Rocket IT Business Podcast | Nick Masino | Developing Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s Growth | Ep 4


Facilitating community growth requires leaders who are mindful of the present, focused on the future, and eager to surround themselves with a team of high achievers. But when searching for individuals to encircle oneself, how can today’s decision makers ensure the next generation of aspiring leaders are not overlooked?

In episode four of the Rocket IT Podcast, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s newly elected President and CEO, Nick Masino, sits down with Rocket IT Founder and CEO, Matt Hyatt, to discuss the benefit peer learning can have on a team’s growth.

Having served as one of Georgia’s youngest mayors, and with over a decade of economic development projects under his belt, Nick has never once let his age deter him from engaging with his community. Now, in his newest role at the Gwinnett Chamber, Nick brings that same passion to his team, ensuring the perspectives of each individual are brought to the decision making table. 

In This Episode, You’ll Hear More About…

  • The importance of balancing volunteer outreach with corporate initiatives
  • How to maintain a team of “A players” while challenging the “B players”
  • The impact of blending perspectives from all age groups
  • The role of a mentor with a larger team dynamic
  • Important qualities to look for when defining future leaders
  • How peer learning can benefit all group members

Resources Mentioned

For more information

Show Notes

Matt Hyatt (00:00):

Hello and welcome to episode four of the Rocket IT podcast. I’m your host, Matt Hyatt and today I’m excited to introduce my good friend and the newest CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Nick Masino.

Intro Music (00:11):

[Music playing].

Matt Hyatt (00:27):

Before we dive in, let me remind our listeners that any resources mentioned in today’s episode will be posted to our website at You can listen to the podcast on your favorite app, including Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcasts, and many others. Additionally, should you have any questions about the content of today’s discussion, please feel free to contact us at or send us a message via any of our social media channels. So Nick, welcome. We’re going to have some fun today. Thank you for being here.

Nick Masino (00:59):

My pleasure, Matt. I’m excited.

Matt Hyatt (01:01):

Awesome. Nick, you and I are friends. We’ve known each other for a while now, but the first time we met you are one of Georgia’s youngest mayors. I tease you sometimes because I remember that moment and you don’t. But it was a great experience for me getting to meet the mayor Nick Masino, so I want to start there. Tell us about that. How in the world did that happen? How did you get into politics? The big city of Suwanee, Georgia.

Nick Masino (01:23):

Well, thank you Matt. It’s, well, first of all, it’s not a big city. When I was elected to office, it was 8,600 citizens. I think they’re approaching or not, if not already over 20,000. And so it’s a small town comparable to other towns. It’s pretty small.

Matt Hyatt (01:39):

You’re talking to a guy that was born in Yellville, Arkansas. It’s huge!

Nick Masino (01:43):

It’s a metropolis. Well, the short answer is I, I want to make a correction. I was never in politics. I was a community servant, community leader. And that’s really what I was when I got into. Suzanne, my wife of 25 years and I moved to Suwanee and we had been married for two years and I had lived in our subdivision for about nine months and there was a flyer in the mailbox and said there was a rezoning across the street from our neighborhood for paint body shop and that we should rally at the pool the next day.

Nick Masino (02:18):

So we start, we showed up with at the pool. I was very upset about something I didn’t know anything about, but that’s kind of what everyone else seemed like they were. And so I found out about the rezoning. We were asked to write letters and to deliver them on Monday and show up at the city council meeting on Tuesday. I did all that was requested of me. I think I was 26 at the time and I got up and stood in line to speak to the council and I told them I’m Nick Masino and I vote and of which I had never voted in a Suwanee election, but I vote just not here. I have voted. That’s really what I should have said. And I actually didn’t realize how city limits worked. I wasn’t even sure I was in the city of Suwanee, but I in fact was and that zoning ended up being a tie, which is a denial.

Nick Masino (03:02):

And one of the council members came down to speak to me and so I neighbors and said, your discussion tonight and comments led me to vote against this, which I was going to vote for. And I was just blown away that you could show up and get engaged and have an effect on the outcome of your community. And he challenged us and he said, don’t be a stranger hope this is not the last council meeting you came to. And I took him up on the challenge and I showed up to the next six council meetings in a row. Wow. For no other reason, I just wanted to see what was going on in my community. And so at that six council meeting, a staff member approached me and said, there’s an opening on the planning and zoning board of appeals. You don’t seem to have some major issue or gripe with the city.

Nick Masino (03:42):

We’re just looking for citizens to get involved. And so I applied and I was interviewed along with other candidates and they chose me and it was a really great experience. And I did that for six months and six months after starting the Chairman of that Board stepped down to run for city council. And then the rest of the board elected me chair of the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals. I’m so glad. But the thing that was fun is I then chaired this board for two years and really enjoyed it and made a difference in my community. And it was really a volunteer. I think I got paid $50 a meeting, but you don’t clearly do it for the money. And I really enjoyed giving back to my community. My parents had raised us to volunteer, we were Scouts in the communities that we lived in and it just all seemed very natural to me.

