Success in my world is measured by the impact you have on the people you work with and in turn their impact on the lives of those they touch.  For the past 22 years, I have been working with Vistage Worldwide, an organization of over 20,000 CEO’s, Company Presidents, Business Owners, and Senior Executives from around the world.  Vistage provides a forum for its members to become better leaders and lead more fulfilling lives.  We do this by challenging and supporting one another to achieve more with their companies, communities and families than they could on their own.  From the moment I engaged with this organization, my life and trajectory has been so much more rewarding and meaningful because of the level of engagement, intimacy, and impact we have on each other’s lives.

Today, I run three peer-advisory Vistage groups and have worked with hundreds of successful leaders from companies around the D.C. metro area.  Every month, we meet to learn from experts in various disciplines and to support one another in building and growing thriving businesses and in enriching each other’s lives and the communities in which we live.  Several of these leaders are profiled in this and prior editions of the Profiles series.  Their stories serve as examples of the kind of leaders our communities and country hunger for – people with passion and purpose, and who care deeply and serve as role models for those they work with, in their communities, and their families.

I have also been fortunate to be involved as a host on Executive Leaders Radio, where each week we interview business owners, CEO’s, Presidents, and Senior Level Executives.  As in my work with Vistage, we create a very personal connection through these interviews to better understand the people, places and events that influenced them and created the arc across time that explains the success they have today.  Their stories are filled with challenges, obstacles, good fortune, and choices made that have guided them along their own path, along with the people who supported and encouraged them, to reach the place they find themselves today.

Looking back over my life, I also realize how my family, friends, colleagues, and others I have admired from afar who influenced my life in ways I could never have imagined.  I carry their stories with me as I navigate through the landscape of my life, helping to guide and support me as I deal with the many choices – large and small – that I confront on a daily basis.  And I would not be where I am in my life today without their advice, support, and encouragement.

So to the stories of the wonderful people profiled in this Volume.  These individuals, as in other editions, seized or happened upon a problem or opportunity needing attention, and turned their energies towards addressing it.  As I read the stories, I am humbled at what they have accomplished in their lives.  I am also reminded, and my faith is renewed, when I see what we can do to make a difference in people’s lives.  The influences that shaped their view of the world and put them on the path to where they are now are different for each of them as it is for each of us.  They forged a path that created something greater than them – companies and lives that would nourish, encourage, challenge and inspire others to do the same.

Gordon and his team have so artfully captured the journey of these leaders through the twists and turns of the road they traveled to arrive at the place profiled here.  My hope is that as you read these profiles, you find inspiration, courage, a compass, or a spark that illuminates the difference you make in peoples’ lives, and encourages you to continually seek out new opportunities to engage more and have a greater impact in the communities in which you live and work.

Les Smolin

Vistage Group Chairman, Vistage International
Founder and CEO, Executive Leadership Forum
Host of Executive Leaders Radio

Les Smolin is a Chairman in the D.C. metro area with Vistage Worldwide Inc., a global organization that organizes and runs private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives, and business owners. He serves as an executive coach, mentor, and advisor to these executives and other compa­nies throughout the region and nationally. He is also a Host of Executive Leaders Radio, the largest business talk radio show in the mid-Atlantic region and broadcast nationally. The show helps to tell the stories of the people and experiences that shaped the guest Executives interviewed and contributed to their success as leaders in our communities today.