Dare to Serve

How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others

Cheryl Bachelder (Author)

Publication date: 02/25/2015

Dare to Serve

Cheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry-by daring to serve the people in her organization well.

When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, and the company stock price had dropped from $34 in 2002 to $13. The brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.

By 2014, average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes' market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants, and building new units around the world.

The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way. She and her team created a workplace where people were treated with respect and dignity yet challenged to perform at the highest level. Silos and self were set aside in favor of collaboration and team play. And the results were measured with rigor and discipline. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but this book shows that it's actually challenging and tough minded-a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt


(member price: $22.46)

Other Available Formats and Editions

$24.95 (member price: $17.47)

$24.95 (member price: $17.47)


Bulk Discounts
Rights Information

Featured Books

More About This Product


Cheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry-by daring to serve the people in her organization well.

When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, and the company stock price had dropped from $34 in 2002 to $13. The brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.

By 2014, average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes' market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants, and building new units around the world.

The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way. She and her team created a workplace where people were treated with respect and dignity yet challenged to perform at the highest level. Silos and self were set aside in favor of collaboration and team play. And the results were measured with rigor and discipline. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but this book shows that it's actually challenging and tough minded-a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.

Back to Top ↑

Meet the Author

Visit Author Page - Cheryl Bachelder

WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I went to my daughter’s thirdgrade parent-teacher conference, the teacher looked at us and said rather sternly, “I don’t know what Tracy is going to be when she grows up, but she is going to be in charge of it.” At that moment, I had my first glimpse of what my mother’s life must have been like. She raised four children and we all ended up in charge of something.

I’ve come to believe that our lives each have a theme, although sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out. At this point, I think it is safe to say that my life theme is leadership.

In the first chapter of my life, the theme was expressed by the leaders in my family—my grandparents and parents. I was blessed with family leaders who raised us in a safe, loving home, providing a good education, strong faith, and moral values. My father modeled the business leadership traits of competence and character in his career at National Semiconductor Corporation.

In the second chapter of my life, the theme was learning leadership—while serving as president of my campus sorority, Sigma Kappa, gaining my business school degrees at Indiana University, and apprenticing with strong leaders in brand management at Procter & Gamble and Gillette. I became fascinated with watching leaders, reading about leaders, and reflecting on leadership. I became a student of leadership.

The third chapter was about being a leader in large companies. I became a vice president at the young age of thirty-two and led marketing and product development teams at Nabisco and Domino’s Pizza over the next dozen or so years. My career grand finale was supposed to be as president of KFC restaurants, a division of Yum! Brands. But instead, I learned some tough lessons—battling a round with breast cancer and an unsuccessful term as a restaurant company president. I experienced trials in leadership.

Yet another chapter spans the years of my marriage, from 1981 to the present day. My husband, Chris, and I are co-leaders of our family, raising three daughters with no manual other than the Bible. We’ve been imperfect parents, but we have loved the responsibility of leading our daughters to faith and to their own life theme.

As this book tells the story, the most recent chapter began when I was asked by the board of directors of Popeyes to lead a turnaround of this brand, famous for its Louisiana culinary heritage. This has been the best leadership opportunity of my life. With a supportive board, a capable team, a distinctive brand, and more than three hundred franchise owners invested for the long haul, we have been able to deliver a remarkable set of results. By doing so, we have established the business case for Dare-to-Serve Leadership.

I look forward to spending the rest of my days inspiring purpose-driven leaders who exhibit character and competence in all aspects of their lives. This is the calling of my life and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Back to Top ↑

Table of Contents

The Dare-to-Serve Leader
1. Whom will we serve? 
2. What is the daring destination? 
3. Why do we do this work? 
4. How will we work together? 
5. Choose to Serve 
6. Be Bold and Brave
7. Have Clarity of Purpose 
8. Avoid the Spotlight 
Call to Action 
Dare-to-Serve Reflections 
About the Author 

Back to Top ↑


Dare to Serve


AT THE BEGINNING OF A BROADWAY SHOW, the lights dim, the music plays, and the audience waits for the spotlight to hit the stage. When the main actor appears, the story begins.

So it is with leadership. When you become a leader, people wait for you to step into the spotlight on center stage. All eyes are fixed on you—waiting to see who you are, what you will say, and what you will do. After all, you are the leader.

What if the spotlight appeared on stage, and you were not in it? What would happen then?

The people would be confused. They would wonder where you were. They would think that you didn’t understand your role.

Until they realized what you were doing.

