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Acknowledging and Appreciating Two Impressive Business Leaders: Another Special Day in My Life as a Vistage Chair

May 30, 2024

Today was a great day, filled with moments that reminded me of how truly blessed I am to work with such incredible business leaders. Two meetings, in particular, stood out to me.

One was with a long-term client who has become a dear friend over the years. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the full arc of his business journey—through the highs and the lows, the trials by extraordinary circumstances, and the triumphs that followed. He has faced each challenge with resilience and has emerged stronger every time. Watching his journey unfold has been nothing short of inspirational.

In a world where the media often portrays business leaders as driven solely by profit and personal gain, my friend Jim Wolf is a testament to the contrary. Over 35 years, he has sacrificed so much to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of his company. His story is one of perseverance and dedication, a narrative that counters the stereotype of the self-serving businessperson. Today, he rightfully reaps the rewards of his hard work and dedication. Jim exemplifies the kind of business owner who serves his clients with integrity, provides jobs in his community, and builds enduring partnerships based on mutual success. Generously, Jim has decided to keep his business in the family, passing it on to the next generation, who I know will uphold his values and vision. Thank you for being you, Jim!

Another meeting that left a lasting impression was with a leader I’ve recently started working with. Over the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate his self-effacing nature and his commitment to continuous improvement. Matt Livelsberger speaks passionately about his company and the positive culture he is striving to build. His definition of success goes beyond financial metrics; it is about making a meaningful impact on the lives of his employees. Our conversation was a refreshing reminder that true leadership is about influencing others in a positive way.

I was particularly struck by his humility. Matt readily admits his mistakes and is constantly striving to grow and improve as a leader. His first inclination is to consider how he could serve his team better. In our discussion, he emphasized that success, for him, is about creating a workplace where employees feel valued and empowered. It’s leaders like him who make me optimistic about the future of business. When he talked about his vision, I could see the genuine care he has for his team and the lengths he goes to ensure their well-being. This kind of leadership is what builds strong, cohesive teams that are capable of achieving great things together.

These are just a few examples of the exceptional people I get to work with as a Vistage Chair. Both men and women in my groups strive to run high-performing businesses that benefit their employees, not at their expense. They genuinely care about serving their customers the right way. Their word is their bond. They ensure their organizations deliver on their promises, and when mistakes or delays occur, they take responsibility and make things right. This level of accountability and dedication is what sets them apart.

I also had several other meetings today where I was equally impressed by the acumen, curiosity, passion, and drive of the leaders I met with. The future of small business is in good hands.

As I prepare for bed tonight, I’ll reflect on these conversations and the many others I’ve had recently. I wish more people, especially those skeptical about business leadership and capitalism, could see what I see regularly. There’s a reason why our entrepreneurial spirit is the envy of the world. Our economic model encourages people to bet on themselves, and we’ve built a support infrastructure to make it happen. Leaders like Jim and Matt and others who wake up every day striving to make their corner of the world a better place. They’re not perfect—none of us are—but they are committed to getting better and doing the right thing consistently.

They take responsibility for their actions and aim to create environments where people can thrive and grow. They’re proud of the positive impact they have on the lives and families of their employees. They routinely and generously help their colleagues. For those who believe otherwise, let me assure you: our economic future is bright as long as we continue to foster and celebrate leaders who prioritize values as much as profits.

As Zig Ziglar once wrote, “You don’t build a business—you build people—and then people build the business.” Today was a testament to that truth.

To quote Simon Sinek, Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge. This principle is embodied by the leaders I work with every day. They understand that their role is to support and uplift their teams, creating environments where people feel valued and empowered. They strive to encourage meaningful work and build effective relationships. These daily interactions reinforce my belief in the positive power of business and the incredible potential of genuine, values-driven leadership. As I look forward to tomorrow, I am filled with gratitude and optimism, knowing that I am surrounded by leaders who are not just building businesses, but also building people, communities, and a brighter future.