Meet Jim Fortner
My passion is to serve individuals that are eager to move forward and challenge the status quo by embracing the role of being a leader and a lifelong learner. I also want to serve organizations that believe in and support diverse, fast-paced, project-oriented environments that are eager to mentor future leaders and to support and nurture a culture of leadership. For more than 25 years, I have developed and implemented approaches that focus on maximizing individual performance, clarifying organizational direction and elevating bottom-line results. Throughout my career, I have consistently applied the key principals of clarity, simplicity, practicality, and accountability. My specialty is collaborating with dynamic teams and individuals to solve complex organizational challenges, which result in improved and more effective means of lowering the costs of doing business while increasing and empowering the professional growth of individuals that want to lead and serve others.
More about Jim
This is where you have come to find out something about me. Well, like you, I have been on my own unique journey through life. When I was growing up, life was simplistic living out in the country and working on my uncle’s farm. When I reflect on how I grew up, I realize that the values and ideas that were taught to me at an early age have been engrained in me to such an extent that they have become an extension of my personality and a guide to how I live my life. All those pre-employment years working on the farm taught me the value of hard work, the virtue of patience, the necessity of optimism, the fickleness of nature, and how to live a life to be proud of. There is nothing better than seeing the product of your labor.
Today, I am still connected to nature. I love working outside and landscaping my yard. I find peace and satisfaction in getting out and getting my hands dirty. My days helping out on the farm taught me that I can control what I can control. With farming, no matter how hard you worked and how hard you planned, there was a variable called Mother Nature. Mother Nature had no favorites. She could stymie your best efforts with a season that was too wet, too dry, too cold or too hot. Having a solution or two… or three for Mother Nature’s curveballs definitely prepared me for a career in Project Management.
It was also during these formative years that I fell in love with playing basketball and baseball. What I learned from these years was that I had a very competitive spirit and the art of practice was a necessity for improvement. During this time, I spent a lot of quality time with both of my grandfathers who grew up during the same time but had completely different journeys in life. I did not realize until their own earthly journeys were complete that they had delivered to me a set of values and philosophies that would lead me to recognize until I serve and prepare others do I get the fullest moments out of life.
As my life journey continued, immediately after high school I attended NC State University in Raleigh and studied Chemical Engineering. I continued my education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and earned a BA in Economics and a certification to teach Mathematics. I started my career as a math teacher with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system and taught for the next several years. As a teacher and a coach of baseball and basketball as well as serving as Athletic Director, I experienced the shape-shifting crucible of middle school inhabitants whose sole intent was to challenge me on a daily basis.
In 1996, I supplemented my teacher salary by working a summer job for First Union Bank in the Benefits Services Group. This job was in the Retirement Services side of the industry and captivated my interest enough that I decided to leave the world of education for the corporate world. Retirement Services was an area in the industry that was evolving and challenging and provided many opportunities. In 1998, I took the opportunity to join a team with Wells Fargo to implement a program that would totally change how Wells Fargo would administer their retirement accounts. For the next 30 months this project team worked long, arduous hours to revolutionize how Wells Fargo’s Benefits Services. This team became like a family. This project had no boundaries! This was the first time I was exposed to the nuances of project management and leadership.
The next endeavor in my journey took me to Washington, DC. For the next 12 years, I worked in an environment that was completely different from any work setting I had experienced. In my new position, I lead a team of experienced IT professionals for a not-for-profit organization called ICMA-RC. It was during this time that I forged my leadership skills by challenging the status quo. I felt it was my responsibility to have a forward-thinking mindset – a mindset that doesn’t settle for a bare minimum attitude. I took stock of my team and set out to support them with values, policies, and ideas that were relevant to them. I asked about their perspectives to build emotional capital and to help build a more productive workforce. My goal was to have my team embrace policies and work philosophy to create something meaningful.
As with every professional journey, there are pitfalls along the way. However, as I continued to make choices, form decisions, and take risks, these actions began to transform challenges into rewards.
People noticed my successes and encouraged me to think about coaching. I thought about my coaching qualities and realized that I have always enjoyed helping people to achieve their full potential. I want to help individuals make significant contributions utilizing their unique talents, insights, and creativity. I decided it was time to act on this idea and find out what I had to do to make coaching reality. At this time is was also time to return home to Charlotte. I was ready to cut the strings and branch out as a project consultant. Since June of 2013, I have worked in senior project consulting roles with TIAA, Duke Energy, and Vertical Management Systems.
As I became more familiar with the corporate landscape in Charlotte, I became more confident about my skillset. After experiencing several different corporate environments, the urge to “do something else” in this stage of my career became more urgent. Hearing and seeing that there was a dire need for leadership, not just in a results-oriented environment, but a steward-type leadership, I aspired to use my skills to inspire, motivate and influence people to reach their potential.
If I was going to aspire to become a leadership coach I needed to act. In the Spring of 2017, I enrolled in an Executive Leadership Program at George Mason University. In addition to learning the appropriate coaching skills, the program also included a component on the value of Organizational Well-Being. In order to coach others, it is very valuable to understand the correlation between employee engagement and a culture of well-being. Living a more balanced life can positively impact organizational outcomes, such as productivity, health, and employee retention.
With TL2, I am on a path to serve others either as a coach or a facilitator for project teams seeking to be better. With my wife, we have created TL2 – Today’s Learners Tomorrow’s Leaders since we believe learning and leadership are interrelated.