Tom Talks

Building a Winning Business — Leadership Blog — Tom Salonek

Tom Talks - Building a Winning Business  —  Leadership Blog  —  Tom Salonek

Building a Winning Business – Only Hire Top Performers

Building-a-Winning-Business-BookMaybe this sounds like a tall order (especially if times are good and great employees are hard to find). Regardless of the business climate, making a commitment to hire only top performers is a strategy worth pursuing. It’s the only way to ensure that you can deliver the best service or product to your customers—and the only way I know to stay competitive, especially in an age of global outsourcing.





If you think you can get by with mediocre employees, you’ll soon see your profit margins eroding, since the only way you’ll be able to compete is to lower prices.

  • It pays to be picky. By this I mean, only hire people you rate a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. In my industry, the data state that a top programmer will produce eight times more work than an average or poor performer!
  • Great performers are rarely unemployed or desperate for work. For this reason, it’s important to build a virtual bench of possible candidates who are exceptional at their jobs but who are happy in their current positions. Eventually things may change and they will be interested in finding a new position. Conversely, if a top performer leaves your organization on good terms and later wants to return, don’t hesitate to take him back. This sends a powerful message to everyone about your company being a great place to work.

Tom’s Takeaway:  “Although it takes time and patience on the front end to find and recruit top performers, you’ll get this investment back with hefty dividends over time.”

Thoughts Since the Book

  • Without a doubt, this takeaway–along with daily huddles–are on the short list when people ask me which of the 70 takeaways to first implement.
  • Given a great plan or a great team, eight days a week, I’d choose the latter.  Great people are the difference.

Voice App Helps Hungry Customers – and keeps a major fast-food chain on top

PizzaRemember my post a few weeks back about the explosion of mobile apps? I recently read that Domino’s pizza has pushed the envelope a bit further by becoming the first major fast-food chain to offer a phone app that lets you order by voice. (If the last time you experienced Domino’s was in college, you might be surprised to learn that the pizza has improved dramatically and the company now operates nearly 11,000 stores in 70 markets around the world.)

Of course, most of us are used to ordering pizza by voice. It’s usually a frustrating experience in which you are repeatedly put on hold as a harried manager juggles dealing with onsite customers who are eager to order or pay their checks. But with Domino’s new app, the harried pizza guy is replaced by “Dom,” a computer enhanced male voice (he currently only responds to English).

Looks like Domino’s has figured out how to stay number one with the coveted Millennials demographic? It shouldn’t be a surprise since Domino’s current mobile app is its fastest-growing ordering vehicle, representing 18 percent in sales (totaling $459 million in 2013).

Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle believes that the day will come when typing on keyboards with our thumbs on mobile devices will be over.  “We want to be the ones who continue to advance the technology experience,” Doyle commented in a recent USA Today story.

Domino’s is smart to be staying on the leading edge of technology as it seeks to connect in ways most convenient for customers. Has your company considered how apps – computer, mobile or voice – might help to propel your business forward?

Uber. Indeed.

UberWikipedia defines Uber as “denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing” I agree.  Uber–a new service for getting a ride–is a great example of a business addressing the shortcomings of an industry.  As covered in last Sunday’s Star Tribune article, cab companies have dropped the ball.  Uber is getting push back from entrenched competitors.

The push back isn’t in the form of better service.  Rather, it’s in trying to use legal measures, lobbyists, etc. to stop Uber from entering new markets.  Uber has taken the core problems of an industry and solving the issues.

  • Wait times.   A few months ago, my wife and I waited nearly an hour for the cab (based 2.5 miles from our home) to arrive at our home.  I called the company a bunch of times.  When we got in the car, we saw the problem first hand.  When leaving our house, the dispatcher called for a car near an address which was no where near our address.  Our driver, talked to the dispatcher and said he was “almost there,” and then laughed to us saying, “that’s the way you do it.”
  • Discrimination.  As noted in the Star Tribune article, cabs discriminate. I’ve experienced it based on distance.  Around the same time as our hour-long wait time noted above, my wife and I got into a cab in St. Paul (we live a couple of miles from downtown).  As we pulled away, someone tapped the window.  The driver rolled the window down.  He asked, “Where are you going?” They said, “Bloomington.” which is about 15 miles further than our drop.  Our driver said to us, “Get out.”  We have also been declined numerous time when asked where we wanted to go, and have had to share a fare because the other people (picked up a few blocks from where we were initially picked up) were told they could just get in because they were traveling to Minneapolis.  I called the number in the cab.  They said it wasn’t in their jurisdiction.
  • Ratings.  Good for both drivers and passengers.  With Uber, both the driver and the passenger can rate the experience.
  • No $ transactions.  Over decades of traveling, I’ve run into cab drivers who “Didn’t have change” or “Couldn’t process a credit card.” With Uber, the payment and tip are all settled with your online account and there’s no transaction.
  • Extra long drives.  In first visited cities, I’m clueless.  Especially today, with two semi-toddlers, I’m not researching the “best route from airport to hotel.” The Uber app handles this with a post trip email with a map.

Uber indeed (as a disclosure, I’ve only used Uber’s service that uses vetted ‘black car’ services).

Building a Winning Business – Bias in Hiring


Building A Winning Business — Section: Hiring

To improve your interviews with job candidates, be aware of your own biases and the tendency to make snap judgments. Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-selling book Blink, chronicles the human tendency to make huge decisions in the “blink of an eye” based on a person’s appearance, the color of her eyes, or whether he reminds us of someone else.





  • Most of us don’t even realize we make decisions about others based on such shallow “information,” which is why we need systems to override our very human tendency to size someone up unconsciously and subjectively.
  • Here’s a tip for keeping biases in check. Make a note of your initial impressions and then set that aside. Try to keep your mind open as you learn more about the potential candidate and be willing to alter your original impression. Your goal should be to keep your initial impressions from outweighing other evidence about the person gleaned from a rigorous hiring process.

Tom’s Takeaway:  “It’s human nature to size someone up in the ‘blink of an eye,’ but savvy hiring managers consciously set their initial impressions aside and take the time to assess a candidate thoroughly before making a decision.”

Thoughts Since the Book

An in depth, five to 10 step, gated process with many people involved in the interview helps eliminate any one person’s bias.

Today, we also look for bias in the candidate.  A previous candidate was interviewing with one of our teams.  During the interview, he didn’t look at or address a female employee.  Clearly, we chose not proceed with this candidate.