Just thinking about this post is giving me a killer craving for a bowl of Wendy’s chili. But, I’ll try to press on through the conversation my stomach’s having with my brain.
Dave Thomas was a fascinating man with a fascinating story. Unfortunately, he, like many people, had a difficult childhood. He was adopted and raised by Rex and Auleva Thomas, and never knew or met either of his birth parents. Sadly his mother, Auleva, died when Dave Thomas was only five. Rex Thomas moved the family often and re-married 3 times.
At the age of 12, Dave had to quit school and take his first job – working full time in a restaurant.
He worked his way up from a busboy in the family restaurant to a manager in four different failing Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.
Kentucky Fried Chicken’s colorful founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, became young Dave Thomas’s mentor, teaching him the ropes of the restaurant business – running and promoting the restaurant, and possibly a little about letting your personality shine through beautifully.
The hero of our story was a fast learner. And how! He turned the 4 failing Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants around and was given a stake in those businesses. The profits? They made him a millionaire by the time he was 35 and provided him with the capital needed for opening his first Wendy’s in 1969.
If there are things you don’t like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different. – Dave Thomas
There are a few things that we can take away from this story and apply to our own lives.
- Dave Thomas fought his way through adversity and, most definitely, came out on top. He didn’t whine and gripe about his circumstances and feel sorry for himself. He simply made life as he knew it better (and tastier).
- He was willing to be the pupil. Many people miss out on life-changing lessons and advice simply because they have too much pride to be the pupil. Everyone was someone’s pupil at one time. Everyone has something to teach us. When we get so full of ourselves and think that we are the BE ALL and the END ALL, two thing happen: We stop learning and we stop growing. We’re right, then, about one thing: It is the END of it ALL.
- Dave Thomas didn’t give up. How many people (with 4 failing restaurants under their hat) would have stomped out of the restaurant business and never gone back? Probably a lot. But Dave Thomas persevered and fought his way to success.
If that’s not a self help lesson in itself, I’m not sure what is.
The only question that remains is, “Do I want iced tea or a Frosty with my chili?”
To learn more about Dave Thomas, you might want to read his wonderful book, Well Done! – The Common Guy’s Guide to Everyday Success. I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE success stories that involve super nice, happy, quality people.