was homeless a couple of periods in my life. The first time was when I was 15 and I didn't have a solid home until I was 18. Then I became a single mother and my daughter and I didn't have a place to live when she was like 3 years old. It was really, really hard. She didn't have a bed or anything. As soon as I enrolled my daughter in the program, the people at Head Start really believed in me and elected me to be the chairperson of the Head Start Policy Council. I took the place of a local lawyer, so it was this really prestigious thing for me not having a degree or anything.

Hobbies: One thing that I absolutely love is gardening and growing organic food. Chattanooga has a lot of food deserts. We see kids that are not eating enough to be able developmentally to understand everything we are trying to teach them. It blows me away that we have kids here in Chattanooga that are starving still. Right now, I'm trying to get jobs for people who are unemployed in the inner city as farmers. It's something I'm really passionate about; I don't know why. I didn't grow up on a farm or anything. I just think food is so important, and I'm a vegetarian so I love vegetables.

Secret to success: Listen. You can learn from everyone that you encounter.

Advice to 10-year-old self: One of the things that really held me back as a single mother and a dropout was that I didn't think that I had the capacity to do anything. You always hear people say, 'You can be anything you want to be,' but it's really hard unless you have somebody telling you that. So I would have just been there telling myself that you really can be anything you want to be and no matter how many mistakes you've made you can always turn your life around. That's what people in Head Start told me. That's why I love the community center-I get to tell the kids that and they get to see what I've been through to let them know that they can turn their lives around and they have lots of potential.

Britton Stansell • Age: 27

Vitals: General Manager of Chattanooga for Republic Parking System • Board Member for First Things First • Volunteer and active participant at Calvary Chapel Chattanooga • Supporter of the Bible in Schools • Son to Pam and Ken, brother to Amy, Carey, Katy and Brandon, uncle to Micah and Joel, and husband to Savanah.

Hobbies: I like to play golf and I play ultimate Frisbee in the Chattanooga Ultimate Club. I also do Crossfit down on Main Street with get BUILT five days a week.

If I won the lottery: I'm like my dad, I don't play the lottery. His response always was, 'I'd be afraid I would win.' I always thought it was funny, but now I totally understand what he meant. He wouldn't want that to change who he is and the dynamic of his relationships. I guess if I did win I would think of how to get rid of that money as quickly as possible.

Life-changing moment: On a bus ride in the 6th grade, my middle school football coach, Bryan Johnson, asked if I would be interested in a Bible study. We began meeting once a week and continued through high school. He quickly became a trusted mentor for me ... having him walk through life with me was a life changer. God used him to speak truth into my life and his willingness to invest himself into me has made a forever impact. He is now my close friend and I was blessed to have him marry my wife and I on May 1.

Worst job ever: My sophomore year of college, my grandfather hired me and another guy to repaint his fence. He has two miles of wooden fence that has to be hand-painted. It's white, just like what you think it would look like on a big farm. You had to pressure wash, scrape, grind that paint down, then add the primer and then the paint. It was the worst job I ever had. You had to wear a mask and couldn't breathe and it was 100 degrees outside. We worked all summer, every day, eight hours a day and we finished about three-fourths of it. He ended up having to hire more people after we went to school.

Proudest Professional Moment: Without adding any new business and just changing operating philosophies and strategies, 2012 was a record-breaking year for RPS Chattanooga. I was proud of the changes we made and willingness of my team to try new ideas and it paid off.

Ryan Rose • Age: 39

Vitals: General Manager of Human Resources, Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations, LLC. • United Way of Greater Chattanooga Board member • Leadership Chattanooga 2013 • UTC Chancellor's Roundtable member • Husband to Billie and expectant father of twins

Hidden talent: Growing up, I spent a lot of time in music and theater. I played piano, string bass and tuba. For a while, I strongly considered becoming a music teacher.

Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be president of the United States. Don't ask me why, but when they had career day in the first grade, I had a tiny little three piece suit while all of my friends were dressed as firemen and policemen.