Nick Masino (04:31):

So the mayor approached me now two and a half years later from that rezoning and said, I’m likely not going to run for mayor. I think you should find out which one of the council members wanted to run for council. And maybe you’d be a good council member, you could run in their seat, the open seat. So I went to four or five of them and I said, Hey, the mayor, you know, on the down low says he’s not running or what do you think? And they all I guess conspired and they got back to me and said, we think you should run for mayor. Really? Wow. Yes, yes. Including, Oh, it was very, not very flattering at that time I was 28 years old. Jimmy Burnett, who’s now current mayor, supported me along with the other council members and I put my name out there.

Nick Masino (05:10):

I went and qualified for the election. And the mayor never told anyone he wasn’t running. So the Gwinnett Daily Post’s headlines the day after I qualified and his name was Chris Yoder, the former mayor, Masino challenges Yoder, Suwanee mayor election. And no one qualified by that Friday. And I was the mayor of Suwanee. How about that? So I was 28 years old when I was elected. I was, I turned 29 in the three or four months between taking office and being elected. And I then went on to serve eight years as the mayor of the city of Suwanee.

Matt Hyatt (05:43):

What a terrific experience. Now tell me, do I have that right? Youngest mayor in Georgia.

Nick Masino (05:49):

I am currently still the youngest mayor that Suwanee has ever had. I was at the time for two years, the youngest mayor in Georgia.

Matt Hyatt (05:57):

That’s incredible.

Nick Masino (05:58):

Thanks. I w there are been a lot of much younger mayors. There are towns like maybe the town you grew up in where you basically drew straws. Anyone who was 18 years old or older could be mayor. And so there’s been lots of 18 year old mayors in the state of Georgia.

Matt Hyatt (06:12):

Gotcha. So I am curious what happened during your tenure? Eight years. You accomplished some pretty big things in my opinion. And you know, I wasn’t living in Suwanee at the time. I live in a nearby community, but I was active in the Suwanee community and other parts of our County. And I remember there was a lot going on at that time. What were some of the big accomplishments?

Nick Masino (06:34):

Well, before I answered that, I have to say I served with some incredible council members, men and women that really cared about the community. Our staff at the time, it actually still today in Suwanee is first class. It was interesting with the young people. I was one of the young people, I was a Gen X-er, but I served with lots of boomers, people in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties everyone got along, everyone, everyone wanted what was best for the community and there was no personal agendas and it really just was an incredible recipe. And also my council members, I had, I was in my late twenties, early thirties. I had two other council members that were in their mid to early thirties, a couple of 40 year olds and a couple of 50 year olds. And we all really got along well. But there was lots of different perspectives and everyone’s opinion mattered, Counted and was engaged and it was a real, we were really unified and we did some interesting things. One of which is we obviously borrowed $18 million. We purchased over 300 acres of green space. We also put together the plan, which is today Suwanee Town Center. We purchased the land, which was the town center and the property that’s developed right alongside of it. So we built the park, which we call the beachfront or the beach, and then we sold off the beach front property. We made about two and a half million dollars in profit. We put that into the city hall and constructed the city hall, which is very unique. We completed the trail system, well at least North to South. A lot more trails have been added since I’ve left and we just did some things that were unique and different. The development of town center, we did not act like your typical government body.

Nick Masino (08:16):

We acted like developers and we were able to invest in a different unique ways and it paid off. I think it’s been a successful project. What I’m really excited about is it inspired. My understanding is over a hundred counties and municipalities throughout the United States, and I know they’ve had international visitors have literally just shown up to experience it. I know while I was mayor, I had other people comment on it and say that they were coming by from around the country and so that’s all very flattering. But we created, Suwanee didn’t have a front porch. It was really made up of subdivisions and really awesome County roads and highways and US 23 which is Buford Highway. I-85, you know, going through it as well and we created something special in a place that I don’t think had that much of a special uniqueness to it.

Matt Hyatt (09:06):

Oh, I agree. I think I agree that it’s a really special place. It’s a neat part of our community, part of our County and I’m impressed with your contribution to it. Thank you. Thank you so much. So I want to move on from there because it wasn’t long after that, maybe even some overlap that you had an opportunity with a new initiative that was a partnership between our Chamber of Commerce, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, and the County called Partnership Gwinnett. Tell me how that got started.

Nick Masino (09:36):

Sure. In 2003 I represented all 16 municipalities in Gwinnett County on the Gwinnett Chamber Board. And I met a gentlemen who was also a board member. His name is Jim Moran. Jim went on to become the Chamber President and in 2007 they had completed a one year long investigation and study and process, which came, became to be the blueprint for Partnership Gwinnett and Jim had an experience with me. Both at the time, he was a chamber board member, He worked for Motorola. They were actually going to be putting their largest campus outside their headquarters and Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago in Suwanee and I worked on, I worked with him on that project. I think he saw that I was not a typical elected official that I was, my whole experience in my career had been in business and business development and he appreciated my, I was, I’m very straightforward. There’s usually not a lot of gray when you’re having a conversation with me, it might be a fault, but Jim and I really connected and so Jim asked me to come work with the Chamber and I said, Jim, I don’t have any nonprofit experience. I, you know, me as the mayor, but I really work full time, much like the $50 a month. I got paid planning, zoning, board of appeals. I got paid $500 a month for being Mayor of Suwanee. Most people don’t realize that most elected officials are really, that’s not their full time job. Many of them are retired and it may appear as their full time job, but they’re really retired. So I had a full time career the whole time I was mayor. And so Jim got to know me and made me this opportunity and this offer and really sat down and said, Nick, you can own this.

