Gary Tomlinson, Tomlinson & Associates, Master
of Ceremonies and Educator for Entrepreneur$ - The
Reality Show & Chief Learning Officer for EventsLeader:
19th Dec 2004
Man Australia continues on it's quest to interview
many of the world's top entrepreneurs and reality
TV entities. In this interview we achieve both, with
a gentleman the world will be hearing a lot more about...thanks
in part to Media Man Australia.
Gary, I see from you bio that you have started four
businesses. Tell me about them.
was 27 when I started my first business. It was a
medical home care company. My partner and I pioneered
infant monitoring to prevent crib death. We also pioneered
oxygen concentrators, which at that time was a new
source of oxygen therapy delivery systems. And we
were the first company to take patients home on total
life support equipment.
did you get into that business? Did you have a medical
I did have a medical background. When I was growing
up, I wanted to be a doctor. At the end of my freshman
year of college I applied for a job at the local hospital.
The only opening they had was for an orderly in the
Operating Room. I took the position. The first week
I was there, I saw people not that much older than
me, who were all gloved and gowned, involved in the
surgical procedure. When I asked who they were, I
was told they were operating room technicians. I was
then asked if I would be interested in learning how
to become one. Immediately, I said yes. That summer
I trained to be an operating room technician. That
training continued during the next two summers. When
I graduated from college I didn't know what I wanted
to do. But I had this skill set. So, I applied to
several hospitals for a position of operating room
technician. I accepted an offer with a hospital that
was also a teaching institution. I worked along side
of residents and interns. They taught me more about
identifying anatomy, handling tissue, suturing, cutting,
and assisting during the surgical procedure. I learned
a valuable lesson during this time. Although I was
an avid student, the residents were reinforcing what
they had just learned by teaching me. I discovered
that teaching is a great source for learning.
year later, I was hired away from the hospital to
pioneer US Surgical Stapling Instruments in Virginia.
For three years, I went from hospital to hospital
to promote, teach, and sell Surgical Stapling Instruments.
My main job was to teach the surgeons how to use the
stapling instruments. At the end of the third year,
I had accomplished my goals of getting the surgical
stapling instruments in every hospital. It was then,
that the opportunity to move to Raleigh, North Carolina
to start a medical home care company occurred.
you ever want to go to Medical School?
and no. First of all, my grades in college were just
fair. I doubt I would have been accepted to any medical
school because of them. I also saw the tremendous
strain on the residents when I was working in the
hospital. Their workload was incredible and they had
no personal life whatsoever. At the age of 22 this
was not appealing to me.
I did go to Eastern Virginia Medical School for Cardiac
Technology in 1977. I had received my EMT (Emergency
Medical Technician) Certificate the year before and
by completing the year-long course at Eastern Virginia
Medical School I was allowed to be a full paramedic
in the State of Virginia. I was volunteering at a
local Rescue Squad and they paid for my education.
Although, I wasn't a very good student in high school
or college, I did graduate number one in my CT class
at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
me about your other businesses.
partner and I sold the home care company after being
in business for a year-and-a-half to an organization
that wanted to take our policies and procedures nationwide.
I immediately started a second home care company,
that was an independent contractor, for the organization
that had purchased the first one. I had my own staff
and my own territory. My contract was based on growing
the business by 15%. In the first eleven months we
had grown the business by 115%. The company that had
purchased my first business then offered to purchase
my second business.
you started two medical home care companies and sold
them to the same buyer?
And I'm proud to say that both companies are still
in existence today.
did you do next?
accepted a position with that company as Director
of Operations. It was during this time that we got
involved with durable medical equipment. Things like
wheelchairs, hospital beds, patient lifts, etc. This
equipment was big and bulky and would often damage
the other equipment during the transportation cycle
to and from the patient's homes. I saw a need for
a product that wasn't in existence. I went to a local
upholstery shop and asked them if they would produce
protective coverings for my equipment. I gave them
my designs and two weeks later went to pick up 200
protective covers. This turned out to be the first
order for my third company. During the next six months
I marketed the covers to other medical home care companies
throughout the United States. I had enough success
during that six month period to give me the confidence
to start a manufacturing company. For the next 18
years, we custom designed and manufactured protective
covers, carrying cases, and medical therapeutic bed
surfaces. We had two manufacturing plants and over
100 employees. During those 18 years we designed and
developed over 6,000 products. In November of 1999
I sold out to my partners.
had a great amount of success. Did you ever fail or
fear that you would fail?
all the time. When I tell my story I can make it sound
great. But the truth is there was as much adversity
and failure as there was success. When I sold my second
home care company, I got caught up in believing my
press. I believed that all I had to do was start a
company and a year or two later someone would give
me a bunch of money for it. I felt that I was special.
Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived. My third
company had a lot of drama during my tenure. There
was embezzlement, hostile takeover attempts, having
to give up controlling interest to keep it alive,
and all the heartaches of being a minority share holder.
I learned more about business and myself during these
tough times than I ever did when things went smoothly.
expand on that. What kind of things did you learn?
learned about character and perseverance. I learned
that things I thought were barriers to my success
were only obstacles. I learned that with hard work,
determination and education, I could accomplish anything
I set my mind to.
also learned that business is not easy. I know that
sounds trite. But, I was extremely lucky with my first
two companies. I didn't realize how fortunate I was
until I experienced the struggles with third one.
you think those struggles helped you become a better
is no question about it. I'm not only a better businessperson,
I'm a better person. You learn a lot about yourself
and others through times of adversity. You learn what
you're made of. It's easy to lead a company when things
are going great. It's during bad times that you find
out what kind of leader you really are.
what kind of leader would you say you are?
aspire to be a leader that understands that the highest
achievement you can earn as a leader is to win the
trust and respect of those you lead. I try to lead
with integrity. I work to partner with those I lead.
And I try to see more in my team members than they
see in themselves because I know that people rise
to their belief of your belief in them.
is a privilege, not an entitlement. Leadership is
a verb, not a noun. As leaders, we have many responsibilities.
We have to influence those under our supervision is
a positive way. We must be interested in finding the
best way rather than having our own way. As leaders,
we must make sure that those under our supervision
understand that they are working with us, not for
us. But most important, a leader must always generate
enthusiasm if we wish to bring out the best in those
under our supervision.
becoming an effective leader you have to be a student
of leadership as well as practicing the practice of
leadership. And if you're not capable of teaching
and motivating those you supervise - you can't lead!
Knowledge alone is not good enough to get the desired
results. You must have the more elusive ability to
teach and motivate. This defines a leader. And these
are the principles that I try to achieve.
I understand that you are the Master of Ceremonies
and the Chief Educator for the contestants of Entrepreneur$
- The Reality Show. Tell me more about this.
July of this year I was introduced to Bob Winstead,
who is the Executive Producer of the show. Bob and
I had a series of meetings where we learned quite
a lot about one another. He shared his vision of the
television show and talked about the importance of
sharing business education with the contestants. He
wanted to create a Reality TV Show that not only was
entertaining but educational as well. After hearing
about my experiences as an adjunct professor at NC
State University and the development of my Art of
Business programs, Bob offered me the position.
is the Art of Business?
Art of Business is my latest venture. My purpose is
to discover the best business education, package it
in a way that is simple and concise, and deliver it
in a manner where others can't ignore it. I believe
that when you combine great business education with
your own business experience the outcome you'll receive
is far greater than the sum of its parts.
deliver this education by consulting, conducting workshops,
and delivering keynote speeches throughout the United
States. The education is designed to help others work
"on" their business so that they can work
better "in" their business.
are you teaching the contestants?
teaching them the collective wisdom of my teachers,
mentors, and advisors as well as my own business experiences
over the past thirty years. I share with them education
on leadership and communication. I talk about business
strategy and corporate culture. I teach about the
importance of systems to carry out those strategies.
And I talk about the characteristics, traits, and
skills of being an entrepreneur.
stress the importance of being a life-long student.
I encourage them to be an avid student of leadership
and communication. And I let them know that if they
master these two skill sets, they'll leap ahead of
95% of the people they compete with. And maybe the
most important point to get across is that these skill
sets not only will serve them well in their business
life, but in their personal life too.
I thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
I wish you, Bob and the others the best of luck in
Entrepreneur$ - The Reality Show. How can my readers
let me say it was my pleasure. We thank you for your
support and promotion of our show. Should any of your
readers want to get in contact with me they can do
so by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone (919) 847-6235. I also invite your readers
to visit my web site at www.gary-tomlinson.com
My web site contains book reviews, book reports, business
articles, and business tools that they can download
and print off. Please enjoy the education!
note: The art of education has never been so much
fun. If you are serous about getting some real educatin
from someone qualifed in both theroy and life experience,
Gary could be just the person you need to make contact
& Associates - Gary Tomlinson