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Making Work Meaningful:
A CEO Who Walks His Talk

In any other typical American company, Tom Gegax, the founder and majority stockholder of Tires Plus, would be known as the chief executive officer. Instead, Gegax refers to himself as the "head coach" of the Midwest tire wholesaler that operates 130 stores in nine states and totals over $150 million in annual sales. The head coach and his teammates, the title given to all Tires Plus employees, go to work at the company's headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., where the company promotes the wellness of its employees by offering classes in nutritional cooking and smoking cessation, along with an exercise room, places for meditation, and shiatsu massage.

It wasn't always this way for Gegax, whose business is now the sixth largest independent tire store in the nation. He and his company are a long way, economically and spiritually, from its modest beginnings in 1976 in three Minnesota gas stations.

"In 1989, I had a three-ring wake-up call: divorce, a cancerous lump, and big financial problems for the company. It took that to make me ask, 'What's going on? I'm not leading others very well, and my relationships, while they appear good, evidently are not.' " In response Gegax embarked on his own spiritual and psychological journey to arrive at some new truths.

"I came to believe that there's something I'm here to do, that I have a mission on the planet. The most important thing in my life is achieving that mission, my assignment from the universe. If I'm able to be a beneficial presence in the world in the ways I believe I'm assigned, then everybody wins."

It's this personal philosophy that has guided Gegax through the rapid growth of Tires Plus. "To have that mission be in alignment with your work mission makes it really fun. It's a good thing, obviously, when you don't have to wear one mask at home and another mask at work. The more congruent you can be, the less duality there is between workplace and home, the healthier that is for everybody."

"But first leaders need to do their own work. In other words, are they being real? Are they bringing that realness to both their personal and business lives? Secondly, are they creating an environment where others can do that? Or are they just saying they are, but the words are empty.

"I think most of the practices companies can implement to enhance the health of their employees--whether it's intellectual, physical, or psychological health--create an environment that's good for the health of the spirit. We're not talking about bringing religion into the workplace, by the way. That's a very important differentiation. We're talking about letting spirituality come forth, in an environment where people can be loving and caring, and have their spirit soar."

Program Description
Feng Shui
A CEO Walks His Talk
Soul-based Workplace
Tell Me More

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

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