Rich Galgano

Co-Founder of Windy City Wire

Rich Galgano is an individual who effortlessly juggles multiple roles in the business world – from being a visionary CEO, inventive entrepreneur, and insightful investor to a dedicated mentor. However, what truly sets him apart is not just his professional prowess but his remarkable journey of personal growth and transformation.

Best known as the co-founder of Windy City Wire, a trailblazing force that reshaped the wire and cable industry, Rich’s journey is a testament to his audacious vision and unyielding determination. His venture into the world of wire sales was met with skepticism, but Rich saw beyond the surface. He understood that Windy City Wire was not just about products; it was about redefining norms, sparking innovation, and offering ingenious solutions that transformed an entire industry.

Under Rich’s visionary leadership, Windy City Wire achieved monumental success, culminating in its sale for nearly 500 million dollars in 2020. Yet, Rich’s impact doesn’t stop there. He and his son Jacob now spearhead a thriving family office, investing in businesses with unique brands and potential for growth, alongside high-quality real estate ventures.

Beyond the accolades, Rich Galgano’s personal journey is equally inspiring. A courageous and resilient spirit, he confronted his struggles head-on, recognizing and addressing his compulsive gambling addiction three decades ago, in 1993, at the young age of 24. His determination to overcome this challenge showcases his commitment to personal growth and serves as a beacon of hope for those facing similar battles.

Rich’s journey of transformation extends to the literary world, he is currently working on a series of business books that span the entire spectrum of entrepreneurship – from starting and running a business to the art of monetization. Additionally, he’s poised to share his remarkable life story in the upcoming memoir “Down to the Wire,” a compelling narrative that captures the essence of his extraordinary experiences.

While Rich Galgano’s business acumen is undoubtedly impressive, his story goes beyond the corporate world. It’s a story of resilience, redemption, and the unwavering pursuit of growth. Rich is a living testament to the idea that challenges can be turned into stepping stones, and that the journey of transformation is as remarkable as the accomplishments themselves.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My typical day is a whirlwind of activity, fueled by a passion for the ventures I’m involved in. As the CEO of Windy City Wire, my dedication to upholding the company’s values and driving its growth remains unwavering, even after selling the business. Additionally, I hold the role of Chairman at BRANDefenders, a pioneering force in online brand amplification and building. Managing these responsibilities alongside running a family office that invests in private businesses and high-quality real estate keeps my days full and exciting.

The key to making each day productive lies in two fundamental principles: exceptional organization and the power of surrounding oneself with exceptional people. I’ve cultivated a finely-tuned organizational approach that ensures every task is planned, prioritized, and executed efficiently. This enables me to seamlessly transition between my roles and responsibilities without sacrificing quality.

Equally essential is the incredible team that surrounds me. Collaboration and expertise are the cornerstones of my success. By working closely with talented individuals who share a similar drive for excellence, I can rely on their expertise and insights to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come my way.

My day often begins with a strategic review of the day’s tasks and meetings. Throughout the day, I make it a point to allocate time for each of my responsibilities, whether it’s guiding Windy City Wire’s trajectory, strategizing with the BRANDefenders team, or overseeing our family office’s investments. Effective communication and delegation play a vital role, allowing me to focus on high-impact decisions.

Amid the demanding pace, I’ve found the importance of carving out moments for reflection and creative thinking. This helps me maintain a clear perspective and fuels innovative approaches to challenges.

In essence, my days are a testament to the limitless potential of combining a well-organized structure with an exceptional team. The satisfaction of progress and accomplishment, both personally and professionally, drives me forward. Every day brings new insights, new opportunities, and the chance to contribute to the growth and success of the ventures I’m involved in.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to life is a dynamic process that requires a blend of creativity, critical thinking, and determination. My approach revolves around consistently seeking value where it might not be immediately apparent and employing critical thinking to unearth and refine these ideas.

