When Erik Sosolik dresses for success, he might pull on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt.
That’s what he was wearing in 2010 when an impromptu Saturday afternoon job interview yielded an offer of employment from the local accounting firm Chilton Wilcox & Fortenberry. Earlier this year, the firm promoted Sosolik, 35, to partner.
While his title has changed, the man hasn’t.
“We still look at him as a co-worker,” Natalie Fogle noted. “He … owns that he is part of our team, we are not part of his.”
The approach, Sosolik said, is conscientious.
“To feel like I’m above someone, that’s not me,” he said. “I’m an equal. In that, you gain respect. And respect is what you need to be successful.”
Sosolik and his wife moved to Austin as newlyweds to enjoy the capital city’s lifestyle. But the birth of their twin daughters was a thunderbolt of reality – they had to get back home to West Texas.
He was in town interviewing with another firm when a family friend asked if he was interviewing with Chilton Wilcox & Fortenberry, a firm he had never heard of. The friend stepped from the room and called one of the partners, who invited Sosolik for a chat.
“I warned them I just had on golf pants and a Ninja Turtle T-shirt,” he recalled. “They said, ‘No, that’s fine. Come on.’”
The discussion was so engrossing, no one realized when day turned to night. The partners made him an offer the next morning. By the time the Sosoliks had returned to Austin, their minds were made up.
“Everything has a reason,” he said. “This must be where we’re supposed to be.”
He thinks he even may still have the TMNT T-shirt … “if my wife hasn’t thrown it out.”
His colleagues cheerlead him and his success. They praise Sosolik as a leader whose kindness quietly inspires and motivates. They admire the work ethic of a partner who’s typically first into the office and last to leave. They describe him as possessing grit, discipline, optimism, confidence, diplomacy and patience.
“He is literally the best boss,” one said.
Sosolik credits his wife for providing him the support to excel at work while clearly communicating to him when his family needs him.
He also carves out time to volunteer with the Concho Valley Food Bank and the United Way, two “indispensable” agencies serving San Angelo’s least fortunate. Determining where to invest such efforts often comes down to “a feeling,” he added.
“If it comes up two or three times,” he said, “it ought to trigger you to look into it and see exactly what’s going on.”
Fellow partner John Fortenberry called Sosolik a servant leader. Sosolik said that’s likely true.
“If somebody needs a cup of coffee, I’m not above getting them a cup of coffee,” he said. “That is the way you gain someone’s respect – if you’re willing to do for them what you’d like them to do for you. It’s the golden rule.”