GUEST BLOG by two long-term CTLF Board of Advisors Doug Sparks and David Hughes

This month we asked Doug and David to write us a piece about how CTLF has personally and professionally impacted them over their years of service. Their responses show true depth of understanding what it is to live the values of HEART and to constantly learn from and how to enrich others.



From Doug Sparks, Owner, BridgePoint LLC and founding board member on CTLF Board of Advisors

I had no idea when I joined Strategic Connections 20 years ago what an impact it would have on my life.  At the time, I was just starting my business as a consultant and fractional executive and Joyce Nakamura invited me to attend a meeting.  My involvement with Strategic Connections led to becoming a CTLF board member with our founders, Greg Greenwood and Bob Neuman.  CTLF has become my business community and the impact that it has had is profound on many levels.

I have a passion for helping business owners achieve their goals.  I have served over 75 clients since I started my business, the vast majority of which were introduced to me by CTLF/SC members or were members themselves.  I helped those clients not only by serving them myself, but by being able to tap into resources in the CTLF community when clients needed expertise that I did not have.  Our network of resources consistently made me look good.

I also brought clients ideas that came from the many outstanding speakers and panels that we have had over the years.  CTLF events and interactions with members is one consistent way that I “sharpen my saw” and engage in continuous learning.  There is a vast amount of knowledge and experience within this community.  It has given me a much deeper and richer understanding of the world and I have been able to apply that gained knowledge in meaningful ways for my clients.

Relationships are, of course, at the very heart of the CTLF experience.  I am incredibly grateful for not only the business relationships developed through CTLF, but many of my closest friends are people that I have met through CTLF.  I still remember my Strategic Connections orientation with Donna Pagano, the original founder of Strategic Connections.  She really stressed the importance of relationships, taking the time to get to know people and expanding your circle of influence by tapping into the circles of influence of others.  I took that to heart and have worked on my relationships.  It’s a great feeling to walk into a room and know so many wonderful people.  I have always found CTLF gatherings to be warm and welcoming.  It’s tangible.  I remember one of our speakers commenting that “this room feels different”.  I am proud to be part of this community.

Perhaps the most important impact of CTLF for me is that it enhanced my way of being.  I try to live by the principles of HEART-level leadership that the CTLF community has embraced.  I try to be humble, engaged, authentic, regenerative and true to service.  I am not perfect at it.  It takes practice and awareness.  I am a lot better at it than I used to be and I am much more present.  I believe my involvement with CTLF has helped me become both a better person and a better leader.  That impact has carried over into my personal life, as well.   I believe I am also a better father, husband and friend.

Our mission of promoting HEART-level leadership is an important one.  It makes our business community and our lives better, more enjoyable and more rewarding.  I believe our new relationship with CiviCO gives us an opportunity.  It gives us an opportunity to develop new relationships, greatly expand our collective and individual circles of influence and to share the principles of HEART-level leadership beyond the business community.


From David Hughes, President, BCER Engineering and 7-year member CTLF Board of Advisors

As I look back on my dozen years of active engagement in the CTLF community, I am filled with immense gratitude for all the people and organizations that have impacted my career and our company, helping us, in turn, to have a positive impact on our communities that we operate in.  I am, and always have been, very much attracted to the initial premise of CTLF:  the idea of business leaders elevating each other so that whole communities can be lifted.  This foundation of CTFL is a powerful, and at the time a unique, perspective in the old “dog-eat-dog” business world.

The values that have evolved out of CTLF from those trying days of the great recession of 2008, of business leaders elevating each other so that whole communities can be lifted, are spelled out in the HEART-Level Leadership that defines CTLF today:  Humble, Engaged, Authentic, Regenerative, and True to Service.  These values that are shared and inculcated within the CTLF community have become the foundation for so many of the businesses in the community, as we all work to elevate each other.

My CTLF journey began in 2013, as a member of Strategic Connections, a senior-level networking program established to expand members’ circles of influences and open new doors for business growth and opportunities.  Strategic Connections is a structured environment with a culture of giving-first that leads to strong relationships that deepen over time.  In the true spirit of CTLF, dozens of business leaders that I have been fortunate to meet over the years, and deepen my relationship with, have elevated our company beyond measure.  From accounting to leadership coaching, to legal service, to car leasing, banking, and moving; so many of these HEART-level leaders and their companies have helped to take our company to new heights.

The impact that CTLF has had on me as a leader grew exponentially when I joined the CTLF Board of Advisors in 2017.  The business concepts that we have explored, and the ideas and exercises that we have challenged ourselves with, have challenged me in the way I lead our company as we strive to make our communities better.  In my eyes, the magic sauce, the true value of the CTLF community, is and always has been business leaders supporting and elevating each other to make us better leaders, to build better companies, to have a positive impact on the communities we live in.