I had the pleasure of speaking last week at ICMI Speaker Bureau’s (West Australia) Annual Speaker Showcase. I spoke alongside a number of colleagues who are all professional speakers and keynote presenters, including people such as Peter Rowsthorne (a well known Australian comedian and MC), Patrick Hollingworth (Mt. Everest climber, enviromental advisor and speaker on Risk Management), young and vibrant motorcycle entrepreneur Brad Smith (owner of braaap motorbikes), and Theo Venter (one of the few people in the world known to have survived a 22,000 volt, 1200 amp, electrical discharge). It was great company to be amongst, so I’m honoured that I shared the floor with them.
I’ll share some more about their inspiring stories in later posts, because they are all instructive and highly valuable, although I don’t want to steal their thunder.
But first let me tell you a little about the first speaker of the day, Tom O’Toole. Tom built a small-town bakery into one of Australia’s most successful independent bakery chains: The Beechworth Bakery. He went from $100,000 per annum turnover when he bought the original store in Beechworth, Victoria, to now $15 million in turnover amongst their six stores in the Eastern States of Australia. He also says he’s functionally illiterate (he has reading problems). What’s more, Tom has built a successful career motivating and educating small business owners and others in achieving business success. You can buy his motivational products through the Beechworth Bakery website. But, as he says, “I’m no guru, no expert, just a baker” who just happens to have built “one of the highest earning single bakery retailers in Australian history”.
Tom is an almost manic presenter and well worth hearing from and getting to know. Two of the obvious keys to his success are that he is wildly passionate about providing great tasting food to his customers. The other is that he is equally passionate about his people. And he doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to people. Unusually for a baker, he invests a great deal of time and money in training, motivating and developing his people. As he said, “They are the ones serving the customers.” He commented that they had to be enjoying their work and putting in their utmost to create great experiences for his customers. And he has done this despite poor beginnings, literacy problems and no MBA.
The Beechworth Bakery website has a great write-up of their work philosophy at http://www.beechworthbakery.com/Pages/Jobs.aspx . But let me tell you that having met Tom and seen him speak (including the many photos of evidence) regarding his people, it’s obvious that their web page isn’t just a PR spiel – it’s an honest reflection and a commitment.
You can find out more about Tom at the ICMI website, http://www.icmi.com.au/tom-otoole
Interestingly, a contact of mine recently told me that the privately owned mining company she works for, that is making billions of dollars, had cut back on all their training and people investment and thus she couldn’t get one development workshop paid for. This because the boss was cutting back due to “uncertainty”. People there may be making money, but their work culture is restrictive and stressful.
Tom (who has this successful medium sized business, whose people adore working for him, are co-owners of his company, are having fun, love their work, create great product and are providing profits to all those involved) doesn’t cut back despite the fact that he’s making a profit. He keeps on investing in his people. I know which company I’d rather work for.
Now, if a baker with reading problems can find willing, talented people, develop them and let them go so that they create oustanding results, have an infectious work culture, produce good food and serve their community, why can’t everyone else?
Check Tom out. Book him if you can.