1 hour listen
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
In the Positive Enterprise Value Podcast, we have the fun of interviewing and listening to some of the most seasoned, successful Entrepreneur Owner-Managers on the planet. The journey through their lives and through their enterprises, through their communities, through their families, and in their successes they leave behind breadcrumbs for us to see and to examine. This week, I have the fun of interviewing my friends Barbara and Ed Wilson, the founders of Wilson Language Training.
Wilson Language Training is the most widely known firm to provide curriculum or pedagogy for teaching students, dyslexic students, how to read. And, perhaps even more importantly, how to teach teachers how to teach dyslexic students how to read. You'll hear from Barbara and Ed how they began their business, basically as a coaching or tutoring operation teaching a few dozen kids at a time, and realized the massive scale of demand of the millions of students who needed their help to learn how to read across the country and around the world.
They generously and candidly share with us stories from their 38 years of marriage and their 35 years of running this business, including trying to attract and retain great talent; some of the foibles of trying to work with school systems across the country; their very clever, almost intuitive, sense of setting the company up to really scale; and a bit about a recent event where Bigelow helped them to architect a recapitalization with Alpine Equity Partners, which specializes, among other things, in education businesses. I hope you enjoy this session with Ed and Barbara as much as I do. I think you'll hear their authentic kindness come out in the podcast, as well as their perspicacity, their attention to detail, and their mastery of their domain.
Listen to the interview here
What I am Reading / Listening to
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (2019)
By Holly Jackson
Contributed by Mari Lister
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a light and fun read. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. So much so, I even started book 2 in the series by Holly Jackson.
The novel follows the antics of main character Pippa Fitz-Amobi, known as “Pip” by her close friends and family. Pip lives in Fairview, CT – quintessential small town New England. Pip is a smart, quiet, overachieving, fiercely loyal senior in high school completing her capstone project. For her topic of focus, she decides to cover the role that media played in the disappearance and murder case of Andie Bell, a Fairview Highschool student that happened almost 5 years earlier and the conviction of her then boyfriend and classmate, Sal Singh. We soon learn that the “role of media” is really just a cover to get her topic approved by the school committee and that Pip is really on a mission to illuminate what she thinks was a great miscarriage of justice and in the process find the real person responsible for Andie Bell’s murder and disappearance.
I was surprised by the character development and twists the book took. At the onset I assumed I would have it all figured out, but the various twists and turns and constant stream of new suspects really kept me guessing. I also really enjoyed how flawed our main character was watching her navigate the many internal personal struggles this project created for her. If you are looking for a great summer read, I suggest adding this one to your list.
Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Quote
“Speed. Quality. Innovation. That is the motto we’ve employed at Total Label over the past 15 years, and it was the same way when we helped our father run his business.”
Is Your Environment Aligned With Your Destination?
The other day I was visiting a family business, and I was smacked on the side of the head by being surrounded by all the keepsakes/souvenirs/reminders of the past. On the wall was a painting of the grandfather, founder. On the side table in the conference room was an old record book of early stockholder meetings. On the desk of the CEO was a small, framed picture of her with her father outside the business in the 1960’s. What struck me was how she was surrounded by memories of the past, not prospects of the future? That sounds like a crazy idea right, mementos of the future? I am struggling to find a word to describe how we can surround ourselves with reminders of what we want to become, not who (individually and as an enterprise) we used to be.
Without a doubt, environment plays a more important role than perhaps we first credit it. Physical environment sure: are we elevated and inspired by our physical environment that we live and work in every day (or is it the physical environment that inspired our grandparents)?
What about our relationship environment? Are we surrounded by individuals who understand and support what we are trying to become—the potential we are trying to unlock? Or are we surrounded by individuals content to stay in their own comfort zone who are a drag on our future potential?
What about our inner environment? We are mindful about what we eat and drink, right? Then are we just as careful about what we allow into our brain? Are we constantly hearing the availability bias or of the Constantly Negative Network (CNN), or reading about the latest car crash or other tragedy? What are we reading anyway? Are we advancing our professional and personal growth with a combination of learning and fiction?
And how about our body’s environment? There is massive scientific data relating the mind body connection: body and mind influence each other. So how we move our body influences what we feel, emote, think.
I concluded after that meeting in that “family museum” with the thought that—wouldn’t it be great if there were mental constructs that asked us: Is this the picture that will inspire your future self? Is this the relationship that your future self would be energized by? Is this the story that your future self would be best informed by? Is this the workout that your future self will appreciate?
I honor the past; just not when it becomes friction for unlocking our best potential and contribution.