I don’t know about you but while I have many strong opinions on a very wide variety of subjects I am a bit loath to give life-changing advice to anyone but a select few who ask for it, and a “few” means one or two. And more often than not when I give direct advice to someone they rarely ever follow it that I can tell and this is understood based on my own lack of follow-through on advice that comes my way.
There are real times in your life, however, that things can be changed for the better when something enters your thoughts that you’ve never considered before. For me that time was when a simple yet forceful insult by a clerk in a camera store totally changed the direction of my life which sent me into the film business; morphing into my own advertising agency; and then through a film for Krispy Kreme corporate I eventually became head of marketing for Krispy Kreme; then through opening new doors, it all naturally flowed into a Krispy Kreme franchise adventure in Texas with my business partner Krispy Randy when we launched our first store in Austin 13 years ago. Since that doughnut beginning under our franchise name Glazing Saddles, along with our third partner, Krispy Mark, we’ve opened a second store in Austin, two in San Antonio, one each in Laredo and San Marcos, and two in El Paso where a third store is under construction – as well as construction of our first store McAllen, Texas to open later this summer.
All this has happened for me because a camera store clerk over 45 years ago said, “All you do is talk about going into business for yourself, you’ll never do it…it’s all just a bunch of talk!” At the time I was writing for an ad agency and doing free-lance commercials on the side, all the while telling everyone who would listen that I was going to open my own film business (one of these days). I was bragging actually but hanging on to the security of my writing job while shooting free lance on the side. Even though the clerk’s remark wasn’t in the form of advice, it was taken that way and I walked out of that camera store, went home and wrote a letter of resignation and turned it in to the head of the ad agency the next morning…and with just one film job on my books at the time, I officially went into business for myself.
And with hard work, up’s and down’s, perseverance, and an occasional helping of good luck, it’s all culminated in a very successful Krispy Kreme doughnut business in Texas with solid partners, excellent staff, professional GM’s, Managers and store team members; and above all – loyal customers who come in for an honest treat: a Krispy Kreme doughnut served in a clean, happy place. And as this old world keeps grinding on, it’s nice to be able to get away from it all for a moment with family and friends and just kick back and enjoy a doughnut. A Krispy Kreme doughnut, of course.
I was reminded of my “store clerk advice” story just recently when my wife and I attended a rip-roaring birthday party for our 3-year-old grand daughter, Emma Finch, in Raleigh, NC. Midway through the controlled chaos celebration my son Adam introduced me to his neighbor Scott who was helping his daughter draw animals with chalk on the sidewalk. Adam said, “This is Scott, my neighbor who just completed his degree in Industrial Design…Scott, this is my father, Mike, who is a writer and is also in the Krispy Kreme doughnut business.” With that Adam turned to attend to Emma Finch in her efforts to smash open a piñata as Scott and I exchanged a couple of pleasantries – but he kept looking at me in a way that indicated some sort of puzzlement.
After a long pause he said and blew me away at the same time, “Have you ever heard of a company called Glazing Saddles?” Bear in mind that I’ve just met this guy. Somewhat astonished I replied, “That’s the name of our franchise company in Texas…how’d you know that name…did Adam tell you about it?” “No”, he said, “you and I have met before and you gave me your business card and said something that changed my life.” By now I was figuring the Sangria had more in it than I realized as Scott excitedly continued his story. Years ago Adam and his fiancé Haley were getting married in Raleigh and my wife and I were staying in a wonderful hotel nearby. In the hotel was a restaurant named Herons and our server just happened to be the very Scott I was now talking to at the birthday party.
Scott went on to say that at the time, I asked him if waiting tables was his intended career and he replied that he wanted to be a designer but wasn’t sure about his future right then. Apparently I said something to him as words of encouragement to pursue his dreams and mentioned the name Pentagram Design founded in London in the 60’s by an old friend of mine named Colin Forbes. (Pentagram had become and still is one of the most powerful and recognized design firms in the world designing everything from Bobby Flay’s first restaurant in NY, Mesa Grill, to the logos for BP, and Nissan among many others, along with a huge assortment of consumer product designs).
I suggested to Scott in the restaurant that day that he should check out their story and then gave him my card. That was the last time I saw him until the birthday party. He told me he looked up Pentagram and was so taken with what he learned about the company that he went back to school to finish his industrial design degree, and after a year of study next year in Europe he plans to begin a career in sportswear design. He also said that he still has my card on his desk as a reminder of what took place that day in Herons and later emailed me a picture of the dog-eared card.
I’ve always believed that there is no such thing as a coincidence. When Scott thanked me at the party for my advice I could only think that I really didn’t give him any, but what put the two of us in that place on that day in that restaurant in Raleigh was undoubtedly meant to be.
And by-the-way, I never got a chance to thank that camera store clerk for what he did to my life, so I’ll do it now. Thank you very, very much and if you can find your way to one of our stores in Texas, the doughnuts are on me. All you can eat.