Hospitality Scene with Toy Animals

66: How Shake Shack & USHG are Rethinking Restaurant Culture, featuring Patti Simpson

In this episode, we dive deep into the world of hospitality, restaurant culture, and the changing landscape of the food industry.

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In this episode, we dive deep into the world of hospitality, restaurant culture, and the changing landscape of the food industry. Our guest, Patti Simpson, is a seasoned professional who has played a pivotal role in reshaping the culture and policies at Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), the company behind iconic restaurants like Shake Shack. Join us as we ask the tough questions and explore the dynamics of an industry in transformation.

Tough Questions & Industry Transformations

Get ready for the challenging questions. We ask Patti about the decision-making processes during the pandemic, including the controversial topic of employee layoffs. We explore the reasoning behind USHG’s vaccination-only policy and discuss the potential role of technology, like robots and AI, in the future of hospitality. We also address the sensitive issue of tip policies in the industry.

As the conversation unfolds, we examine the evolving landscape of restaurant culture and what it means for both employees and customers. Patti shares insights into how USHG is adapting and innovating to meet the changing needs of the industry.

Listen to witness firsthand how organisations like USHG are committed to continuous improvement.


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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Speaker 1 0:00
In the first nine months, we raised, I think it was $2.1 million. We put sales future sales. Danny did some PR events with iron garter. We did a lot of stuff to raise that money, and we gave it all away in nine months to our former employees.

Leanne Elliott 0:22
Hello, and welcome to the truth lives and workplace culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:31
My name is Al I’m a business owner,

Leanne Elliott 0:33
we are here to help you simplify the science people and create amazing workplace cultures.

Al Elliott 0:39
We have had quite a few we’ve worked quite a few different workplace cultures recently. But Lee we’re talking about one specific one today.

Leanne Elliott 0:44
We are today we are looking at the hospitality industry and how you can build a workplace culture in which can be a pretty, pretty tough work environment. Yeah, for

Al Elliott 0:54
once I can step up as something of a almost expert here because I spent my early life in hospitality I even did my degree in Hospitality Management in the service sector. And I spent my early years running pubs and bars and restaurants. So I’ve worked in plenty of places where the culture was pretty shit. To be honest, we had a one place where I came in at eight o’clock to do to do a stock count and found the chef drunk behind the bar because he drunk all of the taboo, which is an odd choice to to, to get drunk on in the morning fights in the bars, managing door staff. I’ve even got a little scar on my head from when a customer smashed a picture frame over my head. In most cases, the management at the time, were just gay, well just say, well, this is what happens. This is the hospitality industry. Things have changed, I suspect. I wanted to find an organization where they took the workplace culture very seriously. And they looked after their employees. And the leader in this sector is the Union Square Hospitality Group, which is run by the world famous Danny Mayer. Yeah,

Leanne Elliott 1:59
I remember you telling me about reading Danny’s book. What was it setting the table? Yeah, New York. bestseller. Yeah, best seller. And it really did open my eyes to how caught you could work in hospitality. I’m I’m not like I don’t come from a background in hospitality. I’ve had a few jobs as a student in bars and pubs. So I have some experience. But I’ve mainly worked in service industry, I consult within the service industry. And I think that the thing is, with the hindsight of the work I’ve done, and the skills I have a psychologist, I can really genuinely see how the hospitality sector would be a real challenge. Yeah.

Al Elliott 2:40
And what’s interesting is when I spoke to today’s guest, she was so passionate about culture. And now it underpins every single thing that she and her colleagues do at Union Square Hospitality Group. So let’s find out more about our guest. She worked her way up from TGI Fridays, to become the chief people officer at Union Square Hospitality Group she recently got promoted to Chief administration officer is made to say, and she’s one of the key drivers behind hospitality quotient, which is the company’s leadership learning and development consultancy, she helped create the hugs employment Relief Fund, which was created to support the team members who were facing unexpected hardship after COVID. We’ll learn more about that in a second. But for now, let’s go meet Patty Simpson.

