The Morning Routines of 3 Business Leaders in Indian Country

Valentina R. Sireech, CEO, U.T.E. LLC, an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation; and Dave Williams, President/CEO of Missouri River Resources and a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation; start each morning with prayer.

A morning routine grounds a leader in right actions and purpose. It invites a sense of calm and fortitude amid uncertainty and challenge. Scientific research reveals that a morning ritual increases happiness levels, while enhancing confidence, productivity and overall performance. 

So it’s no wonder business leaders in Indian Country take their morning practices seriously. 

1) Valentina R. Sireech, CEO, U.T.E. LLC

Every morning, Valentina R. Sireech wakes up early and “prays to the Creator,” then starts planning her always-busy day. “I write down what my intention and focus are for the day, and that really allows me to anchor myself to determine what’s important and what I can push off to the side.”

It’s a formula that is working like gangbusters for the chief executive officer of Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC (U.T.E.), the business arm of the Ute Indian Tribe. Stockholders of the corporation are all Ute Indian Tribal members, and its Board of Directors is the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. Under Sireech’s direction, U.T.E. operates and manages 10 Tribally owned businesses that employ more than 250 people. 

“My goal is to serve Tribal communities, offer jobs and training for Tribal members, while strengthening the Tribe’s financial position,” says Sireech, an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, the second largest Indian reservation in the U.S. 

Some of the businesses Sireech oversees include oilfield water and pumping services, a grocery store, a family fun center, a restaurant, a catering and event center and a coffee house, to name a few U.T.E. subsidiaries. “We have been able to grow businesses and diversify in a tough, volatile economy due to the cyclical downturn in the oil and gas industry,” she says.

2) Dave Williams, President/CEO of Missouri River Resources

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation member Dave Williams’ morning starts off at 6 a.m., when the satellite TV kicks on a Christian station, and he sits for half an hour, with his coffee, listening to the message. That’s followed by a prayer, board meetings, “and looking forward to God’s grace.”

Then the President and CEO of Missouri River Resources goes to work “to create an atmosphere where our employees are happy to work there,” he says. 

Williams built and leads Missouri River Resources, the MHA Nation’s privately owned oil & gas company located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota. The company has developed 8 producing wells and has participated in 26 working interest wells over 4,300 acres in the Bakken oil play in western North Dakota.

“As a Native oil company that really came from the ashes, so to speak, we’ve almost produced over 2 million barrels of oil on our own, as just a little company with 10-12 employees,” Williams told Native Business.

3) Derek Valdo, CEO, AMERIND Risk

Derek Valdo (Acoma Pueblo), CEO of AMERIND Risk, starts his morning with an early workout to get his body and mind jumpstarted. From there, a typical day on the job includes phone calls, walk-in meetings, reviewing critical documents, a walk around the office, a solid lunch, and some visioning for the future. 

Since 2012, Valdo has helmed the nation’s only insurance company that is 100 percent Tribally owned with 100 percent Tribal clients. Under his leadership, AMERIND Risk has almost doubled in annual revenue while the company’s Tribes, their people and their businesses have seen more than $4 million annually in savings on the cost of insurance.