With Christmas around the corner, we know Santa has a close connection with reindeer. But here is what Arizona’s most influential business leaders say are their spirit animals or the animals with whom they most identify:

Steven N. Berger, managing shareholder, Engelman Berger: “An online quiz says flamingo, but I’ve never had long skinny legs. I’m sure a dog fits the bill. I want to meet everyone, lead and be led, be true to my friends and clients, eat often and get multiple treats.”

Bryon Carney, Arizona market leader, Cushman & Wakefield: “I believe I identify best with the wolf. Wolves run in packs and desire to work as a team, live with a sense of urgency and have an unwillingness to quit.”

Molly Carson of Ryan Companies US, Inc.

Molly Carson, senior vice president, Southwest market leader, Ryan Companies: “My spirit animal would be an elephant because they are loyal, hardworking, and when provoked they can raise holy hell.”

Andrew T. Geier, executive vice 0resident, Layton Construction: “I’m a Taurus, so let’s go with a bull as my spirit animal. The traits seem to fit: hard-headed, down-to-earth, tenacious, reliable, and loyal. Plus, everyone tells me that I’m full of bull.”

Grady Gammage, partner, Gammage & Burnham:“Yoda. Short, old and kind of wise.”

Don Garner, CEO, Alliance Bank of Arizona: “I’ve always felt a good leader should be like a lion in many ways, since I admire the way they naturally lead — with courage, strength, decisiveness and a need to protect the pride. I care deeply about the team at Alliance Bank of Arizona, as well as our clients.” 

Michael Ebert, managing partner, RED Development: “The honey badger. Not only have they been listed as the world’s most fearless animal in the Guiness Book of World Records, but they are smart, strong, adorable and fierce.”

Amy Hysell, president & CEO at Arizona Financial Credit Union. (Photo by Erin Thorburn)

Amy Hysell, president and CEO, Arizona Financial Credit Union: “A tortoise, because they live a LONG time. I would like their longevity — not necessarily their life — although they do tend to be resilient, slow and steady.”

Sharon Harper, chairman and CEO, Plaza Companies: “Llamas. From the highest point of the mountains in the Andes to our ranch in Cornville, I have enjoyed, bred and loved llamas.  They are elegant, loyal and disciplined animals, and fierce defenders of their children.”

Laura A. Lo Bianco, partner, Lewis Roca: “My spirit animal is the elephant. While some would focus on the power they represent, it is their symbols of strength, wisdom, protection, sensitivity, longevity and community that connect me to them.”

Scott Maxwell

Scott Maxwell, managing principal, Cresa: “Hawk, given that I went to the University of Iowa.”

Jeff Meshey, president and CEO, Desert Financial Credit Union: “The bald eagle has always inspired me and many other patriots because of its power and grace. Having the ability to soar to great heights and see the world through a different lens, eagles can inspire us to greatness.”

Lisa Riley, branch banking director, Wells Fargo: “Wildcat. As a University of Arizona alumni, I appreciate their tenacity.  I also respect that besides Wilbur, there is also Wilma – a strong female role model.”

Ryan Sarbinoff, regional manager, Marcus & Millichap: “Octopus. They are willing to do anything and everything for their family. So much so, that mother and father give their lives to create life for others.”

Angie Schmidt, CEO, SDB Contracting Services: “I am not sure if a bear is a spirit animal, but I am very protective of my home and work families. I guess you can say I am a mamma bear.”