Flying to the Central American country in March at his own expense, Stafford County business owner Greg Storch joined 250 other trainers certified in the John Maxwell method to lead “Train the Trainer” workshops at the invitation of Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solis.
“I went to Costa Rica to transform them, and I was the one who got transformed,” said Storch. “I was so impressed by they love they have for their country and their desire to have a positive impact.”
Following similar programs in Paraguay in 2015 and Guatemala in 2013, the Costa Rica event was sponsored by the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit organization started by the leadership and management expert to strengthen leaders, organizations, communities and nations around the world.
The 250 trainers spent five days in the country with more than 15,000 government and political leaders, business owners, school and church administrators, teaching concepts and behaviors designed to improve relationships, increase communication, and build leadership skills. Those 15,000 were then equipped with training materials to return to their organizations and instruct others using the same methods.
“Altogether we anticipate roughly 200,000 in Costa Rica will be trained through this process in the next several months,” Storch said. “To date we estimate the training has reached more than half a million between the three countries.”
Maxwell, who is also a pastor, is a New York Times best-selling author, coach and speaker who has sold more than 26 million books in 50 languages. The topics covered in the Costa Rica training were based on his books, focusing on seven pillars of influence: government, education, media, business, arts, faith, and family.
Storch said during one day of the training, his co-facilitator shared a story about his son and forgiveness, saying he wished they were communicating better with each other, becoming somewhat emotional as he spoke.
“One of the people we were teaching came up and found my co-facilitator at the end of the day specifically to tell him she was touched by his story and she hopes everything works out for him with his son,” Storch said. “I was so impressed that she took the extra time to find my friend and talk to him. This kind of thing happened all the time with these people.”
Storch said he was up before 5 a.m. every day he was there, eating a quick breakfast and then traveling immediately to two or three several-hour-long roundtable sessions and returning to his hotel around 11 p.m.
“It was very intense,” Storch said, adding that when the five days were done, he and his wife stayed in the country a few more days to relax on the beach and recover.
“It was amazing to me how regardless of their background, where they were coming from, whatever job they were doing, every one of the people there had the best attitude, all of them so open to receiving this information and applying it to their lives,” Storch said. “Here in America we could learn from this example.”
Storch, the founder of Lion Enterprise, LLC, a leadership and development company, said he loves having a career that can help people change for the better.
He served 24 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, working in logistics and medical support.
“I was in Iraq in 2003 with one of the battalions that set up a central supply area supporting the big push to Baghdad, where they all stopped to refuel, get food and water, and medical help,” he said. “It was a pretty crazy time.”
After retiring in 2009 Storch tried working in information technology, but was unhappy. “It was great money, but I felt like I was the worst version of myself during that time.”
He knew his passion was working with people and building their value. As he searched for what he could do that would agree more with that idea, he came across the John Maxwell leadership training program, and subsequently became a certified speaker, coach, and trainer.
In April 2017 he broke away from IT and started his Stafford County company, based out of his home, focusing on leadership development and helping new managers improve their communications and work environment, as well as holding virtual classes for individuals interested in growth in both their personal and professional lives.
Storch uses a version of this training geared for teenagers to participate in an international global youth initiative, another John Maxwell program that teaches anti-bullying, building a positive self-image, leadership and team building.
“Every April coaches all over the world hold these free events in their own communities to empower the next generation,” Storch said. “Last year they reached over half a million children world wide.”
On Sunday 25 teenagers ages 12 to 17 participated in one of these free seminars taught by Storch, a two-hour event with a variety of outdoor activities.
“I’m just happier with myself when I feel like what I do is making a difference in somebody’s life,” Storch said. “That’s what motivates me more than anything else.”