Dialed in

Luis Arias doesn’t spend a lot of time
using his own products at work.

It’s not that he doesn’t have faith in the
prepaid telecommunications products
put out by Blackstone Calling Card Inc.,
the company where he’s CEO. It’s just
that he doesn’t see much reason to call
any of his 180 employees because he’s
around them every day.

So while he might be able to get a discount on calling cards, he prefers
instead to make frequent rounds at
Blackstone’s Miami headquarters to put
people on the same page.

“Believe it or not, we go all the way
down to the bottom, to the last person,
everyone here has the same rights to
express their opinion,” Arias says. “I try
to take my time to walk around and see
everybody’s face at least once a day so
everyone can tell me if they have any
issues.”

To Arias, proximity to your people is
where growth lives. It’s important to give
your people standards on how quickly
you want the company to grow, where
the company can spend the money to do
so and then let them work out the direction. In an industry where innovation is
necessary to survive, he wants his people constantly thinking about realistic
growth and bouncing ideas off of each
other and him.

Following that pattern, Blackstone has
grown consistently since it was founded
in 1994 and has posted five straight years
at roughly 5 percent growth. Though the
company wouldn’t release revenue for
this story, it was listed at more than $250
million in revenue in 2007 according to
Florida Trend.

Here are a few of Arias’ thoughts on
how you set a standard for your company’s steady growth, how you get people
to work together to stay ahead of the
market and the ways to knock down
walls so employees buy in and add on to
your vision.

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