Project Legacy

People & Processes: Lessons from Chuck Frary

Project Legacy

People & Processes: Lessons from Chuck Frary

Written by David Seibel | 2.5.2020

This post is the seventh in Project Legacy, a series of interviews that aim to learn from leaders outside education to influence those inside education. You can read previous contributions from Jake Stamper (Business), Jeff Worrell (Politics), Steve Poe (Ministry), and Tony Van Hoozer (Business) on our blog.

Chuck Frary loves serving people, developing processes and delivering products. Previously, he ran an asphalt maintenance business for 25 years but now serves as the Managing Chair of C12. I sat down with Mr. Frary to hear what parents and educators could learn from him, and here are the top three lessons

“Your business is not growing because you are the limiting factor.”

“Your business is not growing because you are the limiting factor.”

Lesson #1: Develop a Self-Critical Eye

Mr. Frary once called the University of Southern Indiana Business Department and asked, “Do you have any business students who will come investigate my asphalt maintenance business and tell me why we are no longer growing?” After months of digging through filing cabinets, reviewing books, and interviewing employees, the nervous graduate students compiled their reports. They were hesitant to present their critical insight to Mr. Frary. Chuck asked, “Well, what is the problem?” One of the business students tentatively responded, “The problem is you, Mr. Frary. Your business is not growing because you are the limiting factor.”

Chuck ran into something in his business that causes thousands of businesses to fail every single year: the Founder’s Dilemma. Chuck had a job, but he did not have a business. Everything that his company did involved him, and it was therefore not able to grow. He was the bottleneck of the operation because he had not built systems, structures and processes to carry the business to the next level. Instead of leaving infancy and moving onto adolescence and maturity, the business was dependent upon the capacity of one individual. Luckily, Chuck took the insight well from the college students and took the necessary steps to build his business.

We, as educators, have to be willing to acknowledge that we are often the limit on the children we teach. Even if the teacher has the best intentions, he or she may not be effective in causing student learning. Inviting the input and feedback of others is critical. We also do not want to create students who are dependent upon the teacher. This means we need to avoid creating unhealthy dependencies where students need the teacher in order to learn. For example, educators and parents need to be careful to avoid transactional behaviors like candies, stickers, and pizza parties. This subtly communicates that learning is only good if it is connected to a treat. Instead, mature adults must communicate the benefits of learning as an end in itself.

The teacher needs to be a Swiss army knife, ready to handle whatever the situation requires.

The teacher needs to be a Swiss army knife, ready to handle whatever the situation requires.

Lesson #2: Break Free from the E-myth

In my meeting with Mr. Frary, he cited the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. He said, “After I read this book, I was never the same.” So after meeting with him, I immediately ran to Half-Price Books and picked up a copy.

The author Michael Gerber describes that most businesses fail because those who start them have overly-romanticized ideas of what it takes to run a business. What I found most helpful in Gerber’s book were the three roles of a business owner. “The entrepreneur role,” Gerber writes, “provides the vision, creativity, and energy that drives the business. The manager is a pragmatist who translates the vision into reality through planning and systems. The technician is an individualist and a doer who produces the product or service.” For Chuck’s asphalt maintenance business to go from infancy to adolescence to maturity, Chuck needed to be more than a technician. He needed to grow into his entrepreneur and manager roles.

I think the same could be said of educators and parents. Different students need different roles at different moments in their development. The difficulty for a teacher is that in one class, you may have students in infancy, others in adolescence, and others in maturity. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all.” The teacher needs to be a Swiss army knife, ready to handle whatever the situation requires. Just like a business order needs to grow and change for her business to grow and change, the classroom teacher or parent needs to make course-corrections along the way in order for her classroom or family to mature and grow.

To radically improve student learning outcomes, educators must elevate the essentials.

To radically improve student learning outcomes, educators must elevate the essentials.

Lesson #3: Develop a Simple, Clear and Repeatable Process

In my meeting with Chuck, I was struck by how simple and straightforward his insights were. He spoke with simplicity and clarity on topics ranging from ministry and coaching to ‘the business engine’ and the sovereignty of God. When I asked him what the great need for education today was, he said, “We overcomplicate things. Kids need more solitude and quiet time in order to truly learn. We would do well to have fewer distractions.” School ought to be a place of simplicity and clarity.

To radically improve student learning outcomes, educators must elevate the essentials. More than anything, this means defining what excellent instruction looks like: a simple, clear, and repeatable process for educators to follow in forming children. Kids need time to incrementally improve in knowledge and skills, and the accumulation over time is quite dramatic if we can stay the course.

Chuck Frary loves serving people, developing processes and delivering products. Previously, he ran an asphalt maintenance business for 25 years but now serves as the Managing Chair of C12. Chuck and The C12 Group will help you successfully navigate today’s business challenges while preparing you to hear “well done” from the Master. C12 is America’s leading business forum for Christian chief executives and business owners, with 2000+ members nationwide. C12 prides itself on guiding leaders to build Great Businesses with a greater Purpose.

Chuck Frary loves serving people, developing processes and delivering products. Previously, he ran an asphalt maintenance business for 25 years but now serves as the Managing Chair of C12. Chuck and The C12 Group will help you successfully navigate today’s business challenges while preparing you to hear “well done” from the Master. C12 is America’s leading business forum for Christian chief executives and business owners, with 2000+ members nationwide. C12 prides itself on guiding leaders to build Great Businesses with a greater Purpose.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of three future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of three future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

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