“Aileron is the Disneyland for entrepreneurs.”
That’s how Jay Bloxsom, President of NationsClassroom, describes Aileron to other business owners. NationsClassroom serves educators and helps them engage and impact their students on inspiring travel experiences.
“I say it’s the Disneyland for entrepreneurs because it’s just the feeling of anticipation that I get as I start the drive up Wildcat Road. The campus has a peaceful, yet business-oriented spirit to it,” explains Jay. “There are so many resources, from the classes, to the information commons, to just a stroll around the lake and campus to be able to think.”
“The place just exudes a commitment to helping businesses grow and entrepreneurs be successful in all areas. If I’m going to a course or program, I know that I’m going to meet great people and I’m going to learn a lot.”
We sat down with Jay to have a conversation about how he began his journey with Aileron, and how he’s able to find greater success as a result. Here’s what we learned.
“More Work to be Done”
Before working with Aileron, Jay wanted to grow his business, but there was much work to be done on the business to get there.
“At the time, we had pretty much doubled our business size in 18 months. We had a committed group of people, but we were running out of hours from those people. While our customers never really saw it, we were sort of like a duck on water—everything above the surface was smooth, but under the water we were kicking like crazy,” he says. It was a stressful time and Jay knew he needed support to build a sustainable, scalable culture.
Starting the Journey with Aileron
Jay had joined a CEO peer group, and had interviewed local consultants, but neither was able to provide the kind of advice, strategies, support, and tools that he was looking for.
After reading Clay Mathile’s book, Run Your Business, Don’t Let Your Business Run You, and visiting the Aileron website, Jay attended the Course for Presidents®.
“At the Course for Presidents, there were business owners from all over the country, and one from Canada and another from the UK. We fed off each other, and learned from each other, and right away we were hooked. Within about 10 minutes of interaction in the Course for Presidents, I felt like we had hope as a company.”
The Right Advisor at the Right Time
“While on campus, we had an opportunity to have lunch with our Business Advisor, Mark Thompson. We immediately felt the connection that we were looking for,” says Jay. (Jay described his Business Advisor relationship as the most valuable part of his experience with Aileron so far.) “From day one, Mark has been totally and completely invested in our success. He doesn’t judge us. He’s just incredible. It’s made all the difference.”
“By far Mark and the other people on the team have been so crucial to our growth and success. Great people make great businesses and Aileron is no different. [They] just genuinely want us to succeed.”
Stepping Back & Thinking Strategically
Aileron has helped Jay step back and think about his business—and not feel guilty for thinking.
Jay was similar to many entrepreneurs who find themselves saying, “I can do all the work myself.” But Aileron was able to shift Jay’s thinking about growing the business: “I’ve learned how thinking is one of the most important things that you can do for your business.”
Partially as a result of this shift, Jay works to ensure he has time to “sharpen the saw.”
“I make sure I block out, and I have the time, for my family and my fitness. It can be easy as an entrepreneur to be completely consumed with the business, but by sharpening the saw, you’re actually going to chop more wood.”
Working Remotely with Aileron
Although he enjoys what he describes as the magical experience of being on campus, Jay enjoys working with Aileron remotely since his company is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.
“I usually make it out to Aileron a few times a year for programs that I think will help. The online sessions are very helpful remotely. We conduct our monthly Business Advisor sessions via Skype, and Mark is always a call away if we need him,” says Jay.
“We have spent about 100 hours with him. We recently had to make a pretty significant decision, and we could hear ‘Uncle Mark’s’ voice in our heads.”
Growing a Sustainable Company
“In the past, our culture was, ‘just do your job,’ and that only lasted so long. That could only get us so far. Now our mission, our values, the traits to get us there—all that stuff is clearly defined. And we hire by those values, we train by them now.” Since working with Aileron, NationsClassroom has a stronger company culture that’s now aligned with the Professional Management system. The organization is operating and working more intelligently, and growth is smoother.
“Being great at group travel is not easy. Our team is more cohesive and our environment is much less stressful and much more fun now. There was just a small conga line outside my office, no joke. We have frequent laughing and singing—but that was a first.”
Personally, Jay’s become even more engaged with his young family. He’s been able to focus and be more intentional about his other passions, including fitness. “Business doesn’t have to be all-consuming anymore,” says Jay.
“The team at Aileron knows that owning a small business is not easy, especially if you’re trying to do it right and you’re trying to grow. Aileron helps you overcome that hurdle to shift from working in the business to working on the business,” he says. “I don’t know how we could have done it without Aileron.”
Create the Next Best Version of Your Business
The Course for Presidents® sets you on the pathway to the next best version of your business. Over two days, you’ll learn a systematic way to grow your business and then work one-on-one with your Business Advisor to engage your teams and implement what you’ve learned. Your Business Advisor will be there to help you apply the professional management principles, prioritize your goals, and offer perspectives on challenges you face in your business.
Take what’s possible and make it certain by registering today.