Excerpts From "Standing Up & Standing Out"

MY FIRST SPEECH TO FRANCHISEES

McDonald's was already encouraging white owners to sell and relocate outside black inner-city areas, and I was certain they could benefit from sharing information and supporting each other. I've always had great faith in opening lines of communication and promoting collaborative efforts among people with mutual interests, and I had high hopes for that meeting.

So I arranged for us all to gather one evening in late February in a classroom at Hamburger U. Other than me, it was an all-white gathering. I spoke first to get the ball rolling, but I hadn't talked long before I saw the blank looks. No one was paying attention; they just weren't interested in what I had to say. I wasn't sure why they even came to the meeting—curiosity or maybe as a courtesy. Whatever their motives, I was certain my meeting had turned into a fiasco.

Then a man named Norm Rothenberg asked to shake my hand. Norm was a principal in the advertising agency for the Chicago-area stores, and I'd asked him to attend in order to participate in the discussion of marketing issues. I didn't know what he had in mind, but I wasn't getting anywhere on my own. Norm stepped forward. He held my hand firmly as he addressed the owners. "I understand what Roland is saying," he began. "Look at our hands. You can't tell from my hand that I'm Jewish. But from Roland's hand, you can see that he's black. He knows what he's taking about. He's lived it. He feels it. And we should listen to him."

Norm saved the meeting. The men in the room began talking to me and to each other. I'm still not completely sure why the owners initially gave me the cold shoulder, but I doubt racism had much to do with it. It seems more likely that, when I stood to address the room, I represented the company, not my race. These owners had been given a lot of promises in the past, but they'd seen little action. Some of them felt they were being driven out of their stores. In their eyes, I was just another company "suit"—somebody offering up more promises that wouldn't be fulfilled. And they'd heard it all before.

Norm Rothenberg reminded them that I was different. For the first time, McDonald's had sent in a black man to help them, a black man with experience in the kinds of urban neighborhoods their restaurants served. Norm's handshake and his words cracked the dam of resentment and indifference the owners had built up. It was a productive meeting after all, and from that time on, I got the kind of cooperation that was essential for me to establish trust and do my job.

TABLE OF CONTENTS  
Acknowledgements i
Foreword by R. Lee Dunham vi
Introduction ix
Chapter 1 Almost Everything You Need to Know 1
Chapter 2 The Business of Learning 23
Chapter 3 Mapping Out a New Course 39
Chapter 4 The Bottom Line Is Service 56
Chapter 5 Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire 80
Chapter 6 Moving Up the Ladder 105
Chapter 7 Turning New Corners 154
Chapter 8 Keeping Good Company 181
Chapter 9 Step Up, Step Back, Step Aside? 219
Chapter 10 Taking It Nationwide 249
Chapter 11 Bringing the Lessons Home 287
Chapter 12 Expansion on the Front Burner 334
Chapter 13 Still Making Waves 355
Epilogue   380

Read excerpts

  1. Introduction
  2. A Crisis and Unexpected Opportunities
  3. My First Speech to Franchisees
  4. Was Ray Kroc a Racist?
  5. Judgements
  6. My Principles of Standing Up
    And Standing Out

 

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