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Success at FT begins with you, dear reader, in mind


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The older I get, the more I try to learn. In my 20s, I knew everything. In my 30s, I figured I could learn a thing or two, and in my 40s, well, I actually figured out there was still a lot I didn’t know. And, instead of finding that terrifying, it was actually liberating. More comfortable in my own skin the older I got, I felt free to ask questions. If I could get a memorable “take away” from a conversation, I considered that a bonus.

Such was the case in September when I sat down to breakfast with David Barr in Washington, D.C., when we were both there for the International Franchise Association’s Franchise Action Network Meeting. In our Franchise Times database, he’s listed as managing director of Franworth, a company that establishes an equity ownership in a franchisor in exchange for Franworth professionals mentoring these ‘zor executives to help them grow their company. But if you know Barr, you also understand that at any one time, he can be part of upwards of a dozen projects outside of that: as an investor, board director or CEO.

When we visited, he explained he was currently part of 14 projects, which I’m guessing gives him elite status on a couple of airlines, as one of those assignments takes him to China once a month. I asked him, how does he keep it all straight? How does he juggle, and then excel at, all of these assignments?

One of Barr’s answers still resonates: “I imagine what success looks like and I work backward.” Seems simple enough, but many of us can get bogged down in the minutia before we ever decide what the end game looks like—a frustrating endeavor, indeed. I’ll remember his advice for a long time.

I think the folks at UFC Gym, the subject of our cover story this month, have already planned their success story. The head of the brand, Mark Mastrov, built up the 24-Hour Fitness franchise, growing it to 550 locations and finally selling it in 2005 for $1.68 billion. Mastrov has imagined what success looks like; he’s been there before. With the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) as a 50 percent partner, it also looks like he’ll have the backing to grow the chain.

What’s extra fun about the story is that FT Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen attended the UFC 200 in Las Vegas in July, which, she writes, was “billed as the most epic fight so far in the history of ultimate fighting.” In addition to getting the inside story on how the UFC ties into the franchise, her color commentary is riveting. It puts you close to the octagon, as one familiar with the sport would say, and who wouldn’t want to be where the action is?

Also fighting it out again this year are the companies that have made our annual Franchise Times Top 200+, the ranking of the top franchises in the nation based on worldwide sales. I’m so proud of our editorial team, who each year spends countless hours researching, then presenting a fresh, new look at the numbers. Our crack team has pulled out the interesting factoids, as well: Find out, for instance, what Burger King, Ace Hardware and Marriott Hotels and Resorts all have in common; which chain has offered a coffee “happy hour” to compete in the cup-of-joe wars; and just how über investor Warren Buffett is less than six degrees of separation from our list, in two instances.     

As companies move up and down the ranking each year, it is all about each company’s leadership envisioning what success looks like, and taking the necessary steps to get there.

Success for Franchise Times? David Barr would be proud of me: I’ve always imagined you, our reader, sitting engrossed, quietly reading. And then we back up to supply the necessary content to get you there.

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