Lessons On Life And Business

Today was an interesting day. We had a Faculty meeting on campus that ended with a student panel. I would have to say the student panel was the most interesting and most disconcerting event of the day. My take away from the conversation was that we as an institution need to focus on our value proposition. In other words know who we are and what value we are providing to our customers, the students. We can never be everything to everybody, and if we try we will water down our message we will lose our way. Mission drift is a devastating event.

The Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy died on Monday at the age of 93. He has received a lot of bad press because of his position that marriage is between a man and a women. He has been called a hater, simply because of his faith. That really does concern me. Those that say he is a hater actually hate him. Seems counter productive to me, and seems problematic. Why can’t we have differences of opinions and still respect and even love one another?

I personally don’t think Truett Cathy was a hater. I have been to Chick-fil-A restaurants in Virginia and I saw diversity and excellent customer service represented. However, what tells me that Truett was not a hater is how he ran his business. He was a principled man who tried to be the best Christ-follower he could, even in how he ran his business. He even shut down on Sunday’s to allow families to go to church.

In today’s paper I learned a lot about him. I learned that he believed in himself. He only had a high school education, yet he started and ran a multi-billion dollar company. He was an optimist, and believed he could make something of himself. He did, and so can we. The second thing I learned was about his work ethic. He was an incredibly hard worker. “He saw work as a privilege and made a point of enjoying it.”

The third thing I learned about him involved his culture of service. “He was devoted to serving others, from his customers and employees to young people and others in his community. He understood, like few others, what it meant to steward a great brand.” And related to this was the forth thing I learned, Truett never stopped innovating.

But here is where it gets interesting. The fifth thing I learned about Truett was how generous he was. “In 1984 he founded the Winshape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners.” Through his foundation he provides foster homes for children, which currently houses about 150 children. He has also launched a scholarship program for restaurant team members. This scholarship program has awarded over $30 million in scholarships.

The last thing that I learned today was that Truett Cathy was a humble man. He and his wife have lived in the same home for decades, and as Muhtar Kent, SEO of Coca-Cola, stated “ he never took himself seriously.”

Truett Cathy didn’t have horns, he wasn’t spewing out fire and brimstone, but he did believe in traditional marriage based on his understanding of the Bible. So does that make him a hater? Others don’t see it that way. I really don’t think we are going to agree on everything, but instead of hating why don’t we serve, innovate, work hard, and maybe just maybe we will make a better world. I for one, am going to follow Jesus and He can deal with all you haters.

And that is my thought for the day!

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