Positive thinking begets positive actions.
Michael Garrow grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he graduated from Waukesha North High School. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, his post-Master’s training from Marian University, and his Doctorate from Edgewood College. During his time at school, he was an All-American collegiate gymnast.
Michael has worked in education, business management, coaching and customer service; serving as an educator, coach, administrator and consultant. He began his career as a teacher where he taught physical education and health education. He then switched to administration, serving as a school administrator before he moved into business and consulting. Now, Michael helps companies with HR functions, as well as assessing overall operations and efficiencies to help bring about and support positive cultures and climates in the workplace.
In addition to his work, Michael Garrow loves his wife, two children and two dogs. He also enjoys continuing to live an active lifestyle and is proud of the 5 Ironman finishes that he has achieved.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
After a career in education, I realized that I truly enjoyed helping organizations become better. In each of the area where I served as a leader, employee retention and satisfaction great improved. Additionally, employee trust and satisfaction improved – resulting in overall improvements to the organization. There is so much negativity out there, it is easy for people in a workplace to get caught up in a cycle of negativity. Likewise, too many individuals get caught into the ‘trap’ of news and social media negativity –reacting to sensationalism and focusing on the negativity in the world, rather than learning the facts or focusing on the positive. Through teaching the skills and mindset associated with positive thinking and communications, individuals and organizations are able to help reverse negative thinking and negative outcomes, which in turns help the overall production, climate, culture and performance of the organization.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At the end of every day, I write down now only what are the ‘to do’s’ but also what I accomplished. I start the next day back looking back on what was accomplished prior to what needs to be done. The positive reflection time helps bring focus for the new day and helps me to ensure that I am always productive.
I have identified a professional code of ethics that I live by and have also identified core values, priorities and objectives. I try to organize my day with several components – communications, quick ‘to do’s’ and longer-term goals. When working on these components, I assess how each of these areas fall into my values, priorities and goals and try to spend the most time on areas with the greatest alignment to those areas, while also trying to positively impact others in the same way.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a goal setter, and so thrive on helping others set and accomplish goals. I believe it is important to share your goals. I share and post my goals for myself and the organization. When others can see those goals right out in front of them, it helps fill them with energy and focus to drive them forward.
I believe that bringing ideas to life occurs by creating an environment where others know that their ideas will receive attention and be considered. When everyone is a treated as an important part of the organization, personal pride shows through and people are more willing to share thoughts and ideas, as well as investing energy into insuring ideas turn into goals…and eventually accomplishments and successes.
What’s one trend that excites you?
While news and social media can often be a negative; it can also be used in a synergistic way if used correctly. We now have people reaching out to one another from around the world and rather than simply tapping into the ideas and potentials within your own organization, you can work together with others from literally anywhere to achieve your goals.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Something that makes me productive as an entrepreneur is my continual focus on core values. I share my values and beliefs and attempt to demonstrate those values and beliefs in everything I do. I believe both negativity and positivity are contagious – so my goal is to always share a positive mindset. At the same time, I feel better and even more focused on continuing with that positive energy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would remind myself of the ‘man in the mirror’ test. If you can look yourself in the mirror each day, knowing that you have done the best you can and tried to help others to do the same – it doesn’t matter what negativity lies out there. Be true to yourself, and those that truly know you will always be there for you. Know that you can truly do anything and if and when hardships come, you’ll be able to persevere.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Most people agree that ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’, but I believe that the opposite applies as well ‘if something sounds too negative to be true, it probably is.’ Most people are very quick to draw conclusions without learning and then easily get caught up in negativity. Given today’s technologies, it is far too easy for people to report or say negative things without having to be accountable.
Almost nobody agrees with me that we should still live in a ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ ‘cup half full’ type of life. I truly believe that is the biggest downside to sensationalism and social media hype. I am a cup half full individual and still believe that the trend of negatively can be reversed on a large-scale level. I have seen it work within organizations and would love to see the trend grow in society.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing I do over and over is revisit my values and beliefs and code of ethics and ensure that what I am doing reinforces them. By revisiting these each day, it brings a continual focus on ‘who I am’ and ‘what I stand for.’ By making these things ‘public’ – you bring an accountability, as well as a continual focus on positive thinking and positive outcomes.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It’s not really a strategy, but one of the biggest things that has helped grow my business
is listening and demonstrating that I value the opinion of others. The ‘how’ is really pretty self-explanatory. When people feel valued, they are more loyal, more willing to work harder, and feel greater satisfaction – all of which naturally lead to better results from them. It is such an easy yet overlooked concept.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have experienced many failures throughout my career. I don’t mind failures; I believe that each failure is a learning opportunity and an opportunity to grow and become better in the future. The bigger issue is combating negative mindset individuals. Sometimes when you stand up for what is right, others become threatened by you. Sometime people are threatened by others success. Sometimes other feel the need to lie, rather than face their own truth. Unfortunately, negative mindset individuals and people not comfortable ‘in their own skin’ are likely to lash out, rather than come with a solutions-based mindset or be accountable for their own actions. When I have faced negativity (vs. failure), I have stayed true to my own values, knowing that anyone who truly knows me will continue to support me, as well as support those things which created a positive environment.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A business idea is likely to take off is ‘social media management.’ It already exists in many forms but developing a company that proactively shares and communicates the message your company truly stands for, the services your company provides, and why you’re a great place to work for – that business will do well!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I’ve recently spent would be the money for my phone bill and gas for my vehicle. This is because these have been the two greatest means of allowing me personalized communication with others as they allow me to travel to meet others and have meaningful phone conversations rather than relying on email or text messages.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Actually, one thing that helps me stay productive is my fit bit and fit bit app. I use it to hold myself accountable for getting the sleep that I should and regular movement throughout a day. Getting proper rest and activity are essential to success in other areas as they help to create a positive mindset.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. It is a book that has been around for a while but is still very applicable to readers today.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
“The mind is like a parachute; it works best when open.”
• Positive thinking begets positive actions
• Set and share your goals – make them public. It helps you stay focused and accountable.
• Treat every member of the team/organization as an important member. Everyone within the organization is important and positively contribute to the overall environment, climate, and culture.
• Take care of yourself. Getting proper rest and activity helps impact everything else.
• Remember what is important – family and friends that are they for you – to share in successes as well as be there in times of need.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.