In our last post on Corporate Growth, Capital Style, we featured part one of a Q&A interview with Len Forkas, the President and CEO of Milestone Communications and the Founder of the charity, Hopecam. Len is scheduled to address the attendees at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference.
Len shared background on Milestone Communications and the reasons for the company’s success. He also discussed the creation of his charity and participating in the Race Across America to raise money and awareness for Hopecam.
In part two of our conversation with Len, he discusses the lessons learned from being on a bike for 3,000 miles over twelve days, how those lessons apply to business leaders running their own enterprises and what attendees at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference can expect from his presentation. Here is what Len had to say:
CGCS: You’ve said that your team was the single most important factor for success when doing the Race Across the America. What did you learn about constructing, leading and managing a team that business leaders can apply to their companies?
The most important thing I learned is that people are everything. I had an 11-person, all volunteer crew that got me to finish line. Prior to the event, I interviewed more than a dozen people who were associated with the race – and I asked them what they thought was the most important factor for a rookie like me to consider. They all said the same thing: It’s having the right mix of people on your team, people who are positive and selfless. They also pointed out that it only takes one person with the wrong chemistry to ruin a team.
CGCS: What other lessons and best practices did you learn during Race Across America that you’ve translated to running Milestone Communications and Hopecam?
Mr. Forkas: When people aren’t performing, you have to find a way to motivate them. I learned the best way to do that is to honor and respect what they do. We had one situation where a team member wasn’t doing her job. I sat down with her and explained that I wouldn’t make it to the finish line without her. And after that conversation, I never had to worry about her again.
Another lesson was that mistakes are inevitable, even with meticulous planning. In our case, we got lost a couple of times. One time we left a guy behind at a convenience store for three hours. Good teams realize and accept that they’re going to make mistakes. You learn from them, move on and don’t hold grudges.
I also learned to trust my team. There’s no way I could have finished the race if I had to think about anything other than pedaling my bike. Once you delegate responsibility, you can’t second guess people.
Finally, I learned that a team can give you the edge needed to go the extra mile. As a business, you may be cruising along – and out of nowhere a competitor jumps ahead of you. You can let them go, or you chase after them. Sometimes power is in your mind, rather than your body, and it takes someone else to give you that extra push needed for the chase.
CGCS: What can attendees expect from your upcoming appearance at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference?
Mr. Forkas: Every minute of the race, my team members felt they were helping kids with cancer. If there’s one message I hope people will take away from my presentation, it’s this: Nothing beats a mission-driven team. When you can ingrain your company’s mission into the hearts of your team, and they feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves, you’re on your way to achieving something truly special.
Len is one of three exciting speakers appearing at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference. His speech is part of an exciting schedule of events that includes three panel discussions, networking sessions and DealSource, where business leaders can get exclusive one-on-one access with investors. For additional information about the Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference – or to register – click HERE.