Leadership in the Restaurant Industry is Inspiring!

As Founder and CEO at MonkeyMedia Software and the MMS Catering Institute, I get to spend my time learning from great leaders in the restaurant industry.  I am so inspired by the passion, diligence and resilience of the great people that are responsible for today’s stewardship of the restaurant industry.

I am so grateful the the many supporters of this project, and our plan to donate this legacy story to the industry as an education piece is well on track.  Check out Back To Basics.

Check out this podcast with Nate Riggs from Last week;

http://www.nateriggs.com/046-erle-dardick-mike-tyler-on-the-documentary-back-to-basics/

Also, check out these great photos from the project so far with Ron Shaich, Ed Rensi, Darren Tristano and Matthew Corrin.  Later in the year, we will be filming with Kat Cole, Dawn Sweeney, Paul Mangiamele,  Jim Vinz, Al Bhakta, Ari Weinzweig and Jon Luther Sr.

Thank you to everyone who is supporting this project!

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Mike Tyler getting his camera ready!
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Matthew Corrin, CEO at Freshii getting ready for his segment.
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Don Fox, CEO at Firehouse Subs shares is most regrettable Leadership Moment.

 

 

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Saying thank you to Ron Shaich, Founder and CEO at Panera Bread after his very generous interview.
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Darren Tristano, VP at Technomics, giving us an analysts perspective.

 

Ed Rensi
Ed Rensi, CEO at Famous Dave’s and Retired CEO of McDonald’s sharing great stories.

 

Heading to NRA 2013? – Join the Celebration of Technology Dinner, May 19, 2013

I always look forward to this time of year.  As a restaurant operator in Vancouver years ago, I always made sure I attended the National Restaurant Association gathering, year after year.  Mostly, it was for the learning.  Lot’s of learning.

Even today, 15 years later, as the CEO of MonkeyMedia Software and the Founder of the MMS Catering Institute, I still go for the learning.

There are so many events to choose from in just 5 short days.  One of my favourites is the Celebration of Technology at Zed 451 on Sunday night, May 19.  I’d recommend you attend if you are in Chicago.  You can register here.

But today, it’s become more than just learning for me.  As our organization works with thousands of restaurant operators, day in and day out, all focused on their catering operations.  We owe it to our community to reach high and be the best that we can be.  A never ending commitment to make ourselves better.  We can only do that by taking part in community based activities.  We need the feedback, validation and the passion of others.

Well, over the years, you end up making great friends.  Real friends.  Nice people working in an amazing industry.  I enjoy circling back, year after year.  I really go there for community…. to be part of something fantastic and make sure that I have a place to “hang my hat”.  Check out this video that Dawn Sweeney made, as the president and ceo of NRA.

I think she does a great job at setting her passion for her work in this video.

Well, there’s always alot to discuss.  Me?  I’ll look forward to meeting you on the show floor, or perhaps, if you have time, you might come by our booth where we are showcasing the services of the MMS Catering Institute and MonkeyMedia Software.  Booth #6878.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Think Community! – I am inspired by all of you

Well, the end of another week.

Had my feet well planted this week. So that always feels great.  Something about not traveling on the road this week.  That made space for a different rhythm during the days.  Next week, it’s wheels up!  Again.  I know, that’s a good thing right?  After all, if not for face time with great people, what fun would it all be?  It’s always been about the people for me.  Always.  I love what I do at MonkeyMedia Software.

Today something really amazing happened!  I mean really amazing.  I mean, when I put out the idea of making a documentary film for the restaurant industry with the idea of donating the effort and proceeds to Prostart, I never imagined it would turn into this!

My “Cadre de Compadres” has been feverishly working on our restaurant documentary film, Back to Basics.  That’s what we call ourselves.  The Cadre de Compadres!  Given to us by the mayor of our little world in North Hollywood, Chase Leblanc.  He’s helping me on the script.  Among many other things.  (Hey Chase, how’s the script going anyways?)

Think community

Anyways, Back To Basics is picking up incredible momentum.  You see, as the project grows in scale and opportunity, so does the effort and resource requirement.  Like any growing venture, it’s becoming demanding.  But that’s a good thing!  Thing is, we are just small people over here, trying to do small things.

