How to Build a Successful Business

How I Built It Dallas

The Renaissance Executive Forum Dallas team attended a Wall Street Journal event this week entitled “How I Built It.” This event was hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber at the W Hotel in Dallas. The panel was moderated by Vanessa O’Connell (WSJ), and the panelists were Kip Tindell (Chairman and CEO of The Container Store), Terdema Ussery (President & CEO of the Dallas Mavericks), Charlie Vogt (President & CEO of GENBAND), and Larry Lavine (Founder of Chili’s).

There were about 150 people in a small meeting room to create a wonderful night of candid conversation with these successful leaders. Here are a few insights we wanted to share on how these leaders built their companies to where they are today. See if you have these same perspectives in your company.

Building a Team of Great Employees

Kip Tindell Container StoreKip Tindell shared that the Container Store looks for what he calls a “1 for 3” type of employee; someone who brings three times as much value as a basic employee. He also talked about how these employees are empowered to create a positive experience at the store and how that has led to a solid base of very loyal customers.

There was much discussion about a lack of drive they see in today’s younger workforce, and what seems to be a sense of entitlement. I love the story Terdema Ussery shared about when he was hired at Nike many years ago. Phil Knight took him to a window and showed him the massive Nike Campus, reminding Terdema that “all this was here before I even knew your name.” That certainly helped fight any potential spirit of entitlement!

Charlie Vogt shared how it is hard to find quality workers to meet the technology demands today. All agreed that they have had to work hard to create a culture that addresses the quality of life, and not just making money or earning a title.

Focus on Culture

genband-charlie-vogt-3The need for great employees led to discussions about creating a great culture. Charlie Vogt created a culture that empowers employees to know that what they do has the potential to move the needle, and Larry Lavine shared how he did 1000 “little” things for his employees at Chili’s to let them know they were important to him. Little things do matter.

Kip Tindell spoke about his culture as being “Yummy.” He liked this term because it’s the opposite of a “Yucky” culture. Kip started with a 1600 square foot store that sold “empty boxes,” and over time, he built a company that both his employees and his customers could fall in love with – and they have! Kip also talked about Conscious Capitalism, and the book by the same name that is definitely worth taking the time to read and understand.

Courage and Dedication

Charlie Vogt was asked what’s the most important thing to have when you start a new business. His answer was “Courage.” GENBAND was started in 1999; just in time to face the DotCom bust and September 11, 2001. It took years to get things on the positive side but they stayed the course. GENBAND also invests $100 Million a year in technology on programs that Charlie calls a “bet” that the business will be there when the technology is ready. They certainly have the courage and the dedication required to stay on course, despite the obstacles that come their way.

FOCUS on what Matters

Terdema Ussery at DRChamberToward the end of the night, the panelist gave us further insights into some of their passions. Terdema expressed a desire to improve the educational system, and Larry Levine would work to erase the problem of hunger across America. However, NO ONE said their dream was to make more money or double the size of their business.

Does that seem odd? Isn’t that what most businesses are always chasing? Don’t think that because these companies are worth a Gazillion dollars that they no longer care about money. It was obvious these leaders had a solid grip on the Vision they wanted their company to follow, and they realized that if you pursue the right things, the money always follows.

Renaissance Executive Forums is YOUR Support Team

The journey to build a successful company requires passion, vision, dedication, and lots of courage. That is what Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas is all about. We create peer to peer advisory groups that meet monthly in the Dallas area to help leaders focus on the things that will get the results they’ve always dreamed of. These groups offer support from other leaders from a variety of industries, with different stories but the same goal of being great leaders.

If you want to join us to experience either group, contact us for more information at (469) 269-5148 or by email at

by Robert Hunt


Other Great Links

Dallas Regional ChamberWall Street JournalThe Container Store , GENBANDConscious CapitalismDallas MavericksCHILI’S 

Attend Future How I Built It Events

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