know, we’ve learned a lot we want to give back.
Once you start to think differently about
leadership, you’ll start to act differently in your leadership.
This is going to be very, very powerful and and we want to change the world. We want to make the world better by creating better leader.
Welcome to the oboe lead leadership podcast with David Novak. Today’s guest is Mike call president and CEO of KB p foods. Mike bought into his first franchise restaurant at the age of 21. Today at age 37, Mike operates more than 600 restaurants across 23 states.
What really makes a great restaurant General Manager in your opinion,
I think their number one goal is their ability to select and motivate the team that’s around them. I think at that level, what they do themselves is far secondary to their ability to get people to want to work with them. The motivational and influential capabilities that those individuals have are the single most important things in our opinion.
Michaels entrepreneurial spirit and vision has helped him become a leader in the world of franchising. Mike founded KB cares which raised and donated $1.5 million and 30,000 volunteer hours to charities in 2017.
Now, here’s our host, David Novak, and today’s special guest, Michael
Well, I’m really pleased to have Mike Colt the chairman and CEO k dp investments with me today. He’s a great business partner for my past he’s fantastic franchisee actually owns if you can believe it or not 600 restaurants 500, KFC and 100 Taco Bell’s very successful at what he does. And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun learning from Mike and I have to tell you up front, Mike’s very young guy, 37 years old, he’s achieved so much so fast. So I think we’ll learn some of us I’m well, I don’t think I know we’re going to learn some of his secrets today. But Mike always start out at the beginning. Just tell us about your your upbringing. Where’d you grow up? And tell us a little bit about your background?
Sure. Well, thanks for having me. It should be fun. So I grew up. I grew up in a small town, south eastern Colorado, about 8000 people called Lamar, Colorado, near Kansas, close enough to Kansas that my parents used to tell me that if I do that, again, they were sending me to Kansas. But but in Colorado still so we can claim Colorado and my parents were both teachers. My dad taught biology. My mother was a special education teacher. So she’s taught emotionally disturbed and physically disabled children and and then those would just learning disabilities for over 40 years if you can imagine doing that. I had five brothers and sisters. And I spent we spent our whole lives there. My parents met and Lamar, Colorado. My dad taught there for a couple years, my mom moved there to take a teaching job and I didn’t leave there too. I left for college. So spent my whole life there.
Did you have any early job that sort of begin to shape your life?
Well, my my first job was in the restaurant business and as many people in this industry would tell you, you know, you can take the person out of the restaurant but you can’t take the restaurant out of the person so I joined a small fast food business and Lamar when I was 14, I think day after my 14th birthday. And I never left the industry after that it was a small burger local burger shop and, and and worked in a couple different restaurants in town before leaving for school, but immediately went to work in the restaurant industry primarily because it was either that or hard work out in the farms in the local farming community. And I chose the easier path in the air conditioned restaurant. So
yeah, it was a restaurant and college as well.
Yeah, I did. I worked I never I really never left the business. David I I worked in I think two different restaurants in high school. And then when I went to college, I took a job immediately in the restaurant business in college as well. I worked in a sports bar as well as a couple years later took a job with a large Applebee’s franchisee in Grand Junction, Colorado, and and then from there got into the yum brands business immediately following college. So
what was it about the restaurant business that you found so intoxicating? You know,
I think initially it was just the opportunity right beyond that, I think you know, the interaction with the people you got to know those you worked with, and also the consumer base, which tends to be a pretty regular group of people that come in and you build relationships there quickly, as it became more of a an opportunity to really earn money that I needed to live and not just some pocket change. The opportunity for advancement in the restaurant business is always one that comes quick. So I think you know, after I was moved on to college and wanted to make some actual money, instead of just fill my wallet with a couple of dollars, I think the opportunity that sat in front of me was what continued to kind of motivate and attract me to the business.
