Wade grew up on a small cattle ranch in the Badlands of western North Dakota. His father was Irish and his mother was from a German Mennonite family that moved to the area from a Mennonite colony in Indiana to take a land grant. Early family life was greatly influenced by Mennonite teachings and lifestyle.
The lack of resources and infrastructure meant he and his siblings were raised without electricity, without indoor plumbing, and without television (well there was a brief time of watching TV with a generator until Wade’s mother caught the kids watching cartoons instead of doing their chores – she smashed the tube with a brick). The family worked hard and enjoyed a simple rural life. His parents modeled a wonderful marriage, hard work, and the need for education, even though they themselves were not highly educated (8th grade and high school).
Wade was a voracious reader as a boy and his favorite summer break was sitting in the shade under a Chestnut crabapple tree munching on apples, reading adventure stories, and dreaming of one day seeing the world outside of his small, rural county. He begged his mother to buy him a suit so he could look like a “business man” while in grade school (pictured in the header).
Wade attended a small red brick country school in rural North Dakota with six classmates and graduated from high school at the nearby county school with 33 classmates.
He started working as a roofer’s assistant after school in the sixth grade. In high school he often worked the midnight to 8 AM shift at a local truck stop. He did his homework at the counter between refueling eighteen-wheelers, changing oil, and selling tires. After clocking out when the manager arrived in the morning, he showered in the trucker’s shower and raced to school to beat the morning bell.
He was determined to go to Alaska after high school to weld on the pipeline to increase his hourly pay, but his best friend talked Wade into driving with him to college. Wade never caught the bus back home as planned after the road trip. Instead, he enrolled in college and took the first job he came to in the want ads (as a breakfast cook) to pay his tuition while crashing on a cot at his sister’s home. He ended up staying in college.
Wade graduated with honors from North Dakota State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. He worked full time during college at various jobs and entrepreneurial pursuits. His roles included computer programmer, teacher’s assistant, heavy equipment operator (during the summers – it paid the most), and as a dance and concert producer. He washed dishes for his fraternity in exchange for meals. He joined ROTC because he needed the $100 per month and he was interested in serving his country after college.
While serving as a full-time military officer, Wade graduated from Texas A&M University’s Central Texas campus with a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems with a perfect 4.00.
After returning from fighting in the Gulf War, Wade considered an MBA to further prepare to be an entrepreneur, but he was so busy working that he did not have time to study for the GMAT. Consequently he applied to the only MBA program that did not require a GMAT that year and was accepted by the Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar (a designation for the top 5% of the class of 918 students). Wade worked as a consultant during school to help pay the bills.
Wade continued his affiliation with Harvard as a research fellow and worked with two HBS professors to create an executive education program in Strategic Sales Management. His role included case study authoring and helping teach the first session of the program. While Harvard’s interest in his return to the school to get a Doctorate degree and stay on as a professor was attractive, his entrepreneurial pursuits kept him too busy to seriously consider the opportunity.
Although Wade flirted with faith earlier in life, his serious faith journey began in Dallas after graduate school where he was asked one evening by a smart, successful attorney whether or not he knew what would happen when he died. Wade responded that everyone could earn salvation through whatever religion they embraced, but he was challenged on the veracity of that response (“…how could everyone just make up their own rules about salvation and eternity and magically end up where they wanted to be?”) He was then encouraged to investigate the issue of faith with the same analytic rigor he used for clients in his work at the Boston Consulting Group.
Wade subsequently embarked on a personal journey of discovery and studied the historical, mathematical, prophetic, logical, bibliographic, archeological, and scientific evidence for the truths taught by each of the world’s major religions. As a result, many inconsistencies with religious pluralism became readily apparent. All major religions – while embracing some common good – were vastly different in terms of what they considered true, what they taught about God, the condition of man, the basis of salvation, etc. Obviously they couldn’t possibly all be true – there were too many irreconcilable differences and it violated the law of noncontradiction. He began ruling out faith systems that failed his framework of truth: they were either logically inconsistent, lacked comprehensiveness, or lacked sufficient evidence.
Over that period of a year of intellectually-honest inquiry, Wade was reluctantly led to the answer that the Bible was uniquely true and that the historic person of Jesus Christ was real and needed to be dealt with: he could either accept Jesus or reject Jesus, but he couldn’t deny that Jesus existed and had made unique claims. Wade decided to make a commitment as a Christian. His faith become a priority that helped him be much more “others focused” with a goal of honoring God while developing high-quality, meaningful relationships. The end result is a purposeful life that is very fulfilling and enjoyable. Life isn’t any easier, but the lens through which he views the world – and the purpose for which he lives – is vastly different.