When you walk into a Jimmy John’s, do you think about the sink in the back that needs to be fixed?
Dan is a very important person in my life. We sang together in the Gustavus Choir, he was the best man in my wedding, and he is my son Ben’s godfather…he even lived in our basement for four months when I was writing my first book! So it has never surprised me that he applies his unwavering commitment to goodness in every area of his life.
When Dan first took over at The Lambi Corporation, they had zero Jimmy John’s stores – now they run eight. He explains that expanding a business can be all-consuming. “I’m a doer: if we need to repair a toilet, it’s easier and cheaper if I just do it myself. But I can’t spend the same time on a task now as I could ten years ago, because that would put the whole system out of whack.”
How does he maintain balance? Dan measures himself on the Seven Fs: Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness, Friends, Fun, and Future. “It’s hard to find center as a business owner, but the Seven Fs remind me when a part of my life is off kilter.” Dan is constantly thinking about Future. “When we hit hurdles, we have to keep in mind ‘this too shall pass.’ Right now we’re frustrated with a new store’s landlord. But we have to know that no matter what we’ll be open in August, and then we can focus on selling sandwiches.”
Making an Impact
“I was at the very first Good Leadership Breakfast. And at every one since, I have been inspired by selfless leaders talking about making a difference.” No matter how many sandwiches are going out the door, the most rewarding moments for Dan are when he knows he has created opportunities for his staff. “An incredible moment was the first time an employee said, ‘Dan, you’re going to get a call from a bank because I’m buying a house.’ It hit me that what we’re doing really makes a deep impact on people’s lives.”
Dan has sent two of his managers through our Good Leadership Training program, to make sure that his organization radiates goodness from top to bottom. “It opened a new world for them of tackling challenges, finding mentors, and talking about personal development.” He encourages every employee, no matter their rank, to look for the meaning in their work. “If you’re just making sandwiches, you’re wasting your time. How can you apply the lessons you’re learning here to make your life better?”
Good leaders approach their work with a people-first mindset. They trust their employees as the business scales up, and they deeply invest in their team’s growth.
Please share with me: what lessons have you learned from scaling up?