Secret to success: It's better to be over-prepared with different options and alternatives than to find yourself trapped when things don't go as you expected. Situations and circumstances change and it's critical to be able to react quickly and still achieve the best possible outcome.

Worst job ever: My first summer job while I was still in school was cold-call telemarketing of philharmonic season tickets to farmers in neighboring counties-and we were paid on commission. Let's just say I quickly figured out what I didn't want to do as a career.

Proudest professional moment: I've been a part of start-up teams for companies that have created over 10,000 jobs during my career. It's very rewarding to be able to have a positive impact on so many families and communities.

Lacie Stone • Age: 35

Vitals: Communications Director for Mayor Andy Berke/City of Chattanooga • Communications Consultant for Gaining Ground (Benwood Foundation's local food initiative) • Public Relations Supervisor for EPB • Board Member for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga • Wife to Bobby Stone and owner of three dogs Ray, Ella and Fredi.

Hidden talent: I'm a big animal lover, and I have a certain strange knack for being in the right place at the right time when an animal is lost or in need. It's almost as if an alert goes off and any lost dog knows when I'm in the vicinity. I just cannot look away and do nothing in those situations.

Childhood aspirations: It depended on what week. I always had a lot of interests as a child. I wanted to be an artist and a photographer, and was always in the arts field. When I was at UTC I started taking literature classes and international studies courses and decided that I enjoyed telling stories, which to me, is what communications is.

Advice to 10-year-old self: Work hard, learn all you can, have an open mind and-above all-be compassionate and kind to others.

What I love about Chattanooga: This is my hometown and I know it very well. We have extraordinary people and the community aspect of Chattanooga is something that I love that helps me connect here. There is a vibrancy and a spirit of hope and optimism in Chattanooga, especially right now, and it makes me really proud to be a part of the city.

Emily Forrest • Age: 26

Vitals: Coordinator of Programs & Events at UTC Office of the Chancellor • UTAA Women's Council Member & Historian • GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council President • UTC Alumni Board Member • UT Alumni Network - Chattanooga Region Board Member • UT Leadership Institute Graduate • Kathleen S. Nelson Young Academic Event Professional Award Recipient • Wife to Tyler

Little Known Fact: I actually made the first "Power C" cookies for UTC that are used at many University functions. I donated my recipe to food services for them to reproduce the cookies in larger quantities.

Childhood aspirations: I think every girl at some point wants to be a teacher. In college, I visited my sister's classes (she's a teacher) and I did a little craft with them. It was crazy; they threw scissors and stuff. I realized that you can't fall back on being a teacher, it's something that you really have to want to do.

Hobbies: I love being crafty, whether it's doing actual crafts or baking.

Life Changing Moment: As cheesy as it may sound-meeting my husband. I had plans to move back to my hometown of Nashville after I graduated from UTC. I even had a place to live and a job lined up. Tyler and I started dating the fall of my senior year and had it not been for him, I wouldn't be a Chattanoogan today.

Proudest Professional Moment: Honestly, any time that I successfully pull off an event is a proud moment. One time I had five events in 24 hours. Of course, then there is Commencement ... because on a college campus, that is the reason you exist. I'm very much a detail-oriented person and that comes in handy in this job. Almost to my detriment, I'm a perfectionist. Like I'm the one measuring between the seats at Commencement.

Emily Nasca • Age: 38

Vitals: Director of Preschool, Home School Co-op and Autism Summer Camp at Brainerd United Methodist Church • Past President of CAAEYC (Chattanooga Area Association for the Education of Young Children) • National American Red Cross Trainer • American Heart Association Trainer • MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) Mentor • Upward Soccer Coach • Wife to Jimmy, mom to Sophia, 7, Olivia, 9, and James, 22.

Little-known fact: I am a sucker for research. I am always reading three or four books at one time and if I don't know something I will find it out.

Childhood aspiration: I remember telling my parents that I was going to be a teacher and my mom telling me to please not take a vow of poverty-she had three teaching degrees and was a speech pathologist.

