MICHAEL JOHN HOGSTROM, 37
Owner/Developer, Onsite Design + Development
Every morning for two years, Michael Hogstrom drove by the same piece of vacant land at the corner of Government Street and Croydon Avenue on the way to his 9-to-5 job. One morning, it struck him: I want to create something there. I want to create something from nothing and do it for the rest of my life. In just four years, he has grown his own development firm to eight employees and $2.5 million in revenues, and has designed more than 500 homes in Louisiana. He has now expanded to South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas.
Inspiring book: The Old Man and the Sea
This story by Ernest Hemingway is one of persistence, courage, reflection, and emotional intelligence. I have been inspired by this novel in knowing when to lead and knowing when to follow.
Major professional accomplishments: Developer- E’tage Gardens (Flagship FutureBR), Mid City; design review coordinator, Americana; runner up, Mid City RDA Entergy Site Proposal; expanded business from $50,000 in revenues in 2011 to $2.5 million in 2014; designed 500-plus homes in State of Louisiana since 2012; designed 50 $750,000-plus homes in more than 15 Baton Rouge communities in 2014; expanding business to the South Carolina, North Carolina, and Texas markets
Volunteer and community involvement: Member of American Institute of Architects and other professional organizations and Alpha Strategic Partners (Bocage Group); speaking engagements to high school students on the importance of good decision making/life choices
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Marine biologist or professional athlete
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? Cutting grass. I learned how to tie a lawnmower to my bike to get to and from jobs without losing the lawnmower.
What is your favorite place for a business lunch in Baton Rouge? Café Americain in Old Goodwood.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? The birth of my son, Michael Hayes Hogstrom
The old saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Specifically, what are you “being” to make Baton Rouge better? I am “being” a placemaker. I want to leave every project, person, lot, or block better than when I encountered it. I strive to add value to BR through thought and deed in the built environment.
What ritual do you do to get pumped up before a big meeting, presentation or pitch? Find the nearest bathroom. Untuck my shirt. Wash my hands. Wash my face. Re-tuck my shirt. Breathe. I have done this since I was a child in school presentations, playing sports, piano recitals, etc.
What has been the most fulfilling moment in your career so far? January 07, 2013. The day Onsite opened its doors and just started drawing houses.
What was your professional aha moment? Driving by a vacant piece of land at the corner of Government and Croydon to and from my previous 9-to-5 job every morning for two years. Then one morning: Aha. I want to create something there. I want to create something from nothing and do it for the rest of my life.
How many times will you try something before admitting it doesn’t work? Usually once. If it doesn’t work, let’s try something else or find someone else with a better idea. Usually Stephanie Carroll, my business partner.
What is your best productivity hack? Work like your name is on the door with every task you do.
What did you learn the hard way? Moderation.
What does your job entail that would shock customers or clients if they knew about it? The only time I draw houses is from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and on weekends, and in front of clients. Time is a commodity. I work 100-plus hours weekly.
What’s a weird rule at your job that you know is only there because someone was dumb enough to do it in the first place? When making microwave popcorn, use the “buddy system.” Do not start office fires.
Mac or PC? PC
What’s your preferred mode of communication: text or phone call? Phone call.
How low will you allow your remaining battery life to get (in %) before you have an anxiety attack? Doesn’t happen. Apple has made a mint on my charger purchases. They are everywhere in my life.
How many unread messages are in your inbox right now? Honestly, zero. My inbox is my to do list. I am also a bit OCD.
What app gets you through the day? Netflix.
Are you quick to adapt to new tech, or did you hang on to that flip phone way after it became obsolete? Middle of the road. I don’t have a rotary phone, but I am not camping out in front of Best Buy either.
How many times do you hit the snooze button? I have no idea. Ask my wife.
Breakfast at home? Breakfast on the go? Breakfast at your desk? No breakfast at all? Diet Coke on ice in the car.
Is the glass half empty or half full? What’s in the glass? Half full. I am a silver lining guy–even when I have to lie to myself.
If you could build a statue downtown, who or what would it represent? Charles Landry. He is my favorite Baton Rougean and steward of smart growth in our city.
What’s your motto? Do the next right thing.
When did you realize you had grown up? When I cut payroll checks for the first time and realized the gravity of being a small business owner.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? John Harrison, father of longitude (Inventor of the Marine Chronometer)
Which living person do you most admire? My wife, Lacey.
What is your greatest extravagance? My wife, Lacey.
What trend do you really wish would come back? Jams (80s Shorts)
If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why? 23. I felt infinite.
What is your favorite journey? The drive from Houston to New Braunfels, Texas
On what occasion do you lie? Every night when I tell my wife I am leaving the office right now. 30 minutes later: leaving right now. 30 minutes later: leaving right now. 30 minutes later: leaving right now. OK, on my way!
What is your greatest regret? Not spending more time with my sister when we were children.
When and where were you happiest? Every morning when I wake up. I live my life one day at a time.
Which talent or superpower would you most like to have and why? Slow down time. So I could get it all done and please everybody, with tons of time for my family.
If you worked for the CIA and needed a top-secret alias, what would yours be? Dixon Buckhalter. No comment
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My patience, or lack thereof.
What’s your most treasured possession? I have a lucky coin that I love.
If you could live anywhere on this planet and take everything that you love with you, where would you choose to live and why? Central/West Texas. It just feels right.
What do you most value in your friends? Honesty, trust, and thick skin.
What do you miss most about the ’90s? That’s easy. Bell Biv Devoe.
If you had to be a teacher of something, what would you teach? Form and function.
What is your theme song? Anything by Radiohead or Fleet Foxes
Who would play you in a movie? Barry Pepper. Stunt Double: Woody Harrelson
If you could go back in time 20 years, what advice would you give yourself? Focus. Listen. Ask better questions.
What useless piece of information will you never forget? “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” Useless.
Who’s the most famous celebrity you’ve ever met? Phillip Seymour Hoffman
What’s the next challenge you have planned? Growing my business from a successful startup into a regional force as a small/medium” design firm.
Three things on your bucket list: Machu Picchu, build my parents a house, watch my son play catch with his son.
If you have children, what concerns you most about the future they will inherit? Instant access to information and the de-sensitization to morality that can accompany impatience.
What would be your advice for future Forty Under 40 honorees? Do not fret things that you cannot control and embrace all of your failures.
Do you plan to be in the Capital Region five years from now? I do.
Why have you chosen to make your home in the Capital Region? The people. The pace. The opportunity.
Have you peaked, or do you think you’ll still have it when we launch our hypothetical “Forty Over 40” awards years from now? Mos def.