By Kathleen Swift

Jimmy Burgess envisioned a new style of team building and leadership training that would operate in a military style. It would be a place where veterans and others could discover strengths in themselves and do things they didn’t know were possible. Burgess joined with other veterans to build the dream that became True North Enterprises located at 7837 Gateway Drive in Neosho, Missouri.

“I feel like there are still things we need to improve in our communities, companies and in ourselves. We need to leave things better than we found them. True North was founded to help people be successful on many levels and to touch an organization, group, team and person in a positive way,” said Burgess.

In so many ways, leadership and training often becomes what Burgess called “death by Power Point.” His goal at True North is to do leadership development better by using what he and other veterans have learned through their military training in the classroom and in the field. A graduate of Air Force and Army basic training, Airborne School, SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) School, and multiple military leadership courses, Burgess developed a hands-on leadership program.

“There is nothing cookie-cutter about our programs. True North embodies the American spirit and the American vet. Leadership development takes time, and sometimes we have to adjust our fire to the situation. We work on building trust and account for differences. We develop team strengths and define the weaknesses. After a session, we complete an AAR, an after-action review. We ask what can we do better next time? We have our mission, and our goal is to build a better, well-functioning team that can work together efficiently,” commented Burgess.

Through True North, Burgess works with local veterans. “We employ about 25 vets at True North, TommyHawks Four States, and 2 Bravo Laser, which are all located on the same campus. We also help vets find work, develop a resume and practice mock interviews. We work with the veteran’s court and vets can do community service at our businesses. They can also use True North as a reference, which is essential when looking for employment. We give them a place to be themselves and show them how to use their military leadership and training skills in the community and with their families,” said Burgess.

In the last five years, True North has worked with the Joplin Outlaws, who have sponsored a veterans’ appreciation night and raised funds to help vets with job placements. True North has provided leadership training for businesses such as ARVEST Bank, Asbell Companies, and Crothall.

With approximately 1,500 veterans in the area, True North works with local VFWs to help veterans. “I tell our more recent vets that the Vietnam vets set the pace for us on the VA side of things. They made America a better place.”

Burgess holds post master’s certificates in executive leadership, the psychology of leadership and women in leadership from Cornell University. He is always learning and incorporating his knowledge into the services he continues to provide for veterans, communities and companies.

“I want veterans to realize that their training is still reliable and can transfer to everyday civilian life. At True North, we say, going slow with four is better than going faster with three. It’s how we develop leadership skills that can be used every day by everyone.”

To learn more about True North and its mission, contact Jimmy Burgess at jburgess@tneleader.com or visit www.tneleader.com.