This article appeared in the 2001 Inc. 500 Issue.
VITALS: Anthony Baynes, CEO, Extra Mile Transportation (#454), a transportation-logistics company in Buffalo
BACKGROUND: In the 1970s, Baynes’s cousin opened Mulligan’s, a nightclub that quickly became “the Studio 54 of Buffalo,” Baynes says. Regulars included Miramax Films cochairman Harvey Weinstein, then a local concert promoter, and O.J. Simpson, then a Buffalo Bills running back. Baynes, initially a busboy, moved up to bartender.
WHAT HE LEARNED: People skills. Baynes, who was exceptionally shy, watched his gregarious club-owner cousin mingle, seemingly effortlessly, with hundreds of customers every night. As he poured drinks, Baynes imitated what he’d seen until he could converse easily and naturally. (His secret: “Compliment people. Ask them about themselves.”)
HOW HE APPLIES IT: These days Baynes, who founded his logistics company in 1995, can talk with anybody about anything. “I can have lunch with the governor and not be intimidated,” says Baynes. He modeled his company’s culture after the nightclub’s, hiring only people who seem likely to genuinely care about their colleagues. “You can teach somebody the job,” Baynes says, “but you can’t teach somebody to have a heart.”