First and foremost, I maintain an open and curious mindset. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to improve processes, create efficiencies, or address unmet needs. This mindset allows me to recognize potential where others might see challenges.
Once I identify a potential idea, I dive into critical thinking. I analyze the concept from various angles, considering its feasibility, potential impact, and alignment with my goals and values. This phase involves asking tough questions, assessing risks, and brainstorming potential solutions.

Next comes the collaborative aspect. I believe that the power of a team’s collective knowledge and experience is unmatched. I share my ideas with trusted colleagues, mentors, and advisors, welcoming their insights and constructive feedback. This collaborative process often helps refine the idea and address any blind spots.
As the idea takes shape, I outline a clear plan of action. This includes setting specific goals, establishing milestones, and allocating resources. A well-structured plan helps me navigate the execution phase with purpose and efficiency.

Execution is where the rubber meets the road. I break down the idea into manageable tasks and allocate time and resources accordingly. Constant communication and transparent tracking of progress are essential to ensure that everyone involved remains aligned.

Od course, celebrating small wins along the way is crucial. Acknowledging progress and achievements not only boosts morale but also fuels the momentum to keep pushing forward.

In essence, my approach involves a balance of curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, strategic planning, execution, adaptability, and celebration. By weaving these elements together, I’ve been able to transform many initial ideas into successful ventures.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that truly excites me is the ongoing transformation within infrastructure, particularly in the realm of underground piping. The development of pipelining technology, aimed at repairing and relining damaged or compromised sewer and water pipes, has the potential to revolutionize how we approach urban and environmental challenges. Traditional methods of repairing or replacing pipes can be time-consuming, disruptive, and costly. Pipelining technology offers an innovative solution that minimizes these drawbacks.

Pipelining involves inserting a specially designed liner into the existing pipe, creating a new, structurally sound interior surface. This method not only extends the lifespan of the pipe but also reduces the need for extensive digging and excavation. The benefits are manifold: reduced disruption to communities, decreased environmental impact, and significant cost savings. As this technology continues to evolve, it has the potential to make cities more sustainable, efficient, and resilient.

The exciting aspect is that this trend is still in its early stages. Research and development are ongoing, leading to improvements in the durability, materials, and techniques used in pipelining. As the industry refines its processes and gains a deeper understanding of the technology’s capabilities, we can expect even more transformative outcomes. This trend resonates with the growing emphasis on sustainable infrastructure and the imperative to maintain and upgrade urban systems in a more efficient and eco-friendly manner.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

One habit that significantly enhances my productivity as an entrepreneur is my consistent and relentless application of critical thinking. Throughout the day, I find myself engaging in analytical reflection, questioning assumptions, and evaluating situations from various angles. This habit isn’t just a mental exercise; it’s an ingrained approach that guides how I approach challenges, make decisions, and navigate complex business landscapes.

Critical thinking, to me, is a multifaceted tool that helps me dissect problems, identify opportunities, and devise effective strategies. It’s a habit that requires cultivating an open-minded mindset, the willingness to question the status quo, and the curiosity to explore new perspectives. Here’s how this habit translates into my daily entrepreneurial journey.
When faced with challenges, critical thinking enables me to break down complex issues into manageable components. I systematically examine the root causes, potential solutions, and their implications. This approach helps me arrive at informed decisions and innovative solutions.

Critical thinking empowers me to make well-informed decisions by weighing pros and cons, considering risks, and anticipating potential outcomes. I avoid impulsive choices and instead opt for a thoughtful evaluation of the available options.

Critical thinking fuels innovation by encouraging me to explore unconventional ideas and challenge conventional wisdom. It sparks creative thinking, helping me to develop new products, services, and processes that can differentiate my business.

Critical thinking is a habit of continuous learning. It drives me to seek out new information, explore different viewpoints, and refine my skills. It ensures that I’m constantly evolving and staying ahead in a rapidly changing business landscape.

In essence, my dedication to applying critical thinking is more than a habit; it’s a mindset that shapes my entrepreneurial journey.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Reflecting on my journey, if I could offer advice to my younger self, it would be to prioritize my health and well-being with more intention and awareness. One specific aspect of this advice centers around the consumption of Monster energy drinks, a habit that had far-reaching consequences on my health.

