Karel is one of our 20 Builders and is a professor in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Name: Karel Sovak

City/Town: Bismarck, North Dakota

Where else can we connect with you online?

Twitter: @umaryprof

SnapChat: maryprof

Who is your community?

My community is Bismarck and includes the University of Mary.

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

My average day is spent engaging with people, whether they are students, community/business leaders and/or friends

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

My biggest challenge is saying no. I realize there may be a time when I have to say, sorry, I am just too busy, but I haven’t reached that point yet. Where there is need, I want to be able to help.

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

I really am doing what I love doing – it gives me the most satisfaction and significance in my community. I am an influencer and have the ability to make things happen. I don’t think I could ask for more than that. It would be too selfish.

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

The people. It may sound cliché, but we have some extraordinary people that are open to innovation and making a difference for others. I am only a phone call/text/email away from amazing.

At what intersection do you live your life?

I live at the intersection of Happiness and Blessed.

Where do you think good ideas come from?

Good ideas come from every day ordinary discussions. Some of the best ideas are elicited from casual conversations between friends.

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

Digital disruption. Technology is making the impossible quite possible like never before.

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

Spread the love. Don’t keep your authentic Self to your Self. Share with others and be contagious.

What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?

Taking on a PhD at age 50+.

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

Relationships. I learned that I need to always work on myself, and that forgiveness needs to be an internal process so you can provide that for others.

Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?

My grandchildren.

Who is the most connected person in your life, and what personal characteristics make him or her so well-connected?

Rony Galnur from Israel. He is basically a phone call away from some great people and has been a part of some incredible journeys in his life. Plus, he is a great friend to so many people.

Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?

My brother. He has mad artistic skills in both his art work and wood work. His vision on reality and fantasy can be compared to no one else. Incredible talent.

If I can add a local creative, Shane Balkowitsch is my close friend who is doing fantastic work with WetPlating – old school photography. His work is worldwide and he is self-taught. One can learn much from his desire to nurture that creative self they have.

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

At this point, it is my Dean, Dr. John Warford. After his life in business and government, he made his time and talents available to assist the school with some very sound leadership. He continues to connect our campus, with not only our Bismarck-Mandan communities, but North Dakota and beyond.

He is influential and a good listener, plus he draws from a wealth of talented people around him to make quality decisions that bring betterment into the picture. His motto of “Business as a force for good” is intoxicating.

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?

I consistently balance dozens of projects, and all of them are what I feel critical to making a difference. It is difficult for me to say no, when I weigh what needs to be done with what should be done. To me, saying yes means a commitment to see things through to the end. I recognize that in saying yes, others are depending on me to honor my word. I am capable of taking on multiple projects, and bringing along others to assist in that vision. I am quite in touch with my limitations and use my strengths to counter any weaknesses, including surrounding myself with people smarter than me. I also know that I can’t do it alone. I am not an island. I am also not afraid of finding ways that don’t work, what others might call failure. There are always lessons to be learned. Even though I am a professor, I am a student of life. It has so much to teach us.

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

I would be seeking to launch my Innovative Social Entrepreneurial EcoSystem United (iSEEu) project. I believe our startup community is going and growing well; however, what is missing is the social conversations to allow businesses to do well with their wealth. There are great social needs and ills that need to be resolved. The time to stop talking and start acting is now.

I hope to align the social needs/ills of all communities in North Dakota with the talented individuals who can tackle those issues and assist communities in providing solutions to remedy those issues.