Selim Bassoul took Middleby (MIDD -3.12%), a sleepy cooking-equipment maker, and turned it into a powerhouse company that has put up multibagger returns for investors.

Bassoul is no longer CEO at Middleby, but he is a thought leader in the industry. During a recent visit to the office, he sat down with Motley Fool CEO and Co-founder Tom Gardner to talk about the difference between good companies and bad companies, and how to get the most out of the people that work for you.

A full transcript follows the video. 

Tom Gardner: Selim, in your opinion, what's the easiest way to distinguish between a good company and a bad company?

Selim Bassoul: Well, the difference between a good and a bad company is not about who has the better offices or better machinery or even better perks, it's about who has a great corporate cultures. Employees are vying for empowerment for a shared vision. So Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French writer said, "When you want to build a ship, don't ask your men to gather wood, but tell them about the yearning of the open seas and discovering new worlds out there."

Gardner: And a lot of companies, when they try and get to that high level purpose, their mission, their vision, they hire consultants, the hire agencies to help them come up with the wording, and figure out how to communicate it. What's the shortcut for a great leadership team to really empower everyone that works in that organization behind a shared vision?

Bassoul: I think communication is the key. You want to motivate your employees, and I would rather have motivated employees working in a shack than de-motivated group of people working in beautiful environment. I always take some motivated employees. And in order to communicate that message there is only one question I ask every time. How would you do differently if that company belonged to you? And I asked that question all the time, and then it makes us all stakeholders.

Gardner: You ask any employee that you're meeting with, how would you manage this company differently if it was yours, if you owned it and you were running it?

Bassoul: Correct.