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A Week of Experiences and Memories

This is one of those weeks where I’ll cover about three different thoughts. Leadership lessons are in each!

Subject One–Sports! (A good start to the guys who read this!)

There was a point in my life where I played and coached many sports. That was at least 15 years ago. Some of the guys at church needed another player on the softball team so I stepped up. After all, I pitched for many years. Pitching a softball is something that should be easy if you are 30 or 59, right?

What I forgot in the past 15 years is what it was like to run a full 65 feet to first base. I’m sure many of you run to keep in shape. Some of you work out. Some of you, like me, remember what it was like years ago and think that it is still easy. Fortunately, my beautiful wife, Mary Kay, thinks that beating out the throw to first base to avoid a double play after a 14 bouncer to short is a hit. (Got to love her).

My point?

Leadership is something that you have to continue to do. You can’t be inconsistent and believe that you can still be good … or even adequate … at it! Leadership is something that we all need to continue to do.

Oh, by the way, I can walk now without my thighs on fire! Thanks for asking.

Subject Two—Age!

I stopped by and saw a couple franchisees in my travels this week. I was reminded how nice it is to be “older.”

One of my very good franchisees, and a good friend, is under 35. I remember how much I thought I knew versus how much I really knew back in those days. I love having the experience of all these years and all these mistakes I’ve made. Whew! How did I ever survive?

I’ve learned how important it is to focus on what you want to be good at. I had a chance to devour, not just read, “Three Feet from Gold” by Greg Reid. Put this on your must read list!

All of it was based on “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, published in 1937. If you haven’t read this—read it in the next month. When challenged with “That book was written so long ago,” Greg replied: “Gravity was discovered a long time ago! Do we still believe that theorem?”

In “Three Feet from Gold,” the writer chronicles what happened to him once he met an older gentleman who turned out to be a mentor and absolutely changed his career and his life.

If you have an opportunity to mentor someone, embrace it. Share your knowledge so that others may benefit from your years of experience. Age does have its advantages!

Subject Three—What Impact are you Making?

I’m writing this on Friday night, April 4. I just attended my very good friend, Mark Johnson, memorial service in California. (I’ve written about him previously).

I’m walking away from this struck by how one person can positively affect so many lives.

Mark was never a father – but he was everyone’s favorite uncle. His franchisees loved him. (After 30-plus years in franchising, this seems like a miracle to me!)

I loved hearing the stories from employees how he changes their lives. He mentored them and gave them opportunities.

That is what leadership is all about. Simple, isn’t it? But the hardest thing most of us will ever do!

Have a great week.

Hanging with the Best of the Best in New Orleans

This week we held our Glass Doctor Convention in New Orleans. Besides our annual Dwyer Reunion held in the Fall, this was the first time in five years we had a Glass Doctor-only event. Walking around with our franchisees I was reminded of the leadership we have in our family.

I don’t use the term “family” carelessly. In 33-plus years of franchising I’ve been exposed to, and worked with, a select few companies who truly embrace this philosophy. Family members don’t always agree. At the end of the day, however, they are always glad to see each other. They also protect each other and are the first to support one another.

As I stood on stage and scanned the crowd it was easy to spot the real leaders. They work on their leadership skills. Each knows it takes work. Each knows that their employees will model their own leadership abilities after what their leaders do and how they do it—not what they say.

These leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some have been franchisees for 26 years. Others are just getting started. In each case there is that “something” about them that sets them apart.

They are involved. They participate. They ask great questions. They have great input. They push back on things they don’t understand, trying to better understand.

They all have horror stories of experiences along the way. All have hired the wrong people at times. All have hung on to people too long—trying to give those people a chance. All have a good sense of humor. All are passionate!

Most importantly, all are a pleasure to be with. Although I don’t work with them in their office day-to-day, all have long-term employees. It usually isn’t because they pay all those people top dollar. It is because they make the “coming to work experience” a very good one.

Think about this.

I worked for someone once who said, “Make sure you come to work the days you don’t feel good. Save the days you take off for the days you feel great and can have some fun!”

We all work. We all say the words, “I wish I won the lottery and didn’t have to work,” right? What are the odds, though, you are actually going to cash in on the $100 million ticket? The next best thing is to make sure, as a leader, you create the environment where people want to see you each day. Where people are proud to say they work for you when they see their friends and family.

Usually this has absolutely nothing to do with their wage. It has to do with everything else. Here we are almost in April. What events do you have for your team planned this summer? Company picnic … family outing at your house … a day at the lake? Bowling? Make sure you include as many family members as you can.

I had a chance to experience this with one of my wife’s franchisees at Mr. Appliance, Charlie Goff. Last year I attended his summer event where he rented a big pontoon boat that would fit 40 people and had it catered. On the second deck the kids (and adults) could jump off the side of the boat into 40 feet of water. No one wanted to end the evening.

Charlie followed that up with a Christmas party at his house where he gave away a prize for the best dressed technician. Here were guys who wore a uniform all day in three-piece suits with their wives/significant others in cocktail dresses. It was a proud evening for all.

Justin Eimers, our franchisee in Sioux Falls, S.D., who also happens to be our Franchisee of the Year, has corn-hole tournaments and other events throughout the year to bring his team together.

As I was sitting in New Orleans trying to figure out a dynamite close for our convention, it dawned on me that my franchisees needed to hear from the best of the best—not me.

Michael Eby—our franchisee in St. Louis; Mike Evans, who has four stores in Montana; and Mike Gai, who previously owned a Seattle store before selling it and moving to Waco, Texas, to become a Dwyer Group vice president, joined me on stage while I asked them questions for 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes I was reminded, once again, why these are just three of the best of the best and such great leaders.

Their leadership abilities propelled them to amazing successes.

It sure is fun watching great leaders. I sit back and just watch in awe. They all “get it” as to what it takes to be a great leader. It starts with an unstoppable passion and a drive to be the best. With those two ingredients leadership follows. Have a passionate week!