20 Under 40 Class of 2017

Brian Whorley
Director of business development and planning, Boone Hospital Center
Age: 35

Hometown: 
Springfield, Missouri.

Years lived in Columbia:
17.

Tell us about your job:
Everyone needs health care at some point in their lives. I help Boone Hospital Center and affiliated practices to be the health care providers that people choose when they need care.

Who is a mentor in your life? (No family members, please)
The people I most admire are those that have been able to make a difference in the world around them while also remaining good-natured and retaining a sense of humility.  Ryan Rapp, Matt Kitzi, and Randy Morrow all fit the bill, as do many, many others that I see daily at work or around town. Jon Bequette is a person that lives a faith-filled, family-first life and helped me grow through a particularly challenging time in my life many years ago.

What are some misconceptions about your job?
The title is somewhat a misnomer.  While the hospital is certainly an important and large employer with significant revenue and expenses, and therefore a business per se, health care isn’t a traditional business.

What is the single best thing about your job?
The people I see every day. There’s 2,000-ish people coming together every day in different ways from all walks of life to do something that matters. Whenever I’ve needed care or my family or friends have needed care, it’s comforting to know the people I work with treat them like family.

What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
I’ve been lucky to continue advancing in my career without needing to leave Columbia — I love living in Columbia. I was fortunate that a director role came available last year, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow in a new role among talented colleagues.

What motivates you?
Looking at things differently — how things work and the assumptions built into that. The underlying rationale is that real value is created whenever you’re right and the crowd isn’t. That’s hard, and typically you’re wrong, but when you’re right, it’s good.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Probably working on software for an overlooked, unsexy niche that I believe, through unique experience, represents value.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
Professionally, most folks don’t know this, but a local friend, Daniel Lynn, and I created a software application that grew to nearly one million end users. If you order delivery in over 300 cities in the U.S. or parts of Asia or the Carribbean, there’s a chance you’re using, to some degree, software that we built here in Columbia on nights and weekends over 5 years.  The business was acquired in the fall of 2014 and continues to thrive today with a much larger, venture-backed team. It was the best, most educational, harrowing, and rewarding experience of my professional life. We named the business after the Big Tree, in McBaine, to pay local homage to the notion that truly great things start small and endure long periods of insignificance.

What’s your favorite community project?
I would love to help accelerate another trail out east of Columbia.

What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
There’s no wise old man on the hill that knows the answer. There’s no secret sequence of steps that makes something a certain success. Everyone has opinions and insights as to what should be done, but ultimately it’s your belief and your confidence or faith in that belief. 

What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
“The Hard Thing about Hard Things.”  You can appreciate that “wildly successful” is a term applied, at times, in retrospect and after many, many sleepless nights and uncertain days.

If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
Finish every trail in the long-range plan. I look at the trails as ties that bind our community together and give people in all parts of the city the ability to unplug, get away from anything with a switch, and get out and move in nature. Look, you can choose to live anywhere. I choose to live in a community that prioritizes having an excellent schools, parks, and trails.

What is one goal you have for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve it?
Professionally, it will be a very exciting year — big changes coming.  Personally, I plan to solo the MR340 [an endurance race across the state].  I’ve completed it twice with a buddy or team, but this year I’d like to solo.

What trait do you most want in a coworker or employee?
Just being a good person to be around — someone that you can learn from, laugh with, and care about their well-being. 

If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Honestly? To not do that — not think about what I don’t have or what I didn’t do today, etc. Just have a mindset every day that is thankful and appreciative in that moment. 

What do you do for fun?
Family, family, family. Bike, hike, camp, fish. Enjoying nature.

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