By: Andrew Levison, Founder and President of Above + Beyond
Since our inception in 1997, Above + Beyond has been through many transformations…nine iterations, to be exact. We began our journey as pioneers in the Experiential Learning Industry, and today, we find ourselves in the world of Talent Analytics, Ideation, and Problem Solving. Although it may seem far from our origins, the one thing that has remained constant is our purpose: Bringing Out The Best In People. I’d like elaborate on how this came to be.
For those of you who have worked with us over the last 20+ years, you’ll know that another constant in our business has been the influence of our mentor Larry Wilson. Larry, Founder of Wilson Learning, was also a best selling author, a pre-eminent public speaker, an entrepreneur, and the reason why I’m in the people business today. At the start of my career, in the early 1990’s, I had the incredible opportunity to work for one of Larry’s companies, Pecos River Learning Centers. Pecos was a leader in Corporate Learning and Development, and helped companies and their employees navigate and thrive through Change.
Although I never got to meet Larry while working at Pecos River, I was so inspired by his work that I eventually modeled my business around what I learned from him. One of the great lessons I learned from Larry was how to bring out the best in people. Since then, that has always been at the heart of A+B and the purpose of our work.
Fast forward to 2007. It had been over 10 years since I worked for Pecos River, and we were still standing on Larry’s shoulders. It was at that time that I did a random google search of Larry Wilson and came across his personal email address. I had no idea if it was still active, but I ended up sending him a heartfelt note, part in gratitude and part in desire to finally talk to him. Much to my surprise, I got an almost immediate reply; no words, just a phone number. Amazed, I quickly called Larry. When he answered, I remember the exact words he said to me: “I’ve been waiting for your call”. That day, we spent 3 hours on the phone, and then a week later, I found myself on a plane to Minnesota to spend 5 days with him as a guest in his home.
What ensued after this trip was an opportunity to get to know him, his family, his boundless passion, his forward-thinking, and his business tactics. Those were great years. Although his health was deteriorating, Larry was so passionate about life and business and learning. He just couldn’t stop. There were daily phone calls, retreats, seminars, introductions to his friends, business ventures, and so much more. Unfortunately, it all came to an end in 2013 when Larry passed away after a series of strokes at the age of 83.
With all of that said, I want to thank Larry for coming into my life. For teaching me so much about life and how to make a difference. I want to also thank him for passing the torch to carry on the important work of helping people be the best they can be.
Over the next few months, we will be sharing with you a treasure trove of articles and videos from Larry’s archive. He was truly a man ahead of his time. We hope you enjoy seeing Larry be the best he could be!