Speaker 1 3:24
I’m Patty Simpson. I am the Chief Administrative Officer at Union Square Hospitality Group. Danny Meyer’s group, you’re probably famous or understand our Shake Shack brand if you don’t know our other restaurants.

Al Elliott 3:37
Now, what’s interesting about entrepreneur led businesses is that they tend to have like quite a broad sort of range of companies and ventures one of the things that you as a U S. H G has done is to spin off this company which I met with for hospitality quotient into an actual consultancy, that helps other businesses. So I asked Patti, just to explain very quickly what the difference between Union Square Hotel Group and hospitality quotient was

Speaker 1 4:03
USA. She is the parent company for hospitality potion. years ago, after Danny wrote the book setting the table, people came to us asking, Hey, does that work for us? It feels like hospitality is a business differentiator is a great idea. So at that time, I wasn’t here. We build a class and we would run classes on teaching people in other industries, how to do that work. And during COVID We dusted it off because there were as you know, many people were in front of a zoom all day long, and people had money to spend so we reconstituted the program. So we now we’re doing hospitality quotient as an in person convening. We just had one last week with 24 people from around the world. And we run that four times a year. It is also a consulting firm. We do a lot of work with larger companies that are saying, How can I insert hospitality into my My let’s say, legal firm or my hospital, so that we are different than our competitors. How do I hire for people like you do? What do I look for in that in that candidate? So we spend a lot of time consulting with large companies, and just having a lot of fun about how we do things. We were a vitamin, not an antibiotic. So we’re not a, you know, a big consulting group, what we try to tell people how we do it and see if that is meaningful for them.

Leanne Elliott 5:27
So now we know who patty is and what she is famous for. We’re not going to go soft on her, we’re going to be asking all the difficult questions. We want to know did they really fire or 2700 employees during the pandemic? Why was the vaccination only policy enforced controversial one? Will robots and AI replace people in hospitality? And why did they take the tips away from employees? But let’s start at the beginning recruitment. I have always said that an amazing workplace culture starts with recruitment. It is the first step of our culture roadmap that we use at our consultancy, oblong for a reason. And that’s because of finding the right people for the right role is fundamental to building the business and culture that you want to lead. And the really irritating part for me, is it’s a simplest thing to get right. If you engage a psychologist and design evidence lead recruitment process, you’re guaranteed to find the right person for the right world every time. There’s more than 100 years of research that’s been done to use psychological assessment at work to predict to predict mind read, predict the future, the future of the work performance of the candidates you are assessing. And still, even with that predictive power, hardly any owner led businesses take advantage of this. It’s not just a tried and tested method. It’s a tried and tested and retested and validated method. Really, I can’t stress this enough when it comes to simplifying the science of people. This is the easiest thing to get. Right. I’ve been waiting for cheered by the incredible Bruce Daisley recently, and he summed it up perfectly for me in his book, he said, I have to confess, I’m always a little bit skeptical when someone tells me that workplace culture is special, or that our people are our best assets. It makes me wonder how they managed to come up with a recruitment process, there was clearly so much better than that of their competitors spoiler, they didn’t. Unless the organization in question has made specific decisions about identifying specific employee profiles, the outcome seems to be more down to self selection than careful planning. Otherwise, it’s like saying our people are our best asset. Whoever they are. applauded Honestly, I was just punching the air when I read this because I honestly feel that me and Bruce are going to be the bestest of friends. It is true in evidence lead recruitment process is the cornerstone of culture, or at least the cornerstone of an intentional culture. I stand with Bruce, if you don’t have that recruiting process carefully planned out, I too, am going to be very skeptical, skeptical when you tell me that your workplace culture is special. So that’s why we had to start this interview by asking Patti what she thought made a great hire in the hospitality industry.

