Lessons from J.C. Gonzalez-Mendez, President of McDonald’s Latin America

When big issues come up, put them in perspective. Try to disassociate yourself from the issue and look at it with less emotion.

Coaching is so important. I have 5 people I consider coaches. I mentor many people of all backgrounds. Even Michael Jordan needed a coach! It’s best to have mentors within the organization and outside of it.

I have had had the opportunity to work in so many different disciplines at McDonald’s that I have not been really good at any. But it has given me a good understanding of what needs to be done and how to pick good talent.

Business happens at the counter; it’s difficult to see that at the desk.

I think it was Confucius that said ‘find yourself a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’.

People think we’re just in the hamburger business. We’re really in the people business. We employ over 1.5 million people. We touch a lot of lives. Being a part of developing great people is what I enjoy most.

You will learn a lot from mistakes. The question is can you learn from a mistake after making it once, or do you have to repeat the mistake to get the message?

Unfortunately there are bad people out there. When you’re in a leadership role it’s important to understand peoples motives.

It does get lonely at the top. You have to be careful who you’re listening to. Continue to seek out mentors and people who will tell you how it is.

People say more with what they don’t say but how they behave. If people aren’t coming to you it’s because they don’t feel comfortable. It’s not their problem- it’s your problem. Make it easy for people to come to you and open up to you.

Integrity is the most important quality a leader has to display. I define it as “how close are your actions to what you’re saying?”.

If you’re willing to go outside of your family and cheat on your spouse, what is it that you’re not willing to do in the workforce?

Authenticity and transparency are so important. What you do is so loud I can hear what you’re saying.

Charisma is so difficult to define; you know it when you see it. Authenticity, transparency, and consistency help.

There have been great leaders who were not charismatic. It’s helpful but not required.

In business you need to think globally. At McDonald’s we call it a “Glocal” mindset. It’ a global mindset but with a local execution. You need to think of the intricacies of particular marketplaces, but you need to think globally about quality standards, values, mission, and so on so you don’t deviate from that.

I’m not an avid reader, but when I do read I read leadership books. But right now I am reading Mandela.

You don’t know what you can get until you ask for it.

My mom used to say, “why do you worry so much? If it doesn’t have a solution, why do you worry so much? And if it has a solution, why do you worry so much!?” Things that make you worry today will make you laugh tomorrow.

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