Archive for ‘Distinguished Speakers Series’

Excellence in Everything: Distinguished Speaker Series with Horst Schulze

by   |  10.12.18  |  COBA Events, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Lytle Center, Special Speakers, Uncategorized

Last week, COBA partnered with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership to host our annual Distinguished Speaker Series. We were honored to have Horst Schulze as our guest this year.  Schulze was born in a small German village and knew he wanted to work in hotels at age 11. He left home at 14 to be a busboy and the rest, as they say, is history. Schulze spent nine years with Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming a founding member and president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After resigning from The Ritz-Carlton, Schulze is now the chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group, an ultra-luxury hotel chain. 

Schulze spent his time in Abilene connecting with students, faculty and staff, and community and university leaders conversing about exceptional customer service and what it means to be a leader striving for excellence. He shared stories from his years in the hotel industry and the absolute importance of having a vision and a purpose. Schulze advised that the steps to success are vision, commitment, and initiation. You must have a dream, a vision, to guide what you do and define what you are working toward. The dream becomes more than just a dream when you commit to it and decide to carry it out. Carrying it out entails taking the first step, initiating, and persevering to make the dream and vision a reality. Especially as a leader, the vision is very important and gives meaning and information to everything you do. According to Schulze, being a leader implies that you have something in your mind that you are bringing people to. People respond not to rules and orders, but to objectives and motives. Schulze shared that he thought it was immoral to hire people to fulfill functions; you hire people to join the vision and become a part of the dream.

Schulze also spoke about a seeming contradiction: what it means to be the best in the world but to live a life as Christian where we are called to not be of the world. In scripture, we are consistently reminded that our citizenship is in heaven, how we should not conform to the world, and how it is likely that the world will hate us because we are not of it. This leaves many questioning how can we be in the world, but not of the world. Schulze shared how he struggled with working in the luxury hotel business and wanting to create the very best hotel in the world, but not being sure how that connected with his calling as a Christian. He then realized that this was an opportunity to be an example and show the kingdom to the world. It all connects back to Schulze’s personal vision for his life: to be excellent in every role he fills. Excellence in how he treats and grows his employees, excellence in serving customers and shareholders, excellence in every aspect of his hotels points back to Christ. Creating the best hotel in the world sets his hotels apart and creates an example for others. Schulze believes that if we are not living with a mission to be excellent and not using our God-given gifts and abilities, then we are not fully living in every way we can for Christ. Being an example of excellence while living for Christ allows others to see Him through you and points people back to Him. Scripture also reminds us that being holy implies being different and unique. By being excellent, you are set apart like we are called to be. 

Schulze’s messages were eloquent, inspiring, and convicting. Below are some of the testimonies that students shared after listening to him:

“This was the best part of my entire semester.  I heard him in the morning and at the luncheon and wish I could have had him in all of my classes.  I have a renewed commitment to living out my calling with Christ.”

“Horst made me grateful to be at ACU.  I never realized how special this place was until I heard this accomplished man come to us and tell us that we bring him hope by what we do and how we aren’t ashamed of Christ.”

“The way he stayed consistent with his vision over his entire career is so impactful – I just want to live better after hearing him.”

“How often do you hear about someone who worked their way up from washing dishes and busing tables to running the #1 hotel brand in the world?  This means we have to start being our best right now, where we are.”

It was our pleasure to have hosted Horst Schulze this year. To view pictures from the DSS luncheon, click here.

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development

by   |  10.04.17  |  Academics, COBA Events, City of Abilene, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Leadership, Leadership Summit, Lytle Center, Special Speakers

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development is an emerging organization within COBA. The mission of the Lytle Center is to challenge individuals to wholeheartedly follow Christ, equipping them to be leaders of integrity at home, work and in their community. The Lytle Center holds weekly chapel for students, with guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds who come speak to students about the ways in which they enact their faith in their leadership roles and how students can do the same. This semester, Lytle Center Chapel has had the pleasure of welcoming guests like Anthony Williams, the mayor of Abilene, who encouraged students to have the courage to get out of their comfort zones and face the issues before them in order to lead well.

