A Q&A With Lynn Gastineau – TAB’s Longest Running Member

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Lynn Gastineau is no stranger to setting records. In addition to being TAB’s longest running member, she was the first woman to start a log home company and the first woman to receive the SA Walters Award for Lifetime Excellence in the Building Systems Council.

In honor of The Alternative Board’s 25th Anniversary and Lynn’s invaluable participation within the TAB community, we reached out to her to learn more about her incredible journey and her experiences with TAB over the past 22 years.

L.Gastineau.3.12.TAB: Tell us a little bit about your business.

Lynn: Gastineau Log Homes helps customers obtain their dream log homes from the ground up – it’s a combination of an architectural firm, a manufacturing company and a construction consulting business.   They help ensure their customers homes meet code, are properly engineered and can be built within their given budget. They have designed and manufacture several proprietary components in addition to the logs and beams.  They specialize in oak logs and are the worlds largest producer.  They also offer Pine, Cypress and Cedar as a milled log home as well as handcrafted logs homes and timber frames.  Since 1977 when it was founded, Gastineau Log Homes has shipped homes to all 50 states and 12 foreign countries.

TAB: That’s quite a specialization! How did you get into oak log home production in the first place?

Lynn: Growing up, my dad owned a sawmill business. I didn’t realize until much later that not everyone sat around the dinner table discussing personnel issues and equipment! Business ownership seemed like a part of life to me and the natural direction for my future.

While I was primarily interested in construction, there were very few women in the industry at the time, so I decided to study Fashion Design and Business in NYC instead. When the log home industry began taking off, I knew it was time to move back home. No one was manufacturing oak, no one was manufacturing in central Missouri, and I knew my parents’ equipment could help me get started with low expenses – a huge advantage in such a capital heavy business. Everything started growing from there!

TAB: When did you know it was time to seek outside business advice?

DeLong.Side view w walkoutLynn: The business was growing extremely fast, so I dropped in at a local informational TAB meeting. I started the business myself and was doing everything on my own. I knew I was going to need help if I wanted to grow the company and meet growing customer demand. Managing the staff and dealing with growth would require help. I saw TAB as a way to help me through that process.

I was looking specifically for something that was more ongoing than a business consultant or seminar – something with consistency. TAB fit the bill exactly!

TAB: Having been at TAB for so long, you must continue to see benefit in its services. How has it helped your business?

Lynn: In addition to helping me grow as a better CEO and president, TAB taught me how to manage people. Talking to other business owners about how they manage their staff and finding patterns in employee behavior across different companies helped me better manage my own staff. It may be more of a personal gain than a company gain, but it’s definitely translated into a company gain over the years.

033TAB: Do you have any specific examples of your TAB board assisting you with personnel issues?

Lynn: I once had a manager embezzling money from the company, because our in-house accountant created such a mess of the books. Another member of my board referred me to a replacement CPA who he previously interviewed for a job. The CPA instantly cleaned up the mess and saved sanity!

TAB: You mentioned how personal gains translate into company gains. How has TAB benefited you personally over the years?

Lynn: It’s comforting knowing that I’m not the only one going through many of the things I’m going through. I work long hours and live in a town of 600 people where no one is doing what I do.

TAB made me a part of a network, a community built on trust and respect. As a business owner, you can’t always talk to friends and family about business issues. With TAB, I now have “business friends” who have my best interest at heart. It’s a unique dynamic.

TAB: What’s the most important lesson/takeaway you learned from your years with TAB?

Lynn: When you get started in business, you think, “Once I solve this problem or that problem, everything will get easy.” In reality, as a CEO, your main job is to solve problems – one after the other. When you solve one problem, something else is going to happen. TAB helped me realize that that’s not because I’m doing anything wrong, but because that’s the nature of business.

Things change; it’s your job to adapt. Your job isn’t just managing people or making the best product, but dealing with all of the issues that come up along the way. Understanding that setbacks aren’t a reflection of your effectiveness as a CEO makes them a lot easier to deal with and keeps you from feeling like a failure.

