A Life Well Played
May 1, 2017
One of our most recent community additions, Matthew Burkett, is the founder of Fly Fisher Group, a capital, consulting, and holding company, which specializes in growing and operating small businesses. We interviewed Matthew to learn more about the motivation behind his businesses and investment decisions, what being a visionary means to him, and as a former tenant of the Denver Enterprise Center, we couldn’t help but ask why he chose Enterprise Coworking as his new home base.
You describe your life as a “Life Well Played”. What does that mean for you personally and professionally?
Time is finite we cannot make more time. A person’s ability to manage time defines many aspects of life. What we do when we wake, who we interact with through the day and when we rest are all part of that management. Intentionality about what I want the outcomes to be and defining paths to make those outcomes realities is a Life Well Played. Determining how my priceless time is spent, based on what I want the outcomes to be, is at the core of my ambition. Work success and life balance are in constant negotiation for our time. Successfully mastering that relationship and winning both negotiations is living a Life Well Played.
Your professional experience includes work in non-profit and for-profit companies. Are there core values or mission statements that draw you to work with or start a company?
The decision to work with an organization begins with the time commitment it will take to create the desired outcome. The teams at work within an organization must have a greater level of commitment to reach the desired outcomes than the investor. Time and management of it is the core value and mission statements must reflect how that relationship will manifest. When my personal and professional ambitions are aligned with an organization or startup’s goals I am draw into a deeper conversation about how we might work together. That ambition and their goals must begin with understanding and valuing time.
This isn’t the first time working out of this building. What originally brought you to the Denver Enterprise Center? What kind of companies were a part of the building and what projects were you working on while you were here?
Shared overhead cost was a big part of it. There were several different startup organizations operating out of the space – construction, service and property management companies were the ones I interacted with most. It was the mid-nineties and I was in my early twenties. The space offered shared reception, printing, copying, faxing, office supplies, mail, shipping and receiving. Twenty years ago, personal computers, small office printers, fax machines, email and websites where expensive and difficult to manage as a small business. The Denver Enterprise Center allowed companies to present themselves in a professional manner. In those days, I was primarily re-developing residential real estate in the neighborhood.
How has the neighborhood changed? Is there something that drew you back to this area and building?
The neighborhood has in large part been discovered for the gem that it is in the last five years. The changes have been mostly around the perception driven largely by new out of state residence that did not have the preexisting historic bias toward the neighborhood as locals. Retail and commercial development has helped bring non-residents into Five Points and the branding of neighborhoods like RiNo within Five Points makes it easier for many locals to shed past bias. I have not left the neighborhood since I discovered it as a resident and business owner in 1996. I came back to the building because I work hard to support other entrepreneurs who are willing to support the neighborhood.
As an active philanthropist, what motivates you to work on and advocate for certain organizations?
My wife Priya and I are committed to the neighborhood and its families. We have a vested interest in educational opportunities and life experiences that foster growth in mind, body and spirit. We are actively engaged with the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Friends Foundation (Denver Public Library), Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Visit Denver, Friends of Manual, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Lincoln Hills Cares, Anglers of Honor and Embassy Church to name a few. What these organizations share is a commitment to our community, and its families. Our goal is to help promote and foster access to opportunities that may not otherwise exist.
Can you tell us more about your personal non-profit, the Burkett Family Foundation. What led you to starting it?
The wonderful thing about finding business success is that it affords you an opportunity to give back to your community at a level beyond what you could do personally. The challenge comes in that the request for donations, support and your time can be overwhelming. There are many, many worthy causes and the need is greater than we can meet. To clarify and define how and where we wanted to invest and make an impact we formed the Burkett Family Foundation. The foundation has helped us define where we can invest and it has, in a lot of ways, made it easier to say no to things that are outside the charter. The Burkett Family Foundation in large part focuses its efforts in a five-mile radius from the center of Five Points which is our home.
How has your story influenced your professional pursuits and ability to lead?
Servant leadership and leading by example are fundamental to my leadership style and professional ambitions. My story is one of willing ambition and hard work intersecting with opportunity and a willingness to learn and grow every day. We intentionally stayed in the Five Points community as resident examples of what hard work and a bit of ambition can accomplish. My hope is that I continue to be an accessible example of successful entrepreneurship for our community, providing jobs, upward mobility and inspiration.
What characteristic do you believe every leader should master?
Active listening is a critical skill. Second only to the mastery of time management.
In closing, what’s next for you? Are there personal or professional pursuits that you are excited about that you would like to share?
One of my BHAGs (Big Hair Audacious Goals) early in my career was to become an international business man. With successful investments, outside of the US that has become a reality over the past five years. I am very excited about opening an office in Dubai in the coming years to help facilitate more international investment and trading. I am fascinated to see what becomes of the international trading and finance hub the Emiratis are building and if we can figure out a way to capitalize on it.