“Millennium is a part of our everyday life and everything we do.” Founders Alex Sobol & Rob Davis Reflect On The Millennium Alliance
The Millennium Alliance Turns 4
The Millennium Alliance is turning 4 today!
To celebrate our birthday, Digital Diary sat down with Managing Partners and Founders, Alex Sobol and Rob Davis, to get a first-hand look at the journey of Millennium, what motivated them to begin the business, and how they have grown the company towards success.
Thank you, Alex and Rob, for providing us with such great insight.
As you reflect on the growth of The Millennium Alliance, what do you believe has been the biggest business achievement for the company?
I would say the first thing that comes to mind is the growth of the number of staff. We started with literally 3 or 4 people and now after four full years, we have around 80 people working with us, which is something Rob and I are really proud of. We are not just proud that we have a company that staffs 80 people, but even prouder with the fact that a lot of the people who join us stay with us for a long period of time. When we were looking at our retention numbers for last year, we realized that over 85% of the people we hired in 2017 are still with us. In any type of business that is something to feel really good about, but in the kind of industry we are in, where turnover is extremely high, I think it is that much more special. I also think another big achievement for us is the amount of company revenue that is made up of repeat clients. A lot of clients who work with us initially and have one objective or goal in mind, odds are that they will work with us again, which comes down to the quality of the product that each department helped put together.
Was your vision when you first started the company similar to what it is now? If not, what is different?
We thought that by putting the right infrastructure in place, creating a culture that rewarded honesty, authenticity, and collaboration, that there was not a reason why we couldn’t be in the position we are at right now which is company that is producing 35 events, high-quality Assemblies that staff 80 people and is on the brink branching into other markets outside of our core event model. This is all stuff that I knew we could do. I think that so much is achievable with the right people in place. It really all comes down to personnel. We are proud of where we are at, but we know that the last 4 years is just a reminder that there is a lot we can achieve and we should continue to have big aspirations.
In your experience, how have you seen employees achieve their highest potential?
There has to be some part of each person, not just at Millennium but in general, to have a real desire to be successful. We always say no matter how bad we want people in each department to be successful and to be the best they can be, that they have to want it as bad as we want it for them. That a relentless, fearless, and “can do” attitude are great traits to possess as it makes our job of getting people to reach their optimal potential easier.
Rob and I feel that if someone is to choose to trust their careers with us – that no matter the outcome, they knew that the senior team will have done everything they could have to ensure success was a possibility. We feel a responsibility to make sure that everyone has the chance to be successful, by putting as much work as we can in training and developing as much as humanly possible.
What can you credit the success of The Millennium Alliance to?
I would say the biggest reason for being where we are at 4 years comes down to effort, authenticity, and empathy. I think people here buy into the thought process that if you work hard and you try to be better every week than you were the week previous that a lot is achievable.
Effort: You have to want it. Not just talk about it but really want it.
Authenticity: We hire people because we like who they are and what they bring to the table. We encourage people to remain true to who they are, not who they think they should be.
Empathy: Life is tough. Everyone struggles at different points in time which is why expecting people to be anything but human inside and outside of the office is an unrealistic expectation. You cannot teach empathy but you can hire empathetic people which is one of the biggest qualities we look for when bringing on new talent.
Our obsession with who we bring into our family is a big factor for why we are in such a good position four years in. Without fail, no matter the situation, Rob and I always meet with everyone during the hiring process. No matter if its 5 minutes or a half hour, we always find time to meet prospective candidates as we know one bad apple can spoil the bunch.
We believe that another major factor in our success is trust. Too many businesses create a culture around micro-management, second-guessing of motives, and over-control. Although some might think there are short-term gains to be had with a philosophy like this, we feel this prevents companies from being really successful long term which is why we set expectations early and trust our staff that they are here for the right reasons.
If you were to give one piece of advice to yourselves when you first started The Millennium Alliance, what would you say?
Fall in love with repetition. Repetition is everything.
There is a lot of competition in New York, especially in this industry. What motivated you to start The Millennium Alliance in the face of failure?
Well firstly, Rob and I are competitive guys so we thrive on competition. Secondly, we thought that we could do things in a way in which the market would respond more favorably to our approach versus what other organizations were doing.
In addition, failing really was not an option for us as there was no safety net at the start of this journey. This was a very calculated decision for Rob and me certain people/groups offered us money in exchange for partial ownership of the business.
