In 2017 two of my US clients received EY (Ernst & Young Inc.) Entrepreneur of the Year ® awards. Andrew Limouris (President & CEO of Medix) and Brent Parent (Founder & CEO of Material Handling Services, LLC) were each recognized for excelling in innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
As their coach, I could not have been prouder.
I had a chance to talk to these extraordinary leaders recently, about what it takes to stay strong and resilient, through extraordinary growth – and for the long haul.
Here is an excerpt of my conversation with Andrew Limouris, who was awarded the Midwest Entrepreneur of The Year ® 2017 in Technology and Talent Services.
Congratulations on your award! You were so emotional in your acceptance speech – why were you so moved?
I was thinking about my mom – who died 10 months after I started my company – and how much she would have liked to be there. She gave me her blessing, helped me move into my first office, and told me that if I work hard, everything would be OK.
My wife and kids were there. They were so patient with me, especially during the first 10 years when my kids were growing up. I was in a lot of pictures, coaching some sports, and things like that, but not always mentally there. I was extremely focused on the business.
And my brother was there. He was jumping up and down with excitement.
There was a lot of emotion, and validation for this idea of a double bottom line – people, profit, and planet – that I talk about in my book, Won with Purpose, and knowing that we are living it here at Medix. You have to be able to have purpose in everything you do – and to tie any success, any humility, to where a person pays homage to something greater than themselves.
Let’s talk about leadership – the upside and the downside. If you were to talk to your 25-year old self – or to someone at the beginning of an entrepreneurial life – what would you say were some of the lessons you’ve learned?
There’s a lot that goes into building a company. It becomes part of your life in a way that intertwines all your family stuff, your social life – it becomes who you are.
Your network is so important to your growth.
I would say to parents of kids five to 18: put your child in a situation where they are working in teams, with all kinds of personalities and people. I don’t care if it’s choir, dance, jazz…hockey, football, basketball or baseball.
One of the strengths that’s really helped me, as an entrepreneur, is that I’ve worked with so many types of people, and know who I can surround myself with, to create something great.
When you know you’re in a circle of people who are not bringing out the best in you – who are intentional and meaningful, and who help you create the best version of yourself – run away fast.
My kids hate when I say, “You make good choices, good things happen. You make bad choices, bad things happen.” But it’s really that simple…
You once said you paid a price for growing your company. What do you do to stay healthy and resilient, for the long haul?
I have a thousand different voices in my head: about priorities, metrics and KPIs. Are my people hitting this? This area of the company isn’t humming right now. I wonder how this person is doing: his father died, and are we showing up for him? And so-and-so’s pregnant, and we have to create a great environment so that women can come back to work here, and rave about it.
The amount of anxiety and pressure around every single aspect of finding data, HR, marketing, legal, every office, every division, every leader. If you’re really all in, you’re all in. Whether or not you are responsible, day to day, you are vulnerable. You are accountable.
You say in your book Your Oxygen Mask First, that you give everything at work, and your family gets the scraps, at the end of the night. If I were to be 100% vulnerable, I would say there’s an element of that that’s never changed.
There’s no such thing as work-life balance – it’s part of the territory – but I make an effort, within the 168 hours (a week) I have.
The people I work with are my brothers and sisters: I love them. And I love my family. There’s this blurred vision of who and what comes first, a lot of the time. So, it has been very difficult, but one of the best things that happened is I found someone to support me, who helps me to be accountable to what’s important.
I have three kids – Lidia 10, Eli 23, Denin 15 – and Eli is the most vocal about me being on my phone, and not paying attention. My wife, too. My son says, “You’re the boss, I don’t understand why you even have to go.” I love him!
When you go on vacation you have to climb down the mountain. It takes 24 to 48 hours before you get to a place where you are kind of on vacation. My wife thinks I’m awesome, at that point!
I hear how much you care, and the relentlessness of that. Do you have rituals or habits to take care of yourself?
I surround myself with people who give me what I need.
I was lucky to marry someone who absolutely lets me know my blind spots. She gives me kisses and hugs when I need them, but never, ever lets me slide. I’m so open and vulnerable with her.
Nothing beats a long shower!
And I spend time reflecting:
What did I do with my time today? What will I do with my time tomorrow?
What are the one of two things that make me tick? Why do I do what I do?
I want to positively impact lives by creating opportunity. What am I doing to make that happen? To make my company better?
I work out with someone – a friend or a trainer. You start to talk about things – it may be simple things – that helps you to sort things out.
Don’t forget: stress is good, but only if you have people in your life – people you can depend on and count on. It’s only bad if you’re in it alone. With my network of people, I’m never alone in any decision I make. I feel so blessed to know who I can depend on, who I can talk to.
Have mentors and a coach – it’s so important.
Medix provides workforce solutions to clients, and creates opportunity for talent representing a variety of industries in Healthcare, Scientific and Information Technology. With values in both purpose and profit, Medix engages in social responsibility in several ways, including donations to a summer camp for children who lost a parent through service to their country; engagement with an orphanage in Sierra Leone, and mentoring older orphans to develop work skills they need to provide for themselves, one day.
Medix has been featured on such prestigious lists as Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000 Honor Roll” (six consecutive years on list of the nation’s fastest growing private companies), and Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the Nation. www.medixteam.com.