How Restaurant Catering is Changing the Balance Sheet of America – RLC Presentation 2013

As many of you know, I’m passionate about catering in multi-unit restaurant ecosystems.  As part of my duties at MonkeyMedia Software, I recently had a wonderful opportunity to speak at the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale last month.  My team captured the whole presentation on video, and I thought I’d post it here for anyone who is interested in seeing it.

I hope you enjoy it.  Send me your thoughts!




It’s all about the magic! – Why I attend Industry Conferences

I hope you all read this because I feel that Industry conferences are just so important. I love the way people come out to learn new ideas and share old ones. The energy is high.

I have always maintained that my love for the restaurant industry is because of the people. As restaurateurs, we touch people each and every day. We touch them through food, experience and magic. Yes magic. Not the “trick” kind of magic, but the magic of connection. Personal connection. At least, that’s how it is for me.

To me the restaurant industry is magical. I mean, how do you pull off all of the different variations and combinations of preparing and packaging food for consumption the way the restaurant industry does? The magic of free markets? The magic of competition? The magic of providing a consistent, scalable and predictable experience, day in and day out? The magic that dreams are made of. After all, somedays I feel like I am living proof. I could not have ever imagined that today, my company would be working with the smartest people that this industry has to offer. But, to my good fortune, I am. And not just a few people. ALOT of really, really smart people!

There is nothing more magical than watching a group of people collaborate on a new idea. The coming together of their passions, their beliefs and their desires. In the photo above you can see a team of Rosati’s Franchisees coming together during my presentation to help them imagine a new catering world. A better world for their business. A better world for their team members and their customers.

Me? I have a great job! I get to stand up in front of our community and present to them a perspective that they may not have considered. What matters to me, what fills me up is when people share openly. They share their victories, their failures. Their pain. Their pleasure. I love watching our community work together to solve important business and world issues. Things that really matter. Real challenges and real solutions.

I just spent 10 days on the road and I covered alot of territory. I stopped in at three conferences, visited a handful of customers and spent time with several new prospects. Alot of territory.

I lost count along the way, but I’d venture to say that I met more than 300 new people over those ten days. Now, I didn’t get to spend quality time with each person, but I did make some fantastic intellectual and emotional connections with the ones I did get to spend some time with. Thanks to each of you, I listened and learned. I thank you for your personal stories and for trusting me enough to hold your thoughts in confidence.

For me, conferences are a place of community. A place to belong. A place to make great memories and great friends. I find it fascinating how strangers or acquaintances can be exchanging high fives and hugs goodbye after just a few short days together. I find this human connection to be the most compelling reason to attend a conference. It’s why I go.

Sure, I am there for business. Just like all of you. And, I make sure I am accountable to that. I make sure I get my business done. But, because of the short and intense burst of time together, I find that the new friendships that I make are really what feeds me most of all. That’s the magic, from how I see it.

For those of you that attend conferences, I encourage you to keep doing so. I know they are alot of effort. I know that they take you away from your families. But I promise you, that the magic that happens in between the workshops and presentations is the real reason to go. That’s where you make your long term relationships and get to learn about what great people this industry is made of. Everyone from operators to suppliers to editors of magazines and media. All doing their part to make our industry better.

What a great industry we are part of! Thanks for letting me be in it.

Hope to see you at the next opportunity!

Blown away by the quality of leadership in our multi-unit restaurant community

Last week in Scottsdale, Arizona I had the good fortune of attending the Restaurant Leadership Conference for 2012. I had so much fun, especially with sharing my dream about Ray Kroc in this Video!  For those of you that missed it, just before the Bill Strickland presentation, I’ll share it here just for fun.  I’ll come back to Bill Strickland in a bit.

So, I have to say, that I am blown away by our community!  Really blown away! I think many of the attendees were.  And so, as I returned to Vancouver, It really got me thinking.  I mean, REALLY got me thinking.

