A long-time entrepreneur in the health industry and champion of business in Kansas City will bring a pragmatic approach to guiding the Kauffman Foundation. As was announced today, Matt Condon has been appointed as the newest member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Condon founded two companies in Kansas City in the last 15 years, Bardavon Health Innovations and ARC Physical Therapy+, and has also been a leader in the business community. Most recently, he served as the chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, becoming the youngest leader in the organization’s 130-year history.
Given his experience successfully leading businesses and organizations in the heartland, we wanted to know more about the perspective he brings to a foundation focused on making sure every person has the opportunity to achieve success. Following are his responses to our questions:
What do you wish you’d learned in school to prepare you for your career?
The knowledge and information I gained in college, grad school, and law school have undoubtedly been incredibly important to me. But, I believe the greatest impact on my success – and certainly any leader’s success – will come from your ability to inspire your team, collaborate with others, and respond to difficulties. Those qualities aren’t typically instilled in school. They can only be cultivated by unabashedly following your dreams, humbly partnering with others, and responding positively in the face of the inevitable mistakes you make and the problems you face. So, my hope is that the education system will increasingly recognize the importance of these qualities and help to encourage them.
As the chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board, what did you learn about the community that you might not have known previously?
This past year has given me the unique opportunity to work alongside large business CEOs, market-leading – and in some cases, market-defining – startup founders, governmental leaders, community influencers, and others. The depth of the commitment to this city from these leaders, across all sectors and across all generations, is simply remarkable. While each one has different perspectives and goals, I was constantly moved by the genuine commitment to our region. Because we have taken a collective approach to addressing our problems while concurrently honoring our past and planning for our future, I believe that Kansas City is positioned for a bright future.
What do people on the coasts miss, or falsely assume, about entrepreneurship in the middle of the country?
I do think some of the perceptions about this part of the country are correct. The Midwest is known for a great work ethic and a great cost of living – those are both true. Those two qualities are critical to founding a successful company, and we have them in abundance.
Where the Midwest is consistently underestimated and underappreciated is our intellectual talent. Smart people actually don’t have to live within 10 miles of an ocean to survive. Candidly, this phenomenon is actually a competitive advantage for Midwest companies. When you are trying to disrupt what have become apathetic industries, existing below the radar is an advantage.
It has been my experience, especially in the past year, that the Midwest – and Kansas City in particular – is beginning to be known as an ideal place to start and grow a business. The marketplace is recognizing the mobility of talent, the impact of productivity and drive, and the value of resource conservation that is facilitated by our lower cost of living.
I have been astonished to witness a change in tune from venture capital, private equity, and growth equity firms. They have stopped suggesting that we may need to move a company to grow it into a truly impactful marketplace disruptor and have started to see that the best place for us to do it is here in the Midwest.