Students have enjoyed learning from community leaders and being able to participate in the founding and forming of the Lytle Center. A student-run Advisory Board meets once a month to talk about the progress of the Lytle Center, to brainstorm new ideas, and to strategize how goals for the Center can be reached. We think that the student involvement is key; their help in structuring the center is essential to establishing the value and utility students will receive by involvement. The Lytle Center wants students of all majors – not just business – to become involved. A significant part of the foundation and forming of the Lytle Center has focused on how leadership extends beyond the business world. The Lytle Center believes that all students, regardless of major or career path, need to have the tools to lead in an effective, Christ-like manner. We look forward to seeing increased participation with students all over ACU’s campus.

The Lytle Center has become the point organization for many of COBA’s pre-existing leadership programs, uniting them under one body. Now in its 20th year, Leadership Summit is being planned within the Lytle Center, with guests like 2014 Time Person of the Year, Kent Brantley and President of Kellogg U.S. Specialty Channels, Wendy Davidson, scheduled to speak at the January short-course held in Colorado. Additionally, the Lytle Center is home to the Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings in Fortune 500 executives from around the country to speak to students about Christian business leadership perspectives they have learned through trial and error in their own careers.

The Lytle Center is working to form small groups for students who are interested in being mentored by older peers and ACU faculty and staff. The center is also working with churches around the city of Abilene to get students more involved in college ministries. The Lytle Center is in the early stages of exploring and planning a week-long service project for Spring Break to South Texas to help relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The service trip will be open for all students to participate.

We are excited to see what the Lytle Center will become and where it will take our students. We envision a new generation of leaders coming forth from involvement with the Lytle Center who rely on their faith to be effective in their communities. Keep up to date with the Lytle Center as it grows and develops by liking the Facebook page and watch for events like Leadership Summit and Distinguished Speaker Series for a chance to get involved. You can learn more by going to their blog:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Colossians 3:23



COBA Meet the Dean Tour stops in Texas and Silicon Valley

by   |  11.18.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, College Decisions, Current Students, Distinguished Speakers Series, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Internships, MAcc, MBA, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

Dr. Brad Crisp officially began his tenure as the Dean of the College of Business Administration in June and has been building an agenda since for his new role. One of the items on that agenda has been to reach out to and connect with alumni from the College of Business and the School of Information Technology and Computing, giving alumni and friends an opportunity to meet or reacquaint themselves with Dr. Crisp as well as learning more about the state of our college and what our plans are for the future. Thus, the idea for the “Meet the Dean Tour” was born and implemented in partnership with the Alumni Relations Office.

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

The tour began in Abilene with 56 alumni and friends and at each stop, Dr. Crisp illustrated ACU’s long standing success in business education and our recent path of progress with our School of IT and Computing.  Along with our first event in Abilene, alumni and friends gathered in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Silicon Valley at networking breakfasts and lunches. Alumni who graduated within the past 10 years were invited to join Dr. Crisp for a “Beat the Dean” event at Top Golf in several of these cities, as they attempted to best the new Dean. It was a fun time of networking and Dr. Crisp was able to withstand the challenge brought by our young alums.

Young Alums in Dallas

Young Alums in Dallas

Dr. Crisp aims to win

Dr. Crisp aims to win

COBA Beat the Dean at Top Golf in Dallas

COBA Beat the Dean at Top Golf in Dallas

Not only were we able to reconnect with alumni, but we also met with parents of current students as well as prospective students and their families as they sought to learn more about the College and our programs and opportunities. Recent graduates were hard at work at these events, helping us connect students to internships and job opportunities in their organization. Alumni who have risen to leadership roles in their companies expressed their desire to create and sustain pipelines of ACU talent to their organizations. Many of our alums shared stories of the encouragement and strengthening they received both professionally and personally while attending ACU. They were encouraged by Dr. Crisp’s consistent reference to our heritage of business excellence, rooted in our personal commitment to living out the mission of Christ and bringing this mission to the workplace.

