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;


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!

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



Saying thank you to Ron Shaich, Founder and CEO at Panera Bread after his very generous interview.
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.


Ray Kroc would be 110 years old – Back to Basics


I’ve been studying as much as I can about the leadership of Ray Kroc these days. On October 5th, if he were still with us, he’d be 110 years old.

I am fascinated by this man’s attention to detail and his unwavering focus and optimism. Like all of us, he faced incredible adversity in both his personal life and his business affairs. But he never looked back. He just kept moving forward.

So much has been written and said about Mr. Kroc. So much.

As we work on our industry film, Back To Basics, I am reminded of his insightful community spirit.

Mr. Kroc had this uncanny ability to sell. But that is not what this post is about. No.

Ray was focused on community. He was a specialist at aligning his franchisees, investors and management team with his clear vision for McDonald’s.

He understood that bringing young people up through the ranks would provide a strong foundation for the future of his company. He educated them, trained them and helped them to succeed. He was like that with his franchisees as well. Although he would only allow you to have one store, he made sure that as a franchisee you were set up for success.

But, this post is not about that either. No.

This post is for the rest of us. To look back and take the lessons that we can from men like Mr. Kroc. Upon my research, I learned that in his later (and wealthier years), he distributed $8 Million of his own money to his key employees. I mean, who does that anymore?

Yes. Ray understood that community was the key.

In these tumultuous times, this global perspective and the speed at which the earth moves, our corporations could learn a thing or two from Mr. Kroc.

Today’s managers are boxed in. They are focused on short term share value. It’s not their fault. After all, they are just trying to keep their jobs.

What do you do when you are so short term focused? You take the path of least resistance. In today’s world, mired in the complexities of scale and scope, many in our community are going overseas. Because the markets are responding positively. That’s why we are doing it.

Thing is, we are forgetting a very important lesson that Mr. Kroc taught us. If we are going to pursue growth, we’ve got to have a strong foundation. Otherwise, in the long run, the whole thing will unravel.

That’s what today’s post is about. Long term perspective by reinvesting back into our communities.

It begins (and ends) at home. Our front line people are tomorrows leaders. We need to continue to bring them up through our industry, invest in their passion and energy and train them to be in our boardrooms, just the way Ray Kroc did.

Today, We need a healthier mix of professional managers and community entrepreneurs in our boardrooms so that we strike the balance between short term and long term value.

That’s what today’s post and our film project is all about!

Lets get “back to basics” – a film for anyone who has ever eaten or worked in a restaurant.

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.