Archive for category Theories from the book.

Don’t shout it – Do it!

“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.” – Jeff Bezos

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I thought I would take the day off and employ some great guest contributors. Jeff Bezos on the introduction, Will Rogers on the main message and Jerry Della Femina with a postscript..

“Let advertisers spend the same amount of money on improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise it.” ~ Will Rogers

Will would have fit right into the original Friday’s Family and the strategy we employed!

Postscript: “There is a great deal of advertising that is much better than the product. When that happens, all the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster.” ~ Jerry Della Femina

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Thanks to all of you that have expressed support for my upcoming book. A special thanks to the alumni that have shared their memories from Friday’s glory days. 2015 will be the 50th anniversary of Alan Stillman’s launch of the original Friday’s at 63rd & 1st in NYC and Jim West, the first hourly employee hired for the Greenville Ave store, is organizing a reunion in Dallas. We will keep everyone posted on the time and place.


Many of you have asked when the book will be available. It will go to our agent this month and he says the publishing process usually takes about six months. While a great book could be written about all the fun we had during those early years, it would probably have to be X rated. The book I have written is about the founding principles that made Friday’s so successful. Those principles are being employed by many successful businesses in many fields today and we highlight a few. The biggest delight for me is that Karen Forrester, Friday’s CEO in the UK, has returned her 60 restaurants to these well proven principles and achieved the same outstanding results as Friday’s achieved in the glory days. This validation is truly heart warming and the “Friday’s Family” spirit is the same as the original.


If you have read my earlier blogs, I refer to many of Friday’s founding principles. I received one email reminding me I once threatened to write a book titled “It’s the food, stupid!” While the concept is true and many of the large chains have forgotten that, the book is about management principles, problem solving and excellence. While it is tempting, the book will avoid a post mortem of Friday’s since I left.  I think the results speak for themselves. Customer counts always tell the tale and in the UK they are up 100% in the last four years! I rest my case.

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New Years Resolution

“Trying to compromise EXCELLENCE is like trying to let a little bit of air out of a balloon with a hat pin.” – Daniel R. Scogginimageimageimageimage

This is a great time of year to hit the reset button and inspire ourselves with new resolve for the New Year. The #1 goal and focus of the counseling I do and classes I teach is EXCELLENCE. I know it is an over worked – word – concept – topic or whatever but that does not make it any less valuable goal. An interesting exercise is to list the benefits of excellence as a personal and business goal. A list of fifty is easy, just start with excellence builds pride, morale and attracts the best and brightest. Excellence eliminates the majority of the competition and the necessity for  give away marketing. My favorite is its FUN! I could go on but you get the idea.

As I began writing my book I was delighted to be contacted by Karen Forrester, the CEO of T.G.I. Friday’s, UK.  We have become great friends and I a big fan of her work, she has captured the original Friday’s spirit. She pursues EXCELLENCE and guess what, she demonstrates the benefits of it’s pursuit. A list of fifty would be easy but I will give you just one, her customer counts are up over 100% without any give away marketing!

If you choose to pursue the fulfilling goal of excellence I have a word of caution. EXCELLENCE CANNOT BE COMPROMISED. The biggest enemy of EXCELLENCE is compromise or as I call it, the silent killer. It starts innocently with “let’s cut a little slack, just this once” and continues with “does it have to be that good?” Think about it, EXCELLENCE is a never-ending pursuit UP so by definition any compromise would be a step down toward MEDIOCRITY.


Start 2014 with a commitment to EXCELLENCE it’s inspirational & FUN! Happy New Year.  


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“Excellence is not a waypoint but a  learning curve.”Daniel R. Scoggin

I am an addict of the ‘power of excellence’. Once you experience it nothing else will ever match it. Its like playing on a Super Bowl team, winning the Masters in golf or being awarded the ‘best of’ for whatever your passion happens to be. The energy and fulfillment that comes from striving for and experiencing excellence is simply awesome.

I had the privilege of leading an organization that succumbed to this addiction. Going to work was a prideful pleasure. No one ever tired of trying to improve or find a better way. It became an accepted fact that excellence  is an elusive target, the better you became the better you could become. When an excellent product was developed nothing would stand in the way of executing it, no matter how difficult.

The reward was in the customer reception and eventual addiction to the excellence in service, atmosphere, product and fun! They recognized the value and were willing to pay the price, tip well and send us their friends. This is the essence of the Triangle Theory I teach in my upcoming book. “Take care of the customer, invest in your employee and your bottom line will take care of it’s self.”Daniel R. Scoggin

Today, as I reconnect with this bunch of addicts, I am glad to see they are still hooked. They all say  ‘the standard’ changed their lives and they wouldn’t have it any other way!

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PROCESS *** Slinky on an escalator?

PROCESS” is like putting a slinky on an escalator, a lot of activity without going anywhere!
























“Process” – In government and business considerable time is consumed with non-productive activities I call “process”. “Process” is the busy work activity used in government to build fiefdoms and budgets (which is power) and in business to build departmental size (which increases supervisor status). It is also used by the employee to keep employment. This definition of “process” is never connected to a result.

At the CEO level there is a sophisticated level of “process”. This level of “process” involves a strategy, designed for and sold to the Board of Directors. The strategy is usually cleverly named, (acronyms are popular)  and always generates a lot of high visibility activity but no results. Many  ‘professional’ CEO’s have had successful careers with “process” coupled with the ability to explain the lack of RESULTS!