Did you have anybody that you work for the Applebee’s that took you underneath their wings? And
so there was a couple of people, you know, we had a first general manager that I worked underneath there was a was a unique guy, he had worked in the business his whole life too. And, you know, one of these, you know, grace in his veins, kind of guys that that taught me a lot of kind of unique things that still stick with me today. And there was a likewise, you know, just, he was one of these people that when something wasn’t perfect at the end of a shift. When something wasn’t perfect during a shift. For example, I can remember at the time, Applebee’s had a standard where there was a skinny piece of bread on a plate that was it was called bobbly bread, and it was supposed to lay on the plate at five o’clock. And I can remember if I picked up a plate leave in the kitchen, and it was at four o’clock he whistle and tell you to turn around and set it back down. And he looked at you and say that’s at five o’clock, right. And the point wasn’t that the bread was in the wrong spot. It was that he took such pride in doing things the way they were supposed to be done. If silverware was roll backwards if meat wasn’t laid perfectly in a drawer, all the little details that I think you fast forward much lot later in my career. And you start to think through some of the things that make us good at what we do today. And how it’s really just accomplished of doing those little details. So well. He never saw a ton of career advancement. But I sure wish I could find 20 Kevin’s today or 50. Kevin’s, he was he was he was a great guy that influenced a lot of little details early on.
So what made you leave Applebee’s,
really, it was just opportunity. The guys that I ended up partnering with early on had worked in the restaurant business. In fact, in the yum brands business for a number of years, the initial guy that I partnered with his father had worked in Harmon management for 34 years, I think in total. And they had recently acquired a business in Grand Junction, Colorado from a lady whose whose husband had passed. And today we’re looking for, you know, additional help both in that business as well as with some marketing and some other things that they were doing in a sports bar concept that they had built. And from my perspective, they were young, energetic, enthusiastic guys that were you know, somebody that I could see myself working with for a long time and the Applebee’s franchise I was working for I didn’t see a ton of upside and, and there wasn’t a bunch of little at that point in my career, right. So they offered me an opportunity to do two things, I went to work in the sports bar concept side of their business with them, and also started doing some marketing work both in the Kentucky Fried Chicken and sports bar concepts with them early on. And that quickly, just blossomed into doing a ton of stuff over the course of about the first six months in partnership together. So it was a little bit of what I’ll tell you in hindsight was fate and friendship that it started as that grew into a good decade of partnership with
you think you can mix friendship and business and be successful.
I think it depends on what the basis of it is. I think if the basis of its business, and there’s a there’s a an understanding that we’re here for for that reason. And you grow into loving each other and respecting each other. I think yes, I grew to love that family. And those guys follow my heart. I think to this day, while we’re certainly not as close as we were, I think we do anything for one another, I think what’s difficult sometimes if you take great friends and try to turn them into a business partner that and and I seen that fail a lot of times. So I think it kind of depends on what the basis of the relationship is, in my opinion.
Now, when did you become an owner,
so I became an owner with the bank and Ellie organization, they provided me and an opportunity really early on to buy into their business, which was really unique in franchising at the time, a lot of people provided options, or, you know, some Phantom ownership, but they provided me the opportunity to, to borrow money. And and by 10% of that operating company at the time, which I did, and and without the way that they provided I could never afford to do so
now. How old? Are you when you did that? 21 Wow, yeah.
And so they did that. And then over the years, I had opportunities for increased ownership and, and 10 years later partnered with a unique debt structure and some outside capital to buy those guys completely out of the business. So you know, without that initial partnership opportunity, whenever would have never been able to pull that off, obviously. But right away, almost, I think I was only there a couple of years, David before they offered that opportunity to me. And I think, you know, they were smart and doing so it probably kept me focused on the future and long term, but I think they were also it was just a genuine, you know, offering of what they believed in, in, in the business that they had come from and grown up and as well
now so you you buy them by them out you you now you own the whole shooting match with with some with some investors, and what kind of pressure did you feel when all of a sudden, man, I’m really out there? Yeah,
so I was talking to somebody I remember just after we did that, and in our industry, I tell people all the time that it reminded me of a story that I always talk about where an assistant manager in our industry always thinks that they’re better at the general managers job than the general manager right up until that day, they take it. And the same holds true for kind of every spot in the organization. And, and I felt I remember like yesterday, you know, I thought I was doing most everything in the organization until both my partner as well as when he exited. Our CFO also moved back to Colorado with his family. And so we had kind of new financial leadership, and I was on my own as, as kind of the only guy running the business and it was a lonely feeling for a couple of months, I think what I quickly realized was that the fundamentals we had in our operating business or where I where I went and really dug my teeth back in and gained comfort in knowing that if we were really taking care of the guest inside of our four walls that we were going to be okay and made a couple of good hires, which, you know, I’m thankful for to this day that we didn’t make a few mistakes out of the gate. But you know, there were a few days early on where I can tell you I did plenty of Ray and before I laid my head on that pillow that we were going to make it to the next morning and and yet at the same time, you know, had confidence in our ability inside those four walls. So So knew we’d be okay fundamentally abilities
Do you have to have to really make a restaurant go?
