From Popeyes Former CEO, Words of Encouragement
Cheryl Bachelor was CEO of Popeyes until its sale to Restaurant Brands International in March.
“Work transition, particularly when it is unexpected, brings with it a range of emotions, the primary one being a sense of loss,” writes Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen until it was sold March 27 and she lost her job, as she put it, in an unusually candid and insightful blog post that might buoy others in her shoes.
“Loss of relationships. Loss of role. Loss of a future plan. Loss of financial security, to name a few ... It might feel like you are suddenly without a purpose,” her post said, on her “Serving Performs with Cheryl Bachelder” site. (If she responds to my request for an interview, I’ll add it.)
That Bachelder feels these typical emotions is surprising, when you consider what a spectacular run she had at Popeyes. The franchise sold for 19.6 times 2016 EBITDA, also known as cash flow, to Restaurant Brands International in a $1.8 billion cash deal that closed March 27. The Ontario-based company, which already owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, got Popeyes for $79 per share.
But she writes, “If you are experiencing transition, I can assure you these feelings are a normal part of the journey. In recent weeks, I have felt a sense of loss at this unexpected ending. But thinking about purpose has been an antidote to these thoughts. And I believe purpose will eventually provide the ‘answer’ to what my next adventure will be.”
Bachelder was named chief executive of Popeyes in 1997, and is credited with a major turnaround. “Popeyes was going to go away,” Piper Jaffray analyst Nicole Miller Regan told Forbes in 2014. “But if you look today, it’s not even in recovery anymore. It’s all about growth—and that stems from Cheryl coming in and righting the ship.”
In the short-term, Bachelder has done and recommends some of the following for those out of a job:
- Writing notes and making calls to encourage other leaders in their “career journey.”
- Meeting with people who have gone through a job transition recently to learn how they used their “personal purpose” to find their next “adventure.”
- Listening to potential job opportunities, but delaying the response until “I’ve reflected on what will best match my purpose.”
But she also warns people from thinking about the job transition non-stop, because it will “just lead to worry and anxiety.”
She recommends doing things you neglected when your job was all-consuming, including:
- Calling friends to catch up.
- Planning “date nights” with her husband.
- Signing up to do volunteer work at a favorite charity.
- Losing a few pounds and walking more steps.
And in case you wondered how all-consuming a CEO job is, she added: “This weekend I’m going to two movies—and I haven’t been to a movie in over three years!”
She closed by writing this: “Many of you have asked me, ‘What will you do next?’ and the honest answer today is, ‘I don’t know.’ But focusing on personal purpose is going to be the path to finding that ideal place to contribute.” We believe a leader as thoughtful, candid and successful as Bachelder will no doubt find that ideal place.