You get what you give

Dan Stoltz and Sarah Jackson
Dan Stoltz and Sarah Jackson. Photo by Tracy Walsh

I have the best job. As part of my daily work, I get to discover — and often meet in person — some truly amazing people, including our monthly Cover Stars.

This month, as part of our annual Finance Issue, I had the honor of spending an hour with Dan Stoltz, one of the most energetic and positive people you’ll ever meet.

Stoltz, the super-star CEO and president of SPIRE Credit Union, just beamed joy and graciousness. His pride in his accomplishments was enthusiastic but not at all self-serving.

Call me prejudiced, but he just wasn’t who I’d imagined would command a $1 billion financial institution.

This month, I’m delighted to introduce you to Stolz: If you know him already from his TV commercials, I hope you’ll get an even deeper look into the life of the man who drives around Minnesota in Archie, the SPIRE truck pictured above.

Stoltz is a St. Paul native who grew up working a paper route for the Pioneer Press and then went on to become the first college graduate of his family. And now he’s worked his way up to leading 300 employees.

And yet, his mission doesn’t seem to be about acquiring more wealth or status. In fact, Stoltz seems to live by a mantra of spreading the wealth around right here in Minnesota with charity work inside the SPIRE organization and beyond.

When he says, “To me, life is about giving, not getting,” he seems to really mean it.

It’s proof enough for me that he would serve in two different year-long community ambassador roles — King Boreas of the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 2015, followed by a reign as Commodore with the Minneapolis Aquatennial in 2016.

“I knighted 14,000 people,” he told me proudly of his time as king, noting that the previous record was less than 2,000. “I did a couple of mass knightings,” he admitted, “like at a Saints baseball game.”

Stoltz also values humility. He didn’t rise from CFO to CEO at SPIRE without the support of the people around him. In fact, one of his top leadership mantras is: “Listen to others: No one is smarter than everyone.”

And the truck? It was his idea to get a signature vehicle for the many parades SPIRE participates in every year. But it was his marketing staff’s idea to run with the iconic vehicle for one of the most successful campaigns in the company’s history.

“My goal always has been to surround myself with leaders that are smarter than me,” he said. “So trust and listen.”

I couldn’t agree more.