Firefighter-turned speaker hosts leadership presentation in Watford City

Local News

More than a couple of dozen people filled the gymnasium of the Rough Rider Center in Watford City today for a leadership presentation.

The free event was led by a firefighter-turned speaker who is touring the country in an effort to create better workplaces and communities.

KX News was there to learn what got him started on his journey and how he’s carried out his mission.

“I’m a husband and father from Northern California. I started this leadership speaking sort of thing by accident,” Speaker Mark VonAppen said.

But what it took to be a leader wasn’t anything new to Mark VonAppen.

When he was just a boy he hung tight to his father’s coat tail..

“He worked for the 49ers and so I worked as a ball boy on those teams and for 6 weeks every summer I would go to training camp and work in the locker room, work two a day practices, go to meetings, attend games on the sidelines and fix equipment and things like that and so I saw what great coaching looked like and I saw what great leadership looked like,” VonAppen said.

He says as he grew older that understanding of great leadership followed him even into the workforce.

“That was just my expectation. That was my baseline of how things should be,” VonAppen said.

But he soon realized the leadership he knew and possesed wasn’t represented at work.

“I got out into the real world and saw that not everybody feels the same way. Not everybody shares the same values as far as team goals and that sort of thing,” VonAppen said.

So, he began figuring out ways he could connect the dots.

Taking the learnership skills he learned and bringing them into the workplace.

“I started writing about it, blogging about it, I started a facebook page” he said.

Posting helpful tips and pointers for people to learn for themselves, but what started off as a way for him to release his thoughts soon attracted quite the audience.

“I had a fire Chief from North Carolina call me up and ask if I would come to North Carolina and lead a leadership presentation,” VonAppen said.

And from there he says things snowballed touring the country for years to share his story.

Today, finding himself in Watford City.

“Tools to increase communication and whether you’re coaching a youth sports team, a high school sports team, a professional sports team, or your workplace, or if you’re just talking to your kids — the main thing is setting forth expectations and holding people accountable to a standard and doing it for each other,” VonAppen said.

“I heard this speaker, Mark VonAppen about 3-years ago and I was very touched and very impressed,” Karolin Jappe said.

Jappe, the organizer of today’s event felt it was important to have some outside leadership coaching brought to the community.

“He’s a great speaker and I honestly feel he’s gifted. He can talk to people. He can give ideas that you and I normally wouldn’t even think about,” she said.

“I think to truly lead people you have to meet them where they are,” VonAppen said.

And that’s exactly what VonAppen continues to do.

VonAppen says you can listen to all of his previous presentations and catch up on all of his blog posts by visiting his Facebook page.

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