Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A note of thanks on winning Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award

This has been one of the most memorable years of my career. Last week I had the honor of being named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year. The judges recognized me with their Retail and Consumer Products Award for the Philadelphia region.

I wrote an email dedicating the award to my team and friends, who have truly been the catalyst for this honor. I wanted to share my email on our blog, because it captures the gratitude I want to express about winning Entrepreneur of the Year. Thank you to my team and our friends, and thank you to the program's judges.

Dear Team and Friends,

This has been a great year so far! In May, the Philadelphia Inquirer flattered us with a feature article. And now this.

Last night, I had the honor of being awarded Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for our region.

I faced some REALLY tough competition and was thrilled to accept this award. Past EOY winners have included some recognizable names:

Jeff Bezos of
Michael Dell of Dell Inc.
Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines
Fred Smith of FedEx
Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google
Howard Schultz of Starbucks
Andrew Mason of Groupon,
Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc.
Tom Adams of Rosetta Stone

Although I don't enjoy the spotlight, I decided to accept the nomination this year. If I won, I wanted to dedicate the award to my team and to all the friends who've supported us throughout the years.

So, thank you.

The reality is that without your help, this award wouldn't have been possible.

Whenever I used to ask accomplished CEOs how they achieved success, they usually said, "It's because of my team." I always dismissed their answer believing they were just being polite and humble.

But they were right.

Although I had the initial inspiration to plant my idea into the world, I only provided the seed. For that seed to blossom into a bustling organization that grows stronger and faster by the day, it needed you.

Stroll has grown revenue at a compounded annual growth rate of over 70 percent since 2002! This will be the fifth year in a row we've won many prestigious high-growth awards. That doesn't happen by accident.

We've built something really special and there's a lot to be proud of.

Our marketing team has used a shoestring budget and an intense focus on analytics and optimization to take on Rosetta Stone, which was originally funded with $80 million. Our call center is world class, filled with college-educated professionals who strive to deliver great service. We've got one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry and we've been fortunate to have a great talent pool which we can promote into new roles as the company continues to expand.

If I can take credit for anything, it would be providing a compelling vision, defining unwavering values which everyone must embrace, and being fanatical about hiring for values -- so much so that one of my earliest moves was setting up a recruiting team which continues to have the luxury of settling for nothing but the best. As a result, we now have a really bright and exceptional team that's united by common values and a passion for selling education products that enhance people's lives.

I'm pleased to be on such a winning team. I can't wait to see some of our newsworthy year-end plans come to fruition!

Have a great weekend.

Best regards,

My team was excited to hear the news, and we decided to put out a press release announcing I had won Entrepreneur of the Year. You can read it online.

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