Thoughts from The 100: Defining Personal Values, Setting Goal

TS2015-Softcover-BookCover-New“Thoughts from The 100” is a series of posts with thoughts, examples, and additional insights from my book The 100.

Living one’s best life is not a casual activity. It takes thought, preparation, planning and commitment. I believe when we identify our deepest motivation—our values—and align our behaviors accordingly; we are more likely to achieve goals that lead to a full life, fully lived.

To imagine my own deepest values, I imagined what people would say about me at my own funeral. What mattered most? Leaving a legacy of care for others: my family and friends, my employees and even people I don’t know. I realized that caring for others means spending time with them and listening to them.

This little exercise inspired me to ask employees how Intertech could best support them in living their best lives. Not surprisingly, healthy work-life balance was high on their lists. This spurred our decision to create three-month sabbaticals for employees with seven years of service. We’ve also begun providing financial support for new employees who wish to set up a home office.

This year, Intertech was named a top workplace for employee flexibility by Fortune magazine. While we’ve won dozens of awards for being a great place to work, the award for flexibility was especially meaningful because it goes to the heart of our core values.

Digging deep enough to identify your core values is worth the effort. Values bring meaning and clarity to our lives. They also serve as guiding principles when establishing goals and making decisions. As Roy Disney once noted, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

Turning Values into Reality

Values are worthless if they’re not connected to behavior. Yet how do you decide what form your values should take in the world? Try envisioning your future.

Seriously, close your eyes and try to picture yourself in 10 years. Get specific. What do things look like? Think about the rhythm of your day and how you will look, act and feel at work and in all other areas of your life.

Far from a “touchy- feely” exercise, the effectiveness of visualization has been proven by solid research and is used by athletes and others to achieve desired results. Once you’ve gotten a handle on your desired results, you need to formulate goals. Think of goals as the roadmap and values as the destination.

I’m a believer in SMART goals, that is goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Driven

Some potential categories for life goals include your primary relationship, friends, kids, professional and business, fitness, philanthropy, creative pursuits, finances, spirituality, travel, and learning.

For goals, set SMART long term goals.  Next, break them down into smaller chunks.  Aim high and include dates.  Never leave a goal setting session without taking some action… this could be as simple as a making a phone call or doing a some online research.

I also advocate writing your goals down and posting them where you can see them on a daily basis.  If you’re afraid you might slip into old habits that work against your goal, share your goals with others.

For more about goals, I highly recommend Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill and The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.

For my employees, and me, achieving a healthy work-life balance is a top goal. Next time I’ll share some specific strategies for doing just that!

My Radio Interview on The Small Business Advocate

My thanks to Jim Blasingame of The Small Business Advocate for our conversation about  leadership, Intertech and The 100.  Below are parts one and two of the interview:

Part 1


My Interview with Investor’s Business Daily


My thanks to writer Michael Mink and Investor’s Business Daily for interviewing me for the article “Build Business On A Foundation Of Efficiency And Engagement“.  Below is the start of the article with a link to the complete online article.

“Oganizations that create engaged employees have performance measurables that far surpass companies that don’t, according to Gallup.

“To win Customers — and a bigger share of the marketplace — companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees,” the research company says in its 2013 report, “The State of The American Workplace.”

That’s certainly been the experience of Tom Salonek, the CEO of technology consulting and training firm Intertech and the author of “The 100: Simple Steps for Building a Winning Business.” He and Steven Gold, author of “How We Succeed: Making Good Things Happen Through the Power of Smart Experiments,” share across-the-board tips on making your business and yourself more efficient.”

Read the full article here.

The 100 Book Named “3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read” by Small Business Forum

The-100-Title-OnlyMy thanks to Small Business Forum for naming The 100 Building Blocks of Business Leadership to their list of “3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

From their review, “This small, yet information-packed book, written by a tech entrepreneur, offers business owners (and leaders) lots of insights, tips and lessons. There’s not a lot of theory in this book, which entrepreneurs will appreciate. Instead, it gives readers actionable ideas and practical advice.