Meet the Dean lunch stop in Austin

Meet the Dean lunch stop in Austin

Today, Dr. Crisp leads a College offering 5 business degrees and 4 technology degrees at our Abilene campus, the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy which is leading the nation in student engagement for entrepreneurship programs, and the new Lytle Center for Leadership and Faith Development which is continuing our Distinguished Speaker Series and Leadership Summit course.  The reach of ACU’s mission to educate Christian servants and leaders has expanded with the on-line MBA program, offered through the ACU Dallas campus in addition to our residential Master of Accountancy program and additional on-line graduate programs are in the discussion phase. The College of Business enjoyed an enrollment of exactly 1,000 total students this fall and is positioned for additional growth.  Our Master of Accountancy and Computer Science programs supply a steady stream of employers coming to campus to interview for talent as the changing landscape of business is driven by technology and entrepreneurship, demanding ethical leaders in this rapidly transforming environment.

alums top golf

Young alums at Beat the Dean in San Antonio

Young alums at Beat the Dean in San Antonio

The opportunity to begin Dr. Crisp’s tenure by connecting with alumni was emphasized by an intentional effort to listen to and involve alumni and friends in our efforts to develop the next generation of business and technology servant leaders. All in attendance were encouraged to give us feedback via an on-line survey. If you were unable to attend one of the stops but would like to give feedback as we continue to shape the direction and future of ACU’s College of Business and School of Information Technology and Computing, please fill out the survey by clicking on this link.

Your support of our work to educate business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world is a great encouragement to us and we cannot achieve our goals without support from alumni and friends. Thank you!



The COBA Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes Lisa Rose on October 29th

by   |  09.24.15  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, Careers In..., College Decisions, Current Students, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Poverty and Development, Social Entrepreneurship, Special Speakers, Uncategorized

DSS header

COBA seeks to provide opportunities for the students and community to hear from Christian leaders in the business world through our COBA Distinguished Speaker Series. In the past few years, we’ve featured Bob McDonald, Mike Duke, and Matt Rose. This October, we’re excited to host Lisa Rose, founder and president of the 501(c)(3) projectHandUp, as COBA’s fall 2015 Distinguished Speaker.

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose

Lisa’s mission is to provide venues where people can find their purpose and learn to fulfill it. After growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, and receiving a degree in Marketing from Texas Tech University, her time in corporate life was in fast-food marketing. She has spent the last 20 years in church women’s ministry leading and equipping women through classes, studies and events. She has served on GRACE’s Advisory Council and at the Dallas County Jail. Lisa currently serves as board member for the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Performing Arts Fort Worth, United Way Homelessness Allocations Committee and was the 2015 Golden Deeds Outstanding Citizen of the Year. She founded First Friday, an event for women, in 2008, and is now committed to the lifelong project of establishing The Gatehouse as a community where women and children in crisis participate in a place and program for permanent change.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse

Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse

Lisa Rose is also the founder and Board President of The Gatehouse at Grapevine. The Gatehouse is a $28 million, 61-acre supportive living community designed for women in crisis and their children. The Gatehouse website explains that the community will house up to 96 families and includes a community/conference center, in-neighborhood counseling centers, Keeps Boutique, Hope Chapel, general store, walking trails and commercial space.

Keeps Boutique

Keeps Boutique


This community, which allows members to stay up to 2½ years depending on their individually tailored program, provides safe refuge and creates the environment for women and children in crisis to walk the path toward permanent change.

The Gatehouse community

The Gatehouse community

The idea for The Gatehouse sprung up in part from the First Friday initiative which began in 2008, when Lisa and a group of women began a free, once-a-month experience to give women a practical hand up for life’s challenges. The First Friday experience transformed into the nonprofit projectHandUp, through which the founding leaders could create a way to offer women a hand up that would lead to permanent, positive change: a place where women could be healed and restored as they end needless cycles of poverty, abuse and repetitive prison terms.

General Store

General Store

At that same time, Deborah Lyons, Executive Director at The Gatehouse in Grapevine, had envisioned a fully integrated, non-government funded supportive community for women in crisis. God brought the two women together, and Deborah joined the journey with projectHandUp. Deborah also is the author of the faith-based Independent Life Program used at The Gatehouse.

Community Center

Community Center

In August 2012, projectHandUp purchased 61 acres outside DFW Airport with unanimous Grapevine City Council approval, and the stepping stones were laid for The Gatehouse, a supportive living community where women and their children in crisis can discover a new path for permanent change. The Gatehouse opened in March of 2015.

