Understand You’ll Be Misunderstood — This is for the Pioneers out there, like me. Not every idea is immediately understood. When we first opened, I was called a maverick in this franchise world, but it has paid off.
I had the pleasure to interview Wendi Myers. Wendi is the Co-Owner of Big Frog Custom T-shirts of Katy, Texas. Myers graduated from University of Texas in Austin with a BBA in Marketing. Myers used her degree to cut her teeth in Sales & Marketing in Corporate America. Her success is derived from her passion for life combined with her compassion for family, friends and all who cross her path.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My husband and I both retired and moved to Houston to be near my family. I had plenty of friends and hobbies to keep me busy, such as biking with my riding group, the BOBs (babes on bikes). One day as I was riding when my phone alerted me of an E-mail I received that said, “Thank you for signing up for the Franchise Expo South.” I immediately thought I had been hacked, so I biked home to let my husband know we needed to change everything that this email was attached to. He laughed and said he registered us for the franchise expo. I decided to attend the expo with my husband, admittedly a bit reluctant of the idea. Just as we were about to leave the expo, careful to not make eye contact with any franchisor exhibiting, Ron Bender, the Vice President of Franchise Development for Big Frog, approached us as we were walking by the Big Frog booth. My husband and I spoke with Ron for quite some time, ultimately learning about the Big Frog franchise opportunity. After our conversation ended, I asked him not to contact me for the next 10 days, as we would be traveling on a cruise and did not want to be bothered. He was the only individual during the expo that scanned my tag and honored my request. Those small gestures lead us to pursue a partnership with Big Frog, and begin our very own business with the brand.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I never had children and through my efforts to lead Big Frog of Katy to success, I knew the surrounding schools would be a large part of our marketing effort. I had no experience regarding how to interact with kids but I became 100% engaged in the Katy Independent School District (ISD). My weeks quickly filled up with volunteering opportunities for Junior Achievement, Promise to Read and the Katy ISD Education Foundation Board. As business owner of a t-shirt design company, having the ability to partner my business with Katy ISD was a great opportunity to get my business off to a hot start while proving to be a rewarding personal experience.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A week before we opened, I left our store front door open while we were putting furniture together. All of a sudden, a customer walked in and asked for a few hundred gym uniforms and asked if they could be ready within two weeks because the other vendor they were using dropped the ball. We committed to this task even though we had not officially opened. With this being our first order, my husband and I knew we had to deliver the best results possible in order to turn this one-time customer into a regular.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our policy is to treat every customer the same. Whether someone is ordering one unit or 1,000 units, we give each customer the perfect amount of attention and provide impeccable customer service.
Sitting at dinner one night around 8 p.m., I received a voicemail from a customer who could not make it before close to pick-up their order, as he had to catch a flight the next morning at 4 a.m. Before even calling him back, my husband and I placed our dinner in the oven, got in the car and drove to our store to make sure that we could accommodate his order so he could pick it up before his flight.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My most recent project is serving on the Board of the Katy ISD Education Foundation. It has become my passion. The foundation provides grants for Katy ISD teachers and campuses, making miracles happen in and outside the classroom. Serving as a member of the board and helping raise money for grants needed is extremely rewarding as it will ensure we are maximizing the potential of the future business leaders in our community.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Find a mentor who will teach everything that you need to know and give you the opportunity to shine when you’re ready.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a team?
Be open to other ideas, thoughts or questions from your team members. Be sincere in your efforts to lead. Always believe that you’ll receive when you give.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It is tough to pick just one person, as it takes a village, as they say. However, I worked with a gentleman named Mark Gatehouse and he offered the best advice late in my corporate career. He believed I had potential to be a great leader, but I was missing one key element. To teach me what that missing piece was, he shared a story titled “Nails In The Fence” with me. The moral of the story highlights that each word you speak is one nail that enters the fence and the tone you say for each word determines how far the nails enter the fence. I learned from this story that what we say and how we say it will leave a lasting impact on others, so we must always think carefully when communicating.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My success has allowed me to bring good to my family, friends, team members and acquaintances, but I haven’t even scratched the surface on bringing good to the world.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Teach a Man to Fish and You feed him for a lifetime — Our store hires young adults who are relatively new to the workforce. As soon as someone joins our team, my husband and I mentor take the time to mentor them so they can learn valuable life skills and gain self-confidence.
- Your knowledge gives your team members muscles — Each team member supports each team member — we all hold one another up. Together, we’re able to grow stronger and as we do, so does our business.
- The customer is not always right — Your leadership style in these situations has lasting effect on your team members. Handle each situation with grace.
- Quickly recognizing negative contributors and handle swiftly. Sometimes, hard decisions need to be made. Holding the team as a priority over an individual is a key component to a successful team.
- Understand You’ll Be Misunderstood — This is for the Pioneers out there, like me. Not every idea is immediately understood. When we first opened, I was called a maverick in this franchise world, but it has paid off.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein. This quote daily reinforces my thinking as a big dreamer and it has helped me embrace all my team members dreams, whether that be with my business or another.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
If it’s entertainment — Jerry Seinfeld. Well, just so I can finally have a conversation about nothing with someone who understands the importance of having that conversation.
If it’s sports — Tiger Woods. I admire his ability to bounce back from tough situations. I think he is an extremely talented athlete and choose to recognize the success he’s seen in the sport of golf instead of focusing on his mistakes, because, in the end, we all have and I don’t a drawer full of them.