Owning Your Moments: A Core Value Reflection on Thinking and Operating Like an Owner
I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. It was a great place to be in the late 80s and early 90s. Back then it was not nearly as polished as it is today and it had a decidedly local vibe. On Clearwater Beach, well, actually off Clearwater Beach (on Baymont Street) there is a little restaurant called Frenchy’s. There is a Frenchman, his name is Mike Preston and he’s from Quebec. Why is this relevant? Well, I spent a lot of time at Frenchy’s … and while I was there, I saw a lot of things. One thing that struck me was how you could always tell who Mike was…busing tables, filling glasses, delivering orders to tables, and making small talk with the line of people waiting to get in (which normally wrapped around the building). He was the owner, his name was on the sign, the buck stopped with Mike.
Why is this relevant?
Because of our core company value: Think and Operate Like an Owner. It’s emblazoned on stickers with our Wiley Education Services logo, it’s referenced as a core value in town halls and coaching sessions - but how does an owner operate?
Every day we have the opportunity to own a countless number of moments. Some moments are with our students, some are with colleagues, and some are with our partners. Some moments are big, most are small, but regardless of size, how we carry ourselves in those moments makes the difference. The key idea that each of us has the opportunity to make all of us better by sharing ideas and points of view is a powerful part of who we are. Our most recent Innovation Challenge, where employees from all departments presented their ideas for how to make the company operate better, had more than 50 entries. That’s amazing ownership – people actively participating to move the ball forward in new ways.
Take the Experience from Good to Great - Operate Like It's Your Name On the Sign
There was nothing complex about what Mike did. No great business acumen was necessary to connect with his customers and make them feel at home. What it did take was a mindset to do it, to strive to take the Frenchy’s experience from good to great. That's what our core value is all about.
Possibly dating myself, but I’ve always loved this quote from Jerry Maguire’s manifesto: “How can we do something surprising, and memorable with our lives? How can we turn this job, in small but important ways, into a better representation of ourselves? Most of us would easily say that we are our jobs. That’s obvious from the late hours we all keep. So then, it is bigger than work, isn’t it? It is about us.” None of us carry the Wiley name, but that shouldn’t stop any of us from acting as if we do. We owe it to each other, and to our constituents, to think about how we would operate if our name was on the sign. That’s how an owner thinks.
Lastly, if you ever find yourself in Clearwater, swing by Baymont Street. Frenchy’s is now half-a-dozen restaurants and a hotel. While I can’t say how much time Frenchy still spends in the restaurant, I can vouch for the Grouper Rubin, the Sangria and Me and Bobby McGee on the juke box (it’s B4).
Wiley Education Services strives to uphold a set of unchanging company core values that guide everything we do, for both our employees and our institutional partners. Read more about our other core values, Respect for the Individual and A Learning Culture That Changes and Builds Lives.