Join us on October 29th for the Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon beginning at 11:45 am in the Hunter Welcome Center. COBA is providing the opportunity for 100 ACU students to attend the event for free by registering here. General Admission tickets are $20 and may be purchased at this link. If you have questions about the event, please email M.C. Jennings at

Read more about The Gatehouse at this link from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

View the grand opening of The Gatehouse by clicking here.

*Information about The Gatehouse provided in this blog comes directly from The Gatehouse website. Visit their website by clicking this link.

Purchase tickets to the event by clicking on this link.

Mark Your Calenders for Exxon Mobil’s Mark W. Albers

by   |  03.19.14  |  COBA Events, Distinguished Speakers Series, Special Speakers

Mark W. Albers


On March 26th, Mark W. Albers, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, will be visiting ACU as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. Mark joined the company in 1979 and has worked numerous positions, including managerial positions in development, operations, and engineering. He has also worked in Melbourne, Australia as a technical manager and operations manager. In 2001, he became the vice president, Africa, Chad/Nigeria for the ExxonMobil Development Company in Houston. Albers has served as executive assistant to the chairman of Exxon Mobil Corporation at headquarters in Irving, TX. After this position, he then became the president of ExxonMobil Development Company in October of 2004. In April 2007, Mark was named the senior vice president of the company in Houston.

Albers is a member of the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Council of International Business, the Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council, the Society of Petroleum Engineers Industry Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Mark was born in Calgary, Canada and later moved to Houston. He grew up around the oil and gas industry and pursued this field of study at Texas A&M, graduating in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. Today, he works with different governments in influencing them to allow Exxon to come in and work, explore, develop, and produce in those countries. Mark and his wife, Cindy, currently live in The Woodlands, Texas.

Albers highly believes in the value of faith in the marketplace. He states that his faith has been the strong foundation that has built his career and the man he is today. COBA looks forward to hosting him next week. There are less than 50 tickets left for the event. Visit the COBA website to learn more and purchase tickets to the luncheon at

Global Entrepreneurship Week

by   |  11.12.12  |  Distinguished Speakers Series, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Springboard

Darbie Angell, Founder and CEO of CRU Dinnerware

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

It’s that time of the year, the one where 35,000 events occur in 125 countries, all in the name of entrepreneurship. It’s beautiful, because it’s the chance to acknowledge that it’s hard to generate and implement new ideas, but that it’s also worth the trouble, because innovation is what makes our world go round.

Here at ACU’s College of Business, we try to embrace the spark of innovation as much as possible, which is why we’re celebrating entrepreneurship through several different events:



April Anthony, Founder and CEO of Encompass Home Health

Darbie Angell, Founder and CEO of CRU Dinnerware, will be speaking from 11:00-11:30 at the Hunter Welcome Center (LYNAY room), and April Anthony, Founder and CEO of Encompass Home Health will be speaking from 11:45-1:00, also at the Hunter Welcome Center.

Both of these women exemplify what it means to be successful entrepreneurs. They serve as mentors and examples to our students, especially to our future female entrepreneurs. We are incredibly thankful to have them with us to kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week.


Budding entrepreneurs have learned to pitch a new product, service, or business concept in two minutes or less in a competition to win $1500. The first round of the Elevator Pitch Competition took place last Saturday, November 6. Everyone is invited to watch the final round of the competition this Thursday at 11:00.  Click here to register.


Do you have a great idea? If so, you should participate in our Springboard Ideas Challenge! Each team or individual submits a mini-business plan and then, if chosen as a finalist, is given the opportunity to present its idea to a live panel of judges.  Last year’s student category winner won $10,000 for his idea and the winner from the community category won $20,000! Click here to learn more about the Springboard Ideas Challenge.

Stay tuned for more information on this great opportunity!

A big thanks goes out to the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy for all of their hard work in creating opportunities that foster entrepreneurship within this community.

For Dan Austin, Social Entrepreneurship is Just Like Riding a Bike

by   |  09.14.12  |  Distinguished Speakers Series, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Social Entrepreneurship, Special Speakers

This Wednesday the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy kicked off its Entrepreneur Speaker Series with a lunch presentation by Dan Austin, co-founder of 88bikes.

