Speaker: Be personal in business

Tommy Spaulding

WINCHESTER – At the 7th annual Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Business Luncheon, more than 200 area business leaders learned about business through personal relationships from Tommy Spaulding, president of Spaulding Companies Corp.

Through this company, Spaulding helps to provide services such as leadership development, consulting and training to businesses and organizations nationwide.

This talk, which he has given in more than 1,000 cities, is based off of his best-selling book “It’s Not Just Who You Know,” which discusses concepts of return on relationships – rather than return on investment.

“I think that’s where business has gone wrong,” he said prior to his keynote address. “I don’t think ROI is the most important thing.”

Spaulding said, “I think that communities that are built on transactional relationships fail. Companies that are built on those types of relationships fail.”

Instead, Spaulding said, “If you can build a company that the entire staff develops relationships with each other and their clients and customers … those relationships will return.”

Dana Hand Evans, the museum’s executive director, said they found that the theme of relationships came up while the museum was working on its master plan.

“To work in a small community, you have to know people. It’s not just what you know, it was who you know,” Evans said, noting Spaulding was the museum’s top choice for the speech this year.

During his address, Spaulding challenged business leaders in attendance to build more authentic relationships in their respective companies.

He illustrated his concepts through personal anecdotes, which included receiving a $50,000 Rotary Leadership Scholarship for college despite having dyslexia and poor high school grades, because of an interaction he had with a bartender.

While waiting to be interviewed with nine other hopefuls at a restaurant in New York, Spaulding said he decided to wait by the bar and ended up talking to the bartender and owner.

He said the bartender’s recounting of their conversation ended up being the deciding vote for a 10-person panel of Rotary International representatives who were spilt 5-5 between Spaulding and another candidate.

Prior to giving his address, Spaulding also talked about how social media plays in building return on relationships.

“Social media’s been a blessing and a curse,” he said. “We’re able to reach so many online, but I believe it’s been a curse, because we forget the little touches.”

Spaulding said that he believes that a personal touch – like a hand-written note or letter – “is so much more powerful than a text or an email.”

“It’s those little things that we have to get back to,” he said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com