Office Book Club Goals: Book Recommendations from GSI’s Senior Leaders

September 4th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team

Why not use this time at home to grow professionally? Our senior leadership team at GSI would like to share with you their favorite professional development books. Whether you choose to read them on your own or with friends and coworkers as a part of a virtual book club, each of these books is a great way to help make connections to your professional development goals.

Check out the list below – one of them may become your next favorite!

DENNIS R. MAPLE, President and CEO

Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch


Straight from the Gut provides leaders with a roadmap for building great teams by ensuring their people are the central focus. While the book is about 20 years old, the lessons around holding people accountable to perform as agreed to and constantly looking to upgrade the team through development and recruitment of talent remains true today. It’s a good read and much of the data and insights on people leadership are still relevant today.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni


According to Dennis, if you haven’t read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team yet you may want to! This book is about teams identifying and confronting unproductive leadership behaviors that impede the execution of company goals and long-term sustainable, predictable success. The book is a quick read and it provides examples of very common dysfunctional behaviors that must be addressed before a team can become a high-performing and consistently deliver expected results and outcomes.

Execution The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan


In this book, Bossidy and Charan explain that great companies that achieve their goals focus on three pillars: strategy, people and operational plans. They delve into the importance of these three pillars, how they’re linked and how companies can succeed when all three are balanced. The book also offers insight on how organizational leaders can benefit from being linked to performers throughout the organization and how accountability is tied into performance, rewards and compensation.

CHRISTINA ESTRADA, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer

First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman


As an HR professional, Christina says this book shattered several paradigms that she had learned about how to best manage people. Four key elements emerged from the research on what great managers do:

  • Select for talent beyond just experience, intelligence or determination;
  • Define the right outcomes, not the right steps;
  • Focus on strengths, not weaknesses when motivating people;
  • Help find the right fit, not simply the next rung on a ladder when developing people.

The best managers “manage by exception” and don’t treat people how managers want to be treated, rather how their people want to be treated.

BOB SCOPINICH, SVP, Chief Financial Officer 

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims


 This book explains the importance of gradual improvement and constant innovation through lots of little failures and small wins.

Like most books about business, there are great stories and examples from big organizations, but Little Bets goes beyond solely focusing on companies. There are examples of Chris Rock working on new material, General McMaster developing counter-insurgency tactics and Frank Gehry designing buildings. Bob felt that the variety of examples made for a more interesting read than the average business book.

 CHRIS MALONE, EVP, Chief Growth and Strategy Officer

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

















In this book, the author argues that customers don’t buy or become loyal to WHAT companies make or sell but rather to WHY they do it. Successful companies attract loyal customers because their missions, purpose and intentions show customers that they are honorable and trustworthy. Sinek’s message encourages brands to focus on defining their mission and purpose (the why) before focusing on the products or services they will sell (the what).

 Give and Take by Adam Grant


Written by world famous psychologist and tenured Wharton School professor Adam Grant, Give and Take draws on extensive research to determine the success levels of three types of people: givers, takers and matchers. He ultimately determines that givers are generally the most successful and influential people because they freely provide more assistance and support than they receive while generally expecting nothing in return. Be sure to check this book out if you’re looking for fascinating insight into the how workplace personalities and relationships influence personal and professional success.

 MELISSA MILLER, VP, Digital Marketing

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie


Melissa says this classic book is her all-time career favorite due to its focus on interactions with people not only in the workplace but also in everyday life. It was one of the first books she read in her career to help her understand the importance of how to treat colleagues and others in her sphere. Although the book has been around for a while, Melissa believes the practices readers can learn from it are still relevant today.

Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


Developing a strong emotional intelligence, or EQ, is key for effective leaders. This book talks about the techniques and skills that draw EQ into the workforce. Melissa says she believes leaders must be sure to look at the total person and what is happening in the person’s everyday life to understand what makes him or her work best. This book reveals that by focusing on EQ, leaders can use empathy to help others and defuse conflict.

JULIE TREON, VP, Strategic Planning and Communications

Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage by Richard Stengel


This compact book offers a deeply inspiring look at an extraordinary statesman, leader and human being – Nelson Mandela. In Mandela’s Way, Stengel does an amazing job of exploring the experiences and complexities of this leader and then sharing the wisdom learned through 15 lessons that range from leading from the front – and back – and the importance of finding ways to instill joy and peace within our lives to the importance of recognizing that the answers to life’s most important questions are rarely yes or no. I turn to this book often for inspiration and insight.

