One Lucky Film Maker! – I love the restaurant industry!

I am in Chicago, on the last leg of a 10 day road trip.  Being on the road is always bitter sweet for me because on the one hand I get so much done, but on the other hand, I am away from my family.  That part is hard and the sacrifice is substantial.  But, in the end, I think it will all be worth it.

My post today is about community.  It takes a village, as they say.  Our little film project, Back To Basics, is really getting some attention.

The story line is resonating with alot of people, everywhere.  Yesterday, I had a wonderful meeting at the NRA offices in Chicago with a fantastic group of people.  They are so excited about our project and as you might know by now, we have earmarked all of the net proceeds of the film to Prostart.









Well, I can’t say much about it yet, as the details are just unraveling.  What I can tell you, is that in total, we now have more than 30 people working on this project as a community effort and our prospectus is being prepared for support from the Food Network! We have also agreed on our official release date of the film which will be coordinated with NRA 2014.  The Food Network will bring Hollywood Celebrity Power to the film, which will help to support the thesis of the project and further support the stories that will be told by our fantastic cast of leaders;

After all, with Star power like Ed Rensi, Jon Luther Sr., Ron Shaich, Don Fox, Jim Vinz, Paul Mangiamele, Al Bhakta, Roz Mallet, Kat Cole, Carin Stutz, Dawn Sweeney, Peter Romeo, Darren Tristano and Bill Cunningham, it’s tough to go wrong!

Over the next year, the film will be used to help raise awareness around the work that is being done around Prostart.

Watch for some amazing developments in the next few weeks as we make more details public.  We’ve got alot of surprises in store and based on how fast things are moving, and the amount of community support we are getting, this film is going to go mainstream on the Food Network as well as Theatres everywhere.

It just gets better and better.  Please visit the website for the film and stay up to date.

Drop me a line to show your support. I am one lucky film maker!  Thank you to MonkeyMedia Software for agreeing to be the Executive Producer of the project!

Who is this kid?

I am just coming off a fantastic trip to Chicago for NRA 2012. I need to debrief! So many great people doing so many great things. It’s amazing! My head was spinning by the time I hit the pillow last night!

I entered the food business 15 years ago focused on fixing a distressed deli in Vancouver. At the time, I was just looking for a good business opportunity to get into, but I had very few resources.

I had a young baby and my family was growing. I really just had to make a living! My decision to purchase the deli came without much thought. It just felt right to me. So, as I have always done in business, I followed my intuition. It has always served me well.

Tony’s Deli – Vancouver, Canada

There is no way that I could have predicted the outcome of that project. What I know today, is that by focusing on what I thought was the right thing, the Deli became my food business laboratory.

Fast forward 15 years! Boom, just like that! (Ok, not “just like that”. It’s been 15 years!)

On Monday night, May 7 2012 in Chicago, more than 300 friends, colleagues, prospects, customers and suppliers came to Bennigan’s to gather for conversation.

Conversation not just about the restaurant industry, but in many cases, to share personal stories. Many new connections and friendships were forged on Monday. It made for a fantastic evening.

So much happened at NRA for me this year, but what stands out most in my mind is the smiles and the optimism that surfaced in the room at Bennigan’s. It reminded me again that our industry is full of kind and generous people who work hard every single day to serve our customers. The food industry is amazing. It is huge! There is so much opportunity for those who persevere, as long as they are authentically adding value somewhere in the chain.

In order to have a positive business experience, you have to add value along the way. If you do that, through effort, sweat and persistence, luck is the dividend. But it takes time. I learned that from reading about Ray Kroc. He was so, so smart.

Two things I want to share with you today from the party the other night, that I hope you will consider:

1. Below is a photo of Jim Vinz, Co-CEO LeDuff America, kindly accepting a check for $5000 to Share Our Strength from the up to date net proceeds from the sales of my book. It was an important moment for me, on a personal level.

I am driving to raise $100,000 through these proceeds, but that will only happen if the book adds value. I am told by those who have read it, that it is worthwhile.

If you are serious about catering and growing your off premise restaurant sales, purchase the book for your team members or if you are a supplier, buy copies for your customers. The proceeds go to a great cause and towards improving the lives of many people.

Mo Asgari (President, MonkeyMedia Software), Jim Vinz (Co-CEO, LeDuff America), Erle Dardick (CEO, MonkeyMedia Software)












2. Below is a video that we shared that night. When this video was played, the whole room stopped and it was the only moment in the evening where everyone was focused on a single transformative idea. That was really great to see!

I was trying to think of something more important to write about today, but I realized that what happened that night WAS important. Why? Because that room, (and I am certain hundreds like it at other NRA gatherings), was full of amazing people all doing their part to make a difference in a complex world.

For me, it was a night of learning. I find the human spirit fascinating! People are powerful when they unite.

Let’s get together soon. Oh… before I go, let me put up this quick graphic for ordering the book. Just scan the QR code with your phone and you can order copies of Get Catering and Grow Sales! if you think it might be time well spent for you.

Thank you for your support.

All Net Proceeds go to Share Our Strength.

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.