Dan Fitzpatrick, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Quality Dining, Inc. discussed his journey from a small town in Toledo, Ohio to franchise success during his lecture Tuesday night in Vander Vennet Theater.
"I have a message I would like to give a voice to. Something that isn't a reflection of me per say," he said.
Fitzpatrick began working when he was fourteen in an Italian restaurant. He worked hard because "that was the thing to do." He continued working in the food business until finally becoming Regional Director of 13 Burger King restaurants by age 23. Now, his company, Quality Dining, Inc, operates 118 Burger Kings, 45 Chili's, nine Papa Vino's Italian Restaurants, and recently opened Blue2O, a seafood restaurant in New Jersey.
He opened his speech discussing "what makes him tick." His view of himself, his theology, his family, his community and his career are essential parts of who he is. These "points of character" are what drive him. He emphasized the importance of being in control of your own life.
"Me is important. I have been made in the image and the likeness of God. God doesn't make junk. I have to love me," Fitzpatrick said.
The actions of former generations are also important for young people to consider, Fitzpatrick discussed.
"We have had all these great opportunities handed to us, and we flunked," he said. Civil rights, the environment, energy, education and terrorism were point he believed his generation was not succeeding on.
"You guys have to be the greatest generation. My generation, we screwed it up, and it is up to you to make it better," Fitzpatrick said.
He separated life into two things - events and experiences.
"Events you generally have no control over. Things happen, big things happen. The point is this; you get to determine how you experience these things," Fitzpatrick said.
He had a rough childhood, but he said he worked through it. Fitzpatrick went from not knowing where his next meal was coming from to owning a multimillion dollar company.
"There is a very fine line between mediocrity and excellence," Fitzpatrick said. As long as you can fire yourself up to do something, you can do it, he said. Success is something that has to be worked for, it is not given.
Fitzpatrick closed his lecture with his words of wisdom, "above all else, pray."