I wish I could tell my younger self to put down those damn Monster energy drinks, the toll they took on my health was significant. Looking back, I now understand that overconsumption of energy drinks likely contributed to the development of serious health issues, such as cardiomyopathy and AFIB (atrial fibrillation). The battles I faced with serious heart issues and the multiple ablations I underwent could have been prevented or at least minimized had I made healthier choices earlier. While I can’t change the past, I can use my experience to inspire others to make more informed decisions about their health and well-being. If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone, it’s to prioritize your health, listen to your body, and make choices that will contribute to your long-term vitality and happiness.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

rTuth, when looked at from a broader perspective, is often tied to personal perception and individual experiences. While certain truths might be universally accepted, such as mathematical principles, many other truths are colored by our interests, beliefs, and experiences. This recognition has led me to hold a perspective that not everyone might readily agree with: ‘Truth is perception.’

Consider this: What seems like an absolute truth to one person might be completely different from another’s viewpoint. Our unique life experiences, cultural backgrounds, and personal beliefs shape how we interpret and understand the world around us. This subjectivity often leads to diverse opinions on a wide range of topics.

For instance, I might fervently believe that the Chicago Bears are the greatest football team of all time, but not everyone will agree with me. This doesn’t invalidate my belief, nor does it make others’ perspectives any less valid. Instead, it highlights the dynamic nature of truth as perceived by different individuals.
There’s an old saying that goes, ‘If one person calls you a horses ass, you probably aren’t a horses ass. But if many people call you a horses ass, go buy a saddle.’ This illustrates the idea that the collective perception of truth can influence our understanding. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the reality of any situation might not be as straightforward as it seems.

The concept of ‘truth as perception’ encourages me to approach discussions and disagreements with humility and an open mind. It reminds me that what I perceive as true might not align with someone else’s understanding. Engaging in conversations with an appreciation for diverse viewpoints enriches our understanding of the complexities of truth.

While this perspective might be met with varying degrees of agreement, it’s my hope that it encourages deeper dialogue, empathy, and a recognition of the multifaceted nature of the truth we each hold dear.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

As an entrepreneur, reflecting on my journey, I find it challenging to pinpoint a single action that I consistently do over and over. Each step I’ve taken, every decision I’ve made, and every experience I’ve had has contributed to my growth and understanding in unique ways. The collective tapestry of wins and losses has shaped my entrepreneurial identity and equipped me with invaluable lessons.

The idea of isolating just one repeated action seems limiting when I consider the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship. Embracing risks, adapting to change, fostering innovation, and nurturing relationships are all integral components of the entrepreneurial path. These actions, while varied, have collectively propelled me forward.

When offering advice to fellow entrepreneurs, however, I wholeheartedly advocate for a guiding principle that has consistently proved its worth: ‘Take care of the customer, and the customer will take care of you.’

This principle embodies the essence of customer-centricity, a foundational philosophy that has been pivotal in shaping successful businesses. By prioritizing the needs, satisfaction, and experience of your customers, you build trust, loyalty, and lasting relationships. This not only fosters repeat business but also attracts referrals and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

In essence, while there might not be a single action I repeatedly do over, the philosophy of prioritizing customer care has consistently proven its value. This advice is grounded in the timeless principle that businesses thrive when they authentically care for their customers. It’s a perspective I encourage fellow entrepreneurs to embrace, as it not only fosters success but also contributes to building a positive and impactful business legacy.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

One strategic approach that has significantly fueled the growth of my business is what I call the ‘Retain and Attain’ strategy. This strategy revolves around the fundamental concept of not just acquiring new customers but also nurturing existing relationships to foster loyalty, while simultaneously attracting more customers. The synergy between retention and acquisition creates a robust cycle of growth and success.

