A Dealer in Hope

That’s G.J. Hart, CEO of Texas Roadhouse; a rapidly expanding, publicly traded franchise with 40,000 employees and 340 locations. G.J. and I had an intriguing conversation on March 11, 2011.


Gas was 35 cents a gallon in 1969. That same year, Neil Armstrong radioed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”


It was May, 1969 when five and half year old immigrant, Gerard Johan Hart, he prefers G.J., arrived in New Jersey. His mom had spent her teen years in Japanese concentration camps and his dad had been a member of the resistance.  They landed with nothing more than two suit cases and a dog.


G.J. said his dad didn’t make the most out of life. While G.J. talked, it sounded to me like dad was a stubborn under-achiever. Sadly, dad didn’t expect G.J. to achieve either. “Dad never thought I would make anything of myself. He never instilled me with hope.”


G.J. said he learned early on that leadership is, “Getting people to exceed their own expectations.” I think it’s a message that springs right out of his own boots. He’s giving others what his dad didn’t give him, hope.

Today, at 53 and dad in his 80’s, G.J. doesn’t need dad’s approval and praise. But I could tell it would be nice for him to feel it.

Leadership Lesson

Would you like to leap into dynamic leadership? Believe you can infuse others with hope.

Real leadership is dreaming bigger
for others than they dream for themselves.


How G.J. spots high potential leaders

I ask G.J. if he could spot emerging leaders. He didn’t rule out talent, education, or leadership presence, but he replied, “I can usually tell if they have the humility to make it.”

Arrogant people wrongly think they don’t need hope. Humble people enjoy it.

High impact leaders give hope to the humble. Napoleon explained, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Continued tomorrow: The younger leads the older


How can leaders instill others with hope?


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