On a bookshelf in Jeff Auslander’s office sits a copy of First, Break All the Rules. But it’s not just any copy. It’s the same copy he received while working on his Master of Business Administration degree at Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.
For Jeff Auslander, ’07 MBA, that book—combined with Baker’s courses—changed the way he thought about leadership and ultimately prepared him for his role as chief executive officer of Dynamic Logistix. The Overland Park-based logistics company offers a transportation management system to improve automation, accountability, reliability, and scalability for freight shippers.
“Being a leader isn’t a power thing. The greatest leaders lead by example. They’re servant leaders. They empower people. They give employees the tools they need and give them goals and benchmarks. They overcommunicate. That’s how you get people to follow you.”Jeff Auslander
Auslander would know. He was named to Ingram’s magazine’s 2020 list, 250 Difference-Makers in Kansas City’s Executive Ranks. Dynamic Logistix was Kansas City’s fastest-growing company in 2018 and a top 10 repeater in 2019. It also consistently lands on the Kansas City Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list. As CEO, Auslander, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, leads the company in vision, strategy, technologies, and products.
“We listen more than anything. We understand that each client has a different need. We’re transparent with people. Our employees—especially millennials—want to know what the score is and how what they do contributes to that score. We consistently report how people are doing,” Auslander said.
And making sure “work doesn’t suck” is a major part of Dynamic Logistix’s core values, Auslander said. “Have fun is one of our core values. You need to get the job done, but you also have to enjoy what you’re doing. We always say it’s us and we—not I and me.”
All of the top leaders within the company—with the exception of Auslander and his operating partner—came about organically. “They earned those positions from within, and that drives a great culture. We’re one of the best places to work not because we’re playing bags every day. It’s because we’re accomplishing things, and people love that. They want to win.”
Having an empathetic view of all of the company’s departments is one key skill Auslander said he learned at Baker.
“The MBA program gives you that scope of every seat in the building and what they’re going to go through. A lot of decisions made at a company come from one seat—not thinking about what’s the best way to deploy an idea. There’s compromise in everything you do. Baker’s course work covered all the different departments—HR, finance, leadership, sales, marketing, accounting—and gave me different perspectives. There’s no way I would have done this stuff if I hadn’t gotten my MBA at Baker.”Jeff Auslander,
The pandemic was a true test for Dynamic Logistix, Auslandersaid. Working from home and with limited employees on-site became the norm.
“It made you realize you had to communicate in different ways,” he said. “The hardest part was trying to maintain our energy when we couldn’t all be together. But it showed signs of our resolve. Our employees answered the call. Some people you didn’t know had it in them became even greater assets, and some didn’t. You found out the nature of people.”
And, through it all, Auslander continues to tap into the leadership skills he learned at Baker, and his company has continued to experience growth.
“If anyone asks me about secondary education, I always tell them to go to Baker. I’m a Jayhawk but also a Wildcat—at least the rightWildcat,” he said.
More Baker Graduates on the List
2020 Ingram’s 250 Difference-Makers in Kansas City’s Executive Ranks
Chris Giuliani, ’05 MBA, Jason Hooper, ’96, Sam Huenergardt, ’10 MBA, Gordon Lansford, ’93, Darren Taylor ’07 MBA
Written by Jenalea Myers, '08