Robert Rosenberg (Bob) was 25 years old when his dad asked him to take over the family business. It was 1963. Thirty-five years later the company (Dunkin Donuts) had grown from a 10 million dollar company to a 2 billion dollar company.
But there were bumps along the way.
“You can learn more – if you can survive it – from a setback than you can from success. Success is a dangerous thing if you have too much of it.”
“My best learning occurs when I hit one of those bumps in the road. I realize that there’s more to learn.”
Bob became CEO at 25 years old. At 35 the board fired him. Ultimately, the board granted him 3 months to demonstrate he had turned things around.
“I had a transformational moment in the midst of all this sadness, and shame, and failure … and began to grow … with some emotional intelligence.”
Bob’s leadership was transformed when he shifted toward humility and away from arrogance as a result of reading “The Best and the Brightest,” by David Halberstam.
Expressions of humility:
- Learn to listen to others. Arrogance talks. Humility listens.
- Learn to be thoughtful with the board. (I didn’t explore this with Bob.)
- Create an advisory council of franchisees. “Where an awful lot of the wisdom of the system existed.”
- Visit 100 locations a year to keep in touch with franchisees. (Practiced by the entire senior management team.)
- Always take 100% of the responsibility for the well-being of the system. “We decided that we would never blame our followership.”
- Own your mistakes. Bob said the board’s action was deserved. “I had lost my way.”
- Apologize. “When we apologized to our franchisees and invited them in to fix it, they were more than willing to help.”
What’s different about you? “It’s the openness that there’s a lot more to learn.”
Purchase, “Around the Corner to Around the World: A Dozen Lessons I Learned Running Dunkin Donuts, by Robert Rosenberg.” (Released on 10/13/2020)
What have the bumps taught you about leadership?
Don’t miss Bob telling his story: https://youtu.be/t_fdkTKp3Bc
The Best and the Brightest (Book)
Strategies for Learning from Failure (HBR)