Worst job ever: While attending Ball State University, I worked part time as an assistant manager at Ben and Jerry's. After work I would have to race the bees back to my dorm, which was two blocks away, because I always had ice cream on my clothes.

Proudest professional moment: In 2001 while working at the University of Miami as a state trainer on special needs issues, I was chosen to sit on the Governor's Universal Pre-K task force. I provided technical assistance for two different early childcare programs and both became nationally accredited. I was thrilled!

Gary Crowe • Age: 31

Vitals: Real Estate Broker and Investor; Founder and Owner of Uptown Firm, LLC • President of Chattanooga Homes, LLC • Member of the National Association of Realtors, Tennessee Association of Realtors, Georgia Association of Realtors and Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors • Partnership with The Spirit of America, a nonprofit specializing in sharing hope in high schools across the country • Husband to Kate and father to Jack, 3, and Jane, 2 months.

Little-known fact: I worked for four years as a fashion model and lived in Milan, Italy to work for a few months. I did a fashion show with Naomi Campbell and had an opportunity to be in a Bon Jovi music video. I used to think to myself, 'Why would they choose this guy from Red Bank to model underwear for them?' I'm just very grateful. That's going to be cool that I get to tell my kids about that one day. I was also involved in boxing many years ago with an undefeated record.

Secret to success: Discover what it is that you truly want to do as your career, then stay focused toward achieving that. Stay connected with people that feed you wisdom to motivate you toward the right direction. I never share my future goals with someone who will doubt them. All it takes is for one person to place one small doubtful thought in you to destroy your goal.

Hobbies: I love to play football. I'm in a flag football league and we do that for fun on the weekend.

Proudest professional moment: Recently I achieved over $6.7 million of buying, selling and renting real estate investment properties.

Emily Goodin • Age: 34

Vitals: Owner/CEO of Boutique Couture • TVFCU Style Watch Reporter for Hits 96 and News Channel 9 • Go Red For Women Fashion Show Coordinator • Hospice of Chattanooga Holiday Hearts Committee

Hidden talent: I love to dance. I was a dance instructor for about eight years-I taught tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and modern dance. I would love to get back into it as soon as possible.

Secret to success: No matter what, keep trying. Genuinely loving what you do and being passionate helps, too.

If you won the lottery: I would travel a lot and I would probably open up several of the other business ideas I have. I think I have the entrepreneur curse ... I'm never satisfied with my current state. I'm always open to thinking about doing something new.

Worst job ever: Sitting at a desk in insurance/corporate America. That was a death sentence for me and my creativity.

Proudest professional moment: Since opening my store, my proudest moment was being asked to be on the radio and TV (Hits 96 and News Channel 9) giving my fashion advice. To be recognized as a professional in the fashion industry is hard to do, but that made me feel like I am on my way. Watch out, Rachel Zoe!

John Haddock • Age: 34

Vitals: Executive Vice President, Secretary & Chief Financial Officer, First Security Group, Inc. and FSGBank, N.A. • Deacon, Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church • Husband to Amy and father to Charlotte Ann, 7, Eli, 6, and Grace, 2.

Hidden talent: Definitely not singing-just ask my family. Even my 2-year-old tells me to be quiet.

Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I spent like 5 hours a day playing, but for a short, slow kid like I was, I realized that's probably not going to happen. I played basketball at Baylor and my junior year I had to sit out. I went to practice but there was zero chance of ever playing. It taught me that sometimes you have to take the hand you're dealt. I think that provided some foundation for difficult times. You have to trust that God's never going to give you more than you can handle.

What do you love about Chattanooga: It's a little Mayberry. It's still a really small community where you are safe and can raise your family.

How I unwind: I love boating. We spent the summers growing up on Soddy Lake and now I get to take my kids there. There is something about being on the water ... all of your worries are just gone.

What has been your proudest professional moment? FSG got into some risky loans that went bad and they lost $100 million. Then in three consecutive months, three out of five of the upper level executives left. We had to develop a capital and business plan, negotiate with the U.S. Treasury and investors, and travel the country selling FSG investment to institutional investors. After multiple years of work, we completed a $91 million recapitalization of FSG. The stress level came down about 1,000 notches-it was a huge milestone to get that accomplished.

