Today, I am stepping out my traditional blogging routine to introduce a recent online interview with Zach Bruner.
I enjoy reading Zach’s honest and positive blog posts as well as his one-on-one interviews. The goal of this interview was to pay it forward to a guy who selflessly showcases others in his community and to give him a chance to shine a light, so to speak, on his interests, achievements, and future goals.
When I reached out to Zach last week, he happily accepted the opportunity to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. He is a 2005 graduate of Marceline High School and currently lives in Marceline, Mo with his wife, Skylar and nearly 11 month-old son, Van. Zach graduated From the University of Missouri Columbia in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He then went on to gain his Masters of Educational Administration in 2014 from William Woods University, and will be graduating this Saturday as a Specialist in Superintendency. He is currently the K-12 Principal at Macon County R-IV and an Assistant Wrestling Coach at Marceline R-V. In his free time, Zach also writes for www.missouriwrestling.com.
Without further ado…
How would your family and friends describe you?
I hope that they would describe me as incredibly loyal, caring, funny and hardworking. They may also describe me as loud, anxious, and excessively talkative, ha.
What are your hobbies?
Spending time with my family and friends, traveling, listening to music, playing music, concerts, writing, anything wrestling related, coaching, spending time at the lake, binge watching TV shows with my wife, etc…
What are your proudest achievements?
Being a father to my wonderful son, Van! Also, getting to marry the woman of my dreams and be able to share our lives together. We go through tough times like all relationships, but she is truly my strength when I am weak.
Other achievements I’m proud of are mainly achievements of others that I’ve been able to coach, teach, or hopefully educate one way or the other. Kids like Austin Ward who won two state titles. I’m proud of him for the work he put in to be great and he continues to do so. I hope that my four years of coaching him reflected in his work ethic and abilities to this day. This year, Andrew Edgar was able to win a state title and to see what went into that and the struggles and triumphs make me proud. And those are the just the kids that I’ve coached that have reached the top… there are so many other kids that I am equally as proud of that I have coached or taught. I could go on forever about those people, but I will spare anyone reading.
Ultimately, the letters of gratitude, kind words from students/teachers, and just seeing a person succeed that has put in the work to do so makes me proud.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s pretty generic, but my parents always instilled in me to “never give up.” I like to think that I took that advice personally. More recently, I was given the advice to be kind and say uplifting things to others because you never know how that may turn their world around for the better.
What is your philosophy of teaching and leadership?
In order to teach/lead, you must be able to relate to the students and other stakeholders. Lead by example and keep your word. In my current position, I know that I am no expert, but I want the staff and students to feel like their voice is heard. I want them to know that I will work hard to make the learning environment the best that I possibly can. So, long story short, I believe compassion is the best trait in any teacher and/or leader.
I know you are a very musically driven person. If there was only one song you could listen to for the rest of your life, what song would that be and why?
Paul Simon – Graceland
This song always puts me in a good mood, so if I had only one song to listen to for the rest of my life, I would want it to be one that can lift my mood. I am partial to sad songs, to be honest, but “Graceland” really makes me feel something positive that most songs cannot.
What famous musician(s) do you admire and why?
Number 1: Bob Dylan because he is relentlessly and unapologetically who he is. People complained when he switched to electric, and then most grew to love it. Who he truly is, is what makes him the best songwriter of all time.
Number 1a: Bruce Springsteen for many of the same reasons as Bob.
During your past interviews, you said you wanted to interview people who you feel are successful and happy saying, “Success is a relative term and can be different for various people.” With that being said, what makes you a successful person and to whom do you attribute your success to?
If I am considered a success by some measure, I think it is because I have always had people pushing me to be best that I can possibly be. It all began with my parents who instilled in me that if I want something in life, I am going to have to work for it. They pushed me to achieve things that I would not have gone for without their support. My wife also believes in me and my abilities more than anyone and she has pushed me to accomplish things I may not have had the courage to go for without her by my side. Other than that I try to constantly educate myself and continue to learn. I want to be known as someone who commits to things and sticks by my word.
Beyond my parents and my wife, I attribute any success I have to my past teachers and coaches that believed in me. I also owe anyone who has encouraged or uplifted me in any way some credit as well.
What inspired you to start blogging?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and wanted to blog, but I never really had the motivation to take the leap. Then, right before my son, Van was born my grandma gave me a little journal and encouraged me to write things down. So a day or two after Van’s birth I wrote down the entire experience in as many details as I could remember and a few days after that I decided to write about that experience in a blog format. The reception from that blog was great, so I decided I would continue to share my musings.
I still have that journal notebook my grandma gave me and I update about every week in regards to Van and experiences that we have. Writing keeps me balanced and gives me a way to express myself. At this point, I am addicted to it. Overall, I am inspired and excited about a lot of things and I enjoy writing, so blogging is perfect.
You recently interviewed several close family and friends on your blog. How did you choose the perfect interviewee and what’s your drive behind these interviews?
I want to interview people who I feel have something valuable to say. I try to think of people that are interesting and knowledgeable in different areas of life. It may be long-winded, but I’ll break down specifically why I interviewed the six people for my blog…
With Nicholas Ward, I knew that he has a unique perspective and is a wise teacher and coach. With my mother, Laurie Bruner, I just know how amazing she is and many people on social media may not understand how much she means to my family, so I wanted her voice to be heard. With Jerret Fisher, I know how interesting and insightful he is, but his personality is not the type to outwardly express his insight, so I believe his interview brought a lot of attention to how intellectual and driven he is. With Andrew Green, I knew he had knowledge and comedy to share. With Sol Lavers, I did not know a lot about him, but it was recommended that I interview him and he had a lot of great things to say. Finally, with Andrew Edgar, I wanted to spotlight him because he had worked hard and reached his goal in a sport that is unforgiving at times. He made the most of his situation and I wanted people to get to know him a little better.
Overall, my drive behind the interviews is to give people a different platform to display what makes them great.
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you want to say to them?
I would like to meet my wife’s father, Rod Billingsley. Rod passed away in 2008 and I was never able to meet him. From everything that I’ve heard, he was very cool and I’d like to just “shoot the breeze” with him.
While I’m there, I’d also like to sit down for dinner with Rod, my other father-in-law, Chris Cunningham, and my Grandma and Grandpa Nolan. I think there would be a lot of laughter and tears.
Anything else you would like your peers and followers to know about you?
Anything more that you need to know about me, you can find on my blog at https://medium.com/@Zbruner15. Thanks for reading.
Big Thanks to Zach for his time and willingness to participate in this interview.
You can follow Zach’s blog at www.medium.com/@Zbruner15