Well, I think, you know, in our quick service world, you know, I think those who are really good at executing the basics, so you know, the replicability of systems and tools and processes, routines that sit above those to follow up on them are those who succeed, I think we had built a good core group of simple, replicable processes that to this day, we still use
now. Right now you’re growing the business because you’re going out and buying more KFC buy more Taco Bell’s I’m, you know, how do you make the economics work? And what do you do that that really makes these investments in these, these other stores come alive for you?
Well, we so our model is simple. We we look for opportunities that we see substantial upside economically and as we purchase. So we’ve got a very disciplined purchase model that suggests we’re not looking for perfect businesses. When we buy we’re looking for businesses that we see meaningful economic upside in. And usually that means both revenue and in the middle of the financial statement. And so, you know, in the first hundred and 20, 280 days, we’re typically seeing substantial both profitability and revenue change in those businesses. And it all comes through very fundamental focus in inside of those systems I’m talking about. So we’ve got 190 day plan, that we roll out in every acquisition that we do that in small 30 day chunks of very simple focused things that the restaurants that we acquired go through, we do them through a series of workshops inside of those acquisitions situations, and just really get the managers focused on doing things that we know are going to help them be successful. And we’ve built enough of a history with this now that we can walk in and say, here’s the results that we’ve achieved historically, trust us and and we’re going to put these things in place. And here’s what you’ll see,
you have to change the people out or what you know,
typically, we jokingly say all the time that very rarely do you go to and 14 this year and win the Super Bowl next year with the same players on the field. But I’ll tell you that that’s not always the case, we find often that, you know, there’s a lack of leadership present in a lot of these situations where people aren’t performing. And so what we what we find a lot of times is that will come in and provide, you know, a new motivation and a new influence new incentive programs and some new cultural flair. And we’ll see a good portion of that population, you know, gaining excitement about that. There’s some people who don’t like it, because there’s also a different level of accountability and what we do so
you know, it’s a 50 shot, depending on where we are
what really makes a great restaurant General Manager, in your opinion?
Well, I think their number one goal is their ability to select and motivate the team that’s around them. I think at that level, what they do themselves is far secondary to their ability to get people to want to work with them. And so those soft skills that the motivational and influential capabilities that those individuals have are the single most important things in our opinion.
Yeah. And what what soft skills do you think those are,
I mean, communication, follow up the ability to sit down and have genuine conversations with people and connect with people on a pretty emotional level. You know, most of the people that work in those businesses, especially the part time individual, they’re looking for more than a boss, a lot of time they’re looking for a mentor, sometimes a parent, that may be lacking in their life. And I think playing some of those roles, in addition to boss is really important. Those who can create what looks and feels a bit like a family inside of a restaurant are very successful in our industry.
You do you have like any tricks of the trade that you use to get that emotional connection with people?
Well, I think you start with you gotta genuinely care. I mean, I think you’ve got to surround yourself with people you want to make successful. You know, I’ve said for years, the most important thing that I think anyone does in interviewing, is make sure you’re selecting someone that you can’t wait to help make successful. And if you’re sitting in front of somebody that you could kind of give or take whether they become successful with you, they’ll fail, because you’re not going to help them to success.
What do you look for in the interview to to make that call? Do you have any questions that you use that really gets bad? Or is it just your gut instinct? I know,
it’s not a gut instinct, I think, you know, at this point, you know, the people that I’m interviewing, we spend a lot of time with, right? So it’s really the the reasons why they’re taking the job that I’m looking for, you know, we break up the the motivations for they’re taking their role into three pieces. It’s personally Why are you taking this professionally? Why are you doing this? And financially? Why are you doing this? And I’m really keen on their transparency and honesty, and then their behaviors historically And currently, and whether those match with what they’re saying. So I’m kind of looking for their actions, and as opposed to their words, on those three things. And do those align with I think, what our organization can provide or not,
what’s what do you think the role of measurement is, in terms of effective leadership?