Joe Ledbetter • Age: 33

Vitals: Executive Assistant to the Regional Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Chattanooga Whiskey • Second place winner of the 1988 Boy Scout Troop #62 Pinewood Derby • North Shore Fellowship High School Youth Leader (2007-2009) • Completed two full semesters at Bryan College (Go Bryan Lions!)

Little-known fact about you: I fought for America's Freedom with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in the War Torn Battlefield of Iraq in 2003-2004.

Life-changing moment: The day I purchased my first bottle of Scotch whisky. It was a bottle of The Glenrothes and it tasted like heaven. Through that, I went into American whiskey ... and I get obsessed when I get into stuff.

How the business idea was born: I love things that are grown from the ground and I love things that are social and bring people together ... something with substance. My business partner Tim and I met through Jesus-he's our mutual friend. I think Tim and I have a similar view of the world and we both wanted to facilitate bringing whiskey back to Chattanooga. And I like cool shit and whiskey is cool shit.

Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be a cartoonist as a kid, but I can't draw. I'm not that creative at all, actually. Then when I was 16 at summer camp, I was called to be a pastor (which is what I went to school for), but now I preach the gospel of Chattanooga Whiskey Company.

Goals for Chattanooga: I think it's really dangerous to think we've arrived. I hope that as a city we can be proud of where we are and what we've done but not pleased with where we are. You need a realization that you can do better. Our schools can be better, we can take care of the poor better ... I hope that we're always trying to do better.

Tim Piersant • Age: 31

Vitals: Chief Associate Assistant to the Regional Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Chattanooga Whiskey • Bachelor's Degree from Auburn University 2000-2004 • Graduate of Chattanooga Christian School • Drummer at North Shore Fellowship, Back-Up Drummer at New City Fellowship East Lake, Drummer for Eight Knives (with Rich Abercrombie, Aaron Petticord and Josh Killian), Past Drummer for Chagrin (with John Totten, Ryan Dixon and Carl Cadwell), Past Drummer for Glass Ambulance (with Sean Gear, Brad Clark and John Totten), Past Drummer in Mom and Dad's basement (with Ryan Piersant and Rodger Piersant).

Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid because I love animals. Then I wanted to be a musician. I've played in a couple of bands and I play drums now for a band called Eight Knives. As long as I get to do what I love, I'm happy ... I guess if Britney Spears paid me a million dollars a year, I'd play for her.

Proudest professional moment: Changing a 100-year-old distilling law in Tennessee with my good friend and business partner, Joe Ledbetter.

Favorite thing about Chattanooga: Chattanooga is pretty different from most towns; it's pretty progressive.

Favorite bands: Houndmouth, The Black Keys ... I like rock 'n roll.

Life-changing moment: Laying eyes on my wife for the first time, just past the nude model in figure drawing class at Auburn University art school in 2001. True story.

Clay Watson • Age: 39

Vitals: President/Co-Owner Mtn. View Ford Lincoln • Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors • Incoming President of The McCallie School Alumni Council • Past Chair of Pink 2013! • Husband of 17 years to April and father to Clayton, 9, and Kennedy, 9.

Little-known Fact: I spent four years as a fly-fishing guide in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I'm an avid fly fisherman. I grew up doing it and went out West every year to fish, and one year I just didn't come home. There are some days I wish I was still doing it. The office that I worked in every day was the Rocky Mountains. It was beautiful.

Family matters: My grandfather started in the store as a salesperson in the early 60s and worked his way up through the ranks. He bought it in 1981 and then my father and his brothers took over. I'm a third generation dealer which is kind of a rare thing these days. I started at the ground level and have performed pretty much every duty that the dealership has to offer. It wasn't handed to me by any means.

Secret to Success: Surrounding myself with people that are more talented and skilled than I am.

Proudest Professional Moment: Surviving the recession of 08-09. We learned more in that two-year stretch than I have in my 17 years combined in the business.