You are a different kind of leader. Not seeking the spotlight.

In fact, you have walked off the stage to find the light crew.

You will shift the focus of the spotlight—to the people you have been asked to lead.

You will lead the people to daring destinations—far beyond their imagination.

You will focus intensely on serving them well on the journey.

You will help them discover meaning in their work and principles in their actions.

You will dare to serve.


Conventional leadership thinking puts the leader in the spotlight.

Conventional leaders assume the power position and declare a new vision. Grabbing the spotlight, these leaders have all the answers. They are high achievers, though perhaps a bit self-absorbed. We tolerate that, because they are going places that we want to go. If they are successful, we will be successful. So we think.

At the other extreme, we think of humble servant leaders. They shun the spotlight. They listen carefully to the people. They involve the people in decisions. They make decisions that serve the people well; they give others credit. We wonder about these leaders. We like them, but we fear they will not get us to success. Could they deliver superior performance results? We doubt it.

We conclude that it is the leader in the spotlight who delivers results. Because, of course, “nice guys finish last.”

Have you worked for a leader who loves the spotlight? Were you served well?

My message is simple, but unconventional. If you move yourself out of the spotlight and dare to serve others, you will deliver superior performance results.

Most haven’t heard this before. Many will be skeptical, even confused.

What about you?

Perhaps you think selfless service is for charitable causes and saints. Perhaps you think serving is weak and cowardly, not bold and courageous. Perhaps you think, “I’ve never met this kind of leader and doubt that they exist.”

It’s time to reconsider your assumptions.

This is a different kind of leader with a rare combination of traits, courageous enough to take the people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey. The dynamic tension between daring and serving creates the conditions for superior performance.

This is a Dare-to-Serve Leader.


There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with our country except that the leaders of all our major organizations are operating on the wrong assumptions.


About fifteen years ago, I began to study leadership with a newfound intensity. At the time, I had been working for large public companies for twenty years. I had been promoted numerous times and had worked for a wide range of people: some great leaders and some terrible leaders.

I started looking at the traits of the leaders I had loved—the ones whom I had worked the hardest for—the ones who had brought out my best performance. I discovered that the leaders I admired most not only were great to work for but also led their teams to remarkable results.

What kind of leader would I aspire to become? What model would I follow?

In my leadership journey, I have uncovered something that, in your heart of hearts, you already know.

Your favorite leaders have been decidedly different. Their motives go beyond self-interest. They challenge you to pursue daring, bold aspirations that create an exciting place to work. They shun the spotlight in favor of serving a higher purpose. They evidence principles in their daily decisions. You not only love these leaders but also perform your very best work for them.

So now the question is, what kind of leader will you choose to be? Will you dare to serve?


This book is for practitioners—people leading right now—in any organization, large or small, at any level. If you have been given a position to lead people, this book is for you.

The inspiration for this book is not a group of famous leaders, CEOs, or celebrities, but ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things wherever they are given the opportunity to lead—at work, at home, or in the community. I am privileged to meet these inspirational people daily in my work with the people who lead Popeyes restaurants—from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Singapore. Restaurant leaders dare to serve far more often than the CEOs I have met. They have inspired me to tell this story.


This book brings together the discoveries of my leadership journey in the hope that this perspective can help you become a Dare-to-Serve Leader with superior performance results. What I propose is not an impossible dream, but it is unconventional thinking.

The first half of the book is the story of the turnaround of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., a publicly traded global restaurant chain I am honored to lead. The Popeyes story provides a real-world example of how one leadership team dared to serve the people well—and produced industry-leading results.

The second half of the book is about how you can become a Dare-to-Serve Leader. It offers thoughts and reflections to guide you in becoming the most effective leader you can be.

What is the most difficult thing I will suggest to you?

You will have to take yourself out of the spotlight.

The curtain will open, the lights will dim, and the people will be waiting.

You will not do the expected. You will not step into the spotlight.

Instead, you will find a way to get that spotlight to shine on others. You will help them pursue dreams and find meaning in work. You will grow their capabilities. You will model principles in daily decisions that build an environment of trust and commitment. When the people figure out what you are doing, they will find that you are a leader they want to follow on a path to the best performance results of their life.

If you become a Dare-to-Serve Leader, your legacy will be your impact on the lives of the people you lead and the outstanding results you created together.


A dozen years ago, I met Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, at a meeting of Yum! Brands leaders. He presented the findings of his book, describing a new type of top-performing leader: a Level V Leader. He said that Level V Leaders are a “paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.”