Here’s the thing.  Of the 30% of attendees that I was lucky enough to meet, to greet and to make some acquaintance,  I felt that the quality of the our conversations were insightful, optimistic, kind and generous.   Those conversations were a gift for me on a personal level.  These gatherings are so important for all of us, because the food business is about people.  Making connections.  Intellectual, spiritual and emotional.  It’s just about the people.

So I started thinking more about that.  I really started to zero in on the quality of the  Keynote Speakers this year. Not that previous years have been anything to sneeze at; but this year, it was different.

Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo 

Joshua Olshansky Managing Director and Head of Consumer Retail Practice, Golden Gate Capital

Herman Cain Former President/CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Former Chairman, NRA

Howard Stoeckel CEO, Wawa Inc.

Ronald M. Shaich Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board Panera Bread

Edward H. Rensi Former President & CEO, McDonald’s USA; Co-operator, Tom & Eddie’s.  

Seeing that this was a Leadership conference, I studied these leaders.  I observed, I listened and I learned.  I saw how each of them really connects with their audience when they are speaking.  They spoke with high energy, intense belief and a passion towards a higher purpose in their work.  It was fascinating for me to watch.  I was mesmerized.  Impressed.  And most of all, I was learning.  

“That’s it!”, I thought to myself.  “It’s the learning!  The intellectual connections!  The idea of advancement!  Of making our industry better, so we, as people can be better!”.  Well, at least that was part of it for me.

So I started thinking more about that. 

Then I thought about the followers under these great leaders and within that following is yet even more leadership.  As a matter of fact, each facet of our business operations needs to have solid leadership.  And so, I started to wonder where exactly that begins and ends, from an organizational perspective.

Then I thought to myself that not all people can be or even want to be leaders.  Or do they?  I mean, if leadership remains a key theme throughout the entire culture of our organizations, then clearly if we can be leaders in our markets, then all of the people who work for us will feel like leaders.  So, it’s not necessarily about individuals as much as it is about whole organizations, industry’s and communities.

I want to call out two particular things I learned from the conference.

1.  Ron Shaich spoke on the topic of Conscious Capitalism.  Ron’s message struck me hard.  It’s brilliant and he has taken this perspective and applied it to the Panera Cares concept.  Here is a video that I found on Ron’s fantastic and creative effort towards making a difference in the communities he serves.

When I heard this perspective, I felt like I was watching a master, an artist.  I was watching a man that had so much trust in the human spirit, that he risked his neck on a new idea.  One that everyone called crazy.  And guess what?  It’s working.  The communities are embracing this new economic model and while that is happening, less privileged people are eating great food at Panera.  Getting respect and the end result is that these communities are healthier and those that are suffering from hunger, are getting food.  This approach to our community issues is not only brilliant, it serves shareholders as well.  This presentation really blew me away at the conference.

2.  The second most important presentation for me was from Bill Strickland.  Bill was so effective in his presentation, that he had most of the room shedding tears.  Why?  Because of his authenticity in his mission and his ability to connect with the human emotion.  For those of you that missed Bill’s presentation, I am including a clip that I found.  

I was so moved by Bill Strickland’s work, that I decided to learn more about his education perspectives.  He is building a facility in Vancouver and my plan is to get involved, from the beginning.  To bring purpose to others, to wake with intention and to be involved in impacting the human emotion in a positive and purposeful way.  

I took away a feeling of hope from these speakers.  That in fact, we can do more in our professional careers to make a difference.  To really make the world a better place instead of just living to increase shareholder value.  I love that idea.  Build it and they will come.  If you look after your customers, and you create the right environment, behaviour will change.  Profits?  Well, according to Ron and Bill, if you don’t focus on them, and you just focus on your “higher purpose” as an organization, the money will come.

I woke up very grateful to these two leaders today.  I want to thank them both for the gift they gave me in Scottsdale last week.  I encourage each of you to learn more from these great human beings.