Going for the Golden Arches

Posted on: May 21, 2018

Categories: Leadership

Last month, I got to celebrate my friends Jeff and Mary Monfort, owner/operators of several McDonald’s restaurants and the deserving winners of a 2018 Golden Arch Award.

Jeff and Mary Monfort are lovin’ it all the time. They have a great family, a successful business, and their employees are actually excited to come to work every day.

What’s their business, you ask? Jeff and Mary are the owner/operators of several McDonald’s restaurants in Ohio’s Miami Valley Region. I absolutely love their story: They both started working at McDonald’s where they met and fell in love. Today, they are married and own multiple McDonald’s restaurants—including the one where they met .


I met Jeff ten years ago when he saw me speak at the Celina Chamber of Commerce. It was a small event, but as always, I brought tri-fold business cards with all of the main points from my keynote for everyone in attendance.

Jeff kept my card in his wallet for eight years. Even though he wasn’t in the position at the time, he knew he wanted to bring me in to speak to his managers and employees one day. That day came in 2014 when he called and asked me to speak to a rally for McDonald’s managers.

For the past four years, the Curtis Zimmerman Group has worked with McDonald’s—not only doing live programs—but also providing ongoing messaging to engage employees in restaurants owned by the Monforts and beyond. We are very excited about where McDonald’s is heading, and we’re honored to be part of their progress. (Click here to learn more about CZG in McDonald’s restaurants!)


A couple months ago, Jeff was the one getting an important call. On the other line, the President/CEO of McDonald’s corporate told Jeff that he and Mary had won the Golden Arch Award, an honor given to less than 1% of franchise owner/operators every other year. For perspective, there are over 37,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the world, and just 40 of these awards are given at the McDonald’s Worldwide Conference. It’s kind of a huge deal.

Jeff and Mary are give-more-than-you-receive kind of people, and in keeping with their generous spirit, they felt like I should come and celebrate with them at the 2018 conference for owner/operators.

Me, Jeff and Mary at the awards ceremony


You’ve gotta understand—because of our work with McDonald’s restaurants, I’ve been trying to go to this event for years. Needless to say, being invited as a special guest was living my dream! I couldn’t have been more excited to be there to cheer on Jeff and Mary.

There’s nothing quite like seeing people who give so much get the recognition they deserve. Watching Jeff and Mary receive their award was a bold testament to the power of dreams, humility, and compassion.

I always say that goals are just dreams with a deadline, so we made it our goal to introduce ourselves to the new President/CEO Steve Easterbrook before the awards ceremony ended—and we succeeded! In our conversation with him, I could sense his genuine appreciation for something I’ve witnessed for years: The Monforts’ devotion to the Golden Arches.

Jeff, Mary, the President/CEO of McDonald’s Worldwide and me

The next day, I went to a rally with 15,000 of my closest friends. They started the 9 a.m. rally with a Pitbull concert (a typical morning for all of us) and closed the conference out with a performance with little-known artists named Katy Perry and Steven Tyler. Think that McDonald’s isn’t relevant? Think again.


Later, I got to tour the showroom floor, which was essentially a museum of McDonald’s history. I even saw the sign from the Original McDonald’s that opened in 1955!

The exhibit hall also gave us all amazing insight into the future of McDonald’s. Their 2020 goal is to become The Restaurant of the Future.

I don’t care if you love McDonald’s or hate it: They’re making amazing strides forward. Their President/CEO Steve Easterbrook is shaking things up in a big way. They’re committed to high-quality ingredients. They want to be the greenest company on the planet. And their people have incredible enthusiasm for each other and for the McDonald’s brand. The Monforts embody the care and innovation of McDonald’s, and the Golden Arch Award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving couple.

Cheers to you, Jeff and Mary!

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