Collins’s work established a case for servant leadership called by another name, the Level V Leader. It included financial data proving that Level V leaders delivered superior performance results.

The idea fascinated me.

I wondered, “Is it possible to be humble and ambitious? What would it mean to put the people and the enterprise first—above self-interest? How would this inspire superior performance?”

Collins’s book sold more than 2.5 million copies. But will these findings change your approach to leadership?


In 2007, I got my chance to test Dare-to-Serve Leadership in a real-world setting with seven talented people, collectively called the Popeyes Leadership Team.

We made a daring decision to serve others well by pursuing a bold ambition for the enterprise. We then established a purpose and a set of principles to govern our leadership.

We wanted to prove that we could drive superior performance results by leading as the handful of humble, serving leaders we read about in books like Leadership Is an Art, The Soul of the Firm, and Firms of Endearment had done.

At the time, Popeyes was a struggling restaurant chain with a long history of declining sales and profits. It offered a classic “turnaround” opportunity. Leadership had been a revolving door of short-lived CEOs—four in seven years.

In those same seven years, guest traffic had declined. Same-store sales were negative. Restaurant average unit volume and profitability had fallen to dangerously low levels. New restaurant returns were anemic. The relationship between the company and its franchisees was on the rocks. As for investors, the stock price had slid from a peak of $34 per share in 2002 to $13 on the day I joined the company.

What better time for a grand experiment in leadership? What if we were able to prove that a daring aspiration and selfless service to others could deliver superior performance results? What if a purpose and a set of principles could guide us to industry-leading performance? What if we did this under the scrutiny of a public-company environment, garnering the attention of those cynical, short-term Wall Street investors?

Fast-forward to today. Popeyes restaurants have experienced six years of growth. Average restaurant sales have climbed by 25 percent. Market share has grown from 14 to 21 percent. The profitability of Popeyes restaurants has improved 40 percent in terms of real dollars, with restaurant profit margins up from 18 to 22 percent.

The franchisees who own our restaurants are so delighted with the business results that they have rapidly remodeled existing restaurants and are feverishly building new Popeyes that are providing excellent returns on their investment.

The stock price is now in the $40 range—up 450 percent in six years.

The company is now the darling of the industry … a favorite of the franchisees … a favorite of lenders … a favorite of investors … and a case study in serving up superior performance results.

The secret to Popeyes turnaround performance?

We dared to serve.


As I grew up, I learned many of my leadership lessons from my father. Daddy Max, as I called him, served as vice president of National Semiconductor Corporation for many years, primarily overseeing manufacturing operations in Asia.

My dad was an accomplished and perceptive storyteller, and most of his stories were about how to lead people. Over dinner he would talk about his day at work. Always included in his story was the “moral of the story” to make sure we understood the underlying leadership lesson.

One evening my dad was pacing the kitchen floor, visibly upset. When I asked him what was bothering him, he told me that tomorrow he would be laying off people at the manufacturing plant. He told me he was sick over it. People he cared about would be unemployed. Families would suffer from the loss. Moral of the story: letting people go should make your stomach turn—never take it lightly.

My dad and mom raised four children, each of whom became a CEO or president of a company, in four different industries. The leadership lessons in those dinner-table stories served us well.

Similarly, I will share leadership stories—what I have observed, reflected on, and learned. I encourage you to seek the “moral of the story,” to discover the leadership lesson. Throughout these chapters, you will find Dare-to-Serve Reflections to help you think about the leadership role you are in today and the best way to influence and steward the people entrusted to your care. In this process, you will consider whether you want to be a Dare-to-Serve Leader.

The world is waiting for leaders to come forward who can steward an organization’s people and resources to superior performance. When you choose to humbly serve others and courageously lead them to daring destinations, the team will give you their very best performance. And the spotlight will be found shining on the remarkable results of the organization as a whole.

May you be inspired to be a Dare-to-Serve Leader who drives superior results. And may you spend the rest of your days teaching others to do the same.

Cheryl A. Bachelder
Chief Executive Officer
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc



It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.


I AM AN ETERNAL OPTIMIST, a certified member of the positive-thinking club.

When we were growing up, my mother woke my siblings and me by playing loud music on the stereo and saying “Good morning! It’s a beautiful day. Rise and shine.” There was no opportunity for negativity. It was going to be a good day.

I continued this tradition with my children. The mantra of their childhood was, “Your attitude is your altitude.” They still grimace when I say it, but the message is etched in their minds. Decide how you will approach this day—and that will determine your day.

The same is true in leadership—your attitude is your altitude.

