I was afraid of anyone in a costume. A trip to see Santa might as well have been a trip to sit on Hitler's lap for all the trauma it would cause me. Once, when I was four, my mother and I were in a Sears and someone wearing an enormous Easter Bunny costume headed my way to present me with a chocolate Easter egg. I was petrified by this nightmarish six-foot-tall bipedal pink fake-fur monster with human-sized arms and legs and a soulless, impassive face heading toward me. It waved halfheartedly as it held a piece of candy out in an evil attempt to lure me into its clutches. Fearing for my life, I pulled open the bottom drawer of a display case and stuck my head inside, the same way an ostrich buries its head in the sand. This caused much hilarity among the surrounding adults, and the chorus of grown-up laughter I heard echoing from within that drawer only added to the horror of the moment. Over the next several years, I would run away in terror from a guy in a gorilla suit whose job it was to wave customers into a car wash, a giant Uncle Sam on stilts, a midget dressed like a leprechaun, an astronaut, the Detroit Tigers mascot, Ronald McDonald, Big Bird, Bozo the Clown, and every Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Uncle Scrooge, and Goofy who walked the streets at Disneyland. Add to this an irrational fear of small dogs that saw me on more than one occasion fleeing in terror from our neighbor's four-inch-high miniature dachschund as if I were being chased by the Hound of the Baskervilles and a chronic case of germ phobia, and it's pretty apparent that I was--what some of the less politically correct among us might call--a first-class pussy.
My mom worked at McDonald's, and she decided she wanted to make more money, so she got into the management program at McDonald's. And that's how you move up the chain. It's not by demanding that minimum wage is raised; it's by actually acquiring the skills. That's the way that people get ahead in life.
Strategic initiatives aligned behind McDonald?s Plan to Win are strengthening our competitive position and delivering positive results worldwide. Performance for the first quarter reflected more customer visits and enhanced profitability as we continued to connect with our customers and increase the relevance of our brand.
However, attracting more customers to McDonald's remains our greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth. Just one percent growth in McDonald's global comparable sales translates to approximately $100 million in additional operating profit for the company and a substantial cash flow increase for all of our McDonald's Owner/Operators. We believe that now is the time to further sharpen our focus on Brand McDonald's and build on the momentum and alignment we've achieved under McDonald's Plan to Win.
A stab had clearly once been made at de-uglifying these public spaces by painting a corridor a jaunty yellow. This was because, it turned out, babies come here to have their brains tested and someone thought the yellow might calm them. But I couldn’t see how. Such was the oppressive ugliness of this building it would have been like sticking a red nose on a cadaver and calling it Ronald McDonald.
McDonald's will have to prove that it is not a one-trick pony in terms of its sales trends. Europe is getting better. This is a market that's almost as strong as the U.S. and accounts for as much as 40 percent of profits. But psychologically for investors, the U.S. market has to continue to do well in order for the stock to hold up.
I believe that the future of McDonald's is going to be their international growth. Let's not forget what President Bush is trying to do in Russia. Russia eventually is going to have to be our friend versus all this nonsense terrorism that's going on in the world, ... So, does the overseas market concern me? It doesn't because they are looking to marginalize that growth of 1-to-2 percent and diversify at the same time. I think the bad things are behind it and I like the stock.