CEO | Youth on Course
Adam Heieck, CEO of Youth on Course, reflects on why there is not a secret to his organization’s success, the importance of transparency, communication and trust, and who are his two favorite golf playing partners.
THE FIRST CALL: Please give us a short overview of your company.
ADAM HEIECK: Youth on Course provides youth with life changing opportunities through golf. It does this by subsidizing rounds of golf, providing high school internships and college scholarships for youth who need it most.
TFC: What is your handicap index?
TFC: In one sentence, describe what you do for a living.
AH: I help create opportunities for youth and their families through golf.
TFC: What time do you wake in the morning, and what time do you typically start the workday?
AH: My kids are usually up around 6:45, which means I'm up around 6:45. I'll check and respond to emails/texts and scan industry press releases off and on when getting ready. I'm normally in the office around 8:30.
TFC: What are key elements to leadership or to being a good leader?
AH: I'm big on transparency, open communication and trust. Leaders need to ensure the environment they create is a safe one … one where honest feedback is shared and not taken personally. We share as much information with one another as possible. We hire smart and talented people at Youth on Course — my job is to support our team and give them the resources they need to achieve our goals and fulfill our core purpose.
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TFC: What changes, if any, have you made based on the events of the past year?
AH: We've hired people who don't live or work at our offices. I had concerns about that initially, but given the fact that we're all on Zoom quite a bit anyway, it's worked out pretty well. We also continue to invest in and grow our team. That will continue through the end of the year.
TFC: What's the secret to Youth on Course’s success?
AH: Aside from having a core purpose that people can relate to and a business model that is incredibly simple, there isn't a true secret. The success of YOC starts with our staff team and volunteer board. The culture within the organization, in my opinion, is a bit unique for the golf industry. It has made us a tight-knit group.
TFC: Who is your role model?
AH: My parents. They worked hard to give my sister and me opportunities in life and taught me the value of hard work.
TFC: Knowing what you know today, what professional advice would you give a younger you?
AH: I've been asked this a few times and its made me realize how impatient I was early in my career. I'm still somewhat impatient and I think it serves me well, but I would get easily exasperated when I was younger and it didn't help my decision making. Pick your battles.
TFC: What’s the last book you read?
AH: “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis, which discusses decision making in uncertain situations. Dealing with bias in judgement and more.
TFC: What’s the last movie you saw?
AH: I watched “Coda” with my wife. Had no idea what to expect, it was great.
TFC: What’s on your playlist?
AH: Geez. All kinds of things. I’m not a huge music guy, but everything from Goo Goo Dolls to Notorious BIG.
TFC: When I’m not at work, you can find me …
AH: With my wife and kids doing something … or nothing at all. Sports, board games, on a bike ride or watching something with my wife after the kids are asleep. Pre-pandemic, we traveled quite a bit.
TFC: What is your greatest extravagance?
AH: Good wine.
TFC: What was your path to the golf industry?
AH: I applied for and received the USGA-funded Boatwright Internship at the NCGA [Northern California Golf Association]. It gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about the industry … course rating, tournaments, agronomy, marketing, golf course operations, etc. Toward the end of the internship, I was given the opportunity to work through conceptualizing what YOC would become. It has been a fun ride.
TFC: What are the favorite golf courses you have played?
AH: There are too many to name, but I'll take any round with my wife or my dad.
TFC: Which golf courses do you belong to?
AH: Our offices are located at Poppy Hills Golf Club. The 18th green is literally steps away, but I rarely get out there.