My Dad, with whom I had a terrific relationship, died suddenly four years before I met Bud, so it was natural he would serve as a father figure. When the first plane struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I went into his office to inform him, and said, “I don’t know what to feel or think right now.” My Dad enlisted in the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor, and I needed someone to add perspective. “When you’re attacked,” Bud said, “you do what you have to do.”
On my last day at ICED, I handed him a list of 100 Lessons from Bud. “You’re a journalist, so I figured you’ve been taking notes,” he said.
“Just so you know,” I replied, “about half of these – the bad ones – I intend to forget first thing tomorrow.” He smiled, looked me in the eye and said, “Thanks for always shooting straight with me.” I reviewed the list in preparing to write this reflection, and many are keepers that only a man who learned from failings could know:
• On franchising: “Do for them what they won’t do or can’t do for themselves.”
• On Northwest Forest: “Make them feel at home, like a letter from grandma.”
• On lawyers and CPAs: “Tell them we’re doing this; you job is to show us how.”
• On selling: “A confused prospect seldom becomes a buyer.”
• On leadership: “Don’t pay others to watch you work.”
About a year ago, I returned to Northwest Forest at Bud’s invitation. He was feeling good, and his mind was as sharp as ever. We reminisced for an hour in his office. He asked about my wife and three kids. Wanted to know how my coaching business was growing. Brought up that first meeting at his house. Told me how proud he was of me. Then he said, “Well, are you hungry?” It was 10:45 a.m., but I knew the only answer was yes. We slowly made our way outside.
With me in the passenger seat, Bud drove his special golf cart to the Log Inn dining room, while ICED president Steve Hammerstein, his saintly assistant Debbie Clifford, and right-hand man Perry Hillegiest hung on tight in the back. As we walked inside, employees waved at Bud and he took time to smile and call them by name. We ate at his reserved table, and in about 30 minutes – after Mary served him frozen yogurt – he said the company motto: “Let’s go to work.”
Many years in December, Bud would ask employees for ideas on how to improve ICED and Northwest Forest. There was always a New Year's Eve deadline, and you didn’t want to be late with your written response. My guess is, as the rest of us spent New Year’s Day visiting with family and friends, eating too much, and watching college football bowl games, Bud sat at his desk and read through the pages of recommendations while considering possibilities.
The first time I participated, one of my suggestions was to add a six-hole golf course … figuring that would give business leaders who stay at the property access to an amenity they are used to having at first-class conference centers. It might also generate revenue. Seemed like a no-brainer – so I included sketches and volunteered to serve as the designer. Bud called me into his office a few days later and said, “I don’t play golf.” The subject never came up again.
Following his memorial service, a few folks asked me, “Did you know his birth name was Frederick Cordingley Hadfield?” I replied to each one: “No, and something tells me his grandchildren just learned that.” To everyone he met – including employees – this larger than life Virginia native and transplanted Texas legend was simply Bud. He was a man with many faults, yet you couldn't help liking him. Even more, you wanted him to like you.
David Handler is the founder of Success Handler, LLC, an executive coaching firm that helps leaders understand attitude and approach are as important as strategy and tactics. From 1998-2004, he served in a variety of roles at ICED. David's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.