Hill.RearExt.NightTAB: What advice would you give to another business owner considering joining a peer advisory board?

Lynn: I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from TAB. You can sense right away whether someone will last or not. If you come in, thinking you don’t have any problems and you have everything under control, and you don’t need advice, there’s no reason to join a group like TAB. If you’re someone who really wants to improve and doesn’t take it as a personal insult to have your processes examined and critiqued, you can find the best advice you can possibly imagine.

The advice isn’t good if you aren’t willing to work on it. My suggestion is to open up your comfort zone and consider other opinions. If you think you’re the smartest business owner in the world and don’t like to listen, it won’t be a good fit. If you’re open to new ideas and suggestions, you’ll gain immensely.

Dudenhoffer.Lake.Ext.lowresTAB: What was the most memorable moment of your TAB experience?

Lynn: That’s easy! I built several homes in the mountains of North Carolina and built a home for myself West of Asheville. One year, a member with a 13 passenger jet, flew the whole group to North Carolina, and we had our meeting there! The whole group worked with me through my construction in North Carolina for years, and then they came down and saw the work in real life. It was really enjoyable for everyone – the most memorable TAB meeting ever!

TAB: As business ownership is traditionally a male-dominated industry, what is it like being a woman in a TAB board?

Lynn: During my time with TAB, there was only one other woman in the group, but I’ve always felt very comfortable with the gentleman I’ve worked with. They treat me as an equal. Being a female doesn’t stop them from being just as tough on me as they would anyone else.

TAB: Any advice for female business owners?

Lynn: Don’t limit yourself by thinking small. Female business owners tend to think less about growing regionally, nationally, internationally, while men tend to think bigger. Women should look at how they can grow their businesses beyond just what they see in front of them. One of the ways to do that is to join a group like TAB. Push yourself outside your comfort zone; you’ll be surprised with what can come from it.

TAB: As you probably already know, TAB is turning 25 this year! What can you attribute to this success?

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Lynn:
As a business owner, seeking external input is something you need, but probably won’t make time for if you don’t have consistency. TAB forces you to get out of the office once a month and talk to other people about business issues you’ve been struggling with. It’s like the gym: if you don’t have a schedule, or class, or trainer, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go. TAB is your personal trainer. What you learn from each meeting builds on itself, and over time, it gives you a basis you can fall back on when you don’t have your board immediately available.

TAB gives you a place to talk things out. When I bring an issue to the group, by the time I’ve gone through and explained it to everyone, there’s a good chance I already know what I need to do. Having to verbalize your problems makes you realize there’s an obvious outcome, but there’s no other group or person I can do that with.

xlogo.png.pagespeed.ic.AOWYEsjiYuThe Alternative Board is honored to have a business owner as prolific as Lynn Gastineau represent its 25 year anniversary. Lynn’s 22 year journey with TAB began with a simple informational session. If you’re interested in trying out a group that provides consistent business advice and an invaluable network of business owners to connect with, contact a local TAB board to learn more about membership.

 

11 Business Blogs You Should Bookmark Right Now

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The Internet is jam packed with great content for business owners. While the top business news sources – Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and Fast Company – are all excellent choices for all-things business, often the most precious resources can be found within the blogosphere.

The work of a great blogger is very much parallel to that of a small business owner – they have to market themselves, appeal to a target audience, keep up with trends, negotiate with vendors and, if they’re doing they’re job smartly, increase ROI. As business owners, they have insider insight. And as writers, they know how to communicate it effectively. Not to mention, since they aren’t held to someone else’s deadlines or editorial calendar, they have the freedom to speak out.

TAB was founded on the principle of small business owners sharing what they’ve experienced and what they know to help other small business owners succeed – which makes us huge fans of the small business blog world. Check out some of the top business blogs we’re following right now.

