Shane Sherman was born “dirt poor,” as he says, into a family where no one had ever graduated college.
“My dad left when I was 4, and my mom worked at a florist shop,” he says. “We didn’t have much. I’m the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree, to earn a master’s degree.”
Sherman joined the Army to work his way to those college degrees, but he ultimately learned so much more. His time in the elite Special Forces wrapped him in a brotherhood and taught him leadership, adaptability and resiliency.
And when he left the Army, Sherman took his memories of war, of his fellow soldiers and the lessons he learned from it all into his career at UCCS and the Center for Creative Leadership, where he teaches leadership classes to college students and business clients alike.
“I had some tough deployments,” says Sherman, who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “When I think of my brothers who died over there, I ask myself: ‘What would they want me to do? How would they want me to live?’ And that’s how I live my life, always with their memories.”
Sherman counts earning the Green Beret through the Special Forces “Q” course — short for Qualification Course — as his proudest achievement. And he says those military experiences will shape the rest of his life.
“When you see people shot — and you’ve been shot at — it puts things into perspective,” he says. “But it makes you approach the world differently. It taught me how to empathize, how to help our clients understand that I know the tough times they are going through.”
It was one of those tough deployments that made Sherman look for something to take his mind off war. He settled on ballroom dancing lessons in Colorado Springs — and there, he met his future wife.
“I noticed her immediately,” he said. “There was this beautiful woman who was teamed up with another instructor, but they put us together for a competition. Now we have twin 9-year-olds.”
The two left the Springs as part of a military move, and when Sherman transitioned from the Army in 2010, they moved to California. There, he opened a business teaching leadership lessons learned with the Green Berets to players in the National Football League.
“That was pretty interesting,” he said. “It was very different from the military … some of them, they are great players, but they’d never even been taught how to balance a checkbook. We were there to teach them how to be more than just players.”
Sherman moved on to a Fortune 500 company, Danaher Corp. in Chicago, and worked his way up the corporate ladder. His successes there: He increased the annual profit margin by 1.5 percent and led a $135 million sales force. But the couple decided that the Springs was where they wanted to raise a family, so they moved back. He worked remotely before finding a position at CCL through the dean of the Kellogg College of Business at Northwestern University, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. It’s a great job to promote Colorado Springs, he said.
“Every week, we get 60 CEOs from around the world here through CCL,” he says. “They get to experience what the Springs is like. It’s a great opportunity for the city to make a bigger impact.”
And all the attention from Rising Stars? It makes him a little uncomfortable, he said.
“It’s kind of the opposite of what they say in Special Forces,” he said. “We’re the ‘quiet professionals.’ This kind of front-and-center attention doesn’t come naturally to me. Five years ago, it wouldn’t have happened.”