With an audience of nearly one-hundred-and-fifty, Dan spent the better part of an hour regaling his audience with tales of life as a social entrepreneur.

Dan Austin, Co-Founder of 88bikes

Originally an author and filmmaker, Dan began his journey with 88bikes in 2006, when he and his brother, Jared, took a biking trip across Cambodia. At the conclusion of their journey, the two donated their personal bikes and 86 additional bikes to children at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Seeing the joy elicited by their gift of 88 bikes, the pair was moved to action, and they began pursuing their vision of “joy-inspired philanthropy.”

Since their initial gift of 88 bikes, Dan and his coworkers (none of whom receive salaries) have connected donors with children all over the world through their one-to-one giving model.

Because of the unique giving model implemented by 88bikes, donors know exactly where their money goes. Furthermore, they receive a picture of their child standing next to their new bike with a picture of their donor in hand. Through this photo exchange, 88bikes is able to create a unique international connection.

Children receiving bikes and photos of their donors from 88bikes

As Dan explained, this one-to-one connection is fundamental to 88bikes, and—in his opinion—to any social entrepreneurship venture.

As part of this presentation, Dan offered three critical pieces of advice to budding entrepreneurs:

 1.  Connect one-to-one.

2. Raise the bar.

3. Go local.

As Dan went on to explain, the success that 88bikes has found is largely due to these three components.

88bikes’ one-to-one connection creates loyal donors who are truly invested in the organization and the children it serves. In addition, the organization raises the bar set by traditional aid agencies by focusing on the intrinsic human need for joy as well as physical needs like hunger. Finally, 88bikes employs local bike merchants and mechanics in order to boost the local economy. As a result of these strategies, 88bikes is continuing to grow and thrive.

Cassie Powers, a junior here in COBA, is currently in a Social Entrepreneurship class. “The biggest issue that I have learned so far in social entrepreneurship is that you need to set yourself up for failure because it is going to happen,” said Cassie. “You have to work around it to make it work or come up with a new idea.”

Dan talking with ACU students after his presentation

While listening to Dan, Cassie was really impressed with the way that she saw her class curriculum align with Dan’s real world experience and advice. “It really connected when Dan Austin spoke about the barriers he had,” continued Cassie. “One thing he said was to have your organization grow organically. Meaning if it happens it happens.”

All in all, the inaugural event of the Entrepreneur Speaker Series was a huge success, and undoubtedly had a profound impact on everyone who attended.

Be sure to check out the next speaker in the series, Jarrod Brown, who will be joining us next Tuesday to talk about his work in Honduras with Mission Lazarus. For more information on the Entrepreneur Speaker Series, please click here.

For more on 88bikes and the incredible work that Dan and his organization do, click here, and be sure to thank the Griggs Center and the members of our CEO organization for all that they do to make these events possible.

Dan with COBA students after his presentation

Distinguished Speakers Series 2011: Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeye’s

by   |  11.14.11  |  COBA Events, College Decisions, Current Students, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Special Speakers

On Thursday, Nov. 3rd, the ACU community had a unique opportunity to hear from the President and CEO of AFC Enterprises, Inc., the parent company of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. Cheryl Bachelder is many things – a mom, a wife, a female, a successful CEO, a brand manager, a gifted speaker and teacher.

Cheryl Bachelder, President of Popeye's and CEO of AFC Enterprises, Inc.

Mrs. Bachelder guest lectured in our 9:30am Consumer Behavior class. EJ Johnson is a senior marketing major from Frisco. He said, “I truly enjoyed the class with Mrs. Bachelder today! Her work hits close to home as I am a Louisiana Creole and run the largest social media organization for Louisiana Creoles in the nation.” Bachelder spoke about the rebranding of Popeye’s and how she is leading the company by helping find its ‘true north’ – going back to the company’s roots and the things that made the food unique and special.

Consumer Behavior students listen to guest lecturer and Distinguished Speaker Cheryl Bachelder

Bachelder teaching

After the class, Bachelder addressed an audience of over 300 at our 2011 Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon in the Hunter Welcome Center. After discussing the how the brand has performed over the last three years (world’s second largest quick service chicken concept based on the number of units) and is expanding rapidly overseas, Bachelder discussed how character, competence and motive are essential traits in successfully leading in the marketplace. She challenged the audience to lead by serving – and to evaluate and define their purpose and principles.

