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7 Questions on Leadership with Jeff Gargas


Name: Jeff Gargas


Title: COO / Co-Founder


Organisation: Teach Better Team


Jeff Gargas is the COO and Co-founder of the Teach Better Team and co-author of the book, “Teach Better.” He works with educators to increase student engagement and improve student success. He also offers 1-on-1 coaching and leads a community for teachers who have a product or idea they want to share with others to better education.


Jeff previously owned an online marketing firm, where he worked with entrepreneurs and small businesses. He is also a former adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry.


Prior to all of this, Jeff was an adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry. He has spoken at conferences around the country, and has successfully promoted more than 500 events and launched 7 businesses in a variety of industries.


Jeff is passionate about music, and enjoys spending time with his family as often as possible.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Jeff's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


For me, one of the biggest challenges I've had is overcoming my own self-doubt. As a 4-time college dropout leading a team of highly educated and talented people, in the education industry, I am constantly battling the little voices in my head saying I don't have what it takes. It is crucial to overcome this challenge because I need to also help those who work with me to fight their own internal struggles.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly when it happened, by the first leadership opportunity I can remember was in high school, becoming a captain on my soccer team. Within 2 months of my first job, I was promoted to a "shift manager" and I have never not been in a leadership position since. Although I've always been in leadership roles, I don't think I truly became a leader until I realized that as a leader, I work for my employees, not the other way around. Once I learned that lesson, I believe I truly became a leader.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


I start every day spending time with my kids, getting them ready for school. This gives me the opportunity to wake up relaxed and set a positive state of mind for the day.


I begin every work day checking in with our team - Sharing updates and/or prompts for us to share things via our internal communication tools.


Most days are filled with at least a meeting or two, and I typically wrap up work just before my kids return home. I say "typically" because I do occasionally have evening meetings or events.


I end my days by ensuring I know what the next day looks like. I review my calendar and task list, and organize my tasks by priority.


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


We've recently went through some difficult situations and I have learned that the most important part of dealing with challenges is to show those who work with you that you can lead them through those challenges.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


"It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier. Although their business is software, the approach they take to things like meetings, benefits, and problem-solving inspired me to take a big step back and re-assess how we approach these things. Its impact was notable because it was less inspiration or motivation, and rather practical and applicable, which I believe are two things missing from many leadership books.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


You work for your people, they do not work for you. Don't look for them to follow you. Instead, look for them to lead with you.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


Early in our journey, a passionate and talented educator joined our team. She had no experience in business, and although she was extremely confident in her abilities as a teacher, she would very often say, "I know I don't really know anything about anything" referring to her lack of knowledge in business.


She is now a co-owner of our business and and incredible business leader.


This story sticks with me because it was only through continuing to remind myself that I worked for her that I was able to break down her self-doubts and help her see that she didn't need business experience to be a great business leader. She had everything she needed inside, she just needed to realize that she was always a leader.

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