Compass for Success in 2014


imageGoal setting is more than a lofty, feel good, concept. It is a problem solver, organizer and empowers, not only the individual but an entire organization. It is, in fact, the compass that guides everything you do. The secret of goal setting lay in the vision that comes from a solid foundation of core values, coupled with a standard of excellence. The first test of  your compass is your passion about the goal AND its accomplishment.  In fact it is very important that you are you so passionate about your goal, that you will not compromise it’s ultimate achievement or it’s standard of EXCELLENCE.

If this sounds preachy, it is! Today it is so hard to find honesty and commitment to goals or the standard of excellence. In politics and business it is very hard to find honesty or commitment to  ‘stated’ goals, let alone, excellence! Why don’t you start the New Year as an ‘exception’. We talk about  both the why and how of being the ‘exception’ in my upcoming book but you can start now by simply writing down YOUR core values and see where that leads you. I think you will be surprised!

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The Triangle Theory has been around a long time. It has been successfully used by many of my former employees and students. These days it can even be found in a number of places  on the internet.  It is a very simple concept, properly interpreted it says take care of your employees and customers and they will take care of your bottom line. The goal is for management to  balance the benefits of the business among the three sides of the Triangle. The smart  leader quickly learns that the more you invest in your employees and customers the faster sales and profits will grow. (This of course must be done properly to be effective….this is a plug for my book!)

I am watching with great interest the slow collapse and consolidation of the chains in the restaurant industry. Almost without exception the decline of various brands was caused by IGNORING the concept embodied in the Triangle Theory. Profits were the #1 priority and cost cutting became the #1 focus.  This of course was at the expense of the other two sides of the triangle, the employee and the customer. As sales AND profits declined, the obvious answer is advertising saying “please come back, we are not that bad!”. When that doesn’t work the next obvious answer is to buy them back with discounts, bundling and couponing! This all cost money so we are back to where we started……cost cutting!!!

Interestingly, well run companies with a balanced triangle, that are sold by their founders, are almost always immediately subjected to the profits priority and  the cost cutting strategy begins the never ending spiral down. 


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image                It has gotten to the point it is FUNNY!!

Research for the book has had me closely following several turnaround efforts. The book, a how to, basic business practices book, teaches principled management and simple basics that work. I am following both winners and losers in several industries. I have blogged many times about professional managers that are best at coming up with grand programs that have clever names but rarely produce results. 

If you are an investor, board member or just inquisitive student of business, I have a quick litmus test for you. Whenever you hear about a grand turnaround plan that has a big clever name and want to predict it’s outcome, drop down to the lowest common denominator of that business and check the basics. In the restaurant business, walk past the remodel, ignore the coupons and check, is the restaurant clean or dirty, is the service outstanding or mediocre and is the food any good (most customers prefer fresh over boil-in-a-bag). There is a film on Mc Donald’s last big turnaround focused pointedly at Ray Kroc’s famous QSC………and it worked.

We keep our boat at Pier 39 in San Francisco. When I first started writing the book a new CEO was appointed. I interview him and tell his story in the book. Let me give you a preview. Pier 39 is the third highest volume tourist attraction in the U.S. They run two of the bay’s ferry fleets and overall is a very big business. It was easy to see Taylor’s impact from the very beginning, you guessed it, the basics. Everything got cleaned up, fixed up and made substantially more attractive. New support was given to the merchants, addressing unnecessary rules and added training in dealing with the various mixes of customers to the pier. Taylor started at the Pier right out of school and worked his way to the top and knows first hand the basics 


In spite of the economy The Pier had a record year. Moral among merchants and employees is high, something that always comes with success. The Basics are so simple and obvious I just laugh at the expensive grand programs! I am still looking for positive results from any of  the  grand programs I am following………


“IF IT WERN’T SO SIMPLE – IT WOULDN’T BE SO                        FUNNY”

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimageWhen I first started racing sailboats I thought I had found the silver bullet to the the winners circle. I bought the fastest boat in the fleet from the Admiral of the fleet, who consistently placed in the top three finishers.  While waiting for his new boat to arrive the Admiral crewed for various members of the club. With great anticipation, I entered my first race. Halfway down the first leg of the race, the Admiral, who was crewing for one of the slowest boats in the fleet was passing me!  I asked him, as he went by what I was doing wrong. He said, Dan, you aren’t doing any one thing wrong, your are doing a whole lot of little things wrong! After 120,000 sea miles or roughly 6 times around the world I am still learning those little things!

Watching many of today’s ‘professional’ executives being passed by their competition or just plain failing, I am reminded of that lesson from my early sailing days. Rather than work on the basics these ‘professionals’ look for the quick fix, magic wand, silver bullet or magic pill. My upcoming book is focused on building a foundation on principles and careful attention to the basics, because there is NO SILVER BULLET!! .

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“Great companies are founded on principles, standards and goals, empowering everyone to act with a common purpose and goal.” – Daniel R. Scoggin

As we put the finishing touches on the book, one of the key lessons that stands out is that the WHY leads to a better HOW. Weak leaders and companies are RULE driven and great companies are PRINCIPLE  driven. Thinking, challenging and discussing are common in a principle driven organization and frowned upon in a rule driven organization. It is more difficult to be challenged as a leader and guide a group of thinkers but the results are worth the effort. Next time you meet a leader unwilling to be challenged, look at their RESULT.

“Rarely do we find men who willing engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

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