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Your glass? Half full or half empty?


As regular readers of this column know, my 17-year-old son Sam umpires Little League baseball during the summer. He started a few years ago, umping games for third- and fourth-grade teams, eventually graduating to junior high traveling games. (“Traveling” translates to “more competitive.” )

Sam is learning to have a tough skin. Most nights, it goes well: The parents and coaches are great, he says. But on that stray night, here and there, someone - an adult, not a player - misbehaves. At one game earlier this summer, it was the parents. The ringleader: the mom of a sixth grader. Her team lost the game 10-0, but she believed Sam’s calls cost her future major leaguer the game. (Really? They lost 10 to zip, lady.) And she wasn’t shy about telling Sam so.

“Mom, she actually followed me to the parking lot,” he told me, in disbelief. “If she wanted to ask a question about my calls, calmly, I would have answered her, but not when she was yelling at me.” Parents’ and coaches’ comments and general stomping around don’t get to Sam much anymore, but the woman following him to the parking lot to harangue him had him a bit unnerved.

His parents’ response is always something like this: What is the woman’s life like? What could possibly make her behave this way? If a Little League game gets her so upset, what would happen if something truly difficult crossed her path?

That mom should read our cover story this month starring SportClips franchisee Shahin Ebadi Urias. FT Executive Editor Nancy Weingartner talked to Urias about her childhood growing up in Iran and her eventual flight from the country. I won’t give away all the pertinent details, but let’s just say it includes a mud basement, warplanes and a lack of food.

Urias’ husband eventually moved his family to the United States, which wasn’t easy - there were twists and turns there, as well. Once she and her family finally arrived in Texas, her journey included working on the line at Luby’s Cafeteria, offering to put the letters on the menu sign during her off hours to help hone her command of English. She worked two jobs, and walked three miles every day to get to beauty school - all in the effort to better herself and the lives of her children. Finally arriving at business ownership was not a cake walk, but well worth the struggles, Urias tells FT.


Mary Jo can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at mlarson@franchisetimes.com


Her story is part of our broader coverage of women and minorities in franchising this month. We have a story about engineer-turned-restaurateur, Aziz Hashim, who once he decided working 9 to 5 in a cubicle wasn’t his bag, took a big leap and borrowed from his parents to open that first location. The difference between Hashim and other newly minted entrepreneurs is that he always envisioned having 50 locations someday. And by 2004, he got his wish.

FT Assistant Editor Steve Pease also talked with Christine Specht, president and COO of Cousins Subs, a sub sandwich chain based in Wisconsin. After college, Specht ventured out on her own, but eventually came back to the family business. Not because her parents made her, but because she wanted to. Word has it that she has the respect of the franchisees and staff alike, because she learned, in part, an open-door policy from her dad. “She’s in tune to what is going on in the industry,” said one franchisee.

It’s not just about women and minorities this month, however. Franchise Times has given you more news you can use, including extra information on real estate and finance, big issues for franchise business owners today. Columnist Dennis Monroe even highlights how to source M&A transactions in today’s environment. Time to take advantage of the deals. It is all about your perspective.

Speaking of perspective, I’m thinking if Urias could talk to Sam’s baseball spectator, that mom so wildly upset by losing a baseball game, she might tell her a thing or two about what really constitutes a bad day. I guess it’s all based on your outlook on life. And perhaps all of us, myself included, could benefit from having Urias’ outlook on the world for at least a day.

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