Well, it turns out that its the small things that matter.  The many small things, turns into the BIG things.  One small thing at a time.

Well today, a member of our restaurant community, a very important leader, came forward with a $10,000 cash donation to the overall expenses of this project.  We’ve decided to put the money, along with an additional $5,000 cash donation from another donor, into the endowment fund to help with the overall costs to help get this project done.  This does not include the endless labor of love that 30 other people have already provided to this project.

When you have people like Ed Rensi, Jon Luther Sr., Ron Shaich, Jim Vinz, Don Fox, Paul Mangiamele, Al Bhakta, Kat Cole, Carin Stutz, Dawn Sweeney, Roz Mallet, Ari Weinzweig, Peter Romeo, Darren Tristano, Chris Lowe and Bill Cunningham starring in a documentary, people take you seriously!  

And so, I leave you with one thought today.  Think Community!  Maybe together we can raise more than a million dollars for the education of our young people.  The next generation of leaders.  Very important for all of us.  That I know.

Not only will you be feel great about helping, if you invest in the right places you might even make something amazing happen!  Just look at this project.  Something out of nothing.

If any of you would like to support this project, please know that your community would be very, very grateful.  Just reach out.

Me?  I’ll focus on the small things!  Seems to be working.

Have a great weekend!  And thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A film for anyone that has ever eaten at, worked in or run a restaurant! – Back To Basics

I’m getting ready for a two week road trip for my real job.  As CEO of MonkeyMedia Software.

Road trips are always tough, but worth it.  I get to work with our clients which is what I enjoy most in my professional life.  Fixing and improving businesses.  In my case, I use the strategy of off premise catering as my toolbox to help our clients.

But, that’s not why I am so excited.  No.

What has really got me excited, are the wonderful developments of our Documentary Film, Back to Basics.  The project is fantastic, the people are amazing and the vision is coming together beautifully.  I am not going to explain in this blog post.  But, I am posting a “DRAFT” of the film prospectus below.

It’s close to final, but I left it as a “DRAFT”, because every day, something new and exciting is happening with this project.  But, I can’t say more, YET!  Stay tuned and drop me a line when you read the prospectus here and let me know your thoughts.

This project is close to my heart, and based on where it is today, I am pinching myself!  Anything is possible!!! You just have to put your mind to it.  Thank you to everyone who is supporting this project.  Read the film prospectus by clicking on the link below.

Back To Basis Prospectus

 

Safe Travels!

Back to Basics – The Allstate Way

There’s alot going on this week.  My team is at MUFSO. New customers to focus on.  MonkeyMedia Software is working with Rosati’s Pizza now.  Helping them to get their catering program aligned amongst franchisees and franchisor.  Educating their team members, with catering certification and of course, implementing some great software to help them support the program.

Rosati’s is an amazing brand.  Lot’s of history.  A wonderful family business now being managed by its 5th generation of Rosati’s.  A true Pizza empire.  Here’s an old shot a few generations ago.

 This photo really got me thinking about the old days.  What it must have been like when life was a bit slower.  Not easier, but certainly slower.  Was it better?  I don’t know if it was, but certainly it was slower.

I recently had the good fortune of meeting much of the Rosati family and now I understand why this brand has had so many generations of success.  Deep commitment, solid core family values and just good people.  After all, it’s the people that make a company so great.  This family understood that it was all about community.

Once you get inside, you can see how each generation has fought hard to stay on top.  The vision has changed.  But it needs to in order to survive and be strong in the long run.

So, this got me thinking.  About our film project.  Back To Basics – The Future of the US restaurant industry in a Global Economy.

This film project is getting support from amazing people in an amazing industry.  I spent some time this week asking myself why this project is resonating with so many people?  Sure, we’ve got support from the National Restaurant Association and Coca-Cola.  Why?  We’ve got leaders like Ed Rensi, Jon Luther Sr., Ron Shaich, Ari Weinzweig, Paul Mangiamele, Al Bhakta, Carin Stutz, Roz Mallet, Dawn Sweeney, Kat Cole, Don Fox, Jim Vinz, Peter Romeo, Chris Lowe and Darren Tristano.

