I’m so glad to be joining you on this journey to Spark a Revolution in organizations across every industry. Each month, you will receive a newsletter with some thoughts on culture and leadership in the form of an interview with my team. I hope it inspires you to Spark a Revolution in your own organization.
You recently retired after over 30 years at Chick-fil-A; can you share a little insight about what it was like for you to decide it was time to make such a major transition?
Truett Cathy is a real inspiration, and one fact that most people don’t know about him is that when he started the first Chick-fil-A, he was actually in his late 40s, (which I round to 50). Basically, most everything you know that happened for Chick-fil-A happened after age 50 for Truett. Well it seems like we can all draw a lot of inspiration from that… imagine having just one restaurant at 50, and seeing how things really took off from there. I figured if he can do all that after the age 50, that should give a lot of inspiration to all of us, regardless of our age. There’s a whole lot of living left to do!
I’m still firmly committed and passionate about the mission of Chick-fil-A. But that looks a little different now. The way I look at it, my mission isn’t changing, but my mission field is; it’s changing to include people beyond Chick-fil-A who deserve the kind of opportunity I’ve had. I’ve grown up in a world with people who love what they do, love who they do it with, and love who they’re becoming in the process. That the opposite of what most of my friend’s experience. What a travesty! What if we could create a whole lot of other businesses out there that provide the kind of job opportunities I’ve been fortunate to have for the last 30+ years? So I said to myself, let’s work with people like you to create opportunities for those that so richly deserve them, through helping organizations that want to do business in revolutionary ways!
As you’ve stepped into a new season of life, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about change?
The most interesting thing about change is that in general, we assume people don’t like change. To most people, change is very threatening because they’re comfortable in their current circumstances… especially when that change occurs in a very successful organization. But you have to go back to the core idea that a business exists to create value for people. So, if you’re going to create more value next year than this year, the only way that happens is for you to change something! Therefore, if you buy into the idea that the purpose of a business is to create value for a customer, then the only way to do that is to embrace change.
But are we changing the right things? To change things just to change things is not a good idea. The purpose of change should be to create more value, and the wisdom is in knowing which change represents progress, and which change is just change for change sake.
All progress is change but not all change is progress. What leaders need to do is be very discerning about the changes they’ll make to ensure they progress (and add value) and not just change.
What steps have you taken to prepare yourself to launch your new personal brand, Spark a Revolution?
One of the things we talk a little bit about in the book Remarkable! is perspective. The way we view things drives the way we do things. If we want to do new things, we have to have a new perspective on what we’re doing. The perspective comes first. There’s a quote that says: “perspective is the only thing in the world that can radically transform the results we get, without altering a single element of your environment.” The starting point for dramatic change in results is a dramatic change in perspective. So, as I look at this next chapter, I must reframe my perspective of what I’m doing. Again, my mission isn’t changing, my mission field is changing – that’s where my perspective has to change.
What gets you most excited about this next chapter in your life?
I remember having a conversation one time with Reggie Joiner about the movie Titanic. There were people in lifeboats and people in the water, and some people in the boats wouldn’t help the people in the water, even if they had room. They didn’t want to inconvenience themselves… and what a tragedy! That’s almost what it feels like in this new chapter; I’m in a lifeboat and there are people in the water, why shouldn’t I try to help them? That idea has been key in my motivation to expand the mission of Chick-fil-A outside its four walls.
I feel like much of my life to date I’ve been the recipient of someone, like Truett and others, pouring into my life, and I’m so excited to reverse that process, to take what’s been poured into me and pour it into others. To honor Truett, Chick-fil-A, and the Cathy family by passing on the legacy. It’s true that to those who much is given, much is required. I’m exhilarated by what’s required of me… so let’s Spark a Revolution together.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you in your own endeavors. It would be ‘my pleasure’ to serve your company or organization as you build your own Remarkable and meaningful culture.
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Together, we can Spark a Revolution of brands more defined by meaning than money, brands that achieve success in a manner that redefines it.
Founder, Spark A Revolution