Posts Tagged excellence

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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‘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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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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As we were launching Friday’s nationally, in the late 60′ and early 70’s, we were creating casual dining and most importantly casual dining food. Restaurant food had primarily been fast food, coffee shops, diners or up scale white table cloth. Casual dining brought innovation, cross overs and FUN. My job was much like Triple D (DINERS – DRIVE-INS & DIVES) on the food network. I searched out the best of the best. I went anywhere there was a line in front of the door. As my friend Mariano (of restaurant fame in Dallas) reminded me recently, Friday’s was the first to blur the lines, serving  ethnic, bar-b-que or ‘whatever’. Our rule was to improve the products we ‘discovered’ with EXCELLENCE and innovation, never directly copying someone.

Our most famous innovation was the potato skin. While entertaining a girl friend’s brother in Dallas who was from Coral Gables, Florida, he mentioned an interesting potato product he had seen at the Mariner Hotel in Coral Gables. Fascinated and always searching for new innovative products I flew to Florida. The product was an embryo of what we eventually made famous but it got us started. Everyone except Joe Snouffer, who was in charge of product development, thought I was crazy. After six months of many variations Joe nailed it. It took another six months for the product to capture the public’s attention but then WOW! Many fun problems ensued, like what do you do with the potato insides we scooped everyday. A cleaver kitchen employe solved that by inventing a peace symbol looking knife that scooped three wedge fries, creating a new product. Ooops, wedge fries became so popular we had excess skins but that’s another story. (We paid the cook $5,000 for his invention). The funniest business problem with potato skins was the pricing.  There didn’t seem to be any limit to the  elasticity of demand, charge what we may,  demand remained unchanged! Nice problem to have.

We introduced many products to many parts of the country for the first time. In Boston we got funny comments about the ‘hot okra’ on the nachos and in the mid-west had to work hard to keep patrons from trying to eat artichoke leaves and choke. I guess we were little responsible for today’s over sized portions. One of our first entries was an ice cream sundae served in the large dimpled goblet in which we served our outrageous martinis on “Friday’s nights”! We prided ourselves on being the leaders of both innovation and quality, making everything from scratch. Our core values were based on EXCELLENCE so our 100% menu philosophy meant every menu item must be best of kind. So even normal items like a grilled cheese or onion soup must be the best of kind. (Our onion soup recipe exceeded the specs at the Ritz-Carlton and the bowl was the classic French crockery.)

Sadly, today the majority of  casual dining has abandoned fresh food and innovation in favor of supply line efficiencies for ease of  preparation. Look for their labels in the frozen food counters at your local grocery store! Happily, this has spawned a delightful new industry, Food Trucks! Fresh food and innovation abound. We go every chance we get!

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imageimageimageimageimageimageUniversally among those successful icons I have studied, money has not been their WHY. In fact they felt money as a WHY was undesirable. In life and business if your WHY is your passion you will never tire of it and the money will come. Another common denominator, among them, is the standard of excellence. Steve jobs went beyond excellence, if that is possible. If he had been a cabinet maker, he said, the back facing wall would have been finished to the same standard as that facing out. I cannot over state the benefits of excellence as a standard. First, it eliminates most of the competition but most importantly it fuels, excites and drives the entire organization. The pursuit of excellence is hard work but FUN! Make excellence the standard of your WHY!

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I admit it, I am an EXCELLENCE addict. I admire it in all it’s forms: sports, business and products of every kind. I could spend hours explaining all the reasons why I admire the various forms of excellence  but for the moment, I will stick to the world of business. I found EXCELLENCE in business was just plain more FUN!  Striving for it generates an energy and excitement that  fuels the organization and carries a contagion that infects customer and employees alike. It creates an unparalleled level of success.  Pride in product and performance to a standard of excellence is more than worth the effort.

Today, as I reconnect with former associates, who shared the experience of EXCELLENCE in Friday’s early days, I see it in their eyes when they tell me how it changed their lives. In addition to interviewing former associates, I am collecting customer quotes and get the same passion when they talk about what we shared.

Leadership is about setting the core values, standards and goals for an organization. I have done extensive research while writing my book. I have conducted  numerous interviews.  I have had years of  business experience. However, it’s hard to express my astonishment at one CEO’s comment to a consultant he had hired. He looked at the  product being developed and said, “DOES IT REALLY HAVE TO BE THAT GOOD?”

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Why does ‘chain anything’ have a bad connotation or at least represent mediocrity?  I believe the measure of anything is the RESULT. When confronted with the ‘RESULT’  many chain executives choose to compromise quality and reduce the degree of difficulity rather than confront the management required to maintain EXCELLENCE. 

Sorry, but marketing does not change or even mask the RESULT. The RESULT of this ‘CHAIN’ of events is mediocrity. I address this in my upcoming book. Friday’s was an institution not a chain by using management tools aimed at an UNCOMPROMISING standard of EXCELLENCE! Another shameless BOOK plug!

Trying to compromise EXCELLENCE is like trying to let a little air out of a balloon with at hat pin!”  – Daniel. R. Scoggin

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We are very happy to announce hat we have been picked up by one of New York’s top literary agents. He loves the book! His client list is very impressive and his enthusiasm for our work is gratifying. We are in celebration mode and will be for the foreseeable future. With a goal of excellence we are working and reworking every page and will not quit until the publisher says stop or I’ll run you through the press!!!!

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  • imageimageimage“When excellence becomes difficult, which it always is, there are those that take an easier route it’s called MEDIOCRITY!” – Daniel. R. Scoggin




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