Nick Masino (11:14):

You’re an entrepreneur. I can feel it and I want you to put this program together and build it. And I accepted his offer in 2007 and built the team raising the money. Again, you mentioned it was a public private partnership. It was. It was going to County as is still then and today still the largest investor at over a half a million dollars a year. The municipalities are engaged. The CID, Explore Gwinnett, Gwinnett County Public Schools and a host of almost a hundred private sector businesses invest in Partnership Gwinnett. And it was a strategy created by the Chamber and all the partners including the County.

Matt Hyatt (11:47):

And so their charge is to do economic development for the County and know that regionally they’re an important player. Also. You talk a little bit more about how Partnership Gwinnett goes about their mission.

Nick Masino (12:00):

Sure, absolutely. So I like to say Partnership Gwinnett recruits, retains and expands businesses in five target industries. I feel like I’ve said it before, those target industries are technology, life science, advanced manufacturing, supply chain and corporate regional headquarters. Right. And we have a team of trained professionals that get up every day to implement the mission that I just said. And they do that by connecting with the existing industry and going out to recruit companies both domestically and internationally.

Matt Hyatt (12:28):

Now you’ve done that. How long? About 10 years. He said 2007 so I guess it’s closer to 12 huh?

Nick Masino (12:33):

I was in that role up until 49 days ago for 12 and a half years.

Matt Hyatt (12:37):

That is awesome. Well, congratulations. I know that’s a well respected organization in Georgia and beyond. I’ve certainly benefited from their hard work as a member of this community. So good job. So what’s next? What are you doing now?

Nick Masino (12:52):

Well, the Executive Board and the Board of Directors of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce gave me an opportunity to become the President and CEO.

Matt Hyatt (12:58):

That sounds like an amazing Executive Board, The Board of Directors.

Nick Masino (13:01):

Some of them are very wise.

Matt Hyatt (13:04):

For those that don’t know, I serve on that board and had an opportunity to participate in that. But Nick, that’s, that’s awesome. We’re excited. You know, speaking on behalf of the community, lot of folks that I’ve talked with are just really excited about you coming in and taking the the next charge of the Chamber. And you have been at it for a little while now. So tell me, what’s top of mind for you? What are the biggest things that are on your mind every day?

Nick Masino (13:30):

Well, starting in the first 30 days, the thing I was the most concerned and interested in was what the staff thought, what their big ideas were, what they thought was going well, where were there opportunities to improve. So, and really about 22 day period I met with all 32 employees, somewhere between an hour and two and a half hours and really enjoyed every conversation and it really helped me focus what I thought we needed to work on. It clarified some things that I suspected were opportunities and really highlighted what they thought we were doing really well. And, and most of it I was in total agreement with. I’m now moved on to phase two, which is meeting individually with our board members. I’m going to count this by the way, as our meeting, I’ll just check this off the list. Check! But I think there’s a lot of opportunity. We are in fact, if not the largest, one of the top three largest suburban chambers in the United States.

Matt Hyatt (14:22):

Amazing. It’s an amazing statistic.

Nick Masino (14:25):

It really is. And we also, if you’ve, if you’ve not been to 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway, that is the largest physically largest Chamber building in the United States.

Matt Hyatt (14:34):

How about that now, so just for your information, as you know, this was a newer podcast. We don’t yet know all the details about where our listeners are located, but we imagine that many of the folks listening today are in our backyard. They’re right here as part of this community. And so many people might know exactly where we are and they’re familiar with these street names, but some might not. And so we are a suburb of Atlanta and our County, I don’t even know how many people does it a million yet.

Nick Masino (15:00):

Let me, let me, let me step back. Okay. First of all, the Gwinnett chamber is on planet earth and in between all the blue are land. We’re in North America. And then we drill down into the United States, a global topic. We’re in Georgia, which is one of our 50 or lower 48 States, and we are just North of Metro Atlanta. So from a satellite or from another planet, you would just see a bunch of light. We’re North of the light of the city of Atlanta.

Matt Hyatt (15:26):

Very nice. For our intergalactic listeners, we might have to cover where earth is, but we can do that later. Clearly the Milky Way, we’ll see how it goes.

Nick Masino (15:35):

Third planet from the sun, the fourth planet from the sun, I think third rock. So we are in the Northeast Atlanta suburb. And so we’re outside of the urban core. It’s not rural, it’s suburban. There’s parts that feel very urban and we are approaching in the next two to three years, 1 million people. And for every list in every organization that does these types of projections, by 2040, we will far and away be the largest County in Georgia. So we’ll surpass the one that’s above us now, which is Fulton County. And they are, they’re fat. They’re either just hit a million or they’re about to hit a million. Wow. And they actually say that we’ll be somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 million by 2040.

