In the quiet hours of an early morning, Episcopal graduate Flynn Foster ’85 can often be found sipping coffee and discussing life in the south Louisiana marsh. Foster has been an avid duck hunter since he first entered a blind at the age of five. “I like the fellowship of it,” he says of his passion. Foster learned how to duck hunt from his father. He also learned life lessons and the business principles and values that he still employs today as President of Guaranty Corporation.
Guaranty was founded in 1926 by Foster’s grandfather George Foster Sr. Later, George Foster Jr. took over the company and served as an example for his son on how to do business. “He was a steadfast, stoic businessman who never wavered from his principles and stuck to his values,” says Foster. Foster says his dad was larger than life and is still an inspiration for him as he leads the family business. Under Foster’s leadership, Guaranty continues to thrive. A recent article in the Baton Rouge Business Report highlights the ability of Foster and his team to adapt in an ever-evolving business climate. In addition to Guaranty’s four local radio stations (including the LSU flagship station Eagle 98.1), the company also includes a digital media company named Gatorworks, a senior living facility in Mandeville, a restaurant founded by Food Network Star, Jay Ducote, called Gov’t Taco and a real estate development in Lafayette named Cotè Gelee. The ability to modify the business model is critical for success. However, even in a modern, corporate environment, some traditions remain.
The Foster family has a longstanding tradition of attending Episcopal. Eight members of the family, including Foster’s sons Landon ’16 and Luke ’18 graduated from the school, which is a testament to their belief in the value of the Episcopal experience. Foster sums up why the school matters so much. “It starts with a great education and Christian values.” He says Episcopal teaches students “the ability to think.” Foster made the most of his Episcopal experience. He played basketball and was a four year member of the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. His favorite subject was American History and he is still a history buff today. As you might expect though, Foster says he didn’t realize the quality of an Episcopal education while he was on campus. When he looks back now, he recognizes the foundation that the school provided him. “Episcopal is planting a seed for the future,” he says. “The options are limitless after graduating from Episcopal.”
Foster credits God, his parents and his relationships with colleagues for his success. “I have a network of men who aren’t afraid to tell each other that we love each other,” he says. In a fast-paced world where people communicate in 280 characters or less, Foster still values relationships and connections. Even now his high school classmates are an integral part of his life. “It feeds the soul when we get together,” he says. Members of the Class of 1985 maintain an email distribution list which allows them to keep in touch and stay up to date on the latest class news. As Foster travels for business, he makes time to catch up with old friends and nurture those friendships.
“As a leader, you never have to choose between love and results – rather, strive for love-driven results.” “The Heart-Led Leader: How Living and Leading from the Heart Will Change Your Organization and Your Life” by Tommy Spaulding
Foster’s focus on relationships doesn’t only apply to his personal life. Inspired by Spaulding’s writings, Foster leads Guaranty in a way that shows an appreciation for and a connection to the company workforce. In a podcast on Talk 107.3FM, Foster spoke about his leadership style saying he wants his colleagues to know that he supports them and believes in them.
Under Foster’s leadership, Guaranty also has a positive relationship with the community. “I’m blessed beyond reason so I should give back,” says Foster, who says his mother modeled for him what it means to be involved in the community. “We have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. Dreams Come True, the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area are just a few of the organizations that Guaranty supports. Personally, Foster has long been involved with the Louisiana/Mississippi ALS chapter. His sister, Felisha ’88, passed away as a result of ALS making this commitment his most meaningful. In 2017, Foster and his family commemorated his sister’s legacy in a special way by naming the Episcopal basketball court in her honor.
As Foster sits in that duck blind contemplating life, he has much for which to be thankful. He is carrying on the family legacy by ensuring that Guaranty is prepared for the future. He is serving others and maintaining relationships with people he has known for decades. He is building on the foundation laid out for him by his grandfather, his father and even his alma mater.