When I joined Popeyes, the place needed an attitude adjustment. The problem? The people we were responsible for leading were viewed as “a pain in the neck.”

The franchise owners were “difficult.” The restaurant teams were “poor performers.” The guests were “impossible to please.” The board members were “challenging.” The investors were “not on our side.”

The first step in turning around your organization’s performance? Think positively about the people you lead. Your attitude will determine the altitude of your performance results.

DARE-TO-SERVE REFLECTION #1 How do you think about the people you lead? Are they a “pain in the neck” or essential to the future success of the organization?


Popeyes’ performance in 2007 couldn’t have been much worse. Every data point that we measured was going the wrong way. Sales were declining. Guest satisfaction was worst-in-class. Restaurant profits were down in absolute dollars and margin. Morale at the company was negative. Franchise owners were mad and “sick and tired” of bad results. Investors were disappointed in the stock performance and wanted answers. The board was tired of hearing promises that did not materialize.

In the following year, economic conditions would deteriorate as well. Lehman Brothers would disappear. The stock market would fall precipitously. The United States would head into a steep recession that contributed to the slowdown of the global economy. Times were not good.

The odds were stacked against a successful Popeyes turnaround.

What leadership approach would lead to success?


Picture eight members of the Popeyes Leadership Team stuffed in a small conference room at an Atlanta facility called the Buckhead Club. Our job for the day? To make a conscious decision on how we would lead Popeyes to sustained success.

We started by making lists of the traits we admired in the best leaders of our careers. Interestingly, the conversation quickly turned to the traits that we wanted to avoid, traits that characterized the worst leaders we had met.

On the flip chart, we listed words like self-absorbed, arrogant, and condescending.

Before we knew it, we were telling stories to one another about the difficult people we had worked for. It became a “can you top this?” contest.

That was a turning point in our leadership of Popeyes.

Our first decision—we did not want to lead like “them.”

We started talking about our favorite leadership philosophies. One person mentioned a book that had been influential in his life, Leadership Is an Art by Max De Pree. Published in 1989 by the then-CEO of Herman Miller, the book put forth a novel idea—that leaders are stewards of the people and the organizations they lead. When leaders create environments where followers thrive, the business performs well.

Others brought up books that they liked—authored by Patrick Lencioni, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, and more—and a theme emerged in the conversation. We wanted to be leaders who served well the people, brand, and organization we had been given. We didn’t want to fall prey to the self-focused leadership style we had observed in others. Our belief was that serving people well would generate better business results.

One member of the team said, “I think there is a name for this kind of leadership. Give me a minute to do a web search.” He was the only one with an iPhone at the time and he quickly came up with the answer. A man named Robert Greenleaf had written about a leadership approach called servant leadership. It was about serving the people well—above self-interest.

That’s it!

Serving others over self.

We quickly agreed that this servant leadership notion would guide us going forward.

DARE-TO-SERVE REFLECTION #2 Think about difficult leaders you have worked for. Have you made a conscious decision to lead differently than “them”?

But there was one more thing. We believed that servant leadership would deliver superior results. The performance of the enterprise would be the evidence that we had served others well.

Before leaving the conference room that day, we had a draft of the Popeyes purpose and principles that would guide our leadership for years to come.

Our purpose: To inspire servant leaders to achieve superior results.

Our principles: Six behaviors we saw as essential to serving the people well and delivering superior performance—passion, listening, planning, coaching, accountability, and humility.

We made a decision that day: we decided to serve.

Dare-to-Serve Leaders begin by intentionally deciding on their attitude and leadership approach.

• Decide to think positively about the people you lead.

• Decide to be a leader who serves others over self-interest.

It is both courageous and humbling to remove yourself from the spotlight and shift your focus and energy toward serving others well. This is how you create an environment for superior results.


If we were going to serve people well at Popeyes—whom would we serve?

We listed all the possibilities on the conference room flip chart: the guests; the shareholders; the franchise owners; the team members; the board of directors; the regulators; the accountants. Had we missed anyone?

Someone said, “Don’t we have to serve all of those people?”

Hmmm. Could be true. Let’s go through each possibility.

In restaurants, the ultimate goal is to serve your restaurant guest well. After all, guests buy the food—without them, there is no business. If they are not served well, they don’t come back.

We are a public company. Shareholders have invested in this business and expect a reasonable, preferably good, return on that investment. We are hired as their “stewards.” Without their investment, we will not be funded for growth. If they are not well served, they exit our stock—and the stock price falls—reducing our access to capital and the value of the enterprise.

