The Tops in 2009

Producing the Tulsa Business Journal’s 2009 Class of 40 Under 40 has again given us a glimpse of the wide range of young professionals who have already left their marks on Tulsa business and community service.
The members of the 40 Under 40 class were nominated by mentors, peers and community leaders based on their accomplishments and character.
These Tulsans are among the next generation of movers and shakers. They are a take-charge bunch — 11 are already business owners (12 if you count 918moms.com founders as two people), and eight serve as the president, CEO or principal of a company.
The members of this 40 Under 40 class, split 26 men to 14 women (15 for 918moms.com again), represent a wide variety of professions. Banking and financial services are the most represented, filling four seats in the class. The politics and government sector, PR and marketing and event planning and design fields total three members each. There are two each of restaurateurs, real estate brokers, lawyers, architects, and individuals in the sales and marketing, education and arts fields. Among the other professions represented are human resources, accounting, construction, chamber president and even laundry, plumbing and brewing.
The youngest of the class is K. Roger Thompson, 21, who is building his own wedding photography business, Thompson Photos.
Belinda Hedgecock, Marcus Horn and Joe Mulenex are pushing the top end of the age limit at 39, with Diversafest LLC Founder and CEO Tom Green close behind at 38 and a half.
In our survey of the class, almost all indicated they participate in some form of social networking, with the majority of them using it for business, and more than half on Facebook. Only one characterized it as “An anathema on mankind.”
Although half of the class said the economic downturn has not affected their dining habits, 25 indicated they are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the next five years, and one did select the “We’re all gonna die!” multiple-choice option. We are pretty sure that answer was selected in the same tongue-in-cheek manner that it was offered.
Half of them were a little less than optimistic about future car buying, selecting the “I’ll buy a new car when the old one breaks beyond all repair.”
And our only politically oriented question drew responses a little more evenly dispersed: Sixteen said their confidence in the U.S. government had increased since Barack Obama’s inauguration. The “Decreased” and “Stayed the same” choices were evenly divided among the rest.
“He’s a visionary and a leader that looks to move quickly in volatile situations. The current economic climate is not his fault but he is stepping to plate amid much criticism and working out solutions to turn our country around,” said one.
“I agree with President Obama’s policies regarding transparency. I feel like I understand more of what is happening in process rather than only at the end result,” said another.
One response expressed little confidence in anything run by the U.S. government in the first place.
“What little confidence I had has evaporated with the outwardly socialist agenda being pushed by the U.S. Congress and the executive branch. Socialism has never worked and will never work,” said one.
While it is true these individuals are nowhere near the end of their careers, they are certainly well established enough to give some insight into their successes.
“You can never escape your reputation, so build a good one. Develop a good personal and professional network, and work hard,” offered one.
“I am certainly not motivated to be successful. I am, by design, driven to progress. This includes my career (which is fused with my life), my marriage, my get-out-of-debt plan, my reading list, my lawn care, et. al …” said another.
Whether newcomer or native, all are steadfast Tulsa supporters.
“Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities. Too many people think that there aren’t as many opportunities in a city like Tulsa as there are in New York or Chicago, but that is not true,” one wrote. “The opportunities are there – you just have to make them yourself sometimes.”
All are also not afraid of a few tests of their mettle.
More than one was motivated by “the challenges and obstacles that you encounter on the journey.”
Another characterized that rush of meeting a tough challenge after having been told by most everyone else that “it can’t be done”s as a big motivator.
“It is inevitable that you will be faced with obstacles to your success,” he said. “Whether those obstacles become stepping stones or stumbling blocks, however, is your choice, and your choice alone.”



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