“You don’t really know a person’s work ethic until they start” With Georgette Blau

…I learned that you don’t really know a person’s work ethic until they start. So many people come across spectacular in an interview, and end up with really bad work ethic and unmotivated when it actually comes time to work.

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…I learned that you don’t really know a person’s work ethic until they start. So many people come across spectacular in an interview, and end up with really bad work ethic and unmotivated when it actually comes time to work.

I had the pleasure to interview Georgette Blau, the founder of On Location Tours.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I moved to the Upper East Side in Manhattan two years after I graduated college, and one day passed a famous TV location (the building from The Jeffersons), and it inspired me (along the thousands of other TV show and movie locations in New York) to start the company.

 Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? 

On February 22, 2004, we were featured on HBO (for approximately 30 seconds), and as a result, one of our tours was sold out for nearly a month. I was scrambling to hire new tour guides and add additional tours.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? 

One of my buses didn’t show up one day, and my father and I ended up renting a van. It wasn’t funny then, but looking back on it is funny, and I’ve learned to have my operations staff confirm and reconfirm buses. Thankfully we use coach buses now!

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • I learned that you have to be direct when communicating with employees and telling them exactly what has to get done, even if it’s not what they want to hear.There were times when I “felt bad” and cut around what I was trying to say during employee performance reviews, but nowadays I try to communicate better.
  • I learned to fire faster.There was a girl I employed a few years ago who I kept hoping would get better, and never did. It took me two years longer than I should have to to let her go.
  • I learned that you save more time in the long run by creating systems and better planning. We are actually in fact creating process maps to lay out everything we do, and see where improvements can be made.
  • I learned that different things motivate different people. Some employees have been motivated by money, others by time off, and others by praise alone.
  • I learned that you don’t know a person’s work ethic until they start. So many people come across spectacular in an interview, and end up with really bad work ethic and unmotivated when it actually comes time to work.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? 

Our company is unique in that we provide an escape, and help people visit the doorsteps of their favorite TV show and movie locations. I remember during one of our tours our customers met with one of the actors from the show, and really thought of him and referred to him as the character.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re working on developing a new app, as well as a couple of potential new tours.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive? 

I often mentors other female leaders, and suggest that they act confidently in all situations, even if there are items they might have to research after a meeting or a presentation.

 What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team? 

I would say the best way to manage a team is to learn to deal with the different personalities, and how your management style and personality can work with the others, each in its own unique way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? 

My father was so helpful in being my mentor and believing in me all of the way, and seeing all of the risks as worth it. He helped with some of the bus issues at the beginning, and also suggested I went after press. He passed away 10 years ago, and I miss him 100 times a day! I still use his advice on a daily basis, and it has helped me so much with my business.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? 

I feel that the tours have brought such joy to people’s lives, and have acted like an escape for many. In addition, she sits on the board of the Norwalk Preservation Trust.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 

My background is in historic preservation, so I would love to help to save these TV and movie locations (through plaque programs, recognition and significance, etc.).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

When one door closes, another one opens. I learned that there are always different avenues, and the original door often opens again!

 Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love (love love) to meet Norman Lear, since he created the TV shows that inspired me to start my business. He truly is someone has inspired me.

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