Life-changing moment: Definitely the birth of my twin daughters. You go from being a young husband of eight years to becoming the father of two young daughters and it happens overnight. The weight of responsibility that two little girls can't survive without you being a good dad and providing for them is a lot, but I couldn't imagine life any other way. You're never ready for any baby, let alone two at the same time, but it's been fun.

Isaiah Smallman • Age: 23

Vitals: CEO at Fancy Rhino and business partners with Drew Belz • Husband to Kelly Smallman • Member of New City Fellowship in East Lake.

Secret to success: I didn't realize I had made it already. I'll answer this one in 30 years.

When I'm not at work or with family: I love TV right now ... I go through phases. Right now I love Parks and Rec-I try to keep it to one TV show at a time, though, because I don't want to go and watch TV for six hours at a time. I'm also on the leadership team for New City EATS. We get people from the East Side community and gather together and help them sort out food for them to take home.

Worst job ever: The summer after I graduated high school, I worked for a high-end golf course in Maryland. When I applied I thought it would be a great opportunity to get in some free rounds of golf at one of the nicest courses in the country (they were hosting a PGA tournament that year). Unfortunately they gave me the worst job in the organization. I had to arrive every morning at 6 a.m. to walk the course and fill divots for eight hours. I ended up getting fired on my last day of the summer for falling asleep on the job. Top that!

Proudest professional moment: I'd say my proudest professional moment was premiering our feature length documentary about a year at Howard High School, Build Me a World, at the Tivoli Theatre for a sold-out crowd of 1,600 people.

Kelsey Jenkins • Age: 29

Vitals: Executive Administrative Director of CapitalMark Bank & Trust • Assistant Treasurer of Junior League of Chattanooga • Board Member and Past President of Chattanooga Friends • Wife to Jeremy and owner of dog, Banksly.

Little-known fact: I lived in five states before the age of 13. I was born in Colorado, then moved to California, then New Jersey and then Virginia before moving here. So, I'm cultured I guess.

Secret to success: Willingness to take risks and step out of my comfort zone. I love learning new things and am not afraid to try something new or unknown.

Childhood aspirations: My degree is in public relations and marketing with a sports emphasis. I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. When I moved back to Chattanooga, I just needed a job, so I threw my resume out there as a teller and a bank interviewed me. I told them I was willing to start from the ground level, and they actually gave me a desk job. I was blessed and was able to climb my way up quickly.

If not with family or working, what would you be doing: Drinking wine. I love a big bold red. For the longest time, people would always ask, 'What are your hobbies?' And I struggled ... I don't have hobbies. Someone finally said, 'You drink wine!' And I was like, 'You're right!'

Proudest professional moment: Being promoted to branch manager at a large financial institution at age 24. I had only worked in the financial industry for two years. That promotion so early in my career has allowed me to expand further into the financial industry doing things I never thought I would.

Stacy Johnson • Age: 36

Vitals: Executive Director, La Paz Chattanooga • Board Member of Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga • Thrive 2055 Committee • Volkswagen Chattanooga Diversity Committee • Leadership Chattanooga Graduate • Wife to Andy and mother to Wills, 5, and Charlie, 3.

Little-known fact: I took off from my Chattanooga life when I was 27 and moved to Mexico. I was ready to go somewhere and do something different and learn something about myself.

Favorite book: Who has time to read?

Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be a lawyer. Looking back, it was because at that point I was really into women's rights and people's rights. I'm still doing what I wanted to do in a way. I'm fighting for people who are underserved and advocating for them.

Best Mexican food in town: It's a toss-up. Jalisco is the most authentic, but I love La Altena as well.

Proudest professional moment: Last year, La Paz hosted the first-ever Latino Leadership Awards, recognizing 15 Latino leaders in the Chattanooga community. Through my tears, I awarded two friends for their work in the community, working with and for our Latino friends, not for an award or recognition, but because they love our community and they are committed to the Latino population. It was a great day for La Paz Chattanooga, for our team and for the Latino community.

