Building from the ground up

Here’s another “not a book about the job search” book that I think you might find entertaining, and possibly of use. As you may recall, I’ve occasionally featured some of Harvey Mackay’s columns as “guest posts” in here, and I get his newsletter on a regular basis. A while back he was being very enthusiastic about this book, and so I decided to have a go at it.

Michael Rosenbaum’s Six Tires, No Plan: The Impossible Journey of the Most Inspirational Leader That (Almost) Nobody Knows is a biography of the head of the Discount Tire company, Bruce Halle. As I note in my review, Mr. Halle’s approach to building his business reminded me quite a lot of the “virtues” being preached by the Social Media “gurus” of our day … but putting those principles into action decades before.

Again, this is primarily a biography, and there’s no major “manifesto” being presented from Halle. What comes across as his “business philosophy” is assembled both from his words, and to a great extent in passages about him from his close associates. This makes it a bit harder for me to quote a passage to give you a sense of why I felt this was something that The Job Stalker readers might find of value, but I’ve “cherry-picked” a few passages to try to give you a sense of it:

“People sometimes say, ‘Gee, how did you do what you do? How did you build the company?’ Well, I worked at it for fifty years. You go back and what do you do? You do the things that anybody did when they started a business. You sweep the floors. You wash the windows. You clean the bathrooms. You talk to all the customers. You create some little advertising programs. You pay the rent and try to make it work, and little by little, all the pieces kind of come together.” …

{speaking of getting hit up for a major gift to a university} “It would be terrible for me to give big money, like millions of dollars, to someplace and get all that publicity out of it. And here I’ve got employees out there who are ordinary working people, making a good living, but nothing like that. And all of a sudden I’m giving millions and millions of dollars away. It’s stupid. It would be a morale disaster for all of my employees.” … “If I’m going to give $35 million to anybody I’m going to give it to my employees and their families.” … “If you go out and spend and extra million dollars on something, how many tires do the guys in the stores have to sell to pay for that?” …

Obviously, his main philosophy is about being dedicated to his organization, but this also expresses itself in the nuts-and-bolts of the daily operation of the stores … giving more service than is expected (they first built traffic with free tire changes at the end of snow tire season), having impeccably clean stores (and bathrooms), and having open, friendly dialogue with the customers. Beginning with no advantages over their competition, Halle sought to make his operation grow via “word of mouth marketing”, and the the customer you provided a free service for today was likely to mention that to many of their friends, who were likely to become paying customers at some point in the future. This sort of dialog foreshadows “best practices” in the Social Media sphere.

While this is, obviously, not a book about the job search, but it is a book about how a guy, coming from nothing, was able to boot-strap himself into a huge success, and then created a system where he could help others like him also find success. As always, more details are over in my review, but I found this both inspiring and thought-provoking, and figured I’d bring it to your attention here.

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