Speaker 1 8:27
The the recruiting model might be different because you’re looking for different skills in terms of who if you want to hospitality, Marian, and you want to hire somebody that cares about making people feel better as a result of your interaction, you have to find somebody that has that HQ. And it is the combination of warmth, warmth, optimism, integrity, work ethic, self awareness, those qualities to us matter more, just a little bit more than the technical. And so we look for that first because we know we can’t train it, you can’t train someone to have integrity, you can’t train them to be kind and warm and optimistic. You either wake up that way every day or you don’t. And there are plenty of jobs where you don’t have to have that skill set. But for us, and for those who want to put hospitality for assessment we’re looking for and the hiring process is when we interview you, we get your resume, we get your application, we’re looking for that fit that cultural fit, do you want to be of service? Is that what you like to do? Because if you feel that way, we know it, you know it and you get a kick out of making other people feel great after being with you. If that’s not how you feel, and we’ve all worked with people that you know, they’re there for them, they want to go on and they have to make as much money as they can for whatever reason, and they want to leave. There are jobs for people like that. It just isn’t here. And it’s important that we find people that are in it to be of service to people. As

Al Elliott 9:59
a marketer. One of the The things that I am quite passionate about in terms of recruitment is the employer brand. Because if you create an amazing employer employer brand, then you’re gonna have people queuing out on the street to come and work for you just like a great company, he’s got a great brand, he’s got customers queuing up to buy from them, I wants to find out whether this applies to the restaurant industry, should the employer brand be matching the customer facing brand?

Speaker 1 10:24
Absolutely. It we treat our employees the way we treat our guests. And so it’s important that everybody feels like they belong, and you can’t walk, you have to walk your talk. So taking care of each other first, and then taking care of our guests. We’re known for that. And that is the hospitality is being on the side of people. And hospitality happens when things happen for you, not to you. And then that applies for our guests and our employees. So from a branding perspective, it’s the same.

Leanne Elliott 10:53
I think a lot of people might think that working in hospitality is for students, and people waiting for their real job. Patti has made a conscious effort to reverse this thinking, I

Speaker 1 11:05
don’t believe that hospitality is seen as honorable work by everyone. And so you, you often hear people say, Well, I’m gonna stay here till I get my real job. And this is my real job. And it has been my real job for 35 years. I think that if you want to make a career out of it, you can or it can be a job, our philosophy is we want you to stay a little bit longer than you thought you would. And not everybody is going to be here for 10 years or 15 years. But there’s a place for people for a one year or two year stint where you’re you’re going to learn some skills that are going to help you in life.

Leanne Elliott 11:42
So what makes a good culture and a restaurant, for example? Well, we

Speaker 1 11:46
have a virtuous cycle and setting the table that starts with the employee, and we take care of each other first, it then goes to the guest, which is you know, we were nothing without our guests. From there, it goes to community and we really want to be a partner, our communities, we signed long leases, we’re not flying and flying out. From there. We talk about our partners, suppliers, and then our investors. And when everyone in that cycle is happy, it just it’s a flywheel and it keeps on going. What’s different for us than maybe some other restaurants? I’m not sure is that we want you to be economically prosperous, prosperous. No question, we are working for money. But we also want to share emotional connection, that it matters that what we’re doing that you’re here to make people feel better as a result of being with us. And that’s a different level than just oh, I can get $1 more down the street. Or I could you know, I could find this other job and have different shifts or different hours, we’re looking for a little bit more of a commitment and a tie to something that matters more than just a paycheck, we we have a lot of people, we’ve had 2700 employees now, post COVID, we have most of our positions filled in management. So we’re doing pretty well in getting people to workforce. But it isn’t what I say it’s what people do in our businesses and how they feel about working here, the culture has to be about them first. And then all the other stakeholders come after that. Because if we’re people first, then we take care of where their heads are what they need, and make it a great place for them. It makes it easier for them to take care of our guests, and so forth and so forth around the cycle. So

Al Elliott 13:28
culture is clearly the heart of the Union Square Hospitality Group, we wanted to find out from Patti how she knew and when she knew she was getting it right,

