The Herb Brooks of Hiring: How Taziki’s Owner Dale Wasem Builds a Winning Team


If there’s a Herb Brooks of hiring, it’s Dale Wasem. He’s one of those easy-to-like guys, and maybe that’s why he, as a Taziki’s owner, can build a team like Olympic gold medal gold medal coach, Herb Brooks.

Dale (center) and Taziki's Team Members

Dale (center) and Taziki's Team Members

When Brennon Mobley, who is on the Relode team, and I met with him recently to discuss our product, I thought, I like this guy! Specifically, I like how he builds teams after 30 years of hiring. He gets it when it comes to team building.

Taziki's and the 1980s U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Wasem, who recently won an award for his work at Taziki's, made a casual hockey reference as we talked about hiring last week, and as he went on his hiring ethos, Brennon and I started to connect his team-building skill with the hockey legend Herb Brooks. From our convo, we learned that, like Brooks, Wasem doesn’t always onboard the most polished recruits; instead, he looks for a team player. He’ll hire a wide variety of people from various backgrounds, seeing potential in everyone and building a team like Brooks did.

Herb Brooks built and coached the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team for the gold medal in Lake Placid, New York in 1980. It was an historic win that captured the hearts of many around the world. Brooks took a group of ragtag, amateur hockey players and won the gold against the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Finland in an epic “Miracle on Ice.”

Here’s why I make the comparison between Brooks and Wasem: They know how to build a solid team.

Talk is Cheap in Hiring

In his experience, it’s not those who can talk a big game, but those who know how to function well together. In fact, he said when he hires, those who talk the most about how great they are end up being the worst hires. Brook’s Olympic team didn’t have much to brag about, but they became a legendary team.

When hiring for a new opening, Wasem’s eyes look for the right person for each position; his focus is on building a great team, not just making great hires.

Brennon and I realized out loud, He’s the Herb Brooks of hiring! We said this to each other while sitting at table with Wasem at Taziki’s in Brentwood, Tennessee, one of the newest franchise openings since the first location started in 1998. Now, the U.S. is graced with almost 50 stores. Wasem wears many hats for the franchise, having helped open six Nashville locations.

Taziki's Team for the Gold

Store opening in Brentwood, TN. Included above: Keith Richards (Taziki's Founder), Jim Keet (President and CEO), Dale Wasem (Owner), Regina Smithson (Brentwood Mayor), Nancy Conway of Williamson, Inc., Leigh Bawcom of Bridges Domestic Violence Center, and Ken Travis (Brentwood City Commissioner).

Store opening in Brentwood, TN. Included above: Keith Richards (Taziki's Founder), Jim Keet (President and CEO), Dale Wasem (Owner), Regina Smithson (Brentwood Mayor), Nancy Conway of Williamson, Inc., Leigh Bawcom of Bridges Domestic Violence Center, and Ken Travis (Brentwood City Commissioner).

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe has plans to open soon a new store in Hillsboro Village (Nashville, Tennessee) as they continue to expand in coming months. Who knows, maybe they’ll expand even overseas one day!

They may not win the literal gold medal, but with team builders like Wasem, maybe they’ll win the metaphorical gold medal of traditional Greek food. It’s hard to lose with amazing scratch recipes on the menu and the Herb Brooks of hiring on the bench.