At that point in time, Rob and I worked in mostly senior management positions for a combined nineteen years between the two of us, creating a nice life for ourselves which definitely made a move like this risky. I was getting married the year we started Millennium and Rob was at a point in his life in which laying it all on the line might not have been the smartest move to make.
You don’t really feel the pressure until you actually take the leap to step out on that ledge, knowing that if you fail what the ramifications will be. This is still the mentality we have today. When there is no safety net, you have to make good decisions and you have to be way more right than you are wrong. So, when you are in that thought process, it forces you to be the best you can be.
I didn’t think that it was so crazy or difficult to do a good job. I thought the notion of making and delivering the type of events we deliver wasn’t that complicated. People were either over complicating it, or not focusing on the right areas and taking shortcuts. We didn’t create Millennium to put on sub-par programs. We did this because we felt that we could put together a high-quality product and we were motivated by how many companies were trying to do the same. Even though going into a competitive business is a little scary, it was more motivating than it was anything which is why the fire is still as strong today as it was four years ago.
Describe what The Millennium Alliance means to you on a personal level.
On a personal level, it’s my life and I know its Robs life. It’s a 24/7 type of thing where you’re constantly thinking about it and its always on your mind. If it wasn’t, then the business would not be filling its optimal potential. Millennium to me is a part of my everyday life and everything I do. For us, its special because so much of ourselves is in the business and so much of our personalities have been poured into it.
I’ve gotten a lot out of my experiences in life and have taken a lot out of the great relationships that I have formed at every stage over the past 33 years. No matter the situation, there is always something to learn and take with you to be applied for the future which is why it is not only important to pause for reflection from time to time but even more important to ensure you are a better person because of past experiences.
Due to the success and growth of The Millennium Alliance over these past 4 years, what are your biggest hopes and goals for the future?
In addition, the hopes and goals for the future are to go into other businesses, create a physical office on the west coast, and potentially go into Europe. We have a growing office in Miami which Sophia is doing a great job running and it’s great to have a presence down there, but I think that the west coast provides different opportunities compared to the east coast, so that is definitely on the immediate horizon for the Millennium. A big plan for us is that now that we feel confident in our core product offering, we want to keep growing that business and open other revenue streams with our existing customer base. The ceiling for Millennium is as big and bold as we want to go. As long as we commit to the work, there is a lot of opportunities out there for us.
When you’re not leading The Millennium Alliance, what are your favorite things to do?
I’m a big news and sports junkie. News and current events are something that I got into 6 years ago and sports have been a part of me for my whole life. I like spending time with my wife who undoubtedly is the most beautiful person inside and out that I have ever known. There is nobody like her and definitely nobody else on this planet who can put up with me the way she does! Fortunately, we both love watching TV, taking naps, eating at nice restaurants, and being with friends and family. In regard to weekends, Saturday is the day where I allow myself one full 24-hour mental work break and once Sunday comes, I get ready for the work week ahead, capped off with my 8 pm call with Rob.
ABOUT THE MILLENNIUM ALLIANCE
Headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, The Millennium Alliance is a leading technology, business, and educational advisory firm. Focusing primarily in areas such as business transformation, executive education, growth, policy, and need analysis, Millennium is quickly becoming one of the most dynamic locations for collaboration across the world.
We provide a framework for Fortune 1000 C-Level executives, leading public sector/government officials, and thought leaders across a variety of disciplines, to meet their peers, understand industry developments, and receive introductions to new technology and service advancements to help grow their career and overall company value.
Millennium was created to provide opportunities for collaboration and offer guidance on best practices for executives from the world’s leading organizations. We are dedicated to providing meaningful opportunities for Alliance members to simplify their personal growth, increase business networks, and have the right information to build their capabilities and leadership skills at every level. This is in addition to providing market intelligence, advisory services, and industry-leading programs for all major industries. Millennium’s aim is to bring out the best capabilities for all of our clients so they can make the right decisions at the right time.
With a constant thirst for a conversation that has real value, it is our duty to provide a platform for all leaders to further develop in an ecosystem of innovation and knowledge so all parties can continue to shape the real purpose of business: to make things efficient and worthwhile.
In the midst of disruption across all industries, our members are given the tools they need to digitally transform their organizations.
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