I work with a lot of people who can’t imagine they’d ever be able to do what they end up actually doing. To me, they are amazing. Here is a letter from one, to inspire you on this St. Patrick’s Day.
“The past two years were perhaps the most challenging two years of my life and I owe a lot to you for your faith in me. Although I did not stay in touch much after our working together, your inspiration, motivation, and confidence in me kept me afloat during a most difficult period, one I can only describe as a form of “realignment” (I thought about you, often when I felt somewhat overwhelmed). During this period I spent much time examining options for a new career, but more importantly I looked for options that could change my life in a bigger way.
The last time we spoke I was contemplating building Subway restaurant. We almost built a Subway in Pennsylvania but the day before I signed the franchise agreement I changed my mind and decided to take some additional time to examine other options (it’s just like me to do something like that). I thought more about what would make me happy, and where I pictured myself in five, ten years time. And my dream (I’ve been called a dreamer on occasion) was to someday live in Europe. So if you guessed “this guy is crazy enough to pursue a business in Europe” you guessed correctly.
In the spring of 2011 I began researching immigration policy in various European countries. France was our first choice because we love Paris, Cannes, Nice, but you have to know French to get a business visa (my French is limited to French restaurant menus). So I thought about England. I was stationed in the U.S. Air force in U.K., familiar with the culture, they speak English, etc., but their immigration policy was a bit stringent with respect to foreigners opening businesses. Having visited Ireland before, I thought why not Ireland? It’s beautiful, within close proximity to the rest of Europe, and we admire the Irish way of life, the culture, etc. So I contacted Subway in Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK/Ireland Headquarters) and asked them to send a list of available locations.
We traveled to Ireland in June of 2011 to look at Subway stores in various locations and chose Carrick on Shannon in County Leitrim, Republic of Ireland. Shortly after beginning the immigration process I hit another brick wall with Ireland’s business immigration policy which was similar to the UK. The current owner suggested I contact Ireland’s Prime Minister to see if he could help with obtaining permission to purchase the Subway. I suggested (joking) “perhaps I could call Barack Obama.” So I wrote a very long letter to Enda Kenny, Prime Minister of Ireland, told him my plan, and asked for his help (I also told him I was 66% Irish. About a week later I received a call from the head of Irish Immigration Business Permission Unit in Dublin informing me the Prime Minister had called, requesting his assistance with processing our immigration application. The rest is history. After a few more trips to Ireland, several meetings with Subway, accountants, attorneys, etc. we closed the sale on August 2nd and I have not looked back! When you have a moment go to Google maps and enter Bridge Street, Carrick on Shannon, Ireland (go to street level, my Subway store is on the right side).
If you had asked me when we first met (two years ago?) if I thought I would end up owning a business in Ireland I might have thought to myself “in my dreams”. You proved to me that “success begins with dreams”. And for that I cannot thank you enough!
PS – Congratulations on your first book! Perhaps I can order a signed copy from you and you can deliver it in person? Don’t forget, you promised to come visit my store
Sincerely, Daniel Hepsley, Owner – Subway, Bridge Street, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Republic of Ireland”
This story is shared with Dan’s permission. If you’re in Ireland, I hope you’ll stop by his Subway, enjoy a meal, and share that you’ve read his story. I hope to see you there.