The initial step involves attracting and converting potential customers into paying clients. This phase is where marketing, branding, and product or service quality play a pivotal role. By offering value, addressing pain points, and effectively communicating the benefits of what we offer, we’re able to secure new customers.

The real magic of the ‘Retain and Attain’ strategy lies in the retention phase. Once we’ve gained a customer’s trust, we make it a priority to exceed their expectations consistently. Exceptional customer service, personalized experiences, and consistently delivering on promises are key elements here. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay loyal and even become advocates for our business.

The retention of happy customers lays the foundation for the next step: attracting more customers. Satisfied customers are more likely to refer friends, family, and colleagues to our business. Word-of-mouth referrals, positive online reviews, and testimonials from loyal customers act as powerful endorsements that attract new clients. This organic growth is not only cost-effective but also indicative of a strong brand reputation.

The beauty of the ‘Retain and Attain’ strategy is that it creates a self-reinforcing cycle. As loyal customers refer new clients, the customer base expands. And because these new clients were referred by satisfied customers, they’re more likely to have a positive initial experience, increasing the chances of retention. This cycle generates a ripple effect of growth over time.

The ‘Retain and Attain’ strategy isn’t just about numbers; it’s about cultivating a community of satisfied customers who value what we offer and are eager to share their positive experiences with others. This strategy has not only contributed to the growth of my business but has also fostered a sense of purpose in delivering value and building long-lasting relationships with our clients.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve come to view failure as a crucial part of the learning process and an opportunity for growth. Rather than seeing failure as a definitive end, I understand it as a temporary setback that can yield valuable insights and pave the way for future successes. While it’s challenging to single out one specific failure from my experiences, I’ve encountered my fair share of setbacks that have contributed to my understanding of this philosophy. Building upon my philosophy of overcoming failure, it’s important to acknowledge that while learning from failure is invaluable, the goal is to minimize setbacks whenever possible. Losing and experiencing failure can be tough and emotionally challenging. While they offer insights, they’re not the ideal path to growth. Instead, I firmly believe in leveraging critical thinking as a powerful tool to guide decisions and avoid unnecessary failures. Critical thinking, the ability to analyze situations from multiple angles, question assumptions, and anticipate outcomes, becomes a beacon of guidance on the entrepreneurial journey.

Having said that, failure, to me, isn’t about a singular event but rather the culmination of choices, circumstances, and outcomes. It’s an inherent part of taking risks and pushing boundaries. But the key to overcoming failure lies in how we approach it:
When a failure occurs, the first step is to dig deep and understand why it happened. Was it a decision-making error, external factors, or unforeseen circumstances? By identifying the root causes, we can gain clarity on what went wrong.

Reflecting on Alternatives: Armed with an understanding of why a failure occurred, the next step is to consider alternative approaches that might have led to a different outcome. This reflection encourages critical thinking and the development of strategies to navigate similar situations more effectively in the future.

Every failure is an opportunity to learn. By acknowledging our mistakes, we become better equipped to adapt, pivot, and refine our strategies moving forward. This adaptability is an essential trait for enduring success.

The lessons learned from failure become the bedrock of our decision-making moving forward. Armed with these insights, we approach challenges with a heightened awareness of potential pitfalls and a better understanding of how to navigate them.

In essence, my philosophy on overcoming failure is grounded in the belief that setbacks are stepping stones toward growth and success. By embracing failure as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and refine our strategies, we cultivate resilience and wisdom that ultimately propel us forward. While the path to success might be paved with both wins and losses, it’s how we leverage our failures that truly shapes our journey.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One intriguing business idea that I’m excited to share revolves around the utilization of blockchain technology and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as a revolutionary ticketing solution for events and experiences.

Traditional ticketing systems often face challenges with counterfeit tickets, scalping, and a lack of transparency in the resale market. Additionally, artists and event organizers may not have control over how their tickets are priced and resold in secondary markets.
Leveraging blockchain technology and NFTs as event tickets could address these issues while empowering artists and organizers with greater control.

