Wisdom from a Bowl of Ramen: (Almost) Everything a Business Leader or Owner Needs to Know Can be Learned in a Restaurant
Today, I took my family to a much-heralded ramen house in Wilmette, IL. The experience was overall disappointing and reminded me that nearly all business lessons are at work in the restaurant industry. Like the famous book, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” almost everything a business leader or owner can be learned in a restaurant.
Lesson: How you reward, train, motivate, and direct your employees will determine how they treat your customers (and profit$). Invest in talent; train it, acknowledge it, thank it, grow it, and reward it.
On a related note, I recently visited a family-owned business that has many workers with tenures of 20 plus years. I asked the owner what he does to earn their trust and focus for so long, even when salaries might not permit higher rewards. He said, he tried to help each employee with their personal aspirations and goals. When employees had daycare issues, he hired a daycare provider for the whole business. He gives employees tickets to the Bulls and Blackhawks, because they love it and it makes them feel special. He sends them to school for training, and gives them all a holiday bonus. I suspect he is more generous than others and does more than is required or expected but for that he has a successful and growing business with scores of loyal workers. “Give, and it will be given to you.” (Saint Luke).
Lesson: Unless you eat manna from heaven (which God did not allow his people to store overnight, so it even came with rules), some customer forked over part of their earnings for your service or product. See it from their eyes. Did you get them what they wanted and deserved? If not apologize, and consider an act of gratitude to win back their trust.
Lesson: Simplify and focus on executing core items well. Before you branch out or scale up, examine what you do well and learn to do that especially well. Put delivery metrics and profit metrics in place to track your progress. If you are struggling, attempt to do less; it is the unspoken secret to success.
The customer is King and Queen. Customers seek, remember, and like good service and care. Treat your customer (and related profit) like you want it to return.
Professor Walker provides keynote talks, seminars presentations, executive training programs, and executive briefings.
Recent talk topics enjoyed by clients have included:
“From Big Data to Big Profits: Getting the Most from Your Data and Analytics”
“Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Automation at Work”
“Digital Strategy: From Data to Dominance”
“Success with an Inter-Generational Workforce: From Boomers to Millennials”
“FinTech, Payments, and Economic Trends and Outlooks in Consumer Lending”
“The World in 2050: Risks and Opportunities Ahead”
Exceptional executive training programs have included:
“Digital Disruption, Automation, Analytics, Data Science, the IoT, and the Big Data Wave”
“Master Course on Operational Risk: Measurement, Management, Leadership”
“Complete Course in Risk Management: Credit, Market, Operational, and Enterprise Risk”
“Cybersecurity Training: Prevention, Preparation, and Post-Analysis”
“Strategic Data-Driven Marketing”
“Enterprise Risk Management and the CRO”
About Russell Walker, Ph.D.
Professor Russell Walker helps companies develop strategies to manage risk and harness value through analytics and Big Data. He is Clinical Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. His most recent book, From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics is published by Oxford University Press (2015), which explores how firms can best monetize Big Data. He is the author of the text Winning with Risk Management (World Scientific Publishing, 2013), which examines the principles and practice of risk management through business case studies.
Professor Walker has developed and taught executive programs on Enterprise Risk, Operational Risk, Corporate Governance, Analytics and Big Data, and Global Leadership. He founded and teaches the Analytical Consulting Lab, Risk Lab, Global Lab, and Digital Lab, all very popular experiential learning classes at the Kellogg School of Management, which bring Kellogg MBA students together with corporate opportunities focused on data and strategy. He also teaches courses in risk management, analytics, and on strategies in globalization. He was awarded the Kellogg Impact award by Kellogg MBA students for excellence and impact in teaching.
He serves on the Scientific and Technical Council for the Menus of Change, an initiative led by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, to develop healthier and more environmentally friendly food choices. He is a former member of the board of the Education and Technology Committee to the Morton Arboretum. He was a board member of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he developed support programs for Hispanic entrepreneurs and worked with US senators on US Latino matters.