Ted Alling is a serial entrepreneur who launched Access America Transport with business partners Barry Large and Allan Davis, became a founding partner with them in startup incubator Lamp Post Group, and helped to build logistics accelerator Dynamo.
But Alling isn't all about business. In 2018, he and his wife, Kelly Alling, founded Chattanooga Preparatory School, an all-boys charter school that serves at-risk and underserved boys in our community. Their focus is providing a stellar education to help close the achievement gaps that poverty and educational inequity create for promising young men.
"We want to develop leaders." Alling told the Times Free Press when the school launched. "We're going to set up parameters around the school, but the boys are going to learn to lead the school and, in turn, they're going to go to college and come back and lead our community."
Q: What books have influenced the way you lead and develop your career?
A: Early in our career, when we were starting Access America Transport, a book that really resonated with me about work culture was "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh. Learning about the Zappos work culture and seeing how much empathy they displayed really struck a chord with me and our leaders.
A book that I recommend to almost every small to medium business is called "The E Myth" by Michael Gerber. "The E Myth" is an incredible book that helps business owners run their business and not have the business run you. It focuses on building scalable solutions.
Q: What other books have you read that you recommend to others?
A: Tim Ferriss's book "The 4-hour Workweek" was written in 2007, but still applies today. It teaches a mindset of harnessing technology to help make your business more efficient.
"The Education of Eva Moskowitz: A Memoir" explores the journey of one of the most successful charter schools in America. Eva writes about her "no excuse" growth mindset and her extraordinary results that her school achieves.
Ben Hardy's "Willpower Doesn't Work" is powerful. He writes about creating the right environments and conditions for getting things done — not having more willpower.
Lawrence Levy's "To Pixar and Beyond" is incredible. It tells a unique story about Steve Jobs buying and running Pixar. It's an incredible behind-the-scenes look about a story that isn't told enough.
I couldn't put down Sam Walton's "Made in America." I loved learning the humble origin story of one of the world's biggest companies.
Andrew Grove's "Swimming Across" tells the story of a man who was the CEO of Intel and a mentor to Steve Jobs. This book is about Grove's childhood fleeing Hungary from Nazi Germany. His childhood details are unbelievable.
Q: You're known as a big reader, and it's clearly true. How do you find books you love?
A: It's hard to come up with a list of your favorite books because the right books seem to find you when you need them the most. I really believe reading a great book can alter the direction of your life.
I have always been keen on reading and enjoy using the website Goodreads. I love setting a yearly reading challenge goal with friends all over the world. It's fun to try to keep up with my friends and send book recommendations. My favorite books to read are usually business biographies, education or history. I enjoy learning about people's early lives and reading about the obstacles they overcame on their journeys.