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A Lifetime of Planning Pays Off
"You gotta be crazy!" That's what Lee Dunham's friends told him back in 1971 when he gave up a secure job as a police officer and invested his life savings in the notoriously risky restaurant business. This particular restaurant was more than just risky, it was downright dangerous. It was the first McDonald's franchise in the city of
Lee had always had plans. When other kids were playing ball in the empty lots of
Years passed, but Lee's penchant for dreaming and planning did not. After high school, he joined the Air Force, where his goal of one day owning a family restaurant began to take shape. He enrolled in the Air Force food service school and became such an accomplished cook he was promoted to the officers' dining hall.
When he left the Air Force, he worked for four years in several restaurants, including one in the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in
For fifteen years he worked full-time as a police officer. In his off-hours, he worked part-time as a carpenter and continued to attend business school. "I saved every penny I earned as a police officer," he recalled. "For ten years, I didn't spend one dime - there were no movies, no vacations, no trips to the ballpark. There were only work and study and my lifelong dream of owning my own business." By 1971, Lee had saved $42,000, and it was time for him to make his vision a reality.
Lee wanted to open an upscale restaurant in
To get the franchise, Lee would have to invest his life savings and borrow $150,000 more. Everything for which he'd worked and sacrificed all those years would be on the line - a very thin line if he believed his friends. Lee spent many sleepless nights before making his decision. In the end, he put his faith in the years of preparation he'd invested - the dreaming, planning, studying and saving - and signed on the dotted line to operate the first inner-city McDonald's in the United States.
The first few months were a disaster. Gang fights, gunfire, and other violent incidents plagued his restaurant and scared customers away. Inside, employees stole his food and cash, and his safe was broken into routinely. To make matters worse, Lee couldn't get any help from McDonald's headquarters; the company's representatives were too afraid to venture into the ghetto. Lee was on his own.
Although he had been robbed of his merchandise, his profits, and his confidence, Lee was not going to be robbed of his dream. Lee fell back on what he had always believed in - preparation and planning.
Lee put together a strategy. First, he sent a strong message to the neighborhood thugs that McDonald's wasn't going to be their turf. To make his ultimatum stick, he needed to offer an alternative to crime and violence. In the eyes of those kids, Lee saw the same look of helplessness he had seen in his own family. He knew that there was hope and opportunity in that neighborhood and he was going to prove it to the kids. He decided to serve more than meals to his community - he would serve solutions.
Lee spoke openly with gang members, challenging them to rebuild their lives. Then he did what some might say was unthinkable: he hired gang members and put them to work. He tightened up his operation and conducted spot checks on cashiers to weed out thieves. Lee improved working conditions and once a week he offered his employees classes in customer service and management. He encouraged them to develop personal and professional goals. He always stressed two things: his restaurant offered a way out of a dead-end life and the faster and more efficiently the employees served the customers, the more lucrative that way would be.
In the community, Lee sponsored athletic teams and scholarships to get kids off the streets and into community centers and schools. The
Today, Lee Dunham owns nine restaurants, employs 435 people, and serves thousands of meals every day. It's been many years since his mother had to take in wash to pay the bills. More importantly, Lee paved the way for thousands of African-American entrepreneurs who are working to make their dreams a reality, helping their communities, and serving up hope.
All this was possible because a little boy understood the need to dream, to plan, and to prepare for the future. In doing so, he changed his life and the lives of others.
Excerpted/Adapted from Unstoppable
The SMART Model is often used to assist you to move from where you are to where you want to be.
Keep the goals simple and focused, rather than wordy and
Be specific with what is to be achieved – the more specific
Make sure the achievement of this goal is measurable ie. Ask
‘How will you know you’ve achieved this goal?’
‘What will be different once this is accomplished?’
The goal must be appealing to the client – not just for the short term, but the long term also
As if now
State the goal as if it is already achieved, stating the date of successful achievement of the goal
The goal needs to be achievable – ie. Tennis champion in two years having never played and in your forties would not be attainable
Stated as if it’s done
Know when it will be achieved
For example – It is January 1st 2009 and I am……. standing on the balcony of my new home in Ballina. I am surrounded by my family and friends as we celebrate New Year’s Eve and I feel fantastic. My students in Yr 12 SOR have all achieved a Band 4 or above and at least one 1U and one 2U student has achieved 100%. My business has grown to 14 clients. Charlie and the kids are looking forward to our holiday in
It is a new year!
It is a new year!
I have come to realise that growth Commit to being happy in 2008. Commit to being the source of happiness for others. Commit to personal growth and contribution and in doing so realise you have the ability to make a difference. Keep shining, Christine Anderson
I have come to realise that growth
Commit to being happy in 2008. Commit to being the source of happiness for others. Commit to personal growth and contribution and in doing so realise you have the ability to make a difference.