TALES n GRANDMA GATEWOOD’S WALK: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, BEN MONTGOMERY (CHICAGO PRESS REVIEW)
n FIND AN OLD GORILLA: pathways through the jungle of business and life, BERT THORNTON (Lulu Publishing Services)
Waffle House executive gives sage advice on career success
affle House, Inc., one of the largest 24-hour restaurant chains in the world, came to fruition more than 60 years ago, but one of the most iconic additions to the franchise came in 1983 with the creation of Bert’s Chili. With more than 11 million servings sold each year, Bert Thornton – the recipe’s namesake – is proud to bear witness to the stamp he’s made not only on the menu, but also on the business world in general. “I’ve spent more than 40 years successfully shaping the careers of rising high achievers, including my own,” said Thornton, former president and COO of Waffle House. “I know a little about business, but a lot about people and how to help them maximize their potential.” In his new guidebook, Find an Old Gorilla: Pathways through the Jungle of Business and Life, Thornton shares advice for those on all ends of the career spectrum. Citing effective mentoring as the key to success, he details how to choose the right mentor, make critical decisions, and take specific action steps to becoming a strong leader. “No one else is responsible for your success or failure,” he notes. “What happens or fails to happen depends strictly upon your action or your inaction.” After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1968, where he attended on a full football scholarship, Thornton spent two years as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army, serving a tour in South Vietnam. In 1971, he joined Waffle House as a manager trainee, working his way to the top in 2004. He’s now vice chairman emeritus of Waffle House and resides in Pensacola, Fla., with his wife, Kathy. 36
Equipped with Keds shoes, a change of clothes and some petty cash, 67-year-old grandmother Emma Gatewood from Gallipolis, Ohio, became the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Her journey in 1955 took 146 days and propelled her to national fame as “Grandma Gatewood.” She subsequently became the first person to walk the entire trail two and then three times. Ben Montgomery’s new biography chronicles her historic adventure in the Appalachian wilderness in amazing detail, showing how one determined woman became a pioneering trailblazer. “It didn’t take fancy equipment, guidebooks, training, or youthfulness,” Montgomery wrote. “It took putting one foot in front of the other – five million times.”
AJC DECATUR BOOK FEST Sept. 2-4 on the square
Drawing over 90,000 attendees each Labor Day weekend, the AJC Decatur Book Festival is the perfect place for authors and book lovers to unite. Presented Sept. 2-4 in the historic downtown Decatur square, the event features book signings, author readings, panel discussions, poetry slams (for adults and youth), writing workshops and more. It’s the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall, hosting hundreds of national and local authors, from bestsellers to emerging writers, in all genres. Festival-goers can also enjoy a wonderful Book Market & Street Fair with 150 booths, food and beer vendors (as well as a wine garden), live music, cooking demonstrations, an interactive children’s area and an opening day parade. The Makers Tent covers a wide range of activities – from beekeeping to iOS app development to 3-D printing – and offers kid-friendly fun, as well. decaturbookfestival.com.