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Blog calendar    Jun 26, 2024

Electrifying Growth Episode 25: Multiple Paths to Success, But Some Are Harder Than Others

GAN Integrity CEO Nick Manolis joins Managing Partner and host Chris Sugden for Episode 25 of Electrifying Growth.


"CEOs should focus on how PE firms react to challenges and prioritize openness and transparency when sharing news with boards and investors." - Nick Manolis

Choosing the right private equity (PE) partner is more than a financial decision. It's a move that significantly affects the culture, growth trajectory, and overall well-being of your company. In our latest episode of Electrifying Growth, I had a powerful conversation with Nick Manolis, CEO of GAN Integrity, about the nuances of selecting a middle market growth equity partner who brings the human aspect into company growth.

Understanding the Human Aspect in Growth Equity

Nick Manolis shares invaluable insights from his journey, highlighting the importance of the human element in business growth. Through his lens, we see not just the technical or financial considerations, but the emotional intelligence and core values that anchor successful partnerships and leadership.

  1. Reacting to Challenges with Integrity

One of the most compelling parts of our conversation was Nick's emphasis on the importance of observing how a PE firm handles challenges. "CEOs should focus on how PE firms react to challenges and prioritize openness and transparency when sharing news with boards and investors," says Nick. It’s this reaction to adversity that often separates a good partner from a great one. We discussed scenarios where a transparent, supportive approach from PE firms can make all the difference in navigating turbulent waters.

  1. Emphasizing Emotional Intelligence

Another key takeaway from our discussion was Nick’s reflection on emotional intelligence in leadership. He wishes he had focused on this earlier in his career, stating, "Understanding and addressing the emotional side of interactions and situations is crucial in professional settings." This is particularly relevant in leadership roles where human elements like empathy, care, and understanding can profoundly impact team dynamics and company culture.

  1. Personal Core Values and Team Alignment

Nick also stressed the importance of personal core values and sharing them with your team. "The significance of having personal core values and the need to share them with the team to provide a common understanding and perspective," he underscores. For a company to thrive, it’s essential that the leadership team is aligned not just on business goals but also on values and ethics.

The Role of an Effective Board

Nick's anecdotes provide clarity on the impact a supportive board can have. He attributes the success at GAN Integrity to having a great board and a supportive team. "Good boards are supportive, provide guidance, offer industry expertise, and help in decision-making," says Nick. This aligns perfectly with the way we at Edison Partners support our companies—blending financial investment with strategic guidance.

Building a Collaborative and Transparent Culture

Nick's points on clear communication and collaborative culture resonate strongly with our approach at Edison. He describes the necessity of deliberate interactions and creating a rhythm for meetings, whether virtual or in-person. Weekly huddles and team meetings ensure alignment and efficient communication throughout the organization. Nick emphasizes, "Focused and efficient meetings are essential to avoid draining schedules and time wastage," highlighting the importance of time management and effective communication.

Mentorship and Long-Term Growth

We also touched on the influence of mentorship in Nick’s career, especially from early mentors like his chairman at True Commerce and an audit partner at Deloitte. His advice to be humble and open to learning is invaluable. "The importance of the journey and gaining experience" cannot be overstated in a fast-evolving business landscape. His leadership philosophy of guiding young employees to focus on learning rather than rushing for career advancement is crucial for sustainable growth.

Key Takeaways

For entrepreneurs and business leaders, you’ll learn from this conversation:

  • Observing the reaction of potential PE partners to challenges can reveal much about their suitability.
  • Emotional intelligence and human-centric leadership are vital components of successful company growth.
  • Aligning personal core values with the broader team fosters a more cohesive and motivated work environment.
  • A supportive, knowledgeable board can be a game-changer in strategic decision-making and overall company success.

Whether or not you get to listen to the entire episode, these highlights provide a roadmap for what to look for in a middle-market growth equity partner. It's about finding more than financial backing; it’s identifying partners who truly understand and prioritize human elements that drive long-term success.

For a deeper dive into these topics and to hear more from Nick Manolis and other industry leaders, be sure to listen to the full episode and subscribe to Electrifying Growth. It’s filled with real-world lessons and strategic insights that can add tremendous value to your venture. If you're in the trenches or planning your next move, this conversation offers essential knowledge that can aid in navigating your growth journey. 

Chris is Managing Partner and Chairman of the firm's investment committee. He has been on both sides of the table as a successful entrepreneur. His experience includes leading sales, product, finance, business strategy and capital formation.