The Croc is Born

On 8/8/88 (8 is now my lucky number), I found a business partner and opened the Croc.

I thought I had figured out exactly how things should be run. It was my way or the highway. If someone wasn’t up to the task, they had no choice but to pack their bags and hit, “the highway.” Yeah, I could be – and often was – a miserable S.O.B. One of my employees even came up with a clever nickname for me – Kurtler.

But, in spite of running the Croc like a dictator, the catering business grew. By 1992, the Croc was a financial success. I was quite proud of myself and of our accomplishments in the food industry.


People came and went so quickly that I could barely keep their names straight. No wonder. They were just looking for a paycheck. And that’s about all they got.

Why was the turnover rate so high? I was running a successful company here! What more could they want? What was wrong with these people? We were a financial success! If they would only stick around and apply themselves, they could reap the benefits of the Crocodile gold mine.

These sorry souls worked 10 or 12 hour days, commuted home, stole a precious hour or two for “real life,” slept, woke up and did it again. This vicious cycle played out day after day. They were trapped in dull, tedious, repetitive, dead-end jobs. They weren’t really interested in the Croc as a company, and of more significance, they had no interest in self-improvement.

But so what if my employees were unhappy? I was making lots of money and that made me happy. I was living the American dream and it was good enough for me. In time, though, I realized that I was one of the few people – perhaps the only person – who was truly happy with me. “My way” was no longer working – even for me.

What was wrong?

One day it hit me like a bolt of lightning: my focus on money was wrecking my life. Relationships at work and in my personal life were suffering. I knew I had to rewire my thinking about life, both on and off the job. I had to find a better way.