June 20, the young president's birthday
My goodness, how time flies! My baby turns 50 years old tomorrow!
I am delighted to have them around me and that they have brought six beautiful children into this world, along with a two great-grandsons. It is likely that everyone will be gathering at grandma’s house by the end of the summer. I'm jubilant just thinking about it.
In the spacious Laurentian kitchen, we'll set up two big tables, and in no time, the boisterous clan and close friends will all be stuffing themselves full. I have a little experience with morning feasts you might say. And my heart is beating faster just thinking about it.
Dear young President, Happy Birthday!
Can you ever forgive me for bombarding you with my endless advice, my guru quotes noted specially for you, the lists of must-read business bestsellers and the panoply of inspiring proverbs I wrote everywhere in our work agendas and communication documents?
Like a good son, you read and listened more for my sake than yours. I used to tell you, in the early days to encourage you, that if we worked hard, one day we would have dozens of establishments and you would criss-cross the country visiting them. And that if we managed to save, everything would turn out okay.
I'm quite sure you didn't believe me because I couldn’t even convince myself. But I kept planting seeds in your head, and by extension, in mine. To comfort you, I imagined all sorts of fantastic outcomes, dreams to cling to, imaginary sweets to soften the hardships we faced at the time. You let me go about my work while you continued to peel hundreds of kiwis for the weekend service.
Calm and diligent, you prepped for the next day, mixing litres and litres of pancake batter daily. You were unwaveringly patient, and despite your young age, unwavering in your devotion to me. You learned by doing. Often working quietly, you checked every task, inspected every dish, checking almost daily to see if we had enough money to cover the bills.
I remember how, at the first restaurants, you insisted on doing the dangerous tasks yourself such as cleaning the vents, stapling signs high up on the walls, washing the big hot plates or cutting the ham yourself with the “automatic finger slicer.” You said that our employees should be spared from accidents and even helped them take out the garbage, sweep the floors and wash the kitchen on occasion to encourage them.
Promoted to the fruit counter at the third restaurant, you wrote the very first training booklet for the young fruiters under you: “How to clean, wash with water, cut and properly arrange fruit on the menu plates.” You continued to document our operational procedures and good restaurant management practices as you climbed the ladder. And when we became a franchisor, you were ready for the challenge.
Dearest son, you have constantly contributed to the growth of Cora’s business. I may have started this venture, but you created our entire operational system. I relied on you so much, dear son, seven days a week, day and night when needed. And yet, every month of September, I urged you to enroll in business school.
- “I’ll go later, Mom,” you always answered me. “I am far too busy building the company.”
In the end I understood that the company could not run without you. I understood that I couldn’t do without your sound judgment, your steady strength, your belief in our concept and your incredible ability to mitigate difficulties. Please know, dear son, that you stepped into the big boss’ shoes all on your own, to become the authority after the SUN.
I appointed you President in 2007 to formalize what was already happening between us on a daily basis. The Company has been your university, without days off, without weekend fun or summer vacations. Kept from the arrogance that too many diplomas might have instilled in you and from the technocratic gibberish of trendy management approaches, you remained a humble and devoted servant of the Company.
Giving you my chair, dear son, will remain the most important act I could do for the Company’s future. With my heart, my pen and all my devotion, I now want to be a precious support to you as you have been for me all these years.
Dearest Nicholas, the seeds in our heads have grown into orchards, and you are now flying from coast to coast to visit your establishments and tend to the health of the fruit that has been borne. I have nothing more to teach you that you will not discover yourself in the furrows of your own efforts.
Your mother, who loves you very much.
P.-S. – If someone calls you an amateur, remember that amateurs built Noah’s Ark, professionals built the Titanic. (Anonymous)