Probably one of the things that jumps out at me when you asked that question, first is, is it a selfless and and servant leader is probably one of the first things I think of so when I just looked to measure a leader, I think, first of all, are they leading by example? And what kind of results are they achieving? Are the first two things I think of, are there people succeeding? So if I back up and say that a little bit differently, David, there’s a lot of leaders that I think achieve results themselves, but their team is in achieving at the same level? And and then how they’re achieving those things, I think are also a way that I would measure their effectiveness. So, you know, are they getting the short term results? Are they really developing and growing those people around them in sort of an upside down organizational chart that’s leading them to, you know, sustain results through the individuals that they’ve that they’ve invested in, and in our business, with the challenges of hiring and developing people, leaders who are out there truly investing in those around them and getting results through other people are the ones that are winning, and it’s pretty easy to measure that, you know, you can really just do it with your eyes, you don’t even necessarily need too much of a scoreboard. You know,
looking back, Mike, you know, in looking at your own leadership style. Did you have any habits? Or what were some of the habits you had that that really have helped you get to where you’re at today?
Yeah, well, I think the first one is I never pretended that I was something that I wasn’t. And I still don’t.
So you’re authentic?
Yeah, I, I think in this industry, and in our business, in particular, and I’m I’m I’m not certain it doesn’t apply to every business, people want to know that a leader they’re dealing with is a real, and that they care about them. And I think you know, whether it was in five restaurants, or seven or 20, or now 600, I think your ability to go in and connect with the people that you’re talking to dealing with leading is the single most influential characteristic that a leaders got. And then from there, you know, I think being a good listener, and really understanding what’s motivating those that you’re trying to get results from is probably the second most important thing. It’s easy to make decisions. And I think it’s easy to direct and coach and teach and do all the things that I think most leaders do pretty instinctively. But to do it through the lens of people that you’re trying to influence and do it in a very authentic way is something that I think we see less and less in in our world at least today.
We’ll be right back with the second half of the podcast. And just a moment ago, lead has launched the heart wiring and hard wiring your leadership digital training program to help individuals and organizations develop the skills they need to drive more consistent results. The fully integrated online program consists of five interactive learning modules, each designed to teach practical leadership skills that can be applied immediately in the workplace. Go to overlay calm to request a free course demo.
Now, back to our host, David Novak, and today’s special guest, Michael,
let’s say you walk into a KFC take us through what a store visit would be like, yeah, you.
So you know, I like to tell you that I do it by the book and visit like a customer and eat the product and do all that every time. Unfortunately, most of my visits, they know I’ve come in for 30 minutes now, right? So typically, what I do is I walk in and spend 95% of my time making sure that I touch every single person in the restaurant, I asked him a couple of questions about you know, themselves. And really the biggest thing I want to try to take away from store visits today is what type of organization do I feel like those people are working in? And is there a flavor both for the local leadership and the leadership being provided by our organization inside that that restaurant? And then what kind of team in general Am I looking at here? Usually, from the lobby, I can take a look at the smiles of the people, just the you know, are they upbeat? Are they not so just kind of a little bit of the Mojo of the restaurant, you can’t fake that no matter how much you’ve cleaned the floors and prepared good product for a visit today, until you were in a good restaurant, or we’re not and there’s good strong morale, either in this restaurant or this market or this city or there’s not. And so I’ve had to change my tactic over the years, from being able to surprise restaurants with a visit versus today, it’s more difficult to do so. But 95% of it’s based on that I try to always leave the store feeling more motivated and upbeat than when I got there. But it’s it’s all about assessing the quality of the people because I know if we’ve got those things, right, you know, we’ll get to the rest.
So you walk in let’s say you don’t feel the energy, you don’t see the smiles, you know, so how would you follow up with the management team to get the right kind of changes to happen probably
depends on how how poor it is. You know, my natural instinct is to address it. With with I’m rarely there without above store leadership. So I would probably start asking that above store leader, what they’re seeing, and go into assessment mode of their ability to see what I’m seeing the Ask them if they’re seeing what I’m seeing, ask them how they feel about the morale and the team that they’re, you know, they’re watching with me. So then I go into whether, you know, I immediately would shift to a testing that individual, and and are they going Jesus isn’t looking very good? Are they like, this is okay. But you know, I think from for me, it would probably lead me to another restaurant. And do I start to see a pattern? Or am I in a bad restaurant? You know, when we’re in 23 states and was 600 stores? If I’m going to be effective? You know, I feel like I’ve got to focus on groups of restaurants and patterns and trends as opposed to what I see in one restaurant. And so, you know, I probably would shift pretty quickly to you know, is this a trend? And why is this being caused? And what’s the source of it? You know,
you’ve had such a meteoric rise in you have so much responsibility, and but is there been a failure or a parent failure that, that when you look back on, it sets you up for success?
