At the Woman's Foodservice Forum conference in D.C. this week one of the presenters challenged the group to find a 16 year old mentor. I thought the concept was cool and it reminded me of my best mentor of all times Antwan, a 17 year old grill cook at McDonalds.
My first day taking over the restaurant a fight broke out between a customer and my counter employee. It started to get ugly when my employee threw a shake at the customer and the customers fired back a wooden straw holder that ended up in a fry vat. Needless to say I fired the employee and three of her friends that were working the shift followed her out the door. Antwan, a smart a$# teenage grill cook laughed at me as I fumbled my way through the POS keys as I was now the counter gal "would you like that supersized?" I wanted to fire him for taunting me but I wasn't that brave and I knew that meant being the cook too! Antwan came in everyday and was literally all I had. Still I secretly thought he was a punk and fantasized about the day I would be staffed enough to "can" him. One day out of the kindness of his heart (or maybe he was just over me screwing up the schedule) he pulled out a bus schedule and showed me why people weren't coming in on time. That day some genuis came over me and I asked Antwan about 100 questions. I learned more that day than during my entire training. Antwan went on to teach me everything I needed to know about the urban area we were located in and the team members I had. In exchange I inspired him to get into Management. Uninvited, I brought him to every "big dog" meeting we had. And despite the owners shared initial impression that Antwan was a punk he soon became his number one fan.
Antwan, may say I changed his life but I say he changed mine. I believe powerful lessons come in small packages. I'm on the market for another Antwan to mentor me!
founder and change agent