Leadership Lessons (or Lack Thereof)—Jared Fogle

Amazon lists more than 179,000 books on leadership. I love to read them—especially if they are written by someone well known. It is much easier to relate when you see how their leadership lessons inspired themselves.

That challenge, however, with high profile people writing books on leadership is that they put themselves in glass houses.

A few years ago I had the chance to spend some time with Jared Fogle—formerly of Subway fame and now living at Henderson County Detention Center in Kentucky before being sent to prison in Littleton, Colo.

We all know his Cinderella story: A fat kid drops 245 pounds by eating Subway turkey and veggie subs, becomes their pitchman, experiences wealth beyond what most of us will ever experience (a net worth more than $15 million), propels his brand to new heights, and is America’s darling. He even ran the New York City marathon—the same kid who couldn’t walk a block at one point!

He was so popular he would make up to $10,000 for a motivational speech.

Five years ago he got married and the couple had kids in 2011 and 2013. Life was good. Great wife, great life, it couldn’t get any better, right?

On my shelf I have an autographed copy of his book—“Jared the Subway Guy—Winning Through Losing: 13 Lessons for Turning Your Life Around.” Jared’s 13 lessons:

  1. Open your eyes—admit you have a problem;
  2. Do something—get out of the rut;
  3. Reach for the stars—be the hero of your own life;
  4. Find your personal spark—turn your worst fears inside out;
  5. One size doesn’t fit all—create a plan of action after analyzing your problem;
  6. Change your mind to change your life—do what has to be done;
  7. Don’t tell anyone—change for yourself … not the rest of the world;
  8. See the big picture—It isn’t how fast you progress towards your goal … it is how steadily you do it;
  9. Throw out conventional wisdom—follow the path that works for you;
  10. Fill the void—find distractions that keep you from falling back into your old patterns;
  11. Change is for life—achieving your goal isn’t the end … it is the beginning of a new life;
  12. Move on with your life, embrace the change in you … even if it means accepting changes in your personal relationships; and
  13. The harder you work, the luckier you get—you have to work hard and make your own luck.

When I spent some time with him I walked away thinking, “What a great guy. Humble. Unassuming. A man who appreciates what he has and doesn’t take it for granted.”

Wow—was I wrong.

In August the other side of Jared Fogle hit the news. A man who paid for sex with underage prostitutes and justified it. In fact he spent more than $12,000 a year for sex. He was addicted to porn. A professor of forensic psychiatry analyzed Fogle in August and testified Jared suffers from hyper sexuality, pedophilia, along with alcohol use and dependency.

The U.S. District judge delivered a severe sentence in federal court last week. Fogle’s attorney was asking for five years in prison for Jared. The prosecuting attorney wanted 12 years. The judge fined him $175,000, along with more than $1 million in restitution to his victims and sentenced him to more than 15 years. Fogle, now 38, will be in prison until he is more than 50 years old.

It is all about doing what is right. Leaders do know what is right and what is wrong. Great leaders continually do what is right.

In the past several years we’ve seen many Congressmen convicted of crimes. I’m from Illinois. Four of the last seven Illinois governors have gone to prison. We’ve seen many religious leaders plead for forgiveness because of multiple issues and crimes.

Leadership. We have learned to watch what people do in leadership positions—not what they say or who they are.

No one on the planet today wishes they were Jared Fogle. Sad. Very sad. Fogle forgot his 13 lessons. You don’t have to let those principles go to waste. If you are seeking to make changes in your life, they can provide a good roadmap.

Remember great leaders know what is wrong and what is right and do the right thing.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Leadership Lessons—Haiti Examples

I mentioned last week that I was headed to Haiti for a mission trip with Mission Waco. I didn’t know much about Mission Waco until last Thursday when we got to Ferrier, Haiti. I hate to admit it but I never even went to their website. In retrospect, I wish I would have. I got e-mail from someone named Janet—but that was all I knew.

I would have learned, had I gone to their website, the following:

  • In 1978, Jimmy and Janet Dorrell bought a deteriorating house in the middle of a blighted neighborhood in North Waco, Texas. Based on their understanding of incarnational ministry, they sensed their vocational call was to live among the poor and help bring “good news” through relationships and empowerment opportunities. The couple began offering children and teen clubs each week in their home, meeting neighbors, and providing assistance to those struggling in the community.

I also would have known:

  • Janet currently teaches at Baylor University and supervises graduate interns in research among women and nomadic peoples. Janet leads the exposure trip to India in May, and the trips to Haiti (March, May and sometimes Fall) and Mexico City in July of every year. Ten weekends a year, she leads participants in Mission Waco’s poverty simulation to help mobilize middle-class people to become compassionately involved in the lives of the poor.