Matt Hyatt (16:21):

We’re going to have to build some more houses, I guess.

Nick Masino (16:23):

Yes. I fully suspect that we’ll densify. We’ll urbanize around some of the urban core. Definitely along the I-85 corridor. There’s still a lot of development that will still take place. But when you look at Grayson into Dacula and North of 85 there’s just a lot of opportunities to absolutely. But we are densifying redeveloping in some of the core areas that developed originally the seventies and eighties.

Matt Hyatt (16:48):

So back to the Chamber and your new role, what are some of the big initiatives that are heavy on your mind? You said you met with your team, which is great. And by the way, kudos to you. I don’t know that every leader, I bet you not every leader does that in a new role. And take the time to talk with each member of your team and get their perspective to do that. I think tells us a little bit of the story of who you are as a leader. And I think that’s pretty great.

Nick Masino (17:13):

Well thank you Matt. To be very honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever had an original idea, but what I like to do is continue to sharpen the saw and I read a lot. We might talk about that later. I love to listen to podcasts. This is actually by the way, one of my favorite new podcasts. Thank you. Absolutely. Yeah. Hi, my pleasure. And so it wasn’t my idea, I just read it or heard it in a podcast and I thought, well that’s a pretty smart thing to do. Right. And I think that both the staff appreciated it and I really appreciated, you know, hearing their insight. And so some of the things I’ve heard from both board members, them and just my own experiences are we have to tweak some things and have a Chairman’s Club Membership, which is a high level membership opportunity.

Nick Masino (17:53):

And I think there’s opportunities to improve there and I think you and I have had some discussions. People like to experience things and I just think we need to create some more interesting experiences for people and more engagement opportunities. There’s a lot of things the Chamber does well. It was clear among everyone I’ve spoken to that our programs that we put on, the events we put on our first class. Agreed. Yeah, I agree. As someone who participates in them and have for well over a decade, they’re just entertaining, interesting and unique and I like to make sure that everything that we do, someone would say I enjoyed it, I learned something. I look forward to the next one and, and so we’re just, I’m just doing some searching through the departments on what we can tweak. There’ll be some major initiatives possibly rolled out next year, but I still have a lot more listening to do. We have 96 board members at the Gwinnett Chamber. That’s a lot of board members. It’s a lot of breakfast lunches and dinners and I’m happy to have each one of them and garner their insight. All the while we’re still having to do what we do every day. Right. So I, I’m just a busy doing that. I’m not ready to roll out the secret strategy. Sure. But I can tell you if you’ve been engaged with the Chamber, it’s not going to be anything dramatically different because we’re doing a lot of things very first class.

Matt Hyatt (19:06):

I agree with that. Based on my experience with the Gwinnett Chamber. You’re exactly right. There are a lot of things that are done very well. I would say, you know, I’ve, we’ve talked about this before. I belong to the Chamber of Commerce, I’m on the Board there, but I’ve also belong to a lot of other membership type of organizations. Churches belong to peer groups, various business organizations and so forth. And I think the challenge with all group organizations like that is if you’ve got a population or a community, how do you engage the largest percentage of that population or community possible? And you know, taking the Chamber as an example, one of the challenges we run into is some people don’t consider themselves Chamber people. And so how do you, how do you draw them in so that they can be part of their own community?

Matt Hyatt (19:55):

And then I think another big challenge for a lot of organizations, chambers included is, okay, well I’ve drawn some folks in now how do we keep them? How we keep them engaged. I think the chamber, our chamber, Gwinnett Chamber does a great job at that. But it’s interesting to hear how you’re going about it, talking with the stakeholders and actually asking them, Hey, what do you think? A great way to learn about what to do next. Good job.

Nick Masino (20:18):

Thank you so much. I’m really enjoying it.

Matt Hyatt (20:21):

So one of the things that, you know, you and I are buddies and so I try to balance my compliments with a really good knockdowns every once in a while because it’s funny. That’s, that’s the, you know, for my own entertainment. So we try and do that.

Nick Masino (20:36):

And hopefully you’re entertaining the listeners.

Matt Hyatt (20:38):

Oh, well, you know, I’ll try and keep it mostly complimentary here on a podcast of course. And I am going to pay you a compliment that’s absolutely true. And that is that you have a reputation among people that you’ve worked with as being a very good leader. People that I’ve talked with, and this goes back years now that have worked with you and for you, many of them come back and say, you know, it was a really great experience. Nick is great boss and I want to dig in on how, how are you doing that? Because as you pointed out in your discussion about your term as mayor, you’re working with a lot of different age groups and I know from my own my own experience that boomers, gen X and millennials and younger, they all have their own quirks, their own preferences and so forth. What are you doing to blend all that together? How did, how do you do that well? And I know we’ve only got a limited amount of time here, but I’d love to hear some key points on what makes you different than the average leader.

