A performance improvement plan that actually worked!

Robert Rosenberg (Bob) took over as CEO of his family business at 25. Ten years later, the board fired him. However, they made an exception and gave him three months to demonstrate that he’s turned things around.

And turn things around he did! Bob shifted towards humility from arrogance after reading a book by David Halberstam. He says, “I had a transformational moment amid all this sadness, and shame, and failure … and began to grow … with some emotional intelligence.

That was in 1973, Bob’s transformation grew his company, Dunkin Donuts, from a 10 million dollar company to a 2 billion dollar company by 1998, when he retired. 

That’s one heck of a turning point, no? Bob shares his expression of humility on Dan Rockwell’s website. I found them simple yet so powerful. These are the essentials that we often forget in the daily hustle and bustle of life. 

1. Learn to listen to others—arrogance talks. Humility listens.

2. Learn to be thoughtful with the board. (I didn’t explore this with Bob.)

3. Create an advisory council of franchisees. “Where an awful lot of the wisdom of the system existed.”

4. Visit 100 locations a year to keep in touch with franchisees. (Practiced by the entire senior management team.)

5. Always take 100% of the responsibility for the well-being of the system. “We decided that we would never blame our followership.”

6. Own your mistakes. Bob said the board’s action was deserved. “I had lost my way.”

7. Apologize. “When we apologized to our franchisees and invited them in to fix it, they were more than willing to help.”


When asked about his transformational moment, he says: 

“You can learn more – if you can survive it – from a setback than you can from success. Success is a dangerous thing if you have too much of it.”

Check out Dan Rockwell interviewing Bob for more insights. It’s an insightful 15-minute conversation that I’m sure you’re going to enjoy. 

Dan Rockwell with Robert Rosenberg
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