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A winning example of playing the hand you’re dealt

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

This month’s Best Communicator Award goes to a trio, drawn together by unfortunate circumstances.

Colleen Landy, Program Director of Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth, reached out to Nick Bayer, CEO of Saxbys Coffee, with a request: She wanted him to offer youth in her shelter an opportunity to work and build life skills.

Bayer was all in, if “the most hirable person” could meet with him the next morning. Landy chose Dante Wilson, a young man who moved to the shelter his senior year, and his winning attitude quickly won Bayer over. “You go in thinking it will be a sad place, and there is a young man by himself with a huge smile on his face … I knew I was going to hire him.” And he did, putting him to work bussing tables.

Landy gets credit for working to create opportunities for the youth in her charge, and Bayer deserves credit for taking a chance on Wilson, who had no work experience. However, it’s Wilson’s strong work ethic that stands out. After a week, he had already moved up into barista training. A month later, he was granted the “Team Member of the Month Award”—which he won seven consecutive times. Five years later, he’s been promoted several times, and he plays a big role in Saxbys’ youth mentoring program. His mantra: “Rome wasn’t built in a day. You have to work.”

Takeaway: Make the most of the opportunities offered you. And leaders, create opportunities for people—and watch them soar.

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