Life-changing moment: I think mission work has really changed my life. My husband and I have gone to Honduras several times and we really have a passion for serving people who are kind of left behind. We do medical mission and construction, and we just walk around and feed people in the community. I remember there was one family that had basically half a house and a tent that they were living in with all dirt floors and 10 children. We could tell they had no food and they had a baby lying on plastic who was crying. It was really hot there. I walked straight to the baby and picked it up. I washed his face and gave him water and he just couldn't get enough. He couldn't get enough water. That constant need of something that he wasn't getting really affected me. It is something that I keep with me burning in my gut.

Tavis Salazar • Age: 38

Vitals: Chief Creative Officer at AREA203 Digital • Father to Sascha, 15.

Hidden talents: I love music. I'm borderline obsessed with it. I can play bass and electric guitar and had aspirations of being a rock star when I was a kid. I grew up with a couple of cousins who played the piano and were frustrated that they couldn't learn and by hearing I could play what they couldn't play. From there, I started playing guitar in high school and college, but I had to choose music or parenthood. I still miss the whole music thing and think about what if sometimes, but I'm happy with my decision and the way my career is going.

Secret to success: Never stop learning and growing. You can learn from people above you, below you, beside you, anywhere. Soak it all up, like a sponge, and keep it in your arsenal of awesomeness.

Worst job ever: Definitely my time at a baked ham retail chain was one of my least favorite jobs ever. I worked at one during the holidays while I was in college. So many reasons why ... from having to spend a day in a sub-zero freezer, to not being able to leave for lunch because of the massive crowds of edgy, holiday folks. And I was a vegetarian at the time. Oh, did I mention the crowds?

Proudest professional moment: Being able to use my creative talents to give back to non-profit organizations across the nation is pretty rewarding. But, I'm most proud of the team that I've had the privilege of developing at AREA203.

Dr. Todd Levin • Age: 38

Vitals: Chief Medical Officer and Vice President, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic • Clinical Instructor, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine Residency Programs, Erlanger Medical Center • Physician Planning Committee, Not One More Life-Chattanooga Chapter • Board of Directors, Memorial Health Services • Co-chair for Party Like a Rock Star, American Lung Association annual fundraiser • Husband to Becca and father to Hannah, 9, and Avery, 4.

Little-known fact: I am a foodie. When I met my wife she introduced me to what seemed like, at the time, exotic foods like whole artichokes and asparagus. Since then, we've enjoyed the diverse culinary offering here in Chattanooga, everything from food trucks to fine dining.

Secret to success: My maternal grandfather was an army medic turned dentist in rural Alabama. During World War II, he was called upon to treat German prisoners and he took care of them with the same respect he would show a member of his family. Back at home, he often got calls in the middle of the night for a toothache, and he didn't really care if he got paid. If he had to barter and get a chicken for a toothache, that's what he did. As a kid, I saw the commitment my grandparents showed to their communities and their clients. I feel my success comes from doing the same.

Worst job ever: Working at Boston Chicken as a dishwasher one summer takes the cake. I was continuously soaked to the bone in the scalding water which was necessary to clean the baked-on food-covered pans that were thrown in my direction. I did, however, enjoy my employee discount on chicken and cornbread.

Proudest professional moment: The Chattanooga Medical Society recently honored me with one of the 2013 Doctor's Day Awards. Reading the letters from the patients who sent in nominations was indescribably touching.

Dan Rose • Age: 32

Vitals: Co-founder/owner of The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel, opened June 2011, and Flying Squirrel bar, opened May 2013.

Dream job: Doing what I'm doing now is a dream job. Having this level of responsibility has forced me to strip away a lifetime of bad habits like procrastination and not taking on big challenges. I left school to pursue climbing and a life of leisure, so going through this process has forced me out of my comfort zone. You have to be absolutely to the point, total action. I feel like I am the most stripped down, effective version of myself that I ever have been.

Secret to Success: We followed our passions to determine what kind of business we wanted to get into, instead of just picking a line of work and trying to be psyched about it.

