I have tried to teach my kids that you don’t have to be the fastest, or the smartest, or the tallest, or the strongest, or have the best innate anything to succeed, or even to win. I have competed with hundreds of people that were smarter and stronger than me and kicked their ass.
I want my kids to know that they are mostly average (after all, that’s the definition of average), and that average people that bring it outperform above average people that don’t bring it every single day.
For a long time I pictured Toppers success as simply as our out-competing at that level: wanting it more, executing at a higher level, working longer and harder. I often referred to it as a prize fight. We go toe to toe with the biggest, baddest restaurant companies in the world…and we knock them down. They underestimate us. They have more money and more of practically everything. But we beat them.
A few years ago I had a big “aha” moment. A smart marketing executive proved to me that we had a distinctive and special brand and business that gave us real advantages in the market place. He didn’t believe we won because we worked harder, he believed we won because we really were best in many important respects. I had to be convinced because I have such a strong inclination to attribute success to personal and team performance. Up until that day I really did think of us as simply the underdog with everything going against us that would win through sheer fight. Truly realizing that we had created a built-in margin of victory was very special for me.
I have worked like mad for decades now to be way above average in certain things. You don’t have to be the strongest and the smartest to win, but if you are and you fight like you’re not, you are in the range of unstoppable. And that’s what I and Toppers are fighting to be: unstoppable.