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey


This is a compelling read not just for business leaders but for everyone as individuals. The principles shared in this book, if applied, can yield wonderful benefits for both our personal and professional relationships. Covey’s book is comprehensive but practical in the advice it conveys. In particular, this engaging book compels its readers to go deeply into the agendas of our hearts and to honestly recognize the impact this has on our behavior. This is a memorable read that will change the way you engage with others.


When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, businesses all over the world had to figure out how to modify their processes quickly while continuing to move forward.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) employees were at the forefront of these changes, ensuring we were meeting the needs of our learners while keeping attendee interactions strong. Pre-pandemic, we conducted in-person training sessions for new franchisees and School education directors. With everyone socially distancing, GSI swiftly adapted to this rapidly changing new environment. Tracey Grill, the GSU trainer-onboarding, and Donna Crosson, the corporate franchise trainer, stepped in to guide the Goddard system through this transition. “I have the greatest job in the world,” Donna said. Donna used her training experience and expertise to guide the team and assist them in tapping into that passion and enthusiasm in order to create powerful virtual training tools for new franchisees and directors.

What We’re Doing Differently 

Without a classroom environment, the team focused on finding ways to connect with franchisees digitally. They found that using a well-balanced mix of different platforms in conjunction with face-to-face virtual meetings helped recreate the feel of the in-person classroom. They also introduced a mix of interactive icebreakers and activities to keep the learners engaged during training while helping them make vital connections with one another.

It is a people-first approach. Participants come with varied professional experiences that impact how they receive and retain information. The team connects with the participants first, which informs how technology is used to deliver content. Franchisees must walk away with the tools they need to be able to hit the ground running when their Schools open and need to feel like they’re truly part of the Goddard family. They can then carry the same kind of familial atmosphere into their Schools.

What Our Challenges Were and How We Overcame Them 

Of course, this new way of doing things wasn’t without its speed bumps. For example, with franchisees tuning into training remotely from all over the country, connectivity issues can sometimes arise. The team ensures that all the franchisees have dial-in options and hard copy materials available if they aren’t able to access the training digitally.

There’s also the matter of the dreaded meeting fatigue, which can set in when conducting online meetings. To minimize this, the training team strategically schedules the flow and timing of the training sessions to make them more digestible while giving the franchisees a break to absorb the information they learn. Learning activities are also carefully planned to maximize opportunities to interact with the presenters and one another.

Speaking of information, Donna coordinates with various subject matter experts to ensure virtual delivery tips and tricks are shared with the entire training team. After each session, the feedback informs adjustments that can be made to enhance the experience. Continuous improvement is always at the forefront to ensure the most impactful learning experience for participants.

What We’ve Learned and How We’re Moving Forward 

The main takeaway that Donna, Tracey and the team of presenters learned from this experience is that while face-to-face training is preferred, virtual training can be just as successful and fun. It has also forced them to think outside the box to find new, creative ways to connect with franchisees through interactive activities. They plan to continue to use those activities to link each phase of training to the next while continuing to use self-study assignments to bridge the gap between training sessions. In true Goddard Systems fashion, virtual training has been a perfect example of how learning opportunities can be found anywhere – even in the comfort of your home.


Wellness for All – Tips To Start You Off And Keep You Going

June 22nd, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team

Here at GSI, our employees are participating in our wellness initiative, put together every year by our human resources team! From walking to doing yoga to hitting the stairs, there are many forms of exercise to help you get fit and stay healthy. This stays true for people of all ages and abilities. Join us while we explore fitness with these tips to start you off and keep you going!

GSI Wellness Tips 2 3 4 5 6 7

The Goddard School Located in Mount Pleasant, SC, Is Now Open!

June 9th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


A father and son have teamed up to open The Goddard School located in Mount Pleasant, SC. The newest Goddard School officially opened on Monday, May 11, and is now enrolling.

Andrew Smith and his oldest son, Nathan, turned owning a Goddard School into a family business. They both have a strong passion for education and an appreciation for the importance of play-based learning. For generations, the family has encouraged having fun while learning and developing independence. This led to a partnership between Andrew and Nathan, who wanted to bring a high-quality, play-based learning program to Mount Pleasant families.

“I want to foster an environment where children love to arrive every day and where parents know their child’s daily care and development is an extension of the same nurturing they are providing at home,” Andrew said. “I also want to build a team of faculty members that considers all of the students’ families and coworkers as an extension of their own families, and most importantly, to fulfill this dream with my son, Nathan, at my side.”