Event organizers mint unique NFTs that serve as tickets for their events. Each NFT contains verifiable information about the event, seat location, date, and other relevant details.

To prevent scalping and ensure fair pricing, artists and organizers can set rules for the resale of NFT tickets. For instance, they could specify that only a certain percentage of the resale price goes to the seller, while the majority goes back to the artist. This discourages scalpers from reselling tickets at exorbitant prices.

The blockchain ensures the authenticity and traceability of each NFT ticket. Attendees can verify their tickets’ legitimacy, reducing the risk of counterfeit tickets and enhancing the overall event experience.

NFT tickets are linked to attendees’ digital wallets, enhancing security and reducing the risk of ticket loss or theft.

NFT tickets can also serve as collectibles or limited-edition memorabilia associated with the event. This could lead to enhanced fan engagement and loyalty.

Smart contracts can automate certain ticketing processes, such as refund policies or transferability, adding efficiency to event management.

This business idea, which blends blockchain technology with event ticketing, has the potential to create a win-win situation for artists, organizers, and attendees alike. By disrupting the traditional ticketing landscape, it could lead to more equitable pricing, enhanced transparency, and a better overall event experience.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

One indispensable piece of software that significantly enhances my productivity is Microsoft Excel. Its versatility and range of applications have made it an essential tool in both my personal and professional endeavors. Allow me to elaborate on how I use Excel and its impact on my productivity:

Excel is my go-to tool for organizing vast amounts of data, information, and tasks. Whether it’s creating to-do lists, project timelines, or tracking expenses, Excel’s spreadsheet format offers a structured canvas to keep things orderly and accessible.
When it comes to crunching numbers and making sense of data, Excel’s analytical capabilities shine. I use it to create charts and graphs, that help me identify trends, make informed decisions, and present information in a visually compelling manner.

On a personal level, Excel helps me stay organized in various aspects of my life. From tracking personal goals to managing household budgets, Excel enhances my efficiency and empowers me to achieve better work-life balance. Excel is much more than a spreadsheet tool; it’s a versatile and dynamic platform that streamlines a wide range of tasks. Its adaptability and ability to handle diverse needs have transformed the way I approach organization, analysis, and communication. Whether I’m working on complex financial models or creating simple lists, Excel is a cornerstone of my productivity toolkit.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

‘The Eagle and the Dragon’ by Chris Duffin. I want to be open about the fact that Chris is not just an author I admire but also a personal friend and a business associate. With that said, I believe this book offers a truly compelling and inspiring narrative that holds valuable insights for anyone who reads it.

Chris’s book takes readers through his personal journey, from his challenging upbringing to his remarkable accomplishments. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Chris on a personal level, and his story resonates with authenticity and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

What stands out to me is how ‘The Eagle and the Dragon’ showcases Chris’s ability to overcome adversity. He shares his experiences of rising from difficult circumstances to achieving success in multiple areas of his life. His story is a testament to the fact that challenges can be transformed into opportunities for growth.

‘The Eagle and the Dragon’ is not just a book about Chris Duffin; it’s about empowerment and motivation. Regardless of our personal connection, the book offers readers valuable life lessons, encourages us to pursue our goals relentlessly, and underscores the impact of resilience and hard work.

This is a book worth reading, not only for its inspiring content but also for the genuine insights Chris brings to the table. His journey serves as a reminder that even in the face of challenges, we can strive for personal and professional excellence.

Key learnings

  • Innovative Transformation in Traditional Industries: Rich Galgano’s journey with Windy City Wire illustrates how innovation can reshape even the most traditional industries, highlighting the potential to create groundbreaking solutions where they’re least expected.
  • Change as the Catalyst for Progress: The quote “If nothing changes, nothing changes” serves as a guiding principle, emphasizing the necessity of embracing change to drive significant transformation and realize tangible outcomes.
  • Resilience and Personal Growth: Rich’s candid acknowledgment of his past compulsive gambling addiction underscores the power of resilience and personal growth, offering a real-life testament to overcoming challenges and evolving as an individual.