November 4, 2020

Talking Above the Storm, with John Sabatalo

Episode 100:

John Sabatalo is the President of Planes Companies – a global moving, warehousing, transportation, and logistics firm – located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He is also President of Global Workplace Solutions (or GWS, for short), a subsidiary of Planes that delivers global project management and workplace services to corporations, healthcare and lab facilities, hospitality companies, governmental agencies, and educational institutions. As one of 13 members of the board of UniGroup – a $1.7 billion transportation company – John plays a key role in transforming the industry. John has been with Planes and GWS since 1991 and has served as President since 2003.

Prior to becoming a leader at Planes and GWS, John enjoyed a very successful career in athletics. In high school, he was a four-year baseball varsity starter and captain and a three-year football varsity starter and captain. He then attended the University of Massachusetts on a football scholarship. Even after he hung up the pads, John’s love for the game never left him: his coaching career began at the University of Cincinnati, where he was recruited to be part of their graduate assistant program. He then spent six years as the offensive coordinator of local powerhouse St. Xavier High School before becoming the school’s youngest-ever athletic director. Following this success, he spent five years coaching football at Lakota High School, where he earned the accolade of the Division I Coach of the Year.

John’s passion for athletics is a fundamental part of his character, as he is affectionately still called “coach” by many to this day. His leadership style mirrors that of a true motivator, as his presence visibly energizes those around him. John’s competitive spirit and his uncanny ability to align business acumen and strategy to the x’s and o’s of the sports world resulted in the birth of the Planes/GWS TEAM culture in 2016. Originally introduced to 50 business unit leaders as part of a six-month leadership series, TEAM rolled out to the entire company in 2017. The success of the rollout – evidenced by the organization being voted a Top Workplace in Cincinnati by its own employees for seven years running – has led leaders of businesses and teams all over the country to seek John’s coaching on the creation of high-performance teams. John is a passionate believer in the importance of culture in transforming teams of people to work with a shared mindset and win together.

John and his high school sweetheart, Lynn, have been married for 41 years. They have two sons, Brian and Stephen, and three beautiful grandchildren. Beyond athletics and business, John’s passions lie in spending time by the ocean and making memories with family and friends.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • What the Huddle means to Planes and GWS and how this has proven so significant during the Pandemic
  • How John navigated the beginning of the Pandemic even though it seemed similar to flying a plane at night without any instruments
  • What the four points on the Compass of Communication are
  • How the TEAM at Planes and GWS capitalized on the opportunity to connect with their customers more than ever with the help of technology
  • What were the biggest challenges to their ability to bring it…..their positive energy and effort….every day
  • What did the leaders of Planes and GWS do creatively to provide consistent guidance and motivation to their people during this time, especially when they were working remotely
  • Why it was so critical to show compassion while figuring out each individual new normal and what that meant to them

Additional resources:

LinkedIn: John Sabatalo

Bill Curry video

One Comment:

  1. Ken Smith says:

    Awesome John loved it!
    Game On!!!

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