“From as early as I can remember, my parents have instilled in me a love for and the importance of education. I was given the opportunities to grow, to succeed, to thrive and, even at times, to fail. All of which shaped me into the person I am today,” Nathan said. “It is an absolute dream for me to go into business with my dad. The fact that we’re giving so much back to families and the community makes this adventure even better.”

The newest Goddard School, located at 1151 Muhlenbergia Drive, Mount Pleasant, SC, will be open Monday to Friday from 6:30 AM to 6 PM.

For more information about The Goddard School located in Mount Pleasant, SC, visit

Four Ways to Stay Connected with Your Colleagues

June 8th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team



The year 2020 has been an eventful year – sorry – five months. We’ve spent more than 90 days following stay-at-home orders, wearing face coverings to shop for essentials and trying (and failing) to find soap and hand sanitizer anywhere. During this time, we’ve also dealt with unemployment, furloughs, work from home and homeschooling. (We won’t talk about that last one.) On top of this, we’re experiencing the biggest civil rights movement in history.

What does this mean? We’re tired, scared and stressed. Living through these huge events often means that we put our own needs on hold, including the very important and basic need: human connection. While social media use may have increased dramatically over the past few weeks, it will never solely meet the need for maintaining personal connections.

Under normal circumstances, I talk to numerous co-workers during a workday, sometimes about work, but often it’s about our personal lives. It helps relieve stress, break up my day and even clear my head, which serves to enhance the quality of the work I produce. To help cultivate these same experiences during social distancing, many co-workers and friends have found other ways to stay connected. So, to celebrate National Best Friend’s Day, here are some ideas that may help you maintain and grow your relationships.

  1. Give them a phone call.

As a millennial, I dislike phone calls, so just text me. Send me an email. It’s faster. Under normal circumstances, I’d probably still feel this way, but now, I’ve realized that hearing a friend or co-workers voice provides a deeper connection than an email or text message. I feel better after chatting with someone on the phone. I think it leads to more robust conversation and shares your thoughts or frustrations, but just remember to talk about things other than work.

  1. Host a virtual happy hour.

Before COVID-19, my co-workers would set up a monthly happy hour at a nearby bar or restaurant. Now, they’ve evolved it into a bi-weekly virtual happy hour. This is a great way for all of us to see each other and chat about anything non-work related. Sometimes a game or two is played, but overall it’s a fun way to relax and let off steam.

  1. Start a virtual book club.

Book clubs can be a lot of fun and reading is fundamental. It’s interesting to listen to co-workers and friends discuss what they took away from each chapter and for you to share your takeaways. Given our country’s current circumstances, consider choosing books written by authors of color, particularly ones that dissect racism. Here’s a great list to get you started.

  1. Plan a video call.

Along the same lines of virtual happy hours and book clubs, are video chats. Try scheduling time to chat with a co-worker or two during a virtual coffee or lunch break. It’s more intimate than the entire team, and it’s another great way to break up the day.

So tell us, how do you stay connected with friends and co-workers?

GSI Women In Franchising – Snohomish, WA

May 13th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


In our second edition of GSI’s Women in Franchising, we’re highlighting Erin Goulet and Lissa Knox, on-site owners of The Goddard School located in Snohomish, WA. We asked this mother-daughter team to tell us about their experience as female entrepreneurs and advice they would give other women who have similar ambitions.

GSI: How has Goddard supported your dreams of being an entrepreneur?

Goulet & Knox: The Goddard opportunity represents an alignment of so many values that are important to us as entrepreneurs. It has created an opportunity to serve families in our community in a meaningful way, to create a supportive workplace for our team and to receive support and guidance from a franchisor that reflects our values. Within our market of Goddard Schools here in the Pacific Northwest we have had the opportunity to collaborate closely with our peers which has been incredibly fulfilling and strengthens what we are all able to offer to our communities.

GSI: How have you grown as a leader and business owner since opening your own Goddard School?

Goulet & Knox: We have experienced how transformative it is to give to others. This is true for our individual business, that doing our best to serve our employees and our families to the best of our abilities are the path to a successful program. We have also experienced this to be true as franchisees within a larger system. The effective partnership among our peers and across our system drives the success of our entire brand. We have also experienced how fulfilling this kind of meaningful partnership can be to our experience as business owners.

GSI: What guidance would you give other women who are driven to become entrepreneurs?

Goulet & Knox: Surround yourself with likeminded women who share your goals and your values in business. Learn from them and do your best to support them and genuinely celebrate their success. This kind of meaningful collaboration makes the work both more manageable and more fulfilling. We are incredibly fortunate to be a part of a network of strong female entrepreneurs through our relationships with our fellow franchisees. We also serve a community of parents that include many women in leadership and entrepreneurial roles. We feel great pride in being a part of these communities of like-minded women.