Popeyes licenses the rights to use the brand and the operating system to franchise owners. These owners borrow money and invest it in building Popeyes restaurants, hiring and training restaurant crews, and building relationships with the communities and guests we serve. Without franchisees, we do not have a global restaurant chain—they drive our expansion. If they are not well served, they exit the brand—selling or closing restaurants—and reduce our ability to serve guests our famous Louisiana recipes.

DARE-TO-SERVE REFLECTION #3 Who are the most important people you serve—the owner, the boss, the customer, the employees? Which one is your primary focus?

It takes about 60,000 team members to run our more than 2,200 restaurants around the globe. These team members get up every day, come to work, prepare the food, serve the guests, clean up the place, and close the doors. These team members feed and serve our guests. If we do not serve the team members well, they go to work somewhere else. Without them, we are not open for business.

In our business, we have many choices of people to serve; they are all important. Would we serve them equally, or would we pick one as our primary focus?


At Popeyes, we chose to serve the franchise owners well as our first priority.

In franchising, we make money in two basic ways: we collect royalties on restaurant sales and we collect franchise fees when a new restaurant is built. Those monies fund the infrastructure of the company so we can carry out the service obligations of our franchise contract: brand marketing, new product innovation, operating systems, quality assurance, and more.

We have long-term contracts with our franchise owners—typically twenty-year agreements with options to renew. Thus, we have long-term relationships with the owners who borrowed the money to build our restaurants and hire the people who serve our guests. Franchise owners do the heavy lifting.

As we looked at our options for whom we would serve, we thought the franchise owners merited our immediate attention. They had made sizable investments and were committed by contract to operate our brand. If they did not prosper, there was no chance Popeyes sales would go up (royalties) or franchise fees would increase (new openings). Either franchise owners would succeed or Popeyes would fail.

This decision is not typical in our industry. Franchisors and franchisees are constantly in conflict—arguing about the contract, the business strategy, the restaurant design, the promotion pricing, or the cost of the food. If the conflict gets particularly bad, threats of lawsuits quickly surface.

When I joined Domino’s Pizza in 1995, Domino’s franchisees sued the company in a class-action lawsuit. When I joined KFC in February 2001, I learned of the long history of conflict between KFC franchisees and the franchisor, with a negotiated settlement in 1996. In my restaurant career, the media has reported on troubled franchisee/franchisor relationships at well-known brands such as Burger King and Quiznos, among others.

Interestingly, unresolved conflict with franchise owners never leads to operational excellence or superior sales and profit performance. Instead, franchise systems with high internal conflict have negative business results. It is predictable. Nonetheless, franchisees and franchisors typically don’t get along.

So we asked ourselves a few questions.

What if we dared to be different from our peers? What if we dared to serve the franchise owners well?

What would that look like?

We would have to work closely with the franchisees to choose the vital few initiatives that would improve performance. Once we were aligned on the right plan, the franchise owners would implement that plan in the restaurants. When the plan was executed well by the restaurants, performance results would improve. When sales and profits improved, franchisees would build more restaurants. New restaurant growth would create value for the shareholders.

This could work.

Our success would begin and end with the success of the Popeyes franchise owners.


Here’s a tough question. Do you love the people you’ve decided to serve?

It helps.

One Popeyes leader says it this way: “If you are in the franchising business, you should love the franchisees.”

To love franchisees, you have to love entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are passionate. They take risks. They invest for the future. They are ambitious. They are definitely not corporate bureaucrats. They do not have much patience with people holding MBA degrees or offering up expensive harebrained ideas. What if the most important people in your business are entrepreneurs? You must decide to love them.

As a side note, I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t love franchise owners. I’m biased by my worldview. I believe that democratic capitalism creates conditions for entrepreneurs to invest and grow small businesses. The entrepreneurs are pursuing a dream, and owning a small business is their path to that dream. In the United States, we call this the “American Dream.” People come to this country just for the chance to build their own business.

These are the people we are honored to serve at Popeyes. The Popeyes franchise owners decided to take the risk and invest sweat-equity and financial capital into building and operating Popeyes restaurants. They are amazing people with equally amazing life stories.

Here are just a few examples of the many franchise owners in our system whom I love.

Lal Sultanzada is a Popeyes franchisee in New York City. Lal immigrated to this country from Afghanistan. His first job was working in a chicken restaurant in Harlem. Eventually he saved enough money to buy that restaurant and he became a Popeyes franchise owner. Today, Lal has dozens of restaurants operating to the highest of standards. His restaurant leaders win many Popeyes awards. I love that Lal is now sending his children to college to follow in his footsteps and run this highly successful family restaurant business.

