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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Be the Place to Work

Tom Gegax built a business from nothing to hundreds of millions in sales. He says that no one wants a boss but everyone wants a coach and that the key to coaching is clear communication.

Key Question:


Be the place people want to work.  Build the people you hire and they will build the business.

Very few people can read your mind. You might think your spouse or partner can. However, we doubt an employee can know you so well and be in such sync with you that you can float through the business and the things you want to see happen just happen. In the very funny movie released in 2000 called, "What Women Want," Mel Gibson played a Chicago advertising executive who was able read women's minds. This ability turned out to be a tremendous asset but sadly, most of us can't do it.

What are the four steps in Tom's coaching process?

First he tries to understand the expectations of the other person. Next he gives his instructions in clear, plain language. Third, he offers feedback. Finally, he asks the person he is working with to tell him how he is doing. This fourth step is hard because people at first are shy to tell you the truth especially if they have something negative to say. Tom says that to get true feedback from another person may mean you have to ask at least three times!

Q:  Why is the people part of business so difficult?

A:  Every person is so different, working with people can never be completely under control or systematized. One big problem most small business owners have is thinking that everyone is like them. Nothing could be further from the truth. While a small business owner is usually motivated by challenge, most people are motivated by appreciation.

So, the difficulty is at the root and must first be understood, then dealt with. The business owner must create an environment for others to thrive. Don't build the environment the business owner wants, build the environment the employee wants. The employee wants appreciation, recognition and to know he/she is part of an organization that delivers what is promised.

Think about it

In what ways are you creating an environment where your employees will thrive? How can you improve your corporate culture to meet the needs of employees? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your communication skills? Which of these four steps do you do well? Which do you do poorly? What can you do to improve?

Clip from: Staying Power

Key Questions about business: What makes a business work?  Why do some make it while so many fail?  And, in the USA, why are there so many business start-ups every year?  How does a business make it beyond the first year? ...third year? ...and fifth year? These are benchmarks. Milestones. Most startups do not get past them.

So, when these veteran entrepreneurs answer the question, "How did you do it?," there is a lot to learn.

This television special outlines the common qualities found in companies that make profits for decades.

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Gegax Management & Tires Plus

Tom Gegax, founder

Gegax Management Systems
PO Box 16323
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Visit our web site:

Office: 612-920-5114

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Be the Place to Work

HATTIE: Number 7. You must create an environment for employees to thrive. Tom Gegax built TirePlus from zero to hundreds of million in sales. He believes it is his ability to hire and coach people that is key to his success. Tom shares his four-step coaching process.

TOM: I think there are four steps, that if a small business owner misses any one of these four steps, then their relationship with either their employees or their spouse -- which is critical in any business -- is at risk.

The first is to understand the other -- the expectations of their employees. Truly understand what do they expect out of being here, rather than just, "Hey, you need to do this, you need to do that." What do they expect.

The second is what they expect of them. Being clear. We sometimes think employees should be mind readers. They really need to be able to understand, "Okay, what do you like in terms of hours?" What about your specifics -- what kind of things you want me to do? You know, those kind of things really need to be clear.

Then the third step is to be able to give them feedback on how their doing.

HATTIE: That's the coaching (#4).

TOM: Yeah, that's the coaching. I mean, giving them the immediate feedback … that we talked about earlier. The fourth step is asking, "How we're doing as managers or leaders or coaches?" We rarely ask that one. "Hey, how am I doing?" And you know what they usually say, 'Oh, you're doing fine.' Okay. Then what a leader should say -- there's an old, called a rule of three. People will lie until the third time. So you ask him, 'How am I doing?' They say, 'Great.' Then you say, 'Are you sure? Come on.' 'Yeah, you're doing great.' 'Come on, you're not telling me there isn't -' So finally they say, 'Well there are a few things.' So you say, 'What are the three things you like about how I'm doing? And, what are three things that I can do better? And, you start saying that to certain employees, wow, you're going to hear some powerful things.


HATTIE: Jon O'Keefe needs creativity from employees so he looks for the unusual then works to build a team.

JON: People buy people first. And we employ people here--you know, we employ people because they're unusual, they're different. They think outside the box. They're different types of people. You know, one guy came to an interview in a checked suit, a totally tartan checked suit. And, you know, this guy was unusual, but he was actually capable of being able to deliver as well.

HATTIE: Where is this guy now?

JON: Well, that's actually Nick. He's our technical director.

NICK: I actually turned up in a tartan suit. And he actually said to me, `He's either good or he's mad.' And he made the decision that I was good. JON: I employed a copywriter because his last job on his CV, well, he was a human cannonball for a circus. So you look for unusual people, as long as they've got a skill base.

JON KEEFE: ........ Make sure that everyone understands exactly what they need to do, why they do it, when they need to do it for. It's kind of like a doctor's surgery. People are in and out every day. These guys all in here and the guys over in the sales office, it's a musketeer thing. It's all for one and one for all. And you have to create that kind of mentality.


HATTIE: Anne Beiler built from zero to $400 million in sales by focusing on making sure employees feel good. Ahmad Chabbani pays attention to the personal growth of each person at OMNEX.

MAHMOUD SERHANE: He can teach you anything. He can introduce you. He can help you build a good personality. He is a smart guy.

HATTIE: The key to succcess with people is clear! Thriving companies are lead by great communicators.

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