Applauding Alumni: Stephen C. Johnson

Applauding Alumni:
Stephen C. Johnson, MBA 2010

Stephen C. Johnson

Steve is the president and founder of Motor City Tour Company, LLC (A.K.A. Motor City Brew Tours). Motor City Tour Company offers guided bus, bike, and walking tours to Michigan breweries. Steve has developed business partnerships with over 50 breweries, brewpubs and brewers who offer tours and tasting sessions to tour guests. His responsibilities include day-to-day management of the entire organization, as well as creating sales and marketing plans and campaigns using social media, e-mail and print.

Interview with Steve:

What was your job title before you started at Walsh?

Account Manager / Valassis

What is your job title now?

Owner / Motor City Brew Tours

How did Walsh College influence you?

The education I received with the MBA program at Walsh gave me the confidence to make better strategic business decisions.

What struggles did you go through during your time as a student? After graduation?

Time management and time management.

How did you get through these struggles?

I focus on the short- and long-term business goals. I track how I am progressing toward these goals. I work on not being afraid to ask for help and make changes when things do not go as planned.

Where is your field/industry headed?

I see continued opportunity in the travel and tourism services industry in Michigan.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

I built a services company from one simple idea. I continue to be amazed at how well the core business is received by customers. Our customers drive where a lot of new ideas come from.

What advice would you give a new alum or current student?

Don't be afraid to share your ideas with other people. Mentoring and support can come in many forms.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

My parents and wife have been there for me with great advice from the start. I wouldn't have accomplished what I have in the business without support from my family and friends.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

Putting the customer first!

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

Everywhere. We are constantly scanning other markets, competition, customers and other industries to come up with the next fun event.

We solicit our customers for ideas. We have weekly strategy sessions where we discuss how to make better events and what to develop next. It is a process that is continuous – we never are content.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?


What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Themselves. The trait that I have seen derail more leaders in their career is their own ego. Leaders need to be open to new ideas. Read business publications (Inc, Business Week, Fortune) online and offline on a regular basis. Inspiration can come from reading about what the big and little guys are doing.

Can you explain the impact, if any, that social networking and Web 2.0 has made on your organization or you personally?

It has literally made my services business possible. Social media helps even the playing field with larger companies with more resources than us. You can establish a one-to-one dialogue with your customers in an efficient manner. The companies that embrace social media and make an effort to master it will have a competitive edge over their peers.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Don't be afraid to make strategic decisions and communicate your vision to the folks you manage.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I am an adjunct professor at Macomb Community College. By teaching, I get an opportunity to learn and grow in the field of Marketing and Sales. The feedback I receive by the faculty and students helps me to keep my leadership skills sharp as a tac.

Steve will be attending Walsh College Oktoberfest on Friday, October 25, 2013 to represent Blackstone LaunchPad and Motor City Tour Company. Come by and say hello.

Please join Walsh College in applauding Steve Johnson in his continued successes by adding your comments below.

To nominate an alumnus to applaud, contact Duc Abrahamson, Alumni & Student Relations Manager at (248) 823-1298.

1 Comment(s) so far | Skip to comment form

Derek Baker on October 5, 2013 at 01:08 pm

Steve said, "Don't be afraid to share your ideas with other people." That is excellent advice, especially if you are able to get real time feedback from your customers as you have been doing. No consultant or extensive research is needed because you are asking your target market directly and getting feedback that is honest and actionable. Keep up the good work Steve, I will see you at Oktoberfest!

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