I always look forward to the Seattle Vistage Summit, but this year in particular was cause for celebration for a few members of my peer advisory groups. Gary Wichansky and Dean Wilson were nominated for the Vistage Impact Award, and Will Leahy and Abani Heller were nominated for the Vistage Leadership Award. All were deserving of the nominations and awards, I couldn’t be prouder to know and work with them.
I had the pleasure to introduce and award Gary Wichansky, President of Hotopp, who was named the Vistage Impact Award Winner for his remarkable development, achievement, and impact on his business (and my group) over the past few years. His journey has been challenging, but rewarding, and it displays the value and importance of participating in Vistage and a peer advisory group.
When Gary first joined my group in 2016, he was struggling. He had originally started at Hotopp as a designer, and was transitioned to President by way of succession when the position was left vacant.
Having not been trained or prepared for a leadership role, the transition wasn’t easy, and Gary “failed up,” as he likes to say, quite a bit. When he first joined, his company had $1.2M in revenue and was $1M in debt. In addition to financial issues, Gary was struggling with how to transform a group of creative individuals into a high-performing team.
Gary came to our monthly meetings with an open mind and ready to work. He diligently applied the learnings from Vistage members and speakers to turn his company around. It is where he learned to become a leader, and he was successful in shifting his organizational structure and culture.
The results speak for themselves: at the end of 2018, Gary’s company had $9.3M in revenue with $1.2M in the bank. He created a culture of growth at his company, and set the stage for an environment of fostering learning and leadership.
When asked what how his peer group has helped him over the past few years, Gary said it was Vistage that kept him on the journey of self-discovery as a leader. It gave him permission to look inward for awareness, leading to constant self-improvement.
It is these moments and success stories that reaffirm the value of Vistage and the work I do for my group members.
Congratulations Gary, I couldn’t be prouder of you!