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Black History Month Profile: F&M Bank training officer Nick Means has a passion for people

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Every day without fail there’s one thing Nick Means makes sure he does — whether he’s sporting a suit and tie or a rocking a sweatshirt and sneakers — smile.

It may be inconsequential to some and it requires little effort, but a smile has the biggest impact on everyone, Means declares.

“With so much hatred, anger, and bitterness that consumes our world, a simple smile goes a long way,” he said.

This smile Means, a native of Thomasville, takes with him to F&M Bank as a training and development officer and inside the local schools and community where he’s become a mentor for area youth. In May, Means will have worked with the company for 16 years.

“I started in the mailroom,” he told a group of early college students during a recent Black Heritage Day event held at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

He arrived in Salisbury in 1999 on a football scholarship at Catawba College, but prior to that the slender teen had always been seen as a star high school basketball player and the coach’s son. In 2014, more than 10 years after graduating from Catawba College, Means was inducted into the Catawba Sports Hall of Fame.

“I try to be open and honest with people. I give them the most rawest version of myself,” he said.

It’s a trait he likely inherited from his father, Lacardo, who Means described as unadulteratedly honest.

“When you are honest with people, they respect you,” Means said.

Means, like his father, uses the raw honesty to relay to youth he counsels about choosing the right path to a better future.

He said most kids just want structure and discipline.

“These kids are yearning for our attention,” he said.

Means said it’s important to him to let the youth understand that being cool, accepted, and influential doesn’t look a certain way.

“Just be your best self,” he advises the youth.

The people who inspire Means are a list of accomplished people including his grandfather, the Rev. Moses Caldwell, who he said played such an intricate part of his life. Caldwell was a pastor for 40 years. Means also counts local pastor Tim Bates and community activist Alex Clark as instrumental people in his growth as a man.

But he would be remiss if he did not mention his mother, Patty Means, who showed strength as an educator of youth with developmental disabilities.

“Her strength, attitude, her spirit amaze me. She always put other people first, sometimes to the detriment of her own well-being,” he said.

Means, through Bates’ Man Up Monday, a local mentoring program, has gotten the opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of young males.

The thing he hopes the youths that he encounters are left with is “knowing I gave them my best. I’m not worried about the whole. I’m more worried about the individual,” Means said.

The contribution he wants to be remembered by society is that “it’s about being my best self in the moment.”

Means said Paul and Steve Fisher at F&M Bank gave him an opportunity.

“They challenged me to get involved in something I was passionate about in the community,” he said.

Steve Fisher, chairman and CEO of F&M Bank said Means has a strong engine and a passion for people.
“This combination of drive and compassion is critical to his success. His competitive spirit is the same, whether he is in a business suit or shoulder pads. He is going to outwork the completion. Nick has been successful in every area of the bank that he has touched, that is why he was a natural choice as our training officer. We want Nick to develop more ‘Nicks’ at F&M,” Fisher said.
He said Means brings that same work ethic to helping others in the community.
“He has a passion for youth and helping them realize their potential. Nick has the ability to change a young person’s perception of what is possible for their future, from coaching to teaching to mentoring. Nick is a real life example of the value of dreaming big and working hard,” Fisher said.
Fisher said what Nick embodies is part of the F&M culture: “Do everything you can to make us a better company, make your community a better place and make your family the center of it all.”
“I’m proud to have Nick as my teammate and my friend,” he said.

Means said through reading “The Motivation Manifesto” by Branden Burchard, it helped him take back control of his life.

He said people have to stop allowing other people to have dominion over them.

What he believes is at the core of black culture is excellence saying “no other group of people who had to continue to fight for acceptance.”

There’s not a day regardless of what goes on in life that black people don’t have to prove themselves, he said.

“We have to still work twice as hard as our counterparts,” Means said.

“If we were to teach each other about the real history not what we show each other we can really have real conversations and break those barriers down,” he said.

Means said if he could have dinner with any person central to black history it would have to be Carter G. Woodson, known as the “father of black history” who in 1926 launched a celebration of Negro History Week, which would later expand into Black History Month.
“There’s so much I want to know about black history that is prevalent to me being where I am today,” Means said.
“If I think my history started on a slave ship, what am I working toward?,” he said.
“If that’s where we start, there will be division where we end,” Means said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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