I think we, I mean, I could probably give you 100 of them. I think we’ve one of the things that I that I’m really proud of our organization of about David is, I think we’ve become really good at failing. And what I mean by that is we are fearless is impossible, but we try a lot of new things. And we’ve become really good at trying things that don’t work. And knowing that when they don’t will find the answer to how something will, I think part of how we’ve built such a strong relationship with our franchise, or is through our willingness to be delete with our chin, and to try everything from, you know, assets that people thought we were crazy to build, because they were 10 times the cost of anything, anyone that ever built to marketing campaigns that no one else would try to, you know, you name it in an effort to try to crack through some consumer barrier that no one else was willing to get through. And I could give you a 50 of those failures I’ve got
what would be your favorite failure?
Well, I’ve got two of them in motion right now. We just put five and a half million dollars into two remodels that at this point about 30 year paybacks. I hired a guy I could tell you about which I’ll tell you was probably one of my biggest people learnings. When I replaced the CFO that left us originally in the business, I found a guy who had worked for a fortune 500 business that was president and CFO who thought he wanted out of a big environment into an entrepreneurial one who didn’t have a balance sheet based business experience background, who had a team around him the size of our organization, and brought them into the company without the intent study of what culturally was going to be the right fit for our business, and also tactically what we really needed at the time, probably the biggest hire I ever made. And probably the reason why we spend the amount of time and energy and intensity we do on hiring today, who was with us for about five months. And both from a cultural standpoint, but also from a reputational perspective in a town like Kansas City is which is not difficult to develop a hiring someone of that of that caliber, and then it not working out reputation. It was it was a setback for us. I think in all of those examples that I’ve given you, we become pretty okay with failure and know that it’s a part of how we’re, you know, we’ve gotten to the pace of growth and some of the success that we have. So we failed a lot though.
You mentioned your relationship with the franchise or you know, those that are listening, those are the people basically owned the brands and you you basically run and operate the stores and pay them a royalty for on sales and what’s it take to develop a great franchise or relationship? Now, you mentioned you had a good one?
Yeah, I think I think it the first piece you have to have is you have to remember what your role is and what their role is. And I think franchisees that cloud the relationship between franchise or franchisee relationship and think that they were the brand, or what their role is in in running the restaurants and forgetting that their role is to really operate great restaurants. And that that’s their role as great franchisee that’s the first mistake that’s made. And so I think fundamentally, what’s really built it is that we’ve run good restaurants. And I think that’s the basis for the for the relationship, I think from there that’s bought us a seat at the table to be able to become a good partner and other ways. So it’s bought us the ability to have a voice on things like influencing marketing or influencing testing or, you know, getting them to come sit at our table one witness the talent that we’ve hired and witnessed the investments that we’re making things like over investing in in remodels during periods when no one else was doing that building restaurants when nobody else was doing that. There’s certain things that like that, that have certainly helped. But I think fundamentally, we’ve taken care of our business inside of our restaurants, which I think is what every franchise owner would tell you they’re looking for, in good franchisees, you know,
one of the most popular advertising campaigns going now is the colonel campaign. Yeah, Colonel shifts every six months or so. And even Reba McEntire has been a colonel, what kind of impact is that campaign had on your sales?
