As head of the largest land and cruise travel agency in North America, Matthew Eichhorst--president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters--oversees the performance of more than 7,000 employees, leading the organization to a remarkable $790 million in gross bookings last year.

Raised by a single mom, Eichhorst has used his life experiences in an extraordinary way in order to climb the ladder of success. With 30.4 percent of single mothers and their children living in poverty, the odds are often stacked against kids at a young age.

But Eichhorst's childhood gave him the crucial lessons he needed for leadership later on. Here are four of those lessons:

Empathy and balance are key. 

Eichhorst realized that every colleague and employee have stresses of the outside world on their shoulders. A rough day at home can have a negative effect on a person's motivation at work and vice versa. When it comes to creating deadlines, setting meetings or prioritizing team projects, adding empathy to the situation is a powerful and essential element of effective leadership. Emotional intelligence will go a long way--realize that now and positive results will emerge.

It takes a team. 

Since Eichhorst's mother couldn't always be there for him, other family members and friends were a huge part of Matthew Eichhorst's early life, pitching in to help raise him. This experience showed him just how important it is to ask for help, and how to effectively delegate tasks. This lesson translates directly to the business world--for high-pressure workdays in the office, it is critical to have a smart and strong team to lean on.

The value of a dollar.

"We didn't have a lot of money growing up, so I started working at a very young age," Eichhorst remarks. An entrepreneur by the time he was 14, Eichhorst worked to help his mom with some of the expenses. Through this hard work, he learned the value of every single dollar earned, and how to manage finances more effectively. Remember: be transparent in your company's financial health--this will allow for everyone to be in the know, and they will feel accountable to help the company's overall performance.

Adapt and grow yourself. 

With every challenge Matthew Eichhorst and his mother faced, he strengthened his ability to adapt to ever-changing situations in the workplace. "The way she handled each and every situation taught me to learn from my mistakes and grow from them," Eichhorst says of his mother. Whether it's diving deeper into different departments to learn what needs to change, or finding more time to connect with employees, be proactive in your own professional development as you move forward in your career.