  1. Joel Gascoigne

    Joel Gascoigne is the founder of Buffer – one of the leading social media scheduling apps. If you’ve been having trouble keeping up with your Twitter account, you may want to head over to Buffer and see what it can do for your business’s social presence.In addition to running a powerful app, Joel maintains a brilliant blog for startup owners and entrepreneurs at every walk of their career. Topics include outsourcing, team management, and great business books. Did we mention he started Buffer when he was 23? This is definitely an influencer worth following.

  2. Ebong Eka

    We first go to know Mr. Eka when he and TAB Suffolk’s Jackie Gernaey co-hosted a BusinessNewsDaily Twitter chat, and we haven’t been able to stop reading his blog since. In addition to being a small business expert, author, and contributor to The Huffington Post, he maintains a must-read blog on his personal website. Be sure to bookmark this site if you love infographics – he’s got some of the best!

  3. Pop Forms

    Pop Forms provides a variety of resources, including productivity bootcamps and negotiation seminars, for leaders looking to get ahead in their careers. Their complementary offerings include a leadership newsletter, career guides, and 1-on-1 guidelines for inspiring better meetings with employees. Their attractive blog covers a variety of business topics in a clear, compelling way.

  4. Melinda Emerson – Small Biz Lady

    The Small Biz Lady will show you how to “succeed as your own boss” through her extensive consulting resources. If you can’t make her weekly Twitter Chat (#SmallBizChat Wednesdays 8-9 pm EST), you should definitely follow her blog. Don’t miss her post on strategic business networking or turning content into cash.

  5. Gerry McGovern

    Gerry McGovern is a business consultant and author, with a specialty in helping companies become more customer centric on the Web. With TAB’s March 2015 Pulse Survey revealing that customers drive success, Gerry’s insights are more relevant than ever. Bookmark his blog for cutting-edge insight on how to foster customer engagement online.

  6. Red Rocket Ventures Blog

    Red Rocket Ventures Blog was created by George Deeb, a startup aficionado and contributor to major business news sites, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, and Startup Beat. The blog shares insider insight through a variety of content avenues including slideshares, videos, and ebooks. Check back here often for content strategy inspiration.

  7. Carol Roth

    Carol Roth dedicates her site to “straight forward business advice for entrepreneurs.” Her blog features advice for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, and you’re likely to catch a tidbit from a TAB community member in one of her entries, like this one.

  8. SmartBlog on Leadership

    is brought to you by the same savvy folks who run SmartBrief newsletters (which if you aren’t signed up for, you should right now). SmartBlog on Leadership encourages it’s readers to “Engage. Innovate. Discuss” with regularly updated content on being a great leader. Learn how to develop company culture, turn employees into leaders, and develop an executive presence here.

  9. Staples Business Hub

    Turns out your favorite office supplies company is working on more than just product development. Like any progressive company in the twenty-first century, Staples is building its customer base by providing useful online content. This extensive “business hub” provides useful tips ranging from how to finance a small business to the importance of corporate social responsibility.

  10. Entrepreneur on Fire

    Entrepreneur on Fire is primarily a destination for podcast interviews with business leaders, but their blog is just as powerful as their name. Get answers to some of your most pressing leadership questions, such as “How do I accomplish big things with little time?” and “I need a break. What should I do?”

  11. Smart Passive Income

    In 2008, Pat Flynn was laid off from his 9 to 5 job, and it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Discover how he was able to earn more money by working less (and with more flexible hours) by checking out his blog. Each article paves the way for creating a career that allows you to enjoy your personal vision of success. Flynn’s blog aims to educate his readers based on his personal successes and failures. Get inspired here.

It’s important for business owners to keep afloat of what’s going on in the business world beyond their own business. Blogs are an excellent way to keep track of emerging trends and new solutions to common business problems. While this list of 11 business blogs represents some of our favorite sites and influencers, the most important blogs for you to follow are the ones you enjoy reading the most. For regular leadership tips and advice, as well as breaking small business survey results, bookmark TAB’s blog and check back regularly.