Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.
Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Wayne Elsey who is the Founder and former CEO of Soles4Souls (S4S), author of the book, Almost Isn’t Good Enough, and current Founder & CEO of Wayne Elsey Enterprises, Funds2Orgs, and 501(c)(3) University.
Elsey started working in the footwear industry at the age of 15 and continued in a myriad of manufacturing, managerial, sales and marketing positions. From 1999 to 2004 Elsey served as President/CEO of Footwear Specialties International (FSI). During that time, FSI grew over 400 percent in revenue. In 2005, Elsey was named President of Kodiak-Terra USA where he remained until becoming the Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls in 2007. Under his guidance, Soles4Souls became one of the top 1% of nonprofit organizations in the United States in just 4 years. To date, S4S has distributed over 19 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries to victims of natural disasters and abject poverty.
After leaving S4S, Wayne launched Wayne Elsey Enterprises (WEE), a company that works with nonprofit and for profit organizations on strategy, branding and development. WEE has 3 divisions: strategic, educational and fundraising. The Strategic Division consults with organizations to strengthen identity and drive success. The 2nd division, 501(c)(3) University, is an online educational site designed to give nonprofit leaders the knowledge and understanding to help their organizations succeed. The 3rd division, Funds2Orgs, is a social enterprise that offers 3 compelling advantages: 1. Provides domestic nonprofits the ability to raise funds by carrying out engaging programs; 2. Creates and sustains micro-enterprise opportunities for low-income entrepreneurs in developing nations; and 3. Dramatically reduces the impact of post-consumer waste in our nation’s landfills.
Wayne is also a highly sought after public speaker and authority on topics related to leadership, branding, social activism, motivation, and community engagement. His network appearances include: NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Today Show, & Fox News.
D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?
I don’t just want to talk about making a difference. I want to do it, and I have been doing it. I’m also a business man. I like to make money. Doing good and making money are not mutually exclusive. That’s why I also do motivational work so I can spread that message to as many people as possible. The core of my business philosophy, and what really makes me happy, is to be involved in projects that not only generate revenue but are centered on having an impact and improving society in some way.
E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?
I never went to college, but I’m considered a success story. I was President and CEO for two international footwear companies. I knew at the age of 15 when I did a work-study program that I wanted to be in the shoe business. That’s been what I’ve been doing in one way or the other since that time. Today, one of my businesses is a successful social enterprise called Funds2Orgs. It helps social sector organizations raise money, supports micro-entrepreneurs in over 26 developing nations and lowers our collective carbon footprint.
R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?
I’m like anyone else. I’m not any more or less special. But, what I always believe in is big vision. I don’t think small. I think big. That means I’m always shooting for the moon, and so is my team.
R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?
As I mentioned, I realized it at 15 years of age. I know that’s not typical, but it happens. What I do know is that you have to be ready all the time. You can never let your foot off the gas pedal. Life doesn’t work that way if you want to succeed and live what I call a “#grip&rip” life.
I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why
Dan Pallotta. My friend, Dan, is one of the leaders pulling back the curtain on the business of nonprofit work. He is talking, rightly, about everyone treating the social sector with a business mind and practices. If we want to get a handle on the issues that have been plaguing us for generations then we have to invest. That investment then needs to be used to hire the best and brightest for social impact. Nonprofits and social enterprise need to be sustainable. We need to stop pretending they don’t have expenses for the work they do.
C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?
When I was younger and just starting out, I had to overcome self-doubt. Sometimes along the way, it does creep up for a moment. But you let it go. Why? Because you believe in what you’re doing. When you believe in what you’re doing, you become focused on your work. And you don’t have time for any doubt. You have a purpose and come what may, you’re going to do it. When you keep your foot on the pedal, you really don’t have time for negative thoughts.
K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?
It all begins with attitude. Successful people take ownership over their decisions and life. They don’t waste time with the negative thinking or people who put up road blocks. Everyone can do this. It’s not a secret. We all just need to get off the couch, commit, do the work and make it happen.
Visit Wayne Elsey for more information.