I was so excited to make the trip. My wife, Mary Kay, would be busy putting a couple of franchise concepts together and was unable to go. The first thing she suggested is that I take my daughter, now 42, with me. Great idea! I do father and son golf trips each year but this was the first for a father/daughter trip. I’d recommend both for all fathers! The time together is just tremendous.

We visited Ferrier, Haiti. It’s a town of about 9,000 with another 5,000 in the outlying areas. It has 87 percent unemployment. The average household income is $750 per year. Yes, that is about $2 per day. Most houses have no electricity and no running water, either. For lights they use kerosene lanterns—which give off the same carcinogens of smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.

Pigs, goats, chickens and sometimes cows and donkeys run unattended. Cooking is outside over charcoal made of wood. In 1923 more than 60 percent of Haiti’s land was forested. In 2006, less than 2 percent of the land was forested.

The school at the Mission Waco site has no windows, a door on each room used only for night security, and no electricity. There are some rooms without a floor—just dirt. Other classrooms don’t have a roof. More than 300 students, from kindergarten through 11th grade, attend. Each must wear a uniform every day. It takes about $325 per student to provide uniforms, books, teachers, etc.

Many children in Ferrier are too poor to go to school. Yet, most of the villagers have a cell phone. This shocked me! Not the iPhone that takes pictures … just older cell phones used for communication. Think about it. There is no post office there. No TV or radio station. No newspaper. No one has a computer. The only way to communicate besides one-on-one is by a cell phone. The challenge, though, is finding a place to recharge it. The government determines when certain parts of the village get electricity. This is mainly in a couple of places. Those places, then, charge villagers to recharge their phone.

The Dwyer Group, Glass Doctor’s parent company, has a mission to “Light a Whole Village in Haiti” in partnership with Mission Waco and New Vision Renewable Energy. More than 25 of us from the U.S. and Canada joined together to distribute solar lights to families in Ferrier. The light is a simple construction of a small 10-watt solar panel, a compact lithium polymer battery (that has a place to recharge a cell phone) and a set of super bright LED lights that provide light for families at night. There is a way to recharge those lights during the day. We found it shocking that the phone recharging feature was as important as lights were to many people who had spent their entire life without a light in their house.

Our goal was to provide 700 lights to those in the community who performed community service and also attended a two-hour training class on using the light during one of eight sessions on Friday and Saturday. We spent a couple days finishing and testing each light before they were given away on Sunday night. Each of us who taught had an interpreter to take our English words and translate them into Haitian-Creole. We ran out of interpreters but found one person who spoke Spanish who could translate. My daughter took Spanish in high school, remember she is 42, and could get by enough to teach that class.

Gary and Diane Heavin, the founders of the Waco-based franchise Curves, flew all the lights down to Haiti a week before in their private plane. Dwyer was the major sponsor for the project, receiving a great deal of volunteer efforts over the past two years in assembling the lights from Dwyer employees, as well as Waco school children. Many of us signed the backs of the light boards when we assembled them. When I found the one that I made, signed by me, it gave me chills. Finally, it was all making sense what we were doing when we assembled these funny-looking boards.

Hours before we were to distribute the 700 lights, the forecast called for 100 percent chance of rain. As people arrived, the clouds looked ominous above the mountains to the east (about 80 percent of Haiti is mountainous). Mysteriously, however, the weather cleared except for a double rainbow that seems to go from one side of the compound to the other side. It remained in the sky for more than an hour.

The leaders are too many to list, but a few that come to mind are:

  • Jimmy and Janet, who started Mission Waco;
  • The volunteers who have kept Mission Waco vibrant over the past 37 years;
  • The Heavins who volunteered the plane with fuel to fly the lights down;
  • Dwyer Group’s Dina Dwyer-Owens, along with her family and the executive team who sponsored the project and provided the vision for it; and
  • All of the villagers who gave back to the community.

One of the best leadership lessons, though, came from one of the villagers. As we showed people how to use the lights, hook it up the solar panel in the morning and then put everything back together, one person volunteered to show us what she learned. When she was finished, by the way doing it flawlessly, she announced to the group that if anyone had a problem doing this to just let her know and she would teach them. That’s leadership.

If you are interested in seeing 700 Haitians singing “How Great Thou Art” at the lighting ceremony, you can see it on YouTube.

Finally, I encourage everyone to go on a Mission trip to an underprivileged community at least once in your life. It will change the way you think. It will change the way you lead. Most importantly, you will realize the blessings and opportunities we have in our lives … every single day of our life … in our country and in our business.