I want fries with that!

StorefrontFriend and colleague Jack Falvey is now writing daily investment tips*—I’ve mentioned that before. In today’s he describes briefly the McDonald’s success story. One sentence jumped right off the page for me. “Hunger to succeed is the kind of hunger McDonald’s satisfies.” Jack was not only talking about investor success, he went on to note, “…without federal or state funds, the most successful youth training program on earth is teaching adolescents to show up on time, wash their hands, smile, make a neat appearance, and to ask with great expectation, ‘Do you want fries with that?’”

Where Jack wrote “hunger,” I saw “passion.”

Earlier this morning another colleague and I had a short but interesting conversation about an upcoming event designed to “raise awareness” of one of the many issues our society suffers. I confessed that I’m tired of programs for causes that are focused on “raising awareness.” Too often there’s little hunger and there’s no real passion. As a result we engage in activities that allow us to feel better but accomplish very little. It’s like feeling a little bit hungry and nibbling on a cracker. Or a small order of fries.

Just tell me when do we go from being “mildly interested” and aware to being passionate? Do we truly believe putting a bumper sticker on our vehicle is going make a difference? Help me understand how changing my status on Facebook for an hour is going to help.

During my years of consulting, I was never hired by an organization to “raise awareness.” In fact, those companies were usually painfully aware—perhaps not always of the root problem, but they knew there was one. I recall one organization that was having trouble “getting people to come to work.” Absenteeism and turnover was so high entire lines could not be started in the morning.

I can assure you, I did not recommend a program to increase awareness of the problem. We did not print bumper stickers for supervisors and company vehicles saying “Help stamp out absenteeism.” It took real passion and effort and sometimes drastic measures.

See, if you’re only a little bit hungry, it doesn’t take much to satisfy that hunger. A cracker might do it.

The McDonald’s story Jack tells includes some dismal failures in the early days of the company. Jack makes it fairly easy to see that success only came after a husband and wife put their last dollar into their store. “They invested their lives.”

I would say they were pretty hungry. So hungry they didn’t peruse cookbooks or debate where to eat or change their Facebook status to “I’m a little hungry.” They literally had to eat now. It became an obsession. There was no other option.

All of this reminded me that today I’ve been nibbling around the edges of the cracker. Maybe if I stopped nibbling I’d get hungry enough to remember what I’m passionate about until I feel the pangs of hunger that drive me incessantly and almost insanely to eat a big meal—to dine on the sweet success of achieving some things I care deeply about.

And not only do I want a big meal, I also want fries with it. When we care enough to want it all we know we have to go beyond raising awareness to making something happen.


*Investor Education Briefs is an online investor education program provided by the Institute for Politics at Saint Anselm College. It goes out each business day of the year at no charge. The editorial opinions of Jack Falvey, a Fellow of the Institute and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, are provided for investor education only and are not offered as financial advice. Anyone may enter or exit the program at any time. There are no tests or academic credits involved. It is designed as a modified massive online open program which will recycle and be updated every twelve months.

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