A quick introduction about what your company does/your values/mission.
Although all of our instructors are teachers and trainers, we specialize in creating fun team activities that end in a donation to charity. For instance, our most popular program is the Build-A-Bike ® team building activity. We typically do these for companies at their annual meetings or conventions. We divide the big group into six to eight person teams. Then, each team compete to finish team challenges to earn bicycle parts. If they work together, the end up with all the pieces of a brand-new bike. The teams then assemble the bikes that are donated to a children’s charity in the area.
Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in a rural part of Arkansas. My town only had about 300 people. And everything that we owned was bought second-hand. I knew that my education was my ticket out of poverty, though. So, I worked my way through college. Two years after graduating, though, nothing had really changed. My lifestyle was a little better than it was growing up, but I was incredibly in debt and working in a dead end job. I was actually starting to think that all the hard work was for nothing. Then, a leadership development coach took me under her wing and started to show me how the business world really worked. Less than 10 years later, I had made my first million dollars. Then, six months later, I made my second million. Once I figured out these “secrets” to success, I decided to spend the rest of my life helping other people move from poverty to freedom. The Leaders Institute ® is the way that I put that plan into action.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Hire more executives more quickly. As an entrepreneur, we always want to save money by just doing everything ourselves. But the growth of your company is dependent on the infrastructure you create for the company. Pay the premium fee for the best people, and your business will grow more quickly.
What problem does your business solve?
We make boring meetings more fun and interactive. Most meeting organizers want to maximize their time with the team, so they cram too much stuff into too little time. This makes the team hate coming to the meetings. They are overwhelmed. So, when my team comes in and give them a fun way to mingle with each other, morale and meeting satisfaction increase exponentially.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
One of the bikes that we donated went to a kid who lived in an apartment complex in a pretty tough part of town. He was so excited, because none of the kids in his complex had a bike. About a week after he got the bike, the club director asked him how he was enjoying the new bike. He replied back, “We love it!” The director asked who he meant when he said “we.” The kid said, “None of the kids in my apartments have a bike. So, I share it with everyone. We love it.” Stories like that make what we do worthwhile. Then we donated another 10 bikes to the apartment complex.
What is your magic sauce?
People learn by doing. So instead of coming into a meeting and lecturing people with a monologue, we give them information and help them apply it right away. We get them up out of their chairs and moving around the room. The groups mainly want to talk to each other — not listen to a talking head all day. We let them do that.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We just opened an office in Atlanta. We are now expanding to Las Vegas and Phoenix. Our goal is to have 10 different offices nationwide in the next five years.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I had a couple of managers who teamed up and created a competitive company while they were still working for me. They were able to funnel off a few of my biggest customers. It was like a gut-punch. I felt so betrayed. Then, I got angry. I really wanted to make them pay. All that really happened in the end, though was that I still lost the customers, and I paid a ton of money to a lot of attorneys. It was a good lesson. Since then, I restructured my company to make it where my team members have a bigger incentive to stay and help me grow the business. I wouldn’t have made that change without having the hardship beforehand.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
We look for team members who already have an expertise in the business world but who now want to help the next generation of businesspeople succeed.