Well, it’s a it’s a it’s it’s had an impact on our sales. And I’ll talk about that in a second, I’ll tell you what, I think the biggest impact that it’s had on us is when you’re in our restaurants, and all of a sudden, the young kids that work in our restaurants on on the weekends and at night, all of a sudden, because of the amount of, of social media buzz and energy that’s being brought to the social layer and the digital airwaves as a result of a campaign like this are talking about this being a cool place to be again, and somewhere that all of a sudden, my kids who haven’t talked about this brand, or fired up about and asking if I can bring them home, you know, KFC shirt from my next meeting, it’s brought on youthfulness back to the brand that I think is really neat. And it’s brought back to life, the story of the legacy of the fast founder of the brand that I think a lot of people didn’t understand and know. And I think that’s really, really neat. And something that I think is a is is just another layer to the ad campaign aside that it’s brought, you know, four years of same store sales and transaction growth in a row back to the brand, which has been fantastic. And and really accelerated things that we’re on a path now to do which are, you know, substantially enhance the asset base across the system and, and and really step into the limelight and compete with some of the brands that have taken product offerings to a different level and and started to attract younger user basis that the brand struggle to attract over the years. So I think it’s been really a catalyst for sort of the beginning of moving thought leadership into should this get me thinking about trial of this of this product again, and this brand, again, for a lot of people who hadn’t thought about this brand in a long time.
Fantastic. But what’s the difference between or the biggest difference between operating a KFC and a taco bell? Because you have 100 Taco Bell? Yeah,
very, very different. So you know, the biggest difference would be that you know, everything in a KFC is made fresh, you know, this product is brought in fresh off farms. And it’s a never frozen product that takes 33 minutes to prepare by cooks. And and that’s a very difficult process to to uphold and do really well. It’s also a product that when you get into the complexities of being able to project the business and prepare for cycles of lunch and dinner is it is a challenging business top rate. It’s primarily a night and weekend business. So we’ll do 60 plus percent of our of our business between 4pm and 9pm, and Thursday through Sunday. And if you look at the Taco Bell business, it’s basically the dead opposite will do a larger lunch business, then we will have dinner business. Most of our Taco Bells are busier during the weekdays, and they are on the weekend. It’s a much lower check average business and a much higher traffic count business. So it’s all about speed and efficiency. So if you if you basically took these businesses and stack them next to each other, they’re almost polar opposites. And in a lot of ways, so the consumer basis, it’s a taco bell is talking to a much younger consumer base. It’s a it’s a very strong value driven consumer in a lot of ways. And they’re great compliments to one another to have in our portfolio, very strong brands that we feel very strongly both about but very different from one another. And a lot of ways, you know,
the fast food business gets maligned a lot. What do you think is the biggest misperception for the industry?
Well, I’ll tell you, I think you know, I spoke about this a second ago with with KFC, the quality of the product coming out of that business is phenomenal. And you know, I talked to people about this all the time and comparing it to a lot of fast casuals, because I think one of them is the quality of product, and how good certain fast fast food products are. And there’s a lot of the guys in in the burger space that prepare a fresh product really well, also. So I think that’s one of them. I think one of the other ones is sometimes health perception, where, you know, the the perception of the consumer, sometimes on the health side of the equation versus reality is very interesting also, and how some brands have done an interesting job of, of how they’ve pushed health perception. And when you look at the facts, it’s not always the case. So you know, I think beyond that, one of the things we work hard to try to do inside of our organization is more from an employment perspective, and how we try to break some of what I think are often negative perceptions in the persona, of working in the fast food business, and how that can really be an amazing career, and open up unbelievable opportunities for people financially and professionally. And and I think at times that business has built, especially at entry level positions, a bit of a negative perception around it, in the context of you know, it’s the last place you want to go work you hear, you know, a lot of people use the phrase of I don’t want to end up at McDonald’s, or I don’t want my kids to end up working at McDonald’s. And you know, when you really get into the opportunities that exist for people on the pace with which you can grow and do amazing careers and fast food, it’s, it’s pretty mind boggling to those who aren’t educated
Oh, you’re pretty good example that you started out at 14 years old work in the restaurant business. And now you’re you’re running a very significant company, which is, you know, that doesn’t happen in in every industry as as fast. What’s your view, Mike, on the minimum wage,
here’s what I can tell you. I’m a personally a believer that there needs to be some minimum wage growth. I’m not a personal believer that, you know, appear stagnant and minimum wage is a positive thing. I will tell you, however, that this concept of radical growth overnight is detrimental to our industry, if you just take a pure mathematical approach to it, that change to you know, take, for example, $15 minimum wage for us, that change in an hourly rate as a percentage of sales is as great as our full margin. And I think one of the biggest misperceptions of our business and financial worlds, is that we’re printing a lot more money than we are, and that the gross margin in our businesses a lot different than it is. And so I think what’s got to happen is we’ve got to figure out how to help create some wage growth in our business and help provide those that are the hourly workers in our business, seeing wage growth, without it becoming something that’s purely mathematically prohibitive to the industry. And how we do that, I think is where things get challenging. You know, in the,