Nick Masino (21:39):

Well, let me try the best I can to try to answer and give you some something you’re looking for. First of all, I don’t buy into, millennials are all just like this. Gen Xers are all like that and boomers are. And the reality is I am convinced that there’s a lot more that we have in common between all these generations. And what I have found is that with every generation that I’ve worked with is there are high achievers. They’re your folks that are going to come to work and they’re committed every day. And then you’ve got your low achievers. I call them a, and if anyone’s familiar with topgrading, A, B and C players and every generation has it and they seem to have about the same percentage. And what you want to do is surround yourself with A players or B players and getting the B players to become an A player and redeploying C players either out of your department or do another organization to fly.

Matt Hyatt (22:31):

I like that. It sounds you’re setting them free.

Nick Masino (22:35):

If you’re a C player in an organization, you probably know it. And probably looking for another opportunity or a little help to, you know, go find another opportunity.

Matt Hyatt (22:42):

Well, it’s something you just said is pretty smart and honestly I haven’t heard a lot of people say it, so I want to kind of repeat it. You said that A players, B players, C players, but every generation has each of those. And then you also said it seems like about the same proportion that’s, that’s not something you hear every day. In fact, I would say that if you’re listening to the news, which I recommend that you do not, but if you do or if you’re listening to just general talk among leaders, what you frequently hear is, Oh, that’s millennials and what you’re saying is that your experiences, they’re not a lot different in terms of proportionately ABC compared to other generations. That’s pretty interesting.

Nick Masino (23:25):

I see no evidence of that at all. I see a lot of evidence of people wanting to put people in boxes and say, I understand how this generation works. Well, good luck with that because I think that’s a recipe for failure. And I can tell you, you know who’s the most offended by that? A bunch of millennials. I mean they’re, they’re annoyed by it and I can’t speak for a whole generation, but I don’t think you should lump people together anyway like that. I mean, the reality is we were all born in a certain time era and we had experiences other people didn’t have at the same age. Okay, that’s interesting. And, but they really kind of overdone it in the media and books and podcasts and everyone thinks they have the solution. But the reality is the hardworking millennials that I’ve worked with are offended by these generalizations about their generation.

Nick Masino (24:09):

And when someone who is a millennial actually tries to prove, Oh look, I am just like the way I’m being presented in the media. They’re offended by them. And I’ve seen them coach the other millennials saying, don’t feed into this, stop being like this. But the reality is I’ve seen much less of what people have said about millennials. Again, I just, I see A, B and C appliers and I see a lot more A’s and B’s. If you’ve done a good job hiring, you should see a lot more A’s and B’s than you do C’s. And that goes with any generation.

Matt Hyatt (24:39):

Agreed. Nice job. So let’s talk a little bit about how, how are you going to identify those folks? So we were talking earlier today, I was talking with one of your team members. Happened to be one of your younger team members and she was telling me there’s some new opportunity for her in your organization, which is amazing. I happen to know this young lady. I think that she’s terrific. I think she’s going to do a good job. How do you, how do you pick, cause you have, you do have 30 some odd, what I would say are personable, enjoyable, smart, professional people working at your organization. And when you have a lot of good choices like that, how are you determining which are your best choice to move up in the organization or give a role of influence?

Nick Masino (25:24):

Well, I have found in my own career and watching other people’s careers that people that don’t have to be directed and seem to choose the right decision when given opportunities to be independent thinkers and have a pattern. And so both employees that failed to do that, you look for patterns and I there’s one or two ladies that you’re referring to and I would say this about both of them in general. When I see them make decisions, they are making the right decisions. They also are asking for feedback, they are wanting to fine tune, they are sharpening their own selves and they’re really hardworking and the work that they produce is excellent. And so they’ve been interviewing for this, these two promotions for a long time. And I, and I’m always watching now, neither one of them reported to me previously, but I’m always watching A players and for businesses out there, that’s because I think leaders should always be looking for the next A player and that that person’s not always in your own organization.

Nick Masino (26:22):

So I typically have an unofficial list of, here are some roles, these are the top two or three people at a role that may not be in my community. That’s smart. And they’re typically not looking for a job. They’re currently working somewhere else. Those seem to be the top people. And I know that other leaders have done that with me where you’re having a conversation or maybe you’re driving to a meeting or you just had a lunch or dinner and you walk away and you think, I think I was just getting interviewed. I know I’ve experienced that a couple of times and I started thinking, Oh, did I answer those questions appropriately? But there wasn’t an official position there. Just, I think good leaders are playing. I actually don’t know how to play chess. So maybe it’s good leaders are playing checkers, but you’re always thinking two or three steps ahead and no company will be successful without great people that are motivated and have the tools that they need. And so I’m always looking for those great people. I mean talent is the, it’s very popular now to say that because we’re a little bit in the talent work globally. I think it’s always been the name of the game. I think Rocket IT knows that is as well as anyone I know. Rocket IT is always hiring. Not that they have openings, they’re always looking for great people.

