Tony Gareri is a happy guy, and he wants those around him to be happy, too. Gareri is the CEO and “chief of wow” at Roma Moulding, a Toronto-headquartered manufacturer of picture-frame mouldings. And he loathes the idea that work is something to be dreaded. “My upbringing was ‘if work doesn’t hurt, you won’t be successful,'” he says in this week’s BusinessCast. “I hated that idea.”

So, when the time came for him to run his own firm, he decided to take a look at some wildly successful companies to probe why they were doing so well. “They all had one thing in common,” he says. “They were producing ridiculous results while being happy. It was the exact opposite of what I’d known.”

That’s what inspired Gareri to ask the question that’s come to define his work: “How can I be the happiest, drive happiness in the workplace and drive and deliver results to our team members, who in turn will inspire and move and ‘wow’ our customers?”

In Gareri’s view, it’s essential to ‘wow’ clients. “The world is changing. Google has commoditized the whole world. You enter ‘picture frames’ and you can get 17,000 results,” he explains. “When everything is commoditized, what’s left is experience. You can have a good experience, a great experience or a ‘wow’ experience.”

Why bother going the extra mile, from ‘great’ to ‘wow’? “The only thing people remember is the way you make them feel,” Gareri says. “If you can make them feel ‘wowed,’ moved and inspired every day, I guarantee you they’ll keep coming back.”

In Gareri’s view the ‘wow’ factor is only possible when the person providing it is happy and engaged. That’s why he’s become fanatical about hiring for culture fit. Roma is built on 10 core values—among them: to be different, to have fun and to deliver happiness. Gareri and his team work hard to identify these traits early on through two sets of interviews: the first, with a hiring manager, to go over qualifications and experience; the second, a “culture conversation” with Gareri himself. “I’ll have you in for a simple conversation to see if you posess our core values,” he explains. “I can teach you how to join a frame, a marketing technique or even how to speak powerfully. But I can’t teach you how to be humble or to live with integrity.

“Happiness is a feeling, it’s an experience, it’s an emotion,” he continues. “When any individual comes to work at Roma, I coach and mentor them into believing that they work now at Disney World and their clients are those wonderful children coming in. Our job is to give them an experience that ‘wows’ them.”

Ultimately, Gareri sees this as the main purpose of his booming business: “Moulding is what we do; it’s not why we do it,” he says. “If you really take a moment to ‘wow’ anyone you come in contact with, you can’t help but have good results.”

For more of Gareri’s thoughts, check out this week’s BusinessCast, which you can listen to by clicking the button above or download by clicking on the iTunes logo below:

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