When Charles McClendon met UNL Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs James Griesen in 1991, his college decision became much easier. An Omaha native, McClendon wanted to leave the state, but all that changed with one opportunity.
“I was planning to go to another university when I attended a student banquet at Nebraska and the vice chancellor and I exchanged information. His passion for UNL changed my mind. I felt like he wanted me to be successful and he believed in me,” McClendon said.
Twenty-three years later, armed with both a finance degree and an MBA from CBA, McClendon owns his own consulting business called No Ceilings. He consults with Fortune 100 companies in the automotive and retail industries, and has a consistent track record of increasing employee and company productivity, which includes sales, customer loyalty and retention by 15 percent on average annually.
“My biggest consulting initiative is currently with an automotive company based in Detroit, Michigan. The goal is to create a culture change that fosters collaboration over cooperation, and mentoring and teamwork over living on our own islands,” he said.
McClendon facilitates a six session series focused on building trusting relationships that drive business results, such as sales customer retention and market share. He also leads one-on-one coaching meetings to help participants apply the concepts discussed in their daily work.
“I started my own business, because I wanted more control of my life and my destiny. I did not know what I was going to do after working at Gallup for 20 years, but I knew it was time,” he said.
He said an important lesson he learned during his career was sometimes accepting a job that you feel might be beneath you in order to get to the job you want is a great career move.
While at Gallup, he worked as a sales academy host for one year. In that position, he worked with successful sales representatives who came to Gallup to sharpen their strengths and celebrate their achievements. He also learned from them.
“It was like being Michael Cain as Jarvis in the Dark Knight movies, because I wanted to have the top sales rep role. For a year, I sat on the bench, took notes on the game and honed my own talents to be a better consultant, manager and teacher. I started No Ceilings on March 1, 2011,” he said.
CBA is also one of his clients for a week each summer for the DREAM BIG Academy. McClendon and Sam Nelson, assistant professor of practice and associate director of the UNL Center for Entrepreneurship, lead the academy which is designed to teach business, leadership and networking skills to juniors in high school from across the state.
“I enjoy working with the students and seeing the transformations during the five-day academy. This could be their one life-changing opportunity, like when I met James. When they learn the potential they each have due to their own strengths, it is powerful and I want to give back. I also like being back at my alma mater,” McClendon said.