GSI Women In Franchising

May 7th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


In honor of being named one of the Top Franchises for Women by Franchise Business Review, we asked Marissa Pratt and Kristina Ford, on-site owners of the Goddard School located in Farmington, CT, about their experience as female entrepreneurs and advice they would give other women who have similar ambitions.

GSI: How has Goddard supported your dreams of being an entrepreneur?

Pratt and Ford: The incentive of becoming an entrepreneur was cultivated in growing up in a family of small business owners. After graduating from college and working full time, we both knew that owning and growing a business would be far more rewarding than working for someone else! Goddard was the perfect business as it revolved around doing something good for the families and children in the community. GSI is committed to supporting each and every one of it’s 500 schools from coast to coast! When looking into the franchise, Goddard stood out as having a network of individuals who would teach and support us, not only in opening our school, but throughout the life of our School. The ongoing research that Goddard conducts and their outstanding commitment to education, health and safety helps us to remain in the forefront of Early Childhood Education. Having all of this knowledge and education, assists us in operating the best possible school for our students, families, teachers and community.

GSI: How have you grown as a leader and business owner since opening your own Goddard School?

Pratt and Ford:  Hands down, face to face communication is key to a successful business. This begins with our administration team, families, students and teachers. A clear, open line of communication strengthens your School, the relationships within the School and the partnership between coworkers. We’ve learned the importance of helping our teachers and directors grow in their talents and skills. We have sharpened our listening skills so that we might better observe children, parents, teachers and directors in an effort to improve and challenge ourselves as a leadership team.

GSI: What guidance would you give other women who are driven to become entrepreneurs?

Pratt and Ford:  Believe in yourself! Have a mission and stick to it! Be prepared to take risks, to make hard decisions, to fail and succeed, it’s all worth it! Create a network with other owners who you can share successes, struggles and milestones with. The comradery that GSI promotes has been instrumental in our success and growth. We are thankful that we have so many Goddard Schools across the USA who we can reach out to, to bounce ideas off of!

GSI Employees Share Favorite Books to Read with Their Children

March 26th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


No matter what age you are, a good children’s book can provide a profound sense of comfort, especially as many of us are weathering the COVID-19 storm at home. From beautiful illustrations and engaging stories to simple life lessons that hit home, these books can help adults center themselves while engaging and enjoying time with the children in their lives.

In honor of National Reading Month, we asked Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) employees to share their favorite books to read with their children. Here are their recommendations.

Books Everyone Can Enjoy

GSI’s director of organizational change management, Ashley Betzendahl, says her daughter Dillion, who is almost two, has lots of favorite books. As Ashley points out, children and their parents often have vastly different tastes in reading material. However, Ashley says that she and Dillion can always agree on I Know a Rhino by Charles Fuge, Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and The Big Orange Splot by D. Manus Pinkwater.


Books About Animals

GSI’s program development manager, Laura Mellor-Bachman says she has two clear favorite animal books to read to her 21-month-old daughter, Juliana, who prefers any story that can be sung.

“One of Juliana’s favorites from before she even began to talk is Baby Beluga, by Raffi,” Laura says. “She loves the melody and the fun pictures of the baby beluga playing with friends. We emphasize some parts with body motions and some parts we sing soft and loud. It is always fun, whether it is during bath time, sitting on the couch or even in the car. There are three copies of it in our house!”


Laura says that she and Juliana also love to read Click Clack Moo; Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.

“One of the first phrases Juliana ever said was, ‘No milk today!’” Laura says. “She loves to flip the pages and repeat the phrase over and over. It is the most entertaining story for different voices for both parents and children.”


 A Book About a Friendship

Laurie Harvey, GSI’s interactive media manager, says her favorite book to read to her baby daughter, Hailey, is Your Best Friend is Coming by Nikki Hogue.

“A good friend and fellow dog lover gave us this book,” says Laurie. “We fell in love with the story, which is told by the dog’s perspective. Reading it to Hailey fills our hearts with so much love in anticipation of the friendship that she and our dog, Dexter, will form.”


A Classic for Children and Adults

Denise Hilbert, GSI’s education support specialist, knows that you can’t get any better than a classic. She loves to share the story of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein with her grandchildren.


Sharing an Important Life Lesson

For Danielle King, GSI’s communications writer, teaching her three-year-old son, Vinny, to find value in himself is paramount. She loves the book, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, because the message is so simple, yet so important.

