People think you have to scratch and claw to get ahead. The reality is joy in your heart and a strong work ethic. Hard work and determination will get you far.

 

As the Southeast Regional Manager with Group Travel Planners, Taber Sullivan is in his dream job. He’s been with the company for 10 years, and enjoys knowing that he’s providing exceptional service when it comes to helping create memories for high school music students. Group Travel Planners arranges trips from transportation to tour guides and everything in between for students performing at different events.

Taber was born and raised in Florida and graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1994, with a BA in sociology. Shortly after that, he found himself in Caracas, Venezuela teaching English to the employees of Venezuela’s largest oil company. This was a great experience that lasted six months. While Taber Sullivan enjoyed that experience and learning different things while there, he missed the United States and home cooking.

Once back home, Taber was hired on with the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, holding different roles and cross training to become the general manager. After 10 years in the hospitality industry, he was ready for a change. He was involved with a sandwich shop and it well, until the economy shift in 2008.

Taber Sullivan had a phone interview in 2009, with a friend’s brother in Minnesota, the owner of Group Travel Planners, and has been with them ever since.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

While talking with a good friend who lives here, he suggested that I give his brother a call. That’s how I found out about the company.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

In the mornings, after breakfast and a prayer, I get the kids to school. My workday is full of contacts with music directors, following up with existing plans. We schedule out the itineraries and make reservations for the tours. There’s a lot of detail oriented things going on, and time involvement. We have to be sure we don’t overlook even the smallest thing. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and 0 complaints in 19 years of operation.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We have a great sales and operational department, and it’s really a team effort. We’re always looking for ways to be a step above our competitors by offering something different and be a better company overall. We are fortunate to have an owner who encourages us to come up with new ideas that he reviews. He truly cares and listens to everyone’s opinion.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Considering that funding of schools has been a big issue the last 20 years, a lot of schools are investing in art programs at their schools now. This allows the music students to have the tools needed to prosper. It grows their programs, which in turn helps us out and it works together.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am Christian, first and foremost. I ask for blessings and encouragement every day. Starting my day with a prayer is most important. Then just being consistent in my work habits and what I believe in. Treating all clients as I would treat myself, in the long run, that always pays off.

What advice would you give your younger self?

It would be putting Christ first; I didn’t do that until about five years ago. It took a long time to mature and get to this point. I would tell a younger Taber Sullivan to look at life and the blessing it is, and be optimistic; the glass is half-full. Stay steady through it all, have joy in your heart. Keep the conviction in whatever you believe in and never waiver from it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

People think you have to scratch and claw to get ahead. The reality is joy in your heart and a strong work ethic. Hard work and determination will get you far.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Again, just do things the right way. Being a business that works by being cut-throat, doing whatever it takes to get the deal done, will always come back to haunt them. Success is built on solid relationships with clients. Mutual respect and understanding that you have their best interests at heart.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I would have a hard time picking just one; there are many that go into being successful. Faith and conviction, always doing the right thing for your clients. This may mean taking a loss at times. The company has a step-by-step format for the sales team on how to be successful in this industry. Everything from certain amount of calls to visiting clients in-person, to marketing and being available to clients seven days a week, all day, all night. That is one of the biggest things that set our company apart from others.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The sandwich shop 16 years ago. That’s a very stressful industry, in general and it’s hard to maintain a profitable business. Working 80 hour weeks just to break even was not the way to go. Overcoming that took a few years, draining what savings I had at the time, and took the wind right out of my sails. I have learned you have to fail many times in life before you get to your destination. You can’t be afraid to keep going, it will all work out.

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

Making people’s lives more efficient by creating apps seems to be the way to go. Teenagers are making millions of dollars doing it for phone and computer apps. Technology is here to stay; you might as well go for it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My tithes to my church is the best money I spend each week. It puts Jesus first and ahead of wants of the flesh, which in our society can certainly be money.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We have just started with Zoho, which allows us to see our day-to-day tasks from our phones or computers. It’s increased the communication between sales and operations and is another line of defense in anything falling through the cracks. With over 180 tours during the spring, so it’s very important that we are all on the same page.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Bible is the greatest book ever written and everyone should study it. Any issue or question you may have, personal or professional is in there.

Another good book is Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. I read this one many years ago, it’s all about adapting to change and not being stuck in your daily routine.

What is your favorite quote?

A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work. It’s something I saw a long time ago, and I really don’t remember where it came from.

Key Learnings:

  • Have your faith and conviction for everything in life
  • Believe in what you believe in and work for it
  • Be willing to change and adapt, try something different

Connect:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/taber-sullivan/
https://twitter.com/TaberSullivan
https://www.facebook.com/taber.sullivan