Mark Holland
Ascend HR Solutions (#17 on the 2000 Inc. 500 list)
Salt Lake City

Every Monday morning, before his workweek begins, Mark Holland, 40, pulls out his Visor and reads: "Wendi is the most important person in my life. My family comes before work and other activities. I live my religion. I provide the financial security for my family. Our home is a retreat from the challenges of the world. I have a positive attitude, looking for and developing the strength in others. I help people develop and grow, including, when appropriate, holding them accountable. The outdoors provide a needed sanctuary and retreat for me."

That is Holland's personal mission statement, which he drafted in 1998, following a crisis in his business, $11 million Ascend HR Solutions, which provides off-site human resources services. That year the company experienced an $800,000 loss, which sparked a bitter partnership battle and was so stressful that the six-foot Holland lost nearly 20 pounds. The CEO wrote his mission statement, which was inspired by a Stephen Covey seminar, out of a determination never to sacrifice his family and his health for work again. "The Covey training gave me a good smack upside the head," says Holland.

Over the past two years, the statement has grown into a life plan for Holland and his wife, Wendi. So far the "plan"consists of a 30-year itinerary on Lotus spreadsheets that covers the couple's finances (including retirement andcollege savings), vacations (planned a year and a half out), exercise regimens (four times a week on the stationarybike for Mark), spiritual activities, work goals, personal relationships (including Mark's reconciliation with a sibling),and personal growth. "We asked, 'What are the important things? What do we want to have happen before we die?"says Holland.

The two review the plan thoroughly at least once a month and discuss their progress in specific areas on long walksthat they take twice a week in a nearby park, their two-year-old daughter on Mark's shoulders and their five-month-oldson in Wendi's Baby Bjorn front pack. "The plan is dynamic -- it changes," says Holland. "It's been really good forgetting our relationship and our lives back to where they needed to be."

Copyright © 2000 G+J USA Publishing