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Why Quality Relationships Are GOLFTEC CEO Joe Assell’s Secret Weapon

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In this special bonus edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Maxwell Leadership Thought Leader Don Yaeger sits down with Assell to discuss one of his most effective edges: strong and well-nurtured relationships.

When Joe Assell was an undergraduate student at Mississippi State, he competed for a prized summer internship at Cherry Hills, the legendary golf course just outside Denver. The problem with prized internships is that everyone wants them, and Cherry Hills had set aside a single opening for Mississippi State. So Assell did what an effective, future business leader would do and mined a key relationship, in this case the classmate who had held the internship the previous year.

“I had formed a good relationship with him and asked him to lobby on my behalf,” Assell said. Not putting all his eggs in one referral basket, Assell also reached out to the head golf professional at the Golf Club of Tennessee where Assell had interned the year before and, just as important, a friend of one of the golf pros at Cherry Hills.

“And somehow I was able to out-navigate the other guys who were hoping to go to Cherry Hills and land the really coveted internship that, frankly, changed the rest of my life,” said Assell. “It’s not just the people, it’s the quality of the relationship you have with the people. You have to stay in touch and build those relationships.”

In other words, you have to be a friend to make a friend. In this podcast, Assell certainly makes the case that what often separates effective leaders from the also-rans is the ability to make good friends.

Assell has more than proved himself an effective builder of relationships and business as the president and CEO of GOLFTEC, the leading global provider of golf lessons and club fittings. In 1995, Joe shared a vision with co-founder Clayton Cole to help golfers improve by providing them with great coaching and state-of-the-art technology. Assell’s guidance has taken the company from a single-employee operation to employing more than 1,200 employees today in 250 locations providing more than one million golf lessons each year.

He has been recognized as PGA Golf Executive of the Year, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain region, and Golf Inc. named him one of the Top 25 Most Powerful People in Golf.

In the podcast, Assell reminds current and aspiring business leaders, alike, of the importance of building strong relationships in every area of an organization, offering tips such as:

• What to do after you have exchanged business cards with someone at a networking event.

• Why GOLFTEC hires teammates as much for personality as for technical experience.

• The number one sign you have succeeded in the relationship business—regardless of your industry.

As the leader of a business built to scale nationally, Assell uses technology to add a personal touch to remote workers. “We make sure we are filming videos and messages from me and other leaders to the entire company,” he noted. “It’s a much more dynamic way of motivating the team and making sure they understand their job than just another boring email.”


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