107: Tom Walter Says Surround Yourself with Great People and Have an Exit Strategy


04Tom has more than 40 years experience as an owner and operator in the service industry. He has participated in the startup of 30 companies, acquisition of three and—in a few cases—the termination of businesses in a broad spectrum of markets. He is best known as the Chief Culture Officer of Chicago-area Tasty Catering, a suburban Corporate Caterer and event planner. Tune in and listen to Tom Walter drive home the value of surrounding yourself with great people and having an exit strategy.

Show notes…

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Success or Leadership Quote/Mantra

  • “No matter our ethnic difference. No matter our color. I might be white, black, yellow or brown. My hair might be different. My clothes may be different, but I must be respected, never neglected or rejected, for I am Gods child. I am somebody.” -Dr. William Borders
  • Have a vision; know where you are going.
  • Ask not what I can do for myself, ask what I can do for you.

It” Factor

  • Tom is a life long learner. He tries to read at least 2 business books a week and 1 recreational book a week.
  • Tom focuses on employee engagement to achieve success.

Industry Challenge or Failure

  • Tom made the mistake of hiring skill over attitude.


Knowledge BOMBS

Fundraising Advice

  • Have double the cash you think you’ll need when getting started.
  • Understand the ramification of partners and investors. With every partner and investor there comes a bag of garbage.
  • Having an exit strategy is critical. You need a way out when things are not going as you planned.

Employee Hiring

  • Screen for skill. Hire for attitude and aligned culture. Commit your core values to writing so your prospective employees can read if they are a good match.
  • Higher slowly. Eliminate quickly.

Employee Retainment

  • Display your company core values on the website; you’ll attract people who align with your company.

Advice on Teamwork

  • Lead, don’t manage. Leadership is a way of life. Management is a job.
  • Get your entire team on board and communicate with them often. They need to be involved.
  • Have your employees buy in so you can have maximum brain power working toward the common goal.
  • Get to know your employees personal visions and where they want to get in life. If you help them get there, they’ll go the extra mile for you.

Industry Resource

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading)


CLICK  HERE to get a FREE audio version of this Book

Advice on Marketing

  • You need to market to the pain that your client is feeling.

Unknown-1Objective Product/Service Review Suggestion

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Catering Software

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Best Business Advice

Surround yourself with great people. Make sure they share your values, your mission, and your vision.

Questions I should have asked?

Q:Whats your exit strategy?

Read Bo Burlingham’s Finish Big to learn more about how to create an exist strategy.

Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top


Interview Resources

Contact Info 

Don’t forget to check out Tom’s Book:
It’s My Company Too!: How Entangled Companies Move Beyond Employee Engagement for Remarkable Results

With deep insight into eight award-winning, market-leading companies, It’s My Company Too! explores how the highest-performing organizations entangle employees, systems, culture, and leadership into a unified drive for excellence.

Website: ThomasJWalter.com 


Twitter: @TastyCatering

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