“Many of us struggle with liking ourselves, myself included, so I purchased I Like Myself to read to my son to help him learn to love himself no matter what, even if he has ‘knobby knees or hippo hips or purple polka-dotted lips,’” says Danielle. “I also want to expose him to different protagonists who don’t look like him to drive the message home further that everyone is beautiful because none of us look the same, and all people deserve to love themselves, no matter what.”




Honoring Innovative Educators: Betsey Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project

February 27th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


At GSI, we are always working to provide the very best in early childhood education. For Black History Month, we are highlighting Betsey Stockton, a pioneer of adaptive teaching, and the Perry Preschool Project, a groundbreaking education research study. Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project had the same goal: finding a way to provide children with the best learning experiences.

Betsey Stockton: Pioneer of Early Childhood Education

Betsey Stockton’s work as a missionary kickstarted her involvement in early childhood education. Born into slavery in New Jersey in 1798, she was taught to read and expressed her desire to become a missionary when she was about 20 years old. When Betsey was freed in the 1820s, she went to Hawaii to fulfill this dream and launch her teaching career.

In Hawaii, Betsey taught at the mission school, educating both local and missionary children using the monitorial method, according to a National Association for the Education of Young Children article. This teaching method grouped children by ability, and more experienced students, known as monitors, led the groups.

Betsey returned to the East Coast, and in 1828 she was recruited by the Infant School Society of Philadelphia to teach at a new infant school, where teachers would educate young children using a combination of play and learning activities based on observing objects or studying picture cards. To prepare for the position, Betsey trained in New York. When she returned to Philadelphia, she started what would become a successful infant school for African American students. Due to her expertise, Betsey was soon asked to train teachers to educate Ojibwa students at a mission site on Grape Island in Canada. Betsey’s work here would serve as a blueprint for other mission schools in the area.

Betsey then taught at the Witherspoon Street School for Colored Children in Princeton for nearly 30 years. To honor her inspiring work, Princeton University named a garden after Betsey in 2018, saying, “Given the many lives she nurtured over the course of her courageous life, we believe it is fitting that she be commemorated in a garden that we hope will be a place of beauty and reflection for both town and gown.”

The Perry Preschool Project

This 1960s research study only lasted a few years, but the results showed that the right kind of education can benefit children for the rest of their lives. From 1962 to 1967, David Weikart, a psychologist, and Charles Eugene Beatty, the principal of Perry Elementary School in Ypsilanti, MI, worked together to create a program that would bolster the cognitive skills of disadvantaged African American children.

The program selected African American children from three to four years old and randomly assigned them either to a control group that received no pre-k education or an intervention group. Teachers worked with the students in the intervention group every day on planning and executing tasks and then reviewing the results. The intentional teaching strategy they used ultimately showed long-term positive results. The researchers followed the children into adulthood, and they found that the intervention students were more likely to have attained higher levels of education with fewer suspensions, were more likely to be employed and were less likely to commit crimes than the members of the control group.

A summary of the findings by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, the organization behind the project, concluded that “all young children living in low-income families should have access to preschool programs that have features that are reasonably similar to those of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program.”

James Heckman, a Nobel laureate, an economist and the current head of Perry Preschool research, said the program saw success because it could “activate the spark” of learning in the students while also engaging their parents, according to The Hechinger Report.

A Lasting Legacy

Betsey Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project have been instrumental in shaping early childcare education. At GSI, we are inspired by education leaders, and we are grateful to the educators who help children create brighter futures.

Second Georgetown-area Goddard School Now Open!

February 25th, 2020 by The Franchise Development Team


After each spending about 28 years in the software consulting industry, Swati and Sunil Kapdi decided to open a nationally acclaimed private early childhood education center known for its play-based curriculum and individualized learning experience. 

Teaching has been my passion since high school,” Swati said. I used to do tutoring for elementary, middle and high school children during the initial years of my career.” 

This is the second The Goddard School to open in Georgetown proper this year, reflecting the community’s rapid growth. Swati and Sunil fulfilled their dream of opening their own preschool to meet the demand for early childhood education options in the area. 

We love to be around children, and we are committed to providing them the best education and support in their early years of development,” Swati said. We feel fortunate to be able to influence them during their developmental stages and make an impact in their life. 

The newly constructed preschool, located at 3740 Williams Drive, officially opened on Jan. 2. More than 180 children ages six weeks to six years old will attend the preschool and experience its unique play-based learning curriculum. They will also provide before/after school programs and summer camp programs for elementary children.  

The preschool is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

For more information about the newest The Goddard School in Georgetown (Williams Drive), TX, visit