Sometimes you find your dream job and sometimes it finds you. From a young age, Michael Bilokonsky dreamed of working with and inspiring students. Set to become a physical education teacher and high school football coach, Michael Bilokonsky was forced to reconsider his dream shortly after graduating college in 2010. Michael discovered that there were no open positions available at any high school in his area, so instead, he took a job at a major logistics company. Little did he know that this decision would not only influence his career trajectory, but become a passion that would lead him to founding his own company.
Michael Bilokonsky continued to work at that logistics company for five years. Anything Michael has ever taken on, he has committed to it 100%. Learning the ins-and-outs of trucking and logistics, it wasn’t long before Michael became obsessed with the idea of starting his own company. The fast-paced nature of the industry was right up his alley.
After years of honing his skills and expertise, gaining a strong understanding of logistics brokering, Michael Bilokonsky launched his company Whitehorse Freight on November 2nd, 2015. Now able to utilize his skills in coaching, training, and teaching with employees at Whitehorse Freight, Michael Bilokonsky is living a dream he had never imagined for himself and he couldn’t be happier.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
After working tirelessly in the industry, soaking up every piece of information I could, I was ready for a new challenge. With dreams of becoming a teacher and coach, I have always enjoyed working with others, growing, and encouraging others. Creating my own business has been a dream come true, allowing me to marry the two things I am most passionate about. As a natural problem-solver, owning my own company has always been a dream of mine. Being able to structure my business in the way I see fit, for the absolute benefit of our employees, clients, and everyone involved, was a big motivator for me.
What keeps you motivated?
I love what I do. From the people I work with to the fast-paced nature of the industry, every day brings with it new opportunities and challenges — I thrive in this environment. If you don’t feel motivated by the work that you do, you’re either working for the wrong company, or need to find a new industry. Motivation is driven by your ‘why’. If you don’t love what you do, it will be impossible to muster enough motivation on those difficult days to continue.
How do you motivate others?
I help people see their strengths and potential, as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses and limitations. My inner coach wants every employee to understand their own value because with the right conditions, everyone has the potential to thrive. I encourage my employees to be honest about their mistakes and don’t penalize them when they make them. I encourage my employees to speak up when they don’t understand something and invest the time necessary to help them learn. If we are going to grow together as a company, we have to help one another.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I am determined. No matter what happens, I never allow myself to give up. For the sake of my company, my employees, and the long-term sustainability of the industry, I always find a solution. A successful leader instills resilience in their employees and I strive to do that every day.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Be a sponge. Take every opportunity you can to learn and grow from people around you. After I started working for a major logistics company in 2010, I read every book, manual, and policy I could get my hands on and asked hundreds — if not thousands — of questions. Knowledge is power. I knew that if I was ever going to start my own business, I needed to know everything I could in order to be successful. I lived and breathed logistics and credit much of my success today to that endless determination and thirst for knowledge.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
When I graduated from college in 2010 and discovered that there were no open positions in my field, I felt defeated. I had to momentarily put my dream on pause and started working for a major logistics company — I had no idea that it was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me. There is a blessing in every situation, no matter how dire it looks at the time. Any time I am faced with adversity now, I remember that it is just a minor diversion.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Focus on solutions, not problems. When something goes wrong, it is human nature to focus on where you may have gone wrong, but sometimes people get stuck here and it disallows them from seeing solutions and moving forward. There is always a solution in every problem and I don’t rest until I find it.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
Create a plan for your life, but be flexible. I started my career with a definitive idea of who and what I wanted to be and if I didn’t listen to my intuition, I would have never ended up where I am now. It is one thing to create a plan — you can be stern about the destination, but flexible about the path. Life is a rollercoaster and can throw any number of things at you. It is your job to adapt and pivot.