Matt Hyatt (27:29):

That’s true. One of the things that you said that I think is so important that a lot of professionals miss, cause you said you do watch for people that are asking for feedback and I think that’s so critical because there, there are a lot of us that are just quite willing to just kind of take off and do our own thing and never pause and and ask for that feedback. Maybe we don’t want it. I’m not sure but, but you’re right. The folks that I can think of that have come to me and asked for feedback on how things are going or what I’ve talked about, the decision they made often stand out to me as people that really have that A player mentality. That’s great. Thank you. So speaking of young people, tell me about your kids. You got three amazing kids and I have some experience in this area, I have two amazing kids, but it’s not an easy job being a parent. Tell me, what’s your secret sauce there in raising great kids cause you, you got a three, three for three is your score is based on what I’ve seen.

Nick Masino (28:27):

Thank you. And it’s reciprocal. You’re two for two. And so your kids are amazing as well. The self gratification, a podcast brought to you by Rocket IT.

Matt Hyatt (28:36):

Feels really good. Nick, let’s keep going.

Nick Masino (28:39):

We’re great parents. I’m going to give first of all the credits of my wife. She’s an amazing mom, but we have always made time for the kids. Most people see me work pretty hard. I like to think they do Monday through Friday, eight to or well really seven to whatever time I go home. Right? But no one really sees me after six o’clock on Friday because I’m with my family and a lot of, you know, you get invited to a lot of things when you’re in the roles that you and I are in. But I really cherish the time with my family. So my children are now 19, 17 and 15 and we’ve spent a lot of time together.

Nick Masino (29:15):

We traveled together as you and I both know, I’ve, I’ve hiked the Appalachian trail Georgia section with my son and friends and those are just just incredible connection times. Absolutely. And I was my daughter’s soccer coach and my son’s wrestling coach and you know, just making time. It’s just really important and we’ve always just been, I mean, we’re parents who, it’s not friends first. It’s not, you know, that that type of parent by any means was always been the, the parents. But we really have spent a lot of time connecting and I think it’s been important.

Matt Hyatt (29:49):

Well, it’s clear that you’ve consciously made the decision to make that a priority in your life because you are a busy professional, you are in demand, you have a many opportunities to speak at events, to attend events, something. I’ve seen you at several events just in the past week. And so making the time for your kids I think is really important. But kudos to you. And yes, I know Suzanne too. And, she’s certainly an important part of the equation, but you’ve done a good job there. You mentioned travel, so you were one of the better traveled people that I know. You’ve been all over the world for business and for pleasure. Just really quick. Any favorite places from a business perspective that you enjoy going and meeting people and learning about what they’re doing and their countries?

Nick Masino (30:32):

Well, you know, I think I could probably come up with some, but I’ll, I’ll, I’ll just say this. I really like exploring new places. It is really interesting to me. Most of my travels have been to the first world countries. Sure. You know, the richest countries in Asia, the richest countries in Europe, and there’s a lot of, it’s been for, you know, business recruitment and that’s where the companies are and the companies that have shown an interest in expanding it in North America. And so I just, I like to try new places, a place that I’ve been to recently that I had not been to Zurich. Just really cool, very expensive place. Arguably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen is Switzerland. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been to Italy a couple of times in the last few years. More I had been to Italy plenty of other times, but just three times in the last two and a half years.

Nick Masino (31:22):

I’ve really enjoyed that. I headed back to Asia, China, Korea and Japan in the fall, and that’s business and I’m really looking forward to that. I love Asian food. Actually, I love all food. I love Italian food, and so there’s not a standout. An interesting trip I just had my son and I for his spring break, went to London and it was just a three days of nonstop touring and it was really great. On the way in the tube on the way back to the airport, which is the subway, he said, dad, I didn’t, I didn’t know what to expect about London, but this was the best trip I’ve ever been on. Really? Wow. Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, his bar may be low, but I’m pretty sure that Matt, because he spent it with me. Oh, of course. Yeah. But that was a really nice compliment and a really appreciate you spending the time with him.

Matt Hyatt (32:13):

London’s a great, great town. Absolutely. And I’ve been to some of these other places you’ve been to and they, they’re all terrific. Let me wrap up with a couple of things. I would love to kind of look forward a little bit. You’ve had a great career, you’ve done the, we talked about the mayor, we talked about the Partnership Gwinnett within target, we hit a whole career before all that stuff too and recruiting and that’s great. But I know you’re just getting into this role as CEO, but you and I are about the same age and so I think we both know there’s a, there’s a finite amount of time we have to accomplish all of our professional objectives. I’m curious what’s, looking ahead, what are some big things you’d like to sort of accomplish in the rest of your, your career?

Nick Masino (32:54):

Well I’ve just begun as you said. So I look forward to continuing to make the Gwinnett Chamber great where success lives here in Gwinnett County and I’m excited about that opportunity. And interesting thing that I did in the third week of my new position is I attended the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Annual Conference. And I hated that chamber of commerce executives are super fun, but I was, I didn’t really like leaving the third week of this new role to go to a three day conference. But I did. And I was really blown away by all the really awesome other chamber CEOs that I happened to meet a lot of round table discussions connected with people. And there’s a real network there and I think from there the best practice learning opportunities that I didn’t know previously existed because I was in a totally different role leading economic development.

