Archive for August, 2013




“To decode, Process, Politics and B.S, measure & accept only RESULTS!”  What we all want is RESULTS and what we get is beautiful explanations of why ‘IT‘ didn’t happen. Such good explanations, in fact, we feel lucky things aren’t worse than they are. See how often you hear the question asked, answered or how often you can get a simple yes or no answer to a question. I understand the mechanics of this process, I went to what I call “Charm School” when we took Friday’s public. Our publicist sent me and I learned how to not answer questions. If you really want the facts, truth or know what is really happening, just listen to the RESULTS!

And now a word from our sponsor…….we go into more detail in my soon to be published book.

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Share Your Compass


In my upcoming book we talk about the many values of goal setting and we illustrate how it can become an aid to problem solving. We call this the ‘Flagpole Theory’. Another value to clear, shared goal setting, complete with the accompanying core values, is the empowerment of the organization. Weak leaders control by limited shared knowledge and management direction is by ‘rules’. Before a decision can be made the ‘Boss’ must be consulted. Wow! Power! Just like ship captains of old were fearful of teaching the crew how to navigate. It gave them power and reduced the possibility of mutiny.

Sharing the compass and how to use it empowers the organization to act on a consistent and timely basis. Speed, agility and improved results are the product of this management style. It takes, however, a strong, confident leader. My advice is be a strong leader……. ‘Share the Compass!’

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“Actions Speak Louder Than Words”


Business and life is best approached on a principled basis. My management theories and philosophies have always been based on principled management. My upcoming book is based on the principles I believe lead to success in both business and life. Everything should start with and be based upon the number one principle  HONESTY. While important, I mean beyond the garden variety of ‘thou shalt not steal’, I mean the very common, saying one thing and doing another.

I listen to what leaders say but I only believe what they do. It is sad how common in politics and business it is to have our leaders say one thing but do another. The operative skill seems to be presenting yourself in such a way that  true intentions and results are obscured. It is common to see someone rise to the top by explaining skillfully why ‘it’ didn’t happen. The truly skillful can make you feel lucky things are not worse. This can be cured by accepting only results, measuring only results and rewarding only results.

The Triangle Theory while commonly quoted is rarely honestly implemented. It is very hard to do! The theory expresses the goal of maximizing and balancing the three sides of a business transaction, customer, employee and company. In truth, if you cut through the skillful explanations, usually one side dominates. Pressures for profits, expansion or executive incentives,  squeeze employee benefits, reduces product quality and dominates key decisions.

The Triangle Theory actually works and creates what we call levitation. When this happens everyone wins! It takes honesty, vision, belief in the theory and guts to follow it through. I have looked at a number highly successful companies, while they may not know the theory, they are practicing the principle intuitively and levitating! You have seen the places, they are busy, the employees are happy and the company is profitable.  Honesty and principles WIN!

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Starburst Play





 I saw a mention of  the STARBURST PLAY on  the internet and thought it would be fun to tell the story of its origins. My final assignment with Boise Cascade took me back to the home office in Boise. I was attending a neighborhood pee wee league football game, it was  fun to watch but a little lop sided. Chatting with the coach after the game he revealed his challenge. He said, “I have a lot of great kids but they know only one play!” Having watched the game I was curious what that play might be. He said, “its the STARBURST PLAY! When the ball is hiked everyone runs in a different direction!”

WOW! What a concept and a theory was born. Assemble your management group and draw on a blackboard your typical X’S and O’S  football line up. Ask everyone to write the top three priorities for the company, on a piece of paper and give it to you. See if  the differing priorities don’t represent the ‘STARBURST PLAY’  for your management. To illustrate the point draw a line and arrow pointing in a different direction for each player on the chalkboard. It doesn’t work in football and certainly doesn’t work in business. 


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Theories & Philosophies – A Lifetime Legacy



My life has taken me from church pulpit to sailboat cockpit. I delivered my first sermon to an audience of 500 before I was old enough to drive. I learned to read the New Testament  in the original Koine Greek language and spent the summer between my sophomore and junior college years as minister of a church while the full time minister was on sabbatical. My sailing experience has taken me to many continents and exotic destinations, including, ports of call in the Mediterranean, Athens, Istanbul, Galapagos Islands and Alaska. I have sailed the equivalence of six times around the world including crossing the Atlantic and transiting the Panama Canal both three times. Pulpit to cockpit are the book ends to my business career at Boise Cascade and the founding of T.G.I. Friday’s Inc.

While I no longer practice a religion my early exposure has had a profound influence on my life. Certainly my values and my penchant to apply those values to business. The teaching method of metaphors and analogies obviously comes from this background. I became legendary both at Boise Cascade and Friday’s for my theories and philosophies and the metaphors I used to teach them. The ‘beach ball’, ‘steel pole’, ‘three styles of management’, ‘magic moment’, and many more were created during my decade long career at Boise Cascade. I continued to develop my repertoire and adapt it at Friday’s and while writing the book but they all owe their origins to my roots and now the added dimension of the lessons learned at sea.

