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Gary Tharaldson Quotes

Gary Tharaldson

Gary Tharaldson quotes: the North Dakotan billionaire’s best advice.

“Stick with your knitting.  Meaning, stick with the business you know best and have a great passion for.”

“There are not many people with the passion and the ability to do things.  I don’t want to say I’m different: I know I’m different.  It’s all about passion.”

“You always set goals, but money is just a means and a measuring stick.  It doesn’t mean that much to me personally.  The game is what I like.”

“I am a risk-taker, but a very calculated risk-taker who always had faith that I was going to get things done right.”

“The thing I’ve been blessed with is a lot of common sense.  The other thing I’ve been blessed with is that I listen pretty well.  If you listen, you pick up things quicker.  A lot of times, people want to be in total control.  I want them to be in control, but then I add something to what they’re doing.”

“I like to think that I’m a card player who stacks the deck in his favor.  I try to do everything I can to increase profits.  From finding a site, to the number of rooms we build for the hotel brand, I always want to do the best I can.  I always want to be with the best brands in the hotel business.”

“Here’s what happens: in good times, consumers trade up from economy to mid-level hotels.  If money is coming in, people want to stay in better-quality hotels.  In bad times, customers choose less expensive than upscale hotels.  They trade down into the middle market that I’m in.  So, in good and bad times, that’s how you we get high returns in our business.”

“If I see something wrong, I talk it through with my senior managers.  That’s my management style.  Without criticizing, I try to make sure they understand there’s a better way to do things.  No one tries to make a mistake, but we have to check everything to make sure something isn’t wrong.”

“I was an avid softball player and that competitiveness has been evident throughout my entire life.  That drive to win continually pushes me in business to do more and is why I’m not going to just coast despite all my accomplishments.  That competitiveness also creates a curiosity to get to know my employees better.”

“I truly enjoy what I’m doing and who I’m working with.  I would never want to coast at work because I wouldn’t have any fun.”

“The most successful executives carefully select understudies.  They don’t strive to do everything themselves.  They train and trust others.  This leaves them foot-free, mind-free, with time to think.  They have time to receive important callers, to pay worthwhile visits.  They have time for their families.”

“I always say that being an owner is like being a cheerleader, because you have to let your people know that you appreciate everything they’re doing and that they’re doing it extremely well.  It’s also very important for the people who are under me to let the people below them know how much they appreciate what they’re doing.  This is how we created a great company culture.  We have to keep that culture going from top to bottom.”

“Some owners don’t go out and talk to their employees very often.  Basically, employees want to know they’re wanted and needed.  They want to know that you know they’re doing a good job.”

“Sometimes, owners and managers get so stuck in the office, they don’t have time to think.  I have always taken a lot of time to think about how to improve my business operations.”

“Praise goes a long way.  It has to be legitimate praise though.”

“Not only do I create jobs, but my whole philosophy is: how do I make it better for people that work for me?  How do I make them wealthy?  I made people wealthy beyond their belief.”

“Christianity comes down to ‘being good to everyone.’  What I learned as a child was to treat everybody really well.”

“My mindset has always been to share the wealth.  Before establishing the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), I gave all the employees in my office in Fargo stock in a hotel, even when we were a small company.”

“The ESOP helped us become a great company.  We went from being a small operator to being one of the best in the industry.  We still maintain that today.  You can’t do that if you don’t take care of your employees.  The ESOP helped me take care of my employees.”

“The best thing I ever did was sharing the wealth with my employees.  I don’t think any employer could do anything better than that for their employees.”

“One of the reasons I did the ESOP was that I always thought about my parents.  They had nothing to speak of.  When I grew up, I went to work at the same place as my dad for $1.25 per hour and he was making $1.75.  When he came to retirement, he didn’t have anything.  I look at my employees the same way as my parents.”

“Growing up in a small town made me realize what life is really like for people coming from not having much.  That’s why it was so easy to relate to the housekeeping staff and other hourly workers.  Typically, those employees were going to be there a long time.  I think the type of childhood I had made me more inclined to help other people or provide for them.  With the ESOP, employees became owners and they acted like owners, making the company much better as a result.”

“I was just a kid growing up and never really thought of being poor.  I loved sports and I never felt sorry for myself or my family.”

“From my youth I always wanted to create something on a big scale.  I wasn’t sure what that would be, but I knew whatever it was, it was going to be big.”

“In sports, I was a quiet leader.  I led more by example than I did being the rah-rah type of guy.”

“I was 21 years old when I started teaching and still growing as a person.  Just getting up in front of a class to talk to students made me nervous.  I loved playing sports as a student and then coaching at the high school.  Competing on the football field and basketball court helped me learn how to compete in business and succeed.  As a coach, I helped students become better competitors and people, and I try to do the same as a boss.”

“You have to remember where I came from.  I worked on a farm during high school for only $50 a month plus room and board.  I got up at five o’clock to do chores and then rushed off to school.  The farm family allowed me to play sports, which was lovely, but there wasn’t time for a social life.  As soon as I got back in the evening, I had more farm work and then homework.”

“The lack of a social life during those formative years contributed to me being very nervous in front of a class when I started teaching.  Then when I started selling insurance, I was nervous knocking on doors and I hoped the people weren’t home.  I knew I had the wrong mindset.  Then I went out with a new manager who trained me, and I realized that, ‘If that guy can do it, I can do it too.'”

“It was really a change in my attitude.  I read books about positive thinking and listened to those dare-to-be-great tapes.  That put a fire in my belly and I wanted to do something on a large scale.”

“I still struggle a bit with getting up in front of a crowd to give a talk.  I’m going to a conference in Phoenix next week and I’ll be on a panel.  That’s much easier for me.  I prefer people asking me questions and I give answers.”

“I’m like a 30-second manager.  If somebody comes and asks me a question, within 30 seconds, he or she is almost always going to get the answer.  I don’t want to waste time.  The way I manage a company, it’s simple and efficient.”

“I don’t know why I started being so efficient.  Maybe because I don’t like meetings.  Servant leadership, I learned about at the University of Mary by serving on their Board of Trustees.  What a great concept.  I always tried to practice servant leadership but didn’t have a name for it.  What I do, I don’t ever see as work.  I’m just having a great time.  Even in the bad times, it wasn’t really so bad.”

“We’re building the company to last for decades and my children are learning about the business and will be ready to take over when the time comes.”

“I like to win.  When I made the employees owners, it was not only me succeeding but they were succeeding too.  That’s the same as it is today.  I could have retired, but I love the game.  I love my people and the way they think and do things.  Now I’m helping them become better off through their association with me.  Trust me, I have a lot of great people who love to perform extremely well.”

“I always want the best.”

“When we’re young, we think we have lots of other things we need to do.  Even so, I attended almost all my children’s sporting events.  As we get older, we realize that family is most important.”

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