Life-changing moment: Discovering climbing. Every life decision I've made for the past 12 years has been because of climbing. It started out that my passion for it was what inspired me to leave school and move to the Southeast. And my passion for the climbing community and my desire to give back to it is what made me want to start the hostel. Climbing is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Proudest professional moment: Making it through the first four days of the Flying Squirrel's opening without crumbling. I've never worked 20-hour days, never had so many people to answer to, so many expectations to manage, all on top of learning how to run a bar with zero experience in management.

Erika Moore • Age: 34

Vitals: Co-Founder and President of Bonlife Coffee • Volunteer with Freedom Outreach and United Way of Bradley County • Member of Small Business Council of Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce • Wife to Jeremy and mother to Alexander, 7, and Benjamin, 4.

Little-known fact: I had never been out of the country before I met my husband, but now I get to travel all over meeting coffee farmers. We have coffee from all over the world. There's Costa Rica, Honduras, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil, Sumatra ... most of our travels have been in Asia and Haiti.

Hobbies: I like to read and I've recently taken up knitting. Probably my addiction right now would be zombie books. I love The Walking Dead.

Secret to success: Value people, listen, don't slow down for the critics and find something that you'd do for free.

Future goals: I would love to see the business expand and see it all over the place making a difference in other parts of the country. That is a dream. Every cup that you drink, you are helping that farmer's family. I would like people to say, 'Ah yeah, that's the place people go because the business is making a change in the world.'

Best cup of coffee: I love Ugandan in a pour-over. It's a great little plastic cone with a filter. You pour hot water over it and it filters down and just makes a really nice medium cup of coffee-so much better than getting it through the coffee pot.

Life-changing moment: When we opened up our location downtown last year, one of the coffee farmers came to the opening and just listening to his story of struggle was life-changing. His farm has been in his family for generations and it had taken so long to get to where they are now. That was a good touching story to hear it from someone's point of view. To actually listen to someone's perspective was confirmation ... yeah, we are doing the right thing. This is why we're doing what we're doing.

Scott Maucere • Age: 29

Vitals: CEO of Maucere Law Group LLC (offices in Chattanooga and Atlanta) • Practice international law, business law and complex litigation • Focus on international companies and startups • Launching new product this summer, PUSHTOSTART (a new, revolutionary way for startups to have legal representation) • High school mock trial coach for nationally and internationally ranked team • Past chair of Hamilton County Young Republicans and immediate past treasurer of Hamilton County Pachyderm Club • Husband to Michelle and father to Nathan, 9 months.

Little-known fact: I graduated law school when I was only 23. People used to ask me if I was old enough to be a lawyer and I would get carded at all of the events.

Hobbies: I'm an avid scuba diver and I do shark dives. Once I scuba dived the Hiwassee at night in the dark ... the river goes really fast so it's like going through a roller coaster at night. I've gotten stuck in a rock and once I lost my wedding ring diving. It's like a completely different world down there. It's really loud, but it's a different kind of loud, and time is just gone. It's a great way to escape and reformat your brain. Even on vacation, you're constantly dealing with client issues and client emergencies ... but when you're underwater, you can't take a phone call.

Childhood aspirations: I'm a creative, an artist-if I wasn't a lawyer I'd probably be an animator or a screenwriter somewhere. I wanted to go to art school for a while. But the difference between an artist and a lawyer is that an artist can't pay for his family to eat.

Worst job ever: My first job was as a kennel boy at a veterinary hospital. That was physically difficult and always wet, and you get bit by animals. But it was very rewarding and my boss was great. Being an associate in a law firm in Atlanta wasn't a lot of fun, either ... 80-hour weeks, getting screamed at a lot. But that's typical for associates in the industry, so I can't complain. My goal with my own firm is to create a place that people want to come in to work in, the idea that you can have a law firm that is actually a fun place to work.

Proudest professional moment: Being admitted to practice before the US Court of International Trade-very small bar, pretty exclusive. Also, starting my own practice-I started with literally no clients, on the dining room table, with a laptop and a $2,000 credit card and nothing else. It was incredibly scary but rewarding.