Mark Watson | Crain's Las Vegas

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Mark Watson

Background:  

WBF Management LLC owns and operates 33 McDonald's franchise locations in the Las Vegas Valley, with an additional store currently in the works. The recently formed WBF AZ LLC is also set to open five locations in the Phoenix area. Watson has worked for McDonald's in different parts of the country since 1981 and has been an owner/operator since 1996.

The Mistake:

The biggest mistake I ever made was simply believing that others had the answers to the problems that I was facing. When I started, I always believed that there was somebody else smarter than me, and this is not a bad thing altogether. I always knew there was somebody else smarter than me in the system. There is always someone who has had experience with what you're going through, so you've got to learn from them.

But my problem was I simply believed that I didn't possess the skills or the knowledge or the talent that I needed to solve the problems. So early on in my career, I was constantly looking for someone else to give me the answer. And oftentimes they would actually give me the answer and sometimes it was such a simple thing that I wasn't really convinced it was the answer. Yet it was.

I was that guy who was always looking for the magic pill, so to speak. If someone would just tell me how to solve this then all my problems would be solved and I would know how to do things. Whether it was early on in my career trying to figure out how to staff the store or later in my career when I was trying to figure out how to get these folks to be great supervisors and directors of operations. Especially early in my career, I often looked for the magic pill, and I learned there is no magic pill.

Sometimes it's just about persisting.

The Lesson:

Persistence and determination are pretty much omnipotent. You just have to keep working at a problem. List your strengths and weaknesses, figure out what's working well and what's not, and then go address one of those things that's not working well.

What I've found out over time is that anything we pay attention to seems to get better. Once you get that better then you can move on to the next thing, and pretty soon things start to come together and happen. In most cases it was with the wonderful tutelage and help of great people, including my owner operator and the McDonald's system as a whole. It helps you make great decisions, but they can't solve your problems for you – you have to do that yourself. Once I finally figured that out I was able to start making some progress.

Sometimes it's just about persisting and continuing to be there longer than the other guy.

Photo courtesy of Mark Watson

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