Sure we are committing all of the net proceeds of the film to Prostart under the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

All of these elements make for a wonderful and powerful project.  But, that’s not enough.  We have to deliver a compelling story.  Something that will resonate with the general public.  The restaurant industry employs 13 million workers in the US.  The restaurant industry represents a land of opportunity.  Just look at the Rosati family.  Immigrants who came to the US with very little. Through hard work and dedication, they built a future for their grandchildren and today employ hundreds if not thousands of people.

This story of immigration, hard work and building a future is the backbone of so much that we all have to be grateful for.  That’s what is so compelling.  We have to continue to tell these stories, to keep them alive and tell them again and again.  We need to try and put the essence of this success into a bottle, a syllabus if you will, so that we can teach future generations the characteristics of entrepreneurial success.  At the same time, we need to teach future generations how to be better business managers.  How to utilize the public markets at the same time not selling their souls for money and greed.  They need to be responsible.

We all know that money does not come easy.  It’s scarce and as a community we need to manage it responsibly.  After all, collectively, the restaurant industry handles more than $630 Billion per year in the US alone.  That’s alot of cash.  We can either be responsible or reckless, the decision is ours.

So, I was really trying to get my mind wrapped around this whole idea.  What is “going back to basics” all about?  It’s frugality.  It’s simplicity.  It’s logical.  It’s community based.  Basic works.  It always has, and always will.  We’ve got to focus on the core and basic elements.

Then, I found this Allstate commercial.  Ok, it’s a television Ad.  But, it speaks some truth.  I especially like the part where the narrator suggests that we need to go back to basics after each recession.  Allstate has survived 12 of them.  So, I thought I’d post the video here.  If Allstate can survive 12 recessions, then why can’t the restaurant industry?

It’s in your hands!  Enjoy your Saturday.

Back to Basics – the film

This is the post that inspired our film, Back to Basics. Check it out at http://www.backtobasicsthefilm.com

I originally wrote this entry about 8 months ago. It was inspired through a visit that I made to a very large public company in the restaurant community. I left the name of the organization off the post, so as not to make anyone feel bad. But truth be told, I left their facilities feeling very sad. I hope you enjoy the post below:

Journal Entry – August, 2011

I am so fortunate to have been provided the opportunity to serve as CEO at MonkeyMedia Software.

It’s my job to provide direction for the company, to help steer it to a hopeful but uncertain victory.

I get to meet great leaders and the people they serve. In each case, in companies both large and small, there are fantastic people trying so hard to please their customers, their managers and their owners. Everyone is working hard.

As I travel to boardrooms, I am amazed at the cultural differences that differ from company to company.

Many of these companies have been hit hard during these recessionary times. Yes, the food business has suffered in recent times.

I find it so interesting, that when a business is in decline, and cost cutting continues to be one of the main initiatives, the fear that is cultivated for the surviving members of the team is overbearing. Devastating, scary and quite frightening really. Emotions run high, work is piled on, and projects are under-resourced. Hiring freezes paralyze them; is anything getting done?

You can walk down the hallowed halls of these buildings, that were once filled with entrepreneurial spirit, the culture of growth and a true belief system. As the years have passed, Wall Street has stepped in. Although we should also feel grateful to Wall Street for providing us with financial vehicles for growth, I feel that at the same time, it is appropriate for us to be angry with them for killing the entrepreneurial spirit while focused on shareholder value.

After all, during these last 6 or 7 decades of growth our ancestors had to believe, right? Otherwise, how did they get up in the morning and go to work? Their passion was alive! Where else do you get the fuel from if not from believing? Wasn’t it hard times for them too? Hasn’t it always been hard?

For me, it is sad to see the “ghosts in the walls.” The words and images of a growing culture. One that had direction, hope and prospects for the “sky is the limit”.

As I walk down some of these halls, the once vibrant philosophical management style, has now turned over 3 times in recent years. You can sense that the mission statement so proudly displayed on the walls during the building years, are now just empty words in this time of decline. Nobody even reads the words. They are just invisible and part of the background noise. The words are not relevant, not being lived. The management teams in their ivory towers have stopped walking the talk. They have simply focused on share price, with no sense of any real higher purpose. It’s not their fault really because they too are just trying to feed their families. They are people too. Victims of Wall Street as well. They are forced to abandon suffering markets and focus on new growth opportunities overseas. Shouldn’t they fix their challenges at home first? Don’t they have a responsibility to their adoring brand fans? Their employees and franchisees? The people who have mortgaged their homes and depend on the success of these businesses? Where is their moral compass?

