Jonathan is one of our 20 Builders and lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

Name: Jonathan Otis

City/Town: Duluth, Minnesota

Where else can we connect with you online?

        Facebook: Jonathan Otis

        Twitter: Otis218, DuluthBarrel

        Instagram: Otis218

Who is your community? 

Duluth, Minnesota; entrepreneurs; creatives; families with children; craft brewers and distillers; beekeepers; small business owners; firefighters; students; and lifelong learners.

Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.

Every day is unique. In my career as a firefighter, I respond to emergencies. As a father, I am constantly finding new ways to learn and explore with my children. As a small business owner, I enjoy creating and collaborating with other businesses, artists, and craftspeople. As a student, I read, write, and try to absorb as much as I can.

What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?

Personally, I am working on building my leadership skills to build community and economic opportunities in Duluth and around the region. Within the Fire Department, I am working to promote leadership development within our membership as well as exploring ways to monetize our services.

If you could do any job, what would you do and why?

I mostly enjoy everything I do. I would like to spend more time collaborating with small businesses and entrepreneurs. Seeing young ideas grow and flourish is one of the most rewarding experiences.

What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the OTA region when it comes to your career?

Hands down, the people! I have found many people with big ideas and the courage to take risks. I’ve also found these people willing to collaborate for the good of our community and others.

At what intersection do you live your life?

I live at the intersection of Collaboration and Opportunity.

Where do you think good ideas come from?

I believe everyone has ideas within them. They need to be encouraged and supported in a safe environment.

What’s one current trend you think will change the world?

Collaboration! I talk with people on a regular basis about the exponential impact that collaboration has on ideas. These ideas all have the potential to change the world.

What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?

By surrounding yourself with good people who believe in you and encourage you to take risks.

What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?

I have taken many but the one with the greatest reward has been becoming a father. Others include starting a business, returning to grad school, and finishing this application.

What’s your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

Again, I’ve had many. Fortunately, I believe that failure is a necessary part of success. Every failure offers an opportunity to learn if you are willing to evaluate. An early one happened when I started a lawn care business in high school and failed to establish it as a legal entity. I was unable to cash or deposit the checks for my new business.

Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?

My children and others in our region.

Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?

I feel that I have become one of the strongest community advocates by embracing creative and cultural opportunities and by encouraging participation. I hope to build on this by becoming a leading entrepreneurial advocate for our region.

The OTA Builders are a group of individuals who thrive on possibility and use all opportunities they are given to grow both in their careers and in their passions. We seek creatives who are tenacious and strong-willed movers and doers and are driven to make a significant impact on the people around them and the community they call home. These people recognize their talents and capabilities and find ways to continuously grow and learn from them. Why is this you?

My passion is Duluth and our region. In my businesses, personal life, and graduate school work, I strive to make our place a better place to live, work, do business, and raise a family. I am constantly seeking opportunities to build my leadership skills and to promote people and businesses that stand out.

What project will you focus on as part of the OTA Builders Program?

I am beginning a project I am calling Create Duluth. I hope to host a series of conversations and competitions that help us build our region by focusing on people and relationship building. I believe that rather than having to leave to find opportunity, others will someday look to us for their opportunity.

What change / advancement do you hope to achieve as part of the OTA Builders Program?

I hope to facilitate business development, community pride, and inclusive participation.