Christians From Chick-fil-A: And Yet It Moves


Unique motivation and management seminars took place in Minsk and Brest in the late January, read by the employyes of the famous American fastfood company Chick-fil-A. The corporative structure of the company is based on Christian values, which is peculiar and uncommon for Belarus. The seminar in Minsk was organized in cooperation with New Elite High school of management and its heads, Yury and Irina Karmanovich.

The speakers used an analogy with a telesope and the story of Galileo Galilei. By combining and recombining lenses of a primitive telesope Galilei managed to see the Milky Way as a cluster of stars, found mountains and craters on the Moon and the satelites of Jupiter. He had virtually seen what others didn’t. For many leaders such lenses are members of their teams, which help to see things previously unseen, if placed properly. According to the legend, Galileo was so impressed with his disoveries that he remained firm in believinghis main discovery – the fact that the Earth moves – even when he was made to publicly denounce it. They say that after saying his denouncement, Galilei added in whisper: “And yet it moves!”

The representatives of Chick-fil-A have a strong belief that Christians and Christian values can become a basis for a good enterprise serving people.

Every seminar speaker had a unique message. Having had achieved success (Chick-fil-A owns more than 1900 fastfood restaurants in 42 states and the total company’s profit almost reached $ 6 bln in 2014) the company representatives shared the principles of a successful leadership and after the seminar they told about themselves and their impressions of visiting Belarus.

Graig CraddockGraig Craddock, restaurant director:

– I am visting Belarus for the 4th time and I like it here. I feel a necessity to share Chick-fil-A’s system of values. For example, our belief that our employees must improve with us. We must change people to the best, use wisely what God trusted us.

There is a sculpture of Christ in Chick-fil-A headquarters. This sculpture is not the usual one where the Saviout is on the cross. This oned depicts Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Serving others is a blessing.

Andre T KennebrewAndre T Kennebrew, restaurant director:

– For many years I was working a basketball team coach. This experience helped me in Chick-fil-A. While working a  coach I understood the main thing – people are different. I was a coach of a female basketball team, and girls, as you know, often have mood swings. I couldn’t talk the same way with all of them, because they have different stories. I visit Belarus for the first time. I like it here, but I have noticed that Belarusians are not very open, many people here lack self-confidence.

Sometimes I also lack spirit but always try to overcome fear. The most strongest fear I had when I was diagnozed cancer. I had to admit that I could die and it wasn’t easy. My close friedns and my family supported me, that’s why I always say that the people surrounding you are always important. When our company’s president S. Truett Cathy  had heard about my illness, he found the best doctor who operated me. Such stories show that the company vales its employees, show our values. I am glad that I work in a company where trudt, loyalty, outstanding service and generosity are main values. Thank God now I am cured.

I want to wish Belarusians to seek a vision from God, their vocation and destination. It is the best you can do in your life – to find your vocation.

Margaret Phillips-2Margaret Phillips, restaurant director:
– My motto is to work hard, to be hardworking. I consider my solid team, I trust them fully, and my business developement vision my main business achievements. My day begins differently, but every lunchtime, when the restaurant is full, I am with my team. Sometimes I encourage and support them, and I often serve them by helping them with everything. In these moments I don’t even think of myself as a director. I motivate my team not with money. I always acknowledge their intelligence and talents. I respect my employees, praise them and emphasize their achievements. I didn’t notice that Belarusians are in any way different from Americans. Perhaps they are more reserved, less open. I knw there is a lot of lazy people in America and, perhaps, there is in Belarus. I wanted to say Belarusians the thing I often say my team in America – you will have hardships, but you will have opportunities as well. Don’t zero in on the first but always try to use the latter!

Patrick Dickerson-2Patrick Dickerson, restaurant director:
– Remember to have a good environment to share your feelings and aspirations with your friends and colleagues.

If somebody is crying – cry with them. Cry with the crying, rejoice with the rejoicing.

Sometimes we don’t understandthat tears are to understand something. Because difficulties lead to the biggest possibilities.

When I face hardships in my life, I always know that great possibilities will come as well. And my choice is how I will face them, how whom I will become. The Scriptures teach us to grow as a person, to learn wisdom and to develop one’s character. These rules I apply to my career.

I like the story of Solomon very much. Once upon a time two women came to him, one them stole an infant and was pretending that it was hers. The king ordered to kill the child by slicing it into two, but the true mother agreed rather to give it to the other woman than kill it. Such a decision of Solomon’s needed a nonconvenional thinking.

I wish the people of Belarus to see their business and their lives in a fresh perspective, to look frther, as Galilei, and to have an unconventional thinking, like Solomon.

Lisa ChurchfieldLisa Churchfield, restaurant director:
– I can share with you that I do sports 4 times a week. At 7 a.m. you can see me at gym. Why am I talking about it? Because I think that regular exercise makes us more disciplined and healthier. My mom didn’t do fitness and now she regrets it because she has health issues.

My schedule doesn’t vary from day to day. I begin my day with a prayer. I always plan my day and I always set my priorities – I always do the mst important things first. I like to spend evenings with my family. I pray before going to bed as well.

I am visiting Belarus for the first time. I liked Minsk and its friendly people very much.

I think that this Chick-fil-A tutorial is very important because it gives opportunity to move on. And I think more Belarusians should be at this seminar the next year. Let the people surrounding you know how to become successful leaders.

Lana ChumachenkoLana Chumachenko, company’s headquarters manager:
– To me, a person born in ex-USSR, many historical differences between Belarus and America are obvious. Many devastating wars rushed through your land, many sufferings were born by your people.

The hardships of life can be born in different ways. You can either  lose heart or you can become stronger and go on.

I faced many difficulties in my life. When I was a child my family suffered religious persecution in USSR. As we moved to the US, we faced new hardships. But I tried to learn from all hardships. There were moments when I thought – this is the end. But if you stay true to your principles, your vocation and God in the end everything  will turn to good. I understood it all my life. Once I got into a terrible accident. I was driving and I couldn’t keep control , the car turned over several times, I was hit very hard. The police were surpirsed I survived. I couldn’t believe it myself but I got only several scratches and bruises. That time I saw that God is alwyas with me. I just have to stay true to Him.

Now I feel that God can use me to change the situation in the ex-USSR countries to the better, to teach people go on. This knowledge I give my children. I don’t press them to choose any path. I try to show them the way and they choose. My daughter Lydia is 15 and my on is just 7. And I am glad that my daughter already has plans to help homeless people, to work with disabled people. I wish everybody – Americans, Ukrainians, Belarusians, to search for themselves and find themselves in God. Ther is nothing important than that.

Text by Volha Dzyadzichkina, photos by Paval Dalienchuk.

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