Speaker 1 13:35
there’s a couple of the I think the easiest way to know is your turnover. If people are staying, you know that you’re doing all right. We have employee experience or IQ surveys. And there are some back end things in our systems for scheduling and for clocking in where we can, we can gather some information on how people were feeling because they can rate their shift every day and how things went. But they tell us base I mean, we have a very open culture. So people tell us what we need to hear in many cases, we have an open door policy, so they can tell us things that might be hard for us to hear. But we also, I think turnover is one of the best indications of how your culture is because if people stay, exit interviews can also give you that information. And you know, we don’t always get it right. We’re trying to get it right every single day. But there might be there may be a time where we’re short staffed and things happen on a shift and people aren’t comfortable with how many hours they have to work or you know, something goes goes sideways. And we hear about it after the fact. You know, we want people to tell us if you can tell me face to face great, but I want to make sure that you can tell me and if it isn’t face to face, you have to have that mechanism where people can tell us something may not be hard for us to hear but it may be hard for them to

Al Elliott 14:50
share having worked in busy restaurants and bars. It is kind of difficult to work out who’s in charge. But just actually when you think about it when the doors shut who’s in charge culture,

Speaker 1 15:00
I would say that the CEO or the founder is always in charge of the culture, Danny is our chief culture officer, he, he’s our founder chip. I think if we all take care of it, it’s easier if one person owns it, you’re, I don’t ever want to be seen as the only person that cares about it, you know, everyone cares about it here. What you probably need is someone that knows how to hire people within your culture. And that, you know, the first couple businesses, when you’re opening restaurants, you can do that with a management team that you have. But as you start to grow when you get to different jurisdictions, and as you know, in America, there’s so many different laws and regulations, you probably need someone after you get to three or four businesses that can help you with that growth to help you understand what you need to do, what are the rules, what are the requirements are you compliant, but culture starts with every single person every single hire along the way. And as you scale, you probably need somebody after, I don’t know three or four restaurants that can help you take it to the next level. When you are growing, there’s a different set of there’s a different speed, when you’re working in a restaurant company that’s mature and everything is, you know, going the way you want it to you might let’s say you have 30 businesses, everyone in that business is working to try and do their work every single day. It’s a different level of intensity when you have three, and you’re trying to go to four. And so everyone on the bus believes that they’re part of the future, which they should you want them to, but not everybody in that organization is ready to grow to leave, they may be there. But it doesn’t mean they’re the right people to go from four restaurants to 10 restaurants. So I would give the advice that you have to be very selective in your leadership. And you may not have everybody even though their tenure, and their enthusiasm is great. You may need some people from the outside to take you to that next level. Because you don’t want to be caught with having very enthusiastic people without the skill set to take you to the next step. It can cost you

Leanne Elliott 17:10
time talking of growing culture really is something you can start thinking about. From day one,

Speaker 1 17:17
I think you have to start with where you are, it’s really important that you you know when things you set your standard of what you want to do. And if culture is important, that starts when you have one employee, it’s yourself. And then as you hire from there, often you’ll hear Danny say I just wanted to make a good bowl of pasta, you know, he did not grow our business based on the fact that he wanted to take Shake Shack public, for example, the opposite was true. If you do great things, growth will happen. And that’s kind of been our philosophy, up until Shake Shack went public. And now we can see we’ve been there once before we can see that trajectory. But it comes on the foundation of all of our businesses that we run every day, sitting here today, you can’t say, Well, we’re gonna go do X, Y, and Z unless we take care of our business that we’re running. And we start every day just like every other restaurant with zero guests, and you have to take care of them every single day. So growth comes from having a vision of where you want to go. Making sure that your culture is tight that you talk about it that everyone knows where you are. And that as you grow, you find people that can help you do that. You want them to be just as excited about where you want to go.

Leanne Elliott 18:29
Unless you’re a new listener. If you’ve heard one of these episodes before, you’ll know that I harp on about managers I harp on about how managers are so critical to workplace culture. But when you’re in a hugely frenetic business, when you’ve got so many plates to spend, sometimes literally, how do you know who will make a great manager and who will be able to cope,