It is flattering to see so many of these theories in common use on the internet. There are cartoon versions, flash card versions, one lady has a complete blog on the ‘beach ball theory’ and a hospitality consultant uses the ‘success syndrome’ and ‘four walls’ theories to start his web page. My attorney told me an arbitration class he took used the ‘beach ball theory’ to illustrate several approaches to arbitration. It is not surprising when you think about the wide dispersal of these theories through the managers we trained for the industry. We used to laugh when we saw the training manuals of other restaurant companies with our name just barely whited out.

We supplied the industry with more than just these training theories. Boise Cascade was on the cutting edge of the computing age. Wow! We had one of the first IBM 360’s. As part of the executive team I was sent to  IBM’s school in Poughkeepsie, New York. The basic message taught was, “LEAVE THE NERDS ALONE!”. Operationally, however, we did effectively use this new tool to develop  controls for all aspects of our business. I converted manufacturing controls to the controls for the  restaurant industry and many of these concepts, forms and controls are still in use today. It is amazing the impact we had.  The tools for free pouring bar operations are still on sale.  The diary we kept of daily  store operations, called ‘The Red Book’ must have inspired a product you can buy on Amazon, which looks exactly like what we used is called the ‘FRIDAY MEMORANDUM BOOK’. These are just the tip of the iceberg but the proudest legacy are the ‘Alumni’ that still use and cherish the values they learned from their Friday’s experience; they ‘Bleed Red & White!’




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‘Bleeding Red and White’ was a term used by the Friday’s Family to describe their dedication and commitment to the Friday’s values, they all believed and lived. Excellence as a standard has an incredible impact on an organization and the individuals that make up that organization. While writing the book my travels have put me in contact with many of the ‘alumni’. They all still glow excellence and with the impact the Friday’s experience had on them. Excellence is still a part of their life and they still ‘bleed red and white!

While meeting with Scott Smith the ‘turn-around’ CEO of Texas Land and Cattle/ Lone Star Steak, I was pleasantly surprised by Cherry, a Friday’s ‘alumni’, who is a manager for Scott. She still glows excellence and still bleeds red and white! I spent four hours with Scott and Cherry is in great hands. She will find the same commitment to excellence and  shared values and not miss a beat in her personal growth.

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We all remember and many of us still play Rock – Paper – Scissors. I. There is a game in the restaurant world that involves scissors but I personally wouldn’t play.




It is difficult for me to believe that scissors have, in many chain restaurant kitchens, replaced, the iconic badge of honor, Chef’s Knives. So for some the game now is: Frozen Bagged -Scissors. Everyone knows fresh beats frozen and reconstituted boil-n-a bag. A fresh burger is better than a frozen one, hand pattied is better than machine formed and fresh fries are much better than frozen. The food channel is very popular but I have yet to see a show on the use of scissors to open a boil-n-a-bag. I don’t think a show called “Reconstitution Kitchen – You freeze it and we thaw it!’ would make the cut.

So why do some chains spend their money on advertising trying to convince us their ‘reconstituted food is good. At least they discount and coupon trying to get closer to the real value of their product.. I would, however, rather stay home and thaw my own.

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Eagle Cafe – Pier 39 – San Francisco VS The Chains

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We keep our boat at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Our favorite restaurant on the Pier is The Eagle Cafe. We have become good friends with the managing partner. She does everything FRESH and to the highest standard. She believes freezers should be used for ice cream! (They make a great milk shake!).

I had to laugh during our recent visit when she was telling Sandy and I about a chain restaurant on the Pier that needed to borrow some product until their delivery arrived. The problem was that they had no idea what to do with a fresh whole fish. They were used to pre-portioned frozen fish in a bag and the mind blower  was that they were stumped by fresh eggs, still in their shell. Egg beaters in a bag was their norm. I guess scissors are the chain restaurants trade tool, replacing chef’s knives. Seems broken to me!

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Excellence is A Habit & Never Ending Quest!


I love it! Excellence is a never ending quest. Years ago, while developing DALT’S, a second concept at Friday’s, we conducted an extensive search for the worlds best FRESH french fry. We found it and conducted a high quality covert operation, decoding the recipe. DALT’S fries were an absolute HIT! Fresh fries are hard to find, let alone great fresh fries. If I told you the formula, you would understand why. The process began with how and how long the raw potatoes were stored and ended after  mutli-stage processing with the final frying in a special oil blend. Wow! A major effort but they were very, very, GOOD !

Jim West was a party to this successful quest. Jim, as a part of his restaurant empire, has a food truck in Philadelphia, called Joe’s Spuds (google ‘joe spuds food truck). Today, he told me, in a further quest for excellence, that he had developed new improvements for the DALT’S  process and is continuing to searching for more. After learning about these improvements, on a secure line, I was very impressed and can hardly wait to try them!


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