Appearances can be deceiving

Appearances can be deceiving

Through personal and professional anecdotes, the VP of Sonny's CarWash College tells us the importance of keeping an open mind.

I grew up in a pretty big family. I was number four of six children. The boys dominated the lineup by a ratio of 5:1 with our lone sister being the baby.

So, for 60-plus years on this planet, it appeared that the makeup of the Fox family was six kids, five males, one female. But appearances can be deceiving.

For all these years I had five siblings, until one day, I didn’t.  No one died, thankfully.  But we recently found a half-brother we never knew existed. In the blink of an eye, my five siblings had become six. And my half-brother who thought he was an only child has found out he is one of seven children.

While it came as a shock to me, imagine my brother’s surprise at finding out he not only has five brothers and a sister but also countless nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws he never knew about.

While I was in Philadelphia recently presenting at a Sonny’s seminar, I had a chance to meet and have dinner with my brother. He is four months younger than me, and we share more than our father’s DNA, we also share the name Bob. Our last names are different, obviously, but I now know what it must feel like to be one of George Foreman’s sons.

Again, appearances can be deceiving.

Some 30 years ago, when I owned my wash, a young man came in to apply for a position. He was in his early twenties, long hair, braided in a ponytail, earrings, goatee and tattooed. This was back before all the HR policies of today which now make what I’m about to say either illegal or immoral, or both, but I think it’s important for context.

I told that young man, in no uncertain terms, that I wouldn’t consider hiring him until he shaved, got a haircut, and removed the earrings. When he pressed me on it, I told him those were my terms.

Take them or leave them. So, he left. But, he came back about a month later and asked again for a job. He still looked the same, so we had a similar conversation.

A few weeks went by when he came by again. This time clean shaven, no ponytail and no earrings. I didn’t recognize him as the same person and offered him a job. It wasn’t until after he’d left that day, that my manager informed me he was the same kid I had turned down twice before.

This young man turned out to be one of my best employees and remained with me for about seven years. He worked his way through the ranks into an assistant manager role. To this day, we have stayed in contact. He is now very successful in another field.

He credits me for helping him turn his life around; I feel shame for not being able to see past his outward appearance. We often joke about it, but I learned a valuable lesson from it.

Appearances can be deceiving.

I hope to have my brother and his family come to Florida for a visit. We’ve already given him a nickname, he’s “New Bob”. Being the older of the Bobs, I am now referred to as “Old Bob”, which oddly enough, I’ve been called around Sonny’s for years. I look forward to meeting his wife and my new found nieces and nephew, and showing them photos of their grandfather … Bob and my father.

Whether it be your family or professional life, be open to new things. You never know what you’ll be missing if you don’t.

As I’ve mentioned previously, appearances can be deceiving.

All the best!


Bob Fox is VP of Sonny’s CarWash College and an industry veteran of 37 years. You can reach Bob at [email protected].

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