Speaker 1 18:53
finding the great leaders. So the 51% qualities I talked about before are non non negotiable warmth, optimism, empathy, self integrity, self awareness, work ethic. We want that in someone and we have questions that we used to tease that out. But you want someone that knows enough. So while we can’t train those things, we’re looking for people that have the experience that have the the track record, in managing people in managing a busy shift. You know what goes like when it goes crazy on a Friday night in any business. There’s something about that, but I’m sure you had it in the pubs in the bars that you worked at in England. I remember one of the busiest bars restaurants ever worked at was the TGI Fridays in Covent Garden. And the you know, the line was around the building or hay market. You want somebody that looks at that busy shift as the best thing that ever could happen. Not as oh my gosh, we’re gonna get crushed. And you get a buzz from that, you know, like it’s like a ballet dance making your way through the restaurant and making sure that things are going the right way. So we’re looking for people that want that work. And and really enjoy managing from beginning to end that that show that. Absolutely. You know, this is where you come to get this kind of environment, this kind of food, these kinds of beverages from these kinds of people. So we’re looking for people that want to do that and want to do it well. And it takes a certain level of tenacity, of work planning, all the things that you might want to see in some of it, you have to be able to do it all at one time in the restaurant, as you know. So we’re looking for people that have that ability. COVID clearly

Al Elliott 20:39
affected all of us in some way. But if when the world is literally stuck in the house not allowed to go outside, then you can imagine the impact is going to have on the hospitality industry. So what happened at Union Square Hospitality Group was as disastrous as it sounds like it would have been, Patty was behind something called hugs, which is an initiative to raise money for the employees who were let go, and also who were struggling and in financial hardship

Speaker 1 21:02
when COVID started, and we let everyone go on one day, 2700 people by zoom, we let them go. We kept 49 people. And we only kept them so we had something to build on. When we were going hoping to come back and we didn’t know how long it would be we certainly had no idea it was going to be as long as it was. Very quickly, we realized that there were the GoFundMe pages coming up, I can’t pay my rent, I have a health problem, I need my medication. So when we let everyone go, we let them go before anyone else because I anticipated this thought that unemployment is going to be a bear to get through. So as hard as it was to be first we knew it was the right thing. If you can’t keep everyone safe, you can’t keep anyone safe. So we closed on the 13th of March. We told everyone that day, we gave him a couple of weeks of pay. And then we got busy doing hugs. And in the first nine months, we raised I think was $2.1 million. We put sales future sales, Danny did some PR events with iron a garter, we did a lot of stuff to raise that money. And we gave it all away in nine months to our former employees. COVID

Leanne Elliott 22:13
led to a different way of thinking about work. It helped a lot of us to question whether we were doing the work that we wanted to whether we have the right work life balance, it led to what is now called the Great resignation. Interesting Patty’s actually in favor of the great resignation.

Speaker 1 22:34
The last year, there was so much about quiet quitting, and the great resignation. I applauded, that I’ll be honest with you, I don’t I don’t want anyone to ever feel beholden to an industry beholden to a job, it gave people a chance to say, Is this really what I want to be doing? And I don’t know, in the UK or wherever you were during COVID. There were so many people, there were a lot of new dogs. And there were a lot of sourdough starters, you know, everyone was trying to figure out what they were going to do with their lives. I love that for people, I don’t ever want people to feel like they have to work here. And this is the only thing that they can do. The new generations coming through have a different sense of it isn’t work life balance, it’s life and work. And how do we and that’s not bad for any generation. Honestly, it’s a good thing for people. If we can work that out, if we can find a way to take this honorable noble work that we’re doing in serving the public and making life better for others, and make it more sustainable by having a life work balance that is easier for people, then then we’ll be doing our best work is something I’m really focused on for for the next 18 months. But I think you have to meet people where they are and they all have different needs. And maybe some newer workers want all of their training on their phone, and others may need to be trained to hip to hip on the line so that they understand it more deeply. So I think you have to meet people where they are find the right person and then train them in the way that they learn best, and let them go to do their best work.

Leanne Elliott 24:05
He also helped the management team realize that hard decisions made quickly were essential. We

Speaker 1 24:11
like to be ready in that when was vaccinations we made a tough decision to say vaccinations were required, for example, and we just eased up on that. I think it was July 1 That you don’t have to be vaccinated to work here. But if something happens like right now in the the COVID in the city is high, again, very high again, if we have to make a change, we’ll change it on a dime and proactively to make sure we take care of our people. So I think you have to be ready don’t wait.

