Hospitality and Humanity #115 | Danny Meyer on The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

Check out The Knowledge Project episode and show notes

Key Takeaways

  • “We are all in the Hospitality business” -Danny Meyer
    • Everyone succeeds when your stakeholders are rooting for your success. That’s the general definition of hospitality
  • When technical skills today are so easily copied, emotional skills are the things that add more value to company culture to differentiate a candidate
    • 6 emotional skills for hiring: optimistic kindness, intellectual curiosity, work ethic, empathy, self-awareness, and integrity
  • “Mistakes are the greatest renewable resource” – Danny Meyer
    • 5 ‘A’s of mistake making: Aware – Acknowledge – Apologize – Act – Apply additional generosity
  • The location tells you what the restaurant should be. Don’t let the restaurant tell the location what to be
    • Also defines if a particular restaurant can or should be scaled
  • A balance between customization and consistency is valuable to long-term, scaled, and diversified growth

Intro

  • Danny Meyer (@dhmeyer) is a well-accomplished restaurateur that is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and founder of Shake Shack. In this episode, Danny and Shane discuss the intersection between hospitality and humanity.
  • Host: Shane Parrish (@ShaneAParrish)

Restaurant Generalist

  • Danny defines himself as a restaurant generalist. He didn’t want to dive into being singularly a chef or a restaurateur
    • Activities include: marketing, food tasting, hiring, teaching, décor, guest interaction, and more
  • Restaurant location:
    • One thing you can’t change about a location is where it is and what surrounds it
    • How do people get there and how does the community relate to the space
    • The space tells you what the restaurant should be. Don’t let the restaurant tell the space what to be
    • Employees need to thrive in the culture and have a passion for curating an appropriate social atmosphere
  • A balance between customization and consistency is valuable to long-term, scaled, and diversified growth

Hospitality

  • “We are all in the Hospitality business” -Danny Meyer
    • Everyone succeeds when your stakeholders are rooting for your success. That’s the general definition of hospitality
    • Begins when the person on the other end of the transaction trusts you for repeatable success and growth
    • Virtuous cycle: repeatable positive customer experience leads to community acceptance and investment growth. Good events snowball into better business.

Creating & Scaling Culture

  • “Culture is the brick but language is the mortar” -Danny Meyer
    • Language clarifies intentions and creates a sense of belonging
  • Ray Kroc – Scaling systems, best know for his impact on building the foundation of McDonald’s repeatable and successful customer experience
    • Companies must use growth to advance culture as opposed to worrying about growth affecting the maintenance of the culture
  • You are typically happier when you make someone else happy

6 Emotional Skills for Hiring

  • Optimistic Kindness: You can see someone’s general view on life in their eyes
  • Intellectual Curiosity: Always striving to learn something new
  • Work Ethic: Learn how to do the job and cares about doing it well, always looking for better solutions
  • Empathy: Ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes
    • Hospitality golden rule: “Do onto others as you believe they would want to be done onto them” -Danny Meyer
  • Self-Awareness: Understanding that we all have different motivations and experiences
  • Integrity: Having the judgment to do the right thing regardless of self-interest
  • How do you apply these to hiring and culture?
    • Be articulate on why you are hiring for these skills
    • You can’t teach these skills directly but you can celebrate them when you see them, constantly creating a positive atmosphere around emotional intelligence
    • When skills today are so easily copied, these are the things that add more value to company culture to differentiate a candidate

Shake Shack

  • Was hesitant to expand to his second Shake Shack location because he saw his father suffer bankruptcies while attempting expansion
    • Realized he wasn’t pre-destined to follow in his father’s footstep
  • Shake Shack originally wasn’t born to become multi-location. It was more focused on culture growth rather than product growth in its expansion.

Restaurant Longevity

  • Restaurants have been struggling lately:
    • Downward pressure: competition on price point among many competitors
    • Upward pressure: cost increases on talent, real estate, and food & beverage products
  • “Restaurants were the elderly patient with pre-existing conditions, then Covid hit” -Danny Meyer
    • The public must understand the true cost of eating out is doing the right thing by people, not just the animals and plants

Mistakes

  • “Mistakes are the greatest renewable resource” – Danny Meyer
    • Since we make so many (honest) mistakes, how do you use it to make the situation better
  • 5 ‘A’s of mistake making (mistakes of integrity, not intentional malice):
    • Aware – Acknowledge – Apologize – Act – Apply additional generosity
    • Reverse roles in the mistake and do more than you would expect in the return
Knowledge Project : , , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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