Bachelder speaking at Distinguished Speakers Series luncheon

At the conclusion of her talk, Bachelder answered questions that were submitted via text messaging. We received a large number of questions and she was only able to answer about 3 or 4 before we had to wrap up the luncheon event. We emailed her the remaining questions and she’s provided her responses below:

> As I hear you stressing the importance of having leaders with right motives and character, what strategies would you recommend for a future college grad to use when looking to work for a company with leaders that uphold these qualities?
I would encourage you to find out all you can about the leader of the team or department you would be working for.  What is their leadership style?  Is it driven by personal ambition or by ambition for the enterprise?  What values can you detect?  How do they treat people?  What adjectives do people use to describe them?  What are their interests/passions outside of work?  Are they direct, candid, transparent?  Are they willing to admit mistakes or expose vulnerability? If the company has a vision, mission, and/or values statement…ask them how they would explain it.  Is it a plaque or does it have real meaning to the individual?  I would also investigate the CEO of the company….read every article about them and explore what they mean to purpose and principles.  The top leader sets the direction and sets the cultural norms.  If you find concerns in the top leader, they will likely result in dysfunction somewhere in the enterprise.  And conversely, if the top leader has a positive leadership motive, you can expect that will positively influence decisions that are made in the company.

> Can you elaborate on the Isaiah verse about grasshoppers? In what ways are we like grasshoppers?
New International Version (©1984) “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” Isaiah 40:22a.  I lean into this verse as a constant reminder of my humble role in God’s kingdom. The Creator of the universe is so much greater than I. I am merely one of his “grasshoppers.” I intend to be the very best grasshopper I can be, but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact, that God’s plan is far more encompassing and huge than any plan my small mind could think up. So for me, grasshopper= humility.

> How do you incorporate Christian values into a publicly held company? Legally…
I believe all leaders, with faith or not, bring their values into the workplace…so values are something we can and should discuss in the workplace. To work together effectively, we must know one another well.  This requires time invested in building relationships with people and treating people with care and respect.  If people know you well and believe that the work environment is a healthy one of candid conversations, they become open to values conversations.  There is nothing illegal about discussing values like honesty, respect, and accountability.  In fact, these conversations are essential…values conflicts will hurt the performance of the team.

For sharing faith, I have found the best approach is to live out your faith in your day to day actions.  People will then see something special and genuine about you, and they will want to know more about it.  If you are a content person, because of the peace you have found in faith, you will stand out from other discontented, anxious people.  You will be asked where your peace comes from.  If you have experienced trials and shared them with people, they will learn how you coped with those trials.  They will be interested in hearing your story, including your faith lessons.

But importantly, no one will be open to hearing about your beliefs, if you have not invested in building an authentic friendship with them over time.  Only in the safety of this relationship, do you have the opportunity to share your perspective and impact lives. Focus on building relationships, and this will bring forward the God-given opportunities to share your faith with others.

> How much of a role does technology play in your business? How do you leverage new technologies, such as iphones or ipads?
Technology plays a role, but perhaps not as large a role as other businesses.  We use technology to track and analyze our business.  We use sophisticated point of sale terminals that collect data on every purchase in a restaurant and allow us to analyze results and opportunities for improvements.  We now use “cloud” type web solutions for collecting data and analyzing it, because it is cost-effective to do so.  We have tools that allow us to track restaurant video cameras 24/7 on our ipads so that we can see what is going on at any time. And of course, like you, we communicate 24/7 with our PDAs…email and text.  That allows us to work constantly, even on vacationJ.

> What was your best learning experience at a former employer that you have used at Popeye’s?
There are three learning experiences that I have applied at Popeyes.

1)     ROADMAP:  The  leader must express a very clear picture of where the company is headed.  We call that our roadmap for results.  It gives the goal and the strategy we must pursue to be successful in our industry.  We talk about these four goals and four strategies at every single communication opportunity so that the “destination” becomes well understood….and all people can contribute.

