In the ’70s, when she first entered the industry, Mary Thompson was delivering mail to the CEO of a major insurance company where she worked, and told him he’d made a mistake. “I told him I was smart and he could have me do more work and pay me the same,” said Thompson. “The next day, my position was changed and new opportunities were created.” Today, Thompson is president of Capstone Brokerage, a risk management, insurance and employee benefits firm that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Never stop learning and never say “try.” Always have an “I can” approach. When you believe in yourself and the purpose in which you have been given, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Knowing what you don’t know is the foundation to becoming a better person. If you learn something new every day, you will magnify your own potential. Never pretend to know something. People appreciate honesty, and you will gain respect by being forthright. Do the research and respond promptly with what you have learned.
If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?
The commitment of our residents to being part of a community, working together to improve our education, infrastructure, employment and transportation. Sadly, the transient nature of our community creates an aura of everyone out for themselves.
What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?
The health care system is flawed, and many of our residents do not know how to access proper care. The medical system is difficult to navigate, leaving many people in need unattended.
What has been your most exciting project?
Developing our company culture and watching our employees embrace opportunities that have not been afforded to them in previous positions. The most rewarding accomplishment I have personally experienced is being on the frontline in the education and personal development of our employees — helping to encourage and support people to be better than they ever thought they could be.
What’s your favorite place to have fun in Las Vegas?
Our parks are amazing — from Bonnie Springs Ranch to Mount Charleston to Lake Mead and the Mojave Desert. Our community events are unsurpassed. Where else can you experience such tranquility and beauty? When people think of Las Vegas, they think of glitz, glamour and gaming. When I experience Las Vegas, I love the variety of things to enjoy. There are so many community events, and a simple picnic in the park is at our fingertips.
Describe your management style.
Leader vs. manager. As a leader, my commitment is to assist people in wanting to be better. Leading by example takes away the insecurity most people possess. By showing people your own vulnerabilities and your success in overcoming the obstacles placed in front of you, you can create a healthy work environment. When you are able to work with a company that does not hold the mentality that you are “in trouble” if you make a mistake, but rather stresses the importance of learning from your mistakes, the company grows from each employee. I feel this approach takes away the fear and stigma of traditional management and provides an opportunity to grow. When you are part of someone’s desire to be better, amazing things can happen. Most companies manage people, and I choose to lead. Every person who is working on being better has a direct impact on making our company better.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Watching other people step into new leadership roles and continuing the growth and development of Capstone into its fourth decade. I envision Capstone continuing as a leading risk management/insurance brokerage firm providing opportunities to exceed expectations.
What is your dream job outside of your current field?
I have always wanted to be able to dedicate my time as a life coach. I would like to be a formal presenter in a public forum. I have overcome so many obstacles throughout my experiences and believe I could make a difference in someone’s life. I love to empower people.
Whom do you admire?
My life hero is my dad. He was a hard-working laborer, and he taught me that the sky is the limit. He reminded me constantly to stop and smell the roses. As a child, he only read one book to me, which was the Bible. He would read verses, and his interpretations were always converted to a simple message: treat people right, do the next right thing, show respect, embrace nature, find the good in every situation and all that life has to offer, and many more. He gave me my foundation through his actions and simple words. As a result of the foundation my dad set, my defined answer is: anyone who is consciously working on being a better person every day.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Blame and defending one’s mistakes. I recently challenged myself to look at every situation that I found myself in where I or other people were defending actions or lack of action. I uncovered that in every situation, it was a futile redirection of the facts. Every scenario was a diversion of acknowledgement of the mistake itself. It would be easier to admit the wrongdoing rather than defend it. I recognized that we look stupid when defending mistakes and should just admit our part. What a great test of reality! Never point a finger at anyone because there are more pointing back at you. Ownership of one’s mistakes builds character and, most importantly, trust.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My desire to help others comes from my heart and, occasionally, I put positive energy into negative results. I am always looking for ways to help people recognize their own potential and opportunities to grow, but sometimes people just want to stay right where they are. I tend to put others first and forget that I have nothing to give unless I take care of myself.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I love to dance. I learned how to dance from my parents, and I dance at every opportunity. I never had any formal dance training but found myself as an instructor as a young adult. I have taught my children and grandchildren to have the confidence to express themselves through love of music and power of dance.