The 100 building blocks are based on author Tom Salonek’s entrepreneurial experiences as the founder of Intertech, a technology consulting and training company.

Each building block offers a “Takeway,” a short summary that in itself offers great advice.”

My Interview with the Villager

Villager-Logo-LargeFinding the proper balance between work and family was a bit of a struggle at first for Summit Hill resident Tom Salonek, founder and CEO of Intertech, a 25-year-old technology consulting and training firm.

“When I first started the firm, I’d take any job,” Salonek said. “It was really hard to balance. I remember my first wedding anniversary when my wife (Linda) asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ I told her she could get takeout and buy herself a gift. That was not a good answer.”

Today, the 49-year-old father of two takes time to enjoy birthdays, family vacations and other special events and to ensure that life remains the priority, not work. It is one of the lessons he shares in his new book, The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership (Agate Publishing, March 2016).

The paperback delivers 100 succinct management practices, or building blocks, that are intended to benefit leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses as well as would-be entrepreneurs. The insights were gained over the last quarter-century by Salonek, who started the firm in his basement in 1991 when he was 24. The company, which works today with dozens of Fortune 500 companies, reported $13.5 million in revenue last year.

Each of the building blocks Salonek lists includes a takeaway – his summation and bit of advice. Salonek also offers an extensive bibliography and references to online resources in the book.

In the book’s dedication, Salonek writes that he learned more from his father Theodore, a dairy farmer, about working with people than from anything he ever read.

“I had the unique opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with my dad,” he said. “It was definitely different from the relationship I have with my son. He knows that stuff happens (at work), but he doesn’t really know or see firsthand what I do. My brothers and I saw the way that (Dad) treated people. He always had a giving heart.”

That included helping out a fellow farmer who was ill and could not plow his field and one who needed clothes during a particularly difficult time for farmers in the 1980s.

“He never talked about it, he’d just do it,” Salonek said about his father. “Seeing how he cared about people definitely is part of the fabric of (Intertech).”

Salonek earned a computer science degree from the University of St. Thomas and has taken business and management courses from the Carlson School of Management, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Eagan-based Intertech has received dozens of awards for growth, innovation and being one of the best places to work in technology. Employees there are encouraged to take time to volunteer, while the Intertech Foundation that Salonek and his wife formed helps families with terminally ill children and provides college scholarships for computer science students. The company’s philanthropic philosophy is described in Chapter 12 of The 100, titled Giving Back.

Other chapters in The 100 flesh out other ideas that have worked for Salonek and his company. They include living your best life (Chapter 1), engaging employees in the success of the company (Chapter 6), being a good leader (Chapter 9) and tackling problems (Chapter 11). Chapter 13 wraps everything up with three building blocks about how readers can embrace the process, use online print resources, and put each takeaway to work.

Salonek said the book can be read from front to back, or the building blocks and chapters can stand on their own.

“My goal was to be succinct and provide practical ideas that were field-tested and used by me and others,” he said. “You don’t need to read Block 33 to understand Block 34. If there are particular challenges that people are having, they can go to that chapter and read through it and, hopefully, get practical, implementable takeaways to address whatever issues they may be having in their business or their lives.”

For Salonek, becoming a writer started out with a simple goal – to get an article published. He has done that and then some. His many articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. His blog can be found online at

He also wrote a book on Building a Winning Business in 2011 and a children’s book called Team SuperManners in 2014, with his children Elizabeth and Theodore and the family dog as the main characters.

“I had a bucket list item to write a children’s book,” he said. “It was just fun to do.”

Salonek is now thinking about writing another book that stems from his current parenting challenges. “I’ve been scratching my head,” he said. “The potential topics change daily, depending on how (the kids) are behaving.”

Salonek’s main takeaway from life and work? “We get what we expect,” he said. “If we have an idea of what we want, be it work/life balance, a business that provides freedom or a creative outlet, that’s what we focus on. All action begins with that. Hopefully, after that, reality follows.”

The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership can be found online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indie Bound.