The greatest entrepreneur I’ve known – and my biggest mentor of all time – passed away last week. During Bud Hadfield’s 87 years on this earth, he lived the American Dream: being expelled from school before graduating; joining the Merchant Marines in World War II; starting and failing at a dozen businesses; teaching Dale Carnegie for 20 years; and eventually founding the Kwik Kopy Printing franchise, growing it to more than 1,000 locations and acquiring more franchise systems in the process; changing the lives of the hundreds of people he employed and thousands of new franchisees that were trained over the decades at the International Center for Entrepreneurial Development (ICED).
I was fortunate enough to be one of those employees. I started working at ICED in 1990, moving through several departments and working for several of the executives, one of them being the illustrious Bud. Larger than life, Bud was a dynamic, motivational, encouraging speaker who could bring an audience to tears. He was also well-known for being one of the few people I’ve met who could bring a person to tears with his temper tantrums, yelling and colorful language. For better or for worse, though, he was definitely one of a kind. I learned so much more from him than he ever realized, for his stories were the inspiration I needed to discover for myself that I could run a business and actually be successful at it. He believed in me, as he did every ICED employee.
ICED’s headquarters holds more than 1,000 paintings and statues of bald eagles, which to Bud were an example of the fierceness and tenacity that it takes to survive in this world and particularly in business. I believe Bud saw each of us as one of his eaglets that he fed, nurtured and taught life’s lessons until we were able to fly from the nest and make it on our own. In looking back at some of Bud’s tirades that I witnessed, I can’t help but wonder if those were his way of pushing us to our limit and beyond to teach us just those lessons, then taking us back under his wing again and smoothing over our ruffled feathers until it was time for the next lesson. He was the parent who never hesitates to give you a good hard spanking when you deserve it, but does it with tears in his eyes because he loves you so much that it hurts him more than it hurts you.
It is no surprise that Bud’s greatest mentor was Winston Churchill, and his favorite quote from Churchill was “never, never, never quit”. Appropriate words that can be applied to us in our businesses every day, as Bud applied them in his own life and business.
I left ICED in 2007 to pursue this dream of business ownership. Each of us has a story, a person or something that pushed us to believe we could be successful. I would love to hear yours if you want to share. Just remember that no matter how tough it may get “never, never, never quit”. Here’s to you, Bud. Thank you for changing my life.
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