Last month, I wrote a blog entitled Why I Want My Daughter to Work at Chick-fil-A. In the spirit of full disclosure, I own a Chick-fil-A franchise in Rockmart, GA, and my oldest daughter works for me during the summer. I am thrilled that she chose this to be her first job, but not in the way some may think. I’m not interested in giving her special treatment or making the job easy for her; in fact, I instruct my team to treat her the same as everyone else and, if anything, to be more hard on her.

As I mentioned previously, I believe a job as a Chick-fil-A Team Member teaches teens and young adults to be highly productive, resilient, life-long learners with healthy work ethics and world-class customer service skills.

Over the next few months, I want to unpack what I mean by this. When I think about it, having a “healthy work ethic” and being “highly productive” are really the same thing, so I will consolidate them into one post. I will write a series of four posts that cover the following topics:

  • Developing a healthy work ethic
  • Cultivating resilience
  • Becoming a life-long learner
  • Delivering world-class customer service

The primary reason why I want to instill these values in young people is not to make my restaurant better—though this is a likely byproduct. Rather, I am passionate about helping people become better, and I believe that Millennials (born 1981-1997) and Gen Z (born 1998-2010) need more help than previous generations in order to become the best versions of themselves.

Growing up on a farm and attending college at the United States Military Academy, then serving as an Army Ranger, instilled much of these values in me by default. I had little choice but to develop a healthy work ethic, cultivate resilience, and adopt a growth mindset so I was continually improving. There was a time when, even if you didn’t grow up on a farm or serve in the military, these values were instilled in you by previous generations—your parents and grandparents. However, in these times, less and less people have an upbringing like mine. We will see this happen even more as Millennials, who for the most part did not have this upbringing begin to have children of their own, because you can’t teach what you don’t know. Add to that a culture where we can Google anything, ask Siri, or download an app that can do just about anything for you; we have the information without the life experience. It doesn’t take long to realize we are growing a tech-dependent generation that doesn’t understand some things in life are difficult and require patience.

These values matter tremendously—not just at work but in life! Studies have shown that depression rates are skyrocketing, among young people in particular, as technology expands and our lives are marked with comfort and convenience. All these things that were supposed to make us happier are actually having the opposite effect!

I want my children to have jobs where they don’t just collect a paycheck. I want them to have jobs that push them, teach them discipline, help them hone their “survival skills” for life in this new world, and introduce them to the best versions of themselves. As we navigate uncharted territory, this parenting mindset is what I call “pioneer parenting,” and it’s very similar to the pioneers long ago who ventured out into wild, uncharted territory—who took risks and reaped the rewards, rather than blindly embracing the status quo the world offered them.

This is why I want my children’s first job to be at Chick-fil-A: because I believe it builds character and instills positive values that will prepare them for the future.

Zach Thomas is an entrepreneur, Chick-fil-A franchisee, business/life coach, public speaker, blogger, and author of Leader Farming: Growing Leaders to Grow Your Business. His next book, Pioneer Parenting: A Guide for Raising Kids in Uncharted Territory, is expected to release in 2020. Download a free preview chapter at

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