McCain on Fries, Family and the Concept of “Hands All Over”

I almost didn’t go to Michael McCain’s lecture at MaRS because I couldn’t get out of work early enough to arrive in advance of the 5:30 start but I am glad I did.

I hate disrupting the proceedings and the inevitable attention of those who are distracted by me rushing in late. It was standing room only but a woman at the back left and kindly pointed out the spot she had just vacated.

Maybe I am completely clueless but I was not aware that these kinds of events were being held at MaRS. I just assumed that everything was geared to more scientific fields but my friend sent me a link through Facebook. (Thanks mb.)

I check it very rarely and only realized it was happening that morning.

Nothing he said was particularly earth shattering but it was interesting to hear how the name McCain became synonymous with frozen French fries, how family and business don’t mix (skipping around the big public brouhaha back in the early 90’s), the culture at Maple Leaf and how their reaction to the crisis in 2008 was really the only response because it reflected the company values.

McCain is a very eloquent and convincing orator. I remember being very impressed by how he handled the listeria crisis. It wasn’t the easy route to take but it was the right one.

I truly want to believe when he says that people are one of the most important elements to the success of a business. People are very quick to pay lip-service to the importance of this “commodity” but in practice it couldn’t be further from the truth.

He shot down an audience member’s assumption that one must sacrifice family for success- emphasizing that this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Many of the values he extolled were common sense but he emphasized that though you have to hire good people, Wallace (his dad) and Harrison (his uncle) succeeded in large part by working alongside their employees, not just delegating, and understanding every piece of the business (hands all over).

I found it interesting that everyone in the room was at least dressed in business casual- except me. Jeans all the way. I took notes (of course) but I won’t bore you with the details. If I had know about the event earlier, I would have done some more research on the company and swarmed him like so many others when the talk concluded.

Next time.


~ by angryegg on January 7, 2010.

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