Forget the What, Think About the Why

Written by Robert Doty, participant in the 2020 Spring Leadership Discovery class, after hearing from mentor Willis Cantey, CEO of Cantey Tech Consulting and Chairman of the Chamber Board

As CEO of Cantey Tech Consulting, a company that has grown tremendously over its 13-year history, Willis Cantey has allowed his engaging leadership style and passion for customer service to determine much of his success. ‘Eager to Learn and Grow’, according to Cantey, is today one of his organization’s core ethos – and it makes perfect sense once you learn about his personal and professional experiences and gain insight into what guided him along his own career path.  

Willis Cantey is a native of Columbia, SC and he earned an International MBA at the University of South Carolina. He then gained corporate experience working with Xerox in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Transitioning out of the corporate world, Cantey gained some entrepreneurial experience working with a small tech startup in New York before the ‘Dot-Com Bust’ of 2001.

His love for his home state, though, brought him back to South Carolina.  He was able to further develop his skillset in IT consulting at Blackbaud in Charleston before deciding to step out on his own to start Cantey Tech Consulting in 2007 and later Cantey EDU in 2015. In 2019, Cantey Tech Consulting was ranked as the 5th fastest growing small company in South Carolina by SC Biz News.

Here is some advice he shared with the Leadership Discovery Spring Class of 2020:

  • Stick with what you’re good at.

– Think about who you are and how you want to get there.

  • There is a factor of luck involved with building a successful career but establishing and maintaining relationships is paramount.
  • Get involved and establish a network of relationships that covers a wide variety of professionals.

– This can give you a broader perspective on your own industry or an industry you may become interested in.
– Form relationships through organizations like the Chamber…you never know how it may serve in the future or when times get tough.

  • Forget the What. Think about the Why.

– When learning from other leaders, ask them, for example, why they did what they did.

  • Be a part of something you believe in and lean into that.
  • Talk less and listen more.

– Show how much you know with the questions you ask, not with what you say.

The Leadership Discovery fall session will be opening applications soon! Learn more about Leadership Discovery and how you can be notified once applications open.

Back to Top


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace is Too Vital to Ignore