in the last five years, what new belief or behavior habit as most improved your life,
I’ll tell you, in our business, we, about seven years ago, started to bring on additional Equity Partners into our business. And we really had a bunch of success quickly, with helping create wealth for individuals in our organization who had primarily come from long careers in the restaurant industry. So these were individuals who, you know, looked like an 18 year old kid who worked there till they were 38, or 40, or 45 years old, had a decent job, a pretty good income, but really no nest egg and no light at the end of what this was going to look like for them financially. That came into an equity opportunity with us. And Fast Forward 3457 years later, we’re we’re seeing substantial equity growth inside of this program we had built. And when we did that, somewhat knowingly, and somewhat through a program that actually was much more successful than we ever dreamed it would be. It completely changed one of the biggest motivators for me in this job and in our company. And I’ll tell you that we now have almost 40 individuals we’ve helped into that program. And I think the way I look at what some of my primary responsibilities are and what gets me you know, most excited how I look at people at want to bring onto the team and why who were promoting and how it’s changed. I would tell you so many things about the way I do my daily job as a result of the, of the joy that I watched that bring to people and how it was to change their lives. It was dramatic, and I and I can’t explain to you how impactful it was both as a leader and as an individual. For me, watching people’s families go through that experience as a result of the success we saw from our businesses perspective. so fantastic. It I can’t think truly of anything that’s probably been more impactful than that.
That’s great. Now, you know, you You’re a very intense guy, and very competitive guy, and you like to win and you care about people. How do you keep polishing your apple? And what do you how do you how do you get sharper and sharper and better and better?
So I think it’s, it’s interesting I, as you know, I think it’s something I’m challenging myself to try to do daily, is figuring the answer that question out, I’ve always been somebody that’s not afraid to reach out to people and ask them for help. And in answering that question, you know, somebody wants said to me years ago, you’ll be amazed to will say yesterday, if you’ll reach out and ask them if they’d be willing to spend a little bit of time to you and get together for lunch, or, or a quick meeting and help challenge you to grow yourself. But I think it starts with the desire to want to do that I have three or four or five people in my life that I that I meet with regularly that did help challenge me to think a little differently. Some of them in different ways than others, some of them are a little bit more financial minded, similar a little bit more, you know, leadership and, and, and people driven. And some of them have done things very, very similar to me. And some have done things a little bit different than I have professionally. But those are things that I do, I also, you know, recently have started doing some things more formally, to try to better myself, I’ve done some things, I’m getting a bi annual executive, physical and doing some things with some monitoring through Garmin, that are helping me challenge myself to keep in a regular routine of keeping myself up and running. And you know, a lot of stuff that I that I that I’m trying to do along the non professional lines to keep that to keep that afloat. But I think it’s pretty easy to your point to sit back. And, you know, once you’ve had some success kind of fall into a low part of I think what I was mentioning earlier about what this program is done, and helping change that it’s really kept me from being able to do that, because I feel responsible, not just to myself, right, but to, to so many other families and really driving this business forward at a different level. So some of its about the equity, David, but I think as much as anything it’s about, we’ve gotten families from places that would have never joined this business or our company or this industry even to come to a place and commit to being with us for a long period of time on this dream and belief that we were going to create something special. So there’s an equity component, which is, you know, that’s kind of the pot at the end of the rainbow. But But more than that, it’s about we I’ll give you an example. We have a guy who joined us that if you looked at his resume and his professional success, you just said, why in the hell would this guy ever come join but fast food franchise from where he was? And the answer to that question was things like, well, where I was before, you know, my firm had 800 Associates, and I was the top guy at that firm, my wife could name three other wives of anyone that I work with, we didn’t feel like we were a part of a team, we didn’t get to watch a team succeed. And part of what he was desiring was to be a part of a group that one together. And that, you know, there was some camaraderie associated with it. And there was a little bit more of a family feel there was the equity component also, right. But creating that for him, is now something that I aspire to do. So opportunities to bring team together, include his spouse, include his children, is something that I sit back and look for opportunities to create, how do you bring your family into the business lie way. So you know, we have events in our business that are that are full family events, we include spouses in nearly everything. So awards, banquets, Christmas parties, Friday afternoons in our office, we have a thing at three o’clock that families are invited to we do a lot with family and are big believers that if your spouse is a fan of what we’re doing, it sure is easier to keep you a fan of what we’re doing.
