7 Questions with Wayne Elsey
Name: Wayne Elsey
Current title: Founder & CEO, Funds2Orgs Group & Elsey Enterprises
Current organisation: Funds2Orgs Group & Elsey Enterprises
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs. The social enterprise offers fundraising solutions and resources through its brands, including Funds2Orgs, Sneakers4Funds, Shoes With Heart, and Cash4Shooz. The brands help organizations raise funds by collecting gently worn, used and new shoes that are then shipped to developing countries to support micro-enterprises. Other companies and brands include Elsey Enterprises, Not Your Father’s Charity, SocialGoodU, Credential Shoes, and CELG Freight.
Wayne is also the founder and former CEO of Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that helped put shoes on the feet of those affected by some of the world’s largest natural disasters. He led efforts to ship over 20 million shoes to people affected by natural disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. A nationally recognized authority in business leadership and topics related to motivation, social impact, and personal success, Wayne’s life work is dedicated to business projects that have a humanitarian impact. He also seeks to educate and inform organizations, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs on the latest trends through public speaking, consulting, and as an author. He is a member of the prestigious Forbes Business Development Council, and his network appearances include NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Today Show, and Fox News.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The current business climate means leaders have to stay ahead of the pack to have any chance at success. Therefore, the major challenge is staying on top of evolving changes in technology, human capital, trends, and so forth to make sure you remain innovative and creative as a leader and retain the competitive advantage.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
When I was 15-years-old, I participated in a work-study program in high school. I worked as a stock boy at the time and knew I found what I wanted to do. I focused and worked hard to achieve the eventual positions I held, including president and CEO of several different international shoe companies. Now I'm founder and CEO of the top shoe drive fundraising and repurposing brands in North America, helping businesses, retail stores, teams, nonprofits, and others with social responsibility and earning funds.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Every day is different as I have several companies with dozens of employees and vendors that require different levels of attention. Every day consists of some "Wayne time" for meditation, reflection, and thought processing for what's ahead of me for that particular day. I spend time doing this in various ways. Everyday I try to work in some sort of workout, consisting of a walk or bike ride, at a minimum. I always start the day with a good protein breakfast to get things moving and the creative juices flowing. Lunch is normally spent with a team member or business associates, and depending on what time I leave the office, it will dictate my dinner plans—formal or informal.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Stop. Look. Listen. Those activities still hit the top of the list. Meaning before reacting or responding, think about CPR. In other words, you have to stop and assess the situation or what's happening. That requires you to look at the variables and listen to the entire situation before responding.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...And the Rest Don't" has had a huge impact on the team and me. In addition to my reading, our executive team has read and implemented many of the strategies outlined. One of the important lessons as a leader is that you always have to learn and develop. It never ends.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
You have to empower your team and hold them accountable. Our executive team has a weekly check-in and round table on the challenges and opportunities that exist. Further, we assign deliverables and timelines for execution, and the following week, we go through everything again. These check-ins are "their" meetings over time, and I add comments as needed, but they usually drive the agenda.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
My stories revolve around developing people. I love to get someone and help them advance to CEO, top executive, or whatever position they desire. I have hired and helped many people get high profile positions that they wanted and deserved. It is cool to see others flourish!