Nick Masino (33:47):

And so I’m just excited, excited about all the things that I learned that weren’t even on my radar. That will definitely be part of the future of the Gwinnett Chamber from, and a lot of this is operational internally. And, but, but I’m excited about it and the opportunities that I literally had been in the chamber for 12 and a half years and weren’t aware of some of these leading things but other Chambers were doing. And so one of those are, I would like for the next five years for us to be a best places to work and maybe a local one, the Business Chronicle or the AJC. But the other, I want to put this stake in the ground that my goal is that we are going to be one of the top three chambers in the United States in the next five to 10 years. And I’m going to stake my reputation on it. And there we’ve got some work to do. I think we’re close, but that last 20% is the hardest. But I believe that we can do it. We need to get more focused on public policy as an organization. Something that we have kind of backed off of in the last six years and look forward to spending. So I’ve got some experience in that area and so I look forward and actually we, I was really proud that the governor was with us. He was with us today. He was with us today. Yes. So I have this little joke with my kids and you know, I’ve been in a lot of luncheons with the governor and I’ll say, Hey, kids have a lunch with the governor today. And they’re like, really? I said, yeah, me and 1000 of my closest friends, I’m like, you know, so far when I leave and see the governor. So last night I’m like, Hey, I’m having lunch with the governor. And they’re like, how many of your friends are going to be there? And I said, you know, a couple of hundred but I’m actually sitting next to the governor at this time. So that was pretty cool. It was great. It was fun. And the kids thought it was cool.

Matt Hyatt (35:28):

Yeah. Well I’ll touch on something really quick and then we’ll move on. I will say that spending time with your peers is just such a great way to learn. I’ve had the same experience. I spend time in our industry associations with other it service providers and not only have I learned a lot from my peers that are running companies similar to Rocket IT, but also made some great friends that way. And so I’m glad you’re going to those events and learning something. I can’t wait to hear how it all shakes out I think would be pretty terrific. Alright, so let’s do a quick lightning round. I know from our past conversations that many times you’ve used books to work with your team and you’ve kind of told me about some of the tips and tricks to get get books into the hands of your team. Are you reading anything these days that is interesting to you?

Nick Masino (36:15):

Well, let me just say I’m a huge Patrick Lencioni fan and I’ve read Five Dysfunctions. I’m actually an interesting thing. That’s by far my favorite business book. Oh yeah. And I’ve actually read it three times. Wow. And I read it when it first came out. I would say I was kind of a line employee or you know, low level middle manager. So there was that perspective. And then when I was asked to lead the economic development initiative, Partnership Gwinnett I’m now in a senior management role and I read it then and again it’s like I read a brand new book, totally different perspective. And then in the first two weeks of becoming the CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber, I read it again and again. Now you’re leading, right? There’s, you can’t blame anything on anyone. You’re in charge. And it really was awesome. And so we’re actually using a Patrick Lensioni consultant. Late September, I’ll have the whole leadership team, we’re going to sneak away for one night, two days and work on the team dynamics because I think most leaders know the foundation of any great team is trust and vulnerability. And so that’s where we’re going to go and we’re going to work on those things and I’m excited about what comes out of it.

Matt Hyatt (37:20):

Wonderful. Pat Lencioni has done some terrific books and you’re reading a new one. I think I am a well new new to you, right? It’s been around for awhile and you’ve read it. I have skimmed it, which, which is typically so The Advantage, as a terrific book and I think you recommended it to me. But I too have had a good time reading some of those books and learning up Pat Lencioni only actually had the opportunity one time to introduce him. I was with EO, Entrepreneurs Organization and he was visiting our Chapter and I got tapped to do the introduction and I have this, you know, spent the evening kind of writing something up and getting prepared. Went to the event the next day and they said next we’ll have Matt Hyatt come up and introduce our speaker. And Pat jumped up and said, I don’t need an introduction. I never got the chance to.

Nick Masino (38:13):

Did you ask for a refund?

Matt Hyatt (38:16):

So one of the, one of the disappointments of my life, I didn’t get to introduce him.

Nick Masino (38:20):

Well at Leadercast this year, which actually happens right here, at the Infinite Energy Arena. I actually was in the lobby and got to meet Patrick Lencioni and he was awesome and it’s super down to earth and so I really enjoyed it. What’s interesting about this book, it’s kind of a culmination of his last three or four books, and so it refers back to them. So I’m glad I’ve read some of them and I’m really enjoying it. I, for the record, I’m not actually reading it, I’m listening to it. So I think that still counts. Okay. I always feel bad. I feel like I’m lying when I say that. I’m reading a book. I’m not. I have about three and a half hours left. It’s about a five and a half hour read and I’m really enjoying it.

Matt Hyatt (38:59):

Great. Well, the first of many reads based on that past experience, correct. So I know you also listen to podcasts. Any favorites?