I feel as if the words I am reading on the walls, were written by past leaders who are now just “Ghosts in the Walls.” Just ghosts. Not the haunted kind; just the forgotten kind.

Well, I can tell you, there are companies that are trying hard to fix themselves. Leadership with new blood. Even so the battle is uphill as the future remains so uncertain. But hasn’t it always been uncertain? Isn’t that just the way it is? After all, nothing good can last just as nothing bad can last. It is forever changing.

One thing that worries me. We are forgetting all the good people who came before us in these workplaces. The people who experienced the early years. The entrepreneurial years. The exciting years.

And so, now that times are tougher, we sometimes remain disrespectful to our ancestors. The ghosts in the wall, as I see it. These people of the past made great contributions. They were relevant in their time. They worked hard, just like you and I. Their stories were bought by Wall Street who used their brand equity to grow bigger. But at what expense?

So why is it that instead of setting market trends, we don’t have the guts? We accept that the economy is bad and that there is nothing we can do about it. So, we show up to work, hoping it will change on its own, or even worse, we think new leadership will know what to do. We watch as they run for the hills and open new stores in emerging markets because Wall Street demands it. We follow them because we believe they know what to do.

Well guess what? They don’t know what to do! When a business is sick, it is sick. To bring it back to health, you have to change it; and quickly.

Well, it’s tough for anyone to fix broken companies, with broken promises. Distrust runs high.

I urge you to listen to the voices of the ghosts in the walls. That’s where the answers are. The ones that were there before you.

Our company ancestors have seen it all. They too rode the wild roller coaster of business. So, honor them. Tomorrow when you go to work, try and connect to your company ancestors. Ask THEM the hard questions.

I promise you they will tell you the answers. Just look on your walls. Read the old signs, the aging clippings and the wins and milestones that were celebrated over the years. Also, make sure you refer to the failures, there is alot to learn there. Reconnect with the culture, the passion, the spirit. The early days. Go back to the basics. It always works.

Now is the time for change. To get smarter, more committed, retrenched. How else do we manoever through the mired complexities?

As my friend Tom Feltenstein often says, change is good, you go first!

Only the entrepreneurial companies will survive. Just look at our great brands that are succeeding today. Behind each of them, is a great entrepreneurial leader. For them, there never was a “recession”. For them, it’s just a time of change, just like any other day at work. They don’t focus on share price. Just on their passion and beliefs.

They listen to and consult the ghosts in their walls.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs – Back To Basics

Well, as many of you know, my team at MonkeyMedia Software is working on a film called Back To Basics.  It started as a simple idea really.  Inspired by my learning as an entrepreneur navigating the complex boardrooms of America’s largest restaurant corporations.

The story line is real.  It comes from personal experience.  Lucky for me, the storytellers in our film agreed.

The premise of the story is compelling.  Really compelling.  Because as our restaurant corporations are focused on increasing short-term share value, our managers have boxed themselves in.  A focus on short-term share price forces short-term thinking because the financial markets always respond positively to short-term profits.

And so, because our boardrooms are populated with highly trained business sharpshooters who are great at applying formal business academics, we may be creating a “disconnect” in our organizations.

This “disconnect” is causing an imbalance in our boardrooms.  The entrepreneurship that lives at our restaurant unit level must be recognized and nurtured.  Our restaurant community must hold responsibility to make sure that as we pursue emerging markets in other parts of the world, we in fact invest in our people at home, at the restaurant level, so that they can join tomorrow’s leaders at the highest level of our corporations.

This will result in a healthier perspective in our boardrooms of the future.  The reason we need that is to make sure we compete fiercely at home in our mature markets as we expand globally in emerging markets.  We cannot do both without putting a plan in place for our young entrepreneurs who simply have not had the opportunity to be formally trained in business.

If you would like to read the long version of the film’s premise, please visit the website for the film.  All the net proceeds from this project will be donated to the NRAEF.

I saw the video below and it really inspired me today.   I hope you enjoy it too!