Al Elliott 24:40
And as I mentioned before, having an entrepreneur who leads your organization means that you can make quick decisions in much easier.

Speaker 1 24:48
This is an incredible opportunity and working for an entrepreneurial founder is different than working for you know the president of TGI Fridays or of Ignite Restaurant Group. So and the was people were amazing. But this is different because you can move the ship more quickly, when you’re sitting in the room with the decision makers. And in many cases, we’re all decision makers, we’re all moving this in a way that we want to go. But that having the opportunity right now in New York, I’m sure you’ve read about the asylum seekers and having an opportunity to try and make a difference, not just in our space, but in the space of humanity and people that need a better place to you know, we’ve written out I think we have 100,000 asylum seekers in New York City. And we’re trying, we’re working with the community and the governor and a large group of people to try and give jobs to those people. Because we have a need, we have this, you know, you hear about turnover in our in our hospitality segment, and they need jobs. So to be able to foundationally have the time to make those things happen, is really, really cool. So working here is fun. It’s exhilarating. But it’s really it’s it’s humbling in the way that we’re just a little company compared to so many big companies. But we have really, really big ideas. And that’s, that’s awesome

Al Elliott 26:07
regulation for now that we live in Europe. And if you come from the UK, and you’re like tipping is kind of it’s a gratuity, it’s something that you generally do if you get good service. However, in the US, it is very, very different. In fact, most servers, most people in hospitality industry rely on the tips to top up their actual salary. So why did Union Square get rid of all of the tips,

Speaker 1 26:30
the goal was to be more fair, between the front of the house and the back of the house wages, as you know, and I’ve worked in restaurants, as an hourly before I have seen it around the world, where at the front of the house, we’ll be standing, you know, counting all their cash at the end of the night. And that person working making all the food isn’t able to share in that that level of tip. So the goal was to try and even that playing field. So

Al Elliott 26:58
obviously, Union Square didn’t just take away the tips, they raised everyone’s salary by about 20% 21%. So that tipping wasn’t required. Sounds quite fair when you think about it, but it did not seem to go down well.

Speaker 1 27:10
So what we saw in retrospect, is that the employees in the back of the house and in the front of the house, we had a lot of turnover, we had turnover in the front, because people could make trips down the street, and they wanted that cash in their pocket. And so we lost, we lost great salespeople, and we have some really, really great chefs. And we need people that can sell their food. And if you don’t have experience in fine dining, you’re not going to be as adept that that is somebody that does. So that was one one piece of it. So we had turned into an extreme training company where we had brand new people in this space, and it didn’t have the experience that we were trying to teach our way to. And then COVID happened. And it gave me some time to really look at that program and say, Okay, what, what was happening here? Do people understand it? Do they get the intent of it is there seem to be a little bit of confusion, we realized that and then we realized during COVID, I don’t know if you were in the States at all during that time. But if you got out of your house, and somebody served you a cup of coffee, you would over tip, I know I would over tip. And we thought about we have these employees, they were frontline workers, they were leaving their house. And this is the time when you were washing every egg in the crate that you brought home from the store, you were taking off your clothes and washing them before you went in your house. We had no vaccines, we didn’t have any protection against this disease. And we were asking our people to go to work. So it would have been awful for us to say and for those people that are working in tip positions. You can’t take that extra generosity that somebody passes across the counter, it would not have been on their side. So we decided that we would evolve into a new employee value proposition and reinstating tipping was was part of that evolution.