Nick Masino (39:10):

Without a doubt. I have thoroughly enjoyed Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. Oh yeah. Literally the funniest thing I’ve ever read and I’m sorry, listen to that. I know again, it just started in November. In January. I just happened to Google, you know, funny, humorous podcasts. I just wanted to distraction. Right. And they had only had three episodes. They ended up with, I think they, the season was 34 episodes. I listened to every one of them. They came out Monday morning and I could, I, I don’t know that I belly laughed this much. And what’s interesting, I don’t stay up late. I’m an early riser and I’m quick to go to bed and if I’m, if I’m not asleep by 10, 10:30 like I’m getting nervous. Right. And so I really like to go to sleep. I don’t know that I’d ever watched Conan O’Brien on TV, like literally not once. And he always just kind of seemed that tall, strange character. And he seemed to be bouncing around a lot. I just was generally annoyed with someone. I was annoyed with him, but I didn’t, I’d never listened to him. It is so good. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Matt Hyatt (40:05):

All right, good. We’ll have to check that one out. You know, like you, I don’t stay up too late. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the show either. But I’ve seen a lot of like YouTube clips of various guests that he’s had on and so forth. So what to check out that podcast? You actually go to bed earlier than I do. I do. I’m often, I think last night was around nine o’clock and I was staying up late and I was thinking, Oh my gosh, not one more minute. I’ve got to go to sleep. But I woke up at 4:30 and ready to go.

Nick Masino (40:28):

So I get up at 4:35.

Matt Hyatt (40:31):

And ready there you go. Yeah, we could go running together or something.

Nick Masino (40:33):

You know, I go to Orange Theory.

Matt Hyatt (40:35):

Yes you do. You do. Okay. So throughout your course, the course of your career, I’m interested, what single initiative had the most or the biggest positive impact? What do you kind of look back in your career and say, here’s something that I was involved in that turned out really great.

Nick Masino (40:53):

Well, the Partnership Gwinnett initiative obviously I think was transformational for Gwinnett and it was a time that it was cause it was,

Matt Hyatt (41:00):

Yeah, as a reminder it did not exist. And then you came along and with Jim Moran got it off the ground.

Nick Masino (41:07):

Yeah, a hundred percent. And so I’m super proud of that, but I actually didn’t have a hand out a little hand in the formation of the, of the plan and the strategy. But in regards to something that I kind of took from, with a group of people from infant, from ideas, strategy to, to what it is today would be the Suwanee Green Space and open space plan, which led to the Town Center. And I mean that, that was a, and that was a time where I was pretty young and I don’t know, people said, how did, how were you able to accomplish those things? I don’t think we knew any better. I don’t think that we knew we weren’t supposed to be developers as elected officials. And so that was really, I’m, I’m pretty proud. I still go to Suwanee Town Center. My daughter and I, two weeks ago went to get some Italian Ice at Rita’s and we just sat there and ate it. And I just sat there. I felt pretty proud. I was sitting there with my, I’m pretty proud of my daughter, sitting there looking at Suwanee Town Center. I was pretty proud of that.

Matt Hyatt (42:03):

It was awesome. It is a terrific place to visit and as you know right off I-85 so easy for folks to jump off the interstate and come and explore Suwanee a little bit. But yeah.

Nick Masino (42:13):

Do you want me to explain where Suwanee is? Planet Earth, North America? Okay. Yeah, I forgot about Milky Way. Big picture. That’s right. Somebody who’s 20 years will be listening on another planet.

Matt Hyatt (42:24):

Okay. So folks that want to learn more about the Gwinnett Chamber, Partnership Gwinnett, or if they want to know more about Nick Masino, how do they get in touch?

Nick Masino (42:32):

Well, we have access to the internet at the Gwinnett Chamber through the and you could look us up there. We all have email addresses and cell phone numbers and direct lines. But if you’re interested in becoming a member, we have an incredible Membership Services Team and Membership Development Team, and they’re right on the website. You can email call and all the different telecommunication forms. If you’re interested in Partnership Gwinnett, when at which is the Community Economic Development Strategy. That’s at and the staff pages on there and anybody that you have a specific interest into to connecting there that’s led by Andrew Carnes.

Matt Hyatt (43:08):

Awesome. Another new and rising leader.

Nick Masino (43:11):

Yeah, and not so new. I mean he’s, he’s at four years. Here in Gwinnett. New In his role. He is new in his role. It was interesting. He got promoted and started on the same day I did.

Matt Hyatt (43:21):

How about that? Yeah, I bet I know who had a hand in that. He’s a great guy. Terrific. Well with that, I think it’s almost time to wrap us up. It’s been a fun and a good discussion. Nick, I appreciate you Nick from myself and on behalf of our listeners, thank you for joining us today.

Nick Masino (43:36):

My pleasure.

Matt Hyatt (43:38):

To our listeners, Thank you for tuning in to the Rocket IT Podcast. If you had half the fun that Nick and I just had, we consider that a big win. I’m glad you were able to come along for the ride. Lastly, a quick plug for Rocket IT. We work with businesses, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities in the areas of IT Support, information, security and strategy. To learn more about how Rocket IT can help transform IT to a smooth running accelerator for your organization, please visit should you have any questions about today’s discussion, please email us at or catch us on any of our social media channels. Thank you.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Rocket IT's Newsletter

Stay up to date on trending technology news and important updates.


Find out if Rocket IT is the right partner for your team

Claim a free consultation with a technology expert.

Fed up with IT support that falls short?

Claim a free 30-minute consultation and explore three key practices to evaluate the maturity of your help desk.