Excellence and Success Require Collaboration
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

The biggest myth in the world of success literature is that we can be successful alone. This simply isn’t true. Although some will tell you it is possible, they are just practicing self-promotion. Confidence is important. However, it is deceiving if we tell ourselves and others that we succeed alone. We need the creative genius and hard work of a dedicated team to excel. Commit to building and being on great teams, and you will be wildly successful beyond your dreams.

When was the last time you had a hugely successful outcome? What were the critical elements to success? Who helped in small and large ways to see it come to fruition? When I answer these questions in my own life, I can point to a group of amazing people who helped me achieve amazing results—this is why I love being a leader. I get to collaborate with people who are attempting tough things, work with them to figure out how we can do it, and achieve incredible results as we change the world around us. Is there anything more fun and fulfilling than that? I don’t think so!

Let me give you an example. Over the last year, I joined a committed group of people to work on opening a new kind of grocery store. It would serve what is currently a food desert on the South Side of Syracuse. It would employ and train underemployed or unemployed individuals and give them a second chance for success. The jobs would prepare them for careers while offering them health and healing services while they work. We would do this as a nonprofit to put all the earnings back into more services for the community. Does this sound exciting and meaningful? Consider that this would be the first grocery store we would open, we would do it by gaining grants and investments, and we would do it during a pandemic. Now, do you want to do it? Sounds tough – maybe even impossible. Well, with a great team of volunteers and a small paid staff, we did it!

If you want to see it for yourself, visit the Brady Market in Syracuse, NY. It has a fantastic group of cooks making incredible food for the market and catering. It has a meat shop with its own meat cutters. It offers fresh vegetables and fruits. And, best of all, it puts every penny of its profits back into its mission of serving the community. This success was not even remotely possible without the building and maintaining of a dedicated, caring, talented, and visionary team. Dozens of key staff and volunteers are making this happen. It opened this month and is already generating profits. We are so incredibly excited about this concept. We envision a group of nonprofit enterprises serving those who want job training and a better life in the heart of hurting communities. Now, that is amazing – and only possible with a team!

This is just one example of how teams make the impossible happen. I could give you dozens of examples that I have witnessed in my professional and personal life. No single individual creates deep value and works miracles. We do it together with dedicated and caring colleagues, families, and friends. There is no I in team. We must be good team builders and teammates if we want deep and lasting success.