Leanne Elliott 29:05
Do you know it’s funny, I don’t have much experience in the Hospitality Group. But I do have some experience with this. I used to work for blockchain called a Wetherspoons. And quite famously, they they do not allow their employees to take tips or to move. They do not allow that or they used to this was back in What 2000 Gosh, four, you’re so old. But yeah, back in the day, you weren’t allowed to take tips and it was awkward because a customer would go and one for yourself love and you go I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to tip tips and then get offended. Like I want to give you a tip. So I can Yeah, I can see from both an employee perspective and a customer perspective. When there is a tradition a customer in place, taking that away can feel a bit awkward. I love that Patti and her colleagues not only have the confidence to make that kind of decision quite a controversial decision given as you said out there, the how the hospitality industry industry operates in In the US, but I guess more importantly, the humility to reverse that decision when they discovered that it wasn’t popular. But perhaps it is because Patty has those years of experience in hospitality from being a server, to a bartender to a manager. And now in corporate, we had to ask her, How does she think hospitality has changed over the years,

Speaker 1 30:21
I love the old days, I mean, they’re my stress dream, sometimes I wake up, and I’m standing in a service bar full of orders, and I can’t find the blender, you know. But I, the guests were different in the old days, and there was less. I don’t want to say seriousness, but there it was a little bit easier. People didn’t have such full heads, I think we have gone through something that’s changed how people are in the world today. And what I really miss is the inability for everyone to be in a space together, we’re learning now, how to be together. So if you go on Twitter, or x, or whatever the heck it’s called, people fight over the color of the sky, like there’s. So the old days to me is it was much easier to be having a conversation with two people side by side that didn’t know each other. And it really didn’t matter, that they had different political audio ideas or different anything, right now, we’re really stuck against each other for some reason. So I missed the just, let’s just have a good time here. This is not brain surgery, this is amazing food, amazing service. And it doesn’t have to be hard. We make it harder than it is sometimes just being humans on the earth right now,

Leanne Elliott 31:39
what was true, then, is still true. Now,

Speaker 1 31:41
let’s say you’re going out for a memorial service. And you’re there to break bread, about the person that is no longer sitting at the table. When you you’re having a meeting and you’ve lost your job, we’re not just there on a bad day, the good days, it’s the bad days, too. So humanity comes alive at a table. And that’s it’s really important that we keep that in mind as we try and find new ways to make money, save money, build our business, we have to really keep it about what does the guests want? How can we be on their side, and not thinking for them, but asking them what they

Leanne Elliott 32:18
want. And as we always say, change is inevitable. Hospitality

Speaker 1 32:21
changes every day. We are a 37 year old startup. So if you the people have to focus on where the winds are going, and what is it that you need to do differently, to attract and retain and nurture that new talent pool. Of course, there’ll be new ideas on how to use technology. And maybe you don’t need 10 people in the front of the house, you need seven, I don’t know. But making sure as you make the as as we evolve into whatever this next future looks like that we stay true to the reason we’re in business, which is to be of service to be hospitable to people. And you can’t do that behind the glass screen on a kiosk you have to have human interaction. And there’s not a time and I can’t imagine it being any less so in 35 years where we need each other more to be part of this collective community where we can solve problems together. And, you know, food is the best condiment for humanity. So let’s find a way to keep setting tables that people can eat and drink and and find a happiness and a calm that they don’t have in day to day right now. The last couple of years have really been difficult for people why what

Al Elliott 33:39
align food is the best condiment for humanity. She was just such a great interviewee she just was so eloquent and just gave great answers. And that was one of my favorite things that she said. But she did mention that tech and for me AI because I’m such a nerd. So like the McDonald’s idea of going to chaos, because other people directly will ever be served by robots. I asked Patti what she thought

Speaker 1 34:02
I think technology enables a better hospitality experience for us. So it when we have one of our pillars is transformational technology. So I can’t comment on McDonald’s. But and I haven’t been there. I’m not a heavy user of McDonald’s. But I love the idea of technology. I don’t know that it ever replaces people. But if it’s going to drop the fries or drop the wings and get them up, and they’re going to be the right temperature. I don’t have a problem with that. But you always need people because people make a difference in how you feel about that product. And I could get get those same products somewhere else maybe at the grocery store. So I feel I feel like if you want a people centered business that you can use technology to enable that service. I think it’s really important that there’s technology, you know, now we still have a guest relations team here in the building that take calls every single day we still sometimes get get letters and but a lot of people want to go online, so you have to be able to do both. And I’m sure McDonald’s is ready to do both. In that case, you have to be able to use technology wisely, but it is not a replacement for all people in all businesses, certainly not for us.