2)     SUCCEED:  The leader must be tenacious about helping the organization reach the goals, the destination.  Failure is not an option.  A winning team has to win.  The leader has a responsibility to competently lead the people to successful performance, and to stop them from doing things that could interfere with getting to the goals.  Without succeeding, the leader has let down the organization.  Competence is a character trait.

3)     ENVIRONMENT:  The leader must create a healthy environment for people to grow and develop.  It must be an environment of high trust, constructive conflict, candid communication, sincere concern for people.  Without these traits, the environment is “toxic” to people; they do not thrive; they do not advance and grow, and eventually that holds back the capability of the company.

> Could you tell us what kind of challenges you face as a female CEO in a big company such as Popeye’s?
The challenges I face are fewer than you might think.  But that reflects the fact that I chose this company (and this industry) because it is a good place for women to develop and lead.  My Board is very supportive of my leadership and I believe they value and respect my contributions.  My shareholders have focused on my results, and appear indifferent to my gender.  My team members and franchisees have been open to my leadership, and over time, I believe have gotten to know me well and respect my approach.

Occasionally, there is a truly funny event.  Like the time I went to Japan to help negotiate an acquisition.  The Japanese executives assumed that I was at the meeting to take notes, so they offered me a lovely gift of writing pens with perfume in them.  My team found this amusing, but I accepted the gift, and we moved on without incident.

Are their awkward times as a female CEO?  Yes.  People are often uncomfortable around me at first.  They probably don’t know what to expect.  They may have some assumptions about how female leaders lead.  They may assume that I am unmarried and have no children. They may assume I do not have faith in God.  So I make it my mission to reach out first with a warm, approachable conversation.  I often share personal stories about my family as an ice breaker.  I often hold back announcing my “title” until asked or after we’ve established rapport.  It is still very unusual in our culture to be a female CEO.  There are only four female chain restaurant CEOs.  So I think that means I have to help people get past that first awkward moment.

> How has female leadership changed/improved the enterprise?
I do believe women are created differently than men, and that is a good thing.  Women, as a group, have strong relationship skills.  They are sensitive to people’s needs and are often, very responsive and caring.  This contributes to a healthy workplace where people are valued and treated well.  Women are often more candid and transparent in business discussions.  They cut to the chase.  They are less guarded.  This contributes to a more open dialog of the real issues, and it saves time.  Women often have strong business instincts that deserve further exploration.  This more intuitive thinking leads to more creativity around innovation and problem solving.  Lastly, I’ve noticed that women juggle many tasks well, and as such, they are often highly productive and help others figure out how to juggle as well.  These are broad generalizations, but my experience has been that teams with a blend of men and women perform particularly well.  Gallup research supports this.  They found teams that were 50/50 male/female outperformed teams that skewed either male or female.

> What is the best way to get people on board to help you start up and fund your business plan?
The first thing is to have a thorough, thoughtful and complete business plan.  I’m amazed at how many business proposals I have been given that were thinly prepared.  No one will invest in something that they do not understand or that they cannot see a path towards performance results.  When developing a business plan, take it in “draft” form to many experienced business people and ask them what you are missing.  Asking for feedback, then filling the gaps will results in a much stronger presentation for your potential investors.  The second recommendation is to have some “proof of concept.”  You need some data that supports your premise.  If you want to own a restaurant, you may want to cater for a few months to demonstrate that people love your food and service…and it generates repeat customers.  As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.”

> If the most competent people in your business lack good character, what should you do as a servant leader?
The first step is to be sure you have set crystal clear expectations for character traits and that you have given the leader an opportunity to adjust to these new expectations.  You will know by how much effort the individual takes to change their own behavior.  If they make significant effort, and the team is noticing progress, you can afford to give them more time.  If they do not make effort and it is obvious to the team that they do not share the character traits, you must confront the situation.  This person, left in place, will essentially message to your organization that the character traits really don’t matter, or else this person would not be allowed to continue.  This is a cancer on the team and will hold back their performance.

One caveat:, I am constantly amazed at how many people have been “trained” by leaders without strong character traits.  The result is that a person shuts down their own character traits and operates at work by the leader’s “rules.”  They do not share the leader’s values, but they fear that they must simply conform or be fired.  Therefore, you must assure your employees that your character traits are genuinely desired and that they are in a safe environment to become more authentic in their actions.  By seeing this situation, I have been able to turnaround a few of these situations.

