When I met Eyal Shahar in November 2004, it was “love at first hug”! Eyal had just begun franchising Online Trading Academy businesses and there were two already sold and soon to be opened: Dallas and Dubai. Having been a franchisor for over a dozen years at the time and starting a consulting practice, I thought I might me able to help Eyal develop his franchise system and get off to a solid start. From such humble beginnings…
At that time, I gave Eyal what I now realize was the first IWEP consultation in OTA history to really understand his WHY – and this was at least five years before Simon Sinek wrote “Start With Why” and did his now famous TED Talk on The Power of Why. What I learned was that Eyal’s motivation for starting a franchise organization was pure and inspiring – he wanted to help thousands of people achieve their hopes and dreams – their WHY! I was sold, and it’s been a wonderful 15-year journey for me since that first meeting.
Eyal and I agreed right from the start on one thing: CULTURE is EVERYTHING! In any family, organization or any group of individuals doing something together, a culture is created, and oftentimes it is not a culture intentionally created to help the participants thrive. We both knew that to achieve lasting success, building a great culture would be more important than strategy, financial capital, or any other factor. It would have to be built into the fabric of our organization, it had to be cultivated and promoted daily, and it had to be centered on the most vital and basic of human needs: LOVE.
Eyal’s insistence on love as the greatest and most important of our core values has been, in my opinion, the defining “secret” to our success. The daily choice to love our fellow employees, students, prospects, franchisees, and all whom we come in contact with and to select people to join our organization who are loving, empathetic, caring and genuinely good people has been the foundation of our exceptional culture. The hug is just one of the manifestations of this loving culture we have created, and there is so much more!
Eyal was the founder, and in essence, the very first franchise owner in our system, but I must say that we are immensely blessed with a fantastic group of franchise owners who give 100% of their time, talents and treasures to make our business what it is today. In the process they have enriched so many lives. Each franchise has its own unique culture within the overall OTA culture, and our franchise owners, with all the pressures and demands on their time and capital, work very hard to create and maintain a winning, loving culture.
As we move on to an even bigger and brighter future ahead of us, let’s all remember how critical our culture is and do all we can to preserve and promote a culture of love, innovation, passion and our relentless commitment to student success. But the greatest of these is LOVE!