Role Models Matter

The town I live in just lost a man that was at the front of the civil rights movement as a high school principal.  Reading his obituary made me think back to all of the people that have shaped who I am today and I was reminded of how leadership traits can come from the most unlikely role models and experiences.

My first boss, who was the most demanding person I have ever worked for and incredibly tough, taught me a lot about compassion.  I had been working for him for less than six weeks when my mom entered the final stages of her life.  I kept trying to shuttle between her hospital (3 hours away) and work. He finally pulled me aside and told me to go home and not come back until things were settled.  That my career would still be waiting for me and that my income would keep flowing while I took care of my personal life.  I was blown away and asked him how I could say thank you.  He said return the favor some day.  I never forgot that.  I was out of work for two months and never worried about what the consequences were at the office.  That peace of mind has stayed with me for life.

At the same time our town, Charlotte, NC, was trying to grow up but was not exactly getting there.  A couple of strong civic leaders said if we want to grow our economy we have to grow the quality of life for our people. Then they put their money where their mouths were.  Thirty years later we have a diverse, culturally vibrant and fun place to live.

Childhood for me was in the desegregating south.  Our local college was the site of the first campus race related bombing in the 1960’s.  Our high school had a riot during the first football game after desegregation.  Yet, through it all, things worked.  Eventually people stopped seeing race and by the time I left high school no one thought about it.  Well, it was the south, so I know some did.  But not as many. 

As I have said before, I don’t think things like this make me different or special.  It just is what it is and I have fortunately been blessed with the ability to repeat some of these actions. Our work policies at Great Harvest reflect these family first values. Our support for making our home a better place to live is reflected by the improved quality of life in our little corner of Montana over the last decade.  Our respect for individual rights shines brightly in our franchise agreement.  I wonder how different things would be without the forces that shape our lives. 

Our good fortune of a strong corporate culture is not by luck.  We hope and plan to continue to attract like minded people that want to keep being role models for future generations.  If this sounds like you, drop us a note or smile the next time you walk into a bakery.

Thanks for reading.

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