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Why I never skirt the issues when covering bigwigs or trade missions


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Most people who go to Vegas lose their shirt. I lost my skirt.

As I rose after the opening session at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in November, my entire mid-calf pencil skirt ended up mid-calf. I quickly jerked it back up, but as you can imagine, when your pencil skirt loses its elastic and slips, it erases any shards of dignity you might have. On a more modest note, I should point out that because I was sitting in the front row, there was hardly anyone behind me to laugh. Which may be why conference hosts are constantly trying to shoo people to sit in the front rows.

But aside from wardrobe malfunctions, the conference was inspiring until I got to the airport and discovered the replacement ticket I bought since I needed to go home a day early was for the wrong day. If you think airlines aren’t helpful when they make a mistake, you should try to reason with them when the mistake is yours. Suffice to say, the agent at the discount carrier wasn’t in the Spirit of helping.

Andy Puzder

I enjoyed talking to the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, even before he was nominated to join the Trump administration as secretary of labor.

So fortunately, my conversation with CKE’s Andy Puzder wasn’t strike three.   (I wanted a picture with him, even before he was named secretary of labor, so I could say I knew him when.) Since the election was still new at this time, Puzder told me about where he was when the unexpected happened.

He was finishing up a day of interviews as Trump’s economic surrogate when he received a phone call at 5:30 p.m. from a close friend and renowned pollster who told him Hilary Clinton was going to win. “I went to dinner depressed, “ said Puzder. And then he heard the news about Florida, and decided to go to Trump’s victory party after all.

Coincidentally, he was staying at the hotel where Clinton’s victory party was to have taken place, and he commented with a slight smile that it was not a festive place to be.

Trump’s campaign wasn’t Puzder’s first rodeo. He was an economic spokesman for Mitt Romney, when he ran four years ago, as well. When Puzder did receive the nod from Trump for the cabinet position, it wasn’t without controversy for both his politics and his commercials for Carl’s Jr. A headline in the Business Inside India read: Fast Food CEO Who Hires ‘Beautiful Women in Bikinis’ Could Be Trump’s Labor Secretary.

A former trial lawyer, Puzder is unapologetic about his racy commercials, and most likely will be a formidable force when it comes to fighting labor issues.

Too bad after both interviewing Andy Puzder and attending a trade mission in India a month later I won’t be making headlines in India. If only: Franchise Times Editor Who Interviews CEO Who Hires ‘Beautiful Women in Bikinis’ Covers Businesspeople.

Nancy Weingartner

Nancy Weingartner
Editor-at-Large
Reach Nancy at 612-767-3207 or nancyw@franchisetimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nanweingartner

From first to last

By the time you read this, I will have been back from India for almost three weeks. The time span is reminiscent of my trip from Minneapolis to New Delhi, when I left on a Saturday evening and arrived early Monday morning after just two eight-hour flights. When I return, however, the trip takes less than an hour. I like that kind of math.

In 2011, India was my first trade mission and is likely to be my last. Five years ago, Bill Edwards of EGS convinced the U.S. Commercial Service’s Kristin Houston that her people and Franchise Times’ people should join forces in publicizing the great opportunities overseas for franchising. It’s been a great ride that’s taken me to South Asia, China, Africa, South and Central America and the Middle East.

In that first article, I confessed I was a domestic thinker with a half-empty glass, in that when I visited India, all I saw were the obstacles. Five years later, I see the obstacles, but I also see the potential and feel the excitement of taking Yankee ingenuity abroad.

Every trip has placed a spotlight on something new about franchising. In South Africa, I learned that franchising’s training-heavy model gives skills to a generation of black Africans who were denied education by apartheid. In Vietnam I learned the people love American brands; as a child of the ‘60s/’70s, I didn’t expect that.

I’m one day into finding out what’s changed for India and franchising in the five years I’ve been gone. I’ll be reporting on it in the February issue. And this time I’m ready to see a half-full glass in a skirt with new elastic.