Summer of 2008 was a real low point in my life.
I had just broken up with my girl friend. The whole reason I was in Rochester to begin with. I had just walked away from my kitchen manager job over a disagreement with my boss to become a lowly assistant manager for a very popular quick service concept. You might have heard of it…America tends to run on it.
I have just rented the grimiest room in a boarding house in the worst area of the city. (At one point all four of my tires were slashed because I didn’t give this dude a dollar.) And now I’m standing at the cash register to buy soap and my card was declined. All my other 7 credit cards were maxed out. All I have was a $400 check in my pocket from my first week as a manager of my own coffee shop after being recently promoted.
Almost completely broke with a mountain of debt as they cashier took my soap and groceries and put them in the “return cart” I realized how far I had fallen. How did it get so bad? Story for a different time. But as I walked out empty handed I realized now was the time that I had to dig myself out.
Things didn’t get better right away. I think it was shortly after that I had to surrender my car plates after my second lapse in insurance. I slept in my office chair for 10 days.
But slowly I was able to get my store sales up over prior year. More and more every week. It was very real management success that showed real tangible results. I put in long hours to get my entire team on the same page. Often being the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Soon I was granted a promotion as a District Manager. I took on overseeing one store at a time while running my own until the point came where I took over 7 restaurants and that became my full time job. I was your typical millennial manager. Always plugged in. Always working. Always available. But always working on other projects and concepts. I worked in the kitchen/bar back at a sports bar, I worked as a consult for an energy supply company, I worked for Chili’s, as well as returning to my old restaurant a couple of times.
Things were going great. But when I learned that I was going to become a father in early 2011 it was time to re-evaluate things.
I have nothing but great things to say about the owners of the Franchise. They were always good to me. They never said they would do something for me and fail to do it. But they fact of the matter was this: They were business men first. And they saw a young kid that didn’t know any better that would work his heart out for peanuts. This was confirmed after I gave my notice. When I saw a listing for my job on Career Builder with the starting salary 15,000 more than I was making. What influenced my decision to leave the most wasn’t just the base salary, but the room for growth. I didn’t work for Dunkin Donuts. I worked for the Franchise Company. Within that company just like any privately owned company, there is only so much room for personal growth. I was 24 and already as high as I could go for any foreseeable future.
It was a great time. It shows first hand how the refusal to be outworked led to success while being able to dig myself out of the gutter. But now it was time to pack it up and head to Syracuse were I didn’t know anyone and failure was not an option.