How Trust in My Journey Changed Everything

| Leo Neves | Values

"Trust is the highest form of human motivation."  -AMP Up1 Culture Values

10 years ago I made a choice.  It was a choice that would alter the trajectory of my career and my life.  

I started in the hospitality industry as a dishwasher, and at that point in my career I was General Manager of a busy sports bar in the city.  Unfortunately, I reached a point where I believed I was no longer growing. I didn’t believe I could learn any more and it was no longer challenging.  I needed a change.

The need for change was made more urgent because my family life was undergoing major changes as well.   My wife and I were expecting our first child.  I needed to do something that would put myself in the best possible situation to take care of my family.

A mentor of mine had recently interviewed for a concept, but was not willing to accept a lesser role.  After hearing what he had to say about his experience, and doing some research, I believed it was a challenge I would be open to, so I applied.

The interview process was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  It was about 6 hours and was more of getting to know Josh Rossmeisl (VP of Operations at the time) and the team (4-5 other leaders) than it was an actual interview. It was a great experience.  All the values of the company aligned with mine.  

Maybe the most memorable part of the interview was when Josh asked me what I wanted to do in the future, and I told him I wanted his job.  To my surprise, he responded to this by putting his keys on the table, and informed me that he would do everything he could to get me to that point.  My growth would mean that the business had grown and more locations would have opened.  My growth and success were viewed the same as the company’s growth and success. 

I felt a connection to the team and culture, this is where I wanted to be, so I accepted a lower position to get into the company to be part of the team.   

During the interview  process I also informed them that my wife and I were expecting our first child, my son Lucas, so I would need some time off in the near future.  They were supportive and it was understood that the time off would be unpaid as I would not have been there long enough to accrue any paid time off.

When I returned from my four week  leave, I returned to two surprises.  One was a gift from the team.  A wonderfully unexpected gesture.  The second however, was so puzzling that I even believed it to be a mistake.  It was a check for me.  I understood the leave to be unpaid, so I went to Josh, the COO, and he assured me that they do not make mistakes with checks like that.  It was an investment in me and our future together. 

This was an incredibly inspiring and motivating experience.  I found a company that didn’t only “talk” about taking care of their people, they ACTUALLY did it.  It wasn’t about the money, but the trust that made the gesture so powerful. The trust that we were partners for the long-haul.   I wanted to work harder than ever to let them know their trust in me was warranted.  

The following 6 months were the hardest I have ever experienced in my professional life.  Opening a dizzyingly busy 20,000+sq ft facility while raising a newborn was no small task.  However, it was made more rewarding by the bond I felt with my new team.  This is what I wanted.

On a Monday morning on my day off, while Lucas' mom was  grocery shopping, I was holding Lucas when I received a call from Josh.  This was unusual as he was typically very respectful of our time off.  He had an opportunity for me.  It was the opportunity I came into the company for, to be a General Manager, but it had a twist, it was in Orlando, Florida. 

Mar LeoJourney 600

Without hesitation, with the gesture of the check 6 months prior still fresh in my mind, I told him yes.  The only condition was that I’d need to get my wife’s approval before I officially packed up our bags  and moved us across the country.  Pay, perks or benefits never crossed my mind.  The team had already demonstrated they would take care of us, I had trust that they would do the right thing.

She returned home 30 minutes later, and we had the discussion for about another 30 minutes.  I called Josh back and officially told him “YES”.  The next day we booked a flight to Orlando to find a place to live, and a week later we made the 24 hour drive down to move to  sunny Orlando.

I know that the move would have scared a lot of people, and for others it would have been a powerful negotiation ploy to leverage more money.  When the opportunity to move to Orlando presented itself, I didn’t think twice.  Our trust and relationship were already cemented.  

From Day 1, I was honest with Josh and the team, and they were honest back. They gained my trust by the way they treated me and my family and a big generous act that no other company would have done.  They listened to me and my situation, baby on the way, wife not working, and knew that I could certainly use the money.  Most companies wouldn’t have thought twice and would have been relieved to not pay me.  Instead, they didn’t want my finances to be a distraction, they wanted me to focus on learning the new company I was joining.

Epilogue

I kept the business card Josh gave me on the day of the interview.  It was a very special day for me when I was promoted, and my business card had the same title his card had on that day.  Vice President of Operations.  Trust is the highest form of human motivation.

 
 
 
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