I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions. They have such a bad rap for being unfulfilled or outright abandoned that I don’t feel like I’m missing much. But I do see some value in revisiting priorities and goals at the top of the year. After all, if my time as a business owner has taught me anything, it’s that you need a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve.


I did not know what I was doing when I first set out to make this school a reality. I’d spent basically my entire adult life in academia — music professors don’t worry about articles of incorporation, revenue streams, and search engine optimization. So, ironically, when I left teaching to make MnSOM a reality, I had to hit the books.

What helped most were works written by successful entrepreneurs. Getting their perspectives and learning from their experiences helped me better grasp what I needed to do to make this school a success. Indeed, the lessons I picked up from Dave Ramsey had a particular impact on my jump into the small business world.

Most people probably know Dave Ramsey’s name at least in passing. He’s mostly famous for money management, though that’s not the most valuable lesson I learned from him. In his excellent book “EntreLeadership,” Ramsey lays out the need to have a vision and a purpose behind what you’re doing as an individual. Before you can strive toward your goals, in Ramsey’s opinion, “you have to define what you are about.”

It sounds simple, but this advice made a huge difference in the way I approached founding MnSOM. I spent a long time looking inside myself, asking how I wanted to live my life and then tried to distill the answer into a single phrase. I landed on “guided by Christ in service of others.”

What this meant on a practical level is that I knew I had to become a servant leader. Anything I wanted others to do, I had to do first. From teaching to custodial work, I was the first member of our school to take on a job. After all, how could I ask anyone else to do it if I hadn’t walked that path myself?

This guiding principle has even influenced our method of hiring teachers. As I’ve mentioned in the past, any perspective MnSOM teacher has to first give a music lesson to my children. Before I bring on anyone to mentor other people’s children, I need to know I trust them in mentoring my own.

From that one foundational principle, this school was born. As we grew as an organization, we added a purpose statement to help guide us in the right direction: At MnSOM, we are a passionate team of mentors committed to building value into the lives of kids and teens. Our strategies on how to deliver on that commitment may shift as we continue to grow, but it will always remain our underlying reason for doing the work we do.

Speaking of growth, our family is growing! As we welcome in the new year, we’re excited to announce we’ll be welcoming another Nehring into the world. Baby Eli is expected this March! Here’s to all the ways we grow,

–Eric Nehring