I tell this story so often to colleagues and people who ask about my work that they probably are really tired of hearing it. But I haven’t shared it too often in the public domain, so here goes.

In mid-1999, I had been at the Indiana Chamber for a little over a year. The Business Leader of the Year for the upcoming 10th Annual Awards Dinner was Bill Cook of Bloomington-based Cook Group. He was obviously a well-deserving honoree for starting a medical device company in the spare bedroom of his home and turning it into an international success story. But he was not known as being particularly fond of media interviews. And, for some reason, I was nervous about talking with him.

The key, as in all interviews, is to do your research. (Second, of course, is actually listening to your subject and adjusting your plan based on what they have to say). I found out that Bill Cook had a passion from the drum and bugle corps world and that he owned a professional basketball team in Manchester, England. Well, it just so happened I had a friend from college who was heavily involved in the highly competitive drum and bugle corps scene and my wife was born in England and still had family in Manchester.

To make a potentially long story shorter, I opened up my interview with Bill Cook with those two facts from my life. We talked about the Star of Indiana (he was a sponsor and occasional bus driver for that Bloomington-based group) and overseas basketball for about 30 minutes. I certainly relaxed, and I think he may have done the same – realizing this 30-something at the time wasn’t so bad after all.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to talk with outstanding business (as well as government and community) honorees. I won’t start listing names, but there are a few more stories to share along the way at some point.

That brings us to 2019 and Business Leader of the Year Chuck Surack of Sweetwater Sound. No nerves came into play on my end. And Chuck has told about his 40-year musical journey so many times that it flows naturally – kind of like a well-played song from his saxophone – but still with passion.

You can read the story and view the award event video in the new BizVoice® Digital version of our magazine. Subscribe here if you are not receiving the print edition and would like to be added to the list.

Tom Schuman is the senior vice president of communications & operations for the Indiana Chamber. He is also the editor of the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 21 years.