Sozon Vatikiotis’s likes to use the word “humbled.” It’s the word he used when he was appointed CEO of Alltrust.
It’s a refreshing word to hear from a CEO of a benefits company that is growing 15% year over year in an industry that typically experiences single-digit growth. Alltrust expects to reach $8 million in revenue this year.
He says he learned this humility because he was beat up a lot as a kid. “You’re only as good as you think you are; there’s going to be someone that’s better,” Vatikiotis says. He also knows that he was brought into the CEO role last year with only a few years experience in the insurance industry.
Vatikiotis constantly credits his peers, saying that all good ideas come from them, but that’s not to say he doesn’t play a role in the decision-making process. Vatikiotis admits he can be analytical to a fault, needing to know potential impact before considering an idea.
Over the last few months, Vatikiotis has been ramping up two new teams at Alltrust — a worksite division that focuses on consulting clients on voluntary benefits, and a technology division, which consults on HR and payroll systems. The two divisions “have taken off like wildfire,” he says.
Vatikiotis believes trust is the best way to build enthusiasm among employees to grow the business. “If they know you would walk into traffic for them, which I would, they feed off it,” he says.
— Traci Beach
Name: Sozon Vatikiotis
City of residence: Lakeland
Twitter handle: @SozonV
Birthplace: Bethesda, Md.
Years on the Gulf Coast: More than I can remember
Marital status/children: Married to wife Stephanie with five-year old girl, Hali, and five-month old boy, Costa.
Alma mater: Stetson University (undergraduate)/Stetson University College of Law
Best place to network: Wherever you are at that moment
Coolest business experience: Getting the opportunity to work for 40 of the finest colleagues imaginable
The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Surround yourself with people who are far better and smarter than you in every possible way. Break things — don’t be afraid to fail. With every failure, there is an opportunity and at the end of the day, the sun is always going to rise again in the morning. Be humble and selfless at all costs.
One website that makes your job easier: Total Wine & More
One community group you’re most involved with: Peace River Center
Favorite off-hours activity: What are “off-hours”?
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: John D. Rockefeller: he started from nothing and created an empire, doing it the right way the entire time. He never sacrificed his principals. John Coffey from The Green Mile: he is the epitome of all that is good. Plus he likes cornbread. I love cornbread.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I wouldn’t pick another career
Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: Asking my wife out on a date for the first time. I had no business doing that.
What’s at the top of your bucket list: I want to own a big farm
What new skill would you like to learn: Playing the guitar and flying would be my two. I guess playing the guitar while flying would be the coolest!
Who would play you in a movie about your life: I say Brad Pitt, but my colleagues say Danny DeVito
If I had a magic wand I’d: Scratch my back with it. Magic scares me.