> How did you change the environment without being another flavor of the month?
Good question.  I think many people DID view me as “flavor of the month” when I came to Popeyes.  I was the seventh CEO in about 10 years.  What else would they think?  This made it very important for me to act with consistency in everything that I did, so that over time, trust would build.

I think that our business culture and financial markets have allowed this short term, flip-the-leader environment to develop and it is not healthy for any business entity.  High performance comes from strong deep rooted leadership teams (trust).  Trust builds from stable, consistent business plans and culture, not from short flips for financial gain.  And legacy companies understand this.

> What should I do when I have a passion I feel God has called me to? Witness through as also a business…but no one in my family supports it at all. (verbatim text, not totally sure what her second question/statement is saying exactly)
God gives us our unique strengths and our gifts….and out of those talents, he provides us opportunities to serve him…our calling, if you will. As you read the Bible, you find many Biblical leaders had to pursue their God-given calling, despite the opposition of their friends and families.  This is really hard to do.  I urge you to spend much time in unhurried conversation with God to be sure you hear his calling clearly.  This affirmation from God is critical if you receive a lot of conflicting feedback from others.  I have experienced this at a very personal level.  There are many people who think it is wrong that I have worked, while raising a family.  There are many people, including a few of my pastors, that challenged whether I had accurately understood my calling.  In my case, my brother has challenged my calling on a regular basis.  Like you, I yearn for the love and support of my friends and family.  But at the end of the day, my calling is between me and God, and I must be obedient to  Him.  When I am obedient to his call on my life, he blesses me with peace, that can only come from Him.

> How do you make time for your family?
I plan my time with my family, just like I plan work projects.  This may seem a bit clinical at first, but it is the way that I ensure I block out meaningful time for meaningful conversations and experiences with my family.  And I rarely allow business to override these commitments to my family.

Examples…I always plan my vacations for the full year ahead…so that we can plan, talk, and think about the next fun time we will all be together for a week.  I plan dinners at home for my husband, daughter and I to eat together, not every day, but about 3 times a week…where we have unhurried time to connect, share and talk about our weeks.  I have an “iron rule” that I will talk to my husband every day no matter where I am in the world to make sure we stay close and in conversation.  Now that my two oldest children have left home, I make sure to call them once a week and send a thoughtful email once a week to encourage them.  I also plan trips to visit my daughters when we can have one on one mother-daughter time.  I just did a three day weekend retreat with my 20 year old and we both were better for it!  Deep rooted connections are essential to family.  I value them and I plan them to make sure I don’t lose sight of that important value.

> Is Chic Fil A included in your QSR?
Chick Fil A is considered a quick service restaurant, but not a chicken quick service restaurant.  For some reason, the independent research firm categorizes them as a sandwich competitor…like a burger chain.  We compare our performance to both chicken QSR and total QSR so that we stay aware of their performance.

 >Do you have a daily routine to help keep you organized and focused?
I have more of a weekly routine and quarterly routine.  I plan out my life in 3-4 month blocks so that I can see the “long view” and make sure my priorities are on my calendar.  I then have a weekly meeting with myself to work on the details of that particular week.  That is when I put my exercise, quiet times,  and family connection points on the calendar.  My goal is to honor my calendar to a grade of B+.  It will never be perfectly balanced.  I will have to make some tough trade-off decisions, but on the whole, I need to believe that my time is primarily working on the most important things.

> How do you balance family life and your career?
It’s important to allow yourself to be imperfect and to have a sense of humor.  Some days are not balanced at all.  Some days miraculously come together.  Maybe in heaven I’ll experience perfect balance, but in the meantime I am a flawed human being that aspires to be better at living my life obediently to God’s purpose.  So I am deeply grateful for the GRACE and FORGIVENESS given by a merciful God.  And when it gets really bad, I watch old DVD episodes of I Love Lucy and laugh out loud.

We are so grateful to Mrs. Bachelder, for the gift of her time, talent, passion and advice. Join us in showing her our gratitude by heading to a Popeye’s and enjoying some chicken, red beans and rice and a biscuit – Louisiana fast!