Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tino Mantella, President and CEO of Turknett Leadership Group, located in Tucker, GA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a nationally recognized leadership development company serving clients around the world. In an era of "The Great Resignation" where people want to follow a leader with character and a company with a purpose beyond the bottom line, there is no better time to engage a company like TLG. Whether coaching executives, training high potentials, determining your employee's level of engagement, or assuring you hire the right people, TLG's thirty leading consultants are helping companies "unleash their potential."

Tell us about yourself

I gravitated toward a career in sports when at Temple University. As a collegiate D1 wrestler and captain of the team, I felt I could contribute to future athletes through coaching. My direction shifted to a career in not-for-profit leadership after college. I loved the opportunity to provide leadership of teams that could impact individuals, communities, and even society. Fast forward to today. Four years ago, I became the President and CEO of the Turknett Leadership Group. It was a shift into the for-profit environment, but at the same time, it was still all about helping people be their best selves. In addition to positively impacting people (including staff and those we serve), I am motivated to grow businesses through solid business practices combined with creativity and innovation.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Today, I am an equity owner in 4 businesses and the Co-Founder of the International Sports Technology Association. However, I am not the majority owner in any of them. My primary focus today is running TLG as its President and CEO. Prior to my role here, I would point to growing the Technology Association of Georgia from 350 to 36,000 members over 12 years. More importantly, TAG was a key player in helping make Georgia a top state in the nation for technology business. When I served as the CEO of one of the largest YMCAs in the world, we were recognized by Fast Company and others for our innovation.

Today, at the Turknett Leadership Group, I am proud to be working with the Founders to grow the company. Despite Covid, TLG had its best year for business in its 35-year history in 2021, and 2022 looks even stronger. I credit this success to the Founders, my team, and our clients.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a minority business owner, it's understanding the motivations of the majority owners and how to balance their desires with my views on how to grow the business. I have been fortunate to work with Founders who are not stuck on the status quo and are open to a collegial approach to looking toward the future.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Talk to your current and potential stakeholders before making major decisions. When I start a new role, I always do 90 meetings in 90 days. The result of that process is that I can speak from a baseline of the constituents versus prophesizing my own ideas.
  2. Don't skate toward the puck but to where it will be, as hockey star Wayne Gretzky is known to say. By this, I mean always think ahead. Future trends to align with future offerings, next staff hires and why the money needed to grow, etc.
  3. Be out there - network with a purpose. Build your company and personal brand.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

It's been said that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I am one of the lucky ones who never felt I would "work." I have found jobs that I love that have allowed me to utilize my talents. Some young people, at this point in our history, move from job to job quickly, and some move for more money. Everyone has a perceived worth, and I respect that, but I would caution that money isn't a motivator for long. It's about the job, the people you work with, the impact you can have, and the company's purpose.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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