Attorney, Law Office of Mike Campbell
New Hartford, NY
Years lived in Columbia:
Tell us about your job:
I work on a variety of cases, from civil litigation to election law. I love the variety of work that being an attorney offers, and I love finding new ways to help the community.
Who is a mentor in your life and how have they impacted you?
Wendy Noren and Karen Miller have both been incredible sounding boards and inspire me to be better. I’m encouraged every day by having strong female role models in my life.
What motivates you?
Empathy and fighting for equity. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the weight of the world’s problems, but I try to make my corner of it better, and I’m more fulfilled when I’m actively working to improve things.
What’s your favorite community project?
I love the Live Well program that the joint Columbia–Boone County Health Department launched a few years ago to improve public health. The Live Well by Faith program is particularly great — it’s a powerful initiative to reduce racial health disparities, and it’s run by one of my favorite people, Verna Laboy.
What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Not everyone is going to agree with your vision, and that’s okay. But you better be authentic and confident if you want it to succeed.
What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
“Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” I’m not confrontational by nature, and I’d much rather work to find a solution that works for everyone rather than turn disagreements into zero-sum games. “Getting to Yes” is really great for picking apart the motivations and techniques of whoever you’re dealing with — either in business or everyday life — so you can productively move forward. It’s taught me that even if you’re faced with a shady negotiator, there’s always a way to break through.
If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
I would love to bring alternative lending sources or microloan programs to Columbia to reduce the power of predatory lending. St. Louis has some model nonprofits, like Red Dough, that encourage financial literacy and independence. I think it’s imperative to Columbia that we find practical solutions to reducing economic barriers. Eliminating predatory lending is important, but if we don’t fill the need for short term lending with an equitable alternative, we’re not really solving anything.
What is one business goal you have for 2018 and how do you plan to achieve it?
I enjoy the civil litigation that I practice, and I want to keep pushing to increase civic engagement across Columbia. This past year I’ve created projects like Keeping Up CoMo’s newsletter and radio show to make local government more accessible, but I’d like to do more with civic education and try to reach people that aren’t traditionally plugged into politics.