The Davis file Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wis.

Education: MBA, marketing and finance, University of Chicago; B.S., business administration with an emphasis on marketing and economics, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

First job: Paperboy; I was an early entrepreneur. My first professional job was as a junior in college when I interned at Northwestern Mutual Life as a computer programmer. It made me appreciate how important systems are in an organization.

Greatest business challenge: Leading and motivating franchised-based organizations. You’ve got corporate strategies, but franchisees are independent businesspeople who may see the world differently at times. You have to emphasize and appreciate their point of view. You have to listen and learn. You have to make company and franchise goals one in the same and align around those common goals and themes. Everybody is on the same team. And you have to be the person executing with energy. Franchisees are going to be looking at you. When you hear franchisees talk about the three-legged stool of customers, employees and stakeholders, you have to remember, franchisees are all three.

Most important business lesson: Stay humble because things are never as good as you think they are and never as bad as you think they are. Second, there’s no such thing as failure. There are just learning opportunities. Some are positive, some are painful, but if you look at them as learning opportunities, you’ll spring forward.