Mack Wilbourn operates three Popeyes restaurants at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Two of them have the largest sales volume in our system. Mack hires people who take fabulous care of the guests. You will often hear the restaurant manager, Edith, say, “Honey, you are looking good today—what can I get you for dinner?” I love the warmth and positive energy that Mack’s teams bring to our guests. They set the standard for service excellence.

John Broderson is a Popeyes franchisee who owns urban restaurants in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Puerto Rico. His career began working in a troubled Popeyes restaurant in Chicago that his father had purchased. Over time, John developed a talented team of restaurant leaders who routinely win awards in our system. Recently John went back to Chicago to seek out that first Popeyes restaurant he worked in—and he bought it. I love the fact that John invests in urban neighborhoods, providing career opportunities to many.

Harry Stafford invested in the restaurant business after a successful career in law and Texas oil. Today his organization owns and operates more than a dozen Popeyes restaurants with excellence. At the age of seventy-five, Harry remains one of our most forward-looking entrepreneurs, buying property and expanding his Popeyes network in the Houston area. I love that Harry leads with integrity and has invested his time serving as a leader in the Popeyes system, chairing a new committee each year.

Amin Dhanani is the sixth son of a family that immigrated to the United States to be entrepreneurs. Today his family is one of the largest operators of Burger King restaurants as well as Popeyes. This owner is one of the boldest and fastest-expanding operators in our system, owning and operating Popeyes in multiple states. I love Amin’s daring aspiration for expanding Popeyes across the nation as fast as possible.

Guillermo Perales owns Popeyes restaurants in Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida. Beyond Popeyes, he is the largest Hispanic franchisee in America, owning multiple retail businesses. When Guillermo saw the turnaround of Popeyes performance results, he decided to become one of our fastest-growing developers. I love that he is willing to invest in Popeyes’ future.

Danny Gililland operates Popeyes in Little Rock, Arkansas. Danny loves restaurant operating systems and his wife, Lynda, loves training restaurant teams. The Gilillands volunteer to test just about every piece of restaurant equipment or new training process that our team comes up with. I love that Danny and Lynda never get tired of debugging these inventions, and their enthusiastic efforts have helped us make better decisions for our system.

Nareg Amirian is a second-generation Popeyes franchisee, following his successful father, Bobken Amirian, an Armenian who emigrated from Iran. Nareg combines his experience in the family business with an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and runs restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I love that Nareg has courageously stepped forward to run the family business for the next generation.

Now I have to pause and apologize to every Popeyes franchisee whom I did not mention. Please know that I love you, too!

DARE-TO-SERVE REFLECTION #4 What are the specific qualities you love in the people you lead?

We have more than three hundred franchise owners at Popeyes—and I love them all. These are hardworking people who have taken bold risks to grow Popeyes and to serve our guests well. They are inspiring people, people to be admired. They deserve to be loved. They deserve to be served.

Back to Top ↑


“Extraordinary! Dare to Serve describes the kind of leadership so desperately needed in the 21st century. A powerful blend of courage and humility, Cheryl Bachelder’s engaging story offers a clear path for leaders to follow, and what makes her message so compelling is the tremendous results she’s produced. I highly recommend this book.”
—Stephen M. R. Covey, #1 bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and coauthor of Smart Trust

“Dare to Serve is a crisp narrative of Cheryl’s profound leadership journey as a corporate executive. Through balancing people, purpose, and principles, Cheryl produces outstanding results. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how it’s done!”
—Denise Ramos, CEO and President, ITT Corporation

“When I speak with leaders, it is hard for them to grasp that servant leadership drives both great performance and great human satisfaction. Cheryl Bachelder provides an inspiring manual on how to be a Dare-to-Serve leader who drives superior results.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level

“It has been a long time since I have read a book from beginning to end in one sitting, but that is exactly what I did with Dare to Serve, and I had to force myself not to read it again right then and there! It is truly a masterpiece and I will be sharing it with many friends, including those whom I am mentoring, just as soon as it is on the bookstands.”
—Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus, Southwest Airlines, and coauthor of Lead with LUV

“Anyone who leads anything will learn from the crisp and engaging stories in Dare to Serve. It is one of the best leadership books I have read and is a must-read for any leader who cares.”
—Joel Manby, CEO, Herschend Family Entertainment, and author of Love Works

Back to Top ↑