Mike, I see why you bring so much talent into the organization and people come to you from from different fields, you know, because people follow leaders. And just in this past, you know, 40 minutes we spent together is so clear that you know your business, you’re passionate about people and you’re just out and out later and and I want to thank you so much for for being on this podcast and sharing your sharing your thoughts.
Yeah, you bet, David, thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be a part of it.
I’m Ashley Butler, your colleague on the journey to becoming the best leader you can be. My cult talked a lot about how leaders need soft skills to be successful. Things like communication follow up and the ability to sit down and connect with people on a personal level. According to Mike, one key to leadership success is genuinely caring about the people you work with. Mike also shared that leadership is a driving factor in determining whether his restaurants will be successful or not. I really like how Mike said leaders that are truly investing in those around them and getting really through others are the ones that are winning. These leadership insights don’t just apply to the restaurant industry. I believe they apply to all leaders. My question for you today is do you genuinely care about the people you work with? are you investing in the people you lead? Are you helping them to achieve the type of results they need in order to be successful? If not, what do you need to do differently? How can you improve If you or your team needs to improve their leadership soft skills, check out the heart wiring and hardwiring your leadership program at Oh the lead calm. The program is designed to help you be the best leader you can be so you can get the best results out of others. Thank you for joining the oGoLead podcast.
Sam Reeves is a legendary business leader and investor. He is the founding Partner of Dunavant Enterprises, one of the largest cotton merchants in the world. Under his leadership, Dunavant became one of the first international commodity companies to trade in China. In addition to building his company into one of the world’s largest privately held companies, Mr. Reeves served as the chairman of Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also a highly acclaimed amateur golfer.
“For the young people out there, be courageous. have some grit. There are going to be difficult times. Weather through it. You can do it. Be resolved and courageous.” Click To Tweet
Mr. Reeves has been involved in leadership and board roles in a variety of publicly traded corporations, privately held companies as well as academic, healthcare, environmental, and philanthropic entities. They include Duquesne Capital Management, University of North Carolina, American Cotton Shippers Association, Morgan Stanley, Salvation Army and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, to name just a few.
Mr. Reeves continues to be an active golfer, having previously qualified for the USGA Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur Championships. He has played in many state amateurs and numerous club tournaments. He also has played in many AT&T’s and Champion Tour events at Pebble Beach and several Dunhill’s.
Sam is also the owner of Pinnacle Trading, LLC — a family office company he founded in 1995, which functions as a private investment and international trading company.
He is married to Betsy and together they have four daughters, four sons-in-laws and twelve grandchildren.
Today’s guest is Becky Frankiewicz. Becky is the President of ManpowerGroup North America, a world leader in innovative workforce solutions. Before joining ManpowerGroup, Becky led one of PepsiCo’s largest subsidiaries, Quaker Foods North America. She brings a depth of consumer knowledge to her commitment to building a work ready talent supply to meet the increasing job demand across America. It’s her firm belief that helping people find meaningful and sustainable work benefits individuals, families and communities.
Becky is passionate about advancing women in leadership, developing skills to advance our workforce and advocating for conscious inclusion. She believes enabling all people to participate in the workplace and achieve their potential is not just an ethical imperative, it’s good for business.
Becky was named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in the industry, anticipating and adapting to fast changing consumer demands.
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This great resource will help you along the way, during or after you listen to the podcast. Not only will you get to know our guest, you will be asked tough questions to really spearhead your journey to becoming a better leader!
Have you ever experienced a failure? What did you learn?
If your colleague disagreed with you, how would you respond?
Feedback is a gift, something we have lost in Corporate America. Becky says, “If I am not giving you feedback, then I am not investing in you. If I’m not getting feedback, people aren’t invested in me.”
What is the best piece of constructive feedback you’ve ever received?
David’s passion is to make the world a better place by developing leaders at all ages through oGoLead, his family’s Lift-a-Life Foundation, Lead2Feed, Global Game Changers and The Novak Leadership Institute at the University of Missouri.
Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review…