Leanne Elliott 35:16
So there we go, another fabulous guest and some important lessons learned. If you want to learn more then I suggest you start with Danny’s book, setting the table and then go check out hospitality quotient using the link in the show notes. Hospitality is definitely a pretty tough environment to work in. But what if you are reporting from a literal warzone? What if you regularly have to investigate animal cruelty as part of your job? Well, next week we talk about how organizations deal with trauma at work. We’ll be joined by the Chief Medical Officer of the BBC, an expert from the RSPCA, we’ll be learning how modern organizations help employees who have been in traumatic situations and yes, I know, it might sound like a heavy episode and upsetting episode, but I promise you, we will be concentrating on what leaders can do to protect the psychological well being of their people and create amazing workplace coaches in even the most hostile of environments. Oh, yes.

Al Elliott 36:16
And coming up in two weeks time is an episode I’ve been so excited to release. Have you ever heard of YouTube? Well, it’s not of them. But it is in fact, the founder of one of their competitors. It’s a global video sharing company. I’m sure you already know who I’m talking about by now. The guy who were interviewing was so intent on creating an amazing workplace culture that now he’s ended up with 92% of his employees. Just absolutely loving him. All the reviews are amazing. If you want to just get an idea of how that fits in at YouTube. Nights 2% For our guy, 68% for YouTube, yet we’re going to Wistia you away on an amazing journey.

Leanne Elliott 36:56
No, no, no. did not approve that message

Al Elliott 37:00
that stay there. Well, we steer you away on an amazing journey with a co founder and CEO of Wistia. Chris savage. So see you next week for more ponds of that quality, I

Leanne Elliott 37:11
think. Yes. All of our North American listeners. Happy holidays, happy Thanksgiving, hope you have a lovely restful time with friends and family. And we will I guess we didn’t we were meant to position this as a Thanksgiving type episode.

Al Elliott 37:26
We’ve just mentioned it now. And we just kind of forgot. Yeah, sorry. That’s that’s us Brits. You see, we don’t really understand what it is. But if over the Thanksgiving holiday period you are going out then just have a little thought spare a thought for the person who’s serving you. And the person who’s the 100 of people who are behind them from all the way from the chef the washer up, which I was when I was 14, that’s my job boss, you know, all the way up to corporate HR, just spare a thought and just think about all the work that’s been put in just to make your day a little bit special. Yes,

Leanne Elliott 37:55
and what I do know about Thanksgiving at least I think I do know the tradition. Now. Let’s see here the tradition you see in films where you go around the table and say what you’re thankful for right? I think that’s a really great, great, great thing and also a really great start if you have been listening recently and you have been thinking about getting more into positive psychology and gratitude practice. That’s a gratitude practice that as a positive psychology practice I challenge you to maybe keep that going say from now until Christmas and ice for weeks and see if that makes a difference but yeah, anyway enjoy enjoy the turkey I think that’s what you have the cranberries the yams. I’ve heard yams are a thing.

Al Elliott 38:33
I don’t know what a yummy is. And at this point I’m too afraid to ask. So while we go and count our blessings and Google what a yam is, then if you haven’t subscribed, then click Subscribe Go and tell 1000 of your closest friends we are working we’re trying to bring you the very best content we possibly can I know Christmas is a quite kind of a quiet or holidays it’s a kind of a quiet time so we won’t be anything doing anything too heavy, but still stick with us and then in January we could all go back at it together and create an amazing workplace culture. Goodbye from me goodbye

Leanne Elliott 39:01
from me

Al Elliott 39:11
circumvented that

Leanne Elliott 39:12
doesn’t make sense. The book is live it’s gonna be different. But I like bots. I don’t like your books never heard the word quotient before. What is it?

Al Elliott 39:27
Quotient quotient quotient quotient. I think it’s Quotient

Leanne Elliott 39:33
or the our people are our biggest access

Al Elliott 39:41
for straight into oh four B No, I’m talking like this. It just smiles I got to you. Excuse me

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