Success is hard to define — it’s the chameleon of words, always taking on a new definition depending on the situation. Because it’s constantly changing what it looks like, success may seem nearly impossible to recognize, let alone achieve. These days, it seems as though everyone uses a different gauge to measure it, so how do you know if you’re truly successful? Should you aim to increase your revenue, your profit, your brand identity, your social media followers, your Google ranking, how many awards you’ve won, or how about your Glassdoor score? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to those questions because it depends on what you’re looking for.  

“You get to that point in life when you want to know what your purpose is,” said Mike Agugliaro, co-owner of Gold Medal Service in East Brunswick, New Jersey and founder of CEO Warrior, a business coaching service for the mechanical trades. For Agugliaro, success isn’t defined by numbers — it’s the intangible feeling of knowing that you’ve made a difference in somebody else’s life. 

Agugliaro’s company, Gold Medal Service, is the epitome of success.  It went from making $1 million per year to over $28 million per year. “I know how hard it was to take our service business from struggling and working a million hours to being successful,” he said. It was then that Agugliaro had his moment of clarity. He realized that although everyone considered him and his business to be successful, he didn’t agree. “I thought, ‘wow, I won.’ But, I didn’t really win because other people I knew in business weren’t winning,” he said. “I went on a mission to start CEO Warrior and change the world.”

And that’s exactly what he’s done. 

CEO Warrior has over 125 members from around the world. It went from something that was helping people to a movement. “It’s a movement, it’s a mindset, it’s global,” said Agugliaro. 

“It’s like a tribe of brothers that are doing the same thing all across the country, and it’s even expanded beyond that,” said Talbot Watkins III, 2016 CEO Warrior of the Year winner. “It’s a group of like-minded people just helping each other grow.”

Watkins is the owner of Winstar Home Services, a Baltimore-based company. In 2001, he started his company with one van and a tool bag. Since then, he has grown to over 100 employees and has expanded his construction business to offer HVAC, electric, and plumbing services as well. 

Rather than trying to define and chase the idea of success, Watkins decided to define and create a culture of success. In order to do this, he identified a core purpose — to contribute to the well-being of others. His success was built around this purpose, not the other way around. 

“I didn’t join CEO Warriors until November of 2015,” said Watkins. “I saw a friend wearing this crazy warrior mask on social media,” he said. After asking what it was, Watkins was both skeptical and interested. “I didn’t think the investment was overwhelming, so I decided to become a member.”

Within just one year, Watkins grew his business substantially. In 2016, Winstar increased overall revenue by 25 percent, while at the same time increasing gross profit dollars by 36 percent and net profit by 20 percent.

Watkins accredits most of this growth to the addition of Winstar’s newly offered services. “We’ve taken on HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and bathroom remodeling,” he said. “The most beneficial service for the customers is HVAC because when people are hot or cold, they want relief from that.”

But, it’s more than just a list of services that makes Winstar profitable and Watkins Warrior of the Year. 

“You can live by design or by default,” said Watkins, “but if you want to have a great culture, you have to be intentional.”

Watkins says he has a system of checks and balances to ensure that the company culture continues to guide them on the path of success. The most important step begins with recruiting. If someone cannot be passionate about the products, services, and core values that Winstar stands by, they don’t fit into the culture. So, once Watkins finds the right person for the job, “it’s training, training, and more training,” he said. New employees are introduced to the staff in every department and learn about all the jobs and services that Winstar offers, Watkins communicates the core values and how to deliver “wow” service, and they get technical training in the field. Employees attend Winstar University, Winstar Master’s, or Winstar PhD training programs depending on the career path they are on.  

For Watkins, success is achieved through growing the business, managing risks, and creating leaders. “I learned that model through CEO Warrior,” he said. “I mentor people to bring them to a level that they didn’t even know existed.”

But, CEO Warriors is not just about business. It’s about life. 

“It’s amazing that Talbot’s the Warrior of the Year, but, I want everybody in the world to know that can change their own reality and have an amazing life,” said Agugliaro. “It’s about stepping up and playing business and life at another level. A lot of people today are losing hope. I don’t want them to lose hope,” he said. “They can be their own warrior of the year!”

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Publication date: 2/6/2017

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